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Matthews
How to catch coarse fish




THE LIBRARY
OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




OW TO CATCH
OARSE FISH

ROACH PERCH BREAM
DACE CHUB AND CARP




A 1-lNE CliUi;



pp



ONE OF THE "COUNTRY LIFE" BOOKLETS
One Shilling Net



"Tackle that is worth Fishing with."

New SlK,rl~t,jn. Nr. Uakrli.1,1,

Seijlcinbtr 22, 1920.
Dear Siks, — I caught a two pounds ten ounces Bream with your 6x f lut on one
of your light Split Cane Fly Rods a week or two ago. — Yours faithfully, R \V. S.

Long Eaton,

August 8, 1920.
Dkar Sirs, — I am pleased to inform you I was in the Prize List last Saturday in
Match with thirty picked men, L.K. and District Federation, N'our Match Tackle
did it. I think 1 am right in saying the majority of Prize winners were using your
T.ickle. — Yours tnily, J. A.

Maidstone,

July 27, 1920.
Dear .Sir, — You will he interested to hear that I got a Bream, three pounds two
ounces, on one of your Hair Hooks and 5S2 No. 9 Line last week. I hardly e.\pected
to get him into the net but finally managed it. — Yours faithfully, F. C.



No. 8 Catalogue, price SIXPENCE

credited off FIRST ORDER of Ten ShiHings by COUPON.

ALBERT SMITH & GO.

(.Albert S.mith, Proprietor)

(M.G.), Dominion Works, Redditch, Eng.

DIRECT ONLY. NO AGENTS.



J. PEEK & SON,

WHOLESALE, RETAIL, AND EXPORT

Fishing Rod and Tackle Manufacturers,

40, GRAY'S INN RD. {doseto HoWom^, LONDON, W.C.



Best Greenheart Bottom Rods, 2 tops, division bag,

rubber button ... ... ... ... ;^3 os. od.

Ditto, only whole Canes, Butt and Joint, 2 tops ... £2 los. od.
Whole Cane Roach Rods in stock at 17s. 6d., 22s., 28s. 6d. each.
Plain Wood Reels ... 3 in., 3s. id. ... 3^ in., 3s. gd. each.

Wood Check Reels ... 3 in., 7s. 3d. ... 3^ in,, 8s. 8d. each.

000 00 o I

Undressed Silk Lines 5s. 3d. 5s. lod. 7s. gs. 3d. 100 yds.
Hooks to Gut ... ... ... IS. 3d. and IS. 6d. doz.



HOW TO CATCH
COARSE FISH



BY

A. R. MATTHEWS

EDITOR OF " THE ANGLF.r's NFAVS"



LONDON

PUBLISHED AT THE OFFICES OF "COUNTRY LIFE,"
LTD., 20, TAVISTOCK STREET, COVENT GARDEN,
W.C. 2, AND BY GEORGE NEWNES, LTD., 8-11, SOUTH-
AMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C. 2. NEW YORK:
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
M C M X X I



CONTENTS



I. The Angler's Outfit
II. The Progress of Angling -

III. Waltonian Wisdom - - -

IV. How Roach Floats should Cock -
V. Shotting the Cast and Hook Length

VI. The Depth to Fish - - -

VII. With Leger and Paternoster

VIII. Weather and Water Conditions -

IX. Likely Spots for Fish and Fishing

X. Rods and Tackle - . -

XL Angling Afloat: A Few Hints

XIL Hook Baits - - - -

XIII. Ground-baits and Ground-baiting -

XIV. The Popular " Coarse " Fish



3
3

5'
6
8
9

10

II

13

14
17
i8

19
21



n



f^



r\



r\



n



GuoQeoN
& Minnows.



Barbcl &
Chub.



Bream .Carp
& Tench.



PCRCM.



Roach &
Dace.



Fig. I. — Hook Sizes.



The hooks here illustrated have been drawn to natural size, and I
recommend them for the various fish named. That for barbel and chub
is a No. 2 Sneck bend; the others are of the Crystal pattern, and in the
order given are Nos. 5, 6, 11, and 15.



HOW TO GATGHi COARSE FISH



The Angler's Outfit

THE following is a list of articles required for angling for
roach, perch, bream, chub, dace, tench, barbel, rudd, carp,
gudgeon, and minnows :



Rod.
Reel.

Line (plaited).
Casts.

Hooks to gut (various sizes).
Hook and cast book.
Floats (various sizes).
Caps (various sizes).
Shot (mixed split).
Gentle box.
Worm bag.

Basket or bag for tackle,
fish, and lunch.



Landing-net.
Line winder.
Plummet.
Leger leads.
Paternosters.
Disgorger.
PHers.
File.
Scissors.
Cobbler's wax.
Sewing silk.
Vaseline.



I shall revert to the various kinds of tackle and the accompany-
ing accessories in subsequent pages.



II
The Progress of Angling

The art of angling and catching fish is one of the most ancient
amusements or sports of which we have any knowledge, but, old as
it is, it was never more popular than to-day. History tells us that
the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, and the Anglo-
Saxons practised the art in one form or another. They may be
said to be the pioneers of the sport, while I think it can be asserted
without fear of contradiction that the English nation has done
more than any other nation to create the world-wide popularity
which anghng at present enjoys.

It has been said that we are a nation of shopkeepers, but the more
I visit river, lake, and sea, the more am I convinced that we are a
nation of anglers !



908638



4 HOW TO CATCH COARSE FISH

There has been a boom in angling ever since dear old Izaak
Walton was wont to ramble down leafy Fleet Street and Cheap-
side on his way to the Lea, and gave us the benefit of his experi-
ences in that most fascinating of classics, The Compleat Angler, the
first edition of which was published in 1653. Walton also fished
in the Thames, which has probably been the school of more anglers
than any other river in the world.

In the days that are long ago, anglers — in the absence of trains,
tubes, and motor-buses — were compelled to walk to their favourite
fishing haunts, and they would often meet at a certain spot and
complete the journey together, no doubt exchanging experiences
by the way and indulging in other pleasant piscatory chat. The
sight of these " honest men " with their angle rods and fishing bags
was an incentive to others to take up the sport, and so it gradually
grew and expanded. When the stage coach made its appearance
anglers were enabled to undertake longer journeys, while they also
availed themselves of the old market carts and waggons which
brought vegetables and other produce to London.

The earlier London anglers had favourite pitches for roach round
about Old London Bridge, then a wooden structure; and one can
also picture them fishing in the numerous streams which ran into
the Thames from the northern heights, and from such then rural
spots as Brixton, Tooting, Bemiondsey, and other places — these
waters are now numbered among London's long-lost rivers.

By and by fishing-tackle shops sprang up and angling clubs were
formed. I cannot' find any trace of the date of the establishment
of the first fishing-tackle shop, but in London, at least, the first
club to be started was the Walton and Cotton Angling Society,
which is still in existence. It was established in March, 1819, and
thus is over a hundred years old. Fishing clubs are now to be
numbered by hundreds, perhaps thousands, in London and the
provinces. Not a few of these clubs possess their own private
waters, and are generally open to accept new members.

At one period, many of the rivers and lakes were much poached,
angling took place in and out of season, and great numbers of
immature fish were destroyed. Fortunately, anglers themselves
came to the rescue, and these evils have been practically wiped out.
Fish preservation is universal. There are close times and stan-
dard sizes for fish, under which it is illegal to kill them in the Thames,
Lea, Norfolk Broads, and other waters. A good deal of restocking
is also carried on, and in this direction it may be at once said that
the Thames is the best preserved and restocked river in England,
thanks chiefly to the efforts of the Thames Angling Preservation
Society, which, in 1920, established a record by turning down



THE PROGRESS OF ANGLING 5

between Teddington and Shepperton nearly half a million roach,
dace, and perch.

Freshwater fishing has made a tremendous jump in public
estimation during the past ten years, and particularly since the
end of the Great War. People of all classes have taken it up with
enthusiasm. They have at length discovered that catching fish
is not the angler's only joy — fishing is the partner of fresh air,
picturesque scenery, and restful days in the open.

Nature's haunts are the angler's haunts.

Many of those who have fought and bled for England have joined
the ever-growing Waltonian army, and have found in angling just
what they were in search of — a splendid medicine for their war-
worn bodies and shattered nerves, for difficult indeed is it to meet
with more peaceful and soothing surroundings than those afforded
by the —

" Smooth stream's wand'ring side."

The increasing popularity of angling has also been noticeable
in another direction— I refer to sport with rod and line in the sea.
It is only a few short years back that this branch of the art had few
followers; to-day their number is legion, and sea fishing has become
one of the principal attractions on the coast, many of the popular
resorts vying with each other in setting forth, in guide-books and
through other media, their facilities for carrying on the sport and
the special fish to be caught in the local waters.



HI
Waltonian Wisdom

Do not let the fish see you if possible — when on the bank stand
or sit well away from the edge.

Do not stamp on the bank or in a boat or punt, as fish are very
sensitive to vibration.

Always put the landing-net together before starting to fish.
The first fish you hook may be a big one.

When fishing in a strange district for the first time, notice local
landmarks, which will help you to find the way back to the station
the more easily in the evening.

Put a gentle on the hook by the skin, and then pinch some
groundbait or a piece of paste round the shank of the hook, leaving
the gentle room to wriggle. This dodge often succeeds when
roach have been ignoring paste and gentles separately.

Small fry repeatedly jumping from the water in a body is a sign



6 HOW TO CATCH COARSE FISH

of the presence of some hungr)- perch, trout, pike, or chub, and the
angler might do worse than drop in a lively minnow or other tiny
fish at the spot.

To mark a baited hole for bream, l)arbel, etc., ascertain the
depth, and then anchor a small cork on the spot by means of a
piece of string and a leger bullet.

At a likely place for rudd, throw in some small crusts of bread,
so that they drift with the wind or stream, and if any rudd are
about they will soon reveal their presence by attacking the bread
and splashing and rushing through the water. Then cast your
bait as near as possible to the hungry rudd.

Have clean hands when making paste, and wrap it in white
paper.

Never put a wet rod in its case.

Should the reel become very wet, remove the line, wipe the reel
carefully, grease it, and then place in a dry spot. This will often
prevent a wooden reel from warping.

If one or two fish escape after being hooked, examine the hook.
The barb may require touching up, or it may have been broken
off.

Test gut for strength in its dry state. Try each link carefully
with the hands, and if the cast breaks in one or two places the best
thing to be done is to use another and sound cast.

Rub a little mutton fat, oil, or " Mucilin," on your rod joint
ends. It will prevent them sticking in the ferrules.

Should a rod joint get fast, it can often be removed by applying
a lighted match to the ferrule.

Always soak your gut cast and hook length before beginning
to fish.

Coloured pastes are obtained by mixing the paste with red lead
(vermilion), cochineal (crimson), and yellow ochre and saffron
(rich yellow).

Gentles or maggots may be coloured red, yellow, and green by
means of Dolly dyes and " Chrysoidine " (to be purchased at
chemists).

Wrap a fish securely in paper when sending it to be preserved.
Do not use wet grass.

IV

How Roach Floats should Cock

The number of shot placed on the cast is of course regulated by
the weight of the float with which it is intended to fish.
In still pieces of water, such as canals, lakes, drains, and ponds,



HOW ROACH FLOATS SHOULD COCK 7

a shot on the hook length is unnecessary, and I invariably dispense
with it.

Remember that care and neatness are called for when putting shot
on a cast, and it is also very necessary that the float should be
made to cock properly. Some anglers seem to enjoy seeing their
float project from the water like a miniature bell-buoy, and then
wonder why they miss so many bites from artful roach. It would
almost take a whale to pull under some floats ! Not only are
bites more difficult to detect when the float is half out of the water,
but the resistance it offers to being dragged under may cause the




Fig. 2.— (Right Way.)

fish to reject the bait, while the float gets blown about by the
wind and given all kinds of unnatural movements. I shot my
floats for roach, dace, and often bream, until only about half or
a quarter of an inch appears above water. The slightest suck
or draw from a fish is then instantly discerned, and nine times out
of ten the float disappears— which is the signal to strike.

Floats used specially for chub, barbel, and bream may show a
little more of the top, but not much, above the surface, but I believe
in all floats being kept well down, even in a fast stream or when
the water is ruffled by waves.

The right and the wrong positions of a float are shown in the
above illustration.



HOW TO CATCH COARSE FISH



Shotting the Cast and Hook Length

It is the small thing which often counts in angling. Take
split shot as an instance. The principal mission of shot is to weight

the cast and hook length and sink
the float to the necessary depth in
the water, and anglers should always
make certain that these useful little
articles are in the basket. I remem-
ber going fishing on one occasion
and large chub, which I did not
expect to encounter — I was after
roach — breaking the only two
shotted casts I had bro ght.
Naturally these casts were pretty
fine, in view of the fish I was
after, but I hunted up a third and
stouter cast from the hook book,
determined to get some of my own
Lack should another chub make off
with the bait. Then I experienced
a kind of shock. I found, to my
dismay, that I had left the shot
box at home, and had no means
of properly sinking my line; but
fortunately I espied another angler
farther along the bank, and he very
kindly gave me a few shot. To
nip these on the cast with the
pliers was but the work of a minute
or two, and I had my revenge on
the chub for smashing me up by
catching a specimen of nearly 4 lb.
I mention this incident to show the
value of a few split shot.

Not only are shot of the utmost
use in angling, but there is a right
and a wrong way of putting them
on the cast and hook length.
Anglers are often very careless and
slovenly in this connection, but
in my opinion a badly shotted
cast may mean a poorly filled basket. Sometimes the shot
are placed on the cast without the slightest regard to position



U

No.



4



U



Fig. 3.



No.:



SHOTTING THE CAST AND HOOK LENGTH 9

and size, and heedless of the proper balance of the float or the
undercurrents which lurk around. Before to-day I have seen
anglers with half a dozen shot on a 12-inch hook length, whereas
only one should have been there, and found shot so high up the
cast that when a shallow swim presented itself the angler was
unable to lower the float. Thoughtless anglers also put a big shot
within an inch of the bait on the hook, with the result that many
a sly old roach and chub must have scented danger, especially
when the water is very clear.

Shotting a cast has much interest and pleasure for me ; as I nip on
the shot on a new cast past outings are recalled, and I picture
in the future the well-balanced float, barely half an inch above the
surface, sailing quietly downstream, and its disappearance with
a plump when some good fish annexes the bait !

There are two methods of shotting a cast properly, and these are
shown in the accompanying illustration. I use them both. In
rather swift or heavy water, where the swim is deep, I generally
employ No. i cast, as I find that the weight of the shot bunched
together seems to get the bait down more quickly than cast No. 2,
with the shot apart. The bunch of shot seems to keep the float
steadier, while the two single shot, one near the bottom of the cast,
and the other half-way down the hook length, also, I fancy, main-
tain the bait in a fairly natural position, and prevent it from
being whirled about by any undercurrent. No. 2 shotted cast is
suitable for lighter water, and it will be noticed that the shot on
the hook length is close to where it is looped to the cast.

VI
The Depth to Fish

Generally speaking, most fish keep fairly close to the bottom,
and anglers should bear this in mind when out with float tackle and
bait after roach, bream, barbel, dace, carp, tench, gudgeon, and
other similar fish. Perch, on the other hand, may often be caught
at varying depths, and rudd especially frequently feed just under
the surface, while dace and chub are to be encountered taking fly
and other food close to and on the top. When perch fishing, it is
a good plan to first try a few inches off the bottom, and if this
is not satisfactory — if no bites are experienced — to then alter the
float so that the bait swims at about mid-water.

To ascertain the depth accurately, a plummet is necessary, and
when the hook has been passed through the ring on the plummet
and inserted in the piece of cork which is let into the lead at the
bottom, the line and float should then be carefully lowered into

2



10 HOW TO CATCH COARSE FISH

the water, keeping the line l)etween the plummet and the rod top
tight all the time. In this way the bottom will be easily " felt/' and
the float can be so adjusted that the bait will swim clear about an
inch or so — perhaps the best depth at which to fish. At times,
some anglers, especially on cold days, allow the bait to slightly
drag, and this is not a bad plan when the bottom is free from weeds
and other obstructions. Fish are then deep down, and will take a
bait as it is slowly carried along.

One day I remember catching some excellent roach with the bait
— paste — lying on the bottom. I was fishing in a small but deep
and crystal-clear stream, and from my concealed position behind
some rushes I had a good view of the whole performance. I had
previously discovered the roach, numbering about thirty, swimming
up and down, and gingerly lowered the plummet. I soon had the
proper depth, and when the pellet of paste sank on to the sandy bed
of the stream one of the largest roach made a kind of " nose-dive "
at it — the fish literally stood on its head, tail uppermost, and
gently sucked in the piece of paste. Simultaneously it began to
move off, and I struck and brought a fat pound roach to bank.
I got half a dozen of the roach — which all stood on their heads to
take the paste — before the shoal made ofif. It was highly amusing,
and not a little exciting, to watch the antics of the roach, and I
have, I may add, also seen bream in ver}' clear water on the Norfolk
Broads rooting about in exactly the same position as that assumed
by the roach.

In plumbing a swim, the angler should begin at the top end
and keep raising and lowering the lead all along until the other end of
the pitch is reached in order to see if the bottom is even. Sometimes
a perfectly level swim will be met with, and other places will yield
a most uneven bottom with perhaps a considerable rise or fall in
the ground, and it is best in these cases to search for a better spot,
especially when roach fishing.

VII

With Leger and Paternoster

Leger tackle is often used, especially for bream and barbel, both
of which fish are bottom feeders, and what is known as light leger-
ing for roach is indulged in by numerous anglers. In deep, heavy
water, or water which cannot be properly fished with a float, leger
tackle is extremely useful. A leger consists of about two yards of
gut, a bullet or flat-shaped lead (" coffin "), and a hook. The cast
runs through the bullet or flat-lead, which is prevented from slipping
down on to the bait and hook by a split shot. A good position for



WEATHER AND WATER CONDITIONS ii

the leger to rest is about i foot above where the hook length of gut
is looped on to the cast.

Perch anglers use paternoster tackle a good deal, and I have also
killed chub, bream, and barbel, and, of course, pike, with it. I like
a fine paternoster better than a leger in a chub hole, and I have
caught a good many bream and roach when paternostering, more
particularly in tidal rivers.

The paternoster is made up of from 2 to 3 yards of gut, having
a small pear-shaped lead looped on at the bottom, to act as a sinker.
Some anglers fish with three and four hooks, but I prefer only one
when tr^ang for chub, roach, and bream, and two for perch. If
more are fished with, the tackle is apt to become entangled and
rendered useless in the water, especially when small live minnows ,
gudgeon, or dace are used.



VIII
Weather and Water Conditions

When the wind is in the south

It blows the bait into the fish's mouth

runs an old couplet, and undoubtedly the south and south-west
winds greatly favour the angler in his operations; but if he re-
mained at home until either one of those particular winds was
blowing I am rather afraid that he would often not see much of the
waterside. Fish are to be taken in all kinds of winds under certain
conditions, but I particularly hate a blustering north-west wind or
a dark, dull day with an " easter " sweeping over river or lake.
Calm winds, whether from a warm or a cold quarter, are the winds
which count, particularly in the autumn and winter. Even in the
winter, if the angler has a nice bush or belt of rushes at his back,
he not only receives protection from the elements, supposing it is
a cold and windy day, but the swim and fish are also supplied with
cover. That is the reason for so many fish in the winter hugging
the overhanging banks. I must confess that I don't like cold, high
winds for fishing either in summer or winter, but one can frequently
find decent pitches with a lee, and there better results than one
anticipates are at times to be met with.

Sudden frosts put fish, roach particularly, off feed, but should the
sharp weather continue several kinds cf fish — the winter-feeding
fish — appear to grow accustomed to the lower temperature of the
water and often bite freely in deeps and slow-moving eddies.

When the sun blazes down on the water, anglers should seek a
shady spot, though even there on a hot, bright day fish are often



12 HOW TO CATCH COARSE FISH

very disinclined to take a bait^ however nicely it is put to them.
There are, however, exceptions to the poor sport which then fre-
quently falls to the lot of an angler, and before to-day I have also
known a big haul of bream to be made in a piece of water fully
exposed to the light and glare of a sweltering August day.

Evening, and very early on a warm morning, are the best periods
of the day for summer angling.

Fish are considerably affected l)y the temperature of the water,
and when this is low it is often difficult to tempt them. They
keep close to the bottom and become lethargic and dormant. An
unsettled water, one which is often rising and falling, seems to put
fish off feed^ but I have been more successful on a falling than a ris-
ing water. I fancy a rising water introduces a good deal of natural
food on the scene, and I have an idea also that the fish then have
fears as to their safety — whether they will get washed away from
their old quarters and, as it were, become lost. Many a time I have
seen fish splashing and priming on the submerged banks of a river
and in an inundated meadow, but if fish are scared at such times
they also possess wonderful natural instinct which tells them that
as soon as the flood \\ ater begins to fall or recede it is time they
regained the river. It is really wonderful how few fish get left
behind in the fields even during the heaviest and most wide-
spreading floods.

Roach will sometimes feed in flooded hollows on the bank, on
water-covered riverside lawns, and in depressions in the fields, and
I well remember catching half a dozen of these fish up the Thames,
near Pangbourne, while perched on a gate and fishing in the mouth
of a dyke which was connected with a flooded field. When fishing
in the floods, red worms and bread-crust have proved my best
baits, but it is, I may add, an uncertain game. I can recall the
capture of some roach under a railway bridge near Windsor during
a flood, but the strangest roach swim surely must have been that
between two rows of cabbages in a riverside garden in the Royal
Borough, which yielded fish of over i lb. each. I was shown


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