UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
AT LOS ANGELES
SPORTS AND PASTIMES
HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF BEAUFORT, K.G.
ASSISTED BY ALFRED E. T. WATSON
(PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH}
srOTTI:S\VOOI>E AND CO., NEW-STREET .SQUARE
LATE HER MAJESTY'S INSPECTOR OF SEA FISHERIES
AUTHOR OF 'THE MODERN PRACTICAL ANGLER'
AND OTHER WORKS
WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OTHER AUTHORS
PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
All rights reserved
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES.
BADMINTON: October 1885.
HAVING received permission to dedicate these volumes,
the BADMINTON LIBRARY of SPORTS and PASTIMES,
to His ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES, I
do so feeling that I am dedicating them to one of the
best and keenest sportsmen of our time. I can say, from
personal observation, that there is no man who can
extricate himself from a bustling and pushing crowd of
horsemen, when a fox breaks covert, more dexterously
and quickly than His Royal Highness ; and that when
hounds run hard over a big country, no man can take a
line of his own and live with them better. Also, when
the wind has been blowing hard, often have I seen
His Royal Highness knocking over driven grouse and
partridges and high-rocketing pheasants in first-rate
workmanlike style. He is held to be a good yachtsman,
and as Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron is
looked up to by those who love that pleasant and
exhilarating pastime. His encouragement of racing is
well known, and his attendance at the University, Public
School, and other important Matches testifies to his
being, like most English gentlemen, fond of all manly
sports. I consider it a great privilege to be allowed to
dedicate these volumes to so eminent a sportsman as
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and I do
so with sincere feelings of respect and esteem and loyal
A FEW LINES only are necessary to explain the object
with which these volumes are put forth. There is no
modern encyclopaedia to which the inexperienced man,
who seeks guidance in the practice of the various British
Sports and Pastimes, can turn for information. Some
books there are on Hunting, some on Racing, some on
Lawn Tennis, some on Fishing, and so on ; but one
Library, or succession of volumes, which treats of the
Sports and Pastimes indulged in by Englishmen and
women is wanting. The Badminton Library is offered
to supply the want. Of the imperfections which must
be found in the execution of such a design we are con-
scious. Experts often differ. But this we may say,
that those who are seeking for knowledge on any of the
subjects dealt with will find the results of many years'
experience written by men who are in every case adepts
at the Sport or Pastime of which they write. It is to
point the way to success to those who are ignorant of
the sciences they aspire to master, and who have no
friend to help or coach them, that these volumes arc
To those who have worked hard to place simply and
clearly before the reader that which he will find within,
the best thanks of the Editor are due. That it has been
no slight labour to supervise all that has been written
he must acknowledge ; but it has been a labour of love,
and very much lightened by the courtesy of the Publisher,
by the unflinching, indefatigable assistance of the Sub-
Kditor, and by the intelligent and able arrangement
of each subject by the various writers, who are so
thoroughly masters of the subjects of which they treat.
The reward we all hope to reap is that our work may
prove useful to this and future generations.
(BY THE AUTHOR.)
PROBABLY few persons who visited the late International
Fisheries Exhibition in South Kensington could fail to
have been struck by the multiplicity, and, to the un-
initiated, complexity of the engines and appliances used
in the capture of fish. The observation applies even
more to the ' angler 'a generic term that I have a
special objection to, by the way, but let us say to the
fisherman who uses a rod than to the 'fisherman'
proper, whose weapons are net and hand-line, and who
'occupies his business in great waters.'
In consequence of the growing artfulness of man or
of fish, or both, angling has come to be nearly as wide
a field for the specialist as doctoring. Each different
branch has its own professors, practitioners, and students ;
and its gospel as preached by apostles, differing often
widely from one another, and perhaps eventually break-
ing away altogether from old tradition and founding a
cult of their own. Thus the late Mr. W. C. Stewart, a
lawyer of Edinburgh and a ' famous fisher ' of the North,
may probably be called the apostle of up-stream fly-
x PREFATORY NOTE.
fishing, as contrasted with the time-honoured plan of
fishing ' down : ' fishing, that is, with the flies below
rather than above the angler's stand-point. Not that I
mean to assert that Mr. Stewart was by any means the
first to preach the new doctrine, still less the first to
practise it, but that he was the first to ' formularise ' it, to
give it consistency and shape, and to bring it prominently
before the angling world. . . . And even then and it is
a good illustration of the 'specialism' referred to his
book was (statedly) confined to one branch of one kind
of angling for one species of fish : ' The Art of Trout
Fishing, more particularly applied to Clear Water.'
It might have been added ' and in streams and rivers
north of the Tweed,' for I believe there is not a word
in the book about the rivers or lakes of England,
Ireland, or Wales, or how to catch trout in them. I
say this in no disparagement of the author or his
capital book, but only to illustrate the complexity and
' elaborateness ' at which the art of angling has arrived.
So far from disparaging, it is probable, on the contrary,
that if all writers on fishing had the modesty to confine
themselves, as Mr. Stewart did, to subjects they were
really personally acquainted with, the gentle art would
not be afflicted with a literature containing a greater
amount of undiluted bosh to say nothing of downright
' cribbing ' than probably any printed matter of equal
bulk in existence. We want a few more ' Gilbert Whites
of Sclborne' amongst our angling authors. . . . Poor
Stewart ! he was a fine fisherman and a right good com-
panion, and pleasant days we fly-fished side by side, with
PREFATORY NOTE. xi
another famous angler (and politician), alas ! no more
the Johnson of Scotland, as he was well called I mean
Alex. Russel, Editor of the Scotsman, and author of the
book of ' The Salmon.' He and Stewart were two
of the finest fishermen that it has ever been my lot
to know, and I loved them both well for ' like and
difference,' as Mrs. Browning puts it though Stewart
was very wroth with me afterwards and devoted a
whole pamphlet to my annihilation, pugnacious ' moss-
trooping Scot ' as he was. . . . No reason that, how-
ever, why I should not write his epitaph in the Field
when he died . . .
I'd give the lands of Deloraine
Stout Musgrave were alive again ! . . .
But, some one asks 'Why do you not practise
what you preach ? You eulogise monographs, and you
write books yourself which embrace every variety of
angling and " fishey lore " from bait-breeding to salmon-
Dear critic (forgive the adjective when perhaps you
arc in the very act of sharpening your ' scalping-knife '),
I do nothing of the sort ; and though it is true I have
'graduated' in most kinds of fishing, from sticklebacks
upwards, there are many subjects germane to angling,
such as fish-rearing both of Salmonidcs and ' coarse '
fish fish-acclimatisation, and several special depart-
ments of angling itself, where I have need to learn
rather than to pretend to teach. Consequently I have
thought myself fortunate to be able to secure for these
xii PREFATORY NOTE.
pages the very kind assistance of the eminent and
scientific gentlemen who write in regard to such special
subjects with equal felicitousness and authority. Thus
the volumes of the Badminton Library confided to me
by the Editor and publishers will not lose either in com-
pleteness or trustworthiness by my shortcomings.
Frankly, however, this is not the reason why I have
sought the able co-operation of Major John P. Traherne,
Mr. Henry R. Francis, and Mr. H. S. Hall, in dealing
with the theory and practice of artificial fly-fishing. The
reason is that in some of my former writings I have put
forward certain opinions on these subjects which if not
' revolutionary,' may certainly be called in one sense
'radical,' and which have not as yet found general
acceptance amongst fly-fishers.
Whether the said opinions are right or wrong matters
not. If I had seen any sufficient reason to alter them
at any rate in regard to their main outlines I should
have unhesitatingly avowed it long ago, for I look upon
a man who says that he never changes his mind as an
ass, or else as sacrificing truth to ' consistency ; ' but
whatever my theories, and whatever may be their ulti-
mate fate, I had, of course, no right or desire to air my
hobbies in the pages of the Badminton Library ; and
I am sure that my readers will, in any case, be the
gainers by the substitution of the admirable essays
alluded to, written as they arc by fly-fishers of long and
successful experience and in every sense entitled to be
regarded as masters of the craft.
To the Marquis of Exeter, Mr. William Senior,
PREFATORY NOTE. xiii
angling Editor of the Field, Mr. Christopher Davies,
Mr. R. B. Marston, Editor of the Fisliing Gazette, and
Mr. Thomas Andrews, I am also under the greatest
obligation for the very charming and interesting con-
tributions to which their names are attached. I only
regret that circumstances should have unavoidably
deprived my readers of a promised contribution on
salmon fishing from the pen of His Grace the Duke
of Beaufort, which would have been warmly welcomed
by all fly-fishers.
For the rest, it has been my aim to make these
volumes as practical as possible ; and if the exigencies
of this role have involved a certain amount of space
being devoted to more or less technical matters which,
however necessary and important, are, perhaps, less
attractive to the general angling public than to the
enthusiastic student I hope the other part of the pro-
gramme laid down by the Editor has not been over-
looked, and that the following pages will be found to
be sufficiently diversified with anecdotes and incidents
of sport to redeem them from being hopelessly ' dull
PIKE AND PIKE-TACKLE 3
BAITS, BAIT-CATCHING, ETC 4
PIKE FISHING 64
COARSE FISH AND FLOAT-FISHING GENERALLY . . 205
THE PERCH . . 242
CARP AND TENCH 269
BARBEL AND BREAM 299
DACE AND CHUB 308
GUDGEON AND BLEAK . 324
ROACH FISHING AS A FINE ART . 335
William Senior (' Redspinner' 1 ).
NORFOLK BROAD AND RIVER FISHING .... 352
G. Christopher Davies.
THE CULTIVATION OF 'COARSE FISH' . . . .376
./?. B. Marslon,
THE REARING OF BLACK BASS, AND PISCICULTURAL
EXPERIMENTS AT BURGHLEY 390
The Marqids of Exeter.
If it is desired to give a trial to the hooks, tackle, cS-r., recom-
mended in the following pages, it is advised that no change of any
kind should be introduced, and that in case of purchases or orders
from tackle-shops an exact compliance with the instructions should
be insisted upon.
Experimental variations and improvements, so-called, are very
apt to produce results the opposite of ' improved? This is specially
true as regards bends of hooks, and the proportions of spinning
PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH.
I NT ROD UCTOR Y REMARKS.
I FEEL that some apology is due to what are, after all, perhaps,
the great body of fishermen, for the second part of the title of
the present volume.
The term ' coarse fish ' has been adopted because it seems
to be that most generally used and understood, and, there-
fore, best calculated to convey readily a correct idea of the
contents of this essay. Even whilst employing the expression,
however, I must record my protest against it. What is there
coarse, for example, about the perch of gorgeous scaling, armed
cap-a-pie like a paladin of old, and glowing with half the
colours of the rainbow ? Or the ' arrowy dace,' almost as mettle-
some, and perhaps even more graceful and glittering than the
aristocratic trout ?
A cold, sweet, silver life, wrapped in round waves,
Quickened with touches of transporting fear. . . .
Again, when the term ' coarse fishing ' is used, have those who
employ it ever watched, with a sympathetic eye, the consum-
mate skill and dexterity which a ' cockney ' roach-fisher will
display in pursuit of his game, and the gossamer fineness of
every bit of the tackle he uses ? Depend upon it, in the luring
and landing of a two-pound roach on a single-hair line, there is
2 PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH.
called for and shown a c fine art,' as my friend, Mr. Senior, ex-
presses it, which need not shrink from contrast with that de-
manded by any branch of angling whatever. ' Coarse fishing '
is as great a misnomer as coarse fish ; every kind of fishing
is capable of being brought to perfection, and of being carried
out scientifically as well as clumsily and ignorantly ; and 1
hope I need not appeal to the tenor of all my former writings
on the subject to assure my readers that I am a strenuous
advocate for the use of the very finest tackle compatible
with safety, not in fly-fishing only, but in every branch and
every department of the art of angling. Indeed I recall with,
I hope, some pardonable pride and pleasure that after the
publication of my earlier essays, commentators, more kindly
and indulgent, doubtless, than critical, were flattering enough
to give me the sobriquet of the 'Apostle of Fine Fishing.'
I shall not apologise, therefore, for the fact that in the fol-
lowing pages considerable space and attention are accorded to
matters, as some might consider them, of almost trivial detail.
The 'whole is made up of its parts,' however; and without
careful attention to details neither neatness nor strength can be
attained. The difference in killing power between one bend of
hook and another, slightly varied, is not less than 100 per cent.
THE PIKE (Esox Indus}.
The wary Luce, midst wrack and rushes hid,
The scourge and terror of the scaly brood. AUSONIUS.
Although there is but one species of pike (i.e. Esox htcins}
found in the waters of Great Britain, and recognised in those
of Europe, the rivers and lakes of North America produce a
great many varieties, all possessing more or less distinct charac-
teristics. Into the details of these it is not necessary to enter ;
but the following is a list of the principal species which, accord-
ing to American writers, appear to have been clearly demon-
strated to be distinct : The Mascalonge (Esox estor) and the
northern Pickerel (Esox lucioides), both inhabitants of the great
lakes ; the common Pickerel (Esox reticulatus], indigenous to
all the ponds and streams of the northern and midland States ;
the Long Island Pickerel (Esox fasciatus\ probably confined to
that locality ; the white Pickerel (Esox vittatns\ the black
Pickerel (Esox niger), and Esox phaleratus, all three inhabiting
the Pennsylvania!! and Western waters.
Of the species above enumerated the first two are the types,
all the others following, more or less closely, the same formation
as to comparative length of snout, formation of the lower jaw,
dental system, gill-covers, &c.
As regards the European pike, it seems probable that there
may be varieties yet to be discovered, as Dr. Genzik assures
me that he has found some specimens which had teeth like the
fangs of the viper capable of being erected or depressed at
pleasure, a circumstance all the more remarkable as the jaws
also of the fish are furnished with extra bones to increase the
4 PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH.
size of the gape, very similar to the corresponding bones in the
We have, however, in the British Islands and on the Con-
tinent, only ' one recognised species ; ' which species, according
to the author of ' British Fishes ' and some other writers, has
probably been 'acclimatised.' Personally I am rather disposed
to believe it to be indigenous ; but I willingly leave the point
to the researches of the curious in such matters, and to the
students, if such there be, of mediaeval ichthyology. If the
fish was really an importation, it could not, at any rate, have
been a very recent one, as pike are mentioned in the Act of
the 6th year of Richard II., 1382, and also by Chaucer in the
well-known lines :
Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,
And many a breme, and many a Luce in stewe. . . ,
One of the names by which the pike was formerly known,
now obsolete, or at any rate used only as a diminutive, is
' pickerel;' which again, when arrived at a certain, or rather un-
certain age of discretion, becomes a 'jack;' to be finally inducted
into the full dignity of pikehood. The term 'pike' has been
supposed to take its origin in the Saxon word piik, sharp-
pointed, in reference to the peculiar form of the pike's head,
thus, by the way, furnishing an argument in favour of the
indigenous character of the fish, in contradiction to Yarrell's
' importation ' theory. Skinner and Tooke would derive it from
the French word/f?ztt, on account, they say, of the sharpness
of its snout. It is the brocJiet or brocheton, lance or lanceron,
and becquet of France, the gtidda of the Swede, and the gcdde
or gei of Denmark, which latter term is nearly identical with
the lowland Scotch gedd. Ingenious derivations of all these
names have been discovered by philologists, but they arc,
for the most part, somewhat fanciful. The luccio or luzzo of
the Italians, and the term luce or lucie ('white lucic ' of Shake-
speare and of heraldry) are evidently derived from the old
classical name of the fish, Indus. Here again, however, we
THE PIKE. 5
get among the philologists, and I will only give one illustra-
tion from Nobbes, who has been called the father of trollins,
to show how much, notwithstanding the proverb, can be
made out of how little. This remarkable author suggests
that the name lurius is derived ' either d lucendo, from shining
in the waters, or else (which is more probable) from lukos,
the Greek word tot lupus: for as,' says he, ' the wolf is the most
ravenous and cruel amongst beasts, so the pike is the most
greedy and devouring amongst fishes. So that lupus piscis>
though it be proper for the sea wolf, yet it is often used for the
pike itself, the fresh-water wolf.'
The pike is mentioned in the works of several Latin authors,
and is stated to have been taken of very great size in the
Tiber ; but it has been doubted by naturalists whether this fish
the Esox of Pliny is synonymous with the sox, or pike,
of modern ichthyology. One of the earliest writers by whom
the Pike is distinctly chronicled is Ausonius, living about the
middle of the fourth century, who thus asperses its reputation :
Lucius obscuras ulva coenoque lacunas
Obsidet. Hie, nullos mensarum lectus ad usus,
Fumat fumosis olido nidore popinis.
The wary Luce, midst wrack and rushes hid,
The scourge and terror of the scaly brood,
Unknown at friendship's hospitable board,
Smokes midst the smoky tavern's coarsest food.
It seems as if from the earliest times the character, so to
speak, of the pike has commended itself especially for treat-
ment both in prose and verse, and the number of quaint
anecdotes, mythical legends, and venerable superstitions which
have clustered round it give the pike a special and distinct interest
of its own. I confess that to myself there has been always
something singularly attractive in the very qualities which have
made its chroniclers more often detractors than panegyrists.
The downright, unadulterated savagery of the brute attracts me ;
he is no turncoat, vicious one day and repentant the next.
6 PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH.
Nothing that swims, or walks, or flies does he spare when his
appetite is whetted by the sharp wind sweeping
The half-frozen dyke,
That hungers into madness every plunging pike.
Woe be to his children, or his brother, mother, or cousin,
grandchildren or great-grandchildren, should they cross his
path ; and I have not the slightest doubt, speaking ichthyo-
phageously, if not ichthyologically, that under sufficient provo-
cation he would tackle one of his own ancestors, even to the
third and fourth generation. This is all ' thorough,' and is in
keeping with the grim muzzle and steely grey eyes which fix
upon the observer with unwinking and ferocious glare. The
very rush and flash with which he takes his prey has in it a
fascination, and I have more than once seen a man drop his
rod from sheer fright when a pike, that has been stealthily
following his bait, suddenly dashes at it by the side of the boat
or at the moment it is being lifted out of water.
The pike, I am happy to say, is daily rising in the estimation
of anglers as a game and, in the largest sense of the word,
sporting fish. This is partly owing, no doubt, to the difficulty,
with an ever-increasing army of anglers, of obtaining decent
trout or, still more, salmon fishing (in fact, a good salmon river
has now r become almost as expensive a luxury as a grouse moor
or a deer forest), and partly also because the art is now pursued
with greatly improved appliances.
We live in times in which, as I observed in the first page of
the first pamphlet I ever wrote on jack-fishing, no 'well in-
formed pike is to be ensnared by such simple devices as those
which proved fatal to his progenitors in the good old days of
innocence and Izaak Walton, and were we now to sally forth
with the trolling gear bequeathed to us by our great grand-
fathers of lamented memory, we should expect to see every
pike from John o' Groat's to Land's End rise up to repel with
scorn the insult offered them. No ! depend upon it the
dwellers in what Tom Hood called the ' Eely places ' have
THE PIKE. 7
come in for their full share of the education movement, and the
troller who at the end of the nineteenth century would expect
to make undiminished catches must devote both time and
attention to refining to the very utmost every part of his
' Every hook in the spinning flight, every link in its trace,
becomes in his view an object of importance, because it is not
only positive but comparative excellence which he must aim at.
Other trailers will take advantage of the latest ' wrinkle,' if he
will not, and the art is not only to fish fine, but, if he wants to
make the best basket, to fish finer than anybody else, at least
on the same water. It is perfectly true that when the pike is
sharp-set he is, as I have said, practically omnivorous, but
where fine fishing and perfection of tackle come in is on the
occasions when he is not regularly on the feed, and when his
appetite is dainty and requires to be tickled. At these times
the man who fishes fine will fill his creel, whilst he who uses
coarser tackle will, in all probability, carry it home empty.
' But it is not only as regards the basket that fine fishing is
an object worth aiming at. It is the only mode of fishing that
really deserves the name of sport ; to haul out a miserable pike
with an apparatus like a barge pole and a meat-hook neither
demands skill nor evokes enthusiasm. There is no " law "
shown to the fish, and not the slightest prowess by the fisher-
man; it is simply fish-slaughter, not sport.'
PIKE AND OTHER COARSE FISH.
SPINNING AND TROLLING-RODS.
An idea happily now nearly exploded has prevailed
amongst trollers since the time of Nobbes of the Dark Ages,
that a pike-rod should necessarily be a clumsy rod a thick,
unwieldy, weighty, top-heavy weapon in fact, a sort of cross
between a hop-pole and a clothes-prop. Whatever our pike-
fishing ancestors may have been in the matter of skill, it can-
not be denied that their rods and angling gear generally were in
every way vastly inferior to our own, and, indeed, such as to
make any display of what we should consider science out of