John Matthai.

The complete angler : showing how to take the best kinds of fish : to which is added a guide to bottom fishing, and a correct list of rivers, canals, and ponds.. online

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Online LibraryJohn MatthaiThe complete angler : showing how to take the best kinds of fish : to which is added a guide to bottom fishing, and a correct list of rivers, canals, and ponds.. → online text (page 1 of 3)
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Take the Best Kinds of Fish :







Where Fish are to be Founds


H: I IsT T S TO .A.lsr G- Xi E IK S ,
&c. &c. &c.

And all Booksellers and Fishing-Tackle Makers in Town or Country.







(in the VICINITT of LONDON,)





E[:zn:srTs to jlh^gxiShs.



And of all Booksellers and Fishing-Tackle Makers.


IntroductioQ 3

Rivers, Ponds, and Canals, in the vicinity of London 5

Tackle for Angling 6

Rods ^. 6

Lines 7

Floats 7

Winches 8

Hooks 8

Baits 8

Ground Bait 10

Paste Baits 10

Artificial Flies 11

Hints to Anglers 12

Different Kinds of Fish 13

Salmon Trout 13

The Smelt 13

The Stickleback 14

The Bull Head 14

The Minnow 14

The Loach 14

The Bleak 14

The Grayling 15

Eels 15

The Roach 16

The Carp 17

The Perch 17

The Flounder 18

TheRudd 18

The Chub 18

The Tench 18

The Pike 19

The Dace 20

The Gudseon 20

The Barbel 21

The Pope, or Ruffe 21

The Bream 22

Salt Water Angling 22

Thames Angling 23

Monthly Guide for Bottom Fishing 25

Rules of the Thames Preservation Society 26

Laws Relating to Angling 27



Sir Henry Wotton, a late Provost of Eton College, a man of
learning, wit, and experience, was a lover of Angling, and a
frequent practitioner of the art ; speaking of which, he says : —

" It was an employment for his idle time, which was then
not idly spent, for angling was, after tedious study, a rest to his
mind, a cheerer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of
unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of content-
edness, and that it begat habits of peace and patience in those
that professed and practised it."

The studious man, of whatever profession, although perfectly
conscious of the necessity of air and exercise to the preservation
of health, has seldom sufficient resolution to tear himself from
his accustomed pursuits, without some powerful stimulus to
action, and, therefore, any pleasurable recreation that may
induce exercise, and lead the sedentary to the enjoyment of a
pure air, breathing over woods, meadows, and waters, cannot
fail to be beneficial. I am not acquainted with any amusement
in which this advantage can be enjoyed without considerable
alloy, except the diversion of angling.

The angler rises with the sun, and, therefore, has frequent
opportunities of beholding the various beautiful phenomena
which attend the advent of that glorious orb ; he hastens with
buoyant spirits to his favourite stream , wending his way through
flowery meadows, or to some lone mountain glen, where the
congregated waters of the hills find a devious passage through



rocks and woods, to the calm bosom of the expansive lake.
AH ilie varieties of light and shade, of form and colour, are
presented to his view, amidst a succession of sublime, pastoral,
or romantic scenery ; and the botanist, mineralogist, and ento-
mologist, may find ample room for observation on the borders
of a mountain stream.

Walton has very justly styled angling " the contemplative
man's recreation ;" for the practice of it is, indeed eminently
calculated to still the stormy passions of the breast, and lead
to the calm and tranquil pleasures arising from frequent medi-
tation on the beauties of nature. This delightful old author
has so skilfully defended his favourite art against the sneers of
ignorance and prejudice ; that I shall merely observe, that I
believe the art of angling to be an innocent, entertaining, and a
healthful pursuit, and calculated to be equally useful and
amusing to men of studious habits and sedentary occupations.

Sacred and profane history alike prove the antiquity of
angling ; the Boak of Job and the prophet Amos speak of fish-
hooks as well-known implements in the hands of ancient
anglers; and Plutarch gives us a scene between the Queen of
Egypt and her infatuated lover, which proves that Mark Antony,
whatever might have been his personal accomplishments, was a
very indifferent brother of the angle. Nor was this employ-
ment then held to be cruel (and thence unjustifiable), for He
who " went about doing good " chose the greater number of
his apostles from amongst fishermen ; and, on one occasion,
said expressly to a disciple, " Go thou to the sea and cast an
hook, and take the first fish that cometh," which may surely be
considered a sufficient answer to those whose extreme and some-
what morbid sensibility may have been awakened by the poetic
vituperations of Lord Byron, or the exaggerated descriptions of
the clever Horace Smith.



The Thames contains all kinds of fish ; being under the juvis-
diction of the Lord Mayor as far as Staines, up to that place no
one is allowed to fish (under a penalty of twenty pounds),
during the months of March, April, and May, as most iresh-
water fish cast their spawn during those months.

From Staines to Battersea, various parts of the river are
staked out, and bailiffs appointed to see that the fish are not
taken by improper means. The angler may, therefore, be certain
of meeting with plenty of sport in those places.

In the New River, which is free for any person to try his
fortune in, from its source near Ware in Hertfordshire, to Isling-
ton, very many fine fish may be found.

The Lea river, which runs into the Thames at Poplar, abounds
with fish. Some parts of the river are preserved, and for per-
mission to angle there, you must pay a certain sum annually.

The Eoding, which runs into the Thames at Barking, pro-
duces an abundance of eels, cliub, perch, &c. There are many
deep holes and favorable spots for angling in this river at
Abridge, Woodford, Loughton, Ilford, Waubtead, and Barking.

In the Mole, which empties itself into tlie Thames at East
Moulsey in Surrey, many good fish may be found. The angler
will find the best sport near Esher, Leatherhead, Cobham,
Dorking, or Ryegate.

In the Wandle, at Mitcham^ Merton. Carshalton, and Wands-
worth, fine trout, &c. may be taken.

On Chiselhurst common, in Kent, about twelve miles from
London, are some ponds stored with cai-p and tench, &c. &c.
The large pond near the King's Head Inn, is the best.

A mile to the east of Shooter's hill, in Kent, there are some
ponds on a common near the road side, containing carp, tench,
&c. T ese ponds are free to all anglers.

The Camberwell Canal contains pike, roach, carp, perch and eels


At Stanmore, in Middlesex, ten miles from London, there are
two or three ponds on the common, in which perch, tench, &c.
may be fonnd. Between these ponds and Stanmore Priory,
about a mile distant, is a very fine piece of water called the Long
Pond, which contains pike, &c.

The Paddington Canal has chub, eels, gudgeons, perch, roach,
and pike.

The river Wey, in Surrey, which joins the Thames near Oat-
lands park, contains barbel, ruffe, dace, gudgeons, carp, pike,
and roach.

Dagenham Breach, in Essex, is preserved for angling. The
subscription is two pounds per annum. It is well stored with
carp, pike, bream, eels, &c.

The Lake in the gardens of Hornsey-wood house, contains
perch, tench, roach, &c., and in which persons taking refresh-
ment at the tavern are allowed to fish.

The Ravensbourne, in Kent, contains good roach, chub,
gudgeons, perch, trout, and dace.

In the Colne, near Uxbridge and Denham, fine trout abound;
but as the river is rented, you must obtain leave to fish, and
pay so much per pound for what you catch.

On Hampstead heath and Clapham common, are some free
ponds, containing perch, carp, and a few other fish.

The Surrey Canal Docks at Eotherhithe, contain plenty of
good jack, roach, bream, perch, and eels. It is a subscription,
water, and the terms are a guinea annually, or a shilling for
each day's sport.

In the Commercial Docks at Rotherhithe, bream, eels, &c.
abound. You must procure an admission ticket from a director,
before you can fish in this water.


E D S .

The rod being the staff upon which the angler's sport depends,
we shall proceed to give some particulars respecting the choice
aud manufacture of that essential article.


The rod should, when put together, taper gradually from the
butt end to the top, and be perfectly straight and even.

For general purposes, a rod of about twelve feet in length is
the most convenient ; but in wide rivers, fifteen and eigliteen
feet rods are sometimes required. A bamboo rod with several
tops of different degrees of strength, is exceedingly well adapted
for general purposes, and a cane rod surpasses every other for
fine fishing.

If the young angler wishes to turn rod manufacturer, he may
use ash for the butts, and lancewood for the tops, and so make
extremely good two piece rods ; or crab tree for the stocks,
with hazel or yew switches for the tops.

A whalebone top is an extremely good, although not an indis-
pensable article ; it shoidd have a strong loop of horse-hair
whipt on it.

It is a good plan to have a rod for each kind of fishing, as by
such an arrangement they can be kept in complete order, and
ready for immediate service. The rods shoiild be ringed to
guide the line from the reel.


The best and most serviceable lines are those made of horse"
hair, for such as are composed of hair and silk, from retaining
the water, soon become rotten. Good lines should be perfectly
twisted, round, and even, without any little irregularities, and in
point of colour those which are of a light grey, brown, or
white, are perhaps the most useful; some anglers, however,
prefer a light serrel tint.

The bottom, or casting line for fly fishing, which is affixed to
the line on tlie reel, must be of gut at the top, and very fine at
the dropper or bottom, and before any flies are made upon it, it
should be picked and tried to see that it is of an uniform thick-
ness throughout.

It is never worth a lad's while to attempt manufacturing
fishing lines, as they may always be purchased more neatly
finished, and even at a much cheaper rate than he could pos-
sibly contrive to make them.

When fastening the line on the rod, the loop of the line
should be passed through the ring at the end of the top joint,
carried over the ferrule, and then drawn up to the top again, by
which plan the loop will be secured.



Floats can always be procured ready-made of all sizes and
eveiy variety of shape.

For small fish and slow streams, porcupine, swan, goose, or
Muscovy duck quill floats, will be found the best ; and in strong
and rapid rivers, or for the larger kinds of fish, cork floats must
be used. If the young angler prefers exercising his own ability
in making cork floats, to purchasing them ready made, he must
procure a piece of extremly fine-grained sound cork, and bore a
hole through it with a small red-hot iron, then put in a quill
which will exactly fit the aperture, and afterwards cut the cork
into the shape of a pear.

When this is finished, he must grind it smooth with pumice-
stone, and paint and varnish it. As it is essentially requisite
that the float should swim perpendicularly in the water, that it
may betray the slightest nibble, it must be carefully poised by
fastenins a few shot on the line.


A winch is one of the most useful additions to your angling
apparatus which you can procure. With its assistance you may
reach parts of a river you could not otherwise attempt.


Of hooks there are four kinds, the Limerick, the Kendal, the
Kirby, and the Sneckbend ; which fashion or shape is the best,
is a question very difficult to settle, as almost every angler has
a predilection in favour of one sort, to the prejudice of all the


The ash-grub is found in the rotten bark of a tree wlxich has
been felled some time ; it is an excellent bait for grayling, chub,
dace, or roach, and may be used all the year round. It should
be kept in wheat bran.

The brandling, or gilt-tail, is found in old dung-hills, tanner's
bark, rotten earth, and cows' dung. It is an admirable bait for


percli, tencb, bream, gudgeon, and indeed for almost any kind

The cabbage worm is a good bait for chub, dace, roach,or trout.
The caterpillar also is employed for the same fish as the cab-
bage worm.

The locality of the crab-tree worm is indicated by its name.
It is a good bait for roach, dace, trout, and chub.

Flag or dock worms inhabit the fibres of flag roots in old
pits or ponds. They are excellent baits for tench, bream, bleak,
grayling, carp, perch, dace, and roach.

Gentles, or maggots, are bred by hanging up a piece of meat
until it putrifies ; they should be kept on flesh, and when they
have arrived at their full size, a little bran and damp saud may
be put in the vessel in which they are immured, for the purjiose
of scouring them ; they will be fit for use in a day or two, and
are tempting bait for all kinds of fish. When putting a gentle
on the hook, you must insert the hook at one end of it, and
bring it out at the other, and then draw the gentle back until it
completely covers the point of the hook.

The meadow or marsh worm is found in marshy places or on
the banks of the rivers

Oak worms may be gathered on the leaves of the oak tree.

The tag- tail may be procured in meadows or chalky lands,
after rain, or in the morning, during the months of March or
April ; it is accounted a good bait for trout in cloudy weather,
or when the water is muddy.

White grubs, or white bait, are much larger than gentles,
and may be found in sandy and meadow lands.

In order to scour and preserve worms, you must procure
some very fresh moss, wash away all particles of earth from it,
and squeeze it, but not too dry ; then put it into a jar and press
it closely down, and place worms upon it.

Wasp grubs may be taken from the nest ; they require to be
hardened in a warm oven, and will prove a good bait for such
fish as take gentles.

House crickets are good to dib with for chub.

Beetles are good also for chub ; they may be found in cowdung.

Miller's thumbs, bleaks, minnows, dace, gudgeons, loaches,
sticklebals, smelts, and roach, are used as baits for some of the
larger fish.

Grasshopper's are good baits during June, July, and August,
for roach, grayling, chub, and trout ; their legs and wings must
be taken off before they are put on the hook.



Palmer worms, or cankers, are found on herbs, plants and trees.

Salmon spawn is an excellent bait for trout and chub ; you
may purchase it at the shops ready for use ; but if you wish to
prepare it yourself, you must attend to the following instructions:

About September or October, purchase a pound of salmou
spawn, boil it for a quarter of an hour, wash away the blood,
and pick out all the pieces of skin ; next add to it two ounces
of salt and a quarter of an ounce of saltpetre, and bray them all
up together in a mortar ; put it in little jars, and pour over it
mutton suet melted ; cover the mouths of the jars with pieces
of bladder, and the spawn will be fit for use at any time, and
may be kept for two years.


Ground baiting is a most essential part of angling and ought
never to be omitted, as success in bottom or float fishing cannot
be expected, unless the proper means for drawing the fish toge-
ther are resorted to.

For barl)el, it is necessary to make the lumps of ground bait
large in proportion to the strength of the current in which you

For carp, teuch, eels, perch, and bream, fresh grains will be
found very serviceable. They must be perfectly fresh, for if
they have the slightest laiut of sourness, the fish will not touch


When W'orking up paste baits, be particularly careful to have
clean ha.ids, and knead your pastes thoroughly, so that all the
materials may be well incorporated.

Sheeps' blood and satfron make a good paste for roach,
bleak, &c.

For barbel, an excellent paste may be made by dipping the
crumb of new white bread in the liquor in which chandlers'
greaves has been boiled, adding a little of the greaves, and
working it up till it is stiff.

Paste baits are not at all adapted for swift, running streams,
but for quiet brooks, ponds, or very still rivers.

Elliot's complete angler. 11


There are upwards of a hundred different kinds of flies suit-
able to this species of angling, a full description of the method
of making each, would far exceed our limits ; we shall, therefore,
describe some of the most usual only. The cow-dung fly may
be used from the 1st of April, and will kill till September. Its
wing should be made of a feather of the land-rail, its body of
yellow camlet mingled with a little fur from the brown bear,
and its legs of ginger blue dun, is an excellent fly during March
and April, and should be used in the middle of the daj\

The dun fly's wings must be made of a starling's feather,
body of blue fur from a water rat, mixed with a little yellow-
cohmred mohair, and its tail, which is forked, of two fibres
from the feather which you use for the wings.

The black gnat makes its appearance about the latter end of
April, and will be found useful till the close of May.

A black ostrich's harl must be used in making the body of
this fly, and starling's feather for the wings ; it should be trim-
med fchort and thick.

This fly is reckoned a good killer when the water is rather

The violet fly is also used in April ; it is made of light dun-
coloured bear's hair mixed with violet stuff, and winged with
the grey feather of a mallard.

The stone fly, which may be used with success during May,
especially in the mornings, is composed of dun bear's liair,
mixed with brown and yellow camlet, putting more yellow on
the belly and tail than on any other part, a grizzled hackle for
the legs, and a mottled feather from a hen pheasant, or blue
cock's hackle for the wings, which must lie flat.

The green drake, or May fly, is, perhaps, the best that can
be procured for trout fishing. Its wings should be made of the
light feather of the grey drake, dyed lemon colour, its body of
yellow-coloured mohair, neatly ribbed with green silk, head of
a peacock's harl, and its tail of three long hairs from a sable

The yellow sally is an approved fly from the early part of
May to the end of June. Its body must be made of yellow

l2 Elliot's complete angler.

unravelled worsted, mixed with some fur from a hair's ear, and
its wings of a hackle dyed yellow.

The grey drake appears about the same time as the green
drake, which, indeed in shape it very closely resembles.

The purple fly is made of purple wool mixed with light brown
bear's hair, and dubbed with purple silk, is useful during June
and July.

The red ant's wings must be made of a light feather from a
starling, its body of a peacock's harl, and its legs of a ginger
coloured hackle, and be careful to make its body thick at the end.
This fly first appears in June, and continues to August ; it is a
capital killer from eleven in the morning till six in the evening.


It is generally understood that when two or three persons
are angling in the same stream, there shall be a distance of
thirty yards between them.

If the learner wishes to become a complete angler, he must

1 3

Online LibraryJohn MatthaiThe complete angler : showing how to take the best kinds of fish : to which is added a guide to bottom fishing, and a correct list of rivers, canals, and ponds.. → online text (page 1 of 3)