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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admirable bait for large eels, and should be used on the uight


The bleak is found in most rivers ; the best bait is a gentle,
and it may be allowed to sink about a foot and half under the
surface of the water. Use a No. 13 hook, a single horse-hair

Elliot's complete angler. 15

line, and a very small quill float ; frequently throw in a few
gentles, or pieces of chewed bread as a ground bait, and strike
the instant you perceive a bite. The bleak spawns in May,
and is then out of season.


The grayling is an extremely beautiful fish, and inhabits most
of the clear, rapid rivers which have a sandy or gravelly bottom,
and its favourite haunts are the sides of the stream.

A light rod, cork float, fine hook, and running tackle, are
necessary, and when you observe a bite, strike the moment the
float descends. Handle your tackle skilfully and gently, as the
fish's mouth is exceedingly tender, and easily gives way with
the jerk of the hook.

The grayling will take caddis, marsh and dew worms, flies,
both natural and artificial, and white grubs. The principal
months in which to angle for it are, September, October, and
November, when it is in its best condition.

When fly- fishing for this tenant of the stream, it is necessary
to have a fine gut, and smaller fly, and be more ready with hand
and eye than when angling for trout.


Eels love muddy and stilly water, and are in season the year
round. There are several methods of taking them, viz. : by
rod and lines, sniggling, bobbing, and trimmer fishing, and the
most alluring baits are wasp- grubs, maggots, and small red

If you use a rod, the line must be either of strong gut or
twisted, and the hook No. 8 size. Let the bait touch the
bottom, and when you perceive a bite, allow the float to remain
for a moment under water before you strike.

When using the dead line, which should be of whipcord, a
bank runner must be employed ; five or six hooks should be put
on the line about nine inches asunder, and they should be baited
with small fish or lob-worms.

For sniggling, the line must be either of platted silk or whip-
cord, and instead of a hook a stout worsted needle should be
fastened by its middle to the line. A large marsh or small lob-
worm, tough and weU scoured, is the best bait for this species

16 Elliot's complete angler.

of fishing, and when you bait your needle, you must thrust its
point into the worm's head, and draw it through the body of
the worm, until the latter completely enshrouds it.

When you go out sniggling, you should carry the line on a
■winder, in your hand, and search for the fish near flood gates,
warfings, bridges, piles, holes in the banks of rivers, ponds, and
canals, and also in ditches, and amongst osiers and willows.

You must put the bait into the lurking holes by means of a
stick with a forked head, and when you find that the bait is
taken, by the line being pulled further into the hole, give the
fish a few seconds to gorge, and then strike smartly, which will
instantly cause the hook to fall across in his stomach ; then,
hold the line fast and pull it towards you.

Bobbing for eels is thus practised : —

A large quantity of marsh-worms should be procured, and
as many as will make a bunch about the size of a turnip, strung
on worsted by passing a needle through them from head to tail,
and fastening them on your line, so that all the ends may hang
level ; affix in the middle of the bunch a leaden plummet of a
conical form, and then tie the whole to a stout rod or pole.

Having thus prepared yoiu* material, cast your bait softly into
the water, and move it gently up and down until you perceive
by the jerks on the line that the eels are attracted by the bait ;
then draw the line very steadily to the surface, and land it with
aU possible expedition.

During warm weather, the shallow parts of the stream are the
most likely haunts of these fish, and where most sport may be


This fish is generally considered foolish, and one easily taken ;
but how this idea originated it is impossible to tell. The rod
should be long and very light, the line of extremely fine gut,
and the hook No. 9 or 10.

The angler must hold the rod so low, that the end of it is
not more than fourteen inches above the float, which should have
shot attached to it, in order that little more than the eighth of
an inch of it may ride abore the surface, as roach bite so deli-
cately, that without you pay the strictest attention to your float,
you will lose four bites out of six ; when using a single line,
you must have a landing net ready, otherwise you will run the
hazard of breaking your line.





ElUofs Complete Angler.— London ; Elliot, 475, Oxford-street, w.c.

Elliot's complete angler. 17

A paste made of second day's white bread, slightly dipped in
water, with a little vermillion added to it, so as to make it a
salmon colour, is the best bait for these fish.

In rivers, they bite all the year round, but in ponds only
during the summer.


This is a very cunning fish, indeed from its extreme craftiness,
it has sometimes been styled the water fox. It may be found
in lakes, ponds and rivers, and fi^equents the quietest and deepest
parts of the stream, especially holes near flood-gates, and beds
of weeds.

It spawns in May, June, and July, and is in season in March
and April.

The best time to angle for this fish is either very early or very
late, as it seldom bites in the middle of the day, unless a soft
shower of rain happens to fall. Use a long, light rod, with a
reel, and let the line be of the finest description ; the hook, if
worms be employed as bait, should be Nos. 5 or 6 ; if maggots,
Nos. 8 or 9 ; and if wasp-grubs. No. 7.

Keep a very watchful eye on the float, and stand as far from
the water's edge as you can ; strike the instant the float dis-
appears, and if you book a large fish, give him line cautiously.


The perch is a voracious and bold fish, and takes a bait freely.
Strong tackle is necessary in angling for it, gut or twisted hair
line, cork float, and No. 7 hook. Marsh, brandling, cabbage,
and well-scoured red worms, maggots, and wasp-grubs, are
excellent baits for this fish.

Ground-baits of stewed malt, grains, or lob-worms, cut to
pieces, shoidd be thrown into the water, before you commence

Perch lurk near bridges, mill-pools, and locks, in navigable
rivers and canals, and in other streams, near rushes, in dark
still holes and eddies, and in the gravelly parts of rivers. They
spawn in February and March, and may be taken from April to
October; the best season for them is during April, May, and

18 Elliot's complete angler.


Flounders, although properly sea-fish, are frequently found in
rivers at some distance from the sea ; they may be taken from
March to August, but as their spawning time is in June, they
should uot then be eaten.

Small red worms, and brandlings, are the best baits, and they
should be put upon No. 6 hooks. Let the bait touch the bottom,
and keep it continually moving.


This fish is held in little esteem for the table ; it very much
resembles the roach in shape and colour, and thrives best in
ponds. It will take red worms, paste, and gentles ; and the
tackle requisite consists of a gut line, quill float, and No. 10
hook. Let the bait touch the bottom, and strike the moment
you see a bite.


The chub in summer delights iu scours, tumbling bays, and
deep and rapid parts of rivers ; and in the autumn and winter,
in the little holes under banks, where the stream is sheltered by
overhanging willows.

It is a bold biting fish, and may be caught all the year round ;
in summer it bites during the whole of the day, but best in the
morning and evening ; it may also be taken in the night time.

The baits adapted for chub are maggots, red worms, gentles,
bullock's brains, and pith from the back bone of a bullock.

Use running tackle, gut line, quill float, and No, 8 or 9 hook;
strike the instant you perceive a bite, and let the fish run, giving
it plenty of line, otherwise it will break loose, as it usually darts
furiously away to the opposite side, the moment it is struck.


The tench thrives best in ponds where the bottom is composed
of mud or clay, but a few may sometimes be taken in rivers.
They will take the same baits, and may be found in the same
haunts as the carp ; they bite freely in summer months, especially
on dark, warm, muggy days, and during fine mild showers.
They spawn in May, and the best time to angle for them is I
early in the morning, and late in the evening.

Elliot's complete angler. 19


This is one of the best flavoured and highly esteemed fresh
water fish. It spawns in !March or April, and although gene-
rally reckoned good from Midsummer to Christmas, it is in its
prime during September and October only.

The baits used in fishing for it are, roach, dace, gudgeon,
minnows, chub, bleak, and young frogs ; and the proper size of
a bait is when it weighs from one to four ounces.

There are several methods of trolling for this fish, namely,
with the gorge hook, No. 1, which is loaded on the shank with
lead ; with the snap hook, either spring or plain, composed of
three hooks fastened together, Nos. 2, 3 ; with the bead hook,
formed of two single hooks, tied back to back, with a little drop
or bead of lead affixed to a link or two of chain, depending from
the lower part of it, No, 4 ; and with the live bait hooks, which
may be either single or double, Nos. 5 and 6. In baiting these
various hooks, the following directions must be very carefully
attended to : —

Hook the curved end of a baiting-needle, No. 7, to the loop
of the gimp on which the hook is fastened, pass the needle
through the mouth of the bait, and bring it out at the tail ; the
lead on the hook will thus be hidden in its belly, and the barbs
or shanks inside its mouth ; and in order to keep the bait steady
on hook, it is a good plan to tie its tail to the gimp with some
white thread.

The snap-hook is baited by thrusting the point of the upper
or small hook under the skin of the bait, on the side, and
bringing it up the back fin.

Another snap-hook is baited by passing the loop of the gimp
inside the gill of the bait, and bringing it out at the mouth ; the
lead thus lies in its throat, the first hook outside its gill, and
the others in its side, the barbs being just beneath the skin ;
the bait's mouth should next be sewn up, so as to keep the lead
and hooks in their proper places

On a bead-hook, a gudgeon or barbel is the best bait ; the
little drop or bead of lead should be put into its mouth, which
should afterwards be sewn up with white thread.

The live- bait must have a No. 3 or 4 hook passed either
through its lips or the flesh beneath the back fin. In the latter
plan care must be taken not to touch the back bone, or the bait
will soon die.

The rod for trolling must be very strong, about fourteen feet

20 Elliot's complete angler.

in length, and have a whalebone, or hickory top ; the line must
be at least thirty yards in length, made either of silk, or silk
and gut twisted together, and be kept on a winch.

When you begin trolling, first fasten the winch on to the rod,
then pass the line through the rings on the under side of the
rod, and attach the hook to the line by a small swivel ; next
grasp the rod in your right hand, just above the winch, and rest
the butt end of it against the side of your stomach, draw out,
with your left hand, a yard or two of the Line from the swivel,
hold it firmly, and then with a sharp jerk from your right hand,
cast the bait into the stream, and let the line which you hold in
your left hand run out freely, that the hook may not be checked
when cast out, by your holding the line too fast, and so fall
short of the spot you wished to reach.

The favourite haunts of pike are the deep eddies in tumbling-
bays, and deep stiU water in rivers ; near beds of candock weeds,
and mouths of ditches or small streams which empty themselves
into rivers, and near flood-gates.


The dace is found in most rivers. It is a handsome fish, and
is generally accounted light and nourishing food. It gives
good amusement to the angler, as it bites freely.

The hook should be a size larger than for roach, but in all
other respects the tackle may be the same. Use a ground-bait
of bran and clay mixed, and throw it into water frequently while
angling. Dace will take red worms, maggots, wasp grubs,
greaves, and a paste made of cheese and honey ; they are
partial to red worms in the spring, and in the summer if you
use gentles, put two at a time on the hook ; a small piece of
greaves with a gentle is also a veiy good bait.

You may begin filling for them in March, and they continue
in season tiU October ; after that time they seldom bite unless
the weather is verv mild.


The gudgeon is a very bold biting fish, and gives much
amusement to the angler. It is in season from April to October,
and may be taken at any time of the day, particularly in dull
weather. The best bait is a blood worm, and the tackle should

Elliot's complete angler. 21

be a fine gut or hair line, light cork float, and a No. 9 or 10

Gudgeons frequent the shallows, where the river is free from
weeds, with a grayelly or sandy bottom, which must be often
stirred with a rake made for that purpose.

Allow your bait to touch the ground, and before you begin,
plumb the depth of the stream. In the rivers Lea and Thames
immense niunbers of this fish may be taken in a day.


This fish is in little esteem for the table, its flesh being
coarse ; it is highly prized, however, by the angler, as it gives
him good sport, not unmixed with fear for the safety of his
tackle, for when of large size it is an extremely strong and
crafty fish, and will use every expedient to get oif the hook, or
else snap the line, which, unless the angler exerts his skill, it
will certainly achieve.

Before you begin fishing for barbel, throw plenty of ground
bait into the water, and continue to do so at intervals.

The best bait for this purpose is one made of soaked greaves,
bran, and clay, mixed together in balls about the size of an egg.

The barbel being a very sharp and quick biter, you must strike
smartly the moment you see a nibble, then let him run some
distance before you turn him round ; keep him away from weeds,
strive to get him into deep water, play him imtil he has lost all
his strength, and then haul him to land.

In the Thames, barbel are usually fished for from punts or
boats. A strong rod is necessary, with running tackle, gut line,
quill float, and a No. 7 or 8 hook. The bait should always
touch the bottom of the stream.


This fish resembles the perch in shape, and is sometimes
called the ruffe perch. It is found principally in slow deep
rivers which have a gravelly soil, and its spawning time is in

In angling for it, use a quill float and No. 7 hook. The
moment you observe a bite, strike, without allowing much line.

The proper baits are small red worms and brandlings, and
they should be suffered to drag lightly on the ground.



Throw in a ground bait made of clay and worms, if the water
is clear, but if it is muddy, worms alone will do.

This fish will bite freely at any time of the day, during the
summer, but mostly in cloudy, sultry weather.


The bream is principally found in lakes, and stiU rivers. It
may be taken in the spring and summer, but as it spawns during
June and July, it is best to angle for it in May — when it is in
its prime — and from the end of July to the end of September ;
and in these months from sunrise till eight o'clock in the
morning, and from five o'clock till dusk in the evening.

Use a gut line, quill float, and No. 10 hook, and let the bait
touch the bottom. The baits necessary, are well scoured red
worms, maggots, flag worms, and brandlings.

Use lob- worms cut in pieces, and grains, as ground baits,
before you commence angling.

The angler should be very silent, keep from the edge of the
water as much as possible, and strike the instant the flout is
drawn under the surface of the water.


Many kinds of fish may be caught at the mouths of rivers
when the tide is running up.

Plaice, whiting, small cod, turbut, and haddock, will readily
seize a bait, and may be angled for from piers and projecting
rocks ; indeed, even mackerel may be taken from similar places,
during the time they are in season.

For this kind of angling, a good strong rod, stout, well -leaded
line, large cork float, and good sized hook are requisite.

When fishing at the mouths of rivers with gentles, well-
scoured red worms, or shrimps, as baits, you may take whitings,
eels, flat-fish, small cod fish, and haddock. When fishing from
a pier, or rock, or a boat, at a short distance fi-om land, two or
three red worms, a small raw crab, or a muscle, or a little bit of
whiting will prove very serviceable baits.

A piece of brilliant scarlet cloth will tempt mackerel, and to
ensure success, it is necessary to let your bait hang about

Elliot's complete angler. 23

eighteen or twenty inches below the surface of the water, or
even lower if you can allow it.

If you have a crab or muscle on your hook, you should let it
drag on the bottom.

When fishing for haddock, your line must be deep in the
water, and your hook baited with two or three lob-worms or
muscles taken from the shell. Your tackle must be strong, for
they struggle, especially if they have arrived to a tolerable growth.

In sea fishing, when a ship is under sail, your line should be
sixty fathoms in length, having a large hook affixed to it, and a
piece of lead sufficient to keep it as deep under water as possible.
Your line must be made of hemp, and fastened to the gunwhale
of the ship. Cod and large haddocks are the fish usually taken
in this way, and sometimes ling. The bait is a piece of raw
beef, and it is scarcely possible to feel either of them bite, even
though you hold the line in your hand, by reason of the conti-
nual motion of the ship.

Angling ill salt water is not half so agreeable as in fresh water,
uor does it requure near so much tact and management of the
tackle and baits as fresh water fishing.


A celebrated angler — one who has wandered along the sides
of most of the European and some of the American rivers, with
his rod in his hand — has said, that, having seen all these rivers,
he had never yet met with one in any way to be compared to the
Thames, either for beauty or the good sport generally to be
found in it.

Byron, in writing on the scenery of the banks of the Thames,
has given us the following lines : —

The river calmly swells and flows,
The charm of this enchanted ground.

And all its various turns disclose
Some broken beauty varying round.

The sternest heart its wish might bound,

On earth to dwell delighted here ;
Nor could on earth a spot be foimd

To nature and to me so dear.

24 Elliot's complete angler.

I shall now describe some of the different fishing stations,
easy of access : —

In the Docks, below London Bridge, perch, roacli, and
bream may be taken.

The Commercial Docks, near Deptford, abound with perch,
roach, and large bream. In both the above docks you must
have permission of a director.

Battersea Bridge. — At this station good roach and dace may
be had during the months of July, August, September, and

Putney Bridge. — The same kind of fish may be taken.

Putney to Kichmond. — Between these there are few places
either for punt or bank-fishing, but tolerable good sport may be
had off the Aits, at Brentford, and between Isleworth and

Eichmond. — From the middle of August to the end of Octo-
ber, about two hundred yards above the bridge, fine barbel may
be taken ; but in the early part of the season, the preserve,
opposite the Duke of Buccleuch's boat-house, the dace are very
numerous, and many barbel are caught with dace tackle.

Twickenham. — The barbel and dace are plentiful, roach not
so numerous. At Twickenham Ait some large chub may be

Kingston and Hampton "Wick. — Barbel, perch, roach, dace,
and gudgeon may be had in both these places , from June to
August the gudgeon-fishing is very good.

Teddington. — It is a favorite resort for the lovers of barbel-
fishing, and gjod gudgeon, roach, and dace. It is not consi-
dered so good as Kichmond, Ditton, or Hampton.

Thames Ditton. — This place is well stocked with barbel,
perch, chub, roach, and dace, and is a very favorite resort of
London anglers, as it deserves to be.

Hampton Court. — This preserve contains barbel, roach, dace,
and many fine perch. From July to October excellent gudgeon
may be had between Hampton and Sunbury, and numerous
perch are taken while fishing lor gudgeon. At Sunbury large
gudgeon and trout may be taken.

AValton. — Heavy barbel, roach, dace, and chub, it is also one
of the best places for perch-fishing on the river.

Shepperton. — This place is well stored with roach and dace,
chub and barbel, and good bank-fishing for perch, chub and jack.

Elliot's completk angler. 25

Weybridge. — There is good pike-fishing in the back river.

Chertsey Bridge. — There is a small stream which runs at the
back of Chertsey, containing jack, perch, chub, &c.

Laleham. — ^The fly-fisher may here exercise his craft with
general success.

Staines. — Since the preservation of the Thames, fishing here
is much improved ; it is frequented for barbel fishing.

Windsor. — At this place, gudgeon, pike, trout, and barbel
may be taken ; but between Windsor and Bray, trout are more
abimdant than in any other part of the river.

Maidenhead and Marlow. — At either of these places the
angler will find good sport in pike and perch, in September and


January. — Chub, pike, and roach are the only fish that
can be taken in this month. The middle of the day is the most
seasonable time, provided the water is tolerably clear, and free
from ice.

February. — Towards the latter end of this month, when the
weather becomes somewhat milder, carp, gudgeons, and min-
nows may be taken, as well as pike, chub, and roach. The
middle of the day is the most favourable time, and fish in eddies
near banks. The perch spawns either in this or the next month.

March. — In this month, minnows, roach, chub, gudgeons,
tench, carp, and trout, form the bill of fare. Smelts, bleak,
pike, perch, and dace spawn. In this month also, the middle
of the day is the best for angling.

April. — In this month of " ever-varying shade and sun-
shine," the increasing warmth of the weather brings also increase
of sport to the patient angler, and tench, perch, trout, roach,
carp, gudgeons, flounders, bleak, minnows, and eels reward his
toil. Barbel, pike, chub, ruffe, and dace are out of season, this
being their spawning time.

May. — Perch, ruffe, bream, gudgeons, flounders, dace, min-
nows, eels, and trout may betaken. Carp, barbel, tench, chub,
roach, and bleak, spawn.

June. — Eoach, dace, minnows, bleak, gudgeons, eels, barbel.

26 Elliot's complete angler.

ruffe, perch, pike, and trout are in season. Carp, tench, bream,
and gudgeon, spawn about this time.

July. — The list is still tolerably comprehensive; trout,
flounders, chub, dace, eels, bleak, minnows, pike, barbel, gud-
geons, and roach, affording good sport. Bream and carp spawn.

August. — In this month, barbel, bream, gudgeons, roach,
flounders, chub, dace, eels, bleak, minnows, pike, ruffe, and
perch, bite freely.

September. — Eoach, gudgeons, dace, chub, eels, tench,
bleak, minnows, barbel, bream, ruffe, pike, trout, perch, and
grayling are in season.

October. — Tench, gudgeons, roach, chub, dace, minnows,
bleak, pike, trout, and grayling, are the principal fish in season
in this month.

November. — This month's list is limited ; roach, pike, chub,
trout, and grayling, being the only fish now in season' Roach
and chub get into deep waters, and remain there till spring.

December. — When the weather is propitious, pike, roach,
and chub, may sometimes be taken, but all other fish have
retired to their winter retreats.


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 2 of 3)