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to October is the best time, unless the weather is
very Luild.

Grayling.

The grayling, or umber, spawns in May, and is in
the best condition in November. The}' will greedily
take all the baits that a trout does, and fi-equent the
same streams. They are said to have the fragrant
smell of the plant thymallus. Their average length
is from sixteen to eighteen inches : and they must be
angled for with very fine tackle, as they are a remark-
ably timid fish. AVhen hooked, they must also be
cautiously worked, as the hold in their mouth easily
gives waj'-, but they will speedily return to the bait.
It is fine eating; unknown to Scotland or Ireland.

With a light rod. a cork float, a line hook, and a



FOR BEGIXNERS. 23

ninnliic^ line, they may b? caus^lit any time in tLe
clay, especially cloudy weather, from September to
January, three inches from bottom, in cold weather
and in hot, mid- water, in clear and quick streams,
clayey bottom.

Gudgeon.

The gudgeon is a fish in some request, both for its
flavour and the sport it affords to the inexperienced
angler. It is very simple, and is allured with almost
any hind of bait. It spawns two or three times
during the year, is generally from five to six inches
long, and fond of gentle streams with a gravelly
bottom. In angling for gudgeon, the bottom should
be previously stirred up, as this rouses them from a
state of inactivity, and collects them in shoals toge-
ther. Some anglers use two or three hooks in gud-
geon fishing. A float is always used, but the fish
should not be struck on the first motion of it, as they
are accustomed to nibble the bait before the}' svrallow
it. It frequently happens that, in angling for gud-
geons, perch are caught. May to October is the
time for catching them.



The Minnow.

The minnow, or minim, one of the smallest river
fish, seldom exceeds two inches in length. They
spawn generally about once in two or three years, and
swim together in shoals, in shallow waters, where
they are very free and bold in biting. They serve
also as excellent baits for pike, trout, chub, perch, and
riiany other fish, which prey upon them and devour
them sr^edilv.



24 THE AET OF ANGLING,

Minnows may be taken any part of the day all the
year round. Use light tackle, a No. 13 hook, baited
with brown paste made with brown bread, gentles, or
blood worms.

The Perch.

The perch is a very bold biting fish, and affords ex-
cellent amusement to the angler. He is distinguished
by the beauty of his colours, and by a large erection
on his back, strongly armed -with stiff and sharp
bristles, which he can raise or depress at pleasure.
Defended by this natural excrescence, he bids defiance
to the attacks of the ravenous and enormous pike,
and will even dare to attack one of his own species.
Perch spawn about the beginning of March, and mea-
sure from eight to fourteen inches. In fishing for
perch with a minnow, or brandling, the hook should
be run through the back fin of the bait, which must
hang about six inches from the ground. A large cork
float should be attached to the line, which should be
leaded about nine inches from the hook. It must be
observed that they invariably refuse a fly.

The perch is found in deep rivers and ponds, holes,
weeds, and gravelly bottoms, in inid-day, cloudy wea-
ther : from August to May is the proper time and
season to angle for them. Strong tackle and hook
No. 7 is required.

The Jack, or Pike.

The jack, or pike, is a fish of enormous size, and
the greatest voracity ; indeed, so notorious is he for
the latter quality, as to have gained the appellation
of the fresh-w\ater shark. They are also great breeders.



FOE BEGINNEES. 25

Accordinfr to a common but fallacious account, they
were originally brought to England about the reign
of Henry Vltl. They were certainly at that time
considered as great raiitie-^ Their usual time of
spawning is about March, in extremely shallow
waters. The finest pike are those which feed in clear
rivers ; those of fens or meres being of very inferior
quality. They grow to a vast size in these last-men-
tioned places, where they ieed principally on frogs,
and such like nutiiment. They are reckoned to be
the most remarkable for longevity of all fresh-water
fi^^i ; are solitary and melancholy in their habits,
generally swimming by themselves, and remaining
alone in their haunts, until compelled by hunger to
roam in quest of food. A high \vind, or a dark,
cloudy day, promises the best sport in angling for
this kind of fish, as their appetite is keener at those
periods.

There are three modes of catching pike : by the
ledger, the trolling, or walking bait, and the trim-
mer. The ledger is a bait fixed by a stick driven into
the ground, in one particular spot, or the angler's
rod may be so secured ; a live bait is attached to the
hook, such as dace, gudgeon, or roach; and, if a
frog is made use of, the largest and yellowest will be
found the most tempting. Sufficient line must be left
free to allow the pike to carry the bait to his haunts.
When fish are used as baits, the hook must be se-
curely struck through the upper lip ; and the line
should be between twelve and fourteen yards in
length. If a frog should be made use of for a bait,
the arming wire of the hook should be put in at the
mouth and out at the side, and the hinder leg of one
side should be fastened to it with strong silk. The



I'O THi: AIIT OF AX G LI KG,

sscond method, or trolling for pike, is the most gene-
ral, and, at the same time, the most diverting way of
catching them. There are several small rings, which
are fixed to each joint of the trolUng-rod, and on the
bottom and thickest joint a reel is placed. To this
reel twenty or thirty yards of line, according to the
option of the angler, are not uncommonly attached ;
the line passes through each ring of the rod, and is
then joined to the gymp, or wire, to which the hook,
or hooks, are suspended. Two large hooks are used,
about the size adapted to pereh-iishing, which are
jihiced back to back. There is also a little chain,
>\'hich hangs between the two hooks, and at the end
of this chain is a leaden plummet, sewn, or fastened
in some secure wa}', into the mouth of a dead fish,
and the hooks are left exposed on the outside. The
bait, when it is thus fastened, is constantl}^ moved
about in the water ; that, by the continuance and va-
riety of its movements (being sometimes raised, and
sometimes Icept sinking), now going with the stream,
now against it, the resemblance to life ma}^ appear
more striking and probable. The pike, if he be near,
no sooner perceives this bait, than he immediately
darts at it Avith velocity, supposing it to be a living
fish, and drags it with him to his hole, where, in
about ten or twelve minutes, he voraciouslj^ devours
it, and implants the two hooks in his body. When
he is thus secured, you must allow him ample time to
fatigue and weary himself, then drag liim slowly and
carefull}^ to shore, and land him Avith your net, being
cautious of his bite.

The third mode Isy which pike are occasionally
caught, is by the trimmer, a small wooden cylinder,
round which, about the middle, in a small diameterj



rOR ETIGINXFPS. 27

twenty or tliirty viivcls of strong platted silk, or pack-
thread, arc wound. A yard, or perhaps more, a.>
occasion suits, is siifterod to hang domi in the water,
tied to the armed vdre of a hook, constructed for the
purpose, and baited v.ith a living fish, cammoidy a
roach. The trimmer is now permitted to go wherever
the current drives it, and th« angler silently follows,
untd a fish has poached the halt, when he "comes up
and secures his prey, and retires with it to the reeds,
near shore. Whatever fish are made use of in catch-
ing pike, they should be fresh, and preserved in a tin
kettle, the water of which, if changed frequentlv, will
considerably improve them.

It may be noted in this place, that pike are deno-
minated jack until they have attained the length of
twenty-four inches : their usual haunts are sliady,
stOl, unfrequented waters, near wliich are dark, over-
hanging boughs, and abundance of weeds ; they are
also to be met with in standing waters or ditches,
which are partly overspread with that green, slimy
substance, which is better known by the name of
duck-weed. In such places he is sometimes disco-
vered at the top, and occasion all}- in the middle
of the water ; but in cold weather he is almost
always at tlie bottom.

The Pope, or Ruff.

The pope, or rutf, is a fish ver}- similar in its na-
ture and appearance to the perch, and is frequently
caught when fishing for the latter. They spawn in
March and April, and are taken with a brandling,
gentles, or caddis. They are extremtly voracious in
their disposition, and will devour a minnow, which is
almost as big as themselves. In their favourite



28 THE ART OF ANGLING,

haunts of gentle, deep streams, overhung by trees,
they swim in shoals together, and you may fish for
them either at the top or the bottom of the water, as
they are known to bite in almost any weather, and in
any situation. Their average length is from six to
seven inches. In angling for pope use hook No. 8
or 9, with a quill float.

The Roach.

Eoaeh are frequently taken with flies, under water,
They will bite at the baits which are prepared for
chub or dace, and are considered a simple and foolish
fish. They spawn in May, and turn red when boiled.
The compactness of their flesh gave rise to the pro-
verb — "Sound as a roach." The roach haunts shal-
low and gentle streams, and the mouths of small
streams which run into larger ones. In angling for
roach, the tackle must be strong, and the float large
and well leaded, and hook Xo. 10 and 11.

The Tench.

Tench, like the carp, are generally considered pond
fish, although they have been frequently caught in the
river Stour. They shed their spawTi about the com-
mencement of July, and are in season from September
to the latter end of May. They ^vill bite very freely
during the summer months. Their haunts are similar
to those of the carp, except that they frequent the
foulest and muddiest bottoms, where the}" may shel-
ter themselves among an infinite quantity of reeds ;
hence you must angle for them very near the bottom,
and allow them sufficient time to gorge the bait. Use
strong tackle, and a goose-quill float without a cork.



FOE BEGIN>'EES. 29

The general length of the tench is fiuni twelve to
fourteen inches, though some have been occasionally
caught which weighed upwards of ten pounds ; such
occurrences, however, are very rare.

Trout.

Trout Is considered as one of the finest river fish
that this country can produce. Its colours are beau-
tifully varied at different seasons of the year, and
according to the rivers it frequents.

They abound in the generality of our streams,
rivers, and lakes, and are usually angled ibr with an
artificial fly. Their weight also dilters from half a
pound to three ; some few have been caught which
weighed upwards of four pounds. Trout are ex-
tremely voracious ; and, by their activity and eager-
ness, afford famous diversion to the angler. They are
remarkable for coming to their size quicker than any
other fish, though they fatten slow; as also for being
very shoi-t-Uved. They die when taken out of water
sooner than any other with which we are acquainted.
Previous to their spawning, they are observed to force
a passage through weirs and llood-gates against tko
stream ; and how they are enabled to overcome some
of these impediments is a subject of much conjecture.
Their general time of shedding their spawn is about
October or November ; in some rivers, however, it is
much sooner, in others later. They are also met ^^ith
in eddies, where the}' remain concealed from observa-
tion behind a stone, or log, or a bank tliat projects
into the stream : during the latter part of the sum-
mer, they are frequently caught in a mill-tail, and
sometimes under the hollow of a bank, or the roots
of a tree.



30 THE AKT OF ANGLING,

111 angling for trout, there are many things worthy
of particular observation: — 1st. That the day on
which the sport is undertaken be a little wind}^, or
partially overcast ; and the south wind is superior
to all others, if it do not too much disturb j^our
tackle. 2nd. The sportsman should remain as far as
possible from the stream, fish it downwards, the line
never touching the vrater, as the agitation proceeding
from the fall might disturb the fi.^h and j)reclude all
possibility of capturing them. 3rd. Clear streams are
famous for sport ; and in fishing in them, a small fly
with slender wings must be attached to the hook.
When the water is thick, and the sight more imper-
fect from this disadvantage, a larger species of bait
must of necessity be used. 4tli. The line should, on
an average, be about twice as long as the rod, unless
in cases of emergency, when the number and variety
of trees exclude the probability of a successful throw,
if at any distance. 5th. Let the ily be made to suit
the season. After a shower, Avhen the water becomes
of a lu'own appearance, the most kilHng bait is the
orange fly ; in a clear day, tlie light-coloured fly ; and
on a glooni}' day, in overshadowed streams, a dark
ily. It is hardly necessary to add, that the angler,
particularl}' in fly-fishing for trout, cannot be too
(juick in perception, or too active in striking on the
first rise of the fish.

The trout may be caught at the top, the middle, or
the bottom of the water. In angling for him at the
top, with a natural ily, use the green-drake and the
stone-fly; but these two only during the months of
]\Iay and June. The mode of fishing in this way is
called dipping, and is thus performed : — If there be
little or no wind to disturb vuur tackle and ay-itate



FOR BEGINNERS. 31

the surface of the atrcam, make use of a line half the
length of the rod. If there he a wind, increase the
length of the line by one half. Let the hue % up or
down the river, according to the direction of the wind;
and when \'ou are aware of the rise of a fish, guide
the fly over him, as in case of striking him, 3'ou have
no length of line with which to weary him : the cap-
ture must he effected by main force ; and if the tackle
is sufficiently strong to"^ resist the struggles of the fish,
the angler, after a short contest, may insure himself
a triumph. Trout anghug at mid-water is effected
by means of a small minnow, or with a caddis-s^rub,
or any other species of worm. In angling with a
minnow, the moderately-sized and whitest ones will
be found to be the most killing bait. It should be
placed upon a large hook, to enable it to turn about
when drawn against the stream: consequently the
hook should be Inserted in the mouth, and drawn out
of the gills, or, perhaps, three or four inches beyond
it would be necessar}-. It should be again drawn
through the m^outh with the point to tlie tail of the
minnow ; this finished, the hook and bait should be
tied neatly together, by which means the evolutions
of the bait will be more effectually, and at the same
time more effectually', performed. The slack of the
line should then be pulled back, so that the body
shall be nearly straight on the hook. If the minnow
do not turn nimbi}' enough for your purpose, let the
bait be moved a little to the right or to the left, as
occasion shall direct ; which process, by inla^-ing the
oriiice made in the body of the minriov,', will greatly
facilitate its movements. Some have preferred the
loach, as a bait, to the minnow; by those who are
nice in these matters, the same precautions in attach-
ing it should be scrupulously observed. In angling



32 THE ART OP AXGLi^-G,

■^ith a worm or caddis, a cork float and the finest
kind of tackle must necessarily be made use of, as tlie
success of the .young practitioner, in this enchanting
amusement, will greatly depend on his choice of
articles. In muddy waters, the lob-worm is consi-
dered the best bait ; in clear streams, the brandling :
the first is generalh' used for large trout ; the second,
where smaller ones are expected.

There are two methods of angling at bottom, either
with a cork, or any other kind of float, or with the
hand. The best way of angling with the hand, is by
means of a ground bait, and a long line, which should
have no more than one hair next the hook, and just
above it one small spot for a plumb ; the hook should
be small, and the brandling well secured, and only
one fastened on at a time ; thus the worm must
always be kept in motion, and dra^^'n towards the
person who is fishiiig. The best mode of anglmg at
bottom, with a float, is with a caddis, which may be
put upon the hook two or three at the same time ; the
caddis is sometimes advantageously joined to the
worm, and occasionalh^ even to an artificial fly, which
should be placed upon the hook, so as merely to cover
its points ; the finest kind of tackle must be used in
this experiment, and it is generally reputed a very
killing bait, for cither trout or grayling, at all seasons
of the year. It is moreover a veiy common method
to angle with a caddis at the top of the water. The
caddis may be easily imitated by forming the head of
the insect of black sUk, and the body of yellow cha-
mois leather. It must be remarked, however, th;it
the trout will seldom or never rise at a caddis when
the stream is impregnated with mud.

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Online LibraryPaul SmithThe art of angling : for beginners → online text (page 2 of 2)