Thomas Best.

A concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation online

. (page 3 of 13)
Online LibraryThomas BestA concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation → online text (page 3 of 13)
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hand's breadth from the bottom. The young
brood of zcasps, hornets^ and humble-bees, are like-
wise very good. Also minnows y loaches sharplings,
and bull-heads. Snails, black and white ; the
black ones bellies slit to shew the white. Like-
wise cherries, blackberries, cheese kept a day or
two in wet rags, which makes it tough, or steeped
in a little honey. Also salmon-spawn, which
must be boiled till it is hard enough to stick on the
hook; and if you wish to^ preserve it, sprinkle
a little salt over it, and get a glazed earthen
pot, and put a layer of wool at the bottom of it,
and then a little salmon spawn upon that ; then
wool again, and then spawn, and so proceed al-
ternately till the pot is filled : it is a most destruc-
tive bait in the winter and spring, especially if
angled with, where salmon are known to spawn ;
for ther^ every kind of fish resort in order to de-
vour it.



NATURAL ^fly-fishing, which comes under
the head^l of Dibbling, Dapeing, and Dab*
bing, is a method with which the largest fish are
taken ^ and requires a deal of nicety and circum-
spection. The general rule in this way of angling

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is tdfish with aline about half the length of your
rod ; but if there is wind stirring, with as much
as it will carry out ; but you need hardly ever fish
with more than the first length, as dibbling must
be performed as ne^ar as possible to the bank that
you stand on ; therefore a long rod and a short
line is the best, Avhich you will command with
ease, and be able to shelter yourself from the
sight of the fishes, behind bushes, stumps of
trees, &c. The line you dib with should be very
strong : for when you have struck a good fish,
you will have a hard bout with him before you
kill him, for want of a greater length of line : '
therefore, whenever I dtb I always use a ringed
rod, with a winch for my line fixed on it, by
which means I can always keep my line to any
length, without the trouble of changing it ; and
when I have hooked a good fish, can always give
him as much scope as I think necessary, and kill
him with great ease and certainty ; this method
I would by all means advise the angler to use,
who will be thoroughly convinced of its utility at
the first trial he makes. Let the top of your rod
be a stiff one. When you see a fish rise near you,
guide your fly over him immediately, and he's
your own, if the fly you use is strong on the wa-
ter. When you dib for chuby roachy and dace,
move your fly very slow when you see them make
at it, or let the stream carry it down towards
them; if it be in a still, deep, shady hole,
draw the fly sideways by them, and they will
always eagerly pursue it. The roach takes flies
the best a little under water. The best for the
aneler's use in this method of angling, swe as

B 6 Oak-

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Oak-fly, Aih'fly, or Woodcock-fly,

Found on the body of an oak, or ash, with h\%
head downwards in geneml,and near the bottom
of the tree ; it is a brownish fly,, and is takeo
from the beginning of May till the end of August*


Found under hollow stones, at the side of rivers ;
is of a brown colour, with yellow streaks on the
back and belly ; has large wings, and is in seasoi]^
from April to July.


Found among stones by river sides, has a ydlow
body, ribbed with green, is lon^ and slender,
with wings like a butterfly, his tail turns on his
back, and is easily taken from May to Midsum-
mer ; put the point of the hook into the thickest
part of his body, under one of his wings, run it
directly through, and out on the other side, thei>
take another, and put liim on in the same man-
ner, but with his head the contrary way ; they
will live so near a quarter of an hour.

The Green and Grey-drake, are taken both i»
streams and still waters, at all hours of the
day, wnile in season ; the Stone-fly chiefly in the
morning and evening.


Found in general where the Green-drake is, and
|a shape and dimensions perfectly the same, but


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almost quite another color, being of a paler and
more livid yellow ; and green and ribbed with
black quite down his body ; with black shining
wings, diaphanous and very tender : it comes in,
and is taken after the Green-drake, and when
made "artificially, as directed in part the 2d, for
the month of May, kills fish very well. The fol-
lowing curious account of it from Bowlker, can-
not fail to amuse the reader.

'^ I happened to walk by the river side, at that
'^ season of the year, when the May-flu^ (he
'^ means the grey sort) which are a species of the
'^ Libella^ come up out of the water, where they
*^^ lie in theirhusks for a considerable time, at the
'^ bottom or sides of the river^ near the likeness
^* of the 'Nymph of the small common Libella, but
'^ when it is mature, it splits open its case, and
^' then, with great agility, up springs the new
*' little animal, with a slender body, four blackish
'^ veined transparent wings, with four black
'^ spots on the upper wings, and the under wings
'^ much smaller than the upper ones, with three
'^ long hairs in its tail. The husks which are
'^ left behind, float innumerable on the water.
'^ It seemed to me a species of Ephemeron ; and I
'^ imagined it was the same insect described by
'^ Godart and Swamcrdan, but a few days con-
, '^ vinced me to the contiary ; for I soon found
'^ them to be of a longer duration than theirs.-^—
'* The first business of this creature, after he \a
'^ disengaged from the water, is flying about to
'^ find outa proper place to fix on, as trees, bushes^
*^ &c. to wait for another surprising chanee,
*' which is effected in a few days. The first hmt
'' I received of this wonderful* operation, was
f ^ seeing the ^xuvia^ hanging oja a hedge : I then

« collected

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^ collected a great many, and put them inta
^^ boxes, and by strictly observing them, I could
'' tell when they were ready to put off their husks,
*^ though but so lately put on. I had the plea-
'' sure to shew my friends one that I held in my
^' hand all the while it performed thi« great v^rk.
'^ It is surprising to see how easily the back part
^' of the fly split open, and produced the new
'^ birth ; wjfiich I could not perceive partakes of
'' any thing from its parent, but leaves head, body,
*' wings, legs, and even its three-haired tail, be-
" hind on the case. After it has reposed itself a
** while, it flies with great briskness to seek its
*' mate. In the new fly a remarkable difference
'^ is seen in their sexes, which I could not so ea-
'^ sily perceive in their first state, the male and -
^' female being then much of a size ; but now the
^^ male was much the smallest, and the hairs in
^ his tail much the longest. I was very careful
*' to see if I could find them engendering, but all
*^ that I could discover, was, that the males sepa-
'* rated, and kept under cover of the trees, remote
'^ from the river ; hither the females resorted, and
^' mixed with them in their flight, great numbers
'' together, with a very quick motion of darting
or striking at one another when they met, with
great vigor, just as house-flies will do in a
sunny-room : this they continued to do for
•• many hours, and this seemed to be their way
^* of coition ; which must be quick and soon per-
^' formed, as they are of so short a duration.
^' When the females were impregnated^ they left
^' the company of the males^ and sought the river,
*' and kept constantly playing up and dowii on
*' the water. It was very plainly seen^ that every
'' time they darted down, they ejected a cluster of


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^' eggs, which seemed a pale, blueish speck, like
'^ a small drop of milk, as they descended on the
^^ water ; then, by the help of their tail they
^^ spring up again, and descend again, and thus
" continue till they haveexhaused their stocjcof
^^ eggs, and spent their strength, being so weak
^^ that they can rise no more, but fall a prey to
'^ the fish ; but by much the greater number pe-
'^ rish on the waters, which are covered with
'^ them : this is the end of the females : but the
^^ males never resort to the rivers, as I could per-
'' eeive, but after they have done their office,
'^ drop down, languish and die under the trees and
^^ bushes. I observed that the females were most
^^ numerous, which was very necessary, consi-
'^ dering the many enemies they have, during
^^ the short time of their appearance, for both
*^ birds and fish are very fond of them, and no
'^ doubt under the water they are food for small
^^ aquatic insects. What is further remark able* in
^^ this surprising creature is, that in a life of a
'* few days it eats nothing, seems to have no ap-
" paratus for that purpose, but brings up with it
*^ out of the water, sufficient support to enable it
'^ to shed its skin, and to perform the principal
'^ end of life with great vivacity. The particular
^^ time when 1 observed them very numerous and
^^ sportive, was on the 26th of May, at six o^clock
'' in the evening. It was a sight very surprising
*^ and entertaining, to see the rivers teeming with
*^ innumerable, pretty, nimble, flyings insects^
'^ and almost every thing near covered with them*.
^^ When Hooked up into the air it was full of
'^ them, as high as 1 could discern, and being so
'^ thick, and always in motion, they made almost
*^ such an appearance as when one looks up, and

*' see*

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*' sees the snow coming down; and yet this won-
'^ derful appearatice, m three or four day» after
*' the last ot May, totally disappeared."


Found on every hawthorn bush when the leaves-
come forth. It is used for dibbing, in some rivers
for trouts.

Great Moth,

Found when there is a little breeze in summer
evenings, in gardens ; has a great head, not un-
like an owl, whitish wings, and yellowish body.
The chub takes this exceedingly well.

Black'Becy or Humble-Bee,

Found. in clay walls, and is an excellent bait for
the chub. Some cut off his legs and upper

N. B. The reader will find the peculiar method
of dibbing for chub, under the description of that

Rules and Hints to be observed in jingling.

Ist. Every brother angler should be possessed
of a great deal of patience and resignation, and
not be cast down with bad luck, or be elated with
good ; for the same success cannot always attend

2d. Never angle in glaring colors, for they arc
the easiest to be discerned by the fishes, always
turn out early in the moroing ; for that is the best


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time of the day > keep your tackle always neat,
and let your baits be in the highest perfection.

3d. When you angle, shelter yourself as much
as possible from the sisht of the fishes, for they are
timorous and easily frighted; and when you angle
for trout, you never need make above one or two
trials for him in the same place, for he will in
that time either take the bait or let it alone.

4th. When the nights prove dark, cloudy or
windy, you will the next day have but little sport
in respect to catching lar^e fishes, especially
trouts ; for in those nights they range about and
devour small fishes ; but if the nights are bright,
and the moon and stars are out, and the days fol-
lowing should be overcast, dark, and gloomy,
you may depend on having good sport ; for fishes
are then as timorous as in sun-shiny days, and ne-
ver stir from their holds ; therefore, having ab-
stained from food all night, they are hungry and
eager, and being encouraged by the darkness and
gloominess of the day, to range about^i they then
bite boldly and eagerly.

5th. If you wish to know what ground bait
fishes like best, the first you take open his sto-
mach, and there you will find what he fed on
last, and bait accordingly.

Gth. If before you go out to angle, you should
imagine, by the looks of the weather, that it will
prove showery, or thunder, always take three or
four night lines out with you, and whilst you an-
gle for other fish, lay them in according to your
judgment; baited with well-scoured lob- worms,
and you may ^depend on catching large eels,
trout, &c.

7th. The best way to bait your hook, for this
kind of fishing, or for worm-fishing in general,


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either with lob-worms, brandlingSy 8cc. is tlms : if
you bait with one worm, put your hook into him
somewhat above the middle, and out again a
little below the middle ; having so done, draw
your worm above the arming of your hook : but
note, you mu3t enter the hook at the tail of the
worm, and not at the head ; then, having drawn
him above the arming of your hook before-men-
tioned, put the point of your hook again into the
very head of the worm, till it come near the place
where the point of the hook first came out, and
then draw back that part of the worm that was
above the shank or arming of the hook : if you
fish with two worms, then put the second on be-
fore you turn back the hook on the first worm.

8th. If when you are angling in any particular
spot, and have had good sport, if the fishes should
suddenly leave off biting, you may conclude that
some of the fish of prey are come to the part you
are fishing in; therefore put a minnow on your
hook alive, sticking it through his upper lip, or
bacK fin : let^your tackle be strong, in case the
pike should be there, but for a certainty you may
depend that either he or the perch will take it.
But the best waj^ is to have a trimmer or two with
you, which may be applied with great advantage
whilst you angle for other fish.

9th. When you have stnick a good fish, keep
your rod bent, which will prevent him from run-
ning to the end of the line, whereby he might
break his hold.

. 10th"'. In ponds, angle near the fords where
cattle goto drink : and in rivers, angle for breams
, in the deepest and quietest parts ; for eels, under
trees hanging over banks; for clmbsy in deep
shaded holes ; for perches^ in scours 5 for roaches^


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in winter in the deeps, at all other times where
you angle for perches: and for trouts* in quick

11th. It is good angling in whirlpools, under
bridges, at the falls of mills, and in any place
where the water is deep and clear, and not dis-
turbed with wind or weather; also, at the open-
ing of sluices, and mill-dams, and if you go with
the course of the water, you will hardly miss
catching fishes, that swim up the stream to seek
what food the water brings down with it.

I2th. When you fish for roach, dace, &c. in a
stream, cast your ground-bait above your hook^
and always remember to plumb your ground.

13th. Never trust the strength of your rod or
line when you have hooked a good fish, but al-
ways use your landing-net.

14th. If the joints of your rod through wet,
should stick so that you cannot easily get them
asunder, never use force, for then you will strain
your rod; but turn the ferrel of the joint that is
fast, a few times over the flame of a candle, and
it will separate.

15th. The best times for angling are from April
to October, and the best time of the day front
three till nine in the morning, and three in the
evening till sun-set. The south wind is the best
to angle in; the next best point to that is the
west, the cooler these blow in the hottest months,
is the best time to fish.

l6th. Never angle in an easterly wind, for your
labour will be in vain; but you may if the wind
blows from any other point, provided not too
sharply. Fishes will never bite before a shower
of rain ; this hint may save you many a wet skin*.

♦ Vide the Prognostics,

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•44 aut op anglikc.

17th. In the morning, if there happens to be
a hoar frost, either in the spring or advancing of
the season, fishes will not bite that day, except
in the evening: and after they have spawned,
Tery ill, till with grass and weeds they have
Bcoured themselves, and by that means recovered
their appetite. '

18th. The best time for the trout to be tak«n,
and other fishes with the ground-line, is morning
and evening, in clear weather and water; but if
the day proves cloudy, or the water muddy, you
may angle all day long.

19th. The angler may depend on catching store
of fishes, in a dark, close, gloomy, or lowering
day, if the wind be southerly, and when, as the
poet observes,

" The stealing show'rs is scarce to patter heard
** By such as wander thro' the forest walks,
" Beneath th' umbrageous multitude of leaves.^

Having given the reader every necessary in-
struction, in regard to the breeding, and feeding of
fishes; with the best advice concerning his rods,
lines, floats, hooks, baits, S^c, and a set of very
choice rules, hints, and cautions, I shall now tell
him the best methods of taking the fishes in ge-
neral ang*led for in England and Wales.


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THESalmon, according to the Opinion of some,
breeds in ^he sea; but that of others seems
betterwarranted,thathe breeds in the clear, ^andy,
parts of rivers, not far from the mouths thereof
They commonly spawn in October, and the young
become samkts the following year, and in a few
months a large salmon. They spawn in some ri-
vers in September; but in the Severn in May.
The milter and spawner having performed their
office, betake * to the sea, and we are told that
when they have been obstructed in their passage^
^they have grown so impatient, that clapping their
tails to their mouths, with a sudden spring, they
have leaped clear over wears and other obstacles
which stood in their way ; and some by leaping
short, have by that means been taken. If they
happen to meet with such impediments that they
cannot get to sea, they become sick,lean, and pine
away, and die in two years. The principal oc-
casion or their dying is this; the salmon being a
fish by nature tender, and very chill, cannot, ia
the winter-season^ endure the extrenie frigidity


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of the fresh river water, by reason of its tenuity,
especially being so lately weakened by spawning;
and, therefore, by instinct, they make the sea
their winter habitation, the sea being naturally
warm. But if they spawn in the mean time, from
thence proceeds a small salmon, called a Skegger,
which never grows large. The female salmon is
distinguished from the male, because its nose is
longer and more hooked, its scales not so bright,
and its body speckled over with dark brown spots;
its belly flatter, and its flesh not so red; more dry,
and less delicious to the taste.

The principal rivers in England for salmon, are,
1st. The Thames, vfMose salmon beats all others
for taste and flavour ; the Severn and the Trent;
the Lon at Lancaster, about Cockersand Abbey;
at Workington in Cumberland ; *Bywell, in JVor-
thumberland; Durham, and 'Newcastle on Tyne;
the Dee in Cheshire; ^nA the rivers C/sAand Wye
in Monmouthshire. Besides th^ salmon-leap in
the river Tivy in Pembrokeshire there is another
in the river Ban in Ireland : this river is in the
mountains of Mourn in the county of Down,
and it passes through Lough Eaugh, or Lough
Sidney, a large lake in the county of Col-
raine. Mr. Cambden says it breeds salmons in
abundance, above all other rivers in Europe, be-
cause it is thought to exceed all others for clear-
ness, in which sort of water salmons delight. He
bites best about three in the afternoon, in May,
June, July, and August, if the water be clear, and
a little breeze of wind stirring : especially if the
wind and stream are contrary. You must fish for
him like a trout, with a worm, fly, or minnow, or
lob-worm is an excellent bait for him, well scoured
' in moss, which makes it tough, clear, and lively.
When you have stmck him, he will plunge and


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bounce in the water very much, therefore it is
necessary to have a strong rod, ringed the same
as a trowling-rody and a winch, with a strong hne
on it forty yards long, with which length, and a
proper playing him, you may kill the largest sized
one. He has not a constant residence like a
trout, but removes often, and you should always
angle for him as near the spring-head as possible^
in the deepest and broadest parts of the river,
near the ground. Put two large lob^worms on at
a time, and you may foh without a float, that is,
with a running line. Let one yard next to your
hook be gimp, and your hook a proper sized saU
mon-hook. No. I.

N, B. When I come to treat oifly-fishinffy the
proper flies for the salmon, 8cc. will be clearly

The Trout.

The Trout is a delicious fresh-water fish, speck-
led with red and yellow; coming ki and going
out of season with the buck, and spawning in the
cold months of October and November, whereas
all other fishes spawn in the hot summer months.
There are several species of this fish, all valued
very much : but the best are the red and yellow ;
and of these the female distinguished by a less
head and deeper body, is preferred ; by the large-
ness of their backs you may know when they are
in season, which may serve as a rule for all other
fishes. AH winter long they are si«k, lean, and
unwholesome, and frequently lousy. As the
spring advances, deserting the still deep waters,
tney repair to the gravelly ground, again which


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tliey continue to rub, till they have eot rid of theit
lice, which are a kind of worm, with large heads;
from that time they delight to be in sharp ifetreams,
and such as are very swift; where they lie in wait
for minnows, May-Jties, &c. The latter part of
May they are in tlie highest perfection. He is
usually caught with a zcomiy minnow, ox fly, either
natural, or artificial; the ditferent baits for him-
are the earth-worm, dung-worm, and the maggot,
or gentle, but the best are the lob-worm and brand-
ling. His haunts are, purling brooks running
very swift over chalk stones, gravel, &c. he is
oftener taken in the side of the stream, than in it,
though the large ones are often caught in the
deepest part of it. He delights to shelter him-
self behind large stones, or small banks, that
hang over the river, which the stream running
against, creates a foam; also in the eddies be-
tween two streams; bis hold is usually under the
roots of trees, and in hollow banks in the deep-
est parts of rivers. When you angle for him at
the ground, let the link of your fine, next the
hook, be the best silk worm gut you can provide;
and have a nice elastic rod^ which will enable
you to strike true, and to feel him when he bites.
Angle for him with a running line, and begin at
the upper part of the stream, carrying your line
with an upright hand, and feeling your lead run
on the ground about ten inches from the hook,
leading your line according to the swiftness of
the stream,* as before directed. If you bait either
with one, or two worms, follow the manner of
baiting them which I have laid down in the rules,
and you will run on the ground witliout being

There is a very killing method likewise for a
large trout; make a pair of wings of the feather


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of a land-rail^ and point your hook with one or
more cadis's ; your hook should be bristled, that
is, when you whip on your hook, fasten a hog's
bristle under the silk, with the eiid standing out
about a straw's breadth at the head of the hook,
from under the silk, and pointing towards the line,
by which means the head of the cadis will be
kept close to the wings : angle with a rod about
five yards long, and a line about three; cast the
wings and cadis up the stream,, which will drive
it down under the water towards the lower part
of the hole ; thfen draw it up the stream very
g;ently, though irregularly, at the same time shak-
ing your rod> and in a few casts you will be sure

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Online LibraryThomas BestA concise treatise on the art of angling : confirmed by actual experience, interspersed with several new and recent discoveries, the whole forming a complete museum for the lovers of that pleasing and rational recreation → online text (page 3 of 13)