« PreviousContinue »
but that it may be as good for a river Carp, and especially if the ground be a little baited with it.
And you may also note, that the Spawn of most fish is a very tempting bait, being a little hardened on a warm tile and cut into fit pieces. Nay, mulberries, and those blackberries which grow upon briars, be good baits for Chubs or Carps : with these many have been taken in ponds, and in some rivers where such trees have grown near the water, and the fruit customarily dropt into it. And there be a hundred other baits, more than can be well named, which, by constant baiting the water, will become a tempting bait for any fish in it.
You are also to know, that there be divers kinds of Cadis, or Case-worms, that are to be found in this nation, in several distinct counties, and in several little brooks that relate to bigger rivers ; as namely, one cadis called a piper, whose husk, or case, is a piece of reed about an inch long, or longer, and as big about as the compass of a twopence. These worms being kept three or four days in a woollen bag, with sand at the bottom of it, and the bag wet once a day, will in three or four days turn to be yellow; and these be a choice bait for the Chub or Chavender, or indeed for any great fish, for it is a large bait.
There is also a lesser cadis-worm, called a Cock-spur, being in fashion like the spur of a cock, sharp at one end; and the case, or house, in which this dwells, is made of small husks, and gravel, and slime, most curiously made of these, even so as to be wondered at, but not to be made by man, no more than a king-fisher's nest can, which is made of little fishes' bones and have such a geometrical interweaving and connection as the like is not to be done by the art of man. This kind of cadis is a choice bait for any float-fish; it is much less than the piper-cadis, and to be so ordered : and these may be so preserved, ten, fifteen, or twenty days, or it may be longer.
There is also another cadis, called by some a Strawworm, and by some a Ruff-coat, whose house, or case, is made of little pieces of bents, and rushes, and straws, and water-weeds, and I know not what; which are so knit together with condensed slime, that they stick about her husk or case, not unlike the bristles of a hedge-hog. These three cadises are commonly taken in the beginning of summer; and are good, indeed, to take any kind of fish, with float or otherwise. I might tell you of many more, which as these do early, so those have their time also of turning to be flies later in summer ; but I might lose myself, and tire you, by such a discourse: I shall therefore but remember you, that to know these, and their several kinds, and to what flies every particular cadis turns, and then how to use them, first, as they be cadis, and after as they be flies, is an art, and an art that everyone that professes to be an angler has not leisure to search after, and, if he had, is not capable of learning.
I'll tell you, scholar; several countries have several kinds of cadises, that indeed differ as much as dogs do; that is to say, as much as a very cur and a greyhound do. These be usually bred in the very little rills, or ditches, that run into bigger rivers ; and I think a more proper bait for those very rivers than any other.
other. I know not how, or of what, this cadis receives life, or what coloured fly it turns to; but doubtless they are the death of many Trouts : and this is one killing way:
Take one, or more if need be, of these large yellow cadis : pull off his head, and with it pull out his black gut; put the body, as little bruised as is possible, on a very little hook, armed on with a red hair, which will show like the cadis-head; and a very little thin lead, so put upon the shank of the hook that it may sink presently. Throw this bait, thus ordered, which will look very yellow, into any great still hole where a Trout is, and he will presently venture his life for it, 'tis not to be doubted, if you be not espied ; and that the bait first touch the water before the line. And this will do best in the deepest stillest water.
Next, let me tell you, I have been much pleased to walk quietly by a brook, with a little stick in my hand, with which I might easily take these, and consider the curiosity of their composure : and if you shall ever like
to do so, then note, that your stick must be a little hazel, or willow, cleft, or have a nick at one end of it, by which means you may, with ease, take many of them in that nick out of the water, before you have any occasion to use them. These, my honest scholar, are some observations, told to you as they now come suddenly into my memory, of which
you may make some use: but for the practical part, it is that that makes an angler : it is diligence, and observation, and practice, and an ambition to be the best in the art, that must do it. I will tell you, scholar, I once heard one say, 'I envy not him that eats better meat than I do; nor him that is richer, or that wears better clothes than I do: I envy nobody but him, and him only, that catches more fish than I do.' And such a man is like to prove an angler; and this noble emulation I wish to you, and all young anglers.
Of the Minnow or Penk, of the Loach, and of the Bull-Head,
Piscator. There be also three or four other little fish that I had almost forgot; that are all without scales ; and may for excellency of meat, be compared to any fish of greatest value and largest size. They be usually full of eggs or spawn, all the months of summer; for they breed often, as 'tis observed mice and many of the smaller four-footed creatures of the earth do; and as those, so these come quickly to their full growth and perfection. And it is needful that they breed both often and numerously ; for they be, besides other accidents of ruin, both a prey and baits for other fish.
And first I shall tell you of the Minnow or Penk.
The Minnow hath, when he is in perfect season, and not sick, which is only presently after spawning, a kind of dappled or waved colour, like to a panther, on his sides, inclining to a greenish and sky-colour; his belly being milk white; and his back almost black or blackish. He is a sharp biter at a small worm, and in hot weather makes excellent sport for young anglers, or boys, or women that love that recreation. And in the spring they make of them excellent Minnow-tansies; for being washed well in salt, and their heads and tails cut off, and their guts taken out, and not washed after, they prove excellent for that use; that is, being fried with yolk of eggs, the flowers of cowslips and of primroses, and a little tansy; thus used they make a dainty dish of meat.
The Loach is, as I told you, a most dainty fish : he breeds and feeds in little and clear swift brooks or rills, and lives there upon the gravel, and in the sharpest streams: he grows not to be above a finger long, and no thicker than is suitable to that length. This Loach is not unlike the shape of the Eel : he has a beard or wattles like a barbel. He has two fins at his sides, four at his belly, and one at his tail; he is dappled with many black or brown spots; his mouth is barbel-like under his nose. This fish is usually full of eggs or spawn; and is by Gesner, and other learned physicians, commended for great nourishment, and to be very grateful both to the palate and stomach of sick persons. He is to be fished for with a very small worm, at the bottom; for he very seldom, or never, rises above the gravel, on which I told you he usually gets his living.
The Miller's-thumb, or Bull-head, is a fish of no pleasing shape. He is by Gesner compared to the Seatoad-fish, for his similitude and shape. It has a head big and flat, much greater than suitable to his body; a mouth very wide, and usually gaping; he is without teeth, but his lips are very rough, much like to a file. He hath two fins near to his gills, which be roundish or crested; two fins also under the belly; two on the back; one below the vent; and the fin of his tail is round. Nature hath painted the body of this fish with whitish, blackish, brownish spots. They be usually full of eggs or spawn all the summer, I mean the females ; and those eggs swell their
vents almost into the form of a dug.
dug. They begin to spawn about April, and, as I told you, spawn several months in the summer. And in the winter, the Minnow, and Loach, and Bull-head dwell in the mud, as the Eel doth ; or we know not where, no more than we know where the cuckoo and swallow, and other half-year birds, which first appear to us in April, spend their six cold, winter, melancholy months. This Bull-head does usually dwell, and hide himself, in holes, or amongst stones in clear water ; and in very hot days will lie a long time very still, and sun himself, and will be easy to be seen upon any flat stone, or any gravel ; at which time he will suffer an angler to put a hook, baited with a small worm, very near unto his very mouth : and he never refuses to bite, nor indeed to be caught with the worst of anglers. Matthiolus commends him much more for his taste and nourishment, than for his shape or beauty.
There is also a little fish called a Sticklebag, a fish without scales, but hath his body fenced with several prickles. I know not where he dwells in winter; nor what he is good for in summer, but only to make sport for boys and women-anglers, and to feed other fish that be fish of
prey, as Trouts in particular, who will bite at him as at a Penk; and better, if your hook be rightly baited with him, for he may be so baited as, his tail turning like the sail of a windmill, will make him turn more quick than any Penk or Minnow can. For note, that the nimble turning of that, or the Minnow, is the perfection of Minnow-fishing. To which end, if you put your hook into his mouth, and out at his tail ; and then, having first tied him with white thread a little above his tail, and placed him after such a manner on your hook as he is like to turn, then sew up his mouth to your line, and he is like to turn quick, and tempt any Trout: but if he does not turn quick, then turn his tail, a little more or less, towards the inner part, or towards the side of the hook; or put the Minnow or Sticklebag a little more crooked or more straight on your hook, until it will turn both true and fast; and then doubt not but to tempt any great Trout that lies in a swift stream.