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Who hunts, doth oft in danger ride;
Is fetter'd in fond Cupid's snare:
My angle breeds me no such care.
My hand alone my work can do,
I care not, I, to fish in seas,
In civil bounds I fain would keep,
And for my past offences weep. And when the timorous Trout I wait To take, and he devours my bait, How poor a thing, sometimes I find, Will captivate a greedy mind :
And when none bite, I praise the wise
Whom vain allurements ne'er surprise.
Who is more welcome to my dish
As well content no prize to take,
Where, which is in no other game,
The first men that our Saviour dear
I therefore strive to follow those
Coridon. Well sung, brother, you have paid your debt in good coin. We anglers are all beholden to the good man that made this song. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and let's drink to him. And now let's every one go to bed, that we may rise early: but first let's pay our reckoning, for I will have nothing to hinder me in the morning; for my purpose is to prevent the sun-rising.
Peter. A match. Come, Coridon, you are to be my bed-fellow. I know, brother, you and your scholar will lie together. But where shall we meet to-morrow night? for my friend Coridon and I will go up the water towards Ware.
Piscator. And my scholar and I will go down towards Waltham.
CORIDON. Then let's meet here, for here are fresh sheets that smell of lavender; and I am sure we cannot expect better meat, or better usage in any place.
Peter. 'Tis a match. Good-night to everybody.
[THE FOURTH DAY]
PISCATOR. Good-morrow, good hostess, I see my brother Peter is still in bed. Come, give my scholar and me a morning drink, and a bit of meat to breakfast : and be sure to get a dish of meat or two against supper, for we shall come home as hungry as hawks. Come, scholar, let's be going.
Venator. Well now, good master, as we walk towards the river, give me direction, according to your promise, how I shall fish for a Trout.
Piscator. My honest scholar, I will take this very convenient opportunity to do it.
The Trout is usually caught with a worm, or a minnow, which some call a penk, or with a fly, viz. either a natural or an artificial fly: concerning which three, I will give you some observations and directions.
And, first, for worms. Of these there be very many sorts : some breed only in the earth, as the earth-worm; others of, or amongst plants, as the dug-worm; and others breed either out of excrements, or in the bodies of living creatures, as in the horns of sheep or deer; or some of dead flesh, as the maggot or gentle, and others.
Now these be most of them particularly good for particular fishes. But for the Trout, the dew-worm, which some also call the lob-worm, and the brandling, are the chief; and especially the first for a great Trout, and the latter for a less. There be also of lob-worms, some called squirrel-tails, a worm that has a red head, a streak down the back, and a broad tail, which are noted to be the best, because they are the toughest and most lively, and live longest in the water; for you are to know that a dead worm is but a dead bait, and like to catch nothing, compared to a lively, quick, stirring worm. And for a brandling, he is usually found in an old dunghill, or some very rotten place near to it, but most usually in cow-dung, or hog’s-dung, rather than horse-dung, which is somewhat too hot and dry for that worm. But the best of them are to be found in the bark of the tanners, which they cast up in heaps after they have used it about their leather.
There are also divers other kinds of worms, which, for colour and shape, alter even as the ground out of which they are got; as the marsh-worm, the tag-tail, the flagworm, the dock-worm, the oak-worm, the gilt-tail
, the twachel or lob-worm, which of all others is the most excellent bait for a salmon, and too many to name, even as many sorts as some think there be of several herbs or shrubs, or of several kinds of birds in the air : of which I shall say no more, but tell you, that what worms soever you fish with, are the better for being well scoured, that is, long kept before they be used : and in case you have not been so provident, then the way to cleanse and scour them quickly, is, to put them all night in water, if they be lob-worms, and then put them into your bag with fennel. But
you must not put your brandlings above an hour in water, and then put them into fennel, for sudden use: but if you have time, and purpose to keep them long, then they be best preserved in an earthen pot, with good store of moss, which is to be fresh every three or four days in summer, and every week or eight days in winter ; or, at least, the moss taken from them, and clean washed, and wrung betwixt your hands till it be dry, and then put it to them again. And when your worms, especially the brandling, begins to be sick and lose of his bigness, then you may recover him, by putting a little milk or cream, about a spoonful in a day, into them, by drops on the moss; and if there be added to the cream an egg beaten and boiled in it, then it will both fatten and preserve them long. And note, that when the knot, which is near to the middle of the brandling, begins to swell, then he is sick ; and, if he be not well looked to, is near dying. And for moss, you are to note, that there be divers kinds of it, which I could name to you, but I will only tell you that that which is likest a buck's-horn is the best, except it be soft white moss, which grows on some heaths, and is hard to be found. And note, that in a very dry time, when you are put to an extremity for worms, walnut-tree leaves squeezed into water, or salt in water, to make it bitter or salt, and then that water poured on the ground where you shall see worms are used to rise in the night, will make them to appear above ground presently. And you may take notice, some say that camphire put into your bag with your moss and worms gives them a strong and so tempting a smell, that the fish fare the worse and
the better for it.
And now, I shall shew you how to bait your hook with a worm so as shall prevent you from much trouble, and the loss of many a hook, too, when you fish for a Trout with a running line ; that is to say, when you fish for him by hand at the ground. I will direct you in this as plainly as I can, that you may not mistake.
Suppose it be a big lob-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, that, at the entering of your hook, it must not be at the head-end of the worm, but at the tail-end of him, that the point of your
hook may come out toward the head-end; and, having drawn him above the arming of your hook, then put the point of your hook again into the very head of your worm, till it come near to 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 your hook, and so fish with it. And if you mean to fish with two worms, then put the second on before you turn back the hook's-head of the first worm. You cannot lose above two or three worms before you attain to what I direct you; and having attained it, you will find it very useful, and thank me for it: for you will run on the ground without tangling.
Now for the Minnow or Penk: he is not easily found and caught till March, or in April, for then he appears first in the river; nature having taught him to shelter and hide himself, in the winter, in ditches that be near to the river; and there both to hide, and keep himself warm, in the mud, or in the weeds, which rot not so soon as in a running river, in which place if he were in winter, the distempered floods that are usually in that season would suffer him to take no rest, but carry him headlong to mills and weirs, to his confusion. And of these Minnows: first, you are to know, that the biggest size is not the best; and next, that the middle size and the whitest are the best; and then you are to know, that your minnow must be so put on your hook, that it must turn round when 'tis drawn against the stream; and, that it may turn nimbly, you must put it on a big-sized hook, as I shall now direct you, which is thus: Put your hook in at his mouth, and out at his gill; then, having drawn your hook two or three inches beyond or through his gill, put it again into his mouth, and the point and beard out at his tail ; and then tie the hook and his tail about, very neatly, with a white thread, which will make it the apter to turn quick