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CHAP. XV. Of the
lose no time : but tell me somewhat more of fishing; and if you please, first, something of fishing for a Gudgeon.
PISCATOR. I will, honest scholar,5
PISCATOR. THE GUDGEON is reputed a fish of excellent taste, and to be very wholesome. He is of a fine shape, of a
silver colour, and beautified with black spots both Gudgeon,
on his body and tail. He breeds two or three the Ruffe, and times in the year ; and always in summer. He is
commended for a fish of excellent nourishment. The Germans call him Groundling, by reason of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself, in sharp streams and on the gravel. He and the Barbel both feed so : and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do. He is an excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red worm, on or very near to the ground. He is one of those leather-mouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost off from the hook if he be once strucken.
They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer : but in autumn, when the weeds begin to grow sour and rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deeper parts of the water ; and are to be fished for there, with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork. But many will fish for the Gudgeon by hand, with a running line upon the ground, without a cork, as a Trout is fished for : and it is an excellent way, you have a gentle rod, and as gentle a hand.*
There is also another fish called a Pope, and by some a RUFFE; a fish that is not known to be in some rivers : he is much like the Perch for his shape, and taken to be better than the Perch, but will not grow to be bigger than a Gudgeon. He is an excellent fish; no fish that swims is of a pleasanter taste. And he is also excellent to enter a young angler, for he is a greedy biter: and they will usually lie, abundance of them together, in one reserved place,
VARIATION. 5 In the first edition, Piscator here continues, without beginning a fresh chapter, “The Gudgeon is an excellent fish to eat, and also good to enter a young angler : he is easy to be taken with a small red worm at the ground, and is one of those leathermouthed fish,” &c., as in a subsequent part of the text. The alterations in the text were made in the second edition.
* In fishing for Gudgeons, have a rake ; and every quarter of an hour rake the bottom of the river, and the fish will flock thither in shoals. -H.
Pennant mentions a Gudgeon taken near Uxbridge that weighed half a pound. Zoology, edit. 1776, vol. iii. p. 316.-E.
where the water is deep and runs quietly ; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch forty or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing.
You must fish for him with a small red worm ; and if you bait the ground with earth, it is excellent.
There is also a BLEAK or fresh-water Sprat ; a fish that is ever in motion, and therefore called by some the river-swallow; for just as you shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch flies, in the air, by which he lives ; so does the Bleak at the top of the water. Ausonius would have him called Bleak from his whitish colour : his back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water green ; his belly, white and shining as the mountain snow. And doubtless, though he have the fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak ought to be much valued, though we want Allamot salt, and the skill that the Italians have, to turn them into anchovies. This fish may be caught with a Pater-noster line ; * that is, six or eight very small hooks tied along the line, one half a foot above the other : I have seen five caught thus at one time; and the bait has been gentles, than which none is better.
Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable. There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a bank, in the swift water, in a summer's evening, with a hazel top about five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. I have heard Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch swallows so, or especially martins ;t this bird-angler standing on the top of a steeple to do it, and with a line twice so long as I have spoken of. And let me tell you, scholar, that both Martins and Bleaks be most excellent meat.
And let me tell you, that I have known a Heron, that did constantly frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big minnow or a small gudgeon. I The line and hook must be strong :
A rosary, or string of beads, is used by the Roman Catholic devotees to assist them in numbering their Pater-nosters: a line with many hooks at small distances from each other, though it little resembles a string of beads, is thence called a Pater-noster line.-H. + This is a common practice in England also.-H.
This method of taking wildfowl is frequently practised both on the coasts of Eng. land and of France.
CHAP. XVI. Is
and tied to some loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it : a line not exceeding two yards.6
PISCATOR. My purpose was to give you some directions concerning Roach and DACE, and some other inferior fish which
make the angler excellent sport; for you know there of nothing, or of is more pleasure in hunting the hare than in eating nothing worth
her : but I will forbear, at this time, to say any more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter and honest Coridon, But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk to-morrow towards London, if I have now forgotten anything that I can then remember, I will not keep it from you.
Wellmet, gentlemen ; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this very door. Come, hostess, where are you? is supper ready ? Come, first give us drink; and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, to you both ! Come, drink : and then tell me what luck of fish : we two have caught but ten trouts, of which my scholar caught three. Look! here's eight; and a brace we gave away. We have had a most pleasant day for fishing and talking, and are returned home both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be pleasant.
PETER. And Coridon and I have not had an unpleasant day : and yet I have caught but five trouts ; for, indeed, we went to a good honest alehouse, and there we played at shovel-board * half the day ; all the time that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished. And I am glad we are now with a
VARIATION. 6 After giving the instructions for Bleak-fishing, Piscator, in the first edition, proceeds: “I might now tell you how to catch Roach and Dace, and some other fish of little note, that I have not yet spoke of : but you see we are almost at our lodging, and, indeed, if we were not, I would omit to give you any directions concerning them, or how to fish for them, not but that they be both good fish, being in season, and especially to some palates, and they also make the angler good sport; and you know the hunter says there is more sport in hunting the hare than in eating of her : but I will forbear to give any directions concerning them, because you may go a few days and take the pleasure of the fresh air, and bear any common angler company, that fishes for them, and by that means learn more than any direction I can give you in words can make you capable of; and I will therefore end my discourse, for yonder comes,” &c., as in the text.
* Nares in his Glossary explains Shovel-board to be “a common trivial game, which consisted in pushing or shaking pieces of money on a board to reach certain marks.” Shovel-board play is graphically described in a poem entitled Mensa Lubrica, written both in Latin and English by Thomas Master. The English poem is largely cited in Bliss's edition of Wood's Athenæ, vol. iii. p. 84. The Table had lines or divisions marked with figures according to the value of which the player counted his game. It is minutely described by Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes, p. 267, as still in use in pothouses, and played with a smooth halfpenny. The game was also called Shovil-groat, Shove-board, and Shuffle-board, and was at one time a very general amusement among all classes.
In the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII. it is stated that his Majesty lost various sums
Shovill-abourd," pp. 188, 189, 195, 209.
dry house over our heads; for, hark ! how it rains and blows. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with what haste you may : and when we have supped, let us have your song, Piscator ; and the catch that your scholar promised us; or else, Coridon will be dogged.
PISCATOR. Nay, I will not be worse than my word ; you shall not want my song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it.
VENATOR. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too : and therefore let's go merrily to supper, and then have a gentle touch at singing and drinking ; but the last with moderation.
CORIDON. Come, now for your song; for we have fed heartily. Come, hostess,” lay a few more sticks on the fire. And now, sing when you will.
PISCATOR. Well then, here's to you, Coridon ; and now for my song. O the gallant & Fisher's life,
Or a lake,
Fish we take : 'Tis full of pleasure, void of strise, There we sit, And 'tis belov'd of many :
For a bit,
Till we fish entangle.
We have gentles in a horn,
We have paste and worms too ;
We can watch both night and morn, Breeds no ill,
Suffer rain and storms too; But content and pleasure.
None do here
Use to swear ;
Oaths do fray
Fish away ;
We sit still,
And watch our quill;
Fishers must not wrangle.
If the sun's excessive heat
Make our bodies swelter,
To an osier hedge we get
For a friendly shelter ;
Where, in a dike, When we please to walk abroad Perch or Pike, For our recreation,
Roach or Dace,
We do chase ;
Bleak or Gudgeon,
We are still contented.
VARIATIONS. 7 give us a little more drink and lay a few more sticks on the fire.- 1st edit. 8 brave.-1st edit.