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but that your bait must always drag whilst you are sounding (which in this way of angling must be continually); by which means you are like to have more trouble, and peradventure worse success. And both these ways of angling at the bottom are most proper for a dark and muddy water, by reason, that in such condition of the stream a man may stand as near as he will, and neither his own shadow nor the roundness of his tackle will hinder his sport.
The third way of angling by hand with a ground-bait, and by much the best of all other, is with a line full as long, or a yard and a half longer than your rod; with no more than one hair next the hook, and for two or three lengths above it; and no more than one small pellet of shot for your plumb; your hook, little ; your worms, of the smaller brandlings, very well scoured; and only one upon your hook at a time, which is thus to be baited : the point of your hook is to be put in at the very tag of his tail, and run up his body quite over all the arming, and still stript on an inch at least upon the hair ; the head and remaining part hanging downward. And with this line and hook, thus baited, you are evermore to angle in the streams, always in a clear, rather than in a troubled water, and always up the river, still casting out your worm before you with a light one-handed rod, like an artificial fly, where it will be taken, sometimes at the top, or within a very little of the superficies of the water, and almost always before that light plumb can sink it to the bottom; both by reason of the stream, and also that you must always keep your worm in motion by drawing still back towards you, as if you were angling with a fly. And believe me, whoever will try it, shall find this the best way of all other to angle with a worm, in a bright water especially. But then his rod must be very light and pliant, and very true and finely made, which, with a skilful hand, will do wonders, and in a clear stream is undoubtedly the best way of angling for a Trout or Grayling with a worm, by many degrees, that any man can make choice of, and of most ease and delight to the angler. To which let me add, that if the angler be of a constitution that will suffer him to wade, and will slip into the tail of a shallow stream, to the calf of the leg or the knee, and so keep off the bank, he shall almost take what fish he pleases.
The second way of Angling at the bottom is with a Cork or Float. And that is also of two sorts; with a worin, or with a grub or cadis.
With a Worm, you are to have your line within a foot, or a
foot and a half, as long as your rod; in a dark water with two, or if you will with three, but in a clear water never with above one hair next the hook, and two or three for four or five lengths above it; and a worm of what size you please : your plumbs fitted to your cork, your cork to the condition of the river (that is, to the swiftness or slowness of it), and both when the water is very clear, as fine as you can; and then you are never to bait with above one of the lesser sort of brandlings; or if they are very little ones indeed, you may then bait with two, after the manner before directed.
When you angle for a Trout, you are to do it as deep, that is, as near the bottom as you can, provided your bait do not drag, or if it do, a Trout will sometimes take it in that posture. If for a Grayling, you are then to fish further from the bottom; he being a fish that usually swims nearer to the middle of the water, and lies always loose ; or, however, is more apt to rise than a Trout, and more inclined to rise than to descend even to a ground-bait.
With a Grub or Cadis, you are to angle with the same length of line, or if it be all out as long as your rod 'tis not the worse, with never above one hair, for two or three lengths next the hook, and with the smallest cork or float, and the least weight of plumb you can that will but sink, and that the swiftness of your stream will allow; which also you may help, and avoid the violence of the current, by angling in the returns of a stream, or the eddies betwixt two streams, which also are the most likely places wherein to kill a fish in a stream, either at the top or bottom.
Of Grubs for a Grayling, the ash-grub, which is plump, milkwhite, bent round from head to tail, and exceeding tender, with a red head, or the dock-worm, or grub of a pale yellow, longer, lanker, and tougher than the other, with rows of feet all down his belly, and a red head also, are the best ; I say for a Grayling, because although a Trout will take both these (the ash-grub especially), yet he does not do it so freely as the other, and I have usually taken ten Graylings for one Trout with that bait ; though if a Trout come, I have observed that he is commonly a very good one.
These baits we usually keep in bran, in which an ash-grub commonly grows tougher, and will better endure baiting; though he is yet so tender, that it will be necessary to warp in a piece of a stiff hair with your arming, leaving it standing out about a straw-breadth at the head of your hook, so as to keep the grub either from slipping totally off when baited, or at least down to
the point of the hook, by which means your arming will be left wholly naked and bare, which is neither so sightly, nor so likely to be taken; though to help that (which will, however, very oft fall out) I always arm the hook I design for this bait with the whitest horse-hair I can choose ; which, itself, will resemble and shine like that bait, and consequently will do more good, or less harm, than an arming of any other colour. These grubs are to be baited thus: the hook is to be put in under the head or chaps of the bait, and guided down the middle of the belly, without suffering it to peep out. by the way (for then (the ash-grub especially) will issue out water-and-milk till nothing but the skin shall remain, and the bend of the hook will appear black through it), till the point of your hook come so low, that the head of your bait may rest, and stick upon the hair that stands out to hold it, by which means it can neither slip of itself, neither will the force of the stream nor quick pulling out, upon any mistake, strip it off.
Now the cadis or cod-bait (which is a sure killing bait, and for the most part by much surer than either of the other) may be put upon the hook, two or three together ; and is sometimes (to very great effect) joined to a worm, and sometimes to an artificial fly, to cover the point of the hook; but is always to be angled with at the bottom (when by itself especially) with the finest tackle ; and is for all times of the year the most holding bait of all other whatever, both for Trout and Grayling.
There are several other baits, besides these few I have named you, which also do very great execution at the bottom; and some that are peculiar to certain countries and rivers, of which every angler may in his own place make his own observation ; and some others that I do not think fit to put you in mind of, because I would not corrupt you, and would have you, as in all things else I observe you to be a very honest gentleman, a fair angler. And so much for the second sort of Angling for a Trout at the bottom.
VIATOR. But, Sir, I beseech you give me leave to ask you one question. Is there no art to be used to worms, to make them allure the fish, and in a manner compel them to bite at the bait ?
PISCATOR Not that I know of; or did I know any such secret, I would not use it myself, and therefore would not teach it you. Though I will not deny to you, that in my younger days I have made trial of oil of ospray, oil of ivy, camphire, asafætida, juice of nettles, and several other devices that I was taught by
several anglers I met with, but could never find any advantage by them; and can scarce believe there is anything to be done that way: though I must tell you, I have seen some men who I thought went to work no more artificially than I, and have yet, with the same kind of worms I had, in my own sight taken five, and sometimes ten for one. But we'll let that business alone, if you please ; and because we have time enough, and that I would deliver you from the trouble of any more lectures, I will, if you please, proceed to the last way of Angling for a Trout or Grayling, which is in the middle ; after which I shall have no more to trouble you with.
VIATOR. 'Tis no trouble, Sir, but the greatest satisfaction that can be ; and I attend you. PISCATOR. ANGLING in the middle, then, for a Trout or
Grayling is of two sorts; with a Pink or Minnow for
a Trout; or with a Worm, Grub, or Cadis, for a Grayling.
For the first. It is with a minnow, half a foot or a foot within the superficies of the water. And as to the rest that concerns this sort of Angling, I shall wholly refer you to Mr Walton's directions, who is undoubtedly the best Angler with a minnow in England; only, in plain truth, I do not approve of those baits he keeps in salt,* unless where the living ones are not possibly to be had (though I know he frequently kills with them, and peradventure, more than with any other; nay, I have seen him refuse a living one for one of them), and much less of his artificial one; t for though we do it with a counterfeit fly, methinks it should hardly be expected that a man should deceive a fish with a counterfeit fish. Which having said, I shall only add, and that out of my own experience, that I do believe a Bullhead, with his gill-fins cut off (at some times of the year especially), to be a much better bait for a Trout than a minnow, and a Loach much better than that: to prove which I shall only tell you, that I have much oftener taken Trouts with a bullhead or a loach in their throats (for there a Trout has questionless his first digestion) than a minnow; and that one day especially, having angled a good part of the day with a minnow, and that in as hopeful a day, and as fit a water as could be wished for that purpose, without raising any one fish, I at last fell to it with a worm, and with that took fourteen in a very short space; amongst all which there was not, to my remembrance, so much as one that had not a loach or two, and some
of them three, four, five, and six loaches in his throat and stomach; from whence I concluded, that had I angled with that bait, I had made a notable day's work of't.
But after all, there is a better way of angling with a minnow than perhaps is fit either to teach or to practise; to which I shall only add, that a Grayling will certainly rise at, and sometimes take a minnow, though it will be hard to be believed by any one who shall consider the littleness of that fish's mouth, very unfit to take so great a bait ; but is affirmed by many that he will sometimes do it, and I myself know it to be true ; for though I never took a Grayling so, yet a man of mine once did, and within so few paces of me, that I am as certain of it as I can be of anything I did not see, and (which made it appear the more strange) the Grayling was not above eleven inches long.
I must here also beg leave of your master, and mine, not to controvert, but to tell him, that I cannot consent to his way of throwing in his rod to an overgrown Trout, and afterwards recovering his fish with his tackle : for though I am satisfied he has some. times done it, because he says so, yet I have found it quite otherwise : and though I have taken with the angle, I may safely say, some thousands of Trouts in my life, my top never snapt, though my line still continued fast to the remaining part of my rod (by some lengths of line curled round about my top, and there fastened, with waxt silk, against such an accident), nor my hand never slackt, or slipt by any other chance, but I almost always infallibly lost my fish, whether great or little, though my hook came home again. And I have often wondered how a Trout should so suddenly disengage himself from so great a hook as that we bait with a minnow, and so deep bearded as those hooks commonly are, when I have seen by the forenamed accidents, or the slipping of a knot in the upper part of the line, by sudden and hard striking, that though the line has immediately been recovered, almost before it could be all drawn into the water, the fish cleared, and gone in a moment. And yet, to justify what he says, I have sometimes known a Trout, having carried away a whole line, found dead three or four days after, with the hook fast sticking in him; but then it is to be supposed he had gorged it, which a Trout will do, it you be not too quick with him when he comes at a minnow, as sure and much sooner than a Pike : and I myself have also, once or twice in my life, taken the same fish, with my own fly sticking in his chaps, that he had taken from me the day before, by the slipping of a hook in the arming.