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VENATOR. But, master! what if I could not have found a grasshopper? PISCATOR. Then I
tell you, That a black snail, with his belly slit, to show his white, or a piece of soft checse, will usually do as well. Nay, sometimes a worm, or any kind of fly, as the ant-fly, the flesh-fly, or wall-fly; or the dor or beetle, which you may find under cow-dung; or a bob, which you will find in the same place, and in
, time will be a beetle; it is a short white worm, like to and bigger than a gentle; or a cod-worm; or a case-worm; any of these will do very well to fish in such a manner.
And after this manner you may catch a Trout in a hot evening: when, as you walk by a brook, and shall see or hear him leap at flies, then, if you get a grasshopper, put it on your hook, with your line about two yards long; standing behind a bush or tree where his hole is : and make your bait stir up and down on the top of the water. You may,
stand close, be sure of a bite, but not sure to catch him, for he is not a leather-mouthed fish. And after this manner you may fish for him with almost any kind of live fly, but especially with a grasshopper.
VENATOR. But before you go further, I pray, good master, what mean you by a leather-mouthed fish ?
PISCATOR. By a leather-mouthed fish, I mean such as have their teeth in their throat, as the Chub or Cheven; and so the Barbel, the Gudgeon, and Carp, and divers others have. And the hook being stuck into the leather, or skin, of the mouth of such fish, does very seldom or never lose its hold: but on the contrary, a Pike, a Perch, or Trout, and so some other fish, which have not their teeth in their throats, but in their mouths, which
you shall observe to be very full of bones, and the skin very thin, and little of it. I say, of these fish the hook never takes so sure hold but you often lose your fish, unless he have gorged it.
VENATOR. I thank you, good master, for this observa-tion. But now what shall be done with my Chub or Cheven that I have caught?
Piscator. Marry, Sir, it shall be given away to some poor body; for I'll warrant you I'll give you a Trout for your supper: and it is a good beginning of your art to offer your
first-fruits to the poor, who will both thank you and God for it," which I see by your silence you seem to
I'll tell you,
VARIATION.] * To the poor, who will both thank God and you for it.
And now let's walk towards the water again, and as I go when
your next Chub, how to dress it as this was. Viator. Come, good Master, I long to be going and learn your directions. Piscator. You must dress it, or see it dressed thus: When
have scaled him, wash him very clean, cut off his tail and fins; and wash him not after you gut him, but chine or cut him through the middle as a salt fish is cut, then give him four or five scotches with your knife, broil him upon wood coal or charcoal; but as he is broiling, baste him often with butter that shall be choicely good; and put good store of salt into your butter, or salt him gently as you broil or baste him; and bruise or cut very small into your butter, a little thyme, or some other sweet herb that is in the garden where you eat him : thus used, it takes away the waterish taste which the Chub or Cheven has, and makes him a choice dish of meat, as you yourself know; for thus was that dressed which you did eat of to your
dinner. Or you may (for variety) dress a Chub another way, and you will find him very good, and his tongue and head almost as good as a Carp's: but then you must be sure that no grass or weeds be left in his mouth or throat.
Thus you must dress him: Slit him through the middle, then cut him into four pieces; then put him into a pewter dish, and cover him with another, put into him as much white wine as will cover him, or spring water and vinegar, and store of salt, with some branches of thyme, and other sweet herbs ; let him then be boiled gently over a chafing dish with wood coals, and when he is almost boiled enough, put half of the liquor from him, not the top of it; put then into him a convenient quantity of the best butter you can get, with a little nutmeg grated into it, and sippets of white bread; thus ordered, you will find the Cheven and the sauce too a choice dish of meat, and I have been the more careful to give you a perfect direction how to dress him, because he is a fish undervalued by many, and I would gladly restore him to some of his credit which he has lost by ill cookery.
Viator. But, Master, have you no other way to catch a Cheven, or Chub? Piscator. Yes, that I have, but I must take time to tell it you
hereafter; or indeed, you must learn it by observation and practice, though
consent to. And for your willingness to part with it so charitably, I will also teach more concerning Chub-fishing. You are to note, that in March and April he is usually taken with worms; in May, June, and July, he will bite at any fly, or at cherries, or at beetles with their legs and wings cut off, or at any kind of snail, or at the black bee that breeds in clay walls. And he never refuses a grasshopper, on the top of a swift stream,e nor, at the bottom, the young humble bee that breeds in long grass, and is ordinarily found by the mower of it. In August, and in the cooler months, a yellow paste, made of the strongest cheese, and pounded in a mortar, with a little butter and saffron, so much of it as, being beaten small, will turn it to a lemon colour. And some make a paste for the winter months, at which time the Chub is accounted best, for then it is observed, that the forked bones are lost, or turned into a kind of gristle, especially if he be baked, of cheese and turpentine.' He will bite also at a minnow, or penk,' as a Trout will: of which I shall tell you more hereafter, and of divers other baits. But take this for a rule, that, in hot weather, he is to be fished for towards
VARIATION continued.] this
way that I have taught you was the easiest to catch a Chub, at this time, and at this place. And now we are come again to the river, I will (as the soldier says) prepare for skirmish; that is, draw out my tackling, and try to catch a Trout for supper.
Viator. Trust me, Master, I see now it is a harder matter to catch a Trout than a Chub, &c.
1 if he baked with a paste made of cheese and turpentine.— 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Edit.
Note.] 8 In the Thames, above Richmond, the best way of using the grasshopper for Chub is to fish with it as with an artificial fly; the first joints of the legs must be pinched off, and in this way, when the weed is rotten, which is seldom till September, the largest Dace are taken. H.
9 In “Practical Observations on Angling in the River Trent,” 12mo. Newark, 1801, p. 42, it is said, “ Chub will also take small Gudgeons in the way you troll for Pike: the hook ought not to be so heavy leaded upon the shank; they gorge immediately on taking the bait." E.
you, that his
the mid-water, or near the top; and in colder weather, nearer the bottom; and if you fish for him on the top,
; with a beetle, or any fly, then be sure to let your line be very long, and to keep out of sight. And having told
is excellent meat, and that the head of a large Cheven, the throat being well washed, is the best part of him, I will say no more of this fish at the
present, but wish you may catch the next you fish for. m
But, lest you may judge me too nice in urging to have the Chub dressed so presently after he is taken, I will commend to your consideration how curious former times have been in the like kind.
You shall read in Seneca, his “ Natural Questions, that the ancients were so curious in the newness of their fish, that that seemed not new enough that was not put alive into the guest's hand; and he says, that to that end they did usually keep them living in glass bottles in their dining-rooms, and they did glory much in their entertaining of friends, to have that fish taken from under their table alive that was instantly to be fed upon; and he says, they took great pleasure to see their Mullets change to several colours when they were dying. But enough of this; for I doubt I have staid too long from giving you some Observations of the Trout, and how to fish for him, which shall take up the next of my spare time.
Variation.] " the next you fish for. And now my next observation and direction shall be concerning the Trout (which I love to angle for above any fish). But lest you, &c.--2nd, 3rd, and 4th Edit. Note.] 1 Lib. III. Cap. 17.
i 2 The haunts of the Chub are streams shaded with trees: in summer, deep holes, where they will sometimes Aoat near the surface of the water, and under the boughs on the side of a bank. Their spawning time is towards the beginning of April: they are in season from about the middle of May till the middle of February; but are best in winter. At mid-water, and at bottom, use a float; at top, either dib, or, if you
have room, use the fly-line, as for Trout. They are so eager, in biting, that, when they take the bait, you may hear their jaws chop like those of a dog. H.
the Nature and
to fish for him.
Piscator. The Trout is a fish highly valued, Chap. IV. On
both in this and foreign nations. He may be Breeding of the justly said, as the old poet said of wine, and Trout, and how we English say of venison, to be a generous
fish : a fish that is so like the buck, that he also has his seasons; for it is observed, that he comes in and
goes out of season with the stag and buck. Gesner says, his name is of a German offspring; and says he is a fish that feeds clean and purely, in the swiftest streams, and on the hardest gravel; and that he may justly contend with all fresh water fish, as the Mullet
with all sea fish, for precedency and daintiness of taste; and that being in right season, the most dainty palates have allowed precedency to him.
And before I go farther in my discourse, let me tell you,
that you are to observe, that as there be some barren does that are good in summer, so there be some barren Trouts that are good in winter; but there are not many that are so; for usually they be in their perfection in the month of May, and decline with the buck. Now to take notice, that in several countries, as in Germany, and in other parts, compared to ours, fish do differ much in their bigness, and shape, and other ways; and so do Trouts. It is well known that in the Lake Leman, the Lake of Geneva, there are Trouts taken of three cubits long; as is affirmed by Gesner, a writer of good credit : and Mercator says, the Trouts that are taken in the Lake of Geneva are a great part of the merchandize of that famous city. And you are further to know, that there be certain waters that breed Trouts remarkable, both for their number and smallness. I know a little brook in Kent, that breeds them to a number incredible, and
you may take them twenty or forty in an hour, but none greater
Note.) 3 Gerard Mercator, of Ruremond in Flanders, a man of such intense application to mathematical studies, that he neglected the necessary refreshments of nature. He engraved with his own hand, and coloured the maps to his geographical writings, He wrote several books of Theology; and died in 1594. H