Chapter V. Chapter
VII. Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX. Chapter X. Chapter XI. Chapter XII.
THE SECOND DAY.
Pisc. junior. Fly-fishing, or fishing at the top, is, as I said before, of two sorts; with a natural, and living fly, or with an artificial, and made fly.
First, then, of the natural fly: of which we generally use but two sorts, and those but in the two months of May and June only, namely, the green-drake and the stone-fly; thoughI have made use of a third that way, called the camlet-fly, with very good success for grayling, but never saw it angled with by any other after this manner, my master only excepted, who died many years ago, and was one of the best anglers that ever I knew.
These are to be angled with, with a short line, not much more than half the length of your rod, if the air be still; or with a longer, very near or all out as long as your rod, if you have any wind to carry it from you: and this way of fishing we call daping, dabbing, or dibbling; wherein you are always to have your line flying before you up or down the river as the wind serves, and to angle as near as you can to the bank of the same side whereon you stand; though where you see a fish rise near you, you may guide your quick-fly over him, whether in the middle, or on the contrary side; and, if you are pretty well out of sight, either by kneeling or the interposition of a bank or bush, you may almost be sure to raise, and take him too, if it be presently done; the fish will otherwise, peradventure, be removed to some other place if it be in the still-deeps, where he is always in motion, and roving up and down to look for prey; though in a stream, you may always, almost, especially if there be a good stone near, find him in the same place. Your line ought in this case to be three good hairs next the hook, both by reason you are in this kind of angling, to expect the biggest fish, and also, that wanting length to give him line after he is struck, you must be forced to tug for't: to which I will also add, that not an inch of our line being to be suffered to touch the water in dibbling, it may be allowed to be the stronger, I should now give you a description of those flies, their shape and colour, and then give you an account of their breeding, and withal allow you how to keep and use them; but shall defer that to their proper place and season.
Viat. In earnest, sir, you discourse very rationally of this affair, and I am glad to find myself mistaken in you; for in plain truth I did not expect so much from you.
Pisc. Nay, sir, I can tell you a great deal more than this, and will conceal nothing from you. But I must now come to the second way of angling at the top, which is with an artificial-fly, which also I will show you how to make before I have done: but first shall acquaint you, that with this you are to angle with a line a little longer, by a yard and a half, or sometimes two yards, than your rod: and with both this, and the other, in a still day, in the streams, in a breeze that curls the water in the still-deeps, where (excepting in May and June, that the best trouts will lie in shallow streams to watch for prey, and even then too) you are like to hit the best fish.
For the length of your rod, you are always to be governed by the breadth of the river you shall choose to angle at: and for a trout-river, one of five or six yards long is commonly enough; and longer, though never so neatly and artificially made, it ought not to be, if you intend to fish at ease; and if otherwise, where lies the sport?
Of these, the best that ever I saw are made in Yorkshire, which are all of one piece: that is to say of several, six eight, ten or twelve pieces, so neatly pieced, and tied together with fine thread below, and silk above, as to make it taper, like a switch, and to ply with a true bent to your hand. And these, too, are light, being made of fir-wood for two or three lengths nearest to the hand, and of other wood nearer to the top; that a man might very easily manage the longest of them that ever I saw, with one hand. And these, when you have given over angling for a season, being taken to pieces, and laid up in some dry place, may afterwards be set together again in their former postures, and will be as straight, sound, and good as the first hour they were made; and being laid in oil and colour, according to your Master Walton's direction, will last many years.
The length of your line, to a man that knows how to handle his rod, and to cast it, is no manner of encumbrance, excepting in woody places and in landing of a fish, which every one that can afford to angle for pleasure, has somebody to do for him. And the length of line is a mighty advantage to the fishing at distance; and to fish fine, and far-off, is the first and principal rule for trout-angling.
Your line in this case should never be less, nor ever exceed two hairs next to the hook; for one (though some I know will pretend to more art than their fellows) is indeed too few, the least accident, with the finest hands being sufficient to break it; but he that cannot kill a trout of twenty inches long with two, in a river clear of wood and weeds, as this and some other of ours are, deserves not the name of an angler. Now to have your whole line as it ought to be, two of the first lengths nearest the hooks should be of two hairs a-piece; the next three lengths above them of three; the next three above them of four; and so of five, and six, and seven, to the very top: by which means your rod and tackle will, in a manner, be taper from your very hand to your hook; your line will fall much better and straighter, and cast your fly to any certain place to which the hand and eye shall direct it, with less weight and violence, than would otherwise circle the water and fright away the fish.
In casting your line, do it always before you, and so that your fly may first fall upon the water, and as little of your line with it as is possible; though if the wind be stiff, you will then of necessity be compelled to drown a good part of your line to keep your fly in the water: and in casting your fly, you must aim at the further, or nearer, bank, as the wind serves your turn: which also will be with and against you on the same side, several times in an hour, as the river winds in its course; and you will be forced to angle up and down by turns accordingly; but are to endeavour, as much as you can, to stand as far off the bank as your length will give you leave when you throw to the contrary side: though, when the wind will not permit you so to do, and that you are constrained to angle on the same side whereon you stand,---you must then stand on the very brink of the river, and cast your fly at the utmost length of your rod and line, up or down the river as the gale serves.
It only remains, touching your line, to inquire whether your two hairs, next to the hook, are better twisted, or open. And for that, I should declare that I think the open way the better, because it makes less show in the water; but that I have found an inconvenience, or two, or three, that have made me almost weary of that way: of which, one is, that, without dispute, they are not so strong [open as twisted]; another, that they are not easily to be fastened of so exact an equal length in the arming, that the one will not cause the other to bag, by which means a man has but one hair, upon the matter, to trust to; and the last is, that those flying hairs are not only more apt to catch upon every twig or bent they meet with, but moreover the hook, in falling upon the water, will very often rebound, and fly back betwixt the hairs, and there stick (which, in a rough water especially, is not presently to be discerned by the angler), so as the point of the hook shall stand reversed; by which means your fly swims backwards, makes a much greater circle in the water, and till taken home to you and set right, will never raise any fish; or, if it should, I am sure, but by a very extrordinary chance, can hit none.
Having done with both these ways of fishing at the top, the length of your rod, and line and all, I am next to teach you how to make a fly; and afterwards, of what dubbing you are to make the several flies I shall hereafter name to you. In making a fly, then, which is not a hackle, or palmer-fly, (for of those, and their several kinds, we shall have occasion to speak every month in the year), you are first to hold your hook fast betwixt the fore-finger and thumb of your left hand, with the back of the shank upwards, and the point towards your finger's ends: Then take a strong small silk of the colour of the fly you intend to make, wax it well with wax of the same colour too: to which end you are always, by the way, to have wax of all colours about you; and draw it betwixt your finger and thumb, to the head of the shank, and then whip it twice or thrice about the bare hook, which you must know is done, both to prevent slipping, and also that the shank of the hook may not cut the hairs of your towght, which sometimes it will otherwise do. Which being done, take your line and draw it likewise betwixt your finger and thumb, holding the hook so fast, as only to suffer it to pass by, until you have the knot of your towght almost to the middle of the shank of your hook, on the inside of it; then whip your silk twice or thrice about both hook and line, as hard as the strength of the silk will permit. Which being done, strip the feathers for the wings proportionable to the bigness of your fly, placing that side downwards which grew uppermost before, upon the back of the hook, leaving so much only as to serve for the length of the wing of the point of the plume lying reversed from the end of the shank upwards: then whip your silk twice or thrice about the root-end of the feather, hook, and towght. Which being done, clip off the root-end of the feather close by the arming, and then whip the silk fast and firm about the hook and towght, until you come to the bend of the hook: but not further, as you do at London, and so make a very unhandsome, and, in plain English, a very unnatural and shapeless fly. Which being done, cut away the end of your towght, and fasten it. And then take your dubbing which is to make the body of your fly, as much as you think convenient; and, holding it lightly with your hook betwixt the finger and thumb of your left-hand, take your silk with the right, and twisting it betwixt the finger and thumb of that hand, the dubbing will spin itself about the silk, which when it has done, whip it about the armed-hook backward, till you come to the setting on of the wings. And then take the feather for the wings, and divide it equally into two parts; and turn them back towards the end of the hook, the one on the one side, and the other on the other of the shank, holding them fast in that posture betwixt the fore-finger and thumb of your left hand. Which done, warp them down so as to stand and slope towards the bend of the hook; and having warped up to the end of the shank, hold the fly fast betwixt the finger and thumb of your left-hand, and then take the silk betwixt the finger and thumb of your right hand, and, where the warping ends, pinch or nip it with your thumb-nail against your finger, and strip away the remainder of your dubbing from the silk; and then, with the bare silk, whip it once or twice about, make the wings to stand in due order, fasten, and cut it off: after which, with the point of a needle raise up the dubbing gently from the warp; twitch off the superfluous hairs of your dubbing; leave the wings of an equal length,---your fly will never else swim true;---and the work is done. And this way of making a fly, which is certainly the best of all other, was taught me by a kinsman of mine, one Captain Henry Jackson, a near neighbour, an admirable fly-angler; by many degrees the best fly-maker that ever I yet met with. And now that I have told you how a fly is to be made, you shall see me presently make one, with which you may peradventure take a trout this morning, notwithstanding the unlikeness of the day; for it is now nine of the clock, and fish will begin to rise, if they will rise to-day. I will walk along by you, and look on: and after dinner, I will proceed in my lecture on fly-fishing.
Viat. I confess I long to be at the river; and yet I could sit here all day to hear you; but some of the one, and some of the other, will do well: and I have a mighty ambition to take a trout in your River Dove.
Pisc. I warrant you shall: I would not for more than I will speak of, but you should, seeing I have so extolled my river to you. Nay, I will keep you here a month, but you shall have one good day of sport before you go.
Viat. You will find me, I doubt, too tractable that way: for, in good earnest, if business would give me leave, and that, if it were fit, I could find in my heart to stay with you for ever.
Pisc. I thank you, sir, for that kind expression; and now let me look out my things to make this fly.
THE SECOND DAY.
FISHING AT THE TOP CONTINUED---FURTHER DIRECTIONS FOR FLY-MAKING---TIME WHEN THE GRAYLING IS IN SEASON---ROCK IN PIKEPOOL.
Pisc. jun. Boy! come, give me my dubbing-bag here presently. And now, sir, since I find you so honest a man, I will make no scruple to lay open my treasure before you.
Viat. Did ever any one see the like! What a heap of trumpery is here! certainly never an angler in Europe, has his shop half so well furnished as you have.
Pisc. You, perhaps, may think now that I rake together this trumpery, as you call it, for show only; to the end that such as see it, which are not many I assure you, may think me a great master in the art of angling: but let me tell you here are some colours, as contemptible as they may seem here, that are very hard to be got; and scarce any one of them, which, if it should be lost, I should not miss, and be concerned about the loss of it too, once in the year. But look you, sir, amongst all these I will choose out these two colours only, of which, this is bear's hair, this darker, no great matter what: but I am sure I have killed a great deal of fish with it; and with one or both of these, you shall take trout or grayling this very day, notwithstanding all disadvantages, or my art shall fail me.
Viat. You promise comfortably, and I have a great deal of reason to believe every thing you say: but I wish the fly were made, that we were at it.
Pisc. That will not be long in doing: and pray observe then. You see first how I hold my hook, and thus I begin. Look you, here are my first two or three whips about the bare hook; thus I join hook and line; thus I put on my wings; thus I twirl and lap on my dubbing; thus I work it up towards the head; thus I part my wings; thus I twirl and lap on my dubbing; thus I nip my superfluous dubbing from my silk: thus fasten; thus trim and adjust my fly: and there's a fly made. And now how do you like it!
Viat. In earnest, admirably well; and it perfectly resembles a fly; but we about London make the bodies of our flies both much bigger and longer, so long as even almost to the very beard of the hook.
Pisc. I know it very well, and had one of these flies given me by an honest gentleman, who came with my Father Walton to give me a visit; which, to tell you the truth, I hung in my parlour window to laugh at; but, sir, you know the proverb, "They who go to Rome, must do as they at Rome do;" and, believe me, you must here make your flies after this fashion, or your will take no fish. Come, I will look you out a line, and you shall put it on, and try it. There, sir, now I think you are fitted; and now beyond the farther end of the walk you shall begin. I see at that bend of the water above, the air crimps the water a little, knit your line first here, and then go up thither, and see what you can do.
Viat. Did you see that, sir?
Pisc. Yes, I saw the fish, and he saw you too, which made him turn short; you must fish further off, if you intend to have any sport here; this is no New River, let me tell you! That was a good trout, believe me; did you touch him?
Viat. No, I would I had, we would not have parted so! Look you, there was another! This is an excellent fly!
Pisc. That fly, I am sure, would kill fish, if the day were right; but they only chew at it, I see, and will not take it. Come, sir, let us return back to the fishing-house; this still water I see will not do our business to-day. You shall now, if you please, make a fly yourself, and try what you can do in the streams with that; and I know a trout taken with a fly of your own making, will please you better than twenty with one of mine. Give me that bag again, sirrah. Look you, sir, there is a hook, towght, silk, and a feather for the wings: be doing with those, and I will look you out a dubbing, that I think will do.
Viat. This is a very little hook.
Pisc. That may serve to inform you, that it is for a very little fly, and you must make your wings accordingly; for as the case stands it must be a little fly, and a very little one too, that must do your business. Well said! believe me you shift your fingers very handsomely: I doubt I have taken upon me to teach my master. So, here's your dubbing now.
Viat. This dubbing is very black.
Pisc. It appears so in hand, but step to the door and hold it up between your eye and the sun, and it will appear a shining red: let me tell you, never a man in England can discern the true color of a dubbing any way but that; and therefore choose always to make your flies on such a bright sunshine day as this, which also you may the better do, because it is worth nothing to fish in. Here, put it on; and be sure to make the body of your fly as slender as you can. Very good! Upon my word you have made a marvellous handsome fly.
Viat. I am very glad to hear it; 'tis the first that ever I made of this kind in my life.
Pisc. Away, away! you are a doctor at it: but I will not commend you too much, lest I make you proud. Come, put it on, and you shall now go downward to some streams betwixt the rocks below the little foot-bridge you see there, and try your fortune. Take heed of slipping into the water as you follow me under this rock. So, now you are over, and now throw in.
Viat. This is a fine stream indeed! There's one! I have him.
Pisc. And a precious catch you have of him; pull him out! I see you have a tender hand. This is a diminutive gentleman, e'en throw him in again, and let him grow till he be more worthy your anger.
Viat. Pardon me, sir, all's fish that comes to the hook with me now. Another!
Pisc. And of the same standing.
Viat. I see I shall have good sport now. Another! and a grayling. Why you have fish here at will.
Pisc. Come, come, cross the bridge, and go down the other side, lower; where you will find finer streams, and better sport, I hope, than this. Look you, sir, here is a fine stream now. You have length enough, stand a little further off, let me entreat you; and do but fish this stream like an artist, and peradventure a good fish may fall to your share. How now! What is all gone?
Viat. No, but I touched him; but that was a fish worth taking.
Pisc. Why now, let me tell you, you lost that fish by your own fault, and through your own eagerness and haste: for you are never to offer to strike a good fish, if he do not strike himself, till first you see him turn his head after he has taken your fly; and then you can never strain your tackle in the striking, if you strike with any manner of moderation. Come, throw in once again, and fish me this stream by inches; for I assure you here are very good fish: both trout and grayling lie here; and at that great stone on the other side, 'tis ten to one a good trout gives you the meeting.
Viat. I have him now, but he is gone down towards the bottom. I cannot see what he is, yet he should be a good fish by his weight: but he makes no great stir.
Pisc. Why then, by what you say, I dare venture to assure you 'tis a grayling, who is one of the deadest-hearted fishes in the world; and the bigger he is, the more easily taken. Look you now, you see him plain; I told you what he was. Bring hither that landing-net, boy. And now, sir, he is your own; and believe me a good one, sixteen inches long I warrant him: I have taken none such this year.
Viat. I never saw a grayling before look so black.
Pisc. Did you not? Why then let me tell you, that you never saw one before in right season: for then a grayling is very blck about his head, gills, and down his back; and has his belly of a dark gray, dappled with black spots, as you see this is; and I am apt to conclude, that from thence he derives his name of umber. Though I must tell you this fish is past his prime, and begins to decline, and was in better season at Christmas than he is now. But move on, for it grows toward dinner-time; and there is a very great and fine stream below, under that rock, that fill the deepest pool in all the river, where you are almost sure of a good fish.
Viat. Let him come, I'll try a fall with him. But I had thought, that the grayling had always been in season with the trout, and had come in and gone out with him.
Pisc. Oh, no! assure yourself a grayling is a winter-fish, but such a one as would deceive any but such as know him very well indeed, for his flesh, even in the worst season, is so firm, and will so easily calve, that in plain truth he is very good meat at all times: but in his perfect season, which, by the way, none but an overgrown grayling will ever be, I think him so good a fish, as to be little inferior to the best trout that ever I tasted in my life.
Viat. Here's another skip-jack; and I have raised five or six more at least while you were speaking: Well, go thy way little Dove! thou art the finest river that ever I saw, and the fullest of fish. Indeed, Sir, I like it so well, that I am afraid you will be troubled with me once a year, so long as we two live.
Pisc. I am afraid I shall not, Sir; but were you once here a May or June, if good sport would tempt you, I should then expect you would sometimes see me; for you would then say it were a fine river indeed, if you had once seen the sport at the height.
Viat. Which I will do, if I live, and that you please to give me leave. There was one; and there another.
Pisc. And all this in a strange river, and with a fly of your own making! Why what a dangerous man are you!
Viat. I, sir, but who taught me? and as Damaetas says by his man Dorus, so you may say by me:
-------If my man such praises have,
What then have I, that taught the knave?
But what have we go here? A rock springing up in the middle of the river! this is one of the oddest sights that ever I saw.
Pisc. Why, sir, from that pike, that you see standing up there distant from the rock, this is called Pike-Pool. And young Mr. Izaak Walton was so pleased with it, as to draw it in landscape in black and white, in a blank book I have at home; as he has done several prospects of my house also, which I keep for a memorial of his favour, and will show you, when we come up to dinner.
Viat. Has young Master Izaak Walton been here too?
Pisc. Yes, marry has he sir, and that again, and again too, and in France since, and at Rome, and at Venice, and I can't tell where; but I intend to ask him a great many hard questions so soon as I can see him, which will be, God willing, next month. In the meantime, sir, come to this fine stream at the head of this great pool, you must venture over these slippery, cobbling stones. Believe me, sir, there you were nimble, or else you had been down! But now you are got over, look to yourself; for, on my word, if a fish rise here, he is like to be such a one as will endanger your tackle. How now!
Viat. I think you have command here over the fishes, that you can raise them by your word, as they say conjurors can do spirits, and afterward make them do what you bid them; for here's a trout has taken my fly. I had rather have lost a crown. What luck's this! he was a lovely fish, and turned up a side like a salmon!
Pisc. O sir, this is a war where you sometimes win, and must sometimes expect to lose. Never concern yourself for the loss of your fly; for ten to one I teach you to make a better. Who's that calls?
Servant. Sir, will it please you to come to dinner?
Pisc. We come. You hear, sir, we are called: and now take your choice, whether you will climb this steep hill before you, from the top of which you will go directly into the house, or back again over these stepping-stones, and about by the bridge.
Viat. Nay, sure, the nearest way is the best: at least my stomach tells me so: and I am now so well acquainted with your rocks, that I fear them not.
Pisc. Come, then, follow me: and so soon as we have dined, we will down again to the little house, where I will begin at the place where I left off about fly-fishing, and read you another lecture; for I have a great deal more to say upon that subject.
Viat. The more the better; I could never have met with a more obliging master, my first excepted; nor such sport can all the rivers about London ever afford, as is to be found in this pretty river.
Pisc. You deserve to have better, both because I see you are willing to take pains, and for liking this little so well and better I hope to show you before we part.
THE SECOND DAY.
FISHING AT THE TOP---FLIES FOR THE MONTHS OF JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH, APRIL, AND PART OF MAY; INCLUDING, UNDER MAY, PARTICULAR DIRECTIONS HOW TO BAIT WITH THE GREEN-DRAKE.
Viat. Come, Sir! having now well dined, and being again set in your little house, I will now challenge your promise, and entreat you to proceed in your instruction for fly-fishing: which, that you may be the better encouraged to do, I will assure you that I have not lost, I think, one syllable of what you have told me; but very well retain, all your directions both for the rod, line, and making a fly, and now desire an account of the flies themselves.
Pisc. Why, sir, I am ready to give it you, and shall have the whole afternoon to do it in, if nobody come in to interrupt us: for you must know, besides the unfitness of the day, that the afternoons so early in March signify very little to angling with a fly; though with a minnow, or a worm, something might, I confess, be done.
To begin then where I left off. My father Walton tells us but of twelve artificial flies, to angle with at the top, and gives their names; of which some are common with us here; and I think I guess at most of them by his description, and I believe they all breed, and are taken in our rivers, though do not make them either of the same dubbing or fashion. And it may be in the rivers about London which I presume he has most frequented, and where 'tis likely he has done most execution, there is not much notice taken of many more: but we are acquainted with several others here, though, perhaps, I may reckon some of his by other names too; but, if I do, I shall make you amends by an addition to his catalogue. And although the fore-named great master in the art of angling, for so in truth he is, tells you that no man should in honesty catch a trout till the middle of March, yet I hope he will give a man leave sooner to take a grayling; which, as I told you, is in the dead months in his best season: and do assure you, which I remember by a very remarkable token, I did once take upon the sixth day of December, one, and only one, of the biggest graylings, and the best in season, that ever I yet saw or tasted: and do usually take trouts too, and with a fly, not only before the middle of this month, but almost every year in February, unless it be a very ill spring indeed: and have sometimes in January, so early as New-year's-tide, and in frost and snow, taken grayling in a warm sunshine day for an hour or two about noon; and to fish for him with a grub it is then the best time of all.
I shall therefore begin my fly-fishing with that month, though I confess very few begin so soon, and that such as are so fond of the sport as to embrace all opportunities, can rarely in that month find a day fit for their purpose, and tell you that, upon my knowledge, these flies in a warm sun, for an hour or two in the day, are certainly taken.
1. A Red Brown, with wings of the male of a mallard, almost white; the dubbing, of the tail of a black long-coated cur, such as they commonly make muffs of; for the hair on the tail of such a dog dyes and turns to a red brown, but the hair of a smooth-coated dog of the same colour will not do, because it will not dye, but retains its natural colour. And this fly is taken, in a warm sun, this whole month through.
2. There is also a very little Bright-dun Gnat, as little as can possibly be made, so little as never to be fished with, with above one hair next the hook: and this is to be made of a mixed dubbing of marten's fur, and the white of a hare's-scut, with a very white and small wing. And 'tis no great matter how fine you fish, for nothing will rise in this month but a grayling; and of them I never, at this season, saw any taken with a fly, of above a foot long, in my life: but of little ones, about the bigness of a smelt, in a warm day and a glowing sun, you may take enough with these two flies; and they are both taken the whole month through.
1. Where the red brown of the last month ends, another, almost of the same colour, begins with this; saving, that the dubbing of this must be of something a blacker colour, and both of them warpt on with red silk. The dubbing that should make this fly, and that is the truest colour, is to be got off the black spot of a hog's ear: not that a black spot in any part of the hog will not afford the same colour, but that the hair in that place is by many degrees softer, and more fit for the purpose: his wing must be as the other; and this kills all this month, and is called the lesser red-brown.
2. This month also a Plain Hackle, or Palmer-fly, made with a rough black body, either of black spaniel's fur or the whirl of an ostritch-feather, and the red hackle of a capon over all, will kill; and, if the weather be right, make very good sport.
3. Also a Lesser Hackle with a black body also, silver-twist over that, and a red feather over all, will fill your pannier, if the month be open, and not bound up in ice, and snow, with very good fish; but in case of a frost and snow, you are to angle only with the smallest gnats, browns, and duns, you can make; and with those are only to expect graylings no bigger than sprats.
4. In this month, upon a whirling round water, we have a Great Hackle; the body black, and wrapped with a red feather of a capon untrimmed: that is , the whole length of the hackle staring out, (for we sometimes barb the hackle-feather short all over, sometimes barb it only a little, and sometimes barb it close underneath;) leaving the whole length of the feather on the top or back of the fly, making it swim better, and, as occasion serves, kills very great fish.
5. We make use also, in this month, of another Great hackle; the body black, and ribbed over with a gold twist, and a red feather over all; which also does great execution.
6. Also a Great Dun, made with dun bear's hair, and the wings of the gray feather of a mallard near unto his tail; which is absolutely the best fly can be thrown upon a river this month, and with which an angler shall have admirable sport.
7. We have also this moth the Great Blue Dun; the dubbing of the bottom of bear's hair next to the roots, mixed with a little blue camlet; the wings of the dark gray feather of a mallard.
8. We also have this month a Dark Brown; the dubbing of a brown hair off the flank of a brended cow, and the wings of the gray drake's feather.
And note, that these several hackles, or palmer-flies, are some for one water and one sky, and some for another; and, according to the change of those, we alter their size and colour. And note also, that both in this, and all other months of the year, when you do not certainly know what fly is taken, or cannot see any fish to rise, you are then to put on a small hackle, if the water be clear, or a bigger, if something dark, until you have taken one; and then, thrusting your finger through his gills, to pull out his gorge, which being opened with your knife, you will then discover what fly is taken, and may fit yourself accordingly.
For the making of a hackle, or palmer-fly, my father Walton has already given you sufficient direction.
For this month you are to use all the same hackles, and flies with the other; but you are to make them less.
1. We have besides for this month, a little dun called a Whirling-Dun, though it is not the whirling-dun indeed, which is one of the best flies we have; and for this the dubbing must be of the bottom fur of a squirrel's tail, and the wing of the gray feather of a drake.
2. Also a Bright's Brown; the dubbing either of the brown of a spaniel, or that of a cow's flank, with a gray wing.
3. Also a Whitish Dun, made of the roots of camel's hair, and the wings of the gray feather of a mallard.
4. There is also for this month, a fly, called the Thorn-tree fly; the dubbing an absolute black, mixed with eight or ten hairs of Isabella-coloured mohair, the body as little as can be made, and the wings of a bright mallard's feather: an admirable fly, and in great repute amongst us for a killer.
5. There is, besides this, another Blue Dun, the dubbing of which it is made being thus to be got. Take a small-tooth comb, and with it comb the neck of a black grey-hound, and the down that sticks in the teeth, will be the finest blue that ever you saw. The wings of this fly can hardly be too white; and he is taken about the tenth of this month, and lasteth till the four-and-twentieth.
6. From the tenth of this month also, till towards the end, is taken a little Black gnat: the dubbing either of the fur of a black water-dog, or the down of a young black water-coot; the wings of the male of a mallard, as white as may be; the body as little as you can possibly make it, and the wings as short as his body.
7. From the sixteenth of this month also, to the end of it, we use a Bright Brown; the dubbing for which is to be had out of a skinner's lime-pits, and of the hair of an abortive calf, which the lime will turn so bright as to shine like gold: for the wings of this fly, the feather of a brown hen is best: which fly is also taken till the tenth of April.
All the same hackles and flies that were taken in March, will be taken in this month also; with this distinction only concerning the flies, that all the browns be lapped with red silk, and the duns with yellow.
1. To these a small Bright Brown, made of spaniel's fur, with a light gray wing, in a bright day and a clear water, is very well taken.
2. We have too a little Dark Brown, the dubbing of that colour, and some violet camlet mixed, and the wings of a gray feather of a mallard.
3. From the sixth of this month to the tenth, we have also a fly called the Violet-fly; made of a dark violet stuff, with the wings of the gray feather of a mallard.
4. About the twelfth of this month comes in the fly called the Whirling Dun, which is taken every day, about the mid-time of day, all this month through, and by fits from thence, to the end of June; and is commonly made of the down of a fox-cub, which is of an ash-colour at the roots, next the skin, and ribbed about with yellow silk; the wings of the pale gray feather of a mallard.
5. There is also a Yellow Dun, the dubbing of camel's hair, and yellow camlet or wool, mixed, and a white-gray wing.
6. There is also, this month, another Little Brown, besides that mentioned before; made with a very slender body, the dubbing of dark brown, and violet camlet, mixed, and a gray wing: which, though the direction for the making be near the other, is yet another fly; and will take when the other will not, especially in a bright day, and a clear water.
7. About the twentieth of this month comes in a fly called the Horse-flesh fly; the dubbing of which is a blue mohair, with pink-coloured and red tammy mixed, a light coloured wing, and a dark-brown head. This fly is taken best in an evening, and kills from two hours before sunset till twilight; and is taken the month through.
And now, sir, that we are entering into the month of May, I think it requisite to beg not only your attention, but also your best patience; for I must now be a little tedious with you, and dwell upon this month longer than ordinary: which, that you may the better endure, I must tell you, this month deserves and requires to be insisted on, forasmuch as it alone, and the next following, afford more pleasure to the fly-angler, than all the rest. And here it is that you are to expect an account of the Green-drake, and Stone-fly, promised you so long ago, and some others that are peculiar to this month, and part of the month following; and that, though not so great either in bulk or name, do yet stand in competition with the two before named: and so that it is yet undecided, amongst the anglers, to which of the pretenders to the title of the May-fly, it does properly, and duly belong. Neither dare I, where so many of the learned in this art of angling are got in dispute about the controversy, take upon me to determine; but I think I ought to have a vote among them, and according to that privilege shall give you my free opinion; and peradventure when I have told you all, you may incline to think me in the right.
Viat. I have so great a deference to your judgment in these matters, that I must always be of your opinion; and the more you speak, the faster I grow to my attention, for I can never be weary of hearing you upon this subject.
Pisc. Why that's encouragement enough; and now prepare yourself for a tedious lecture: but I will first begin with the flies of less esteem, though almost anything will take a trout in May, that I may afterwards insist the longer upon those of greater note, and reputation. Know, therefore, that the first fly we take notice of in this month, is called
1. The Turkey-fly; dubbing ravelled out of some blue stuff, and lapped about with tellow silk; the wings of a gray mallard's feather.
2. Next a Great Hackle or Palmer-fly, with a yellow body; ribbed with gold twist, and large wings of a mallard's feather dyed yellow, with a red capon's hackle over all.
3. Then a Black fly; the dubbing of a black spaniel's fur, and the wings of a gray mallard's feather.
4. After that a Light Brown, with a slender body; the dubbing twirled upon small red silk and raised with the point of a needle, that the ribs or rows of silk may appear through; the wings of the gray feather of a mallard.
5. Next a Little Dun; the dubbing of a bear's dun whirled upon yellow silk, the wings of the gray feather of a mallard.
6. Then a White Gnat, with a pale wing, and a black head.
7. There is also this month a fly called the Peacock-fly; the body made of a whirl of a peacock's feather, with a red head, and wings of a mallard's feather.
8. We have then another very killing fly, known by the name of the Dun-cut; the dubbing of which is a bear's dun, with a little blue and yellow mixed with it, a large dun wing, and two horns at the head, made of the hairs of a squirrel's tail.
9. The next is the Cow-lady, a little fly; the body of a peacock's feather, the wing of a red feather, or strips of the red hackle of a cock.
10. We have then the Cow-dung fly; the dubbing light-brown and yellow mixed, the wing the dark gray feather of a mallard. And note, that besides these above-mentioned, as all the same hackles and flies, the hackles only brighter, and the flies smaller, that are taken in April, will also be taken this month, as also all browns and duns. And now I come to my Stone-fly, and Green-drake, which are the Matadores for trout and grayling; and, in their season, kill more fish in our Derbyshire rivers than all the rest, past and to come, in the whole year besides.
But first I am to tell you, that we have four several flies which contend for the title of the May-fly: namely,
The Black-fly, and
The Little Yellow May-fly.
And all of these have their champions and advocates to dispute, and plead their priority; though I do not understand why the two last-named should, the first two having so manifestly the advantage, both in their beauty, and the wonderful execution they do in their season.
11. Of these, the Green-drake comes in about the twentieth of this month, or betwixt that and the latter end, for they are sometimes sooner, and sometimes later, according to the quality of the year; but never well taken till towards the end of this month, and the beginning of June. The Stone-fly comes much sooner, so early as the middle of April; but is never well taken till towards the middle of May, and continues to kill much longer than the Green-drake stays with us, so long as to the end of June, and indeed, so long as there are any of them to be seen upon the water: and sometimes in an artificial fly, and late at night, or before sunrise in a morning, longer.
Now both these flies, and, I believe, many others, though I think not all, are certainly and demonstratively bred in the very rivers where they are taken; our Cadis or Cod-bait, which lie under stones in the bottom of the water, most of them turning into those two flies, and being gathered in the husk, or crust, near the time of their maturity, are very easily known and distinguished; and are of all other the most remarkable, both for their size, as being of all other the biggest, the shortest of them being a full inch long, or more, and for the execution they do, the trout and grayling being much more greedy of them than of any others: and indeed, the trout never feeds fat, nor comes into his perfect season, till these flies come in.
Of these, the Green-drake never discloses from his husk, till he be first there grown to full maturity, body, wings, and all: and then he creeps out of his cell, but with his wings so crimped, and ruffled, by being pressed together in that narrow room, that they are, for some hours, totally useless to him; by which means he is compelled either to creep upon the flags, sedges, and blades of grass, if his first rising from the bottom of the water be near the banks of the river, till the air and sun stiffen and smooth them: or if his first appearance above water happen to be in the middle, he then lies upon the surface of the water like a ship at hull; for his feet are toally useless to him there, and he cannot creep upon the water as the stone-fly can, until his wings have got stiffness to fly with, if by some trout or grayling he be not taken in the interim, which ten to one he is; and then his wings stand high, and closed exact upon his back, like the butterfly, and his motion in flying is the same. His body is, in some, of a paler, in others, of a darker yellow, for they are not all exactly of a colour; ribbed with rows of green, long, slender, and growing sharp towards the tail, at the end of which he has three long small whisks of a very dark colour, almost black, and his tail turns up towards his back like a mallard; from whence, questionless, he has his name of the green-drake. These, as I think I told you before, we commonly dape or dipple with; and, having gathered great store of them into a long draw-box, with holes in the cover to give them air, where also they will continue fresh and vigorous a night or more, we take them out thence by the wings, and bait them thus upon the hook. We first take one, for we commonly fish with two of them at a time, and, putting the point of the hook into the thickest part of his body under one of his wings, run it directly through, and out at the other side, leaving him spitted cross upon the hook; and then taking the other, put him on after the same manner, but with his head the contrary way; in which posture they will live upon the hook, and play with their wings for a quarter of an hour, or more: but you must have a care to keep their wings dry, both from the water, and also that your fingers be not wet when you take them out to bait them; for then your bait is spoiled.
Having now told you how to angle with this fly alive, I am now to tell you next, how to make an artificial fly, that will so perfectly resemble him, as to be taken in a rough windy day when no flies can lie upon the water, nor are to be found about the banks and sides of the river, to a wonder; and with which you shall certainly kill the best trout and grayling in the river.
The artificial Green-drake, then, is made upon a large hook; the dubbing, camel's hair, bright bear's hair, the soft down that is combed from a hog's bristles and yellow camlet, well mixed together; the body long, and ribbed about with green silk, or rather yellow, waxed with green wax, the whisks of the tail, of the long hairs of sables, or fitchet, and the wings of the white-gray feather of a mallard dyed yellow; which also is to be dyed thus.
Take the root of a barbary-tree, and shave it, and put to it woody viss, with as much alum as a walnut, and boil your feathers in it with rain-water; and they will be of a very fine yellow.
I have now done with the green-drake; excepting to tell you, that he is taken at all hours during his season, whilst there is any day upon the sky: and with a made fly I once took, ten days after he was absolutely gone, in a cloudy day, after a shower, and in a whistling wind, five-and-thirty very great trouts and graylings, betwixt five and eight of the clock in the evening; and had no less than five or six flies, with three good hairs a-piece, taken from me in despite of my heart, besides.
12. I should now come to the stone-fly, but there is another gentleman in my way, that must of necessity come in between: and that is the Gray-drake, which in all shapes and dimensions, is perfectly the same with the other, but quite almost of another colour; being of a paler and more livid yellow and green, and ribbed with black quite down his body, with black, shining wings, and so diaphanous and tender, cobweb-like, that they are of no manner of use for daping, but come in, and are taken after the green-drake, and in an artificial fly kill very well; which fly is thus made: the dubbing of the down of a hog's bristles, and black spaniel's fur, mixed, and ribbed down the body with black silk, the whisks of the hairs of the beard of a black cat, and the wings of the black-gray feather of a mallard.
And now I come to the Stone-fly, but am afraid I have already wearied your patience; which, if I have, I beseech you freely tell me so, and I will defer the remaining instructions for fly-angling till some other time.
Viat. No, truly, sir, I can never be weary of hearing you. But if you think fit, because I am afraid I am too troublesome, to refresh yourself with a glass and a pipe: you may afterwards proceed, and I shall be exceedingly pleased to hear you.
Pisc. I thank you, sir, for that motion: for, believe me, I am dry with talking. Here, boy! give us here a bottle, and a glass; and sir, my service to you, and to all our friends in the South.
Viat. Your servant, sir, and I'll pledge you as heartily; for the good powdered beef I eat at dinner, or something else, has made me thirsty.
THE SECOND DAY.
FISHING AT THE TOP, CONTINUED---FLIES FOR THE END OF MAY, AND FOR THE FOLLOWING MONTHS, TILL DECEMBER; CONTAINING, UNDER MAY, INSTRUCTIONS WHEN TO DAPE WITH THE STONE-FLY.
Viat. So, sir, I am now ready for another lesson, so soon as you please to give it me.
Pisc. And I, sir, as ready to give you the best I can. Having told you the time of the Stone-fly's coming in, and that he is bred of a cadis in the very river where he is taken, I am next to tell you, that,
13. This same Stone-fly has not the patience to continue in his crust, or husk, till his wings be full grown; but so soon as ever they begin to put out, that he feels himself strong (at which time we call him a Jack) squeezes himself out of prison, and crawls to the top of some stone; where, if he can find a chink that will receive him, or can creep betwixt two stones, the one lying hollow upon the other (which, by the way, we also lay so purposely to find them) he lurks there till his wings be full grown, and there is your only place to find him; and from thence doubtless he derives his name:---though, for want of such convenience, he will make shift with the hollow of a bank, or any other place where the wind cannot come to fetch him off. His body is long, and pretty thick, and as broad at the tail, almost, as in the middle; his colour a very fine brown, ribbed with yellow, and much yellower on the belly than the back: he has two or three whisks also at the tag of his tail, and two little horns upon his head: his wings, when full grown, are double, and flat down his back, of the same colour but rather darker than his body, and longer than it; though he makes but little use of them, for you shall rarely see him flying, though often swimming and paddling, with several feet he has under his belly, upon the water, without stirring a wing. But the drake will mount steeple-high into the air; though he is to be found upon flags and grass too, and, indeed, everywhere high and low near the river; there being so many of them in their season, as, were they not a very inoffensive insect, would look like a plague: and these drakes (since I forgot to tell you before, I will tell you here) are taken by the fish to that incredible degree, that, upon a calm day, you shall see the still-deeps continually all over circles by the fishes rising, who will gorge themselves with those flies, till they purge again out of their gill; and the trouts are at that time so lusty and strong, that one of eight or ten inches long will then more struggle and tug, and more endanger your tackle, than one twice as big in winter: but pardon this digression.
This stone-fly, then, we dape or dibble with, as with the drake, but with this difference; that whereas the green-drake is common both to stream and still, and to all hours of the day, we seldom dape with this but in the streams, for in a whistling wind a made-fly in the deep is better---and rarely but early and late, it not being so proper for the mid-time of the day; though a great grayling will then take it very well in a sharp stream, and here and there a trout too, but much better towards eight, nine, ten, or eleven, of the clock at night, at which time also the best fish rise, and the later the better, provided you can see your fly; and when you cannot, a made-fly will murder, which is to be made thus: the dubbing of a bear's dun with a little brown and yellow camlet very well mixed; but so placed, that your fly may be more yellow on the belly and towards the tail underneath, than in any other part; and you are to place two or three hairs of a black cat's beard on the top of the hook, in your arming, so as to be turned up, when you warp on your dubbing, and to stand almost upright, and staring one from another; and note that your fly is to be ribbed with yellow silk; and the wings long, and very large, of the dark gray feather of a mallard.
14. The next May-fly is the Black-fly; made with a black body, of the whirl of an ostridge-feather, ribbed with silver-twist, and the black hackle of a cock, over all; and is a killing fly, but not to be named with either of the other.
15. The last May-fly, that is of the four pretenders, is the little yellow May-fly; in shape exactly the same with the green-drake, but a very little one, and of as bright a yellow as can be seen; which is made of a bright yellow camlet, and the wings of a white-gray feather dyed yellow.
16. The last fly for this month, and which continues all June; though it comes in in the middle of May, is the fly called the Camlet-fly; in shape like a moth, with fine diapered, or water-wings, and with which, as I told you before, I sometimes used to dibble; and grayling will rise mightily at it. But the artificial-fly, which is only in use amongst our anglers, is made of a dark-brown shining camlet, ribbed over with a very small light-green silk, the wings of the double-gray feather of a mallard; and 'tis a killing fly for small fish. And so much for May.
From the first to the four-and-twentieth, the green-drake and stone-fly are taken, as I told you before.
1. From the twelfth to the four-and-twentieth, late at night, is taken a fly, called the Owl-fly, the dubbing of a white weasel's tail, and a white-gray-wing.
2. We have then another dun, called the Barm-fly, from its yeasty colour; the dubbing of the fur of a yellow-dun cat, and a gray wing of a mallard's feather.
3. We have also a Hackle with a purple body, whipped about with a capon's feather.
4. As also a Gold-twist Hackle with a purple body, whipped about with a red capon's feather.
5. To these we have, this month, a Flesh-fly; the dubbing of a black spaniel's fur, and blue wool mixed, and a gray wing.
6. Also another Little Flesh-fly; the body made of the whirl of a peacock's feather, and the wings of the gray feather of a drake.
7. We have then the Peacock-fly; the body and wing both made of the feather of that bird.
8. There is also the flying-ant, or Ant-fly, the dubbing of brown and red camlet mixed, with a light gray wing.
9. We have likewise a brown Gnat; with a very slender body of brown and violet camlet well mixed, and a light gray wing.
10. And another little Black Gnat; the dubbing of black mohair, and a white-gray wing.
11. As also a Green Grashopper; the dubbing of green and yellow wool mixed, ribbed over with green silk, and a red capon's feather over all.
12. And lastly, a little Dun Grashopper; the body slender, made of a dun camlet, and a dun hackle at the top.
First, all the small flies that were taken in June, are also taken in this month.
1. We have then the Orange-fly; the dubbing of orange wool, and the wing of a black feather.
2. Also a little White Dun; the body made of white mohair, and the wings blue, of a heron's feather.
3. We have likewise this month a Wasp-fly; made either of a dark brown dubbing, or else the fur of a black cat's tail, ribbed about with yellow silk, and the wing of the gray feather of a mallard.
4. Another fly taken this month is a Black Hackle; the body made of the whirl of a peacock's feather, and a black hackle-feather on the top.
5. We have also another, made of a peacock's whirl without wings.
6. Another fly also is taken this month, called the Shell-fly; the dubbing of yellow-green Jersey-wool, and a little white hog's hair mixed, which I call the palm-fly: and do believe it is taken for a palm, that drops off the willows into the water; for this fly I have seen trouts take little pieces of moss, as they swam down the river; by which I conclude that the best way to hit the right colour, is to compare your dubbing with the moss, and mix the colours as near as you can.
7. There is also taken this month, a Black-blue Dun; the dubbing of the fur of a black rabbit mixed with a little yellow, the wings of the feather of a blue pigeon's wing.
The same flies with July.
1. Then another Ant-fly; the dubbing of the black-brown hair of a cow, some red warped in for the tag of his tail, and a dark wing. A killing fly.
2. Next a fly called a Fern-fly; the dubbing of the fur of a hare's neck, that is, of the colour of fern or bracken, with a darkish-gray wing of a mallard's feather. A killer too.
3. Besides these we have a White Hackle; the body of white mohair, and warped about with a white hackle-feather; and this is assuredly taken for thistle-down.
4. We also have this month a Harry-long-legs, the body, made of bear's dun and blue wool mixed, and a brown hackle-feather over all.
Lastly, in this month all the same browns and duns are taken, that were taken in May.
This month the same flies are taken, that are taken in April.
1. To which I shall only add a Camel-brown Fly; the dubbing pulled out of the lime of a wall, whipped about with red silk, and a darkish-gray mallard's feather for the wing.
2. And one other, for which we have no name, but it is made of the black hair of a badger's skin, mixed with the yellow softest down of a sanded-hog.
The same flies are taken this month that were taken in March.
The same flies that were taken in February, are taken this month also.
Few men angle with the fly this month, no more than they do in January: but yet, if the weather be warm,---as I have known it sometimes in my life to be, even in this cold country, where it is least expected,---then a brown that looks red in the hand, and yellowish betwixt your eye and the sun, will both raise and kill in a clear water, and free from snow-broth: but, at the best, 'tis hardly worth a man's labour.
And now, sir, I have done with fly-fishing, or angling at the top; excepting once more to tell you, that of all these,---and I have named you a great many very killing-flies,---none are fit to be compared with the drake and stone-fly, both for many and very great fish. And yet, there are some days that are by no means proper for the sport: and in a calm you shall not have near so much sport, even with daping, as in a whistling gale of wind, for two reasons, both because you are not then so easily discovered by the fish, and also because there are then but few flies that can lie upon the water; for where they have so much choice, you may easily imagine they will not be so eager and forward to rise at a bait, that both the shadow of your body, and that of your rod, nay, of your very line, in a hot, calm day, will, in spite of your best caution, render suspected to them: but even then, in swift streams, or by sitting down patiently behind a willow-bush, you shall do more execution than at almost any other time of the year with any other fly; though one may sometimes hit of a day, when he shall come home very well satisfied with sport with several other flies. But with these two, the green-drake and the stone-fly, I do verily believe I could, some days in my life, had I not been weary of slaughter, have loaden a lusty boy; and have sometimes, I do honestly assure you, given over upon the mere account of satiety of sport; which will be no hard matter to believe, when I likewise assure you that, with this very fly, I have, in this very river that runs by us, in three or four hours taken thirty, five and thirty, and forty, of the best trouts in the river. What shame and pity it is then, that such a river should be destroyed by the basest sort of people, by those unlawful ways of fire and netting in the night, and of damming, groping, spearing, hanging, and hooking, by day! which are now grown so common, that, though we have very good laws to punish such offenders, every rascal does it, for aught I see, impune.
To conclude, I cannot now, in honesty, but frankly tell you, that many of these flies I have named, at least so made as we make them here, will peradventure do you no great service in your southern rivers; and I will not conceal from you, but that I have sent flies to several friends in London, that for aught I could ever hear, never did any great feats with them; and, therefore, if you intend to profit by my instruction, you must come to angle with me here in the Peak: and so, if you please, let us walk up to supper; and to-morrow, if the day be windy, as our days here commonly are, 'tis ten to one but we shall take a good dish of fish for dinner.
THE THIRD DAY.
FLY-FISHING, IN WINDY WEATHER, BEST IN THE STILL-DEEPS.
Pisc. A good day to you, sir; I see you will always be stirring before me.
Viat. Why, to tell you the truth, I am so allured with the sport I had yesterday, that I long to be at the river again; and when I heard the wind sing in my chamber-window, could forbear no longer, but leapt out of bed, and had just made an end of dressing myself, as you came in.
Pisc. Well, I am both glad you are so ready for the day, and that the day is so fit for you. And look you, I have made you three or four flies this morning; this silver-twist hackle, this bear's dun, this light brown and this dark brown, any of which I dare say will do; but you may try them all, and see which does best: Only I must ask your pardon that I cannot wait upon you this morning, a little business being fallen out, that for two or three hours will deprive me of your company; but I'll come and call you home to dinner, and my man shall attend you.
Viat. Oh sir, mind your affairs by all means. Do but lend me a little of your skill to these fine flies, and, unless it have forsaken me since yesterday, I shall find luck of my own, I hope, to do something.
Pisc. The best instruction I can give you, is that, seeing the wind curls the water, and blows the right way, you would now angle up the still-deep to-day; for betwixt the rocks where the streams are, you would find it now too brisk; and, besides, I would have you take fish in both waters.
Viat. I'll obey your direction, and so a good morning to you. Come, young man, let you and I walk together. But hark you, sir, I have not done with you yet; I expect another lesson for angling at the bottom, in the afternoon.
Pisc. Well, sir, I'll be ready for you.
THE THIRD DAY.
DIRECTIONS HOW TO DRESS A TROUT AND GRAYLING.
Pisc. Oh, sir, are you returned? You have but just prevented me. I was coming to call on you.
Viat. I am glad, then, I have saved you the labour.
Pisc. And how have you sped?
Viat. You shall see that, sir, presently; look you, sir, here are three brace of trouts, one of them the biggest but one, that ever I killed with a fly in my life; and yet I lose a bigger than that, with my fly to boot: and here are three graylings, and one of them longer by some inches than that I took yesterday, and yet I thought that a good one too.
Pisc. Why you have made a pretty good morning's work on't; and now, sir, what think you of our river Dove?
Viat. I think it to be the best trout-river in England; and am so far in love with it, that if it were mine, and that I could keep it to myself, I would not exchange that water for all the land it runs over, to be totally debarred from it.
Pisc. That compliment to the river, speaks you a true lover of the art of angling: and now, sir, to make part of amends for sending you so uncivilly out alone this morning, I will myself dress you this dish of fish for your dinner; walk but into the parlor, you will find one book or other in the window to entertain you the while; and you shall have it presently.
Viat. Well, sir, I obey you.
Pisc. Look you, sir! have I not made haste?
Viat. Believe me, sir, that you have; and it looks so well, I long to be at it.
Pisc. Fall to then. Now, sir, what say you, am I a tolerable cook or no?
Viat. So good a one, that I did never eat so good fish in my life. This fish is infinitely better than any I ever tasted of the kind in my life. 'Tis quite another thing than our trouts about London.
Pisc. You would say so, if that trout you eat of were in right season: but pray eat of the grayling, which, upon my word, at this time, is by much the better fish.
Viat. In earnest, and so it is. And I have one request to make to you, which is, that as you have taught me to catch trout and grayling, you will now teach me how to dress them as these are dressed; which, questionless, is of all other the best way.
Pisc. That I will, sir, with all my heart; and am glad you like them so well, as to make that request. And they are dressed thus:
Take your trout, wash, and dry him with a clean napkin; then open him, and having taken out his guts, and all the blood, wipe him very clean within, but wash him not; and give him three scotches with a knife to the bone, on one side only. After which take a clean kettle, and put in as much hard stale beer, (but it must not be dead) vinegar, and a little white wine, and water, as will cover the fish you intend to boil: then throw into the liquor a good quantity of salt, the rind of a lemon, a handful of sliced horse-radish-root, with a handsome little fagot of rosemary, thyme, and winter-savory. Then set your kettle upon a quick fire of wood, and let your liquor boil up to the height before you put in your fish: and then, if there be many, put them in one by one, that they may not so cool the liquor, as to make it fall. And whilst your fish is boiling, beat up the butter for your sauce with a ladle-full or two of the liquor it is boiling in. and, being boiled enough, immediately pour the liquor from the fish: and, being laid in a dish, pour your butter upon it; and, stewing it plentifully over with shaved horse-radish, and a little pounded ginger; garnish your sides for your dish, and the fish itself with a sliced lemon or two, and serve it up
A grayling is also to be dressed exactly after the same manner, saving that he is to be scaled, which a trout never is; and that must be done, either with one's nails, or very lightly and carefully with a knife for bruising the fish. And note that these kinds of fish, a trout especially, if he is not eaten within four or five, is worth nothing,
But come sir, I see you have dined; and therefore, if you please, we will walk down again to the little house, and there I will read you a lecture of angling at the bottom.
THE THIRD DAY.
OF ANGLING AT THE BOTTOM FOR TROUT OR GRAYLING---BY HAND, WITH A RUNNING LINE---WITH A CORK OR FLOAT---VARIOUS BAITS.
Viat. So, sir, now we are here, and set, let me have my instructions for angling for trout and grayling, at the bottom; which, though not so easy, so cleanly, nor as 'tis said, so genteel, a way of fishing as with a fly, is yet (if I mistake not) a good holding way, and takes fish when nothing else will.
Pisc. You are in the right, it does so: and a worm is so sure a bait at all times, that excepting in a flood, I would I had laid a thousand pounds that I killed fish more, or less with it, winter or summer every day throughout the year; those days always excepted, that, upon a more serious account, always ought so to be. But not longer to delay you, I will begin: and tell you, that angling at the bottom is also commonly of two sorts;---and yet there is a third way of angling with a ground-bait, and to very great effect too, as shall be said hereafter: namely, by hand, or with a cork or float.
That we call angling by hand is of three sorts.
The first: with a line about half the length of the rod, a good weighty plumb, and three hairs next the hook, which we call a running-line, and with one large brandling, or a dew-worm of a moderate size, or two small ones of the first, or any other sort, proper for a trout, of which my father Walton has already given you the names, and saved me a labour; or indeed almost any worm whatever; for if a trout be in the humour to bite, it must be such a worm as I never yet saw, that he will refuse: and if you fish with two, you are then to bait your hook thus. You are first to run the point of your hook in at the very head of your first worm, and so down through his body till it be past the knot, and then let it out, and strip the worm above the arming (that you may not bruise it with your fingers) till you have put on the other, by running the point of the hook in below the knot, and upwards through his body towards his head; till it be just covered with the head, which being done, you are then to slip the first worm down over the arming again, till the knots of both worms meet together.
The second way of angling by hand, and with a running line, is with a line something longer than the former, and with tackle made after this same manner. At the utmost extremity of your line, where the hook is always placed in all other ways of angling, you are to have a large pistol, or carbine, bullet, into which the end of your line is to be fastened with a peg or pin, even and close with the bullet; and, about half a foot above that, a branch of line, of two or three handfuls long, or more for a swift stream, with a hook at the end thereof, baited with some of the fore-named worms; and another half foot above that: another, armed and baited after the same manner, but with another sort of worm, without any lead at all above: by which means you will always certainly find the true bottom in all depths; which, with the plumbs upon your line above you can never do, but that your bait must always drag whilst you aresounding (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 a 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 the 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 yur 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 stripped 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 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 degree, 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 worm, 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 so, 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, milk-white, 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 necesary to warp-in a piece of a stiff hair with your arming, leaving it standing out 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 stand out to hold it; by which means it can neither slip of itself, neither will the force ofthe 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.
Viat. 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?
Pisc. 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 osprey, oil of ivy, camphor, assafoetida, 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 any thing 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.
Viat. 'Tis no trouble, sir, but the greatest satisfaction that can be, and I attend you.
THE THIRD DAY.
OF ANGLING IN THE MIDDLE FOR TROUT OR GRAYLING.
Pisc. Angling in the middle, then, for trout or grayling, is of two sorts; with a penk 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 direction, 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; 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 bull-head, 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 bull-head 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 the 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 anyone, who shall consider the littleness of that fish's mouth, very unfit to take so great a bait; but 'tis 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 any thing 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 sometimes 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 trout in my life, my top never snapped (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 waxed silk, against such an accident) nor my hand never slacked, or slipped 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 fore-named sccidents, 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 was 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, if 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. But I am very confident a trout will not be troubled two hours with any hook, that has so much as one handful of line left behind with it, or that is not struck through a bone, if it be in any part of his mouth only: nay, I do certainly know that a trout, so soon as ever he feels himself pricked, if he carries away the hook, goes immediately to the bottom, and will there root like a hog upon the gravel, till he either rub out, or break the hook in the middle. And so much for this sort of angling in the middle for a trout.
The second way of angling in the middle, is with a worm, grub, cadis, or any other ground-bait for a grayling; and that is with a cork, and a foot from the bottom, a grayling taking it much better there, than at the bottom, as has been said before; and this always in a clear water, and with the finest tackle.
To which we may also, and with very good reason, add the third way of angling by hand with a ground-bait, as a third way of fishing in the middle, which is common to both trout, and grayling; and, as I said before, the best way of angling of all other I tried whatever.
And now, sir, I have said all I can at present think of, concerning angling for a trout and grayling, and I doubt not have tired you sufficiently: but I will give you no more trouble of this kind whilst you stay; which I hope will be a good while longer.
Viat. That will not be above a day longer: but if I live till May come twelvemonth, you are sure of me again, either with my master Walton or without him; and in the meantime shall acquaint him how much you have made of me for his sake, and I hope he loves me well enough to thank you for it.
Pisc. I shall be glad, sir, of your good company at the time you speak of, and shall be loath to part with you now: but when you tell me you must go, I will wait upon you more miles upon your way, than I have tempted you out of it, and heartily wish you a good journey.