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after to cast your ground-bait, and to fish, to halt an inch; that the lead lying on, or near the ground-bait, the top of the float may only appear upright half an inch above the water.
Thus you having found and fitted for the place and depth thereof, then go home and prepare your groundbait; which is, next to the fruit of your labours, to be regarded.
You shall take a peck, or a peck and a halt, according to the greatness of the stream, and deepness of the water, where you mean to angle, of sweet gross-ground barley malt, and boil it in a kettle; one or two worms is enough then strain it through a bag into a tub, the liquor whereof hath often done my horse much good; and when the bag and malt is near cold, take it down to the water-side about eight or nine of the clock in the evening, and not before: cast in two parts of your ground-bait, squeezed hard between both your hands, it will sink presently to the bottom, and be sure it may rest in the very place where you mean to angle: if the stream run hard, or move a little, cast your malt in handfuls a little the higher, upwards the stream. You may, between your hands, close the malt so fast in handfuls, that the water will hardly part it with the fall.1
Your ground thus baited, and tackling fitted, leave your bag with the rest of your tackling and ground-bait near the sporting place all night; and in the morning, about three or four of the clock, visit the water-side, but not too near, for they have a cunning watchman, and are watchful themselves too.
Then gently take one of your three rods, and bait your hook, casting it over your ground-bait; and gently and secretly draw it to you, till the lead rests about the middle of the ground-bait.
Then take a second rod and cast in about a yard above, and your third a yard below the first rod, and stay the rods
1 The best way is to put a pebble proportioned to your ball within the middle, closing it well.-BROWNE.
in the ground; but go yourself so far from the water-side, that you perceive nothing but the top of the floats, which you must watch most diligently. Then, when you have a bite, you shall perceive the top of your float to sink suddenly into the water; yet nevertheless be not too hasty to run to your rods, until you see that the line goes clear away; then creep to the water-side, and give as much line as possibly you can: if it be a good carp or bream, they will go to the farther side of the river, then strike gently, and hold your rod at a bent a little while; but if you both pull together, you are sure to lose your game, for either your line, or hook, or hold, will break: and after you have overcome them, they will make noble sport, and are very shy to be landed. The carp is far stronger and more mettlesome than the bream. Much more is to be observed in this kind of fish and fishing, but it is far fitter for experience and discourse than paper. Only thus much is necessary for you to know, and to be mindful and careful of; that if the pike or perch do breed in that river, they will be sure to bite first, and must first be taken. And for the most part they are very large; and will repair to your ground-bait, not that they will eat of it, but will feed and sport themselves amongst the young fry that gather about and hover over the bait.
The way to discern the pike and to take him, if you mistrust your bream-hook,-for I have taken a pike a yard long several times at my bream-hooks, and sometimes he hath had the luck to share my line,-may be thus:
Take a small bleak, or roach, or gudgeon, and bait it; and set it alive among your rods two feet deep from the cork, with a little red worm on the point of the hook; then take a few crumbs of white bread, or some of the ground-bait, and sprinkle it gently amongst your rods. If Mr. Pike be there, then the little fish will skip out of the water at his appearance, but the live-set bait is sure to be taken.
Thus continue your sport from four in the morning till eight, and if it be a gloomy, windy day, they will bite all day long. But this is too long to stand to your rods at one place, and it will spoil your evening sport that day, which is this.
About four of the clock in the afternoon repair to your baited-place; and as soon as you come to the water-side,
cast in one-half of the rest of your ground-bait, and stand off: then, whilst the fish are gathering together, for there they will most certainly come for their supper, you may take a pipe of tobacco,' and then in with your three rods as in the morning. You will find excellent sport that evening till eight of the clock: then cast in the residue of your ground-bait, and next morning by four of the clock, visit them again for four hours, which is the best sport of all; and after that, let them rest till you and your friends have a mind to more sport.
From St. James's-tide until Bartholomew-tide is the best; when they have had all the summer's food they are the fattest.
Observe, lastly, that after three or four days' fishing together, your game will be very shy and wary, and you shall hardly get above a bite or two at a baiting; then your only way is to desist from your sport about two or three days and in the meantime, on the place you late baited, and again intend to bait, you shall take a turf of green but short grass, as big or bigger than a round trencher; to the top of this turf, on the green side, you shall, with a needle and green thread, fasten one by one as many little red worms as will near cover all the turf: then take a round board or trencher, make a hole in the middle thereof, and through the turf, placed on the board or trencher, with a string or cord as long as is fitting, tied to a pole, let it down to the bottom of the water for the fish to feed upon without disturbance about two or three days: and after that you have drawn it away, you may fall to, and enjoy your former recreation.3 B. A.
1 Notwithstanding this suggestion, it is very probable that Walton did not give way to the prevailing fashion for the weed. In his Life of Wotton, he says: "his asthma seemed to be overcome in a great degree by his forbearing tobacco, which, as many thoughtful men do, he also had taken immoderately." And again, in his Elegy on Dr. Donne :
2 St. James's tide is the 25th of July; St. Bartholomew's tide is the 24th of August.-ED.
3 The haunts of the bream, a fish which the angler seldom meets with, are the deepest and broadest parts of gentle soft streams, with sandy clayey Q
OBSERVATIONS OF THE TENCH, AND ADVICE HOW TO ANGLE FOR HIM.
Piscator. The Tench, the physician of fishes, is observed to love ponds better than rivers, and to love pits better than either; yet Camden observes there is a river in Dorsetshire1 that abounds with tenches, but doubtless they retire to the most deep and quiet places in it.2
bottoms; and the broadest and most quiet places of ponds, and where there are weeds.
They spawn about the beginning of July; a little before which time they are best in season, though some think them best in September.
The baits for the bream are: red worms; small lob, or marsh-worms; gentles; and grasshoppers.
In general, they are to be fished-for as carp.-H.
1 The Stour, -BROWNE.
2 Daniel, in his "Rural Sports," makes mention of a Tench found in draining a stagnant pond, at Thornville Royal, which was shut up in a hole, the shape whereof he had in consequence assumed. It was two feet nine inches from eye to fork, two feet three inches in circumference, and weighed eleven pounds and nine ounces. I saw two taken from an old weedy pond, then nearly dry, which weighed eight pounds each.-ED.
This fish hath very large fins, very small and smooth scales, a red circle about his eyes, which are big and of a gold colour, and from either angle of his mouth there hangs down a little barb. In every tench's head there are two little stones, which foreign physicians make great use of; but he is not commended for wholesome meat, though there be very much use made of them, for outward applications. Rondeletius says, that at his being at Rome, he saw a great cure done by applying a tench to the feet of a very sick man. This, he says, was done after an unusual manner by certain Jews. And it is observed, that many of those people have many secrets, yet unknown to Christians; secrets that have never yet been written, but have been since the days of their Solomon, who knew the nature of all things, even from the cedar to the shrub, delivered by tradition from the father to the son, and so from generation to generation without writing; or, unless it were casually, without the least communicating them to any other nation or tribe: for to do that, they account a profanation. And yet it is thought that they, or some spirit worse than they, first told us, that lice swallowed alive were a certain cure for the yellow-jaundice. This, and many other medicines, were discovered by them, or by revelation; for, doubtless, we attained them not by study.
Well, this fish, besides his eating, is very useful, both dead and alive, for the good of mankind. But I will meddle no more with that; my honest humble art teaches no such boldness: there are too many foolish meddlers in physic and divinity, that think themselves fit to meddle with hidden secrets, and so bring destruction to their followers. But I'll not meddle with them, any further than to wish them wiser; and shall tell you next, for, I hope, I may be so bold, that the tench is the physician of fishes; for the pike especially, and that the pike, being either sick or hurt, is cured by the touch of the tench.' And it is observed, that the tyrant pike will not be a wolf to his physician, but forbears to devour him though he be never so hungry.
1 Camden (in his "Britannica") confirms this: I have seen, he says, the bellies of pikes opened to show their fatness, have their gaping wounds presently closed by the touch of the tench, and by their glutinous slime perfectly healed up.-BROWNE.