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THE FOURTH DAY.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE GUDGEON, THE RUFFE, AND THE BLEAK, AND HOW TO FISH FOR THEM.
Pisc. The Gudgeon is reputed a fish of excellent taste
and to be very wholesome: he is of a fine shape, of a silver colour, and beautified with black spots both on his body and tail. He breeds two or three times in the year, and always in summer. He is commended for a fish of excellent nourishment; the Germans call him groundling, by reason
1 The average size of the gudgeon is from six to eight inches, and its weight from two to three ounces. But Pennant records one taken at Uxbridge which weighed half a pound.-ED.
2 Many persons think the gudgeon as good a fish as the smelt. Few fish bite more eagerly than gudgeons, and this, perhaps, is the reason why so many persons may be seen patiently seated in punts from morning to night, on the river Thames, employed in catching these fresh-water smelts. They may be fished for with gentles and small worms, but the most killing bait is the blood-worm, two on a hook.-ED.
of his feeding on the ground; and he there feasts himself in sharp streams, and on the gravel. He and the barbel both feed so, and do not hunt for flies at any time, as most other fishes do: he is an excellent fish to enter a young angler, being easy to be taken with a small red-worm, on or very near to the ground. He is one of those leathermouthed fish that has his teeth in his throat, and will hardly be lost from off the hook if he be once strucken. They be usually scattered up and down every river in the shallows, in the heat of summer; but in autumn, when the weeds • begin to grow sour or rot, and the weather colder, then they gather together, and get into the deeper parts of the water; and are to be fished for there, with your hook always touching the ground, if you fish for him with a float, or with a cork. But many will fish for the gudgeon by hand, with a running-line upon the ground, without a cork, as a trout is fished for, and it is an excellent way, if you have a gentle rod and as gentle a hand.1
There is also another fish called a Pope, and by some a Ruffe; a fish that is not known to be in some rivers; he is much
like the pearch for his shape, and taken to be better than the pearch, but will not grow to be bigger than a gudgeon :
1 In fishing for gudgeons, have a rake, and every quarter of an hour rake the bottom of the river, and the fish will flock thither in shoals.-H. Gudgeons appear to swim instinctively towards disturbed waters, and are therefore generally found in mill-streams, and at the tail of sluices and in gravelly scours. Raking the ground, as Sir John Hawkins recommends, as often as the sport slackens, and baiting with a small bright red worm (on one hook or more), seldom fails of success, and we have seen
he is an excellent fish, no fish that swims is of a pleasanter taste, and he is also excellent to enter a young angler, for he is a greedy biter, and they will usually lie, abundance of them together, in one reserved place, where the water is deep, and runs quietly; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch forty or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing.
You must fish for him with a small red worm, and if you bait the ground with earth, it is excellent.
There is also a Bleak, or Fresh-water Sprat, a fish that is ever in motion, and therefore called by some the RiverSwallow for just as you shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch flies in the air, by which he lives, so does the Bleak at the top of the water. Ausonius would have him called BLEAK, from his whitish colour: his
back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water green, his belly white and shining as the mountain-snow. And, doubtless, though he have the fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak ought to be much valued, though we want Államot-salt, and the skill that the Italians have to turn them into Anchovies. This fish may be caught with a Pater-noster line; that is, six or eight very small hooks tied along the line, one half a foot above the other: I have
hundreds caught at one standing. The small blood-worm, two on a hook, is one of the most attractive baits.-ED.
1 Of all the fish confined in a Vivarium I had at Bushy Park, the Bleak were the most amusing and playful. Their activity could not be exceeded, and in a still summer's evening they would dart at every little fly that settled on the water; appearing always restless yet always happy.-ED.
2 A line with many hooks placed at small distances. Though it little
seen five caught thus at one time, and the bait has been gentles, than which none is better.
Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable. There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a bank in the swift water in a summer's evening, with a hazel top about five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. I have heard Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch swallows so, or especially martins, this Bird-Angler standing on the top of a steeple to do it, and with a line twice so long as I have spoken of; and let me tell you, Scholar, that both Martins and Bleaks be most excellent meat.
And let me tell you, that I have known a Hern that did constantly frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big minnow or a small gudgeon. The line and hook must be strong, and tied to some loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it; a line not exceeding two yards.
resembles a string of beads, is yet said to have been so named, from the rosary used by Roman Catholics in counting their prayers or pater-nosters. -H.
1 That is, throwing your line out before you, over your head, in the manner of a coach whip.-BROWNE.
Pisc. My purpose was to give you some directions concerning Roach and Dace, and some other inferior fish, which make the angler excellent sport, for you know there is more pleasure in hunting the hare than in eating her: but I will forbear at this time to say any more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter, and honest Coridon. But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk to-morrow towards London, if I have now forgotten any thing that I can then remember, I will not keep it from you.
Well met, gentlemen; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this very door. Come hostess, where are you? Is supper ready? Come, first give us drink, and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, To you both! come drink, and then tell me what luck of fish: we two have caught but ten trouts, of which my scholar caught three; look, here's eight, and a brace we gave away; we have had a most pleasant day for fishing and talking, and are returned home