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or blackish. He is a sharp biter at a small worm, and in hot weather makes excellent sport for young anglers, or boys, or women that love that recreation, and in the spring they make of them excellent Minnow-tansies; for being washed well in salt, and their heads and tails cut off, and their guts taken out, and not washed after, they prove excellent for that use ; that is, being fried with yolks of eggs, the flowers of cowslips, and of primroses, and a little tansy ; thus used, they make a dainty dish of meat.
The Loach is, as I told you, a most dainty fish ; he breeds and feeds in little and clear swift brooks or rills, and lives there upon the gravel, and in the sharpest streams: he grows not to be above a finger long, and no thicker than is suitable to that length. This Loach is not unlike the shape of the Eel : he has a beard or wattles like a Barbel. He has two fins at his sides, four at his belly, and one at his tail ; he is dappled with many black or brown spots; his mouth is Barbel-like under his nose. This fish is usually full of eggs or spawn, and is by Gesner, and other learned physicians, commended for great nourishment, and to be very grateful both to the palate and stomach of sick persons; he is to be fished for with a very small worm at the bottom, for he very seldom or never rises above the gravel, on which I told you he usually gets his living.
The Miller’s-thumb, or Bull-head, is a fish of no pleasing shape. He is by Gesner compared to the Sea-toad-fish, for his similitude and shape. It has a head big and flat, much greater than suitable to his body; a mouth very wide, and usually gaping. He is without teeth, but his lips are very rough, much like to a file ; he hath two fins near to his gills, which be roundish or crested, two fins also under the belly, two on the back, one below the vent, and the fin of his tail is round. Nature hath painted the body of this fish with whitish, blackish, brownish spots. They be usually full of eggs or spawn all the summer, I mean the females, and those eggs swell their vents almost into the form of a dug. They begin to spawn about April, and, as I told you, spawn several months in the summer; and in the winter the Minnow, and Loach, and Bull-head dwell in the mud as the Eel doth, or we know not where; no more than we know where the cuckoo and swallow, and other half-year birds, which first appear to us in April, spend their six cold, winter, melancholy months. This Bull-head does usually dwell and hide himself in holes, or amongst stones in clear water ; and in very hot days will lie a long time very still, and sun himself, and will be easy to be seen upon any flat stone, or any gravel ; at which time, he will suffer an angler to put a hook, baited with a small worm, very near unto his very mouth, and he never refuses to bite, nor indeed to be caught with the worst of anglers. Matthiolus commends him much more for his taste and nourishment than for his shape or beauty.
There is also a little fish called a Sticklebag : a fish without scales, but hath his body fenced with several prickles. I know not where he dwells in winter, nor what he is good for in summer, but only to make sport for boys and women-anglers, and to feed other fish that be fish of prey : as Trouts in particular, who will bite at him as at a Penk, and better, if your
hook be rightly baited with him ; for he may be so baited as his tail turning like the sail of a wind-mill, will make him turn more quick than any Penk or Minnow can. For note, that the nimble turning of that, or the Minnow, is the perfection of Minnowfishing. To which end, if you put your hook into his mouth, and out at his tail, and then having first tied him with white thread a little above his tail, and placed him after such a manner on your hook as he is like to turn, then sew up his mouth to your line, and he is like to turn quick, and tempt any Trout; but if he do not turn quick, then turn his tail a little
a more or less towards the inner part, or towards the side of the hook, or put the Minnow or Sticklebag a little more crooked or more straight on your hook, until it will turn both true and fast; and then doubt not but to tempt any great Trout that lies in a swift stream. And the Loach that I told you of will do the like: no bait is more tempting, provided the Loach be not too big.
And now, scholar, with the help of this fine morning, and your patient attention, I have said all that my present memory will afford me, concerning most of the several fish that are usually fished for in fresh waters.
VEN. But, master, you have by your former civility made me hope, that you will make good your promise, and say something of the several rivers that be of most note in this nation; and also of fish-ponds, and the ordering of them; and do it, I pray, good master, for I love any discourse of rivers, and fish and fishing ; the time spent in such discourse passes away very pleasantly.
Of Several RIVERS and some Observations
of Fish. PISCATOR. ELL, scholar, since the
and weather do both favour us, and that
we yet see not Tottenham-cross, W
you shall see my willingness to satisfy your desire. And first, for the rivers of this nation, there be,
as you may note out of Doctor Heylin's geography, and others, in number 325, but those of chiefest note he reckons and describes as followeth :
The chief is Thamesis, compounded of two rivers, Thaine and Isis; whereof the former, rising somewhat beyond Thame in Buckinghamshire, and the latter near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, meet-together about Dorchester in Oxfordshire; the issue of which happy conjunction is the Thamesis, or Thames; hence it fieth betwixt Berks, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, and so weddeth himself to the Kentish Medway, in the very jaws of the ocean : this glorious river feeleth the violence and benefit of the sea more than any river in Europe, ebbing and flowing twice a day more than sixty miles: about whose banks are so many fair towns and princely palaces, that a German poet thus truly spake :
Tot campos, etc.
2. The second river of note is Sabrina, or Severn: it hath its beginning in Plinlimmon-hill, in Montgomeryshire, and his end seven miles from Bristol, washing in the mean space the walls of Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester, and divers other places and palaces of note.
3. Trent, so called from thirty kind of fishes that are found in it, or for that it receiveth thirty lesser rivers, who having his fountain in Staffordshire, and gliding through the counties of Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, and York, augmenteth the turbulent current of Humber, the most violent stream of all the isle. This Humber is not, to say truth, a distinct river, having a spring-head of his own, but it is rather the mouth, or Æstuarium of divers rivers here confluent, and meeting together ; namely, your Derwent, and especially of Ouse and Trent; and (as the Danow, having received into its channel the river Dravus, Savus, Tibiscus, and divers others) changeth his name into this of Humberabus, as the old geographers call it.
4. Medway, a Kentish river, famous for harbouring the Royal Navy.