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them, their places are not vacant for long. Just as the city man is zealous to find an eligible site on the Surrey side of London; just as the moment death, or bankruptcy or the police, cause him to leave his desirable mansion, it is snapt up by a rival ravager, so the pike family take one another's tenancies with zeal and swiftness. How do they know that there is a vacant pool, or an unoccupied lair at the commanding corner? It is a great mystery, but we may partly guess that the advertising agents are the quarry themselves. Old so-and-so is taken by a spoon bait, and his wife joins him in the realms above. The edible inhabitants feel relief. They browse where their masters once digested their relatives and ancestors. They spread themselves down stream and the next pike notices that a chain of banquets is let down from the higher pool. "Good heayens!" they exclaim, "Could this be, if old so and so yet survived? Would he have allowed this foolish fat thing to drift down. to our pool?" He comes to see either out of curiosity, or reason, or on some hunting expedition. The former tenant is gone and has left his furniture and effects, his stock and fowl yard. The door is open and the
new tenant stops to breakfast, then to dine, and finally to take full possession. A day is often enough to make the discovery known, and in two days the angler may look for new tenants by the deserted reed bed. Sometimes a place will be taken in half-an-hour, with the trout family; but then trouts are a swiftly moving people. Your pike is a heavy father, conservative in politics, and disinclined to move unless the advantages are obvious. The trout is an Athenian: the pike a Spartan. Give him a week to make sure, and you will find that he has taken the place, which your rod has made to let. His first shyness will have worn off and he-though of course one ought to put the word she as the family representative-will be prepared to do the honours of the house, as his (or her) predecessor did them.
Suffice it to say in conclusion that Master Fuller in his Worthies gives the palm to Lincolnshire, as the mother of pikes. If so the author desires the better acquaintance of that blessed part and would be willing to accept any position of leisure and emolument near Witham, the headquarters of pikery, if other candidates are not to be found ready for such a post.
CHAP. VIII-The Dashing Dace.
OW seldom it is that the hour and the man are found precisely together in some great emergency. The hour arrives, but alas! the man has gone for his holidays : or the man is there but the hour never strikes for him, or, worse, strikes when his head is grey, his nerve shattered and his loins stiff with lumbago. It is the same with pike fishing. You fix the date and a hundred events checkmate your intentions. You put off your pressing engagements, evade your duties, make ingenious excuses to your friends, and then the weather spills you, just as you are ready to start. Or worse still, the local netsman who promised you a kettle of live bait, with protestations from the bottom of his blue-jersied heart, sends up at the last minute to tell you that he could find none, or that they have been eaten by the cat, or have died while he left a message (at the tavern) on his way to your tank. You have to start your day by catch
ing for yourself, and there is the rub. To take a dace is far harder, than to find a pike with him when taken. You see the merry fellows dappling the water, catching minute flies under your very nose, but how to get one is a problem, in summer when the sun is high. He flouts the humble worm. A few gentles on the gravel will sometimes solicit him not in vain, if you have them and are near a place where you can approach him softly, but you are unlikely to be near such obliging waters. The artificial fly may seduce him in the evening, but he is hardly to be taken in by these ingenious sophistries on a bright summer day. Besides it is adding to a heavy burden to take a fly rod out, as well as a mule's burden of tackle and heavy rods. Gudgeon will bite a small brandling on the bottom, if you can find any gudgeon about, which you can when you are not in need of them, but gudgeon have not the flash and flicker and romance of the dace. Those lucky fellows, who haunt the Thames can set a tiny float down stream, with a brace of gentles six inches below it, and secure the tender bleak quite readily. But most rivers have no such blessing and even if they had Dom Pike prefers a dace, and
the dace is sturdier. Those tender bleak die upon the smallest provocation. They are but half embodied spirits anyhow, just faery things with a thin covering of mortality, and almost too poetic to carry an armoury of The athletic grossly combative snaps.
gudgeon is too dark of hue to be a prime bait, but the dace is designed to attract. He spills the light about. He is much in evidence in pikeland, but his saucy swiftness secures him from the mouths which water after him, when he is free. This makes him all the more grateful as a bondsman. If only he were as easy to catch, as he is to see, the problem would soon be solved.
The best way to take dace on bright days is by natural fly. It is ignominious, but you had better come down to it, first as last. A few blue-bottles from the window panes, or house flies in a tiny phial, should be set aside, with providence. Otherwise you will rush over the meadows with the landing net after insects. Your temper, soured by failure and the hot sun, will outrun your legs. You rustle the hawthorns, and tiny moths tumble out by fifties, but alas! they pass through your meshes with easy disdain. You catch butterflies, which the dace despise. Some