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I AM persuaded that the amateur, and, in some cases, the experienced, angler, has hitherto suffered from the want of a work which, while setting forth the modus operandi of fishing, should, at the same time, supply items of the natural as well as of the traditional history of the quarry in which he is interested. So far as I know, except the present work, there is none other fulfilling the requirements indicated. With all humility I offer this volume as an earnest, but perchance, a crude attempt to supply the deficiency.
In compiling such portions of the book as were unavoidably derived from sources other than my own experience, two courses-judging from early and recent fishing writers-seemed open to me, one, the paraphrasing of others' research without direct acknowledgment, and the other course a complete quotation with full indication from whence derived. I have invariably chosen the latter method, and hence my work may seem here and there to lack originality.
To the tyro this will matter little; and the experienced angler will be able to verify whatever I state to be the result of my personal observation, because if he be an able fisherman it will coincide with his own.
February 1st, 1881.
J. H. K.
The Practical Fisherman.
THE angler who may, perchance, be also a bit of a bibliographer, will probably exclaim at the appearance of another treatise on the gentle craft. So many works on this charming subject have been written and published, from Oppian to the present time, that another would seem superfluous, and only capable of vain repetitions. This need not be so, however, and in the following chapters I shall take care that it is not So. A severely practical, careful résumé of what is known and proved, and a concise account of what the writer has himself experienced, need not come under the category of vain repetition, and may be useful to many learners seeking those almost Parnassian heights, whence the fully initiated smile at the scoffers and mockers of the art which Byron so ill-naturedly termed "that solitary vice." several other reasons why a dissertation on practical angling may not And, indeed, there are be unwelcome. The price of every really capable work on the subject is generally prohibitory to that class of persons who make the art their chief recreation during the intervals of work at the mill or factory, counter or desk. To such what I have to say will I hope at least be interesting, and it is to such chiefly that I shall address myself. It would probably be presumption on my part to suppose I could say anything on who have the power of consulting a whole library of fishing authors, so trite a subject which would enlighten those whose chief merit, however, seems to be prolixity. The importance,
also, of the pursuit may be another reason why additional consideration of angling could advantageously be given. The number of anglers is so vast and so continually increasing that it very appropriately now bears the title of a "national sport." With increasing numbers of anglers the scarcity of fish, although not appreciably becoming greater, undoubtedly does increase, and the education of the fish, combined with this scarcity, require greater finesse and more subtle means for their capture. Observations on these refinements are, therefore, not out of place. I shall endeavour in the course of the following pages to give notices of the latest of these, and the most effective, with various little inventions of my own, which have been put in practice in view of the increased skill required in the capture of our quarry.
It is customary at all entertainments to issue a programme of what is intended to be performed, and I will therefore follow so good an example. Briefly, I may say that, under the title I have chosen, separate consideration is given to the following cognate subjects: The general history of angling, tackle and baits; ichthyology, or the science of fishes; nearly every fish inhabiting the fresh water, or migratory, in Great Britain, described in turn according to classification; and last, but not least, the art of tackle making is considered. Sea fishing may form the subject of another treatise at some future time. It will be observed that special attention is paid to the subject of ordinary tackle making, for, to my mind, one of the chief charms of successful angling is the reflection and knowledge that the fish captured are really and truly, solely and wholly so, by one's own appliances and skill, and thus the sense of possession is rendered doubly sweet. In treating also of each fish for the convenience of reference, the following divisions and subdivisions are observed: Natural history-including habitat, food, season, diseases, &c.-piscine folk lore, tackle, baits, and gastronomical, &c. Of course, notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of this syllabus, I am well aware that no book or treatise can alone make an angler. Hear what Saint Izaak Walton says on this point: "Now for the art of catching fish, that is to say, how to make a man that was none to be an angler by a book; he that undertakes it shall undertake a harder task than Mr. Hales, that in a printed book called 'The Private School of Defence' undertook to teach the art of fencing, and was laughed at for his labour. Not but that many useful things might be observed out of that book, but that the art was not to be taught by words; nor is the art of angling." Indeed, some have gone to the length of applying the old maxim, Poeta nascitur, non fit, to the angler-an angler is born, not made, say they. I do not go quite so far as that, however, but fully believe that one ounce of practice is worth a bushel of theory.
Both are, nevertheless, good in their places. I ask the angler in all cases to prove by experiment, if possible, all that I try to teach by words.
After all this explanatory matter, which, albeit necessary, is eminently dry to the reader as it is to the writer, I come to touch upon a much more agreeable topic, viz., the position angling holds as a sport, and the reason why it exerts such a fascination over its votaries, for this comes properly under the heading "Introductory.' To the initiated I am
fully aware that a disquisition on this is unnecessary; but to the uninitiated, who have probably read or heard quoted Johnson's snarl about a worm at one end and a fool at the other," it is desirable to show succinctly why presumably sane men follow such an apparently inane, senseless occupation. Even Plutarch has spoken against it as a filthy, base, illiberal employment, having neither wit nor perspicacity in it, nor worth the labour." Think of that, brother anglers! Let this man be anathema maranatha, likewise all others who rail against the most gentle of crafts !
Man, and indeed all animals, seem to have an innate desire to hunt, i.e., to acquire by personal exertion. In the lower animals this desire is put in action primarily for the sake of the food it brings; in man, the hunting, whether of fish, flesh, or fowl, or good red herring, may exist, as in angling, without the desire for the food acquired. The exercise of all or any of man's powers or desires gives pleasure, and the fact that the desire to hunt in angling is accompanied in its exercise by the employment of more skilled and varied accomplishments and subtleties of manipulation than any other sport is the chief reason why so many practise it. That the influence of the spell is lasting is also demonstrated in the truth that few (none, I might say) give it up until the latest possible minute. The angler has the same undying steady affection as the litterateur is said to have for his profession. A hundred chances may deprive a man of his cricket, shooting, or hunting, but angling may be and is often pursued till the veteran " goes over to the many." Indeed, instances of the ruling passion strong in death in connection with the gentle art are not wanting. Jesse, in his delightful " 'Angler's Rambles," says that the answer to the captor of a beautiful Thames trout, who had sent over to his friend to come and see it, was, that the friend was dying, but "that it would be a vast satisfaction to him if he could see the fish, provided it would not be injured by being conveyed to his house for that purpose." This wish was gratified, and Jesse remarks, "Mr. T. feasted his eyes upon it, and soon afterwards closed them for ever." This " ruling passion" has been very beautifully expressed by Mr. Westwood, in the "Newcastle Fishers' Garland" for 1863. He represents an old angler dying,