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Fishing in mid-water

Spinning with the minnow.
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This is one of the most attractive branches of the angler's art, and to me possesses peculiar attractions, for I have succeeded in capturing nearly every kind of fish with the minnow in nearly every part of England and Ireland, and have not found it ineffective on trying it once or twice in the deep salt sea. Premising that the general principles of spinning with the minnow are similar to those mentioned in connexion with spinning for pike, and the minnow may lie caught and preserved as described at the end of this chapter.

The tackle consists of a longer and somewhat lighter rod than that used for general trolling. Gimp may be dispensed with, and gut of varying fineness and strength substituted. The reel-line may be finer, and it need not be so long the arrangements of the hooks consist of one large or body-hook, to slightly curve the fish, and a dying trace, armed with one or more hooks, is appended. One of the simplest forms of Looks is one used largely in the North in spinning for trout, and is highly spoken of. A is the lip-hook, B the body-hook, and C the flying-trace, which may have a double hook instead of a triangle. The position of the fish, when baited, is shown by the fine outline. The barb of the hook is inserted in the mouth of the fish, and brought out just below the tail, as shown in fig. In fishing for trout I prefer the flying-trace, or drag, to be from two and a half to four inches behind the tail of the fish, as shown at C, (fig.) but in finer water, or when fishing for perch, I take off C, and put on the smaller loop, D. In bright water the lip-hook may be made smaller, and the drag dispensed with altogether. Trout seize their prey by the tail, perch and pike by the middle - hence the variation m the tackle. The tackle should be whipped with white silk on strong gut, and a swivel should be placed some twenty inches above the bait, and a second one a yard far- her up. Lead may be cast round the shank of the body- look, or a few split shot added above the first swivel, to keep the bait well down, particularly in swollen waters, when they are most deadly. In clearer waters they may be dispensed with. In dark, gloomy days, in June and July, and in warm summer nights, the minnow will be found a deadly bait for trout. Tar bait is used for the same, purpose on the banks of the Tweed.

The essentials of a perfect minnow-tackle are thus correctly epitomised by Mr Pennell, the modem prophet on Spinning and trolling: -

  1. "As to hooks, (a,) an arrangement which will give a brilliant spin to the bait; (b.) which will most certainly hook any fish that takes it; (c,) and which will least often let him escape afterwards.
  2. "A trace, fine, strong, and clear of all encumbrances.
  3. "A lead so placed as to sink with the greatest rapidity, and least disturbance or show in the water.
  4. "The utmost simplicity of application in the whole tackle."

The foregoing (fig.) represents the author's realisation of the essentials, which I can cordially endorse.

In it will be seen "that A represents the lip-hook, (whipped to the main link, and not movable;) B, a fixed triangle, one hook of which is to be fastened through the back of the minnow; C, a flying triangle, hanging loose below its tail; D, a lead, or sinker, whipped on to the shank of the lip-hook, and lying in the belly when baited." This excellent tackle may be baited by pushing the lead well into the belly of the dead minnow; the lip-hook is passed through both its lips, the upper one first; and, lastly, insert one hook of the triangle B through its back, just below the back fin, so as to bend the body to produce a brilliant spin. The diagram (fig.) should be the position of the bait when properly baited.

This tackle combines all the requisites of minnow- spinning, and may be successfully used for perch. An excellent spinning-tackle for trout is also made by adding a loose fly-triangle, whipped on some twisted gut, to a 3½-inch spinning-flight, as described in the previous chapter, over the reverse hook, as shown by the dotted line.

The bait, in minnow-trolling, is swung across the pool, as in trolling; and though there are various dogmas about fishing up the stream and down the stream, as in fly-fishing, the angler will do well to consult his own judgment, and be guided by the character of the water and surrounding circumstances. I had long in use a pet set of spinning-tackle; but I confess that it will not bear comparison with the one invented by the author of the " Angler's Naturalist."

In the last chapter of this little book 1 have given a few hints on catching the minnow, in addition to those general directions when speaking of this pretty fish in Chapter VII. A good stock of minnows is highly necessary to an angler, and they should be small, silver-sided, and about an inch and a half to two inches long. The coarser and dingier members of the family are of little use.

In the far North minnows are captured by the following ingenious contrivance: - A clean glass bottle is obtained of the shape shown in fig. A fine meshed net is tied over the mouth, A, and a few crumbs of bread are placed inside. It is then placed with its mouth to the current, in a stream frequented by minnows; the water agitates the crumbs; the little gentry assemble to see the fun, and quickly find their way through the aperture E into the bottle, where they are joined by their companions by the dozen. This bottle is invaluable, though awkward to carry about. Minnows maybe kept alive in a running stream in a wire-work box. They should be carried alive in a bait-can. A very good one is made to sling by the side of the angler, and so arranged as to prevent the water spilling over the sides.

Salted minnows are the alternative if live ones are not to be had. They are chosen for this purpose a size larger than is necessary, as they shrivel up somewhat in the brine. They should be left in the salt some twelve hours, and then preserved in a glass bottle, well sealed. Or they may be preserved in spirits of wine, as recommended for dace and gudgeons. This plan has, however, the drawback of being expensive.

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Pictures for Fishing in mid-water

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