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Points to be Observed - Striking, Hooking, Playing, and Landing the Fish

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Thousands of my countrymen, however ardent their passion for more noble sport may be, must content themselves with the humble but interesting pastime of bottom- fishing. It is not every one, however keen may be his appetite for sport, that can indulge in frequent visits to the running, brawling, trout stream, and still less frequently to the salmon livers. If he fishes at all, he must fish in the smooth, sluggish waters which are nearest at band, and a very respectable substitute it is to the town-immured sportsman. A fly-fisher can roam where he pleases with his rod, creel, line, and flies; but though the fly-fisher may require more skill, the bottom-fisher requires more art. He must, if he wishes for sport, take a thousand precautions, and, like a skilful general, have a thousand in reserve. He must choose his ground with judgment, and prepare for his campaign with foresight and skill. The- attractive ground- bait must prepare the way for the irresistible and tempting morsel which is to follow, and reward the patient angler for his trouble. To do these things well requires some knowledge of the habits of the finny tribes, their haunts, the most attractive baits, and those best adapted for the season.

His rod must be strong and light, and should have one or two tops in reserve, so as to adapt it to the various kinds of fish. One of the best bottom-fishers I ever met always carried an extra joint with his rod of stout bamboo, which was fitted at the bottom with a stout ferule and brass cap tapped to hold a spud, drag-hook, gaff-Look, or landing-net, while the upper end would fit the lower part of his rod, when necessary, by unscrewing the ferule, and give him a twenty feet sweep of a broad river. His rod consisted of four lengths, each a little over four feet long, light, but strongly made. This will answer for ordinary purposes, but when fishing for roach, the rod should be lighter than is necessary for any other species of river fish.

There is some difference in experience and practice as to the use of a winch in bottom-fishing. For my own part, I have not found it essential, though always useful, if only to shorten or lengthen the line. A good pi an is to have a rod ringed, and attach a small spring swivel (which may be bought at any fishing-tackle retailer's) to the line, so that it can be brought down to the lower rings at once, if necessary to shorten the line. This Las the effect of equalising to a great extent the strain upon the rod, though not to the same extent as the winch.

The lines used for bottom-fishing are those made of gut, which should be as fine as possible, consistent with strength. Nay, some roach fishers use a single horse-hair for their bottom lines, though a fine silk-worm gut is equally as good, and infinitely more reliable. The foot lines must, however, be of the colour of the water; light green is perhaps the best general tint, and best adapted for clear water, as it resembles a film of confervae, and the mode of dying it is elsewhere described. They should not be left white, and it is of great importance to have, one or more foot lines stained of a reddish sandy hue for use after a flood. For roach fishing the line should be of gut. For perch, a •well-plaited horse-Lair line is the best, and many anglers use this as a reel line for all purposes, and vary only the foot line. The lines should be weighted cart fully and neatly with split shot, or what is equally as good, fine strips of the thin lead with which tea chests are lined, and which may be obtained of any grower. These strips are handy, and can be easily wound round the lower links of the line; they are also easier adjusted, and are not so liable to injure the gut as split shot, which have an awkward knack of breaking, nipping, and pinching the line. It is also more convenient to carry, less liable to be lost, and can be taken off the line with less trouble, and what is more important, with less liability of damage to the line than the shot.

No hook, as before mentioned, should be used without being carefully tried. They should be whipped on to the line as neatly and as delicately as possible with slightly- waxed silk the colour of the bait intended to be used. The whipping must be neatly done to be successful. Hooks for gentles, greaves, paste, and grain should be sneck bent, short in the shank, and may be whipped to the bend of the hook, so that the bait may readily cover the wire, and not slip off easily, which would be the case if the long, shanked and straight-bent hooks were used. Tim latter, however, are the bust for worm baits, as they enable the worm to be threaded easily, while the bent hook is apt to injure the bait, and render it less lively in the water.

Some bottom fishers, particularly those who have been in the habit of fly-fishing, seldom we a float, and talk learnedly of their quick eye and sensitive touch, which enables them to detect a bite in a moment, and strike their fish. The young beginner, however, must have a float, though the smaller it is the better, except perhaps for barbel fishing. Apart from the indication of a bite, or even a nibble, it shows when the bait drags the bottom, or has caught a weed. The ordinary float should never be allowed to drag in the water, but should sit upright, and in smooth water should have the point of the quill just above the surface. Quill floats are the best for roach and carp fishing, and cork floats are fancied for perch, tench, bream, and barbel. The line should invariably rise perpendicularly from the top of the float, so as to enable the angler to strike promptly. Numbers of fish are lost through carelessly allowing the line to lap over the float in coils, or hang in the water, while their floats are slanting or dragging, and their baits are being nibbled off.

To insure your float sitting nicely, two things must be attended to: you must as-certain (if you do not know) the depth of water. For this purpose a plumb is necessary, and one made out of a coil of "tea lead," before mentioned, is the best, as it can be lapped into r flat shape, which is less cumbersome for the pocket. Place the plumb next on your hook, and when it sinks the top of your float to the surface of the water, you have the exact depth. If you are fishing for gudgeons, tench, or barbel, you must fish close to the bottom, if for roach, chub, or carp, from three to six inches from it. Your float must be moved accordingly down the line, and fastened in the ordinary way with a quill float-cay. See that it is leaded properly, and stands upright in the water free from all obstruction, and ready to yield to the slightest nibble; and if an ordinary made quill float, examine it carefully to sec if it is likely to admit water into the quill, and so render it less buoyant. A little white will at once stop any crevice or fissure. One thing the young angler must learn quietly and by experience: he must learn to strike his fish promptly with a sharp but slight jerk of the wrist. He must not do it violently, for if he does, he will disturb and alarm the fish; neither must he wait for the nibble until the bait is gone or the fish hooks itself. The wrist must be turned towards you slightly to the right, with just sufficient force to lift the bait a few inches. Many a day's fishing has been spoiled, good tackle destroyed, fish tormented or rendered shy, by the violent exhibition of strength in this neat and essential portion of the angler's art.

The fish being hooked, my dear young angler, be merciful iu your strength, Do not be flurried, and jerk the fish oat of the water as if your life depended on your sending it into the middle of the next meadow. If your tackle is well chosen, you may lift your fish, of small size, out of the water without any struggle, or a very short one. Sometimes you may alight on a shoal of small-sized fish, and then it will be necessary to pull from at once to the surface of the water, and allow them no play. This is particularly the case with perch, for these bold gentlemen have strong mouths, bite boldly, are not easily frightened by a bit of gut or horse hair. Out with him at once, if possible, so that he may not give the alarm to his companions. Chub and barbel, and other large sized fish, should be allowed a little play, tie line must Le kept tight to prevent him going just where he listeth. He will soon begin to tire, and show by his languid and enfeebled fins that he is succumbing to the influences and skid brought against him. Then bring a taut and shortened line to bear on him; show him the butt-end of your rod, and bring his head above water. Be careful, for he may want another swim or two, and if so, indulge him, or slip the landing-net under him; let him drop into it, and try another.

Sometimes when fishing with fine and delicate roach tackle you may hook a large fish, which will try all your skill. Your temper must be as smooth as a, placid lake, and your wrist as firm and as pliable as a fly-fisher's ere you can land the monster who is enthralled by the single horse-hair line and diminutive hook. It will require all your skill and address, but it may and can be done, and you may boast of the event with real pride, as showing that the despised bottom-fishing is as excitingly full of doubt, suspense, and fear as the salmon fisher could desire on the Shannon rapids at Castle Connell.

The bottom-fisher requires no little patience, a tolerable selection of baits - the best of which I have endeavoured to describe; and ere I pass to the consideration of the baits, let me dwell for a few minutes whilst I show, as clearly as I can, how to bait the hook with a worm or worms. You must first rub the ends of your forefinger and thumb of both hands in sand, bran, or dry earth, to prevent the worm slipping, or otherwise you will have great difficulty in properly adjusting the slimy gentleman on the hook. Insert the point of the hook at the head of the worm, and work it gently over the bend, and up the shank, and along the line, until not more than a quarter of an inch or so hangs beyond the point of Ike hook, which must be left to wriggle about. Large worms as? rule should have a fourth of their length left loose; small worms should have the barb of the hook close to their tails. "When dead, the worms should be replaced immediately. It is a waste of time to attempt to entice fish with a dead worm. Particular attention must be paid to the worm in putting it on the hook, so that the skin may not be perforated by the barb when once in the body; and the tail of the worm should incline inwards, so as to prevent, as far as possible, the worm working the point of the hook through the skin. Fish are quick in detecting the fine point of the hook.

If the worms are small, two maybe placed on the hook; and this plan I prefer as v rule in practice, as it makes the bait appear more natural, and of course more deadly. It may be done- in either of these two ways: the larger of the worms may be threaded in the way above described to about half of its length, the hook may then be brought through, and the worm passed on to the gut. A smaller worm is then chosen, and the hook inserted at such a distance from the head as to bring the point of the hook within a quarter of an inch of the head of the worm. The upper worm k then brought down to meet the smaller worm, and the tails entwined within the bend of the hook. A second plan is to insert the hook about midway down the worm, and bring it out a little below the tail; and the second worm should have the hook inserted half an inch below the tail, and brought close to the head. By this plan there are two ends to wriggle and make the bait appear more lively. I cannot too strongly impress the young angler with the necessity of baiting his hook with care, for on it his success will in a great measure depend When I come to speak of bottom-fishing for trout, I shall mention two or three other plans of worm-baiting; but the young angler will find the above sufficiently alluring for his purpose.

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