Pike page 2
Fishing for Jack with a Live-bait, and a cork float attached to the line, is certainly the most popular, as it also is undoubtedly the easiest. The small amount of labour required is probably the cause of many preferring it, as it allows them frequent opportunities of resting, when they arrive at a still, quiet place, either in rivers or lakes. The spinning-rod of mottled cane will do equally well for live baiting, using a stiffer top. Many anglers use the wooden winch when live-bait-fishing; when you have a run (as a "bite" is termed in Jack-fishing) and the rod is lying on the ground, it has the great advantage of allowing the line to run "off freely, otherwise it is necessary to leave a few yards of line loose on the ground, to allow the Jack, after taking the bait, to run to the haunt where he feeds, without hinderance; a rod-rester to keep the rod from the ground, is very useful. For live-baiting I prefer a fine line, as it will float for a considerable time, and is consequently less liable to become entangled with the bait (it will float better still, if it be rubbed with strong palm oil). The line should be from fifty to eighty yards, of prepared plaited silk. Always have a line long enough at first, for when in constant use, and with the occasional strain on it, of a twelve or fifteen pound Pike, besides the friction of the rings, you will find it necessary to break off, now and then, a yard or two from the working end, to keep it in good order.
The Float I use is of the following shape, with a hole entirely through it; the line being run through, push in a small plug, as in the sketch.
The next requirement is the Trace of moderate sized yellow pimp, and furnished with two swivels, and a dip lead to sink the bait. The Hooks are of two descriptions, single and double.
The single Hook, which should be about this size, may he used either by hooking the bait through the side of the lips, or by passing it under the back fin, taking care not to insert it too low in the fish, or injure the bone; as the bait would then soon die.
The double hooks range in sizes between these two: according to the size of the bait; do have the gimp too stout. To use the double hook: - place the loop of the gimp on the hook at the end of the baiting-needle, enter the point under the skin of the bait on the shoulder, and close behind the gills, bringing it out near the back fin, draw the gimp, from which you remove the needle, till the bend of the double hook is brought to where the needle entered. The loop is then fastened on the hook-swivel at the end of the Trace and the bait is ready for use.
When passing the baiting-needle under the skin, do it carefully so as not to wound the flesh, or remove the scales unnecessarily; the bait will then swim nearly as strong with the hooks as without. When fishing weedy places, be careful always to remove any small weeds that become attached to the hooks when drawing the bait out of the water.
The Paternoster of which a full description is given in "Perch-fishing " is a first-rate tackle for use amongst weeds where the live-bait with float would inevitably become entangled; it. should either be all gimp, or a gut line with gimp hooks: arranged as in the accompanying sketch of a Paternoster in miniature.
The baits that live the longest, and are therefore best for a journey are Thames Gudgeons; they are a strong hardy fish, and will not require the water to be changed so often as others do. Dace, small chub and roach are equally good, but require fresh water oftener than gudgeons.
To carry the live baits you require a kettle, which should be a full sized one of zinc, or japanned tin, with square ends. When at the river side, and it is not in use, keep the kettle in the water out of the sun, tying one end of a cord to the handle and the other end to a peg, which you can stick in the ground.
The best time for live-bait-fishing is when the heavy weeds are rotten. From October till March, Pike will take a live bait more freely than at any other time of the year. Fix the float at the proper distance from the bait, as a general rule, not less than three feet but often considerably more; to fish a hole of ten feet in depth, tolerably clear of weeds at bottom, I should fish about seven feet deep; that is, I should have the float that distance from the live bait.
Begin by dropping in the bait gently near the shore, always keeping as much as possible out of sight, if after a short time you do not have a run, make a fresh cast further out, and to the right or left. When you take the bait from the water to throw it to a fresh place, draw it slowly and gradually to the surface for that purpose; I have often found Pike when not much on the feed, strike at a bait which seemed to be escaping from them.
Try all the still parts and bends of the river, pools, &c.; also near beds of rushes, sedges, candock weeds, &c., in quiet corners. Eddies and backwaters at the sides of weirs are likely places for large fish.
When a Pike seizes the live-bait, it is generally with violence, and the float is instantly drawn under water; keep the winch and line clear, watching the float as long as possible, and hold a yard or two of slack line in the left hand; so that nothing may check the Jack while he is making for his haunt to pouch the bait. If he runs rapidly, draw the line quickly from the winch, so that he may not be impeded. When he has reached his haunt, and remains quiet, allow about ten minutes to pouch; as a general rule, when he has done so, the line slackens slightly. When you have reason to suppose that the Jack is more inclined to play with the bait than to feed; and when you have a run, he moves a short distance and stops, then moves again and waits a few moments and a third time changes his quarters, then wind up the line, and strike smartly the contrary way to which he is running and you w ill probably hook him, in or about the mouth.
Trolling or Gorge-fishing was formerly considered the highest branch of the art of Jack-fishing, Spinning being then little understood.
The Rod, Winch and Line are the same as used for Spinning; the Trace is of moderate sized gimp with two swivels and without lead, the whole of the lead being on the gorge-hook, which is baited thus: - the loop of the gimp is attached to the baiting-needle, which is then inserted in the mouth of the bait, run it. through and bring the point out, in the centre of the tail. The gimp is then drawn through till the bends of the hooks fit close on either side of the mouth of the bait, the points turning upwards. Most anglers tie the tail to the gimp with white thread, to prevent it tearing when dropped among weeds.
There are other sorts known as the Weed-hook and Spear Gorge-hook, much used when the weeds are very thick.
The best baits for Trolling are Gudgeons and Dace Jack are also taken in ponds (though seldom in rapid waters) by baiting with a Frog; use a small Gorge-hook and proceed the same as with a fish-bait, drawing the hooks close to the mouth and stretching out the hind legs which must be tied to the gimp. If you use a frog for live-baiting, hook him through the lips with a No. 4 hook; if for Snap fishing, hook him through the skin of the back, striking almost immediately after he is seized by the Jack.
There are various modes of working the Gorge-bait, when in the water, hut it will be found best to commence near the shore, throwing it like the spinning bait. Let it sink nearly to the bottom draw it gradually up till near the surface; let it sink again, draw it a little to the right or left; V again let it sink and draw up slowly; and so on, the next cast, working it up and down as before. When you have a run, the line will be pulled or tugged rather sharply, lower the point of the rod and proceed as described when live-baiting.
Snap-fishing is practised at such seasons as when Pike do not feed with sufficient eagerness to pouch the bait quickly. The rod should be stiff to enable you to strike sharply, the winch is already described, but the line should be stouter than that used for spinning, forty or fifty yards long, as you strike directly and do not give much play."
Sketches of the three best snap-hooks are given, though there are many more fancy patterns.
It is used thus: - the small hook is inserted under the back fin, the point coming out at the other side; the large hooks lay on the back, and the lip-hook run through both lips. It is used (as are the following two) with the ordinary live-bait trace and float. When the Pike seizes it, let him run a yard or two to make sure, and then strike sharply.
The next is the Spring Snap, which is baited in the following manner: - the small hook is inserted under the back tin of the bait, and the large hooks hang at the side. When the Pike seizes the bait, strike sharply and the large hooks fly out in contrary directions, the shanks being flattened for the purpose.
The Saddle Snap is a very effective tackle, a sketch is annexed of one ready-baited, the bait hangs on the small hook, which is inserted under the back tin, and a triangle is suspended on either side.
To hold the flights, traces, snap-hooks, &e., the angler should be provided with a proper Tin Case about six or seven inches long, by three or four wide; deep in proportion; with divisions, so as to keep the tackle separate as much as possible; the cover of the one I use is the form of a box, divided to hold traces, extra weights, &c.
Always make it a rule to bait your hook the last thing after you have made all complete, as regard line, float,
And, lastly, remember when Jack-fishing in a place very likely for them to lay, not to leave after a throw or two only, but let the bait work the place well, especially if you have seen a fish move there before. Try well every foot of likely water, and if not successful try again as you return. Nil desperandum.
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