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Eel, Lamprey and Lampern

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Eels are found in rivers, canals, docks, &c., their usual haunts being weeds, under roots, in holes under the bank, in sunken boats, about flood-gates and weirs. In the Thames and indeed in most large rivers, they are taken principally with night-lines and in Eel Baskets or pottles; also in small rivers and ponds by means of an Eel spear, which is struck into the mud, the Eels being caught between the prongs, which are covered with small barbs so as to retain them. Bobbing for Eels is sometimes practised; it is done in this manner: - having ready a quantity of tough well scoured lobworms, fasten a needle to a couple of yards of strong red worsted; pass the needle through each worm from the head to the tail until the worsted is full. Coil them round the hand and tie them tightly in one place with some strong string so that none of the links hang loose. The rod should be a small pole about eight or ten feet long, tapering from about an inch or more in diameter to half an-inch at the small end, to which should be fixed a strong ring bent down to a right angle with the rod. Four or five yards of whip-cord will do for the line, but a piece of strong trolling line is best. The bobbing-lead is a hollow cone about three inches high, with a hole through the apex of the cone, through which the line is passed, and tied securely to the bunch of worms, upon which the lead then falls, fitting on the top like a cap. Letting out just sufficient line to allow the lead to touch the bottom when the top of the pole touches the water, fasten the remainder round the butt of the pole; keep raising them two or three inches from the ground, and lowering them till you feel a bite; then draw the bait steadily up, without jerking, but sufficiently quick to swing the lead into the boat, before the Eel drops off, they are only taken by the teeth ticking in the worsted, two or three are often taken at once.

Night-lines are made of water-cord, with the hooks about half a-yard apart, baited with worms, loach, gudgeons, &c.; a brick is fastened to each end of the line to sink it, or a peg at one end and a brick at the other, and laid obliquely across the stream.

They are also often taken when Legering for Barbel, this style of fishing has already been mentioned as also float-fishing, with the latter the bait should lie on the ground, strike when the float goes steadily off; get the Eel on shore immediately, and cut the bottom line close to his mouth, leaving the hook in, or he will tie your line up into a mass of knots, which will not be improved by his slime. I have also taken them when live-baiting for Jack; I was fishing a piece of dead-water in Shepperton Weir, for some time without success, one afternoon; altering the depth so that the gudgeon swam much deeper, there were two runs in succession, the fish that took the bait fouling the line each time by running under the sill of the weir, apparently at the moment of seizing the Gudgeon. Suspecting they were Eels, I struck the next time directly the float went down, and landed a fine Eel; -continuing at the same place I had five in succession in a very short time.

When the river is low and bright, they may be taken by sniggling. A short stout needle is whipped tight to the end of a few yards of trolling-line, in such a manner that the needle may hang crossways at the end of the line. Enter the needle at about one-third of the length from the head of a lively lobworm, pass the whole of needle inside towards the tail, and draw it back towards the head of the worm, so that the middle of the needle is opposite where the point entered, by this means the worm is sound and neatly fixed. The rod for sniggling is only used to convey the worm to the hole where you expect to find an Eel, and is made thus: - a piece of stout copper wire about eighteen inches long is fastened to the end of a stick seven or eight feet in length, bending the wire into any shape you find necessary to enable you to place the worm in the hole; the end of the wire being pointed so as to hold the worm. Experience will soon enable you to distinguish those holes likely to contain Eels, they may sometimes be discovered by their blowing up bubbles in the water. If an Eel is there, he will draw the bait off the wire, give him loose line and plenty of time; on giving a moderate jerk, the needle is fixed across his throat, hold the line tight, keeping a steady pull on it, and he will soon make his appearance.

The Lamprey Eel is similar in shape to the Lampern, or seven-eyes, but grows much larger, it is sometimes taken nearly three feet long, in rivers having a communication with the sea.

The Lampern is found in the Thames, in the months of March and April, when they are in the hest state, but even then are not considered wholesome; they are generally taken between Battersea and Teddington, but I have taken them at Weybridge. They grow about a foot in length, and have seven holes on each side of the head; the back is a dark colour and the belly white. Cut in pieces about an inch and a half long, they are killing baits for the ordinary Eel.

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