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Gudgeon, Bleak, &c.

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The Gudgeon is a handsome little fish, rarely exceeding eight inches in length; the back of a dusky colour, the fins and tail of a dirty brown spotted with a darker tint; at the mouth are two wattles like the Carp; and on, what is termed, the lateral line of the body, are six dark spots of rather largo size. They are a gregarious fish, and may be seen during the summer, in shoals of upwards of a hundred at the bottom of clear rivers; delighting in a sharp stream from two to five feet deep with a gravelly bottom. Use the same Rod and Tackle as for Roach; it is better to have a which and running line, in case of large Perch or Barbel working into the swim.

The best baits are blood worms and small bright red worms. Before you begin fishing, it is usual to rake the swim with an iron rake fastened to a long pole. By doing this, the water is coloured, and small worms and insects are stirred up, by loosening the gravelly sand; the gudgeon, instinctively, swim towards the spot and take the bait. As they cease biting use the rake again, and continuing in this manner you may take nearly every fish in the swim. Plumb the depth before you commence, and let the bait just touch the ground. When baiting with blood worms, put two on the hook; they require very careful handling when doing so, as they are apt to fall to pieces; when using red worms, bait with the tail end, leaving as little as possible loose.

When fishing from a punt, it will be unnecessary to use the rake again as long as the gudgeon continue biting. If they cease doing so and do not come on again after raking the ground, try a fresh swim. Continual raking and change of ground being requisite to secure successful Gudgeon fishing. I once caught one hundred Gudgeons in one hour from one swim; this was in the Thames in 1858; being short of Jack-baits I was compelled to catch them -with a rod and line; it was sharp work, the swim was about two feet deep, and the Gudgeons well on the feed, taking the bait as soon it was in the water; I used the tail half of a red worm threadled securely on the hook; by this means I could generally take a dozen before requiring a fresh bait.

Bleak are found in immense numbers in the Thames, Lea, and several other rivers; they ore a lively, brilliant fish somewhat like a Sprat in size and colour; and easily taken with a small fly at the top of the water or with a gentle or paste at midwater or towards the bottom. The Roach fisher is often annoyed by a small shoal of Bleak making their way into his swim, attracted by the ground bait. The young fly-fisher when whipping for Dace with a very small red palmer or black gnat, on the shallows, may take any quantity during the warm summer's evenings. If angling for them, it is a good plan to have four or five No. 10 hooks, tied on very fine gut about five inches in length, and attach them to an ordinary Roach line, like a paternoster so as to fish all depths at once, using a very small quill float and baiting each hook with a single gentle or very small piece of paste. I have known them caught five at a time.

The Loach or Stone Loach is a very small fish, seldom exceeding five inches in length; with a dark round body of a muddy colour, with six wattles at its mouth; the colour of the fins somewhat resembles that of the fins of a Gudgeon. They lie at the bottom like Barbel routing the gravel and may be taken occasionally with a piece of red worm, on the shallows near Milltails.

Minnows, Pricklebacks, and Bullheads, or Miller's Thumbs are too well known to need description. The first are valuable as a bait for Trout, Jack, &c., for which purpose the second is sometimes used, but requires the prickles to be removed. As regards the third, Salter says that " he has known seven dozen taken in a day in the New River near Ware," and that " it is fine eating when fried, if the head is cut off,'" but unfortunately the fish itself is only about three inches in length and even that is nearly all head.

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Pictures for Gudgeon, Bleak, &c.

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