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Carp and Tench

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The Carp is a beautiful fish in appearance, of a bronzy gold color, with large scales, and having two wattles under the mouth which is of small size. The fins and tail are of a dark hue, the dorsal fin extending over the greater portion of the back. Carp spawn about May, and are best caught from July to September; they have been taken in the Thames in January when the weather has been very fine. They prefer lakes and ponds to rivers, in some they grow to a large size. Salter mentions one he saw taken from the pond in Wan stead Park, facing Tilney House, this he says appeared much wasted from age, but weighed then eighteen pounds. In Germany they attain a still larger size, but I do not remember to have seen one in England that exceeded twelve pounds. They are au extremely shy fish, especially the larger ones, who seem to increase in craftiness as they do in weight and years. There is, however, no rule without, an exception, for I have observed some splendid fellows in the ponds of the Palace Gardens at Versailles, who appeared to be perfectly tame, probably owing to being fed with bread crumbs by visitors. They are not numerous in the Thames; though I know of a few artful old Carp, who inhabit a certain deep pool at Weybridge, who appear to glory in their extreme wisdom, and will roll over the line, and appear to bid defiance to the angler. Late in the month of July, 1858, on a hot summer's afternoon, I was Barbel-fishing in the eddy off Point, Weybridge; the water being quite twenty feet deep and as clear as glass. I did not so much as touch a Barbel, but took with my single rod, three magnificent Carp, weighing respectively eight, five, and four pounds; ten Eels, nine large Perch, and one Bream; the Carp gave quite as much play as Trout. These were all taken with the lobworm, using chopped worms for ground bait.

As a general rule, the redworm will be found the most killing bait, but they will at times prefer a well-scoured marsh worm or lob. The majority of Roach-baits also are used for Carp.

Use a light stiff rod with tine running tackle and a light float, ascertaining the depth, if possible, the day before, when ground-baiting; as recommended in the Chapter on Bream; so as to keep out. of sight when you commence fishing, and disturb the water as little as you can. Throw in a few chopped worms, occasionally, while angling; fish on the bottom, and if in a stream strike immediately there is a bite,; but if in still water, or a pond, wait a second or two, till the float goes steadily under and then strike gently, as Carp do not take the bait so quickly in deadwater as in a stream, where unless it be taken directly, it is carried away by the current and is gone.

When you have hooked a good fish, use him gently and patiently; giving him line, winding in and letting out, till lie is exhausted. He is an exceedingly strong and artful fish, and will try every possible means to get round a post or a stump, or into the weeds so as to break the line.

The grand secret in Carp-fishing is to keep quiet and fish tine. Some anglers expatiate on the great merits of boiled green peas and pieces of cherries, as very taking baits. One writer advises a worm and gentle to be used on the hook at the same time, so as to offer the Carp a choice of baits; probably, had he suggested that a green pea and a cherry be first placed on the hook, it might have been better still; the Carp could then have taken vegetables with his dinner and dessert to follow.

There is another species of this fish, termed the Prussian Carp, which seldom reaches a pound in weight; in shape and color is similar to the ordinary Carp, partaking very much of the nature of the gold and silver fish, and like them may be kept when small, in a globe. They are easily caught in ponds during the summer months with a small red or bloodworm; fish very fine, with a No. 10 hook and a very small quill float. It is essential that the bait should cover the entire hook and look fresh and tempting. Fish two or three inches from the bottom.

The Tench is not so handsome a fish as the Carp; it is short and thick, and when large, nearly as broad as long. The fins and tail are large and of a purple hue; the scales are extremely small, of a dark greenish gold color and covered with a thick slimy matter. The Tench is a pond fish, thriving best in water where the bottom is weedy and muddy; it is also found in rivers of a similar character, and is taken occasionally in some parts of the Thames and Lea; spawning in May and June and being very soon in good condition. From July to October are the best months; though if the weather be very warm, they are sometimes taken in March. During the winter they bury themselves in the mud like Eels. In favorable situations they have been known to attain a weight of nine pounds; but this is of rare occurrence in this country and they will be seldom found to exceed four pounds although they grow fast. Tench, like Carp are exceedingly tenacious of life, and when packed in wet grass or moss, may tie carried long distances without danger of losing their lives.

A clear redworm or small lobworm will be found the best bait; wasp-grubs, gentles and paste are also used. Tench require ground-baiting in a similar manner to Barbel. A light stiff rod, with running tackle, should be used, and if fishing in a pond, a small quill float and No. 8 hook with a redworm, or a size smaller for gentle or wasp-grub; if the bottom is very muddy, fish an inch or two from it.

Although the Tench is not a particularly shy fish, yet he bites slower than most others, sometimes remaining with the bait between his lips for a short time before taking it, into his mouth; therefore do not strike directly, but let him take the float well down, or as he will often do, rise with the bait, and cause the float to lay flat on the surface. When this occurs, strike smartly, but not too hard: playing him carefully, so as to keep clear of the weeds.

In summer they may often be seen near the surface of the water, among the weeds and lily leaves, when they may be taken by dropping the bait into any little opening you may observe among the weeds. Fish with a stouter line and without a float; with a shot or two about a foot from the hook to sink the bait sufficiently. When you feel or see a bite, strike sharply and land your prize as soon as possible, for in places of this description there will not be much space for playing.

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