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freshing of “the inner man,” with steaks and accompaniments, is decided on and at once commenced. Two or three other craftsmen also happen in for the same laudable purpose. And here we leave the happy party to their evening's enjoyment. Each one, we may be sure, relates his day’s exploits; and, when this is over, old tales are pretty sure to be told, and old times thus brought to mind; till, by and by, the “minstrel” of the party strikes up a song, which after a while goes duly round,—or else, as Walton hath it, “ some
harmless sport is found to content them;’ thus they “pass away a little time without offence
to God, or injury to man.”
“The trout is a very generous fish; a fish that is highly valued, both in this and foreign nations.”—WALToN.
IT must be obvious that in every branch of sporting some acquaintance with the haunts and habits of the animals pursued is indispensable to successful practice. Many a man who may be perfectly au fait in all that concerns the mechanical department of his sport, but who fancies that it is only his ill luck which prevents him from being so fortunate as others, whose powers of observation are more active than his own, and who are better informed than himself in the theory which he affects to despise, would doubtless be able to find a more correct and rational cause for his inferiority in his imperfect information on these subjects. To be sure, it is hardly possible for the most indifferent observer to pursue any sport for a length of time without insensibly acquiring some knowledge of the nature and habits of his game; but there is an immense difference in the amount of information which different individuals
14 VALUE OF THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE.
will acquire in parallel circumstances, arising, of course, from the difference in their mental qualifications. It is not intended, in these remarks, to lay down the principle that the best naturalist is, a priori, the best sportsman; although we should not shrink from maintaining that a good naturalist, or even an indifferent one, is already three-fourths a sportsman, inasmuch as he possesses a considerable share of a sportsman's necessary education, —a taste for out-of-door recreation, and consequent aptitude for acquiring practical sporting knowledge. Professor Rennie, a distinguished naturalist and an enthusiastic angler, is very probably also of this opinion; for he tells us that “the chief knowledge required by a skilful angler is the thorough acquaintance with the food and habits of the fish he wishes to catch.” With these views of the importance of this subject, we shall direct our attention to it before proceeding to the practical department of this delightful art. Of the numerous tribes of fishes which inhabit the streams of Britain, the trout is the handsomest, the best, and the most sought after by the fly-fisher. It belongs to the genus Salmo, which is included in the Cuvierian order Malacopterygii abdominales. This order embraces all
those fish which have soft-rayed fins, with their ventral fins placed far behind and unattached to the bone of the shoulder. All the SALMONIDAE have eight fins, namely, two pectoral or breast fins; two ventral fins, on the belly next below the pectorals; the anal fin, behind the ventral fins; the caudal or tail fin; and two dorsal or back fins,—the hindermost small, fleshy, and without rays. Although the trout in different localities vary considerably both in appearance and quality, it is by no means a solitary opinion that there exists but one species ; the difference of form, size, and colour in the trout of different localities being accounted for by the operation of their food and of the water they inhabit. Some naturalists, however, think—and among them is Mr. Yarrell — that more than one species, and that several varieties, of the common trout, exist in this country; and supposing those gentlemen to classify the lake trout and the gillaroo trout of Ireland" in this latter category, they are, perhaps, sufficiently correct; although it is by no means made clear that even those varieties may not have been derived from the common trout, altered by circumstances and characterised by peculiarities transmitted through a succession of generations, —but not the less varieties on that account.” As to species, there can be no doubt that whatever may be the case with naturalists, the unlearned are certainly apt to multiply them, either from an imperfect comprehension of the term, or from being deceived by the external appearance and colours of the fish, from which a hasty opinion ought not to be formed. “The colouring matter,” says Sir Humphrey Davy, “is not in the scales, but in the surface of the skin immediately beneath them, and is probably a secretion easily affected by the health of the animal.” The soil, the season, and the water undoubtedly exercise considerable influence on the colours of fish, and that the food does so has been satisfactorily proved by an experiment made some years since in the south of England, and thus recorded by Mr. Stoddart : —“ Trout were placed in three separate tanks, one of which was supplied daily with worms, another with live minnows, and the
* A remarkable peculiarity of the gillaroo trout is the construction of its stomach, which has been likened to the gizzard of a bird, and accounted for from the circumstance of the principal food of this fish being shell-fish, for the constant assimilation of which its stomach has thus become permanently adapted.