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When you have the misfortune to lose a fish while playing it, a circumstance which you must not expect to be of very unfrequent occurrence, be careful to keep what is infinitely more valuable — your patience and good temper; those, observes Stoddart, “ are worth a cart-load of salmon.” After a large fish has escaped you in this way, it
be as well to remove to another stickle, repeating your visit to the former place
you think it worthy of so high an honourafter the lapse of a short time.* You know that it was said centuries ago, by the old Roman poet
in a work written on a much more tender subject than angling—that “ The fish once prick'd avoids the barbed hook, And spoils the sport of all the neighb'ring brook." †
- if you
But it is by no means improbable that you may hook the same fish a second time, for such an instance is of constant occurrence. Sir Humphrey Davy says — “I have caught pikes with
* “ If you have a rise, but fail to hook your game, either by striking prematurely, or from the fish having missed his spring, you may throw over him again almost directly, if he be a small one; but, if he be the monarch of the brook,' don't venture near the spot again for half an hour at least.” -Hansards Trout and Salmon Fishing in Wales. † Ovid's Art of Love.
OBTUSENESS OF FEELING IN FISH.
four or five hooks in their mouths, and tackle which had been broken only a few minutes before; and the hooks seem to have had no other effect than that of serving as a sort of sauce piquante, urging them to seize another morsel of the same kind." We can state a fact, too, which occurred to ourselves a few years ago. We were one morning busy fishing a favourite pool near Slymlakes Bridge, about a mile from Axminster, when a friend came up to us with the intelligence that a trout, in the same spot, half an hour before, had carried off one of his choicest flies. At the same instant we had the good fortune to hook a halfpounder, which, in due time, our friend landed for us, and in disengaging the fish from the hook we discovered a second fly, which he recognised as his lost favourite, firmly fastened in the roof of its mouth. With this identical fly he, on the same day, filled his basket, and lost it the next in a spanking salmon-peal. Sir Humphrey Davy mentions the circumstance above quoted, in his admirable defence of angling from the charge of cruelty — a charge which is destitute of grounds and unsupported by argument. In another place
66 It cannot be doubted that the nervous system of fish, and of cold-blooded animals in general, is less sensitive than that of warm
blooded animals." But our readers will not expect us to enter into this subject, since the fact of their being readers is a negative proof of their having previously formed opinions at variance with the maudlin and distorted notions of those who deem every amusement as sinful, of which their morbid taste, or, it may be, their mental or physical incapacity, deprives them the enjoyment;
of those who, as Butler says in Hudibras
Compound for sins they are inclined to
“ But now we heed our tired pen's entreaty,
Which halts, and says, - pray let me write valete.”
In this our concluding chapter we shall throw together a few general remarks on the practical department of our art, — the three seasons into which the angler's year may be divided, — the peculiarities of each, the proper flies to use and why, — and other particulars from which we trust our pupils may derive instruction and be enabled to get the ground-work of correct and satisfactory practice. The periods at which the flies enumerated in our list and tables appear upon the water would, perhaps, be understood from what we have said about the natural insects in an early chapter; but our little work will be the more complete and useful, by containing more detailed information on the subject. This chapter, therefore, and the one to which we have referred, should be read in connection with each other. But besides recommending the use of certain flies because of their prototypes being on
the water at the particular times ascribed to them, we take care to enumerate those artificial flies which, even considered apart from their supposed resemblance to particular natural insects, will be found in their general character and size to be best adapted to the state of the water and of the atmosphere at the periods and under the circumstances mentioned. In short, we recommend such flies, and give such instructions, as our experience has taught us to consider most likely to obtain the object of fishing, -"the wherewith” to occupy the pannier.
The angler's Spring includes February, March, and April — after which, for the four succeeding summer months, there is little fishing to be had in the day-time. Evening fishing is then chiefly practised — but of that anon. The season of Spring obviously furnishes the greatest amount of sport, for then the fish are generally ravenous for flies, after their long winter's abstinence from them, and the artificial fly is freely taken, because the fish are bolder, and because the comparative scarcity of natural flies, in the earlier period, renders the fish less fastidious in the choice of their favourite food. In February and March, therefore, you need not be over-nice in your combinations of fur and feather. The blue