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Being impatient to throw a line on the river Authie, I set out for the town of Doulens, which is situated within eight miles of the source of the stream. Its waters have a great reputation, both with the French and English, for the large trout they contain; but my own individual experience did not corroborate the flattering representations I had heard.
Ascending about two miles above the town, I commenced with fly, for which a stream or two seemed very propitious, but I only obtained one small, ill-coloured trout out of them. I adopted the minnow, and tried here, for the first time on the continent, my mode of using this bait with only one hook, and allowing the fish to pouch the bait in the same way as many anglers do the pike. I use a swivel in this mode of troiling, but I do not jerk the bait so often as when I fish with two or more hooks. It is only, however, in rivers which have a clear and gravelly or rocky bed that the single hook will answer. When you think the trout has swallowed the bait, you must just give the line a gentle tug, and you will soon find whether he is firmly hooked or not. If you have made your capture you need not give him any play, for if you have good gut you have the hook so firmly fixed in his stomach that you may land him forthwith without the slightest apprehension of losing your prize. On this occasion I hooked å trout apparently about one pound and a-half, which I lost, with the greater part of my tackle, by an incident which must so often occur in the rivers of France that the single hook trolling can never become prevalent. When the fish took the bait, I gave him length of line; he ran into a deep eddy of the stream, where he got the line entangled with a bush root, and I had no other resource than to destroy my gut and swivel. In trolling with three or four hooks this would not have happened, as I would have kept him steadily at arm's length till he was exhausted.
After this little mishap the May-fly made its appearance, and the trout seemed all roused up to a state of unusual activity and excitement. I put on the coachman and a blue dun, and soon got a fair dish out of this part of the Authie. The French anglers were all upon the move also, bobbing on the waters with the natural May-fly. Some obtained fine dishes of trout, and seemed remarkably adroit at pitching the fly to the right spot across the stream. One man, who said he was a weaver in one of the little villages hard by, told me he had a fine collection of trout about half-a-mile up the river, which he had caught the two previous days with the May-fly. I accompanied him up the stream ; and when we came to a piece of still water, and near a willow-bush, he took a long stick with a hook at its end out from among the thick grass, grappled with it in the water, and caught hold of a rope, at the end of which a large willow basket, shaped like a round butter-churn, made its appearance. He opened a door at its side, and tossed out on the bank between two and three dozen of most beautiful trout, all skipping about in life and vigour. He looked me earnestly in the face, and said
“ Monsieur, voulez-vous acheter ces poissons ?”
He quickly tumbled them all into their prison-house again, and committed them to their own element. He told me that every year he sold as many trout during the season the May-fly was on the water as paid the rent-sixty francs-for his house and small garden. Indeed,
we find in France all the markets well attended by country peasants with trout for sale during this their fly-fishing season ; and I have on several occasions seen small fish realize a franc each, even from French purchasers,
There are many spots in the higher districts of the Authie which caunot fail to charm the lover of rural beauty. Near a mill, about four miles from Doulens, I was particularly struck at a locality whose scenery was really very magnificent. In looking down the river, in the softness of a declining summer's sun, we see above us, on the left, a high hill, with its bold points and wooded recesses. The light flows gleaming and touching the ground, and here and there settling on the leafage of the trees which hang over the river. The tints on the brow of the hill, assuming a more aerial form towards the summit, became more interesting and striking; and a church steeple in a little secluded village, wrapped in sylvan retirement, lulls the fancy into a delicious reverie. The light and waving trees and shrubs—some with large, round, distinctly peucilled up-shootings, and others with pendant and taper leaves—seem to hold communication with the waters ; to be invested with life and vitality ; and to be the smiling, living witnesses of their play and beauty, and listeners to their soothing music.
Rctiring to my quarters at Doulens, I took a fancy to move off the next morning to visit the rivers Scarpe and Crinchou at Arras. I arrive at this fine trading-town about mid-day, and was much pleased with the style of architecture of its squares and streets. These two rivers form a junction within a few miles of the town. The Scarpe is not a good trout stream ; but there is an abundance of common fish in it, such as pike, perch, and eels. The Crinchou contains some trout ; and about eight or nine miles from Arras the streams become very good for fly. It is far, however, from being a river worthy of going far out of one's road to visit.
The scenery on the river Grouche, which enters the Authie on the west side of the town of Doulens, is, in many spots, highly interesting. As a trout stream it is inferior to the Authic; but what trout are found are commonly of a good size, and of a peculiarly rich flavour. The English residents in this neighbourhood, which are not very numerous, generally prefer angling in the Grouche with the minnow nearly the whole scason, with the exception, perhaps, of that time when the May-fly is on the waters. There is a great difference of opinion as to the best flies both for it and the Authie ; some preferring dark, and some light and gaudy oncs. For myself, I must say, I tried both, and I could not well decide wherein the preference lay. I think that trolling is the best method of angling the Authie from Doulens to the sea.
At no great distance from the river in the direction of Hesdin lies the battle-field of Cressy, so famous in English history. This every angler should visit. A considerable number of our countrymen, together with thirty thousand Frenchmen, lie buried on the spot. At this conflict, which took place in 1346, the French monarch was at the head of one hundred thousand men, while our Edward III. had only thirty thousand. The first line of the English troops was commanded by the Black Prince, then only in his fifteenth year ; the second was under the Earls of Northampton and Arundel ; and the third the king headed in person. Our histories tell us that on the morning of the battle both the king and the Prince of Wales took the sacrament ; a circumstance which, it is said, made a deep impression upon the whole of the English army, and which denoted a calm intrepidity of soul. After everything was arranged for action the king appeared among his troops, animating them by going from rank to rank, and eloquently reminding them that the honour and glory of their country demanded from them the most heroic conduct and valour. The French army, like the English, was also placed in three divisions. The first, commanded by John, Duke of Luxembourgh ; the second, by Count Alençon, on whom the French lay the whole blame for the disastrous termination of the battle ; and the third by the French monarch in person. The young Black Prince displayed most wonderful skill and courage on this occasion.
After leaving the banks of the Authie, I repaired to St. Quentin on the higher districts of the river Somme, which is one of the chief waters in this part of France, and which runs a course, including its principal windings, of full one hundred miles. Its importance, however, as a trout stream is not to be estimated by its magnitude. There are a number of smaller rivers better adapted for the skilful angler. But still there are admirable spots on the Somme, and it flows through several places of considerable interest and importance.
St. Quentin is a place of some note. It contains above twenty thousand people; and its public buildings and streets are, on the whole, spacious and well built. Its cathedral is grand and imposing; and though denuded of towers, which form such an important element in middle-age architecture, still no one can look upon it as a whole without feeling an emotion of sublimity and grandeur.
The source of the Somme is only a few miles from that city. The streams above the town are adapted for the fly, but minnow is more successful. This I found from my own experience. The waters run deep and narrow, and this characteristic suits trolling. The fish are not large here ; the heaviest I hooked was only one pound and a half. Below St. Quentin the river expands; but still the mirnow is better here than the fly. The course of the stream from this place to the town of Peronne is very circuitous ; but the scenery in many parts is exceedingly beautiful. In point of rural interest this is the finest locality on the Somme, for the general aspect of the country as it approaches the ocean becomes comparatively flat and uninteresting, and its waters flow more sluggishly along its level bed.
Peronne is a strongly fortified place, and surrounded with extensive marais, which are partly fed from the waters of the Somme. There are in these still waters immense quantities of common fish, such as pike, perch, bream, eels, etc., and the bottom fishing is here very excellent indeed. As the May-fly had not entirely diappeared, I had the good luck of catching several fine trout about three miles below the town, where the fish were greedily feeding on this insect. I employed a black and red hackle for my bait on this occasion. When trout are inspired to regalo themselves on this food of the May.fly, I have on all rivers seen that they seize as eagerly any other kind of fly. The fact is, that the instincts of nature are here strong and lively ; they are prompted to feed from the casual and limited period which fixes the supply of food, and become less shy and fastidious as to everything in the shape of a fly which at such moments presents itself to their vision. I have often, even in France, tried the experiment of hooking trout with the window or the worm when under this lively excitement for the May-iy, but I have always failel: their rage is for flies and nothing else. Now, when the acason for the May-fly is over, and if the fish of a river are feeding pretty freely on any of the other miscellaneous insect tribes which fall upon the surface of the waters, I have always succeeded in obtaining a portion of such fish either with minnow or worm. I mark where a trout is rising, go a little above the spot, just drop my bait lightly in the water, and, in the majority of cases, the fish will take hold of it readily. Those who generally devote themselves to minnow will find this a sure means of proeuring a good dish of fish ; but when the waters are all alive with the May-fly the expedient is utterly hopeless.
As the angler proceeds from Peronne by the sides of the river to Amiens, he will meet with many fine streams, but the minnow is decidedly the best for these waters. Large trout are here occasionally taken, some weighing from six to nine pounds, and of the most delicious flavour. I never saw myself any of these weights; only one in a fishmonger's shop four pounds and a quarter. The Somme encircles the town of Amiens in all parts, and for the purposes of manufacture is divided into many distinct channels. This impairs angling with fly considerably; indeed, it is not pleasant to throw the line in the vicinity of such a city. After the river leaves Amiens it becomes comparatively uvinteresting as a fishing stream, except for common fish.
There are many objects in this town worthy of a traveller's attention. The cathedral is one of the very finest in France, and the public library contains forty-five thousand volumes of printed works, and above four hundred volumes of very interesting manuscripts. The botanical garden, and other public places, will afford the angler a good deal of pleasure and instruction.
There are three or four enthusiastic English anglers at Amiens, who fish the Somme every season from Amiens to Abbeville, and who speak of their general success of capturing large trout. With the exception of the natural May-fly, during the season, the minnow is the only bait used by these gentledien. They prefer six hooks on their tackle; and the moment they strike a fish they endeavour to get him out of the water as expeditiously as possible, or their apparatus would soon be destroyed, from the weedy and dirty state of the bed of the river.
I visited the small town of Roye in order to fish one of the tributaries to the Somme called the Aure, which takes its rise at a few miles distant. The scenery on this stream is very fine, and the waters contain a good many smallish trout. I succeeded in capturing about ten of them, but none exceeded half-a-pound in weight. I followed the course of the stream down to the small town of Mont-Didier, where it is joined by another rivulet called the Dom. I ascended its banks about four miles, but only killed with the fly two small fish. This Mont-Didier is a poor, wretched-looking place. In these two tributaries small light-coloured flies should be used, and the tackle ought also to be fine, and gently thrown on the waters. In some places the bush-wood on their banks is very troublesome ; but this may be in some measure remedied by artfully skewing the fly linc instead of throwing it.
I walked through the country, exceedingly beautiful and interesting in many parts, to the little rivers Noye and Auregue, which fall into the Somme before it reaches Amiens. The day proving very hot and bright I never attempted using fly, but tried the effects of some fine red worms, kept a month in good moss, in the shady spots on the rivers. Four trout were all I obtained after a most melting ramble of full eight hours' duration.
The river Celle flows into the Somme, in the vicinity of Amicus. This tributary has also many feeders—the Puix, the Tossas, and Encre; but I did not find it convenient to visit any of these streams. They cnjoy the reputation of having a good many trout in them, though not of a large size.
I had a pleasant walk, about fiftcen miles across the country, from Amiens to the river Bresle, on which I was anxious to dip a line. It is a nice gurgling stream in many of its higher sections, but trout are neither very numerous nor large. The scencry on the banks of the river is very fine. I sauntered down to Eu as leisurely as the extreme heat of the weather would allow, in order to cast a glance at the wellknown chateau of the late king of France. This royal residence is surrounded with a beautiful park and extensive gardens, and it is said to contain sixty principal departments, two hundred and fifty bed-rooms, and accommodation for one hundred horses and sixty carriages. It contains the most splendid collection of historical pictures in Europe. It is, I think, a most princely residencc.
There is no town in the north of France better adapted for angling than Dicppc. It is a pleasant place of itself, and has a charming English-like neighbourhood. I love to gaze on its wooded heights, its castle, and its well-cultivated suburbs. There is a good deal of excellent trout-fishing in all the rivers which fall into the sea at this part ; and as it is much frequented by the French gentry in summer, there is a fair proportion of them to mingle with the English residents and visitors who have a taste for piscatory amusements.
Before catering fully into the angling in this district I had a day's sport, or as they call it, “ a little go,” at gudgeon-fishing. Two friends and I took our rods, a light cast line, a few small hooks, and red worms, and went some little distance up the waters from the town. We soon fell in with a complete shoal of these pretty little fish. In a few hours we caught about two hundred, and when they were fried in the French fashion, they formed a most delicious supper. The natural history of fish which is to be found in all the rivers in Europe is not very accurately known : their migratory habits are yet but imperfectly ascertained. There is no better bait than a small red worm for these fish. I have seen immense quantities of these gudgcons caught in the vicinity of Dieppe with net ; but I must confess I cannot approve of this unsportsman and wholesale destruction. All good anglers should set their faces against it.
There are three rivers which pour their waters into the oceani at Dieppe—the Arques, the Eaulne, and the Béthune. They cach run about twenty miles up the country. After procuring a fine stock of live minuows, at the rate of six sous a dozen, which can be obtained here by men who supply anglers with them, I set out to the northernmost river-the Eaulne. The day was fine, and the waters in tolerable condition. And here I beg to notice that the best manner of keeping minnows alive for the purposes of bait is to put them into a soda-water bottle with fresh water, which should be changed every two or three hours. These kind of bottles preserve the fish much longer than any other of a different conformation. There must be an air-hole made in the cork, or the fish will soon die.