Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/41

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30
ANGLING

difference that after about 10 lb it takes a spinning-bait, usually a heavy spoon-bait, better than a fly.

Cat-fish.—None of the fresh-water cat-fishes (of which no example is found in England) are what may be called sporting fish, but several may be caught with rod and line. There are several kinds in North America, and some of them are as heavy as 150 lb, but the most important is the wels (Silurus glanis) of the Danube and neighbouring waters. This is the largest European fresh-water fish, and it is credited with a weight of 300 lb or more. It is a bottom feeder and will take a fish-bait either alive or dead; it is said occasionally to run at a spinning bait when used very deep.

Burbot.—The burbot (Lota vulgaris) is the only fresh-water member of the cod family in Great Britain, and it is found only in a few slow-flowing rivers such as the Trent, and there not often, probably because it is a fish of sluggish habits which feeds only at night. It reaches a weight of 3 lb or more, and will take most flesh or fish baits on the bottom. The burbot of America has similar characteristics.

Sturgeon.—The sturgeons, of which there are a good many species in Europe and America, are of no use to the angler. They are anadromous fishes of which little more can be said than that a specimen might take a bottom bait once in a way. In Russia they are sometimes caught on long lines armed with baited hooks, and occasionally an angler hooks one. Such a case was reported from California in The Field of the 19th of August 1905.

Shad.—Two other anadromous fish deserve notice. The first is the shad, a herring-like fish of which two species, allice and twaite (Clupea alosa and C. finta), ascend one or two British and several continental rivers in the spring. The twaite is the more common, and in the Severn, Wye and Teme it sometimes gives very fair sport to anglers, taking worm and occasionally fly or small spinning bait. It is a good fighter, and reaches a weight of about 3 lb. Its sheen when first caught is particularly beautiful. America also has its shads.

Flounder.—The other is the flounder (Pleuronectes flesus), the only flat-fish which ascends British rivers. It is common a long way up such rivers as the Severn, far above tidal influence, and it will take almost any flesh-bait used on the bottom. A flounder of 1 lb is, in a river, a large one, but heavier examples are sometimes caught.

Eel.—The eel (Anguilla vulgaris) is regarded by the angler more as a nuisance than a sporting fish, but when of considerable size (and it often reaches a weight of 8 lb or more) it is a splendid fighter and stronger than almost any fish that swims. Its life history has long been disputed, but it is now accepted that it breeds in the sea and ascends rivers in its youth. It is found practically everywhere, and its occurrence in isolated ponds to which it has never been introduced by human agency has given rise to a theory that it travels overland as well as by water. The best baits for eels are worms and small fish, and the best time to use them is at night or in thundery or very wet weather.

Sea Angling.

Sea angling is attended by almost as many refinements of tackle and method as fresh-water angling. The chief differences are differences of locality and the habits of the fish. To a certain extent sea angling may also be divided into three classes—fishing on the surface with the fly, at mid-water with spinning or other bait, and on the bottom; but the first method is only practicable at certain times and in certain places, and the others, from the great depths that often have to be sounded and the heavy weights that have to be used in searching them, necessitate shorter and stouter rods, larger reels and stronger tackle than fresh-water anglers employ. Also, of course, the sea-fisherman is liable to come into conflict with very large fish occasionally. In British waters the monster usually takes the form of a skate or halibut. A specimen of the former weighing 194 lb has been landed off the Irish coast with rod and line in recent years. In American waters there is a much greater opportunity of catching fish of this calibre.

Great Game Fishes.—There are several giants of the sea which are regularly pursued by American anglers, chief among them being the tarpon (Tarpon atlanticus) and the tuna or tunny (Thunuus thynnus), which have been taken on rod and line up to 223 lb and 251 lb respectively. Jew-fish and black sea-bass of over 400 lb have been taken on rod and line, and there are many other fine sporting fish of large size which give the angler exciting hours on the reefs of Florida, or the coasts of California, Texas or Mexico. Practically all of them are taken with a fish-bait either live or dead, and used stationary on the bottom or in mid-water trailed behind a boat.

British Game Fishes.—On a much smaller scale are the fishes most esteemed in British waters. The bass (Labrax lupus) heads the list as a plucky and rather difficult opponent. A fish of 10 lb is a large one, but fifteen-pounders have been taken. Small or “school” bass up to 3 lb or 4 lb may sometimes be caught with the fly (generally a roughly constructed thing with big wings), and when they are really taking the sport is magnificent. In some few localities it is possible to cast for them from rocks with a salmon rod, but usually a boat is required. In other places bass may be caught from the shore with fish bait used on the bottom in quite shallow water. They may again sometimes be caught in mid-water, and in fact there are few methods and few lures employed in sea angling which will not account for them at times. The pollack (Gadus pollachius) and coal-fish (Gadus virens) come next in esteem. Both in some places reach a weight of 20 lb or more, and both when young will take a fly. Usually, however, the best sport is obtained by trailing some spinning-bait, such as an artificial or natural sand-eel, behind a boat. Sometimes, and especially for pollack, the bait must be kept near the bottom and heavy weights on the line are necessary; the coal-fish are more prone to come to the surface for feeding. The larger grey mullet (Mugil capito) is a great favourite with many anglers, as it is extremely difficult to hook, and when hooked fights strongly. Fishing for mullet is more akin to fresh-water fishing than any branch of sea-angling, and indeed can be carried on in almost fresh water, for the fish frequent harbours, estuaries and tidal pools. They can be caught close to the surface, at mid-water and at the bottom, and as a rule vegetable baits, such as boiled macaroni, or ragworms are found to answer best. Usually ground-baiting is necessary, and the finer the tackle used the greater is the chance of sport. Not a few anglers fish with a float as if for river fish. The fish runs up to about 8 lb in weight. The cod (Gadus morhua) grows larger and fights less gamely than any of the fish already mentioned. It is generally caught with bait used on the bottom from a boat, but in places codling, or young cod, give some sport to anglers fishing from the shore. The mackerel (Scomber scomber) gives the best sport to a bait, usually a strip of fish skin, trailed behind a boat fairly close to the surface, but it will sometimes feed on the bottom. Mackerel on light tackle are game fighters, though they do not usually much exceed 2 lb. Whiting and whiting-pout (Gadus merlangus and Gadus luscus) both feed on or near the bottom, do not grow to any great size, and are best sought with fine tackle, usually an arrangement of three or four hooks at intervals above a lead which is called a “paternoster.” If one or more of the hooks are on the bottom the tackle will do for different kinds of flat fish as well, flounders and dabs being the two species most often caught by anglers. The bream (Pagellus ceutrodontus) is another bottom-feeder which resembles the fresh-water bream both in appearance and habits. It is an early morning or rather a nocturnal fish, and grows to a weight of 3 lb or 4 lb. Occasionally it will feed in mid-water or even close to the surface. The conger eel (Conger vulgaris) is another night-feeder, which gives fine sport, as it grows to a great size, and is very powerful. Strong tackle is essential for conger fishing, as so powerful an opponent in the darkness cannot be given any law. The bait must be on or near the bottom. There are, of course, many other fish which come to the angler's rod at times, but the list given is fairly complete as representing the species which are especially sought. Beside them are occasional (in some waters too frequent) captures such as dog-fish and sharks, skates and rays. Many of them run to a great size and give