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the rod, that is, by casting it to him into the water, I might have caught him at the long run; for so I use always to do when I meet with an overgrown fish; and you will learn to do so too hereafter : for I tell you, scholar, fishing is an art; or, at least, it is an art to catch fish.
VEN. But, master, I have heard that the great trout you speak of is a salmon.
Pisc. Trust me, scholar, I know not what to say to it. There are many country people that believe hares change sexes every year: and there be very many learned men think so too, for in their dissecting them they find many reasons to incline them to that belief. And to make the wonder seem yet less, that hares change sexes, note, that Doctor Mer. Casaubon affirms in his book of credible and incredible things, that Gaspar Peucerus, a learned physician, tells us of a people that once a year turn wolves, partly in shape and partly in conditions. And so, whether this were a salmon when he came into the fresh water, and his not returning into the sea hath altered him to another colour or kind, I am not able to say; but I am certain he hath all the signs of being a trout both for his shape, colour, and spots; and yet many think he is not. VEN. But, master, will this trout which I had hold of die? for it is like he hath the hook in his belly.
PISC. I will tell you, scholar, that unless the hook be fast in his very gorge, 'tis more than probable he will live; and a little time, with the help of the water, will rust the hook, and it will in time wear away; as the gravel doth in the horse-hoof, which only leaves a false quarter.
And now, scholar, let's go to my rod. Look you, scholar, I have a fish too, but it proves a logger-headed chub; and this is not much amiss, for this will pleasure some poor body, as we go to our lodging to meet our brother Peter and honest Coridon. Come, now bait your hook again, and lay it into the water, for it rains again and we will even retire to the sycamore-tree, and there I will give you more directions concerning fishing; for I would fain make you an artist.
VEN. Yes, good master, I pray let it be so.
PISC. Well, scholar, now we are sat down and are at ease, I shall tell you a little more of trout-fishing, before I speak of salmon (which I purpose shall be next) and then of the pike or luce. You are to know there is night as well as day-fishing for a trout, and that in the night the best trouts come out of their holes and the manner of taking them is on the top of the water, with a great lob or garden-worm, or rather two, which you are to fish within a place where the waters run somewhat quietly, for in a stream the bait will not be so well discerned. I say, in a quiet or dead place, near to some swift: there draw your bait over the top of the water, to and fro; and if there be a good trout in the hole he will take it, especially if the night be dark; for then he is bold, and lies near the top of the water, watching the motion. of any frog, or water-rat, or mouse that swims between him and the sky these he hunts after if he sees the water but wrinkle or move in one of these dead holes, where these great old trouts usually lie near to their holds; for you are to note, that the great old trout is both subtle and fearful, and lies close all day, and
does not usually stir out of his hold, but lies in it as close in the day as the timorous hare does in her form, for the chief feeding of either is seldom in the day, but usually in the night, and then the great trout feeds very boldly.
And you must fish for him with a strong line, and not a little hook; and let him have time to gorge your hook, for he does not usually forsake it, as he oft will in the day-fishing. And if the night be not dark, then fish so with an artificial fly of a light colour, and at the snap: nay, he will sometimes rise at a dead mouse, or a piece of cloth, or anything that seems to swim across the water, or to be in motion. This is a choice way, but I have not often used it, because it is void of the pleasures that such days as these, that we two now enjoy, afford an angler.
And you are to know that in Hampshire, which I think exceeds all England for swift, shallow, clear, pleasant brooks, and store of trouts, they used to catch trouts in the night, by the light of a torch or straw, which, when they have discovered, they strike with a troutspear, or other ways. This kind of way they catch very many; but I would not believe it till I was an eye-witness of it, nor do I like it now I have seen it.
VEN. But, master, do not trouts see us in the night?
PISC. Yes, and hear and smell too, both then and in the day-time; for Gesner observes, the otter smells a fish forty furlongs off him in the water and that it may be true, seems to be affirned by Sir Francis Bacon, in the eighth century of his Natural History, who there proves that water may be the medium of sounds, by demonstrating it thus: "that if you knock two stones together very deep under the water, those that stand on a bank near to that place may hear the noise without any diminution of it by the water." He also offers the like experiment concerning the letting an anchor fall, by a very long cable or rope, on a rock, or the sand within the sea. this being so well observed and demonstrated as it is by that learned man, has made me to believe that eels unbed themselves and stir at the noise of thunder; and not only, as some think, by the motion or stirring of the earth, which is occasioned by that thunder. And this reason of Sir Francis Bacon (Exper. 792) has made me
crave pardon of one that I laughed at, for affirming that he knew carps come to a certain place in a pond, to be fed, at the ringing of a bell, or the beating of a drum; and however, it shall be a rule for me to make as little noise as I can when I am fishing, until Sir Francis Bacon be confuted, which I shall give any man leave to do.
And, lest you may think him singular in his opinion, I will tell you, this seems to be believed by our learned Dr. Hakewill, who (in his Apology of God's Power and Providence, fol. 360) quotes Pliny to report that one of the emperors had particular fish-ponds, and in them several fish that appeared and came when they were called by their particular names; and St. James tells us (chap. 3. 7) that all things in the sea have been tamed by mankind. And Pliny tells us (lib. 9. 35) that Antonia, the wife of Darsus, had a lamprey, at whose gills she hung jewels or ear-rings; and that others have been so tender-hearted as to shed tears at the death of fishes which they have kept and loved. And these observations, which will to most hearers seem wonderful, seem to have a further confirmation from Martial (lib. 4, Epigr. 30), who writes thus:
PISCATOR, FUGE; NE NOCENS, ETC.
All the further use that I shall make of this shall be, to advise anglers to be patient and forbear swearing, lest they be heard, and catch no fish.
And so I shall proceed next to tell you, it is certain, that certain fields near Leominster, a town in Herefordshire, are observed to make the sheep that graze upon them more fat than the next, and also to bear finer wool; that is to say that that year in which they feed in such a particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year before they came to feed in it, and coarser again if they