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months, at which time the chub is accounted best (for then it is observed that the forked bones are lost, or turned into a kind of gristle, especially if he be baked), of cheese and turpentine. He will bite also at a minnow, or penk, as a trout will: of which I shall tell you more hereafter, and of divers other baits. But take this for a rule, that, in hot weather, he is to be fished for towards the mid-water, or near the top; and in colder weather nearer the bottom. And if you fish for him on the top, with a beetle or any fly, then be sure to let your line be very long, and keep out of sight. And having told you that his spawn is excellent meat, and that the head of a large cheven, the throat being well washed, is the best part of him, I will say no more of this fish at the present, but wish you may catch the next you fish for.
But, lest you may judge me too nice in urging to have the chub dressed so presently after he is taken, I will commend to your consideration how curious former times have been in the like kind.
You shall read in Seneca, his Natural Questions (Lib. 3, Cap. 17,) that the ancients were so curious in the newness of their fish, that that seemed not new enough that was not put alive into the guest's hand;
and he says that to that end they did usually keep them living in glass bottles in their dining rooms: and they did glory much in their entertaining of friends, to have that fish taken from under their table alive that was instantly to be fed upon. And he says, they took great pleasure to see their Mullets change to several colours, when they were dying. But enough of this, for I doubt I have stayed too long from giving you some observations of the trout, and how to fish for him, which shall take up the next of my spare time.
Observations of the Nature and Breeding of the Trout, and
HE Trout is a fish highly valued both in this and foreign nations: he may be justly said (as the old poet said of wine, and we English say of venison) to be a generous fish: a fish that is so like the buck that he also has his seasons; for it is observed, that he comes in and goes out of season with the stag and buck; Gesner says, his name is of a German offspring, and says he is a fish that feeds clean and purely, in the swiftest streams, and on the hardest gravel; and that he may justly contend with all fresh-water fish, as the Mullet may with all sea-fish, for precedency and daintiness of taste, and that being in right season, the most dainty palates have allowed precedency to him.
And before I go further in my discourse, let me tell you, that you are to observe, that as there be some barren does, that are good in summer, so there be some barren trouts that are good in winter; but there are not many that are so, for usually they be in their perfection in the month of May, and decline with the buck. Now you are to take notice, that in several countries, as in Germany and in other parts, compared to ours, fish do differ much in their bigness and shape, and other ways, and so do trouts; it is well known that in
the Lake Leman (the Lake of Geneva) there are trouts taken of three cubits long, as is affirmed by Gesner, a writer of good credit; and Mercator says, the trouts that are taken in the Lake of Geneva, are a great part of the merchandise of that famous city. And you are further to know, that there be certain waters, that breed trouts remarkable both for their number and smallness. I know a little brook in Kent, that breeds them to a number incredible, and you may take them twenty or forty in an hour, but none greater than about the size of a gudgeon: there are also in divers rivers, especially that relate to, or be near to the sea (as Winchester, or the Thames about Windsor) a little trout called samlet, or skegger trout (in both which places I have caught twenty or forty at a standing) that will bite as fast and as freely as minnows: these be by some taken to be young salmon; but in those waters they never grow to be bigger than a herring.
There is also in Kent, near to Canterbury, a trout (called there a Fordidge trout), a trout that bears the name of the town where it is usually caught, that is accounted the rarest of fish; many of them near the bigness of a salmon, but known by their different colour; and in their best season they cut very white; and none of these have been known to be caught with an angle, unless it were one that was caught by Sir George Hastings (an excellent angler, and now with God); and he hath told me, he thought that trout bit not for hunger but wantonness; and it is rather to be believed, because both he, then, and many others before him, have been curious to search into their bellies, what the food was by which they lived; and have found out nothing by which they might satisfy their curiosity.
Concerning which you are to take notice, that it is reported by good authors, that grasshoppers, and some fish, have no mouths, but are nourished and take breath by the porousness of their gills, man knows not how: and this may be believed, if we consider that when the raven hath hatched her eggs, she takes no further care, but leaves her young ones to the care of the God of nature, who is said, in the Psalms, "to feed the young ravens that call upon him." And they be kept alive, and fed by dew, or worms that breed in their nests, or some other ways that we mortals know not; and this may
be believed of the Fordidge trout, which, as it is said of the Stork that, "he knows his season," so he knows his times, I think almost his day, of coming into that river out of the sea, where he lives, and, it is like, feeds nine months of the year, and fasts three in the river of Fordidge. And you are to note that those townsmen are very punctual in observing the time of beginning to fish for them; and boast much that their river affords a trout, that exceeds all others. And just so does Sussex boast of several fish; as namely, a Shelsey cockle, a Chichester lobster, an Arundel mullet, and an Amerly trout.
And now for some confirmation of the Fordidge trout: you are to know that this trout is thought to eat nothing in the fresh water, and it may be better believed, because it is well known that swallows, and bats, and wagtails, which are called half-year birds, and not seen