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There is also another fish called a Pope, and by some a Ruffe; a fish that is not known to be in some rivers: he is much like the Perch for his shape, and taken to be better than the Perch, but will not grow to be bigger than a Gudgeon. He is an excellent fish; no fish that swims is of a pleasanter taste.
And he is also excellent to enter a young angler, for he is a greedy biter : and they will usually lie, abundance of them together, in one reserved place, where the water is deep and runs quietly; and an easy angler, if he has found where they lie, may catch forty
, or fifty, or sometimes twice so many, at a standing.
You must fish for him with a small red worm; and if you bait the ground with earth, it is excellent.
There is also a Bleak or fresh-water Sprat; a fish that is ever in motion, and therefore called by some the riverswallow; for just as you shall observe the swallow to be, most evenings in summer, ever in motion, making short and quick turns when he flies to catch fies, in the air, by which he lives; so does the Bleak at the top of the water. Ausonius would have called him Bleak from his whitish colour : his back is of a pleasant sad or sea-water-green; his belly, white and shining as the mountain snow. And doubtless, though we have the fortune, which virtue has in poor people, to be neglected, yet the Bleak ought to be much valued, though we want Allamot sauce, and the skill that the Italians have, to turn them into anchovies. This fish may be caught with a Pater-noster line; that is, six or eight very small hooks tied along the line, one half a foot above the other: I have seen five caught thus at one time; and the bait has been gentles, than which none is better.
Or this fish may be caught with a fine small artificial fly, which is to be of a very sad brown colour, and very small, and the hook answerable. There is no better sport than whipping for Bleaks in a boat, or on a bank, in the swift water, in a summer's evening, with a hazel top
, about five or six foot long, and a line twice the length of the rod. - I have heard Sir Henry Wotton say, that there be many that in Italy will catch swallows so, or especially martins; this bird-angler standing on the top of a steeple
to do it, and with a line twice so long as I have spoken of. And let me tell you, scholar, that both Martins and Bleaks be most excellent meat.
And let me tell you, that I have known a Heron, that did constantly frequent one place, caught with a hook baited with a big minnow or a small gudgeon. The line and hook must be strong : and tied to some loose staff, so big as she cannot fly away with it : a line not exceeding two yards.
Is of nothing, or that which is nothing worth
My purpose was to give you some directions concerning Roach and Dace, and some other inferior fish which make the angler excellent sport ; for you know there is more pleasure in hunting the hare than in eating her : but I will forbear, at this time, to say any more, because you see yonder come our brother Peter and honest Coridon. But I will promise you, that as you and I fish and walk tomorrow towards London, if I have now forgotten anything that I can then remember, I will not keep it from you.
Well met, gentlemen ; this is lucky that we meet so just together at this very door. Come, hostess, where are you ? is supper ready ? Come, first give us a drink; and be as quick as you can, for I believe we are all very hungry. Well, brother Peter and Coridon, to you both! Come, drink : and then tell me what luck of fish: we two have caught but ten trouts, of which my scholar caught three. Look! here's eight, and a brace we gave away. We have had a most pleasant day for fishing and talking, and are returned home both weary and hungry; and now meat and rest will be pleasant.
Peter. And Coridon and I have not had an unpleasant day : and yet I have caught but five trouts; for, indeed, we went to a good honest ale-house, and there we played at shovel-board half the day; all the time that it rained we were there, and as merry as they that fished.
that fished. And I am glad we are now with a dry house over our heads ; for, hark ! how it rains and blows. Come, hostess, give us more ale, and our supper with what haste you may : and when we have supped, let us have your song, Piscator ; and the catch that your scholar promised us; or else, Coridon will be dogged.
Piscator. Nay, I will not be worse than my word ; you shall not want my song, and I hope I shall be perfect in it.
VENATOR. And I hope the like for my catch, which I have ready too: and therefore let's go merrily to supper, and then have a gentle touch at singing and drinking; but the last with moderation.
Coridon. Come, now for your song; for we have fed heartily. Come, hostess, lay a few more sticks on the fire. And now, sing when you
will. Piscator. Well then, here's to you, Coridon; and now
, for my song
O the gallant Fisher's life,
It is the best of any; 'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife, And 'tis beloved of
Breeds no ill,
In a morning up we rise,
Ere Aurora's peeping;
Then we go
As the Thames,
sung, master; this day's fortune and pleasure, and this night's company and song, do all make me more and more in love with angling: Gentlemen, my
. master left me alone for an hour this day; and I verily believe he retired himself from talking with me that he might be so perfect in this song; was it not, master ?
Piscator. Yes indeed, for it is many years since I learned it; and having forgotten a part of it, I was forced to patch it up with the help of mine own invention, who am not excellent at poetry, as my part of the song may testify; but of that I will say no more, lest you should think I mean, by discommending it, to beg your commendations of it. And therefore, without replications, let's hear your catch, scholar; which I hope will be a good one, for you are both musical and have a good fancy to boot.
Venator. Marry, and that you shall; and as freely as I would have my honest master tell me some more secrets of fish and fishing, as we walk and fish towards London
But, master, first let me tell you, that very hour which you were absent from me, I sat down under a willow-tree by the water-side, and considered what you had told me of the owner of that pleasant meadow in which you then left me; that he had a plentiful estate, and not a heart to think so; that he had at this time many law-suits depending; and that they both damped his mirth, and took up so much of his time and thoughts, that he himself had not leisure to take the sweet content that I, who pretended no title to them, took in his fields: for I could there sit quietly; and looking on the water, see some fishes sport themselves in the silver streams, others leaping at flies of several shapes and colours; looking on the hills, I could behold them spotted with woods and groves; looking down the meadows, could see, here a boy gathering lilies and lady-smocks, and there a girl cropping culverkeys and cowslips, all to make garlands suitable to this present month of May: these, and many other field flowers, so perfumed the air, that I thought that very meadow like that field in Sicily of which Diodorus speaks, where the