Introduction to the Compleat Angler eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 43 pages of information about Introduction to the Compleat Angler.
fine scruples about bait of every kind, any more than the Scots have, and Barker loved a lob-worm, fished on the surface, in a dark night.  He was a pot-fisher, and had been a cook.  He could catch a huge basket of trout, and dress them in many different ways,—­broyled, calvored hot with antchovaes sauce, boyled, soused, stewed, fried, battered with eggs, roasted, baked, calvored cold, and marilled, or potted, also marrionated.  Barker instructs my Lord Montague to fish with salmon roe, a thing prohibited and very popular in Scotland.  ’If I had known it but twenty years agoe, I would have gained a hundred pounds onely with that bait.  I am bound in duty to divulge it to your Honour, and not to carry it to my grave with me.  I do desire that men of quality should have it that delight in that pleasure:  the greedy angler will murmur at me, but for that I care not.’  Barker calls salmon roe ’an experience I have found of late:  the best bait for a trout that I have seen in all my time,’ and it is the most deadly, in the eddy of a turbid water.  Perhaps trout would take caviare, which is not forbidden by the law of the land.  Any unscrupulous person may make the experiment, and argue the matter out with the water-bailie.  But, in my country, it is more usual to duck that official, and go on netting, sniggling, salmon-roeing, and destroying sport in the sacred name of Liberty.

   Scots wha fish wi’ salmon roe,
   Scots wha sniggle as ye go,
   Wull ye stand the Bailie?  No! 
   Let the limmer die!

   Now’s the day and now’s the time,
   Poison a’ the burns wi’ lime,
   Fishing fair’s a dastard crime,
   We’re for fishing free!

’Ydle persones sholde have but lyttyl mesure in the sayd disporte of fysshyng,’ says our old Treatise, but in southern Scotland they have left few fish to dysporte with, and the trout is like to become an extinct animal.  Izaak would especially have disliked Fishing Competitions, which, by dint of the multitude of anglers, turn the contemplative man’s recreation into a crowded skirmish; and we would repeat his remark, ‘the rabble herd themselves together’ (a dozen in one pool, often), ‘and endeavour to govern and act in spite of authority.’

For my part, had I a river, I would gladly let all honest anglers that use the fly cast line in it, but, where there is no protection, then nets, poison, dynamite, slaughter of fingerlings, and unholy baits devastate the fish, so that ‘Free Fishing’ spells no fishing at all.  This presses most hardly on the artisan who fishes fair, a member of a large class with whose pastime only a churl would wish to interfere.  We are now compelled, if we would catch fish, to seek Tarpon in Florida, Mahseer in India:  it does not suffice to ‘stretch our legs up Tottenham Hill.’


{1} The MS. was noticed in The Freebooter, Oct. 18, 1823, but Sir Harris Nicolas could not find it, where it was said to be, among the Lansdowne MSS.

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Introduction to the Compleat Angler from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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