FISHING FOR TROUT
The trout, I mean the live trout, is the prettiest fish, to look at that swims, and he is full as good to eat as he is to look at, that is, if he is properly cooked.
Most folks know something about fishing, yet there are few who fish with much success. Some men take a rod and line, and if there are any fish in the brook will surely have their share of them, and I propose to show you how the thing is done, so that if the fish are there you must catch them.
In the first place, a man or a boy must have at least a moderate share of common sense, in order to be successful in fishing for trout. Then he must have a good hair line of gray horse hair that is not easily seen in the water, or a fine hair or gut line. I have seen some good lines made of sea grass. But nothing is so good as the hair line, as it will not twist around the brush, never kinks, and rarely gets tangled. You also want a good Limerick hook, not too small, what is commonly called a bass hook. A little hook will catch little trout, but is not strong enough or large enough to catch big trout. A big hook will catch big trout, and occasionally little ones, too. For bait, you want a piece of hog's liver. I suppose a piece of beef's liver would do, but they say it is not so good. Cut it up the size of a bean, leaving a portion of the outside on each piece, to make it tough. Angle-worms are said by some to be the best bait, and they can be improved in this way: Put them in a box large enough to hold a little earth with them; on this pour a small quantity of sweet cream, and in a few hours they will have eaten enough to appear white, or kind of striped.
When you can get no better bait, any fresh meat will do, and any bait is improved by being mixed with tincture of assafoetida, which has the effect of causing the trout to bite when he otherwise would not. Some use sweet sicily, and some the oil of anise. The sicily root is chewed, and spit upon the bait; the oil of anise is put in the box with the bait. Remember this, a frightened trout will not bite for you, nor for anybody else, and you must go to the creek very slyly, or they will see you and run away. Most of the trout do run away, and so we catch but the smaller part of them. It makes no odds how good the bait is, they won't bite if they are frightened; so, you see, in order to have much success, you must use some strategem—that is, crawl up to the edge of the stream and throw the line over skillfully, and if they have not seen you, they will snap as quick as a gun lock. Perhaps two or three, or a dozen, will try to catch it first; certainly it is the finest sport ever indulged in. Take the fish off your hook, and don't flourish
your rod meanwhile. If they are likely to see you} you had better squat down while you are baiting your hook. You should have a basket with you to slip the trout in as you' catch them, occasionally putting in some leaves to prevent their getting jammed. Putting them in a bag spoils them, by their continually rubbing together; but a basket and leaves keep them looking as beautiful as themselves. I saw the handsomest picture of a trout in the American Agriculturist, that I ever saw.
In fishing for trout, you must keep your bait continually moving, with a sort of twitching motion, or floating down with the swift current. Mind you, they lie and watch just at the foot of the little rapids in the creek, to catch any live worm or hopper that will help to fill a hungry belly. If you have no bait, a piece of woolen rag may catch one, and then you can cut a bit of what is called the throat-latch, or of the narrow part next to the tail, and upon this put a little assafcetida, and they will bite it well.
The best tune to catch the trout, that is, the time when they are in the best condition to eat, is about the middle of April From this to the middle of May or first of June they are good, but not so good as earlier in the season. In the fall they move to their spawning ground, and perform their important duty before the fall of the leaf. While they are on their beds, they do not seem to be so easily frightened, and you may often see hundreds lying close together.
With a little care you may catch nearly all of them, although some of them, and the largest ones at that, will not bite. In such a case, have three hooks fixed like a grapple, and with your line swing it under their heads, so that a light twitch will fetch the hooks into their belly. Some catch them with a slip-noose made of annealed wire, or brass wire, and fastened to the end of a rod, so that it may be slipped over their heads.
Trout may be caught at any season of the year, if you can only find where they are. In winter they move into deep holes of water, and by cutting a hole in the ice over one of these deep holes, and baiting with liver, you may catch them, even when it is so cold as to freeze them stiff in a few moments.
Thrasher, Halsey. The Hunter and Trapper. New York: Orange Judd and Company, 1808.
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