A trout-fly may be made in the manner heretofore directed

The finest trout-fishing in the world is to be obtained at Lake
Superior; although larger fish may be killed in the lakes and streams of
Maine, and greater numbers in the brooks of New Hampshire, Vermont, New
York, and Pennsylvania, nowhere is to be found the same abundance of
trout, averaging above two pounds, and wonderfully game and vigorous,
and nowhere a more beautiful region to explore or pleasanter waters to
fish over. The entire rocky shore of the lake, along both coasts, is one
extensive fishing-ground, where the skilful angler can at any point find
delightful sport; the innumerable tributaries, large and small, of the
British or American territory, unless shut out by precipitous falls, are
crowded with myriads of the speckled beauties; and the rapids at the
outlet furnish trout of the largest size.

The true mode of enjoying the sport is by camping out, when the
adventurous sportsman roams from point to point and river to river, from
camping-ground to camping-ground, at his own unrestrained will, varying
the sights and sounds of beauty that are ever present in the wilderness;
but excellent fishing can be had at numerous places, united with
comfortable accommodation. At the Sault St. Marie, at Marquette, at
Grand Island, and at Bayfield public-houses are to be found, and so
plentiful a supply of fine fish that the heart of man cannot fail to be
satisfied; but the finest sport is to be realized along the Canadian
shore, where camping-out is a necessity; for while on the southern coast
the trout average a pound, on the northern they will run fully two
pounds in weight.

To reach Lake Superior from the Eastern States the angler must either
take the steamers at Cleveland upon days advertised in the local papers,
or join them the next evening at Sarnia, by the Grand Trunk or Great
Western railroads of Canada. He will reach the Sault in three days from
Cleveland, and can save twenty-four hours in going by the way of Sarnia.
At the Sault he will find unequalled bait-fishing, and occasionally
excellent fly-fishing; but here, on account of the depth and strength of
the water, the bait will kill the largest trout. At this thoroughly
American village there is a well-kept hotel, the Chippewa House, and
nearly all the requisites for camp-life, except the tent.

A few miles below the Sault the Garden River affords good sport and
fair-sized trout, but is a difficult stream to ascend, while the first
promontory on the southern shore of the lake, called White Fish Point,
has long been famous as a fishing-station. At Marquette, which is a
regular stopping-place for the steamers that traverse the lake, the
waters are somewhat fished out; but about thirty miles to the eastward,
within an easy day’s sail, at Grand Island, there is splendid fishing,
magnificent scenery, and a passable boarding-house. Here are the famous
Pictured Rocks, ornamented with the fantastic hues of many-colored
sandstone, and worn by waves and storms into a thousand odd shapes and
strange resemblances, hollowed out into caverns, washed away into
pinnacles and spires, at one place representing a yacht under full sail,
at another a turreted castle of the olden time.

About sixty miles beyond Marquette are the Dead, the Yellow Dog, and
Salmon Trout rivers, which are apt to be encumbered with drift-wood and
underbrush, but which are filled with fish, and from one of which a
brook-trout of six and a half pounds was taken. The photograph of this
fish, or another of about the same size, is preserved at the Sault.

At Bayfield, the further terminus of the steamboat route, named after
the first American explorer and surveyor of this region, is the best of
fishing, united with good hotel life. In the neighborhood of this
village two hundred and fifty pounds weight of speckled trout have been
killed in one day by one good fisherman and one poor one; fish of two
and three pounds are common, and in the sheltered channels, between the
Apostle Islands, the namægoose are taken in unlimited quantities. The
Brulé River, and the many streams that empty into the lake in the
neighborhood, although often choked with drift, are filled with fine

On the north shore, amid the interminable forests that stretch in
primeval solitude to the northern sea, enlivened only with the voice of
the Peebiddy bird and one other melancholy warbler, beautified by a rare
sprinkling of native wild-flowers,

“In the kingdom of Wabasso,
In the land of the white rabbit,”

and along the Canadian shore of the lake, is the paradise of the
fly-fisher. Every river swarms, every bay is a reservoir of magnificent
fish that find their equals in size, courage, vigor, and beauty only in
the salt waters of New Brunswick and Lower Canada. The entire coast is
one long fishing-station, the rivers are stew-ponds, and the lake one
vast preserve; at every step the angler may cast his fly into some eddy
of the discolored stream or over some rocky shoal of the limpid lake
with a fair prospect of alluring from the depths a glorious embodiment
of piscatory power that shall struggle and fight, leaping from the
water, and making many fierce rushes for a good twenty minutes, till he
yields himself to the embrace of the net, exhibiting amid its brown
folds the glorious silver brilliancy of the loveliest inhabitant of the
liquid element. As he advances along the shore, an endless variety of
water and land, continuous changes of rock and tree, and dark,
bottomless depths or light gray shallows, present themselves to his eye;
at one moment he is clambering along the steep, rough side of a
precipice, whence he can scarcely toss his line a dozen paces, at the
next he is walking securely upon some flat rock whence the receding
hills permit him to cast to the utmost limit of his ability, or he may
ascend the nearest stream by the aid of his strong barge, or in the
light canoe, or else wading waist deep against the rushing current, and
there, overshadowed by the hills and shrouded amid the waving trees, he
can visit pool after pool, try eddy after eddy, till he and his men and
the boat are loaded, and satiety bids him rest.

Along the lake there is scarcely a choice of locality; from the sandy
beach at Point aux Pins to the outlet of the Pigeon River–the boundary
of two nationalities–at every point, in every cove, trout are to be
taken, and often in abundance; but probably the best as well as the most
accessible spots are Gros Cap and Mamainse. Of the rivers the most
famous is the Neepigon, where barrels of trout, averaging four pounds,
have been taken in one day; but the Batchawaung and the Agawa are nearly
as good, and within a more convenient distance, while the Harmony is
unequalled for wild and romantic scenery.

The fish of Lake Superior excel those of the other inland waters, either
in flavor or game qualities, and sometimes, as with trout, in both. The
lake-trout and white-fish bring a higher price in the Detroit markets
than those of Erie and Ontario, have a more brilliant color and firmer
flesh, and the trout infinitely surpass in appearance, strength, and
endurance the dull, logy productions of the Umbagog or Moosehead Lake.
On taking the fly and experiencing the astonishing disappointment, they
make one rush like their fellow-sufferers the salmon, and finding the
pain clings to them, they leap with the energy of grilse with wild
repetition, in the vain hope of shaking the tormenting barb from their
lips. Nor do they resign themselves after a feeble struggle, but retain
strength for many a rush when the ugly net is exhibited, often smashing
tackle, carrying off leaders, and breaking tips in the course of the
contest. Their colors are exquisitely delicate, their backs transparent
mottled green, their sides of pearly whiteness, marked with brilliant
carmine specks and faint blue spots, and their fins of the hue of
clouded cream. Their flesh is flaky and rich, seamed with curd, and
delicious to the hungry sportsman.

After having fished from Labrador to the Mississippi, and killed trout
in every State where trout are to be killed, I am satisfied that the
fishing of Lake Superior surpasses that of any other region on our
continent, and is, as a natural consequence, the best in the world.

There are several remarkable peculiarities of scenery, among which are
the pictured rocks and the sand dunes; and the sparkling lake, when
stirred by a gentle breeze, is beautiful in the effulgence of the
vertical summer sun; but the forests are gloomy and sombre, nearly
impenetrable on account of fallen trees, and in the lower lands grown up
with vast ferns, those evidences of the antiquity of our continent; so
that the sportsman is mainly confined to his canoe and the narrow strip
of lake shore between the beating waves and the impending hills. Beneath
his feet are the hard rocks, seamed with yellow veins of copper, or
wave-worn pebbles sparkling with a hundred varying colors, only less
beautiful than the glistening fish that the skilful angler entices from
the lake and lands among them. From this narrow strip he surveys the
broad expanse of the Big-Sea-Water, and dreams of the countless myriads
that rest in its liquid depths.

He travels with ease and comparative comfort; in the commodious barge he
stows the innumerable articles that fill the measure of a sportsman’s
luxuries, including among them a roomy tent, appetizing delicacies,
abundant clothes, and whatever else fancy dictates. With the barge,
which, although twenty-two feet long, is light and draws little water,
he ascends the larger streams; or he hires some passing Indian and his
birch canoe, that wonderful structure so beautifully and accurately
described by Hiawatha:

“Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-Tree,
Lay aside your white-skin wrapper,
For the summer-time is coming,
And the sun is warm in heaven,
And you need no white-skin wrapper.

Give me of your boughs, O Cedar,
Of your strong and pliant branches
My canoe to make more steady,
Make more strong and firm beneath me.

Give me of your roots, O Tamarack,
Of your fibrous roots, O Larch-Tree,
My canoe to bind together,
So to bind the ends together
That the water may not enter,
That the river may not wet me.

Give me of your balm, O Fir-Tree,
Of your balsam and your resin,
So to close the seams together
That the water may not enter,
That the river may not wet me.

Give me of your quills, O Hedgehog,
All your quills, O Kagh the hedgehog,
I will make a necklace of them,
Make a girdle for my beauty
And two stars to deck her bosom.

Thus the Birch Canoe was builded
In the valley by the river,
In the bosom of the forest,
And the forest’s life was in it,
All its mystery and its magic,
All the lightness of the birch-tree,
All the toughness of the cedar,
All the larch’s supple sinews;
And it floated on the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn,
Like a yellow water-lily.”

And in this thing of life and beauty the fisherman finds his way to the
head waters of the smallest brooks or crosses portages from one river to
another, feeling for the time the joys of independence and savage life.

The gaudy flies known as the Irish lake-flies, dressed on a small
salmon-hook of about No. 1½, are successful throughout the entire length
of the lake; but in the rivers a common brown or red hackle on the same
sized hook, dressed with silver tinsel, scarlet body, and very full,
long hackle, is decidedly the most killing, and in the lake answers full
as well as the more expensive articles. Very small flies are not
desirable, owing probably to the depth and occasional turbulence of the
water in the lake and its discoloration in the rivers, which prevent
their being perceived by the fish. Stout tackle and a heavy rod are
better than lighter gear, as no one wishes to waste time on small fish,
and the rises are so frequent that the angler will not become weary by
continued casting. A gaff is necessary for the Mackinaw salmon, and a
large landing-net for trout, but otherwise nothing is required different
from that which the sportsman would take in a day’s trip to the classic
haunts of Long Island.

As the region around Lake Superior is well towards the Arctic zone, the
weather is cool, and blankets, overcoats, and warm clothes are
necessary; but there will be frequently several successive days of
extreme heat, when the thermometer will rise to ninety in the shade. The
great drawback to this section of country, in fact to all our unopened
lands, is the immense number of mosquitoes, black-flies, and sand-flies.
These pests are found numerously everywhere in our woods, but nowhere
are they so plenty or combined so equally as along the shores of Lake
Superior. All day long the black-flies watch their chance to find a bare
spot of human flesh to sting and tear; immediately on the falling of the
shades of evening the almost invisible sand-flies, the “no see ’ems” of
the half-educated Indian, make their appearance in countless millions of
infinitesimal torture, and all night long the ceaseless hum of the
hungry mosquito drives sleep from the wearied sportsman’s eyelids. Veils
and ointments are, therefore, a prime necessity, without which a visit
to this section is an impossibility; and even with the best protections,
the warm days that give these insects unaccustomed activity are scarcely
tolerable. But in spite of these petty discomforts it is a noble lake,
beautiful in all its moods, silent and waveless in the warm sunshine,
rippled and sparkling in the gentle breeze, or lashed to anger by the
storm, when it rages along the shore and bursts in furious surf upon the
rocks. Nowhere else can trout-fishing be had in greater perfection and
more endless variety, nowhere else can the fisherman find purer sources
of enjoyment or finer opportunities to exercise his art, and nowhere
else can the lover of nature discover more to amuse or instruct him. It
lies in the heart of an almost unbroken wilderness, the largest lake in
the world, one huge spring of the coldest ice-water, and filled with
trout that the painter can scarce find colors to imitate, and that will
dwell in the angler’s memory for ever.



_Namaycush–Salmo Amethystus._

Of all the varieties of _Salmonidæ_ that permanently inhabit the fresh
water, this fish, although utterly destitute of game qualities, is alone
entitled, on account of his great size and excellence upon the table, to
the honored name of Salmon, is found throughout the northern lakes,
being prevented by the impassable barrier of Niagara Falls from
descending to the sea, occasionally visits Lake Erie, but attains his
finest condition around the cold, clear depths of Lakes Huron and
Superior. He is named after one of his favorite localities, and reaches
the immense weight of nearly or quite one hundred pounds, and is the
grandest prize of the inland waters of our northern continent.

In color, the Mackinaw Salmon differs, as does the brook trout,
according to the peculiarities of his habitat, whether rocky or muddy
shoals, or deep open water; and to such a degree that, according to
Professor Agassiz, he is known to the Canadian Voyageurs under different
names, and individual specimens are frequently considered half-breeds or
a cross between this species and the Siskawitz. Among the aborigines he
is distinguished by the appellation which is usually spelled namaycush,
although it is pronounced namægoose, and has the accent strongly on the
second syllable, and is never by them confounded with any other variety
of lake trout. The fish of Lake Superior are of stronger colors; are
darker on the back; have redder flesh, and are universally preferred
gastronomically to those of other localities.

In Spring and early Summer, they appear to leave the deep water, and
seeking the rocky shallows, feed voraciously upon the numerous small fry
furnished in abundance by our western lakes. Throughout May, June, July,
and August, they can be captured in abundance with the trolling spoon,
trailed after a boat propelled by oars or a gentle breeze, but are
rarely taken of over twelve pounds weight. At such times they are
excellent eating; their flesh being rich, firm, and closely approaching
in color that of their congener, the famous _Salmo Salar_, and they are
delicious simply boiled or made into the basis of a chowder.

Unfortunately, although they bite voraciously, they give no play
whatever, allowing themselves to be drawn in without resistance, and
there is no fish approaching them in size which is so utterly devoid of
game qualities. At times they seem even to swim gently forward as though
they preferred coming towards the boat, till the fisherman is uncertain
whether they are still on; and although at the last moment they make a
few flounces, their apparent weakness for a fish so powerfully formed,
is astonishing. To be sure if a man had a hook in his mouth he would
follow the slightest pull; but we do not expect such conduct from a
fish, especially from one endowed with the graceful and vigorous shape
of the Mackinaw Salmon.

They take any of the trolling spoons, appearing, however, to prefer the
old style, copied from the bowl of a spoon, but rather elongated, to the
expensive and fanciful modern improvements. Those sold at the Sault St.
Marie are from five to six inches long and made of tin; but a better
bait will be found in the mother-of-pearl imitation fish. To insure
success, the weather should be moderate, either calm or with a gentle
breeze rippling the surface of the water, for the reason that in the
open lake a strong wind will cause so heavy a swell that the fish cannot
see the bait, and the oarsmen cannot control the boat. They are not shy;
but as the water is frequently deep, although wonderfully clear, the
difficulty is to attract their attention. For this purpose sufficient
line must be used to sink the bait slightly beneath the surface, and the
boat must not move too rapidly.

They are captured in all the bays and indentations of Lakes Huron and
Superior, where the bottom is rocky and the water not over one hundred
feet deep. In Lake Superior they are abundant; in Goulais’ Bay, at
Michipicotten Island, in the vicinity of Bayfield, and almost everywhere

Late in the fall they retire to the sombre depths, and are only taken by
still fishing with a long line and live bait, and at such times the deep
water abreast of Gros Cap is one of their favorite localities, and they
are there frequently caught by the Indians of from fifty to seventy-five
pounds. They are salted and smoked by the inhabitants for winter use,
but like the speckled trout are too dry for that purpose, and should
never be killed by the sportsman except as an article of immediate
consumption. They are usually distinguished among Americans as the
Mackinaw Salmon, although that universal and totally undescriptive name
Lake trout is occasionally applied to them, and are called by the
Canadian voyagers _truites du lac_.

The gums of this fish are of a purple tinge, and from this peculiarity,
which is by no means invariable, is derived their scientific name. The
scales are small and the lateral line is nearly straight. The under gill
cover is large and grooved; while there are many teeth, the prominent
ones being very sharp and much curved, and the tongue has a row on each

The fin rays are:–D. 14, P. 15, V. 9, A. 12, C. 19 6/6.

The tail is narrow at the root, and spreads broad toward the extremity.
The color on the back is deep sea green, spotted with green and yellow
spots; on the sides it is purple, with lilac spots, and on the belly
pure white. The tail is dark and beautifully spotted the whole length.
It is, altogether, a remarkably handsome and graceful fish.

The spawning season is October, and the operation is performed in the
shallows near shore, at which time the fish are mercilessly speared by
the natives.


_Salmon Trout–Salmo Confinis_.

This variety of the non-migratory _Salmonidæ_, although somewhat similar
in general appearance to the foregoing species, does not attain the same
gigantic size. It is found numerously throughout the middle and Eastern
States, as well as in the great Northern lakes, but bears a vastly
inferior rank in the estimation both of the epicurean and the sportsman.

Its gastronomic appreciation, I believe, however, is much influenced by
the period of the year in which it is taken. Early in the season it is
rich, firm, and of fine flavor, the flesh being of a light orange, and
breaking into beautiful flakes. At such times it is unquestionably
excellent. In Summer it is admirable as the foundation for a chowder,
having some of the peculiarities in a higher development of the cod; and
serving as a pleasant change from the ordinary boil or fry of the common
trout. It is also quite eatable if cut into steaks and broiled.

Its scientific description is as follows:–The scales are minutely
striate; the lateral line is slightly curved near the head; the tongue
has large teeth along the central furrow; there are many acute teeth on
the palatines and vomer; the tail has a sinuous margin; the bases of the
vertical fins are spotted, and the flesh is coarse.

The fin rays are:–D. 14, P. 14, V. 9, A. 12, C. 21 3/3.

In color it is blackish or bluish-black, with numerous pale spots. It is
taken with trolling tackle, but rarely or never with the fly. The
spawning season is October, when it seeks the shallow water for that



_Salmo Siscowet._

This species has a dentition very similar to the _Salmo Amethystus_, but
not quite so robust. The upper and lower maxillaries and
intermaxillaries, and each of the palatines, have a row of teeth. The
vomer one and the tongue two rows, beside the acute teeth. The tail is
less furcate, and the dorsal fin is larger than in the Mackinaw Salmon.
The flesh is rich and of fine flavor, but almost too fat.

The fin rays are:–D. 12, P. 14, A. 12, 14, V. 9, C. 30.

This fish is shorter and stouter, and not so distinctly spotted as the
Mackinaw Salmon; it is altogether less handsome, but has similar habits,
and bites readily at the trolling spoon. It was first described by
Professor Agassiz, not many years ago, during his tour of Lake Superior,
but has always been distinguished by the Indians and Voyageurs, and
known among them under its distinctive appellation.

The Siskawitz inhabits the upper portion of Lake Superior, and never
descends towards the outlet, and is taken in the neighborhood of Isle
Royale in abundance. It is said also to be found in some of our other
lakes, but is very rare.


_Rock-fish–Librax Lineatus._

These glorious fish, the delight of the angler’s heart, the bravest and
strongest except the salmon, the largest without exception of the finny
tribe that the sportsman pursues, frequent every cove and bay of our
northern Atlantic coast, and furnish the main attraction of salt-water

Their mode of capture differs according to the locality; from the
rock-bound coast of the Eastern States the adventurous angler, perched
upon some projecting rock, casts the simple bait into the crested wave,
amid the thundering surf of the stormy sea; along the sandy shores and
in the tranquil inlets of the Middle States, gut snells, sinker and
float come into play in the rapid tide ways; and among the numerous
lagoons and bays of the Southern States the clumsy but effective
hand-line is employed.

To the eastward, menhaden and lobster are the favorite baits; in
Pennsylvania and New York shrimp, crab, and squid; and in the Southern
States killeys, herrings, and other small fish. The artificial baits are
the eel-skin, imitation squid, and gaudy bass-fly. The eel-skin used
mainly along New England shores is attached to a hand-line, and cast
into and drawn rapidly through the boiling surf of the ocean; the squid
is towed with trolling tackle behind the sail or row boat, in the quiet
waters of the Middle States; while the fly is used with stout rod and
long line wherever the fresh current of some river haunted by fish falls
directly into the salt water of the sea.

For casting with the menhaden from the rocks, New London harbor, Point
Judith, West Island near Newport, Montauk Point, and Newport Island
itself, are favorite localities; while the Little Falls of the Potomac
at the Chain Bridge, near Washington, where the green waters dash over
the sunken rocks and eddy round the cliffs that rise perpendicular from
the river’s brink, furnish the finest fly fishing for bass in the world.

For bait-casting the necessary implements are a large reel, running on
steel pivots, two hundred yards of flax line attached to a 7° hook with
a round head, and a rod of not over nine feet in length, with a large
agate funnel top. With such tools experienced fishermen can cast a slice
cut from the side of a menhaden, and weighing about three ounces, two
hundred, aye, nearly three hundred feet into the curling breakers of the
Atlantic ocean, and kill bass that will pull down the scales at fifty,
sixty, and seventy pounds.

A mode of preparing a bass line to render it light and water-proof,
without weakening it, is recommended by excellent authority, and is
simply to soak it for one night in fish oil which does not rot linen, to
hang it up to drain the following day, and to place it in mahogany
sawdust to dry. When thus prepared it does not soak water, nor even

Fly-fishing for bass, however, is the perfection of the sport, and
infinitely surpasses in excitement all other modes of killing these
noble fish. The best season on the Potomac is in July or August, and the
favorite hours the early morning or the twilight of the evening. The
ignorant and debased natives who inhabit the romantic region of hill and
valley in the neighborhood of Tenally Town, about five miles northwest
of Washington, and who, dead to the beauties that nature has lavished
around them, and utterly unacquainted with scientific angling, look
merely to their two cents per pound for striped bass, manufacture a fly
by winding red or yellow flannel round the shank of a large hook, adding
sometimes a few white feathers. They substitute for rod a young cedar
sapling, denuded of bark and seasoned by age, and attaching to the upper
end a stout cord, fish with the large flannel swathed hook in the rapids
and below the falls of the Potomac, at the old chain bridge, and without
a reel, kill bass of twenty or thirty pounds.

No spot can be imagined more wild and romantic, and with proper tackle,
the reel, the lithe salmon rod, and the artistic fly–no sport can be
more exciting. The roar of the angry flood, the bare precipices topped
with foliage on the opposite bank, the flat dry bed of the stream where
it flows during the heavy freshets, but at other seasons a mass of bare
jagged rocks, and the dashing spray of the broken current lend a charm
to the scene. While the fish, rendered doubly powerful by the force of
the stream, and aided by the numerous rocks and falls, have every chance
to escape.

The bass pursue the silvery herring, which is the principal natural
bait, and ascend the Little Falls of the Potomac during the summer
months in vast numbers. They are captured in such quantities with the
net in the salt water and with hook and line in the rapids, as to be
almost a drug in the market.

As the season advances, the native crawls upon some rock that reaches
out into the stream, and with his coarse but elastic cedar pole, casts
the roll of flannel, wrapped round a hook and misnamed a fly, into the
seething current; and when the brave fish seizes the clumsy allurement
the fisherman contends for the mastery as best he may, occasionally at
the risk of a ducking in the stream consequent upon the sudden breaking
of his tackle, and accompanied with considerable risk. When a man has
but a slight foothold upon the slippery surface of a shelving ledge, and
has attached to the end of his rod a vigorous fish of twenty pounds, he
is apt to fall if the line parts unexpectedly. Many are the tales of
such accidents, and now and then of fatal results. But with proper
tackle, the scientific angler is master of the situation; he can reach
any part of the current, casting into the eddies at the base of the
precipitous cliffs opposite; he can yield to the rush of the prey; can
retire, paying out line, to surer footing, and can follow the fish
along the shore; and finally, having subdued his spirit and broken his
strength, can lead the prize, gleaming through the transparent water
with the sun’s rays reflected in rainbow colors from his scales, into
some quiet nook where he can gaff him with safety. Such is fly-fishing
for striped bass amid the most lovely scenery, gorgeous in its summer
dress of green and alternating hill and valley, dotted with pretty farms
and smiling grain-fields; and there is but little sport that can surpass

Bass are also taken at the Grand Falls, ten miles further up the river;
but the Little Falls are their favorite locality, as they are here just
passing from the salt tide into the pure, sparkling, broken fresh-water.
They frequently weigh twenty pounds, and occasionally much more; but, of
course, the main run is smaller, and the number killed in lucky days is
prodigious, being counted by hundreds.

Bass are said to be taken with the fly in other rivers of the Southern
States, and also to a certain degree in those of the north. At the
mouths of narrow inlets, where the tide is rapid and diluted with
fresh-water, a gaudy red and white fly with a full body, kept on the
surface by the force of the current and not cast as in fly-fishing, will
occasionally beguile them; but generally speaking, bass are not fished
for with the fly north of the Potomac.

Although the artistic angler naturally despises the miserable flannel
abortion manufactured by the stupid boors of Tenally Town, it will often
be found as good a lure as though composed of the rarest materials; in
fact the bass exhibit none of that daintiness of choice that is
universal with salmon. So long as the fly is large and showy they seem
to be satisfied, and their immense mouths can readily grasp a No. 7
hook, such as the natives occasionally use. One of half that size is
abundantly large, however, and the clearer the water the finer should be
the tackle. The rod, reel, and line are those appropriate to salmon
fishing, although the line, if it is wet by salt-water, should be
afterwards rinsed in fresh to prevent rotting. Some fishermen fasten a
float above the fly, and paying out line let it run down stream into
distant eddies; but this is not so orthodox a mode of proceeding, and
does not require equal skill nor as delicate tackle.

After a fish is struck, the same care has to be exercised if he is heavy
that is necessary with the salmon, and he will often compel the angler
to follow him a long distance ere the gaff terminates the struggle. Bass
make very determined but not such rapid runs as their fellow-denizen of
the flood, the _salmo salar_, but rarely retain that reserved force
which makes his last dash so often fatal; nevertheless they are resolute
and powerful, and have to be handled with care.

Another mode of taking bass, which is strongly recommended, even for the
open bays of the north, by one of our best fishermen, but which I have
only tried in the narrow coves, inlets, and streams, where the tide-way
can be covered by a good cast, is to use the salmon rod, line, and
reel, but to substitute a shrimp for the fly. The casting is then done
in the ordinary manner, and the gentleman referred to claims, that it is
by far the most killing mode. If even equally successful, it is
certainly far preferable to the use of the float and sinker, or to the
dull monotony of bottom fishing. Any sport that brings into active play
the faculties of body or mind, and which demands practice and
experience, surpasses the one that requires the merely passive quality
of patience.

The most successful, and excepting perhaps fly-fishing, the most skilful
method of taking the striped beauties of the northern coasts, is with
the menhaden bait, cast into the boiling surf of the ocean, or the
larger bays; and this sport is universally enjoyed along the iron-bound
shore of New England, from New London to Eastport. This entire reach, is
one mass of rock, indented by innumerable bays, or severed by inlets
into barren islands, where the tide rushes, and the surf beats; and in
every favorable locality are the bass taken with a stout rod, a long
line, and menhaden bait. From almost every bold rock, or prominent
island, can the angler cast into the vexed water of some current, made
by the huge waves rushing over the uneven bottom, and allure thence the
fierce bass, who has been attracted from the ocean depths, to feed on
the small fry that hide in the clefts and crevices; and waiting with
fins often visible above the tide, to pounce upon his prey, mistakes for
it the angler’s bait, and after a brave struggle surrenders to human

Although the true fisherman may pursue the small fish of the Delaware or
Hudson, of New York Bay or the Sound, may patiently bide their time at
Hackensac or Pelham bridges, McComb’s dam or the hedges; and may have
true pleasure in capturing them with dancing float and shrimp, or
running sinker, and shedder crab; if he can spare a week or two, he
should cut adrift from the noise and turmoil, foul stenches, and fouler
deeds of the city; and hastening to Newport or Point Judith, enjoy the
noblest sport of the salt water–bass-fishing with menhaden bait. He
will need stout nerves, strong muscles, good tackle, and abundant skill;
for he will be called upon to cast with the utmost of his power, perhaps
a hundred yards, and to strike and land fish that may weigh half a
hundred pounds. He will be exposed to the sea-breeze, or it may be the
storm wind at early day-light, and the spray from the salt waves, and
wet and cold will be his portion; but he will forget these trivial
evils, when he strikes the bass of forty, fifty, or sixty pounds, the
fish that he has been living for, and when he lands him safely on the
slippery rocks.

Fishermen of character have been known to assert, that they could cast
with the rod, the ordinary menhaden bait, one hundred and twenty yards;
and although from a high stand, with the aid of a strong wind, this is
possible, the ordinary cast is not over half that distance, and to
exceed one hundred when standing on a level with the water is rare
indeed. In fact, seventy-five yards is a good cast, and no man need be
ashamed who can put out his line fair and true that distance. Rather
better can be done with the hand-line than with the rod, but with far
greater fatigue, and a painful over-exertion of the muscles of the arm
that is almost unendurable to one who has not steady practice. The
length of cast is in a measure controlled by the direction and violence
of the wind and the elevation of the stand above the water; in a
contrary wind the best angler will find it difficult to reach
seventy-five yards, while from a high rock, with a favorable wind, he
will cover that distance with ease.

The use of the hand line is neither artistic nor adapted to gentlemen
who fish for pleasure, although more killing probably than the rival
method. For rod fishing, the best tackle and implements are necessary;
the rod must be short and stout, the finest being made of cane at a
fabulous expense; the reel should have steel pins or run on agate, be
made large and perfectly true, and the line must be from two hundred to
three hundred yards long. Cane rods are preferred on account of their
lightness and elasticity, but they are at present almost unattainable at
any price, and the ordinary ones will answer well, although after
several hundred casts weight will be found to tell on unaccustomed
muscles. The objection to jewelled reels is, that a fall or blow may
render them useless, while they run but little smoother than those with
steel pins. The reel and guides must be large to deliver the line
freely, and if the line is seen to bag during the cast between the
guides, it is a sure sign that they are too small. The line is of
twisted grass or raw silk, which is the best but most expensive and
delicate; of plaited silk, which is the strongest; or of linen, which is
cheap and common, but as they are all easily rotted, is the one in
general use. The grass line, if it overruns and whips against the bars
of the reel, is sure to cut, but it delivers beautifully; the silk line
soon becomes water-logged and sticky; and the linen one combines these
defects with a faculty of swelling when wet peculiarly its own. A
perfect bass-line is a desideratum not yet supplied. The American reels
and cane rods are perfection, but the lines are a cause of reproach and
vexation of spirit.

Casting the menhaden bait is similar to casting the float and sinker,
only the power is enormously increased and deficiencies proportionally
magnified. The line is wound up till the bait, if a single one, is
almost two feet from the tip, the rod is extended behind the fisherman,
who turns his body for the purpose, and then brought forward with a
steady but vigorous swing that discharges it without a jerk, like an
apple thrown from a stick by rustic youths. The reel is so far
restrained by pressure of the thumb that it revolves no faster than the
bait travels, but does not in the least detain it, and upon the accuracy
of this manipulation mainly depends the result. If too much pressure is
used, the line cannot escape rapidly enough and falls short; if too
little, the reel overruns and entangles the line, stopping the cast ere
half delivered with a jerk that threatens its destruction. The fisherman
must be able to use either hand on the reel to rest his arms and to take
advantage of the wind.

If he is an adept he will drive the greasy bait straight and true
directly to the desired spot, and if the weather is favorable and the
fates propitious, he will bring up some scaly monster of twenty-five or
mayhap thirty pounds, who will start seaward with bait, and hook, and
line, and only be persuaded, after many efforts and determined rushes,
that it is in vain. The strong ocean breeze will play with his hair and
the salt spume wet his cheek; the vessels, like floating marine
monsters, will drift across the waste of waters before him, the seagulls
will hover round uttering their harsh cry, and he will cast and cast
till arms and legs are weary, and he may kill in a single day a thousand
weight of fish. The fresh air will give such a tone to his system, and
the exercise such strength to his muscles, and the excitement such vigor
to his nerves, that he will hardly believe himself the same relaxed,
despondent, listless individual that left the city a week previous.

The most famous localities for the sport are West Island and Point
Judith; the former is reached by the way of New London, and the latter
by the Connecticut shore line of railway to Kingston. West Island has
lately been purchased by a club of gentlemen, but will not probably be
reserved exclusively for their use, as the neighboring islands being
free to all no special privileges could be secured. There is often
great difficulty in obtaining bait, particularly during a storm, which
is the time that it is most needed, as the fish bite best in rough
weather, and on going from the cities it is well to pack a few hundred
menhaden in a box with ice and sawdust, and thus insure a supply for
some days ahead.

[Illustration: VAIL’S.]


It is a long, weary, and dusty ride by the way of the New Haven and
Shore Line Railroads to Kingston; but if, at the end of the journey, a
pretty little widow, with hazel eyes, is found waiting to drive over to
the South Pier in the stage, and you are the only other passenger, you
will probably consider yourself repaid for all annoyances.

It is seven miles from Kingston to the South Pier, the driver may happen
to be a little tight, very sleepy, and wholly unobservant of what is
passing in the back of his vehicle. Moonlight is either reflected with
great brilliancy from hazel eyes, or else hazel eyes originate a
brilliancy akin to moonlight, and certainly moonlight, hazel eyes, white
teeth, rosy lips, soft hands, and a slender waist, are very bewitching
in a close carriage of a moonlight night, with a preoccupied driver.
Some women have a smile like sunshine, and their laugh rings like a
chime of bells; and if you happen to be riding alone with a pretty
widow, and something suggests love-making, and her merry laughter slowly
dies away into a gentle smile, and the smile fades into a look of
sympathetic feeling, that you have to draw very near to see, till you
feel her palpitating breath upon your cheek, and her hand trembles when
by the merest accident you touch it, and the ride occupies an hour or
more, you may, before the South Pier is reached, almost forget that you
are married.

If this fortune befalls you at the station, you will probably fail to
notice the beauty of Kingston village and Peace Dale as you pass through
them, and will find the subsequent lonely ride from South Pier to Point
Judith dull and dreary. Some two miles from the Pier is a house kept by
John Anthony, the son of Peleg, where sportsmen most do congregate, and
where all their reasonable wants, except the wherewithal to quench their
thirst, can be supplied, and which is situated within a few steps of the
best fishing stations. John Anthony is a Yankee born and bred, honest,
faithful, willing, and acquainted with all the habits, devices, and
iniquities of bass and blue fish. He will tell you that in May, when the
grass plover have their long note, and are heard far up in the air
travelling northward, bass are to be caught with the eel-skin; that in
June, when high blackberries are in bloom, they begin to take lobster
bait; but from July 1st, and all through the fall, they take menhaden,
otherwise called bony fish or moss-bunker, the bait that the true and
skilful sportsman loves to cast.

In July and August, the largest fish, occasionally bass of fifty and
even sixty pounds, rejoice the heart of the angler by surrendering to
his skill, while in the Fall, although more numerous, they are smaller.
In both these particulars, the fishing at Point Judith and West Island,
and further northward, differs from that in the vicinity of New York.
Great success, however, depends upon several contingencies. It is
supposed that the Gulf Stream, that prolonged current of the Mississippi
River, which sweeps with its warmer temperature through mid ocean
carrying a genial atmosphere and fertilizing showers to the otherwise
arid shores of France and England, changes its course yearly,
approaching our coast and sending its swarms of living creatures among
the rocks of Narragansett Bay, or withdrawing so as to leave us desolate
and to increase the severity of our winters. We all know that our cold
seasons differ greatly in intensity, and bass fishermen know that
success in fishing varies equally; but from what cause these results
flow, no one can positively say.

After a heavy storm has darkened the water by washing impurities from
the shore, and at spots where the dashing breakers fill the sea with
foam, the bass bite most fearlessly. Every crested wave rising against
the horizon ere it breaks, flashes with their sparkling scales, and so
sure as the bait cast from the powerful two-handed rod reaches that
wave, so sure is it to be grasped by the nearest bass. The breakers
drive the spearing and other small fry from their hiding-places among
the rocks; the discolored water blinds them to their danger, and bass
trusting themselves in the very curl of the heaving swell collect in
myriads to the welcome banquet. But as the discoloration misleads the
spearing so it also conceals from the bass the line attached to the
treacherous bait, and the latter, while pursuing remorselessly his prey,
becomes himself a victim.

Neither shrimp nor soft crabs are used in this style of fishing, and the
earliest bait, the eel-skin, is prepared by stripping the skin off the
tail of an eel from the vent aft to the length of about a foot, leaving
it inside out, and drawing it over a couple of hooks so placed on the
line that one shall project near the upper and the other near the tail
end. A sinker of the size of one’s little finger is inserted at the
head, and the bait is cast by hand and drawn rapidly. The rod is not
often used in this style of fishing, as the heavy bait is apt to sink
ere it can be reeled in. The skin is frequently salted to increase its
firmness, and when used must be kept in continual motion, to the great
fatigue of the enthusiastic angler.

The menhaden bait is prepared by scaling it and then cutting a slice on
one side from near the head to the base of the tail, passing the hook
through from the scaly side, and back through both edges, so that the
shank is enveloped and the flesh is outwards, and then tying the bait
firmly with a small piece of twine that is attached to the hook for that
purpose. A menhaden or bony fish furnishes two baits, and the residue,
except the back bone, tail, and head, is cut up fine, called chum, and
thrown into the water to make a slick. A slick is the oil of the
menhaden floating over the waves, and extended frequently by tide or
current a long distance, attracts the bass, by suggesting to them that
their prey is near at hand.

Where the water is clear it is customary in rod-fishing, which is the
only scientific mode, to use two hooks; the smaller, some two feet below
the other is attached to a fine line or gut leader, and denominated
without any apparent reason the fly-hook. Many of the best fishermen
never use more than one bait, and where the fish are large and plenty,
one is sufficient. The fly bait is not generally tied on, but twisted
round the hook in a manner difficult to describe.

Lobster bait is deficient in tenacity, and has to be tied on like
menhaden, and probably the natural squid would be an effective and
manageable bait, could it be provided in sufficient quantities. Limerick
hooks, except those manufactured expressly for the purpose with a round
head, are in great disfavor, having a bad reputation for strength, and a
stout but small cod hook is usually preferred. With skill, however, and
plenty of line, the fisherman is more to blame than the steel, for the
breaking of the latter. The best hook is now manufactured with a round
head and is fastened to the line with two half hitches, the end again
hitched above them so as to take the friction; and as it is carried off
by the first blue-fish, or in the Yankee vernacular horse mackerel, that
takes a fancy to it, the angler must be well supplied.

The Bait, especially a single one, is light, but experienced hands claim
to be able to cast it more than a hundred yards, a feat that the tyro
will scarcely credit; but ordinarily half that distance is all that is
requisite. The line should not be less than six hundred and may be a
thousand feet long, and if of flax should not be over fifteen strands.
The rod, reel, and line, must be of the very best, and the guides and
funnel top large, or the angler will fail to do himself justice, and
will probably lose his largest fish.

The friction is so great in casting, that the thumb must be protected by
a thumb-stall or cot, as the natives call it, or better yet, one for
each thumb, so that you can cast from either side, and snub the fish
with either hand. They are made of chamois leather, India-rubber, or
some equivalent material; and in casting by hand, a similar protection
is required for the forefinger. A shoemaker’s knife is admirably adapted
to cutting bait.

If, then, familiar with these things, you shall have chosen a favorable
time during or at the close of a south-easterly storm, and at break of
day, accompanied by John Anthony, shall have posted yourself upon Bog
rock, or the Quohog, which is New England and Indian for hard clam, or
upon the famous Scarborough, that great station in a heavy north-easter,
you may anticipate brave sport. The waves will come rolling in,
streaming out in the wind like a courser’s mane, with snowy crest, and
breaking with thundering roar they will sink back seething with foam. As
the tide rises a few drops will fall pattering upon your feet; shortly
the waves will leap up to your knees, then plunge into your pockets,
reach to your waist, pour down your neck, and if you are not on the
watch will lift you in their embrace and fling you torn and wounded down
among the sharp-pointed rocks. You must wear water-proof clothes, and
while you keep your eye on the line you must not neglect the inrolling
swell, but avoid or brace yourself to meet its shock. And when the bass
seizes your bait, and you have fixed the hook by one sharp blow, you
must be gentle and moderate, only using severe measures where they are
absolutely necessary. If the blue-fish comes, and he does not carry away
your hook at the first snatch, reel him in as quickly as his indomitable
pluck and vigor will permit. He is not game when you are bass-fishing.
If the ungainly flounder, exhibiting unexpected activity, shall chase
and grasp your bait, lug him out by main force, treating him, though
excellent to eat, like the vulgar commoner he is.

When the day is advanced, and the game has grown wary, you may rest; and
looking out to sea, perchance behold the blue-fish chase the menhaden
and the porpoise devour the blue-fish, and the thresher shark plough his
way through schools of lesser creatures, killing with blows of his
powerful tail, and then devouring his prey at his leisure. You may
listen to the “wild waves singing,” and watch the continual change of
the sky and water, enjoying the refreshing breeze and pure air, or amuse
yourself by throwing in the head of a menhaden, and noting how quickly
the bass that refuse your bait will strike with a great whirl at the
floating object.

Two fishermen engaged with their sport were once standing upon a rock
together, when one struck a very large fish supposed to weigh over
seventy pounds. The sea was high and wild, and made it difficult to gaff
the fish, after a wearying struggle had reduced him to submission. A
favorable opportunity was watched when three heavy rollers had passed,
covering the rock with spray, and the other fisherman darted to the edge
of the surf to make the attempt. Unfortunately the bass, not being quite
exhausted, made a short run that delayed the operation, till a gigantic
wave, rolling in unheeded, caught the preoccupied fishermen unawares,
engulfed them in its green waters, flung one down bruised and sore, and
carried off the other who held the gaff, and was nearer the brink, into
the deep water beyond. Poor fellow, he could not swim, and the terror of
approaching death passed across his features as he looked up
beseechingly and tried to cling to the steep and slippery rocks. The
waves tossed him about like a plaything, bringing him close to the
rocks, dragging him away, and then cruelly hurling him against them. His
friend was powerless to save him; but having a stout line, and the fish
now floating exhausted upon the surface, shouted to the drowning man to
catch the line and support himself by it. This was accomplished, and
amid the dashing surf, alone with the shadow of death upon the water,
the skilful fisherman, working his way carefully among the rocks, giving
to the strain of the surging sea, but gaining every inch of line the
strength of his tackle would permit, led the man and the fish, floating
side by side, into a cove that was in a measure sheltered from the fury
of the waves.

Slowly the line came in; the man lived, and still clung to it, and
although occasionally submerged, managed to sustain himself
sufficiently. Nearer and nearer he came, quite close even to the
shelving rocks, and twice during a lull could have climbed them in
safety, had not his strength been too greatly exhausted. He made a
feeble effort, still clinging, however, to the line, but was carried
back by the receding current, and it became apparent his life depended
upon his friend’s ability to help him.

This was no easy matter; the strain upon the line was excessive, the
rocks were wet and slippery, and the sea frequently swept across with
resistless force. Shortening the line as much as possible, the friend
crept down towards the edge, and taking advantage of the first lull,
called to the drowning man to cling fast with his hands for a moment,
and rushed down to seize him. The instant, however, the line was
relaxed, the water carried away its feeble victim, who was quickly
beyond reach. Ere he could be brought back a tremendous wave, resolute
to devour its prey, came thundering in; it rose above points that had
projected many feet out of water, it dashed in flying spray high up upon
those that it could not overwhelm, its crest gleamed and hissed, and
with one mad leap it sprang over the intervening ledges and threw itself
upon the fishermen with fearful power. The one upon the rocks was
beaten down, and only by falling in a crevice and holding fast with all
his strength was saved from being carried off. When the wave passed he
struggled to his feet and looked down into the deep water for his
friend. The line was broken, and man and fish were swept away together.

Danger never deterred a sportsman, but rather seems to enhance his
enjoyment; and there is just sufficient risk and enough cold water to
make fishing from the rocks a pleasurable excitement. The fiercer the
storm and the wilder the water the better the fishing, and the peril is
more than counter-balanced by the sport. Occasionally, at these times, a
fisherman will be lost, but more frequently he will capture the gigantic
fish that has been the ambition of his life; and if he does perish it is
in a good cause, and he has the sympathies of all his ardent brothers of
the angle.

Bass, like other fish, do not feed in a thunder shower, but during the
latter part of a north-easterly or south-easterly storm, and immediately
after when the wind has hauled to the westward and made casting easier,
they are taken in the greatest quantities. In fact it is hardly worth
while to fish for them at any other time.

At Point Judith there are some bay snipe and plover after the fifteenth
of August, and the quail shooting which begins on the twentieth of
September is quite good. Blue-fish or horse-mackerel are not pursued for
sport, but rather pursue the angler, taking off his hooks and cutting
his line with their sharp teeth most unmercifully. In fact a story is
told of one that deliberately bit through the line above a large bass
that had been hooked, and apparently released him designedly, from fishy

That excellent but neglected fish the porgee, which the inhabitants call
a scup, is plentiful, and also the tautog or black fish; and the
bergall, which they denominate chogset or cunner, a worthless fish, is
so abundant as to try the fisherman’s temper by continually devouring
his baits.

When the sea has subsided and the fishing is over, and you have as many
fish as you want nicely packed in ice, you will have to drive over to
the depôt behind the laziest horse, unless Anthony buys a new one, that
it was ever your misfortune to ride after. The boyish driver, however,
enterprising like his father, will poke and whip and utter that peculiar
word comprehensible only to horse-flesh, “tschk,” and if the animal does
not absolutely lie down in the ditch you will make the seven miles in
about two hours and a half, and be thankful that you have done so well;
having reached home, what stories you will tell of the large fish you
captured and enormous ones you lost, of the dangers you ran and how
beautifully you cast, and your friends that receive of the game will
believe in you.


One cloudless day in the fervid month of July, a handsome, bright-eyed
youth of something over twenty summers, opened the gate of the little
yard in front of Deacon Goodlow’s house and strode with an elastic step
towards the side door. He was evidently at home and felt no need of
ceremony, for without pausing to knock he turned the knob and entered.

The deacon’s house was one of those innumerable romantic little white
cottages with wings added after the main structure, that dot the flat
surface of Long Island, or Mattowacs, as the poetical Indians once
elegantly named the wonderful sand-bar; it was hidden in trees and
almost covered with vines, and had an air of superiority and taste
somewhat unusual.

“Well, Katy,” said Harry, addressing a sprightly, rosy-cheeked maiden
that he encountered inside, busy at some pottering woman’s work; “what
do you think, now? Your father and mine are going fishing to-day. I left
them talking it over, and arranging that they were to drive over in your
father’s buggy, as our solitary horse is needed for other purpose.”

“I am glad of it, Harry; Mr. Hartley takes too little recreation, and
father does so like a day on the Bay. He was speaking about it only

“But how odd that they should go alone; I wonder why your father does
not take you, you like the Bay almost as well as he does.”

“Pretty nearly,” she replied with a laugh; “I love the breeze and the
water, especially when we run outside and plunge into the monstrous
waves of the ocean. It seems so fresh, and limitless, and powerful.”

“Yes, and you like to pull out the blue-fish; it is not all poetry, for
to tell the truth, I have always felt convinced from your way of looking
at them, that every time you caught a fish you thought of the pot and
fancied how nice he would be on table.”

“Take care, sir, or the next time we go I will leave you to your own
devices in the way of cooking. Do you remember when I found you trying
to cook a big blue-fish on a long stick, over a huge hot fire, without
any salt or butter?”

“But the old folks will be sure to fall out over politics or polemics,
and come home in a dudgeon, as they have been near doing before this,
your father is so fiery; I hope, for my future peace, his daughter does
not take after him.”

“Now, Harry!” accompanied with a deep blush, was all the answer, and
Katy was turning away, knowing instinctively how to punish her saucy
lover, when Harry hastily continued:

“I think I have prevented that, however.”

“Have you? How?”

“I suggested something else for them to talk about, that will occupy
their thoughts most of the time.”

With a shy, sidelong glance, like a bird alarmed but uncertain of the
danger, Katy replied:

“And what subject was that, pray?”

“Our love, Katy.”

“A very silly subject, that need occupy nobody any time at all. You had
better say your love, sir.”

“Now, darling, don’t tease, I have only a moment, or I shall be too late
for the cars.”

“Then, why not go at once? I am full as busy. Was not that Jane calling
me?” She made a great show of leaving, but managed to remain, evidently
anticipating something of importance from her lover’s manner, and in a
female way dreading though desiring the disclosure.

“Wait one instant; I need not repeat how I love you, you have heard that

“Yes, indeed.”

“But to-day I am to be admitted to a partnership with my old employer,
who kindly offered it, with some complimentary remarks, so late as

“You deserved it long ago.”

“Not at all, I was well paid for my services; but now”–having drawn the
willing but skittish beauty towards him, he whispered–“now I can keep a

Her lips were close, her cheeks were tempting, her eyes turned away, her
hands busy with the buttons of his coat, it is not certain he took
advantage of these opportunities; but suddenly starting into life, she
gave him a gentle tap on the ear, pulled away, and turning to hide her
blushes, called out, as she darted from the room:

“You must catch her first, and the train starts in twenty minutes.”

“So it does,” he muttered, as the delighted look of admiration with
which he had regarded her faded slowly from his eyes; “what a darling
witch, it is so full of fun, and yet, as the neighboring poor can
testify, so gentle, generous, and sympathetic.” A thousand thoughts of
all the loving acts he would do for her came into his mind as he
hastened towards the depot.

“Well, friend,” said Mr. Hartley, as the two deacons were journeying
along at a sober gait in the old-fashioned but comfortable buggy of the
wealthier, “what a beautiful day it is, not merely for our sport, and it
could hardly be better, but to admire the beauties of nature! The summer
foliage looks truly gorgeous in the broad sunshine.”

“Yes, indeed, and the influence of such a day must be felt by the moral
nature of man. Even upon man debased by vice, I believe in the country
as a moral purifier, and think a system should be devised by which
criminals would be thrown in contact with it as much as possible.”

“I agree with you fully, and had an evidence this morning how it opens
the heart and emboldens the affections. You know Harry has long been
attentive to your daughter Katy, and I believe they have had a sort of
half understanding.”

“A fine fellow is Harry; true, honorable, and energetic,” said Mr.
Goodlow, heartily.

“He is so, and I, as his father, am proud to admit it; but Katy is a
noble girl, and worthy of the finest fellow in the world.”

“Well, we start the subject with a hearty accord,” replied the friend,
smiling; “I can readily imagine what will follow, and have no doubt we
will be equally of accord on that.”

“The short of it is, Harry has just been placed in a position that
authorizes him to marry, and he wants you to trust Katy to him. On the
subject of support he was satisfactory, and on that of love
enthusiastic. He hoped your favorite minister would perform the

This last remark was uttered very slowly, for it must be known the two
deacons belonged to rival churches and different persuasions, and had
had many a contest over form and ritual.

“That is a matter of small moment,” was the response, “but if any form
should be simple it is the marriage ceremony. I really think it had
better be performed in your church, where there is less regard for

“And for that reason I coincided in my son’s selection; our church
teaches us that while we are not to insist upon forms as the essence of
religion in any of its departments, we are not to indulge prejudice
against them. That they are immaterial either way.”

“A strange view, indeed,” responded the opposing deacon, warming to the
question; “strange that any one could conceive that the form in which he
expressed his adoration was unimportant; in all religion, prayer takes
the form of the bowed head and bended knee. Unseemly postures and acts
are themselves irreverent, not to advert to the effect they must produce
upon the mind that indulges in them on serious occasions. We owe to our
fellow-men respectful deportment on solemn occasions, how much more so
to our Creator. Form is the embodiment of the spirit of true worship,
and partakes of its essence and beauty.”

“We fear,” responded his associate, “that form, from its very beauty,
may distract the heart and engross the attention to the neglect of the
essentials of devotion. Pleasing forms are beautiful to our senses, but
God looks to the pure heart and humble mind; the formalities of religion
too often hide an aching void of real principle, and while they quiet
the conscience produce no good fruit in the soul. Therefore, we dread
them, lest though the sepulchre be whited on the outside it hide
rottenness within.”

They were both intelligent men, devoted to their sects, which although
in belief almost identical, in forms were dissimilar; and they enforced
and illustrated their views with great vigor, learning, and eloquence,
and with the ordinary effect of religious discussions, that each was
finally more firmly convinced that he was in the right. The hopes of
their children were forgotten for the time, an occasional sharp
innuendo added spice if not acerbity to the argument, and before their
destination was reached a feeling of coldness, approaching
dissatisfaction, had sprung up between the two friends.

There were no blue-fish running, and it was determined to try the
striped bass that, although small, had begun to be plentiful, and in
case of their absence to tempt the flounders, sea bass, black fish, or
other like plebeians. In silence they pulled off to the fishing ground,
and silently they cast overboard the anchor-stone and baited their
hooks. Fishing has a calm, soothing influence incompatible with anger or
estrangement. Occasional remarks were made which would doubtless have
soon led to a perfect reconciliation had not the Fates prominently
interfered. Mr. Hartley, who rowed the boat, had stationed himself in
the bow, and strange to say began to take fish as fast as he could land
them, while Mr. Goodlow, in the stern, usually the favorite location,
caught nothing.

Fishing is a contemplative amusement, but when one contemplates his
associate catching all the fish the amusement vanishes. Deacon Goodlow
was a devotee of the gentle art, fancied himself an expert, and never
doubted his far excelling his less experienced brother; had great faith
in skill as opposed to luck, having often expatiated upon the fact that
he rarely found an equal, and felt fully convinced that in skill he was
not excelled.

Now skill is a very necessary thing and will tell in the long run, but
luck is sometimes, doubtless for a wise purpose, permitted to triumph
over it. In vain did the unfortunate deacon renew his baits, change the
depth of his sinker, fish on the bottom or near the top; the result was
the same. His irritation increased and broke forth into ejaculations of
impatience, and a sudden desire to move to some other spot.

“There seem to be no fish here, we had better try a new place,” he said

“I am doing very well, and doubt whether we could better ourselves,”
replied his associate with that hilarity that success engenders, landing
two bright little bass at once.

“You do not call that good fishing, they are mere sprats. I have taken
many a bass of twenty-four pounds, and two of over fifty.”

“But you know the run is always small in this month.”

“Of course I know that; but I never saw such luck, you must have taken
twenty, such as they are.”

“More than twenty, thirty at least; but perhaps we had better change
places, I have taken more than I want and you had better try your hand.”

After some demur and a coquettish but half sulky refusal to deprive him
of his “good luck,” Mr. Goodlow complied with his friend’s suggestion,
but wonderful to say the luck changed at the same time; the fish all
fled to the stern of the boat and were landed there faster than they had
been previously over the bow. In fact, one line seemed to be bewitched
as though the fish were in a piscatorial conspiracy. Even when the
unfortunate fisherman extended his line and allowed his float to swing
round beyond the stern and even alongside of his companion’s, that of
the latter would be dragged under at every moment, while his would
remain undisturbed.

“Well, I have seen luck before,” he began, fiercely, “but never such
luck as this; how deep are you fishing?”

This question, as betraying the possibility of inferior judgment, fairly
stuck in his throat.

“About three feet.”

“Mine is the same. No, it is mere luck, that is all.” Anger was making
his language slightly ungrammatical.

Mr. Hartley replied, as he landed another brace: “Of course it is, and
now let’s change seats again and see if we cannot outwit the fish.”

Being patronized by an inferior fisherman is almost unbearable, it
implies triumph with nothing to justify it; and an assumption of
superiority will be suspected if not intended. So Mr. Goodlow held out
for a time, saying slightingly: “Oh, it was a mere question of luck,
mere luck that must soon change;” but as it did not, and as his friend’s
manner was soothing and even submissive, he at last consented, with the
air of conferring a favor, to resume his old place in the stern.

At the first cast which Mr. Hartley made after returning to his seat at
the bow, he hooked and landed the largest fish yet seen. This was too
much, and if people swear inwardly it is greatly to be feared the
unfortunate deacon will have to report hereafter one of the commandments
broken on that occasion.

“Come,” he said, “we will go home; another time perhaps I can have a
little luck. I used to think there was something like skill in fishing,
but there does not appear to be in catching these miserable little

“Why, my last one must have weighed two pounds.”

“Two pounds! Not an ounce over one. I have had enough for this day, and
the sun is remarkably hot.”

“Oh, I cannot go just yet; here comes another, nearly as large as the

“I insist upon it,” Mr. Goodlow continued, having reeled up his line and
taken apart his rod. “I will not stay longer, my horse must be fed, and
it is late.”

“When a person comes out fishing,” replied Deacon Hartley, growing
irritated, “it is a poor way to be wanting to go home because another
catches the fish, especially as I am perfectly willing to divide

“What do you think I care for those puny little fish? You may keep them
all, in welcome.”

“I suppose I may if I wish; they are mine because I have caught them, or
nearly all; but I will give you half if you will cease grumbling at what
you call your luck.”

“Well, what is it if not luck! Perhaps you think you surpass me in skill
and experience,” answered the other sneeringly. “I tell you I am going
home. It is my horse, and you may come or stay, as you choose.”

With that he seized the oars and shipping them into the nearest
rowlocks, commenced furiously rowing the boat stern first. But the
anchor-stone was down, and although he dragged it a few inches, he did
so slowly and with great labor. Mr. Hartley went on deliberately
fishing, but of course could catch nothing while the water was being

“Pull up the anchor-stone, sir,” said Mr. Goodlow fiercely, the
perspiration streaming down his face.

“I will do nothing of the kind,” responded Mr. Hartley.

The tugging at the oars was resumed, but when Mr. Goodlow was nearly
exhausted, whether by accident or not will probably never be known, the
oar slipped along the surface throwing a shower of water over the
quondam friend, fairly taking away his breath. Without a word the latter
dropped his rod, and seizing the bailing scoop, a sort of wooden shovel
with a short handle, dipped it full of water and threw the contents in
his companion’s face; the latter replied with a fresh douche from the

The water fairly flew in mimic cataracts for ten minutes, till both
parties were wet to the skin; originally, scoop had the best of it, but
as skin and clothes will not take wetting beyond a certain degree, oars
caught up, and the two irate lights of the church were as well drenched
as if they had fallen overboard. Mutual exhaustion produced a cessation
of hostilities, and after a moment’s pause, Deacon Hartley slowly drew
up the anchor-stone, and Deacon Goodlow rowed silently to shore. Without
a word, without a glance, the latter stepped to his buggy, untied the
horse, jumped in and rode off.

Mr. Hartley had to secure the boat, collect his fish, unjoint his rod,
and walk four miles home. The day was hot, the road was dusty, the fish
were heavy, and tired enough he would have been, if an acquaintance
passing in a wagon had not taken him up. The dust having covered him
from head to foot helped disguise what had happened, and he allowed the
gentleman to think he had slipped into the water.

The thoughts of the two deacons on the way home were not enviable. One
had to meet a son, the other a daughter, and the latter dreaded the
interview most; not that he admitted he was most to blame, but fearing
more her sharp eyes and reproachful countenance.

“Oh, Harry,” said the pretty little girl usually so gay, now with
sad-looking tearworn eyes, as she encountered her astonished lover on
his way home from the railroad, “your father and mine quarrelled
dreadfully to-day, so much so that they would not ride home together.”

“Just as I expected,” replied Harry, triumphantly; “your father is so
easily excited.”

“No, but he says it was your father’s fault, at least he does not say
so directly, but what he does say gives me that impression. Just think,
your father threw water over mine, and he was all mud and dirt when he
reached home.”

“Impossible,” said Harry, with a laugh, “he must have fallen overboard.”

“Oh, no, and your father would not ride home with him.”

“How did he get home then? he certainly would not have walked by
preference four miles, on so hot a day as this. Imagine his half killing
himself to deprive a person of his company who wished to be rid of him.”

“Oh, it must be; father was so angry, he told me I should not see you

This response was illogical, and went far to disprove itself, but was
enforced by her bursting into tears. “I have been crying ever since,”
she sobbed.

Harry consoled her, sure of her affection; and knowing that parents are
a slight affair against affection, he brought back smiles to her lips by
his comments on her account of her father’s statement, and promised her
it would come right if she only kept on obeying as scrupulously as she
was then doing. She punished him for this by flying away in her former
merry manner, leaving him to seek an explanation at home.

“Father,” he said, on arriving there and seeking him out, “how spruce
you look; that is your best suit. Are you going to pay a visit?”

“I believe not, this evening; my other clothes were soiled while we
were fishing.” Strictly true, but not all the truth.

“The deacon across the way came home rather muddy, they say. What luck
did you have? Did it rain while you were out? There was not a cloud to
be seen in New York.”

The father felt it would be useless to evade the question, and related
the whole story, bearing kindly the good-natured comments of his son,
between whom and himself there was a feeling of friendship as well as of

“And now, father,” Harry began, after the recital was over, “and now how
are you going to make up? You will have to make the first step, because
you were not in the wrong.”

“Or, more truly, because my son loves the daughter of the person who has
ill-used me. Are you not angry at my being left to walk home this hot

“I should be, if that wagon had not come along; everything depends on
that wagon. You know it was much pleasanter than riding with an angry

“But then the dust; my clothes are ruined; a new suit will diminish your
patrimony, which is not enormous.”

“Then I’ll make you a present of a splendid suit of black on my wedding
day. I am rich, at least in expectation, being a partner and no longer a

“To tell the truth,” continued the father, dropping the tone of
badinage, “I did feel ashamed of myself, and was arranging a little
plan of reconciliation, when our servant girl brought word that Mr.
Goodlow had forbidden her drawing water from the well.”

Harry looked at his father with a surprised, troubled, and slightly
angry look. The well was on Mr. Goodlow’s land, but had been used from
time immemorial by both families, as there was none other near. He began
to think the matter was more serious than he had at first supposed.

“I felt this to be unchristian,” continued his father, “and could not
bring myself to make the first advance after it.”

“I can hardly believe the story, and will cross-question the girl,”
replied Harry.

It turned out to be true, however; the girl had been going to the well,
as Deacon Goodlow descended, “all mud,” as she described it, from his
buggy, and he seeing her at first seemed inclined to avoid a meeting,
but suddenly changing his mind told her angrily never to come there for
water again. With all due allowance for kitchen exaggeration, the fact
could scarcely be disputed, and Harry suddenly burst forth:

“We will dig a well of our own; I have always hated dependence for
anything, even on her father, and then we’ll see–”

What they would see was not very clear, except that they would see the
well built, for Harry, with his usual impetuosity, at once set about
making the necessary arrangements, his new position enabling him to
supply the requisite means. He engaged the men and selected the spot
that very evening.

Next day the well was commenced and advanced rapidly towards completion,
the water for family use being carted in the mean time from a distance
in barrels. What the deacon over the way must have thought when he saw
the excavation progressing and the water cart regularly every morning
passing in front of his door, no one knows; for not a word did he say.
He could not have had an easy conscience nor a pleasant time, however,
for Harry had not put his foot on the premises, and consequently Katy’s
eyes were almost as full of water as the barrel.

It was a long way down to the region of water, and if truth, as is
generally believed, lies so deep, there is no wonder it is rarely
reached; but the effort was at length successful, and when the liquid
vein was struck the crystal fluid proved plentiful, half filling the
deep well.

The water carts ceased their journey, the workmen were discharged,
Deacon Hartley had a well of his own, Harry felt independent; but there
was something else wanted. The latter had not exactly evaded Katy, who
he knew was pining to see him, but, feeling his pride hurt, had not
taken as great pains as he might to have thrown himself accidentally in
her way. She had felt this neglect, and now when his pride was satisfied
hers was aroused, and she kept herself carefully in-doors.

It took a week to build the well, and a week had elapsed since–that was
two weeks of misery, all because the fish did not bite as they should
have done, and neglected scientific allurements for less artistic
attractions. Deacon Goodlow was miserable, because Katy looked unhappy
and reproachful, occasionally enforcing her reproaches with a sob or
two. Deacon Hartley was miserable, partly because he was ashamed of
himself and partly because it went against his whole nature to quarrel;
Katy was miserable, because her lover had neglected her, and she had had
no chance to disobey her father’s injunctions not to see him; Harry was
the most miserable of the party now that the excitement of achieving his
independence was over, because he missed the presence of his lady-love,
and knew in his heart he had vented a little of his anger by neglecting

Harry was pining for her now in a much more rampant way than she had
previously pined for him, and had revolved twenty impracticable schemes
of restoring matters to their condition previous to the war. The
inevitable laws of nature, however, that had caused all these mental
wounds, helped to bring them to a crisis and finally to effect a cure.
It was Sunday morning, and Harry had resolved twenty times he would join
Katy on her way to church, for she went before her father to teach a
class of Sunday scholars, and twenty times resolved that he would not.
His father had convinced himself as many times that neighborly ill-will
should be corrected at a sacrifice even of a little pride, and as often
that he could not make the first advance; when a small voice was heard
at the door, and electrified them both. It was not a sweet voice nor the
tone rich, in fact it might be called harsh and unrefined, but the sound
was pleasanter to Harry’s ears than any he had heard in two weeks. The
voice belonged to the extra help of Mr. Goodlow’s household.

“Please, sir, master said I mussent, but could we have a little water
from your well?”

Harry and his father gazed at each other and then at the girl in wonder.

“Please, sir,” she continued, seeing their bewildered air, and
addressing herself to Harry in an injured tone, “our well has run itself
dry. Ever since you built yours the water has been getting lower, and
last night it all went. Master says it’s on account of the elevation,
but I say it’s because yours is further down hill.”

“Do you mean to say you have no water at all?” said Harry.

“But I do, then, unless you call mud water; we managed to make tea last
night by tying a new bit on to the rope; but wasn’t it bitter and
gritty, though? You ought to have tasted it; but to-day it’s as thick as
paste, and you know we cannot send a water cart on Sunday.”

“How did you manage for washing?”

“That’s how it comes we have no water for breakfast. We had saved up a
little that had settled the worst down to the bottom, but we did not
have enough to wash, and Miss Katy, when she tried to use the well
water, came out all streaked, and used up all that we had put by;
because, as she said, she would rather go without her breakfast than go
dirty. I guess I wouldn’t, though.”

“But why did you not send to us before?” said Mr. Hartley,

“Why, because master thought as he had ordered away your girl, you would
do the like by me; unless he begged pardon, or something of that sort,
and he did not feel equal to that after your throwing him overboard the
day you went fishing.”

“He surely never said I threw him overboard?”

“No, but I guessed it; how could he ’a got so wet otherwise, and why was
he so mad?”

“Well, you guessed all wrong; I did nothing of the sort, and hope you
have told no one such a silly story.”

“Never mind that now,” interrupted Harry. “Mr. Goodlow is waiting for
his breakfast; so take as much water as you want or you will be too

“Give my respects to Mr. Goodlow,” added his father, “and say he is
welcome to water from our well at any time, and that I regret it has
injured his.”

“Yes, and you can add that father will call on him this evening, and now
be off; I’ll draw the water for you.” This was very polite in Harry, but
respect for woman, even in the humblest ranks, is ever the attribute of
an American, and–it is possible Harry may have wished to send a message
to Katy. “Leastways,” as the girl would have said, Katy was hardly out
of sight of her front gate when she heard a step she well knew.

“Oh, Harry,” she said, turning a pair of sorrowful eyes upon him, that
shot reproachful torments into his very heart. “How could you?”

The sentence was incomplete in its construction, but complete enough in
its effects; it was enforced with a little sob and made Harry about as
contemptible a wretch, in his own esteem, as if she had rehearsed a set
speech of an hour’s duration, depicting his enormities.

“I am so sorry, Katy. Do you forgive me? I have been wretched.” This was
a good tack, and being borne out by his appearance and evident
contrition, went a long way towards securing his pardon.

What exactly was said, the tones being low and the faces close together,
will never be discovered, but light came back to Katy’s eyes, color to
her cheeks, and a smile, if nothing more, to her lips; and ere the
church was reached a happier couple could not be found within it. Joy is
doubly blessed if preceded by sorrow, and only those who have known its
want can appreciate happiness.

That Sunday evening, as had been his custom, unbroken for many years
till the last two weeks, Harry presented himself at Mr. Goodlow’s gate
and entered unannounced. It can hardly be said he was wholly
undisturbed, but outwardly exhibited perfect composure, prepared to meet
and determined to exhaust the worst. Courage dispels danger, and there
was nothing and nobody to meet more terrible than Katy herself. She was
in splendid spirits, full of fun, rendered more touching and gentle on
account, of the recent estrangement, and charmed Harry with the renewal
of her former witchery. He gave himself up to the mere enjoyment of her
presence, following her every motion with unwearying admiration, and
never removing his eyes from her loved form. He seemed as though
drinking through his eyes her graceful beauty, and experienced all those
charming sensations that love alone bestows.

He had almost forgotten, basking in present joy and dreaming hazily of
future happiness, there was an angry father in existence, when the
latter gentleman appeared at the door. A gleam of surprise crossed his
features, but Harry at once stepped forward and was in the act of boldly
justifying his presence, when he saw another figure in the doorway–that
of his own parent.

Mr. Goodlow slowly advanced, and extending his hand frankly to Harry,

“I am glad to see you, and hope you will forget the errors and
weaknesses of humanity, and forgive me the annoyance my foolish and
unworthy quarrel has caused.”

“And you, Katy,” said Mr, Hartley, “must do the like by me; we have been
guilty of wrong, and should only do worse by being ashamed to own it
before our children, whom our example is most likely to affect.”

Harry felt as though he had escaped from a building on fire, and at
once recovering his elasticity, replied:

“No; in quarrelling Katy and I never intend to follow any one’s example.
Do we, Katy?”

“We only regret,” she continued, evading his gaze, “that a shadow should
have come between those we love so dearly.”

“I hope, never to return,” replied Mr. Goodlow, “and that these weeks of
folly and punishment may not be lost upon us all; but let us speak no
more of it.”

“We have something more serious still to mention,” resumed Mr. Hartley,
gaily. “We have been settling your wedding-day, and, Katy, you should be
very grateful, for I named an early one.” He took her affectionately in
his arms, for she had always been like a daughter, and kissed her warmly
while she hid her blushing face.

“That is right, father,” burst forth Harry, enthusiastically. “I suppose
you went on the principle, ‘If ’tis well done, when ’tis done, ’twere
well ’twere done quickly.’”

“No, Harry, on an entirely different one,” said Mr. Goodlow, laughing
heartily. “On the principle, that ‘All’s well that ends well.’ Though
that is but a dry joke, as far as we are concerned.”


The subject of the protection of fish demands the consideration of every
political economist, as well as of every sportsman in our country, or we
shall soon be reduced to the condition of France, and forced to
repopulate our deserted streams and lakes and furnish to the people,
with great labor and at high price, one of their chief articles of food.
In olden times, during the epicurean days of Rome, and later during the
reign of the Catholic fast days, the utmost attention was bestowed upon
the preservation, protection, and improvement of fish; enormous revenues
were invested in immense tanks where they were fattened, and different
species were transported to countries where they were unknown, and
domesticated in unaccustomed waters. With the advent of the Roman
Catholic religion, several foreign varieties were introduced into
England, among others the fat carp and the lean pickerel; and fish ponds
were invariably attached to monasteries and convents.

Although the religion that ordains fish-eating to be fasting, having
shrunk from its gigantic reach and extent, is confined in our land to a
small sect, and the inhabitants of the waters are no longer a religious
institution; fish must always constitute a considerable portion of the
diet of the poor, and an acceptable change, if not permanently
agreeable, to the rich. Whatever serves for food to the people, above
all to the lower class, deserves the attention of the statesman, and any
practice that will tend to diminish its price demands the assistance of
the philanthropist. Consider if the price of fish were suddenly to
double, how far the injury would extend, and how much suffering would
follow. When a gradual change takes place in the cost of any article of
food, man adapts himself to altered circumstances, and the loss, though
equally great, is not so perceptible as when the advance is sudden.

That the supply of this food can be exhausted, and its quality easily
reduced, is painfully apparent; streams in the neighborhood of New York
that formerly were alive with trout are now totally deserted. The Bronx,
famous alike for its historical associations and its once excellent
fishing, does not now seem to hold a solitary trout, or indeed fish of
any kind. The shad that a few years ago swarmed up the Hudson River in
numbers incomputable, have become scarce and quadrupled in price during
the last decade. Salmon, most nutritious and noblest of fish, which in
ancient days paid their yearly visits in vast numbers, if early
historians are to be believed, to our principal rivers as far south as
the Delaware, are at present taken nowhere to the southward of Maine,
and in but limited quantities even in that wild region.

On every portion of our sea-coast, in spite of replenishment from the
mighty ocean, the same diminution is visible, while many of our confined
inland waters are absolutely depopulated. The insatiable maw of New York
market swallows alike the trout from Maine, the bass from Lake Erie, or
the white-fish from the Sault Ste. Marie, while the parvenus that have
acquired sudden fortunes in that wonderful city, endowed with the
instincts of neither gentlemen nor sportsmen, think it magnificent to
devour trout in Autumn and black bass in Spring, judging by their
extravagant price that they must be rare and therefore good. The
rapidity with which a section of country can be fished out by energetic
pot-hunters where the law places inadequate restraint, and often in
spite of the law’s restraint, has been remarkably evidenced in the
history of Sullivan County. When the Erie Railroad was still incomplete,
and the tide of explorers had just commenced to penetrate beyond Goshen,
and only occasional stragglers reached the land of promise and
performance beyond Monticello; the swamps were alive with woodcock and
the streams with trout. But as the railroad advanced and gave improved
facility of travel, so-called sportsmen poured over the country in
myriads, following up every rivulet and ranging every swamp, killing
without mercy thousands of trout and hundreds of birds, boasting of
their baskets crowded to overflowing, and counting a day’s sport by the
hundred; till Bashe’s Kill, where the pearly-sided fish once dwelt
abundantly, was empty, and the broad Mongaup, the wild Callicoon, and
even the joyous Beaver Kill, with its innumerable tributaries, were
exhausted. The woodcock disappeared from the cold black mud of the
springy swamps, the trout no longer broke the surface of the noisy rills
of that picturesque region, and the hunters and fishermen turned their
attention and carried their clumsy rods, bait-hooks, cheap guns, and
case-hardened consciences, elsewhere.

So it has been and will be everywhere, unless the people and the real
sportsmen take the matter in hand; the farmers, who are after all to be
the salvation of our institutions, lose by the destruction of game one
of the greatest attractions of their lands, and are interested in
preserving for themselves and their city friends the wild dwellers in
the lakes and brooks from wanton and ruthless destruction. Lawgivers are
concerned in the passage of proper laws on account of public interest,
and the increasing necessity of cheap food that a rapidly augmenting
population engenders. Sportsmen have the greatest stake, for if they
would retain for their old age and leave to their children the best
preserver of health, a love of field sports, they must protect
game-birds and fish. They should discourage, by their conversation and
example, all infringement of the law or any cruel or wasteful
prosecution of what should be sport. If they find a man who destroys,
for the purpose of destroying, they should not only shun but expose him;
if they meet with a case of palpable infraction of the law, they should
enforce punishment; by these means, and the enactment of judicious
statutes, the beautiful wild creatures that form so pleasant an addition
to the charms of country life, may be preserved in undiminished numbers
for all time.

The first necessity, however, is that proper and uniform enactments
should be passed in every portion of our extensive nationality. If the
close times differ in adjoining states, fish will be killed in one and
sold in the other; it is useless to attempt to forbid the catching of
trout in Maine, if they can be eaten in New York. Pinnated grouse,
killed on the western prairies where they are fast being exterminated,
are sold openly in New York markets in consequence of their omission
from the game law, during the entire spring, until the heat of the
weather prevents their transportation. Black bass are frequently exposed
on the hucksters’ stands heavy with spawn, and pike-perch are hardly
regarded as desirable in any other condition.

The universal rule should be comprehensive and simple, as the habits of
the fresh water fish are sufficiently well known; protection should be
given during the spawning season, and for such a period before and after
as to prevent the annihilation of those who have survived the numerous
dangers that surround them, and are ready for the duties of parturition,
and to allow them to recover from the exhaustion resulting from the

No trout should be killed except from the first of March to the first of
October; no lake trout except from the first day of February to the
first day of November, and no black bass or mascallonge from the first
day of January to the first day of June. These times may be restricted
for certain localities where greater protection is necessary, but
should, under no circumstances, be enlarged. Trout spawn from the middle
of October to the latter part of November, and do not recover their
condition till the opening of Spring. Lake trout spawn about the same
time, and mascallonge and black bass in March, April, or even as late as
the early part of May.

None of these fish should be taken in nets, nor by spearing, and no
fykes, seines, or gill-nets should be used in the waters which they
inhabit. Stringent regulations to this effect are necessary, as it has
been the habit of the market fishermen of the northern section of our
country to use a net with meshes small enough to catch yearling trout,
and which they frequently throw to one side and leave to perish
miserably. This net fishing is continued all winter, so that not only
are thousands of large fish destroyed in the act of spawning, or just
after doing so, but millions of the young, the seed of the harvest, are
slain without profit, being left on the ice to freeze.

Spearing is also terribly fatal. None can escape the sharp eye of the
spearsman, and although many more are wounded than killed they rarely
recover, for their natural enemies, the eels, are ever on the alert for
such occurrences, and fastening themselves upon the wounded spot suck
out the little life that is left. There are many streams of New Jersey
which, by persistent gigging, as it is called, have been divested of
every swimming thing, so that they are absolutely uninhabited. Not only
trout, but cat-fish, eels, and suckers, have met the same untimely fate,
and now boys and men search vainly for their prey.

By fair fishing no stream or pond can be entirely exhausted; when trout
have the privilege of biting or not, they will exhibit sufficient
circumspection to perpetuate their species; but when they can be
followed during the hours of darkness to their retreats, and exposed by
the glare of the jack, are liable to death by the fatal spear, or in
case they may be enveloped by the all-devouring net, they have no
defence or escape, and must soon disappear entirely. Their numbers,
instead of helping them or delaying the catastrophe, excite the cupidity
of the poacher, and accelerate instead of deferring their destruction.

Interested parties in various sections of the country, endeavor to
convince themselves and others that trout change their nature in these
favored localities, and either spawn from time to time as fancy
dictates, or postpone the performance till winter’s frosts have driven
profitable visitors to their city homes. The proprietors of the frontier
taverns, where sportsmen congregate in search of finny prey, boldly
assert that there are several kinds of brook trout, of which one variety
spawns in September, another in October, and so on in such manner that
it is always right and proper to fish for them. Naturalists have, as
yet, failed to discover this peculiarity or describe these varieties;
and although they know that individuals may differ casually or delay the
act a few weeks, they recognise one well known spawning season. The
_ova_ of trout are largely developed in September, and, except in the
colder latitudes and where they are extremely abundant, these fish
should be exempt after the first of that month; but in October and
November, pressing hunger should be the only excuse for killing them.

The laws, however, are not so much to blame as the neglect of their
enforcement; perfect statutes will not answer if they are not carried
out, and the first duty of sportsmen’s clubs and of individual
sportsmen, a duty to humanity, to themselves, and to their fellow
creatures, is to enforce the game laws. By game laws are not meant those
barbarous statutes of England that made it more criminal in a poor man
to slay a hare than a human being–statutes that are deservedly odious
to free men, and which by no possibility could be introduced into the
New World; but provisions for the protection and preservation of the
wild inhabitants of our woods and waters, a common heritage of beauty
and sustenance, and the property of our citizens indiscriminately. These
creatures are a considerable source of wealth, worthy the most careful
attention; they breed and increase of themselves without care or
expense; and constitute a large portion of the stock of our markets. It
would be an interesting investigation to ascertain how much money is
paid yearly in the City of New York for the wild deer and game birds of
the west, the sea fishes of our coast, the finer varieties of our inland
waters, and the salmon of Canada. The latter, alone, amounts to hundreds
of thousands of dollars, and is a severe tax paid to a foreign country
for the fatuity that drove those noble fish from our own rivers.

This vast source of revenue will, however, disappear, unless precautions
are taken to prevent the untimely slaughter of these unprotected
creatures. If their periods of incubation are disregarded, their nests
and spawning-beds broken up, and themselves, when engaged in the duties
of maternity, disturbed or slain, they will diminish rapidly till the
forests shall cease to be vocal with their harmony, and the water
animated with their gambols.

In England not only do game preserves produce a good rent from
enthusiastic sportsmen, but the fisheries, particularly of salmon, are
extremely valuable as commercial enterprises. At present, in our
country, we only recognise the value of these advantages by their loss.
The Tay produces a rental of $70,000 yearly for the salmon fisheries,
and so profitable have fishing rights become, that several rivers that
were once exhausted have been restored, and now yield large revenues.

If we would have salmon at our own doors, we also must restock the
Hudson, the Connecticut, and the numerous other rivers that were once
frequented by them. But the trout and the black bass are still with us,
and by decent care and treatment may be plenteous, for the pleasure and
support of ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.
Considerable attention has been expended upon some of the ponds and
streams on Long Island; and although the poacher makes occasional
depredations, and lurking through the bushes plants his net, or with
wriggling worm draws forth his unseasonable prey during the forbidden
periods, the improvement already is remarkable. Ponds that were once
empty of fish are made beautiful by the splashes of the playful trout,
and streams that were deserted are replenished. Enforce the law
thoroughly, and discontinue unreasonable slaughter, and fish, from their
enormous fecundity, must increase immensely.

It is probable that the localities in the neighborhood of our large
cities have passed their worst days, and that the beautiful lakes and
rivers, ensconced in the wild woods and amid the green hills of our
unopened country, are in the most danger. A cockney sportsman, by which
we mean not a city sportsman, but him who, wherever born or bred, fishes
only for quantity, and from a vain-glorious spirit of boastful rivalry,
is, indeed, a ruthless thing; he spares neither fish, flesh, nor fowl,
whether he can use them for food, or must leave them to putrify, and
regardless of the means or implements he employs. This merciless biped
invaded Moosehead lake one year, armed with fly and bait rod, and with
two additional trolling rods projecting from each side of his boat as he
moved from place to place, murdered thousands of glorious trout;
supplying his own wants, the public table, and the hog-pen–for the
latter was separated from his feeding place–till the pigs, disgusted at
his brutality, were surfeited, and bushels of putrescent fish had to be
buried or thrown into the lake. Others, almost as murderous, roam the
north woods of the State of New York, and even penetrate as far as the
unbroken shores of Lake Superior, threatening annihilation to our game
of every kind. The man who kills an animal, bird, or fish, knowing that
it must be left to spoil, justifies the charge of cruelty against our
class, and deserves the scorn and condemnation of all right-thinking

Wanton injury to public property, in game, should be punished precisely
as similar injury to public property in grounds or buildings, by
incarcerating the offender in prison; for of the two, the latter is less
injurious in its ultimate results. A building may be replaced, but who
can restore life to the fish that bears a thousand undeveloped young in
its bosom, or can give back to the starving fawn the mother that has
been slain at its side? Mere pecuniary fines are an insufficient
punishment; the poaching criminal is the poorest, as he is the meanest,
of offenders, and laughs at any attempt to collect penalties that are
not enforced by imprisonment; while the wealthy cockney is willing to
run the risk of fine if he can, by taking the advantage of honest
sportsmen, have the chance of boasting of his wonderful prowess and
success. A few months in jail would cure the recklessness of the former
and cool the ardor of the latter.

A still more murderous proceeding, so infamous that it is rare even with
professional poachers, is to cast poison into the water, thus slaying,
by one fell process, large and small, young and old. Condemnation of
such a practice is unnecessary; and were it otherwise, fit language
could hardly be found to depict its enormity.

By the introduction of unsuitable fish much injury is occasioned, more
frequently through ignorance than wilfulness. Perch placed in a sluggish
trout pond, like many of those on Long Island, will devour the young
fry, and soon diminish the yield; and pickerel, which are especial pets
of our farmers, although nearly worthless for food or sport, have
devastated some of the best ponds in the country. The former are
devotedly fond of minnows or small fish of any kind, and such bold
biters as to give rise, in England, to the story of a country gentleman
who enticed an ardent angler to his house by stocking one of his ponds
with several dozen perch, all but one of which the visitor captured on
the day after his arrival, before breakfast. The pickerel is exceedingly
voracious, and also right fond of his smaller fellow fish for dinner.

To meet these cases the ponds must be drawn off, as neither perch nor
pickerel remain in running water, and the waters must be re-stocked. In
fact, wherever, from any cause, the drain is greater than the supply,
the deficiency must be made good by artificial means.

By these means can the seductive little beauties, whether of the
feathered, furred, or scaly tribe, that allure us to the great woods,
the pleasant meadows, or the sparkling brooks, be preserved through
endless time in undiminished abundance, furnishing the incentive that
leads us away from our dull books or wearying cares, the crowded
streets, the congregations of eager men, the trials and excitements of
business, to gentle communings with the hills and skies, to
contemplative musings beneath the leafy forests, or by the noisy
water-falls, strengthening our nerves, renewing our hold of life, and
elevating our moral nature.



Before making an artificial fly, it is essential to ascertain and select
the best materials, and the necessary implements for the purpose. In the
Game Fish of North America the author has explained the simplest and
easiest mode of tying a fly, and if there be any person who has not read
that work he should procure it at once. The instructions there contained
must be first mastered before the following are attempted, lest
discouragement should result; and no one that does not desire great
accuracy and finish need waste the time and labor of understanding and
executing the ensuing directions. There are a few persons who wish to
tie a fly handsomely; this chapter is written for them. The fish
probably care little whether the fly is made at Conroy’s establishment,
of the finest materials and from the most approved patterns, or by some
unknown German wholesale dealer, of any chance feathers.

Remember, however, that he who strives not after perfection never
attains mediocrity, and the improvement of himself is one half of the
angler’s pleasure. If we are content with an ungainly fly, we will be
satisfied with inferiority of rod and tackle; and although the fish may
not see the difference, the angler may become, from neglecting one
point, slovenly in all. A well-made fly is a beautiful object, an
ill-made one an eye-sore and annoyance; and it is a great satisfaction
both to exhibit and examine a well-filled book of handsomely tied flies.

Nothing can be thoroughly done unless strict attention is given to
minutiæ. The material must be selected and protected with the greatest
care, the scissors and knife must be sharp, the spring pliers of
suitable strength, and the nails of the workman must be long and his
hands scrupulously clean. Hereafter the table-vice, the use of which was
recommended in the Game Fish of North America, and which will be found
both convenient and for extreme neatness necessary, will be dispensed
with, and the hook held in the hand during the entire operation. This at
first may appear awkward, require more time, and give an inferior
result; but sad would be the case if the loss of a vice were to diminish
a man’s capabilities.

The selection of the hook depends mainly upon the fancy of the
fisherman, and partly upon the locality of its destined use. If fish are
scarce and shy, select one that will insure striking; if they are
abundant, but strong and vigorous, choose one that will hold. In
trout-fishing there are two that bear the palm in striking, the sneck
bent and the Kirby bent Limerick; in holding a fish after he is struck,
my preference is for Warren’s Lake-trout hook, which, however, does not
make a handsome fly; for salmon-fishing, the O’Shaunessey Limerick is
the general favorite. The objection to the straight or hollow-pointed
Limerick, is that it may be drawn over a flat surface without catching,
while the point of the O’Shaunessey, by projecting, catches and

Fish-hooks of the best quality of home manufacture, of all shapes and
sizes, may be obtained at from twenty-five to seventy-five cents a
hundred, and will be found equal if not superior to any English hook at
double the price, or they can be manufactured of any shape desired.

So few persons make their own flies in this country that none of the
tackle-makers sell the materials, and hence the amateur will have to
collect the latter as opportunity offers. Gut, of course, can be
purchased anywhere; but the strongest kind of that suitable for
salmon-fishing is often difficult to obtain, if not entirely out of the
market. In trout-fishing, select fine, round, transparent strands, and
pay from one to two dollars per hank of one hundred strands; for salmon
choose the strongest and roundest, and pay from three to four dollars.
Gut is imported from Spain and Italy, and is made by drawing out a dead
silk-worm till it is of the proper fineness; and none imported from the
East, and no imitation of grass, sinew, or the like, is worth using. The
quality can be determined by its hardness; if it resists the teeth well,
it is good; age weakens and finally decays it.

The best wax, although it is by no means perfect, is made of one part of
resin, one of beeswax, and four of shoemaker’s wax, the two former
melted together and poured into water, and then worked in with the
latter. It should be kept in a small piece of leather. Shoemaker’s wax
itself is the strongest, but is sticky in warm weather and hard in cold.
The best silk is the finest sewing-machine silk, marked with three 0’s
on the spool; but for very small trout-hooks the better plan is to twist
two or three strands of spool floss-silk together and wax them

Tinsel of a superior kind is difficult to obtain; the silver should be
both variegated and plain, and the yellow either gold or well covered
with gilt, and both flat and wound over fine silk. A mixture of both
sorts of a poor quality is used to tie linen goods, and can be obtained
at the furnishing stores, but a better article is to be had from the
importers of gold and silver braids. The proper kind of floss-silk comes
in spools, and can be wound off by the single thread over the hand till
a proper thickness is attained, and will work much better than the
common floss skeins. If the latter are used, they must be divided into
several strands and are apt to bunch.

Worsted of all colors can be obtained in the rough, or the yarn may be
picked or used intact; the former is the best plan, and rivals mohair in

Mohair may be purchased from the importers of woollens, while it seems
impossible, except by direct importation from the English tackle-shops,
to obtain either pig’s hair or seal’s fur. For salmon-flies the two last
are infinitely preferable, having a gloss that no other material

Mohair and camlets are the finest selection of goat’s hair (the former
being carded and the latter combed), and work beautifully. The most
elegant flies are those with silk bodies, but they are rarely so
effective as those of mohair. Many of the wild animals of our woods
furnish a fine fur, such as the grey, red, and black squirrels, martin,
mink, rabbit, and others.

A golden pheasant is indispensable for salmon-flies, and a spoiled skin
can be obtained from the taxidermists at from two to five dollars,
according to their scarcity. Hackles for salmon-flies should be large
and from matured cocks, those for dyeing delicate colors pure white;
while for trout-flies they should be small, either from hens or from
cocks not over two years old, and taken from the upper part of the head.
They must taper well to the point and not have a stiff stem, and should
have the fibre about the length of the hook shank. For wing-flies they
must be smaller than for hackle-flies and palmers, and the superfluous
fibres are to be stripped off before the feather is tied on. Small neck
feathers of almost any bird will make a hackle sufficiently large for
the midge flies. The natural colors afford abundant variety for
trout-flies, but for salmon the gayest must be dyed. The necessary
colors are red, claret, blue, orange, purple, and yellow; and by suiting
the dye to the natural color, so that the latter shall shine through, a
fine effect is often produced. Considerable practice and experience will
be necessary in selecting hackles to distinguish the weak from the
harsh, and to determine the proper size and elasticity. Collect all
varieties of dimension and color, and tying each selection round the
roots with a thread, keep them in separate papers. After a while, those
that experience shall have proved to be unsuitable may be discarded.

The feathers of small birds make good wings for trout flies, and there
is not generally much difference in their color. Our brown thrush is
nearly the shade of the English land-rail; the robin furnishes a fine
and cohesive feather; the woodcock’s tail makes a pretty fly, while the
mallard and wood duck are indispensable.

There are two distinct feathers from the mallard which are used for
different flies; the brown and grey mallard feather, both taken from the
drake, the former from the back near the wings, and the latter from the
body beneath the wings. The bird must be in good plumage, and under the
most favorable circumstances they are both, except in simple wings as
hereafter described, difficult feathers to tie; the fibres, although
very fine, being apt to separate. Another light feather, much easier to
handle than the grey mallard, is taken from the back of the canvas-back,
but is of rather too pale a color; that from the red-head is of darker
grey. For salmon flies a larger range is requisite. The turkey of all
shades, but especially the black and brown of the wild bird, is the
main-stay; the golden pheasant’s tail is somewhat similar; the peacock
gives us excellent feathers of many shades, and the finer herls from the
eyes of the tail add lustre to a mixed wing. Peacock and ostrich herls
are used for the heads and bodies of certain specimens. Ibis, macaw,
guinea-fowl, blue-jay, king-fisher, parrot, are all necessary; while the
Argus pheasant, although injured by the water, makes an exquisite wing,
and the silver pheasant is used with effect in black bass flies.

For dyed feathers the pure white of the swan furnishes an excellent
material, while crossing colors, such as yellow over ibis, produces
great brilliancy. The mallard and canvas-back are also favorites for
dyeing. The principal shades are yellow, blue, and purple.

We will now proceed to make a salmon-fly after the simplest plan on a
large hook, and remember that the point is held down, and when the
further side is spoken of, it refers to it in that position; the head is
always towards the right and that is called the upper part, and towards
it is above.

Select a piece of stout gut a little longer than the shank; pare down
the ends with a knife; double them together so that one shall extend
beyond the other; insert the picker between them, bend at the top and
shape it by twisting and pinching the ends. If the hook is very large it
is well to take several strands of gut and first twist them together by
means of a vice fastened to each end, while they are wet and before
shaping them over the picker. When the gut is prepared lay it down and
take a well waxed piece of silk about six inches long, and holding the
hook in the left hand, wind a number of separated coils from the lower
towards the upper end of the shank, but not quite to the head. If the
silk is well waxed it will remain in its place while you pick up the gut
with your right hand, and lay it along the under side of the shank upon
these coils. Hold it there with your left while you wind firmly and
closely toward the bend; catch the last turn beneath the gut or pass a
half hitch, and cut off the end. Take a fresh piece of silk, always
thoroughly waxed, and pass a few turns over its end so as to fasten it;
then hold a piece of tinsel four times as long as the shank between your
left forefinger and the further side of the hook, just projecting above
it, and nearly vertical; pass three turns over it, and wind the silk in
separated or loose coils towards the head and let it hang there. Fasten
the spring pliers on to the lower end of the tinsel lengthways with it,
and holding the shank in the right hand, with the left forefinger in the
pliers, twist several turns down and then back to form the tag, covering
the edges of the first turns with the second carefully and neatly; let
the pliers hang; pass the hook to the left hand; unwind the silk with
the right down to the tinsel; fasten off with three turns and cut the
tinsel close to the hook. Unwind from the floss-spool over your right
hand a dozen strands, and smoothing them evenly together and holding
them against the hook with the left, tie in the ends firmly, and again
coil the tying silk toward the head out of the way. You may wind the
floss with either hand or with the pliers as you please; if you wind
with the right hand, hold the hook in the left and press the second
finger on each turn as it is passed; this is called stopping it or using
the stop. After covering about one sixteenth of an inch, seize the end
between your second and third or third and fourth fingers, and hold it
firmly while you bring down the tying silk and pass three turns; holding
the silk in that way is called using the catch, and is difficult to
acquire with facility. Cut the floss off neatly, and selecting a feather
from the golden pheasant top-knot, lay it on its face,–the side of the
feather which lies nearest the bird from which it is taken, is the
inside or back, and the contrary side the outside or face,–and secure
it firmly. Stop the tying silk and take up your hackle, which should
have been previously prepared by stroking back and pulling out a few
fibres toward the point, and holding it by the point with the right
hand, lay it on its face with the butt towards the left so that the bare
spot shall come at the upper end of the floss silk tip, and pass two
turns of the flying silk; insert a piece of tinsel in the same manner
parallel to and just over the hackle, and having fastened it, hold the
tying silk with the catch; take up the dubbing of mohair with your right
hand and spin it over the tying silk towards the left, having again
taken the latter into the right as soon as you have caught the end of
the mohair with the stop. Shape the mohair so that the body shall taper
and twist it evenly together with the tying silk towards the shoulder,
using the stop all the way, and do not carry it too close to the head;
pull off the superfluous mohair with the fingers of the right hand and
pass the silk four turns over the upper end of the body, and winding it
towards the head slip it between the gut and the hook. In this way you
can always secure the tying silk when you wish to lay down your work.
Spring the pliers on to the tinsel, and with the right forefinger pass
four even open coils carefully and regularly; unwind the silk, and
having secured the tinsel replace it. If these coils are imperfect or
irregular, neatness cannot be obtained. Having cut off the tinsel, catch
with the spring pliers the butt of the hackle and follow the edge of the
tinsel; rolling the hackle on its back so that the fibres shall point
down the shank. When you reach the shoulder pass several turns of the
hackle close above one another, and bringing down the tying silk secure
the butt. If one hackle is not sufficient, and it rarely is, introduce a
new hackle close above the first, precisely as you did the other, only
on its back, and wind a sufficient number of close coils and again
fasten it. The second hackle, if weak, may be fastened in on its back by
the butt, and wound with the point.

The silk being hitched under the gut cut it off and apply a new piece as
you did the second, and wind it towards the shoulder, letting it hang
close down to the hackle. Prepare the wings by cutting with a sharp
knife a few fibres from each of two mated feathers, together with a
little of the stem, so that the fibres shall not be separated, and
taking one piece by the butt in the right hand, lay it on the side of
the hook next to you, and holding it with the left pass two turns
securely, but not so tight as to derange the feather; then catching the
silk, pull the butt fearlessly into its proper place, and passing
another turn firmly, hitch the silk under the gut, and bring it over the
reversed way on top of the wing. Cut off the butt and taking the hook in
the left hand with the head towards the left, apply and hold the other
wing with the right hand. Still keeping the hook reversed and wind two
turns of silk with the left hand from you, and having arranged the butt
pass another turn and hitch the silk again under the gut, so as to
reverse it for the second time. If the wings are in their proper place,
equally on each side of the hook, restore the latter to its original
position in the left hand, and having cut off the butt neatly, pass as
many turns as you think advisable; then having with your nails stripped
off the fibres from the butt end of an ostrich herl, tie it in with the
point towards the left and the elevated ridge of its stem above.
Hitching the thread again under the gut, wind with the spring pliers the
herl in close coils to form the head; secure and cut it close, and then
stopping one end of silk under your forefinger whip the other over it
three turns and draw all tight. Apply a little varnish at the head and
your fly is finished.

To strengthen the fly, it is well to use a little varnish before the
head is commenced, and even before the wings are laid, but the writer’s
experience goes to prove that the wings are the last part of the fly to
give out. The head will be smaller if instead of the ordinary tying silk
three single strands of floss are used.

To make a handsome fly, fasten the hook, the tag, the tip, and the tail
as directed, then preparing an ostrich herl as for a head, tie it in and
wind several coils close to and covering the butt of the tail, holding
the hook in the right hand with the silk coiled up out of the way, and
using the pliers to guide the herl. Secure the end, apply with the left
hand at the nearer side of the hook, the tinsel, and afterwards at the
further side floss, for the body. Coil the tying silk out of the way,
and with the left hand wind the floss half way up the shank and secure
it; then tie in a hackle and some dubbing as heretofore directed, and
having spun the latter on the tying silk with the right hand, work it up
towards the head for the second division of the body, and secure it
firmly. Hitch the silk under the gut, and thrusting the butt of the
hackle down through the gut loop, with the pliers sprung on to the
tinsel, and on the left forefinger coil the tinsel up as far as the
hackle; withdraw the latter from the loop, hold it and the hook in the
left hand, and with the right forefinger continue the tinsel to the
head. Secure it; wind and secure the hackle as heretofore, and apply a
new piece of tying silk composed of strands of floss.

Select a few fibres of various feathers, which, combined, will produce a
pleasing effect, and holding them all together in the left hand twist
the lower half, that nearest the stem several times, and break it with
the nails of the right thumb and finger, till the fibres are softened at
the spot where they are to be tied to the hook. Include with them a
piece of herl, and applying them with the right hand to the hook, hold
them and it with the left, while you take sufficient turns of silk with
the right, hitch the silk and springing the pliers on to the herl, wind
and fasten the head and finish off.

There may be as many joints or divisions as fancy shall dictate; and
they can be either of floss silk, mohair, or other material. To conceal
the joints herl may be wound like a head or a few turns of hackle taken,
or two small feathers from the golden pheasant’s neck may be applied,
one above and the other below, and after being loosely tied they may be
drawn down by the butts till they are separate round the entire joint.
The favorite feather for the tail is the golden pheasant top-knot, but
in many flies scarlet worsted is preferable, and the fibres of other
feathers may be substituted. In making a mixed wing as it is called,
separate the fibres as much as possible, and after the wing is fastened,
a long golden pheasant top-knot tied over it will often improve the
effect. It is common to add to the wing two fibres of blue macaw, one on
each side, and to tie them properly the silk should be reversed by
passing it under the gut, as directed for tying simple wings. Care and
experience are requisite to the selection of a handsome mixed wing, and
fibres of mallard or wood duck, plain or dyed, are usually a component
part. Delicate feathers produce a finer effect than coarse ones.

In tying in an entire plume reduce it to the proper size by pulling off
the fibres, and if the stem is large pare it away and always flatten and
work it with the nails; then tie it loosely till it is properly
arranged, and finally, secure it with a number of turns. It will slip
unless made unusually firm, which the smallness of the head will readily

Where the tail is worsted, it may be made of several thicknesses, left
longer than necessary, and pared down and picked out after the fly is
finished. As it is essential that in making a head, the ridge of the
stem of the herl should be above, and as it is often obstinate in its
refusal to take that position, it may be wound either way,–that is,
from you or towards you.

Care should be taken with simple wings that each is in the same relative
position to the body, and that the fibres are not separated; with this
object not only must the thread be reversed as above directed, but
cohesive feathers should be selected. Some are exceedingly difficult to
tie, while others, such as the pheasant and turkey, retain their place
readily. They should be selected from feathers taken from the opposite
sides of the bird; and if two or more different kinds are to be used,
the first wing should be completed before the other is commenced, and
before the thread is reversed.

In rolling an ordinary feather in place of a hackle, the same course
may be taken as with the latter, but the better way where it is large
enough is to strip off the fibres of one side, and then pare away the
stem with a sharp knife. This requires care lest the knife slip and cut
your hopes in twain. The same may be done with a simple hackle where
great neatness is required, except that the stem does not need paring.

The tinsel may be double, tied in on opposite sides of the hook and
wound contrary ways, but the effect is hardly better than a simple
twist. In the latter avoid too many coils; they should not exceed four
on hooks numbered not larger than one and a half.

Two hackles, which, if the colors are well contrasted, produce a fine
effect, are usually rolled together, but may be wound one after the
other if care is taken to pick out the fibres. They are tied in at one
time and handled as though they composed but one.

A trout-fly may be made in the manner heretofore directed for
salmon-flies, omitting as much as you please, or the wings may be laid
together back to back or face to face, held in that position in the left
hand, and applied to the hook after the fibres have been pinched with
the nails at the proper place. Being secured in that way they resemble
the wings of the _ephemeræ_ closely; whereas to make one of the
_phryganidæ_ a few fibres of one side may be stripped off and tied on
alone, lying close down upon the hook. Remember the _ephemeridæ_ have
whisks, the _phryganidæ_ have none; the wings of the former stand up, of
the latter lie down. Coarse fibres of hackle, or golden pheasant breast
and back, are usually employed for whisks; and two strands of floss
carefully waxed with a small edge of the wax, will make a tying silk as
strong and large as should be used for a small fly. If well waxed, the
finer the silk the firmer it holds; if not waxed no silk whatever will

Another way of tying a trout-fly, by which more life is supposed to be
given to it, is by commencing to fasten the gut at the bend and
finishing at the head, holding the hook reversed; then change the hook
to its proper position, and reversing the thread, lay on the wings,
which are composed of two strips of feather folded, so that they shall
point up along the gut; secure them firmly and cut off the butts close,
divide them with the point of the picker and pass the thread through the
opening each way several times, and if necessary above them both, but
not on the root of the wings, till they stand up, then pushing them into
their original position tie in below them by the larger end a hackle and
a piece of round tinsel, and spinning a little dubbing on the silk, wind
it toward the bend; hold the thread with the catch, and with the pliers
wind the tinsel and afterwards the hackle, and fasten both at the bend;
and finish off with two half-hitches. The silk composing the material in
which the round tinsel is wound may be left for a tail, the coating
being pulled off; or the tip of the hackle may be so left, or proper
whisks may be introduced. The wings being drawn into their appropriate
place will remain there, and offering resistance to the water are
supposed by some to imitate motion. Those tied in this manner are not
handsome, but are great favorites with certain fishermen for their
assumed killing qualities, and are considered ruined if the silk covers
the roots of the wings, as is done by most Irish flytiers.

Flies may also be finished at the shoulder under the wing; a course that
seems to offer no advantages and to combine most disadvantages. Or the
body may be tied, beginning at the shoulder and finishing at the bend,
as last described, omitting the wings and leaving a place for them till
the last; a new piece of thread is then applied, and the wings being
tied in their natural position, the second finish is made at the head.

To prepare two single strands of floss as tying silk, hold one end
between your teeth, twist the silk and rub it lightly with a small edge
of wax. If the weather is cold the wax may require thumbing before it
can be used or will stick to the silk. There will be found considerable
difference in the strength of strands of floss according to the color,
and in very small flies this may be suited to the insect intended to be
imitated, and the necessity of any other body avoided.

The word buzz, which is taken from the buzzing motion of an insect’s
wings when moved rapidly, is applied to the hackle wound more or less
along the body, and supposed thus without wings to represent that
motion. The hackle may be carried all the way from the bend or only
part of the way, or merely tied very full at the head. In this matter,
as well as concerning palmers, writers differ. A palmer is properly a
long-bodied fly with two small hooks, and hackles wound the entire
length, to represent a caterpillar and its hairy ornaments. The hooks
are often made double expressly for this purpose. A hackle has but one
hook and a shorter body. The word midge is another word that leads to
mistakes; there are only a few proper midge-flies, such as the gnat,
ant, etc., but any fly may be dressed on a minute hook and called a
midge-fly, although this is not an accurate use of language. Horse-hair
is sometimes used as a substitute for gut by old-fashioned anglers, but
it is weaker, more apt to slip, and more perceptible to the fish.

An excellent plan for preserving feathers conveniently and safely, is to
put them in envelopes suited in size to their length, and to stow them,
together with a piece of camphor, in a tin box. If they are looked over,
occasionally, and the camphor renewed as it wastes, they will remain
untouched by moth; but if they are to be kept for a long time unhandled,
they should be deposited in a linen bag. The envelopes should be large,
for if the fibres are bent they will not make handsome wings, and the
different classes of feathers may be tied in separate bundles.

The following wax is recommended in the Appendix to “Fly-fishing in Salt
and Fresh Water:”–Melt some resin in a small vessel over a slow fire,
and whilst it is on the fire and after it has become fluid, take a pure
white wax candle, light it and let it drop into the melted resin; there
is no rule as to the quantity. Pour out upon a board either greased or
rubbed with wax from the candle, one fourth of the composition; then
drop more wax into the remainder and pour out one fourth more. Proceed
in the same manner with the other two fourths, and thus you will have
wax of four degrees of hardness; that with the least wax dropped from
the candle being for use in hot weather, the others for different
degrees of temperature of the seasons. After the composition has become
cool on the board, it should be well worked on the board as shoemaker’s
wax is.

To make soft wax to use upon very delicate silk, dissolve some common
shoemaker’s wax in spirits of wine until it becomes of the consistency
of butter, then put a small quantity on the inside of a piece of an old
kid glove, and draw the silk gently through it. Or put a piece of
shoemaker’s wax the size of a walnut in a small bottle, and pour over it
an ounce of eau-de-cologne; shake it occasionally till it dissolves,
when it is ready for use; then taking a drop between the finger and
thumb, draw the silk through it. It may be carried in a metal bottle
with a screw stopper, and if well corked will keep for years.