HERE BEGINS THE TREATISE ON
FISHING WITH AN ANGLE
(attributed to Dame Juliana Berners)
Solomon in his proverbs says that a good spirit makes a flowering age, that is, a happy age and a long one. And since it is true, I ask this question, 'Which are the means and the causes that lead a man into a happy spirit?" Truly, in my best judgement, it seems that they are good sports and honest games which a man enjoys without any repentance afterward. Thence it follows that good sports and honest games are the cause of a man's happy old age and long life. And therefore, I will now choose among four good sports and honest games: to wit, of hunting, hawking, fishing, and fowling. The best, in my simple opinion, is fishing, called angling, with a rod and a line and a hook. And of that I will talk as my simple mind will permit: not only because of the reasoning of Solomon, but also for the assertion that medical science makes in this manner:
Si tibi deficiant medici, medici tibi fiant
Haec tria-mens laeta, labor, et moderatadiaeta.
You shall understand that this means, if a man lacks leech or medicine, he shall make three things his leech and medicine, and he will never need any more. The first of them is a happy mind. The second is work which isn't too onerous. The third is a good diet, First, if a man wishes ever more to have merry thoughts and be happy, he must avoid all quarrelsome company and all places of debate, where he might have any causes to be upset. And if he wishes to have a job which is not too hard, he must then organise, for his relaxation and pleasure, without care, anxiety, or trouble, a cheerful occupation which gives him good heart and in which will raise his spirits. And if he wishes to have a moderate diet, he must avoid all places of revelry, which is the cause of overindulgence and sickness. And he must withdraw himself to places of sweet and hungry air, and eat nourishing and digestible meats.
Now then, I will describe these sports or games to establish, as well as I can, which is the best of them; although the right noble and very worthy prince, the Duke of York, lately called the Master of Game, has described the pleasures of hunting, just as I would describe it and all the others. For hunting, to my wy of thinking, is too laborious. The hunter must always run and follow his hounds, exercising and sweating heavily. He blows on his horn till his lips blister; and when he thinks he is chasing a hare, very often it is a hedgehog. Thus he hunts and knows not what he is after. He comes home in the evening soaking through, scratched, his clothes torn, his feet wet, covered in mud. This hound lost and that one crippled. Such upsets and many others happen to the hunter which, for fear of the displeasure of the hunters, I dare not discuss. Thus, in truth, it seems to me that this is not the best sport or game of the four mentioned. The sport of hawking is hard work and difficult too, it seems to me. For the falconer often loses his hawks, as the hunter his hounds Then his game and pleasure is gone. Very often he shouts and whistles till he has a raging thirst. His hawk flies to a branch and ignores him. When he would have her fly at game, then she wants a bath. With poor feeding she will get the frounce, the ray, the cray, and many other illnesses that cause them to die. This proves that this is not the best sport and game of the four discussed. The sport and game of fowling seems to me the worst. For in winter season the fowler has no luck except in the hardest and coldest weather, which is burdensome. When he would go to his traps, he cannot because of the cold. He makes many traps and snares, yet he fares badly. In the morning, the dew soaks him up to his thighs. I could say more, but will leave off for fear of upset. Thus, it seems to me that hunting and hawking and also fowling are so tiresome and unpleasant that none of them can succeed nor can they be the best way of bringing a man into a happy frame of mind, which is the cause of long life according to the said proverb of Solomon. Doubtless then, it follows that the winner should be the sport of fishing with a hook. For every other kind of fishing is also tiresome and unpleasant, often making folks very wet and cold, which many times has been the cause of great illness. But the angler will not suffer cold nor discomfort nor anger, unless he be the cause himself. For he can lose at the most only a line or a hook, of which he can have plenty of his own making, as this simple treatise will teach him. So then his loss is not serious, and nothing else can upset him, except that some fish may break away after he has been hooked, or else he may catch nothing: these are not serious. For if the angler fails with one, he may not fail with another, if he does as this treatise teaches: unless there are no fish in the water. And yet, at the very least, he has his wholesome and pleasant walk at his ease, and a sweet breath of the fragrant smell of the meadow flowers, to make him hungry. He hears the melodious harmony of birds. He sees the young swans, herons, ducks, coots, and many other birds with their broods, which to me seems better than all the noise of hounds, the blasts of horns, and the clamour of birds that hunters, falconers, and fowlers can produce. And if the angler catches fish, surely then there is no happier man. Also whoever wishes to practice the sport of angling, he must rise early, which thing is profitable to a man in this way. That is, to wit: most for the welfare of his soul. For it will cause him to be holy, and for the health of his body. For it will cause him to be well, also for the increase of his goods, for it will make him rich. As the old English proverb says: "Whoever will rise early shall be holy, healthy, and happy."
Thus have I proved, as I intended, that the sport and game of angling is the best means and cause that brings a man into a merry spirit, which according to the said proverb of Solomon and the said teaching of medicine makes a flowering age and a long one. And therefore, to all you that are virtuous, gentle, and freeborn, I write and make this simple treatise which follows, by which you may have the full craft of angling to amuse you as you please, in order that your life may be more successful and last longer.
If you want to be crafty in angling, you must first learn to make your tackle, that is, your rod, your lines of different colours. After that, you must know how you should angle, in what place of the water, how deep, and what time of day. For what manner of fish, in what weather; how many impediments there are in the fishing that is called angling. And especially with what baits for each different fish in each month of the year. How you shall make your baits breed. Where you will find the baits: and how you will keep them. And for the most crafty thing, how you are to make your hooks of steel and of iron. Some for the artificial fly: and some for the float and the ground-line, as you will hear afterward all these things talked about openly so that you may learn.
And how you should make your rod skilfully, here I shall teach you. You must cut, between Michaelmas and Candlemas, a fair staff of a fathom and a half long and as thick as your arm, of hazel, willow, or ash. And soak it in a hot oven, and set it straight. Then let it cool and dry for a month. Take them and tie it tight with a cockshoot cord, and bind it to a form or a perfectly square, large piece of timber. Then take a plumb wire that is smooth and straight and sharp at one end. And heat the sharp end in a charcoal fire till it is white-hot: and then burn the staff through with it: always straight in the pith at both ends, till they meet. And after that, burn it in the lower end with a spit for roasting birds, and with other spits, each bigger than the last, and always the largest last: so that you make your hole taper. Then let it lie still and cool for two days. Untie it then and let it dry in a house-roof in the smoke until it is thoroughly dry. In the same season, take a good rod of green hazel, and soak it even and straight and let it dry with the staff. And when they are dry, make the rod fit the hole in the staff, into half the length of the staff. And to make the other half of the top section, take a fair shoot of blackthorn, crabtree, medlar, or juniper, cut in the same season: and well soaked and straight. And bind them together neatly so that the top section may go exactly all the way into the said hole. Then shave your staff down and make it taper. Then bind the staff at both ends with long hoops of iron or fasten in the neatest manner, with a spike in the lower end fastened with a catch so that you can take your top section in and out. Then set your upper section a handbreadth inside the other end of your staff in such a way that the thickness of the sections matches. Bind your top section at the other end as far down as the joint with a cord of six hairs. Fix the cord and tie it firmly at the top, with a loop to fasten on your fishing line. And so you will make yourself a rod so secret that you can walk with it, and no one will know what you are doing. It will be light and well balanced to fish with as you wish.
And for your greater convenience, here is a picture of it as an example:
After you have made your rod, you must learn to colour your lines of hair this way. First, you must take, from the tail of a white horse, the longest and best hairs that you can find; and the rounder it is, the better it is. Divide it into six bunches, and you shall colour every part by itself in a different colour. As yellow, green, brown, tawny, russet, and dusky colours.
And to make a good green colour on your hair, you shall do thus. Take a quart of small ale and put it in a little pan, and add to it half a pound of alum. And put your hair in it, and let it boil softly half an hour. Then take out your hair and let it dry. Then take a half-gallon of water and put it in a pan. And put in it two handfuls of a yellow dye, and press it with a tile-stone, and let it boil gently half an hour. And when it is yellow on the scum, put in your hair with half a pound copperas, beaten to powder, and let it boil gently half an hour. And then set it down and let it cool five or six hours. Then take out the hair and dry it. And it is then the finest green there is for the water, And the more copperas you add to it, the better it is. Or else instead, use verdigris.
Another way, you can make a brighter green, thus. Woad your hair in a woad vat until it is a light blue-grey colour. And then boil it in yellow vegetable dye as I have described, except that you must not add to it either copperas or verdigris.
To make your hair yellow, prepare it with alum as I have explained already. And after that with yellow vegetable dye without copperas or verdigris.
Another yellow you shall make thus. Take a half a gallon of small ale, and crush three handfuls of walnut leaves, and put them together. And put in your hair until it is as deep a yellow as you will have it.
To make russet hair, take of strong lye a pint and a half and half a pound of soot and a little juice of walnut leaves and a quarter of a pound of alum; and put them all together in a pan and boil them well. And when it is cold, put in your hair till it is as dark as you will have it.
To make a brown colour, take a pound of soot and a quart of ale, and boil it with as many walnut leaves as you wish. And when they turn black, take it off the fire. And put your hair in it, and let it lie still till it is as brown as you will have it.
To make another brown, take strong ale and soot and blend them together, and put therein your hair for two days and two nights, and it will be a right good colour.
To make a tawny colour, take lime and water, and put them together; and also put your hair therein four or five hours. Then take it out and put it in tanner's ooze a day, and it will be as fine a tawny colour as we need for our purpose.
The sixth part of your hair, you must keep still white for lines for the dubbed hook, to fish for the trout and grayling, and for small lines to use for the roach and the dace.
When your hair is thus coloured, you must know for which waters and for which seasons they should be used. The green colour in all clear water from April till September. The yellow colour in every clear water from September till November: for it is like the weeds and other types of grass which grow in the waters and rivers, when they are broken. The russet colour serves all the winter until the end of April, as well in rivers as in pools or lakes. The brown colour serves for that water that is black, sluggish, in rivers or in other waters. The tawny colour for those waters that are heathy or marshy.
Now you must make your lines in this way. First, see that you have an instrument like the one shown in the following picture. Then take your hair and cut off from the small end a large handful or more, for it is neither strong nor yet sure. Then turn the top to the tail each in equal amount, and divide it into three parts. Then plait each part at the one end by itself. And at the other end plait all three together: and put this same end in the other end of your instrument, the end that has but one cleft. And make the other end tight with the wedge four fingers from the end of your hair. Then twist each strand the same way and pull it tight: and fasten them in the three clefts equally well. Then take out that other end and twist it whichever way it goes best. Then stretch it a little and plait it so that it will not come undone: and that is good. And to know how to make your instrument, see, here it is in a picture. And it shall be made of wood, except the bolt underneath; which must be of iron.
When you have as many of the lengths as you suppose will suffice for the length of a line, then you must tie them together with a water knot or else a duchess knot. And when your knot is tied, cut off the unused ends a straw's breadth from the knot. Thus you will make your lines fair and fine, and also completely secure for any type of fish. And because you should know both the water knot and also the duchess knot, behold them here in picture. Tie them in the likeness of the drawing.
You shall understand that the subtlest and hardest art in making your tackle is to make your hooks. For the making of which you must have suitable files, thin and sharp and beaten small; a semi-clamp of iron: a bender: a pair of long and small tongs: a hard knife, somewhat thick: an anvil: and a little hammer. And for small fish you shall make your hooks in this manner, of the smallest square needles of steel that you can find. You shall put the square needle in a red charcoal fire till it is of the same colour as the fire. Then take it out and let it cool, and you will find it well tempered for filing. Then raise the barb with your knife and make the point sharp. Then temper it again, for otherwise it will break in the bending. Then bend it like the bend shown here as an example. And you shall make greater hooks in the same way out of larger needles: such as embroiderers' or tailors' or shoemakers' needles. Spear points or shoemakers' needles especially are the best hooks for great fish. And [see that they bend] at the point when they are tested; otherwise they are not good. When the hook is bent, beat the hinder end out broad, and file it smooth to prevent fraying of your line. Then put it in the fire again and give it an easy red heat. Then suddenly quench it in water, and it will be hard and strong. And for you to have knowledge of your instruments, see them here in portrayed in the picture.
When you have made your hooks as you have been taught, then you must attach them on your lines, according to size and strength in this manner. You must take fine red silk, and if it is for a large hook, then double it, don't twist it. Otherwise, for small hooks, let it be single: and with it, thickly bind the line there for a straw's breadth from the end of the hook where your line is placed. Then set your hook there, and wrap it with the same thread for two-thirds of the length that is to be wrapped. And when you come to the third part, turn the end of your line back upon the wrapping, double, and wrap it thus double for the third part. Then put your thread in at the loop twice or thrice, and let it go each time round about the shank of your hook. Then wet the loop and pull it until it is tight. And be sure that your line always lies inside your hooks and not outside. Then cut off the end of the line and the thread as close as you can without cutting the knot.
Now that you know how big a hook to angle with for every fish, I will tell you with how many hairs you must angle for every kind of fish. For the minnow, with a line of one hair. For the growing roach, the bleak, the gudgeon, and the ruffee, with a line of two hairs. For the dace and the great roach, with a line of three hairs. For the perch, the flounder, and small bream, with four hairs. For the chevin-chub, the bream, the tench, and the eel, with six hairs. For the trout, grayling, barbel, and the great chub, with nine hairs. For the great trout, with twelve hairs. For the salmon, with fifteen hairs. And for the pike, with a chalk line made brown with your brown colouring as described earlier, strengthened with a wire, as you will hear hereafter when I speak of the pike.
Your lines must be weighted with lead, and you must know that the nearest sinker to the hook should be a full foot and more separated from it, and every sinker of a weight suitable for the thickness of the line. There are three kinds of sinkers for a running ground-line. And for the float set upon the stationary ground-line ten weights all joining together. On the running ground-line, nine or ten small ones. The float sinker must be so heavy that the least pluck of any fish can pull it down into the water. And make your weights round and smooth so that they do not stick on stones or on weeds. And for the better understanding see them here in picture.
Then you are to make your floats in this manner. Take a good cork that is clean without any holes, and bore it through with a small hot iron: and put a quill in it even and straight. The larger the float, the larger the quill and the larger the hole. Then shape it large in the middle and small at both ends, and especially sharp in the lower end, and similar to the pictures which follow. And make them smooth on a grinding stone, or on a tile stone. And see that the float for one hair is no more than pea-sized; for two hairs; as a bean; for twelve hairs, as a walnut. And so every line according to proportion. All kinds of lines that are not for the ground must have floats, and the running ground-line must have a float. The stationary ground-line doesn't need a float.
Now I have taught you to make all your tackle. Here I will tell you how you shall angle. You will fish: understand that there are six ways of angling. The first is at the bottom for the trout and other fish. Another is at the bottom at an arch or at a pool, where it ebbs and flows, for bleak, roach, and dace. The third is with a float for all manner of fish. The fourth, with a minnow for the trout without lead or float. The fifth is running in the same way for roach and dace with one or two hairs and a fly. The sixth is with an artificial fly for the trout and grayling. And for the first and principal point in angling, always keep away from the water, from the sight of the fish: either keep back on the land or else behind a bush, so that the fish can't see you. For if they do, they will not bite. Also take care that your shadow does not fall on the water any more than it might, for that is a thing which will soon frighten the fish. And if a fish is frightened, he will not bite for a long time after. For all kinds of fish that feed at the bottom, you must angle for them at the bottom, so that your hooks will run or lie on the bottom. And for all other fish that feed above, you must angle for them in the middle of the water, or somewhat beneath or somewhat above. For the bigger the fish, the nearer he lies to the bottom of the water; and the smaller the fish, the more he swims above. The third good point is when the fish bites, that you be not too quick to strike, nor too slow. For you must wait till you suppose that the bait is fairly in the mouth of the fish, and then wait no longer. And this is for the bottom. And for the float, when you see it pulled softly under the water or else carried softly upon the water, then strike. And see that you never strike too hard for the strength of your line, for fear of breaking it. And if you have the fortune to hook a great fish with a small tackle, then you must lead him in the water and labour with him there until he is drowned and overcome. Then take him as well as you can or may, and always beware that you do not pull beyond the strength of your line. And as much as you can, do not let him come out of the end of your line straight from you, but keep him ever under the rod and always hold him there, so that your line can sustain and bear his leaps and his plunges with the help of your rod and of your hand.
Here I will declare to you in what place of the water you must angle. You should angle in a pool or in standing water in every place where it is at all deep. There is not a great choice of places where a pool is of any depth. For it is but a prison for fish, and they live for the most part in hunger like prisoners; and therefore it takes the less art to catch them. But in a river, you shall angle in every place where it is deep and clear by the bottom: for example gravel or clay without. mud or weeds. And especially if there an eddy or a cover. For example a hollow bank: or big roots of trees: or long weeds floating above in the water where the fish can cover and hide themselves at certain times when they like. Also it is good to angle in deep, swift streams, and also in waterfalls and weirs: and in floodgates and mill-races. And it is good to angle where the water rests by the bank: and where the current runs close by: and it is deep and clear at the bottom: and in any other places where you can see any fish rise or feeding.
Now you must know what time of the day you should angle. From the beginning of May until it is September, the biting time is early in the morning from four o'clock until eight o'clock. And in the afternoon, from four o'clock until eight o'clock, but not so good as in the morning. And if there is a cold, whistling wind and a dark, lowering day. For a dark day is much better to angle in than a clear day. From the beginning of September until the end of April, don't ignore any time of the day. Also many pool fishes will bite best at noontime. And if at any time of the day you see the trout or grayling leap, angle for him with an artificial fly appropriate to that same month. And where the water ebbs and flows, the fish will bite in some place at the ebb, and in some place at the flood. After that, they will rest behind stakes and arches of bridges and other places of that sort.
Here you should know in what weather you must angle: as I said before, in a dark, lowering day when the wind blows softly. And in summer season when it is burning hot, then it is no good. From September until April on a fair, sunny day, it is right good to angle. And if the wind in that season comes from any part of the east: the weather then is no good. And when it snows or hails, or there is a great tempest, with thunder or lightning, or sweltering hot weather, then it is no good for angling.
Now you must know that there are twelve kinds of impediments which cause a man to take no fish, without other common causes that may happen by chance. The first is if your tackle is not adequate nor suitably made. The second is if your baits are not good or fine. The third is if you do not angle in biting time. The fourth is if the fish are frightened by the sight of a man. The fifth, if the water is very thick: white or red from any recent flood. The sixth, if the fish cannot stir because of the cold. The seventh, if the weather is hot. The eighth, if it rains. The ninth, if it hails or snow falls. The tenth is if there is a tempest. The eleventh is if there is a great wind The twelfth if the wind is in the east, and that is worst, for commonly, both winter and summer, the fish will not bite then. The west and north winds are good, but the south is best.
And now that I have told you, in all points, how to make your tackle and how you must fish with it, it makes sense that you should know with what baits you must angle for every kind of fish in every month of the year, which is the effect of the art. And without these baits being well known by you, all your other skills taught until now will not be of much use. For you cannot bring a hook into a fish's mouth without a bait. Baits for every kind of fish and for every month follow here in this way.
Because the salmon is the most stately fish that any one can angle for in fresh water. Therefore I intend to begin with him. The salmon is a noble fish, but he is difficult to catch. For commonly he lies only in deep places of great rivers. And for the most part he keeps to the middle of the water: that a man cannot come at him. And he is in season from March until Michaelmas. In which season you should angle for him with these baits when you can get them. First, with a red worm in the beginning and end of the season. And also with a grub that grows in a dunghill. And especially with an excellent bait that grows on a water dock. And he doesn't bite at the bottom but at the float. Also you may take him: but it is seldom seen with a dubbed hook at such times as he leaps, in the same style and manner as you catch a trout or a grayling. And these baits are well proven baits for the salmon.
The trout, because he is a right dainty fish and also a right fervent biter, we shall speak of next. He is in season from March until Michaelmas. He is on clean gravel bottom and in a stream. You can angle for him at all times with a lying or running ground-line: except in leaping time and then with a dubbed hook; and early with a running ground-line, and later in the day with a float line. You shall angle for him in March with a minnow hung on your hook by the lower nose, without float or sinker: drawing it up and down in the stream till you feel him take. In the same time, angle for him with a ground-line with an red worm as the most sure. In April, take the same baits, and also the lamprey, otherwise named "seven eyes," also the cankerworm that grows in a great tree, and the red snail. In May take the stone fly and the grub under the cow turd, and the silkworm, and the bait that grows on a fern leaf. In June, take a red worm and nip off the head, and put a codworm on your hook before it. In July, take the great red worm and the codworm together. In August, take a flesh fly and the big red worm and bacon fat, and bind them on your hook. In September, take the red worm and the minnow. In October, take the same, for they are special for the trout at all times of the year. From April to September the trout leaps; then angle for him with dubbed hook appropriate to the month these dubbed hooks you will find at the end of this treatise; and the months with them.
The grayling by another name called umber is a delicious fish to man's month. And you can catch him just as you can the trout. And these are his baits. In March and in April, the red worm. In May, the green worm: a little ringed worm, the dock canker, and the hawthorn worm. In June, the bait that grows between the tree and the bark of an oak. In July, a bait that grows on a fern leaf and the big red worm. And nip off the head and put a codworm on your hook before it. In August, the red worm, and a dock worm. And all the year afterward, a red worm.
The barbel is a sweet fish, but it is a queasy food and a dangerous one for man's body. For commonly, he introduces the fevers. And if he is eaten raw, he may be the cause of a man's death: which often has been seen. These are his baits. In March and in April, take fair fresh cheese: lay it on a board and cut it in small square pieces the length of your hook. Then take a candle and burn it on the end at the point of your hook until it is yellow. And then bind it on your hook with arrow maker's silk, and make it rough like a welbede. This bait is good for all the summer season. In May and June, take the hawthorn worm and the big red worm and nip off the head and put a codworm on your hook before them and that is a good bait. In July, take the red worm chiefly and the hawthorn worm together. Also the water-dock leaf worm and the hornet worm together. In August and for all the year, take mutton fat and soft cheese, of each the same amount, and a little honey and grind or beat them together a long time, and work it until it is tough. Add to it a little flour and make it into small pellets. And that is a good bait to angle with at the bottom. And see that it sinks in the water, or else it is not good for this purpose.
The carp is a dainty fish, but there are only a few in England, and therefore I will write the less of him. He is an evil fish to take. For he is so strongly armoured in the mouth that no light tackle may hold him. And as regards his baits, I have but little knowledge of it, and I am reluctant to write more than I know and have tried. But well I know that the red worm and the minnow are good baits for him at all times as I have heard reliable persons tell and also found written in books of credence.
The chub is a stately fish and his head is a dainty morsel. There is no fish so greatly armoured with scales on the body. And because be is a strong biter he has the more baits, which are these. In March, the red worm at the bottom for commonly he will bite these and at all times of the year if he is at all hungry. In April the ditch canker that grows in the tree. A worm that grows between the bark and the wood of an oak. The red worm: and the young frogs when the feet are cut off. Also, the stone fly, the grub under the cow turd: the red snail. In May, the bait that grows on the osier leaf and the dock canker together on your hook. Also a bait that grows on a fern leaf: the codworm, and a bait that grows on a hawthorn. And a bait that grows on an oak leaf and a silkworm and a codworm together. In June, take the cricket and the dor; and also a red worm: the head cut off and a codworm before it: and put them on the hook. Also a bait on the osier leaf: young frogs with three feet cut off at the body: and the fourth at the knee. The bait on the hawthorn and the codworm together; and a grub that breeds in a dunghill: and a large grasshopper. In July, the grasshopper and the bumblebee on the meadow. Also young bees and young hornets. Also a great, brindled fly that grows in paths of meadows, and the fly that is among anthills. In August, take caterpillars and maggots until Michaelmas. In September, the red worm: and also take these baits when you can get them: that is to say: cherries: young mice without hair: and the honeycomb.
The bream is a noble fish and a dainty one. And you shall angle for him from March until August with an red worm: and then with a butterfly and a green fly. And with a bait that grows among green reeds: and a bait that grows in the bark of a dead tree. And for young bream, take maggots. And from that time forth for all the year afterward, take the red worm: and in the river, brown bread. There are more baits than these, but they are not easy, and I let them pass over.
A tench is a good fish: and heals all sorts of other fish that are hurt if they can come to him. He is the most part of the year in the mud. And he stirs most in June and July: and in other seasons but little. He is a poor biter. His baits are these. For all the year brown bread toasted with honey in the likeness of a buttered loaf: and the great red worm. And for the best bait take the black blood in the heart of a sheep and flour and honey. Work them all together somewhat softer than paste, and anoint there with the red worm: both for this fish and for others. And they will bite much better thereat at all times.
The perch is a dainty fish and passing wholesome, and a free biter. These are his baits. In March, the red worm. In April, the grub under the cow turd. In May, the sloe-thorn worm and the codworm. In June the bait that grows in an old fallen oak, and the green canker. In July, the bait that grows on the osier leaf and the grub that grows on the dunghill: and the hawthorn worm, and the codworm. In August, the red worm and maggots. All the year after, the red worm is best.
The roach is an easy fish to catch. And if he is fat and penned up, then he is good food, and these are his baits. In March, the readiest bait is the red worm. In April, the grub under the cow turd. In May, the bait that grows on the oak leaf and the grub in the dunghill. In June, the bait that grows on the osier and the codworm. In July, houseflies and the bait that grows on all oak; and the nutworm and mathewes and maggots till Michaelmas. And after that, the fat of bacon.
The dace is a noble fish to take, and if it be well fattened, then he is good eating. In March, the best bait is an red worm. In April, the grub under the cow turd. In May the dock canker and the bait on the sloe thorn and on the oak leaf. In June, the codworm and the bait on the osier and the white grub in the dunghill. In July take houseflies, and flies that grow in anthills: the codworm and maggots until Michaelmas. And if the water is clear, you shall catch fish when others take none. And from that time forth, do as you do for the roach. For commonly in their biting and their baits they are alike.
The bleak is but a feeble fish, yet he is wholesome. His baits from March to Michaelmas are the same as I have written before for the roach and dace, except that, all the summer season, as much as you may angle for him with a housefly: and, in the winter season, with bacon and other bait made as you will know after.
The ruffe is a right wholesome fish. And you shall angle to him with the same baits in all seasons of the year in the same way as I have told you of the perch: for they are alike in fishing and feeding except that the ruffe is smaller. And therefore he must have the smaller bait.
The flounder is a noble fish and a free and subtle biter in his manner: For usually, when he sucks in his food, he feeds at the bottom, and therefore you must angle for him with a lying ground-line. And he has but one manner of bait, and that is a red worm, which is the best bait for all kinds of fish.
The gudgeon is a good fish for his size, and he bites well at the bottom. And his baits for all the year are these: the red worm: codworm: and maggots And you must angle for him with a float, and let your bait be near the bottom or else on the bottom.
The minnow, when he shines in the water, then be is better. And though his body is little yet he is a ravenous biter and eager. And you shall angle to him with the same baits that you do for gudgeon: saving that they must be small.
The eel is a queasy fish, a glutton, and a devourer of the young fry of fish. And as the pike also is a devourer of fish I put them both behind all others for angling. For this eel, you must find a hole in the bottom of the water, and it is blue-blackish. There put in your hook till it be a foot within the hole, and your bait should be a great angle worm or a minnow.
The pike is a good fish, but because he devours so many of his own kind as of others, I love him the less. And to catch him, you shall do thus. Take a codling hook: and take a roach or a fresh herring and a wire with a loop in the end: and put it in at the mouth and out at the tail down by the back of the fresh herring. And then put the line of your hook in after, and draw the hook into the cheek of the fresh herring. Then put a lead weight on your line a yard away from your book, and a float midway between; and cast it in a hole where the pike lie. And this is the best and surest way for catching the pike. Another manner of taking him is this. Take a frog and put it on your hook between the skin and the body on the back half, and put on a float a yard away, and cast it where the pike lies, and you shall have him. Another way. Take the same bait and put it in asafetida and cast it in the water with a cord and a cork, and you shall not fail to get him. And if you wish to have a good sport: then tie the cord to a goose's foot, and you will see a good tussle to decide whether the goose or the pike will have the better of it.
Now you know with what baits and how you shall angle to every kind of fish. Now I will tell you how you shall keep and feed your live baits. You shall feed and keep them all together, but each kind by itself with such things in and on which they breed. And as long as they are alive and fresh, they are fine. But when they are sloughing their skin or else dead they are nothing. Out of these are excepted three kinds: That is, to wit of hornets, bumblebees, and wasps. These you must bake in bread, and after dip their heads in blood and let them dry. Also except maggots: which, when they are grown large with their natural feeding, you must feed further with mutton fat and with a cake made of flour and honey; then they will become larger. And when you have cleansed them with sand in a bag of blanket, kept hot under your gown or other warm thing for two hours or three, then they are best and ready to angle with. And of the frog cut off the leg at the knee, of the grasshopper the legs and wings at the body.
These baits are made to last all the year. The first are flour and lean meat from the thigh of a rabbit or a cat: virgin wax, and sheep's fat: and bray them in a mortar: and then temper it at the fire with a little purified honey: and so make it up into little balls, and bait your hooks with it according to their size. And this is a good bait for all manner of fresh fish.
Another, take the suet of a sheep and cheese in equal amounts: and bray them together for a long while in a mortar. And take then flour and temper it therewith, and after that mix it with honey and make balls of it. And that is especially for the barbel.
Another for dace and roach and bleak: take wheat and seethe it well and then put it in blood for a whole day and a night, and it is a good bait.
For baits for great fish, keep specially this rule: When you have taken a great fish, open up the maw, and whatever you find therein, make that your bait, for it is best.
These are the twelve flies with which you shall angle for the trout and grayling; and dub them like you will now hear me tell:
The dun fly the body of dun wool and the wings of the partridge. Another dun fly, the body of black wool; the wings of the blackest drake; and the jay under the wing and under the tail.
The stone fly, the body of black wool, and yellow under the wing and under the tail; and the wings, of the drake. In the beginning of May, a good fly, the body of reddened wool and lapped about with black silk; the wings, of the drake and the red capon's hackle.
The yellow fly, the body of yellow wool; the wings of red cock hackle and of the drake dyed yellow. The black leaper, the body of black wool and lapped about with the herl of the peacock's tail: and the wings of the red capon with a blue head.
The dun cut: the body of black wool, and a yellow stripe after either side; the wings of the buzzard, bound on with barked hemp. The maure fly, the body of dusky wool, the wings of the blackest male of the wild drake. The tandy fly at St. William's Day, the body of tandy wool; and the wings contrary either against the other, of the whitest breast feathers of the wild drake.
The wasp fly, the body of black wool and lapped about with yellow thread: the wings of the buzzard. The shell fly at St. Thomas' Day, the body of green wool and lapped about with the herl of the peacock's tail: wings of the buzzard.
The drake fly, the body of black wool and lapped about with black silk: wings of the breast feathers of the blackest drake, with a black head.
These figures are put here in example of your hooks:
Here follows the order made to all those who shall have the understanding of this aforesaid treatise and use it for their pleasures.
You that can angle and catch fish for your pleasure, as the aforesaid treatise teaches and shows you: I charge and require you in the name of all noble men that you to not fish in any poor man's private water: as his pond: stew: or other necessary things to keep fish in without his license and good will. Nor that you use not to break any man's engines lying in their weirs and in other places due to them. Nor to take the fish away that is taken in them. For after a fish is taken in a man's trap, if the trap is laid in the public waters: or else in such waters as he hires, it is his own personal property. And if you take it away, you rob him: which is a right shameful deed for any gentle man to do, that the thieves and robbers do, who are punished for their evil deeds by the neck and otherwise when they can be found and captured. And also if you do in like manner as this treatise shows you: you will have no need to take other men's fish, while you will have enough of your own catching, if you wish to work for them. It will be a true pleasure to see the fair, bright, shining-scaled fishes deceived by your crafty means and drawn upon the land. Also, I charge you, that you break no man's hedges in going about your sports: nor open any man's gates but that you shut them again. Also, you must not use this aforesaid artful sport for covetousness to increasing or saving of your money only, but principally for your solace and to promote the health of your body and specially of your soul. For when you propose to go on your sports in fishing, you will not desire greatly many persons with you, which might hinder in letting you at your game. And then you can serve God devoutly by earnestly saying your customary prayers. And thus doing, you will eschew and avoid many vices, such as idleness, which is the principal cause to induce man to many other vices, as is right well known. Also, you must not be too greedy in catching your said game as taking too much at one time, which you may easily do if you do in every point as this present treatise shows you in every point. Which could easily be the occasion of destroying your own sport and other men's also. As when you have a sufficient mess you should covet no more as at that time. Also you shall help yourself to nourish the game in all that you may, and to destroy all such things as are devourers of it. And all those that do as this rule shall have the blessing of God and St. Peter. Which he grants them that with his precious blood he bought.
And so that this present treatise should not come into the hands of every idle person who would desire it if it were printed alone by itself and put in a little pamphlet, therefore I have compiled it in a greater volume of diverse books concerning gentle and noble men, to the end that the aforesaid idle persons which should have but little measure in the said sport of fishing should not by this means utterly destroy it.