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Float Fishing

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The methods of bottom fishing are-float-tackle, legering, and paternostering ; and of these, the first affords the popular summer pastime on the river, with legering as the tour de force for barbel. The merits of float-fishing are apparent when the weedy bottom of a river is confronted, but when the bed is of gravel, hard sand, or clay, the leger will answer for almost any kind of coarse fish, and it is a method that suits the idle fisherman, who, having cast out his lead, through which the foot line is allowed to pass freely, waits until the "knock knock" at the rod-top signals a fish attempting the bait. In fishing a roach swim, the bait, shotted to trip over the bottom, is always travelling, to be with-drawn for re-travel as it reaches the end of the swim. The float drifts down its allotted course, necessitating no more exertion for the anglerthan its repeated withdrawal. It is, in summer time, a delightful form of angling, and social in its tendencies, in that ladies indulge in it, though, nowadays, it is growingly the fashion for fair dames and damsels to despise the gudgeon, which beauty draws with a single hair, and to be satisfied with nothing less than trout-or salmon-rod. The different ways in which these plebeians of the coarse-fish streams bite give zest to the sport. The roach nibbles so tenderly that, to an ordinary eye, the float is not disturbed, but the Thames or Lea expert will have noticed the faint movement, and, striking at the right time, secured his prize. The dace pulls down the tell-tale with decision ; the little gudgeon does the same ; the wary carp (when it can be induced to feed at all) is also a bold customer. The perch, beloved of youngsters for his dashing, fearless habits, also leaves no doubt as to his proceedings under water. The tench, one of the least common of the coarse fishes, trifles with the bait before taking it, with leisurely movement. The bream is also a slow biter ; and the fish has a habit of playing with the bait for several minutes before the final seizure. The float meanwhile will be bobbing and slanting, and even lying flat on the water, a position caused by the fish rising with the bait in its mouth. Nor is it always safe to strike at this abnormal movement. It is much better to wait a moment or two, when the horizontal position will be gradually changed ; the quill will slant off to the perpendicular, and then quickly disappear for final conclusions. The gamest of coarse fishes is the strongly-built barbel. Fishing " fine and far off," is a golden maxim for bottom-fishers, and one of the verities is a thorough acquaintance with the bed of the river. The plummet is the means to this end, and the practised angler would as soon think of going out without this useful article as without his hook.

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