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Spinning And Trolling Fishing

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Spinning and Trolling-These may be regarded as synonymous terms since, in the country south of the Trent, the second has fallen into disuse. In Scotland and Ireland, when fishing men talk about trolling, they mean the use of the spinning bait, especially as practised from a boat, and in the majority of in-stances the reference will be merely to the some-what mechanical process of trailing from the stern. Trolling, however, is a word once of definite signification to English pike-fishers. It was known two centuries ago-was in use, probably, long before what we understand as spinning was in vogue. One of the quaintest of the older angling books is the venerable Nobbes' Art of Trolling. Nobbes was a master of the now discredited method. Its main feature was the dead gorge bait, which is now discountenanced by all respectable angling societies and sports-manlike persons, except when used as a means of warrantable destruction. As the process, therefore, will not be further described it may here be stated that the bait employed is a dead roach, dace, or gudgeon, through whose body, from mouth to tail, is passed a leaded wire permitting the issue from the caudal fin of a short length of gimp looped at the end for fixture to the reel line. A rank hook, either a double or single, welded into the lead, slightly protrudes from the side of the bait's mouth. The small dead fish thus armed is cast at first close to the bank upon which the angler is standing, allowed to sink head first to the bottom, the angler pulling in short lengths of line in successive coils, working the bait up and down slowly in the water. The silvery fish is thus represented as swimming between and out of weeds, or as darting in spasmodic jerks from the bottom to the top, now sinking and now ascending. It is a deadly method of attracting the marauder lying perdu in the subaqueous copses. The pike seizes its prey across the middle of the body, twists it round into its bristling jaws and swallows (or gorges) it head foremost. The art, such as it was, of trolling, afforded wholesome recreation to generations of innocent pike-fishers, who never supposed they were sinning against the light. The secret of it was to ensure the complete gorging of the bait before putting any sort of check upon the line. The pike would sometimes seize the bait with a strong snap, which left the troller in no doubt of the fact, but very frequently the check would be so slight that the unaccustomed hand might suppose the sinking and roving bait was entangled with weed; if he then tightened the line the chances were strong that he would scare his pike. The custom, therefore, was to allow the fish to run unchecked until it stopped of its own accord; this it would presently do in pursuance of its habit of pausing to pouch or gorge. Fishermen used to time this period of expectancy ten minutes by the watch. When the bait was gorged, the gullet of the pike would so tightly encase the bait that the strong, protruding hooks entered its vitals. The victim came in with little fight, and there was no possibility of restoring it to the water after such treatment. Within recent times, as the stock of pike diminished in rivers where they were tolerated for sport, an outcry was raised against the murderous gorge-hook, the principal objection being that under-sized fish were ruthlessly and unnecessarily slaughtered. In many waters the use of the gorge hook, as in the Thames, is therefore prohibited. With this passing description of a method which is now only legitimate in waters where pike are ranked as vermin, and where it is desirable to kill them of all sorts and sizes, we are free to deal with the general subject.

Spinning is the cosmopolitan form of angling. Allowed to rank next to fly fishing as a fine art, it is of wide application, is applied to every description of game fish, is not only popular with the fresh-water angler in Great Britain but with the sea-fisherman who thereby with rod and line obtains spirited sport with such fish as bass, pollack, and mackerel, and is practised by the casual angler in all parts of the globe. Wherever predatory fish are to be found, there the angler may remember the adage in whist, and when in doubt play his trump in the shape of some kind of spinning bait. Mahseer in India, the hucho in Bavaria, the monster trout of the Canadian lakes, the prolific salmon of the Pacific, are alike taken by the spinning rod. The method is capable of varied treatment, and has some of the good points which are enumerated for fly fishing; the spinning man, for example, is not condemned to inactivity in a Windsor chair, or on the camp-stool by the waterside, but like the trout or salmon fisher is in healthy bodily movement during his term of sport. Another recommendation to the hardy sportsman is that spinning for pike affords excellent recreation during the winter months, when all coarse fish are in the height of condition. Even when the grayling rise but seldom to the fly, the pike are in keen humour, in prime colour and form, with appetites often sharpened rather than depressed by the hard frosts and howling north-easters, which put an end to other kinds of sport.

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