« AnteriorContinuar »
may live thus one year from the sea; but he then grows insipid, and tasteless, and loses both his blood and strength, and pines and dies the second year. And 'tis noted, that those little Salmons called Skeggers, which abound in many rivers relating to the sea, are bred by such sick Salmons, that might not go to the sea, and that though they abound, yet they never thrive to any considerable bigness.
But if the old Salmon gets to the sea, then that gristle which shews him to be kipper, wears away, or is cast off, as the Eagle is said to cast his bill, and he recovers his strength, and comes next Summer to the same river, if it be possible, to enjoy the former pleasures that there possessed him; for, as one has wittily observed, he has, like some persons of honour and riches, which have both their Winter and Summer houses, the fresh rivers for Summer, and the salt-water for Winter, to spend his life in; which is not, as Sir Francis Bacon hath observed in his History of Life and Death, above ten years: and it is to be observed, that though the Salmon does grow big in the sea, yet he grows not fat but in fresh rivers; and it is observed, that the farther they get from the sea, they be both the fatter and better.
Next, I shall tell you, that though they make very hard shift to get out of the fresh rivers into the sea; yet they will make harder shift to get out of the salt into the fresh rivers, to spawn, or possess the pleasures that they have formerly found in them : to which end, they will force themselves through floodgates, or over wears, or hedges, or stops in the water, even to a height beyond common belief. Gesner speaks of such places as are known to be above eight feet high above water. And our Camden mentions in his Britannia the like wonder to be in Pembrokeshire, where the river Tivy falls into the sea, and that the fall is so down-right, and so high, that the people stand and wonder at the strength and sleight by which they see the Salmon use to get out of the sea into the said river; and the manner and height of the place is so notable, that it is known far by the name of the Salmon-leap; concerning which, take this also out of Michael Drayton, my honest old friend; as he tells it you in his Polyolbion. And when the Salmon seeks a fresher stream to find, Which hither from the Sea comes yearly by his kind; As he towards season grows, and stems the wat'ry tract Where Tivy falling down, makes an high cataract, Forc'd by the rising rocks that there her course oppose, As though within her bounds they meant her to inclose; Here, when the labouring fish does at the foot arrive, And finds that by his strength he does but vainly strive; His tail takes in his mouth, and bending like a bow That's to full compass drawn, aloft himself doth throw, Then springing at his height, as doth a little wand, That bended end to end, and started from man's hand. Far off itself doth cast; so, does the Salmon vault, And if at first he fail, his second Summersault He instantly essays: and from his nimble ring, Still yerking, never leaves until himself he fling Above the opposing stream.
This Michael Drayton tells you, of this leap or summersault of the Salmon.
And next I shall tell you, that it is observed by Gesner and others, that there is no better Salmon than in England: and that though some of our northern countries have as fat and as large as the river Thames, yet none are of so excellent a taste.
And as I have told you that Sir Francis Bacon observes, the age of a Salmon exceeds not ten years, so let me next tell you, that his growth is very sudden: it is said, that after he is got into the sea, he becomes from a Samlet, not so big as a Gudgeon, to be a Salmon, in as short a time as a gosling becomes to be a goose. Much of this has been observed by tying a ribbon or some known tape or thread, in the tail of some young Salmons, which have been taken in wears as they have swimmed towards the salt-water, and then by taking a part of them again with the known mark at the same place at their return from the sea, which is usually about six months after; and the like experiment hath been tried upon young Swallows, who have, after six months absence, been observed to return to the same chimney, there to make their nests and habitations for the Summer following: which has inclined many to think, that every Salmon usually returns to the same river in which it was bred, as young Pigeons taken out of the same dove-cote, have also been observed to do.
And you are yet to observe further, that the heSalmon is usually bigger than the Spawner, and that he is more kipper, and less able to endure a Winter in the fresh-water, than she is, yet she is at that time of looking less kipper and better, as watery, and as bad meat.
And yet you are to observe, that as there is no general rule without an exception, so there are some few rivers in this nation, that have Trouts and Salmons in season in Winter, as 'tis certain there be in the river Wye in Monmouthshire, where they be in season, as Camden observes, from September till April. But, my Scholar, the observation of this and many other things, I must in manners omit, because they will prove too large for our narrow compass of time, and therefore I shall next fall upon my direction, how to fish for this Salmon.
And for that, first you shall observe, that usually he stays not long in a place as Trouts will, but, as I said, covets still to go nearer the spring-head; and that he does not as the Trout, and many other fish, lie near the water-side or bank or roots of trees, but swims in the deep and broad parts of the water, and usually in the middle, and near the ground, and that there you are to fish for him, and that it is to be caught as the Trout is, with a Worm, a Minnow, which some call a Penk, or with a Fly.
And you are to observe, that he is very seldom observed to bite at a Minnow, yet sometimes he will, and not usually at a fly, but more usually at a worm, and then most usually at a Lob or Garden-worm, which should be well scoured, that is to say, kept seven or eight days in moss before you fish with them: and if you double your time of eight into sixteen, twenty, or more days, it is still the better, for the worms will still be clearer, tougher, and more lively, and continue so longer upon your hook; and they may be kept longer by keeping them cool and in fresh moss, and some advise to put camphor into it.
Note also, that many use to fish for a Salmon with a ring of wire on the top of their rod, through which the line may run to as great a length as is needful when he is hooked. And to that end, some use a wheel about the middle of their rod, or near their hand, which is to be observed better by seeing one of them, than by a large demonstration of words.
And now I shall tell you, that which may be called a secret: I have been a-fishing with old OHver Henley, now with God, a noted Fisher both for Trout and Salmon, and have observed, that he would usually take three or four worms out of his