Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection

Fishing and philandering Mainwaring, Arthur Edward, 1864- 1914

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 LwivERsrnr of b.c. library
3 9424 06203 9745
BRITISH COLUMBIA  w Best   Wishes   For   a
with ixyrs of
Fishing   &  Philandering "
1 am indebted to Mr. R. B. Marston* Editor of the "Fishing
Gazette," for his kind permission to reproducethe statistics overleaf. I FISHING AND PHILANDERING p  "DISCUSSING HIS QUALIFICATIONS.'
Author of
" Crown & Company" " The 2nd Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers
in the South African War " (with Major C. F. Ronier), " Cut
Cavendish" § The Whist Drive Manual" " The A.B.C. of
IP &c.
With an introduction by
Angling Editor of " The Field."
FLEET   LANE   LONDON   E. C. Most of the contents of this hook have appeared in the pages of " The
Field," " Country Life," and " The Fishing Gazette," to the Editors and
Proprietors of which papers I am much indebted for permission to republish
Introduction        - - - - - -n
Chapter I. ------       17
The range of angling literature—Jonathan—The intolerance of the purist—The
joy of fishing—Fishing weather—The shrimp—The worm—Billy—Jealousy
—Solitude—The scientific side—Do salmon feed in fresh water—The sight
of fish—The dangers of fishing-^-Fine and far off—Paraphernalia.
Chapter II. - - - - 30
Indian fishing—Ignorance in the midst of plenty—The mighty mahseer—A
fishing lunch—Shooting incidents—A Christmas camp—Indian trout—
Caught by night—A perilous voyage—The Major's goonch—A dry river
—A red letter day—My best mahseer—Indian tackle.
Chapter III. - - - - -       47
Introduction to salmon—Jonathan's best fish—Johnny's hat—Fishing or whist
—A determined bull—Jonathan's friend—Heresy—My discarded bob-fly—
Advice gratis—Outside—Late nights.
Chapter IV.        - - - - - -       59
Philandering—A digression—Worcester sauce—Fresh eggs—My dinner party.
—Hunting—Shooting—Charles and my change—Also my rod—A perilous
trip—Bridge—Poker—South African fishing—Charles' lunch—Christmas at
Chapter V. ------       74
Connemara—A slip of the pen—Galway—Cong—The castaways—A brace of
liars—Recess—White trout—Cashel—The Zetland Arms—It's landlord—
Screebe—Costello—A brace of trout.
Chapter VI.        ------       84
A bicycle picnic—Not a success—Impossibility of pleasing everybody—Quotations—Dapping—Killaloe—Grace's Hotel—Lough Derg—Salmon—Water
bailiffs—The unhooked fish—A big fellow. VI
Chapter VII. 93
Free fishing—Trout or salmon—The reward of virtue—The Fane—Licenses—
The Slaney—An ill-timed pike—A seventh fly—A bad gaffer—The Liffey—
An astonished friend—Perch—A river flowing up hill—Another form of
dapping—Trout—A fine bag—Midges—Strike duty—The battle of the Boyne
—Billiards—Cricket—A well provided angler—The Tees—The Hampshire
Avon—A grand fish.
Chapter VIII. 107
Jibes at fishing—Jonathan as a shot—The poachers—His best shot—A French
shoot—Strike duty again—Bottom fishing—Game fish or coarse—What is
the best fishing—Scotland—A made loch—The evening rise—A Guardee—
Derbyshire trout and grayling—Salmon or grilse.
Chapter IX.        - - - - - -     120
Isaak Walton-^-Is fishing cruel—Sir Herbert Maxwell's opinion—Cannibal fish—
A trial—Nature's laws—Pain—A Zulu's finger—Fishing books—Giants of
the past—A fishing diary—Jonathan's doubts—Knots—The discoveries of
Chapter X. - - - - - 131
Heretical views—Flies—Their variety—Different flies for different days-1—Working the fly—Narrow mindedness—Salmon flies—Trout flies—The birth of
the Dublin Fusilier—It's dressing—Jonathan's criticism—The Faugh-a-
ballagh—The Dungarvon—Jonathan again—Fishing deep—Hunger, curiosity, or rage—A lady and a dog on one cast.
Chapter XI.        ------     144
Spinning baits—Natural or artificial—Spinning reels—Worms—Fancy baits—
Prawns or shrimps—The bait of baits—Method of baiting—Method of fishing—Mr. Sheringham's views—His hooks—Fishing the shrimp " con
Chapter XII.      ----- _      I55
The Cachalot Club—The Bosun—His rod—The club water—The Bosun's train—
His luncheon basket—Other members of the club—E. Haugh—The Sapper
—The Squire—The Admiral—A rival club—The Tripper—The Little Man—
His fish—The Bosun's fish—The right fly.
Chapter XIII.     - - - - - -166
A general's inspection—The shrimp in low water—Converted but unconvinced—
Glycerine shrimps—A persistent taker—Evening fishing—An eager fish-
Ducal water—Novel theories—A Guard of Honour—Bridge at the Castle—
Their Majesties—A seventy pounder—Trout and pig's liver—The missing
butler—The occult lady.
zszz^mgmmmmm? CONTENTS vii
Chapter XIV.     - - - - - 175
The Bosun's peal—Crimping it—His accident—Old Tom Shea—Good days and
bad—Smiler's fish—The Quarry pool—Garrett Fitzgerald—Grand sport—
The eels in the mud—Jack Douane—Memory-^Somnambulism—Mice—Bulldogs—Starlings—Salmon and blasting—Disturbing fish.
Chapter XV. 187
Ambition—A big pike—Difficulty of bait fishing—Col. Cane's experience—The
shrimp in high water—Billy's fight with a salmon—Hooked fish disturbing
others—A great day—Novice's luck—Another great day—The Colonel
changes his name.
Chapter XVI.     - - - - - -     201
The Bard of Athy—A visit to Jonathan—Age of spawning fish—Fishermen's
veracity—A dry season—Blank days—The Lochy—The Deveron—The Avon
—Salmon on trout tackle—A collision—A lion—Tommy—His patience—His
driving—His wife's jewellery—A coincidence—The Curate's trout—That
wonderful child.
Chapter XVII. 213
A rod case—The point of view—High water—Hooked in the thumb—The Crown
Princess—New and cheap water for the Club—Lightning—Last casts—How
many—Happy endings—The charm of fishing.
Chapter XVIII. 225
The biter bit—Caught at last—Low water—My best salmon—A bet—Garrett
on gaffing—The unexpected—Bad weather—A big fish—The Squire's letter
—The point of view of the fish—Killaloe revisited—Her first fish—The fish
that others catch—The fish we caught.
Chapter XIX. 35
Pessimistic forebodings—Conventionality or unconventionality—Theory or practice^—Book-learning or Garrett—Hiding or seeking—To strike or not to
strike—The fish extraordinary—Sartorial anecdotes—A welcome invitation
—New ground or, rather, water—An old spoon—Triangles or single hooks
—Triumph and Disaster—Aquatic Heavenly twins—What might have been
1. DISCUSSING HIS QUALIFICATIONS        - -    Fwntisfiece
Facing page
2. JONATHAN IN NORWAY - - - - 54
3. NEARING THE END      ----- 94
4. ROSKEEN BRIDGE         -             -              -             -             - 126
5. THE TWO TREE POOL -              -              -              -              - 158
6. THE WEST INSH  STREAM          -              -              -              - 178
7. IN HIM IN FOYLE        ----- 218
8. THE TAIL OF FOYLE    ----- 236 an
R., C, J.,
Three friends with whom I have very often
fished and philandered. INTRODUCTION
Being an open letter from the Angling Editor of
" The Field."
My Dear Colonel,
I have to thank you for a number of benefits and I
am happy to be able to seize on an occasion which permits
me to express my gratitude thus publicly. First, you have
made me laugh with a frequency which has been a great
comfort to me. Next, you have made me think pretty often,
despite a natural tendency to evade thought when possible.
And in the third place you have caused me to catch a considerable number of salmon which I certainly should never
have caught without you. Here would be justification for
a whole volume of grateful eulogy, and is ample excuse for
the few paragraphs in which I want to unbosom myself. Had
you been Piscator (your writing has the ring of the true
metal), and I your scholar (my fishing has all the required
badness), and had we both been in the year 1652 or thereabouts, these remarks would have taken the form of a set of
commendatory verses. Happily (for my versifying is even
worse than my fishing) this is 1914, and an open letter is now
more in tune with the times.
Touching this matter of laughter, you do a good deed,
believe me, when you reveal the inherently comic nature of
things as is your admirable manner. We are in danger of
becoming a sad and serious, folk, we brethren of the angle.
Things are taking on an aspect of increasing solemnity. A
salmon is no longer a bonny bit of silver which you just hook,
play, gaff, and eat, to think no more of him afterwards,
except, maybe, as a topic for an article, or as a rejoinder to
the man who would stick to the fly.    No, nowadays a salmon xii INTRODUCTION
is a complex organism, possessed of a caudal peduncle, an
operculum, likewise a preoperculum, maxillaries, a peritoneum, and a great many other things which I have forgotten. Having quieted this fighting dictionary with the
chunk of rock (whose scientific name I have also forgotten)
which Garrett keeps handy for the purpose, you proceed to
take the necessary particulars—length, girth, sex, condition,
and other details (the "caudal fin," you note is "slightly
emarginate "). Next, out with your forceps and to the great
work of scale collecting. Then home to the laboratory and
the microscope. Here you have a thrilling time tracing the
fish through all its varied career, the two years of river life,
the first summer and first winter in the sea, the second
summer and second winter in the sea, and the beginnings of
a third summer (or spring) in the sea. It is a great game,
and though you have ©ne secret sorrow—the absence of a
spawning mark from the scales—you lean back in your chair
not ill content. The work advances, the table of curves
grows apace, and you have reduced your salmon from its
undeserved eminence as the king of fish to its proper place
as a statistic.    That is what a salmon is now, a statistic.
The same sort of thing is happening with the trout, which
is closely connected with Bibio johannis, Ephemera danicay
Sericostoma personatum, and other eminent objects of careful
research. I can remember an irreverent time when the
searchers in this kind were opprobriously called " bug-
hunters." We have changed all that of course and they are
now thinly disguised as trout-fishers. And the trout,
formerly recognised as the monarch of the brook, has now
become a mere excuse.
Other fish—but I need not go into that; though I seem to
find the pike playing its part in the movement of the time.
You will, I think, after a good many seasons in Ireland agree
that the pike forms an admirable starting point for the purest
speculative philosophy, the search for ultimate truth.
I become diffuse, owing to the vast seriousness of these
themes, so no more of them. Let me rather return to
laughter and yourself. I have often thought that writers on
fishing have been too prone to regard the angler as a special
manifestation set apart from (and perhaps above) the rest of INTRODUCTION xiii
humanity. Your presentation of him is much truer. You
show that the angler's a man for all that.* He is. He
presents accordingly a study in laughter and tears just like
his fellows. He may be followed through Juvenal's catalogue of situations—votum, timor, ira, voluptas, gaudia, dis-
cursus—just as if he were Napoleon, or Wagner, or Stevenson, or some other subject of frequent "appreciation." I
anticipate that your chapters will appeal quite as strongly to
lay-readers as to fishermen by reason of the fact that you
depict human beings rather than animated wading-trousers
or walking creels. Besides, everybody likes to be amused,
and you have written a brave book.
I am not so sure that everybody likes to be made to think
—in fact a good many of us frankly resent such an obligation.
Still there are few but would admit that it was salutary. And
so when you make us think you do a good deed. It is all
the better when you make those of us who are salmon fishers
think. If ever there was a " chuck-and-chance-it " business
it is salmon fishing as practised by the majority of us. We
put on a fly (" any old fly ") and " go down " a pool with
about as much appreciation of subtleties as a sandwich-man
who goes down Piccadilly. Having "fished every inch"
(save the mark) we put on any other old fly and go down it
again. Then we say whatever comes to mind in the way of
expletives and go on to the next pool to repeat our manual
exercises. The idea of bringing a little ingenuity to bear
on the matter never occurs to us. How should it, when we
do not know what ingenuity (as applied to salmon fishing) is ?
As a matter of fact this sport is just as artful as any other
5 kind of fishing, more artful perhaps than any. The beast
we pursue has no appetite that could be called an appetite
(to the " feeding in fresh water " enthusiasts I would merely
say, "Why don't you catch more fish then?"), and we
have to appeal to curiosity, annoyance, acquisitiveness,
" bilious craving," or whatever its moods are to be called.
It is possible to appeal to these moods,  though difficult.
* In answer to any of our intimates who might urge that both you and I had
special and recent reasons for thinking this, I would point out that the reasons
are of considerably later date than our mutual recognition of the truth stated.
Possibly they might be considered in the light of rewards for accurate thought. xiv INTRODUCTION
Perhaps it is not so difficult as it seems to those of us who
have ere now spent a blank month on a well-stocked river.
You, and one or two other convincing writers whom I could
name, show that it ought not to be so difficult. As I read
you and them I get the idea that a capable fisherman should
be able, provided the fish are there, to reduce the business of
catching some of them to a measure of certainty.
To some small extent I have even proved this myself, and
here I come to my third reason for gratitude to you. I had
read a paean by you in praise of the shrimp fished on a single
hook. At that time I thought meanly of the shrimp, which
I had been accustomed to decorate with triangles and leave
in the rocks at the rate of about three shrimps an hour, with,
of course, the triangles and varying lengths of expensive
salmon gut. The shrimp seemed to me a lure of the Evil
One designed, not for salmon, but for me.
However there I was on a northern river plumb in the
middle of a paralysing drought, and at last in sheer despera*
tion I worried a shrimp on to a single hook and clumsily
began to fish it as much like a fly as I could—I was determined, whatever happened, to have no more of the rock and
breakage business, so I used no lead and fished not deeper
than mid-water. In half-an-hour I was incredulously contemplating a sixteen-pounder on the bank. Half-an-hour
after that I was contemplating, with a somewhat different expression, a twenty-pounder which I had played out and which
was within six inches of the gaff. Unhappily the hook was
no longer in its mouth and I was compelled to watch with
bulging eyes the awful spectacle of a hard-earned fish slowly
recovering and receding from view. That, however, was not
your fault, and the fact that I had hooked the fish at all was
your credit. I got another later that day, and enough on
other days of equally hopeless appearance to make my holiday
a decided success. Indeed I acquired something of a local
reputation as an angler, and finally received an invitation
from a neighbouring fishery owner to show him how this
shrimp-fishing was done ! Which was pretty well for a raw
Subsequent experience has more than confirmed me in my
gratitude to you for the best salmon fishing tip I ever had. INTRODUCTION xv
Not that it is the only one by any means—that pleasant notion
of stirring the fish up with lumps of rock, for instance, in
which I have a firm belief without having ever tried it; the
I Dublin Fusilier " again, to which I pin all my faith, though
it has so far not gained me a rise. And there are others, as
readers of your book will readily discover. That those
readers will profit as much by your excellent advice and
example as I have is the hope and belief of
Your obliged,
H. T. SHERINGHAM. ■rmrmr'
Give me mine angle ; we'll to the river : there
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finn'd fishes; my bended hooks shall pierce
Their slimy jaws.
Antony and Cleopatra.
The range of angling literature—Jonathan—The intolerance of
the purist—The joy of fishing—Fishing weather—The shrimp—
The worm—Billy—Jealousy—Solitude—The scientific side—Do
salmon feed in fresh water—The sight of fish—The dangers of
fishing—Fine and far off—Paraphernalia.
A witty young friend writing an introduction to
another of my works remarked that " no one ever
reads a preface," a statement which, however jestfully
written, contains about 90 p.c. of truth. But I would
very strongly advise everyone not to omit the preface on
this occasion, since it has very kindly been written for
me by Mr. H. T. Sheringham, the Angling Editor of
I The Field."
In endeavouring to write a book on fishing one has
a wide range of literature to crioose from if one requires
a guide. A mere enumeration of the various authors'
names would fill a page, the titles of their works a
chapter. From " The Compleat Angler" down to
those last, but by no means least, delightful books
ei An Angler at large," " Days Stolen for Sport/' and
tmmm ■MM
I Coarse Fishing," one may select works in every sort
of style, descriptive of every sort of fishing from whales
to gudgeon. Some anglers treat merely of methods:
others of natural history: others of moving incidents
of floods and droughts. There is nothing new under the
sun: every branch of the art has been dealt with: every
species of fish described: every method of catching them explained. Then why on earth write
another would seem a very pertinent question. Yet there
seems to me an answer. For if the experience of a
quarter of a century's fishing contains one useful hint,
one piece of information, one tip which may perchance
set a brother angler's rod bowing and quivering, then
one has not written in vain nor without excuse. It is
in the hope of succeeding in doing so that this book is
The mighty angler who appears in these pages as
' Jonathan ' is far away the best fisherman I have ever
met. As though it were yesterday, I see him thirty-five
years ago landing the first trout I ever saw captured.
Whether stretching forty yards of salmon line and returning it straight as an arrow, with the cast gracefully
uncurving to fall light as thistle-down on a salmon pool,
or, lying prone in June herbage, flicking a dry fly under
an alder with a nine-foot rod, he is always at his best: a
master to watch respectfully: a standard to endeavour
to attain to: a model fisherman. Under his auspices I
caught my first salmon: in his waters I have fished repeatedly. At his feet I have assimilated wisdom together
with some of the finest port and choicest baccy. A
purist himself, he is yet broad-minded enough to overlook my heretical unconventionality. Long may he
flourish; himself and his eighteen-footer: long may he
cast and fine: and many long ' Cabinet Upmann's ' of
his may we consume together.
For alas! all good anglers are not as he is. All purists
are not tolerant. I wonder why. It does not embitter
my life when they come to fish with me and prefer to stick
to ' fly only ' when the salmon are obviously ' not taking FISHING AND PHILANDERING        19
any.' Why should they gaze askance at my poor fish
when I have meekly followed them down the bank, fishing where they had no intention of fishing again that day?
It is not jealousy. Had I caught the fish on a • Jock
Scott ' or a ' Silver Doctor ' or a ' Lemon Grey,' their
congratulations would have been lavishly poured upon
me, but when in answer to the query ' What did he take ?'
I humbly answer ' A shrimp ' or ' A Devon,' uplifted
brows and monosyllabic ' Ohs ' are all their answer.
Why? I know not. It is one of the unanswerable
enigmas of life. No matter. We are as we are made
—most of us—and they are good fellows at heart if
narrow at mind. Let them go down first again
to-morrow, or let them choose their beats, light another
pipe, and wait till they are out of sight; then follow them,
find a fish, and stick to him. Begin courteously by offering him a selection from the fly-book: if this invitation is
refused, try something more substantial, a prawn for
choice: as a last resort something more exciting in the
shape of a minnow, natural if possible, deftly spun and
deep. But stick to your fish: he will take something some
time: hunger, rage, or curiosity, one of the three will lure
him to his doom. But stick to him: however recalcitrant
he may appear, the next may be equally if not more
so. Each cast may be the fortunate one. ff Ye know
not the day nor the hour," nor the minute when he will
have it, so be prepared all the time, for the thrill often
comes when hope is all but extinguished. Stick to it.
For, of course, the aim and object of all good anglers is
to catch fish: that is our objective: yet how we are misunderstood. Those who have never been initiated into
the secret, seeing us return with baskets as light as our
hearts, at once draw the conclusion that we have once
more proved ourselves failures. What a misconception:
what a void: what an ignoring of all the hundred and
one other joys of fishing beside the mere catching of fish.
The day in the country: the murmur of the stream: the
teeming natural history around us: the glorious views,
and, perchance, exchange of views: the improvement in
-^"imr m
our casting: the picnic meal: the seasoned pipe: the ever-
fresh problem presented by the fish that will not take: and
sometimes the pulse-quickening thrill produced by the
fish that will: the difficulties overcome:
(\ If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same."
That is it: that is the true fisherman's secret. The good
day and the bad: the full creel and the empty: the big
fish and the small: the lost monster and the captured
Then the incidents one meets with, jocosely disbelieved by our friends the Stayat Holmes. But let
them scoff an they will, so they let us go forth. Let
them turn over again and come down to their late breakfasts; but let us rise with the dawn, swallow down our
tea, tap the glass, glance at the sky, light our pipes, and
away amongst the buttercups and marsh marigolds where
the rushes bend and bend but never break,
' - The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break "
in the swirling gold-brown water, out of which a gleaming
bar of silver leaps to welcome us.
That tap on the glass: that glance at the sky: the one
rising, the other bright as bright, with only a few fleecy
white clouds, abhorred of Jonathan, here and there,
merely serving to accentuate the blueness of the ether.
Both bad portents to those who allow themselves to be
influenced by portents. But " He that observeth the
wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall
not reap." And if we waited for the perfect day we
should probably wait a long time, and then very likely
find the water too high or too low, or the fish running, or
not on the take, or none there. So let the glass rise or
fall, let the clouds be white or black, high or low, away
with us, thankful for our holiday in the open air, thankful for health, and enough wealth at all events to go fish- FISHING AND PHILANDERING        21
ing, and for all the other benefits that will readily occur
when the heart is light, and still more readily as we return
when the basket is heavy. All the morning it seems as*
if we may get a fish at any moment, yet no fish comes: all
the afternoon hope, though eternally springing, springs
lower each moment until it seems impossible that we can
ever catch another fish, and we      Whoop-la!     In
him, by Gad! A fish after all. Carefully with him,
|| use him as though you loved him," heart in mouth: it
will be such a triumph: such a crow as we shall have over
the Stayat Holmes, the tappers of glasses and the gazers
at clouds. Now: as I bring him in: good man. And the
gaff goes home, and twenty pounds of molten, quivering
silver lie resplendent on the grass at our feet, with the
tide-lice in evidence as we take out the fly. Who said
' Shrimp? ' Very likely it was a shrimp, which is Irish
for prawn. Are we ashamed ? Not I at all events. Let
us, however, avoid and eschew all controversy, dear men
and brothers, dearer still women and sisters, or even, if
our luck is in, sweethearts. " Fishers must not
wrangle." If a fish will take a fly, by all means let us
take him on a fly: if he wont, let us take him on a spoon,
a minnow, a prawn, or even a worm, but, above all, let
us take him. Now in that matter of a worm. As will
appear later, to my mind it is the most difficult of all
methods of catching salmon: certainly it is the most unpleasant: there is our own repugnance to be considered:
there is also the worm's. For whatever one may hear
to the contrary, the worm does object—and object very
strongly. But have you ever watched the thrush you
admire so much at his breakfast? Have you ever seen
that sweet singer pecking bits off his unhappy prey, and
its wriggling, though unavailing, remonstrance? What
does Nature mean by its thousand seeming contradictions ? Who and what are we that we should rise superior
to her rules and regulations? Ought we seriously to
consider the worm ? And will he not in time take a loathsome revenge. Bah! I don't like it. In fact, I dislike
it, and revert to it only in desperation: as the dernier 22        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
ressort. And in the close season vow I will never revert
to it again. But next week I am going an angling once
more, and—well, perhaps I shall, and perhaps I sha'n't.
Anyway " I wish you joy of the worm," which you will
find in Antony and Cleopatra.
Now it is a curious thing, but certainly a fact, that
some fishermen are jealous. I remember once walking
home with " Billy " after a blank day, and suddenly
seeing over the gorse bushes a rod bending and swaying
against the sky. " By Jove," quoth I, as we stopped to
watch, " that beggar H. is in a fish." No answer did I
get, and in the pleasure of watching the good fight from
the opposite bank it did not seem strange. We had both
fished that same pool, and I expressed wonder as to what
bait had proved the deadly one. Still getting no answer,
I glanced at my young friend: he was white and quivering:
if he had been possessed of hackles they would every one
have been bristling. Rage and fury devoured him. At
last he managed to blurt out, " Come on, he's going to
kill it; I can't bear it." It afforded me food for thought
what time I smoked two pipes. We could not have
killed that fish ourselves: at least we had failed to, and
were on our way home: then what strange demon
possessed " Billy ": I don't know: he did not like H.
it is true, but then very few people did. Yet H. is not
a bad chap in his way, though a man may be a very good
chap in his own way, but an infernal nuisance in yours.
He once gave me leave to fish his bit down after he'd had
a blank day, and in the last fading hour of daylight I
hooked three fish and killed one of them. He had certainly never done " Billy " any harm. What could it
be? Could there be a kink in that seemingly kinkless
character? A rift in that mellow lute? He was never
jealous of me. Though once I was very jealous of him;
but we were not after a fish on that occasion, and one
reason why I never could catch a woman was because my
father did not leave me enough bait.
From all of which the moral should by this time be
apparent: that I am not a jealous fisherman.    No, I am FISHING AND PHILANDERING        23
not. But there is one thing to confess to all the same.
I do like being alone when fishing. Some people can be
with one without being in the way: silent observers in
search of new methods, who after a bit go off by themselves, to turn up later with a fish, or as a friend of mine,
who had never tried my single-hook method of prawning,
once did with three when I had a blank day. But to be
assailed with a ceaseless flow of questions or anecdotes:
to be worried as to why you do this and the reason for
that, or the necessity for something else. Imagine a
spectator at a billiard match suddenly rising and asking
Stevenson why he was hitting his ball so low, or amidst
the deadly hush on the last green, approaching Braid
with a request to look at his putter. Highly strung?
Well, of course they are, but so is a fisherman. More
especially if he fancies a fish touched him last cast.
" Why are you changing your shrimp? " Has the man
never changed his fly for a larger or a smaller one ? So
should one change one's shrimp—I can't get into the
habit of calling them prawns—if one knows a fish has seen
it once or twice, for a larger or smaller one. " Why are
you taking off that piece of lead? " Can't the chap see
I'm too deep by a few inches? At last he gets bored,
loses interest, wants to try himself, and moves on, till one
is at last alone and can give one's whole mind to ascertaining why the fish you know is there won't look at anything. Yes, it is good to be alone when fishing. I only
know one exception, but then, I only know one thing
better than fishing.
Modern science has cleared up many of the problems
to which our grandfathers could find no solution.
Microscopical examination of scales has rudely dispelled
old theories as to the length of time salmon remain in the
sea, the periods of their visits, and the old idea that they
paid an annual visit to fresh water. Other scientists have
proved that their inability to digest food is the reason for
their empty stomachs when caught in rivers and lakes;
but this last is one of those vexed questions that will
probably call for a division as long as men and women 24        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
go fishing. When one kills a fish with a worm, and finds
that unfortunate creature halfway down the fish's gullet,
it is a little hard to understand what it was there for
unless to be eaten. It is much too hard for me. Let it
suffice that, whether from hunger, rage, or curiosity,
these noble fish will occasionally—and sometimes it does
seem so very occasionally—take our baits. That is all
that need concern the non-scientific branch of our brotherhood. The next thing we find is that they take some
people's baits, for what is a fly but a bait, even more occasionally than others: if, then, we can find out the reason
for this preference, and if it is discovered to be certain
differentiation in presentation, we have made a long step
towards improving our chances of sport, and that, remember, is our objective all along the line. I have
recently been making a series of experiments in my
bath, at considerable personal inconvenience, not to
mention risk, with a view of discovering the point of view
of the quarry. Lying supine on my back at the bottom
of eighteen inches of clear water, I have dangled a salmon
fly in mortal dread over my nose between my eyes and
the window. Even to my mortal vision the fly was clear
enough to behold, but never have I been able to discern
any movement of the fibres of the wing or hackle by
dragging it to and fro, while very little commotion in the
dense element was sufficient to obscure it altogether. If,
therefore, it makes a difference to us whether the water is
still or disturbed, it is probable that it does the same,
though perhaps in much less degree, to the fish, and our
theories as to smaller flies in low or still water, and larger
ones in high, rapid, or discoloured water are probably
right enough. Yet it is a question if the water is ever
really muddy to a fish, whether it can be compared to a
London fog, for instance, or only to the difference
between sunshine and shade from our point of view. For
if you will take a glass of water from the river, even when
it seems too hopelessly pea-soupified to fish in, you will
find that the small quantity in the glass seems almost
clear.     Struck   by   this   I   have   persevered   in   the 1
yellowest floods, though I must confess unsuccessfully,
though the ! Bosun '—however, of that tale later.
Being somewhat short of wind, my experiments were
necessarily curtailed, which, coupled with the fear of
getting the hook in my nose, soon made me desist. But
by carrying on without a hook I have made one or two
discoveries, of which one seems to me remarkable
enough. One would naturally expect that one would
see one's hand more distinctly with the window for a background than with the wall. Yet such is not the case.
Against the dull wall the hand is plain enough and all
the fingers; against the window it looks more like a skeleton hand, a sort of X ray photograph of a hand. If fish
see under at all the same conditions, then they see us most
distinctly when we crouch against the bank, and least
distinctly when we stand erect in bold relief against the
There is also the question of hearing. It is commonly
thought that fish do not hear, though Sir Herbert Maxwell, of whom I am a humble disciple, has himself seen
evidence to prove they do. I cannot see why they should
not, for even I can hear quite distinctly under water, some
sounds indeed becoming intensified. Get into your bath
and let the water run out; now lower your head under the
surface and see if the sound is not louder. Not only can
I hear a person speaking with my head completely
immersed, but I can also repeat what they say if they
speak fairly distinctly. Wherefore I believe that fish
can hear, and intend to act according.
Reverting to my fear of hooking myself, I have known
two bad cases of hooked bipeds. Once in a gust of wind
I Jonathan ' hooked himself well and firmly through the
lip and had to wait some time before it could be extracted.
On another occasion an esteemed and portly friend of
mine staying in a country house was invited to fish.
Fish ? Not he: not such a mug: but he would go down
and watch * Hughie ' for a bit. Provided with a rug, a
Laranaga, and a French novel, he made himself
extremely cosy, at what seemed to him a sufficiently safe 26        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
distance from the bank. But ' Hughie ' was a disciple
of ' Fine and far off,' and when at the extreme stretch of
forty yards of line his large spring fly caught in the lobe
of my poor friend's ear, the powerful forward drive of
eighteen feet of cane and steel brought him to his feet' all
standing ' with a howl of mingled rage, pain, and
astonishment that set every dog barking in sympathetic
unison within a two-mile radius.
" Fine and far off ": it is a great motto, well worthy
of emulation. Yet it is possible that at times one is too
fine and at others too far off, nay, sometimes both
together. " Now you must be sure not to cumber yourself with too long a line, as most do." For some seasons
past ' Jonathan ' has complained bitterly of the number
of fish he has hooked and lost. No finer exponent of
' fine and far off ' ever threw a fly, nor is his ability to
play a fish one whit less: why then his continued run of
bad luck ? He told me lately that he thought he had discovered the reason. His casts had become finer and
finer: they were always long: knowing the fineness ofhis
tackle, he had raised the point too gently, with the result
that he had failed to drive the barb home: c Hinc illae
lachrymae.' Again, in the matter of I far off.' He can
throw fifteen yards of line more than I ever attempt, and
throw them better, and with no more effort: so to him
1 far off ' is doubtless an advantage in every way, but how
many men does one not see making kind of gymnastic
contortions at each cast: surely they must lose much of
the pleasure derived from the serene: length at the price
of effort cannot be good. Nor is it always useful. How
often do they fish well at forty yards? A professional
once told me that his father was the finest fisherman he
had ever seen, and that he never fished more than twenty-
five yards of line. Once I was a witness of some mighty
casting with a vengeance. The late Mr. Enright visited
the river for a couple of days' angling. He caught a few
fish, and oh! but he was hard on them. Later on he
delighted us by an exhibition of long casting; first with
a sixteen-foot rod, and afterwards with a fearsome weapon 1
measuring no less than twenty. He invited me to try
this latter, whereupon I as nearly as possible followed
the line into the river. Then he took it up. True, he
was on a high bank, while the rapid current was also all
in his favour. But under any circumstances his performance could only be termed prodigious. At last he
succeeded to his satisfaction, of course • shooting ' a tremendous lot of line in doing so. I measured that cast
myself: it was one foot less than sixty yards.
As regards paraphernalia I have little or nothing to
say. There are many first-rate establishments, all of
whom supply absolutely reliable tackle. The reader
must choose for himself. Most of them publish beauti-
fully-got-up catalogues annually, causing the mouths of
those with the shallower purses to water almost enough
to bring down a spate. The multiplicity of rods, reels,
lines, flies, baits, etc., is endless. Yet perhaps one or
two words of advice might be accepted in the spirit in
which they are offered. Rods should be selected according to physique: split-cane, greenheart, or washaba
according to individual tastes and pockets. The former
are at least twice as expensive, but throw sweet lines
almost of themselves. I own a rod of the latter wood
given to me many years ago by * Jonathan,' when he
took entirely to cane. It had then accounted for many
hundreds of salmon. Now, alas! only the middle joint
of the original rod remains; yet it is of all my rods the
favourite: long may that centre-piece bend and spring
true again. Some prefer spliced rods; others pin their
faith to ferruled ones. Most people like the action to
continue well down to the hand with a stiffish top. A
good reel will last a lifetime: I have some old friends,
twenty-five years of age, as good as the day they first
appeared resplendent. The two secrets with regard to
reels are to have a leather case for each, and to occasionally have them overhauled. Lines have of late years
improved out of sight: if taken care of, and well rubbed
with a good grease at the end of the season, they will last
for years, like port, improving and mellowing with age. 4pl
Gut again will last for many seasons if treated with
reasonable care and not wrapped up with rusty hooks.
Personally, I am satisfied if, after a thorough soaking,
my casts will pull a dead weight of five pounds. One
of the most surprising facts to the uninitiated is the lifting power of their rods. If this is new to you put it
to practical proof. Ring up your rod, attach the end of
the line to your steel-yard, and see how much strain you
can put on. If you can pull from two and a half to three
pounds you have a fine weapon, in which you can place
implicit reliance. If, therefore, your rod bends almost
double under a strain of two and a half pounds you may
surely be content with last year's casts if they will lift
double that amount.
As L have a liberty, so I am resolved to use it, and neglect all
sour censures.
Izaak Walton.
The Salmon and the Butterfly.
Though " the salmon took the May fly
With gustatory intent,"
I confess I'm still not certain
That he was on feeding bent.
For, suppose oneself a salmon,
Bored and brooding all through June,
Fins just moving, gently dreaming
Of his coming honeymoon.
Of a sudden flits a fairy
Sailing down—a butterfly—
" Great Jock Scott!    Don't that look toothsome?
Hang it! I must have a try.
Gad !    That's tasty : would a salmon's
Stomach were the size of whales' :
Fed like that who'd be Lucullus,
With his tongues of nightingales?
Yet, alas ! I may but taste it,
Then perforce must spit it out:
Who would be a lordly salmon?
Better far a lord with gout. I
For there's something wrong within me
In the region of my waist,
And I can't digest my dinner,
Though I dearly love a taste.
There's another—oh ! Great Garrett!
What the Dickens—dash my eye ''—
There !    He's gone, a fifteen pounder,
Tearing at Sir Herbert's fly.
Do not some men chew instead of
Smoke Sir Walter's fragrant weed
For it's taste?    You'd scarcely say they
Were enjoying a hearty feed.
Nor need fish be always hungry
Just because we see fhem rise:
What they seem things are not always—
You should see my dog catch flies.
So I take the side of science
In this argument about
Whether Salmon in fresh water
Fast like Priests, or feed like trout. CHAPTER II
Who hath seen the beaver busied ?    Who hath watched the black-
tail mating?
Who hath lain alone to hear the wild goose cry?
Who hath worked the chosen water where the ounaniche is waiting?
Or the sea-trout's jumping crazy for the fly?
It is there that we are going with our rods and reels and traces
To a silent, smoky Indian that we know—
To a couch of new-pull'd hemlock with the starlight on our faces,
For the Red Gods call us out and we must go.
Rudyard Kipling.
Indian fishing—Ignorance in the midst of plenty—The mighty
mahseer—A fishing lunch—Shooting incidents—A Christmas
camp—Indian trout—Caught by night—A perilous voyage—The
Major's goonch—A dry river—A red letter day—My best mahseer
—Indian tackle.
Of all excuses for writing of one's personal sport, perhaps the best is anxiety to promote the sport of others.
In India there is so much fishing and shooting practically
at one's front door that the picture of some young
subaltern bewailing his fate at not being at home for '' the
first time through the coverts," or when the " fly is up,"
when twenty-five couple of snipe or a whirling mahseer
pool are within a short tonga drive, is a melancholy one
to contemplate.
My first Indian station was Poona. Many and many
an afternoon had I spent rowing some fair creature up
and down the Mooti-Moola before learning that the boat
was passing over the broad backs of many a goodly fish.
At last the day dawned when I was to be undeceived.    As ■""*;
the sun of that day set I drove my companion back from
the boathouse to her father's bungalow. Not without
qualms. For by the time we reached it darkness would
have set in and the peppery old Colonel would be awaiting
us; the prospect was indeed anything but f pleasing,"
while an angry parent most undoubtedly is at any time
"vile." But on this occasion all was well. At his feet
two noble fish gleamed in the lamplight which served to
accentuate the darkness of the broad verandah. " By
Jove!" quoth I, " I did not know there was any fishing in
India." " Not know there was any fishing in India, my
lad! Why, there's splendid fishing all round you," he
answered. " Come with me next Thursday, and you
shall see for yourself."
On that day he accordingly drove me out to a large
tank called Karakwasla, formed by a dam across the
river, some twelve miles from Poona.
We were soon afloat in a roomy boat, with a rod out on
each side, trailing, forty yards behind us, two huge glittering spoons, each armed with a single enormous triangle.
The first thing that my mentor taught me was that the
brighter the sun and the clearer the water the better
chance was there of a fish. On that occasion the water
was as clear as gin, while there was no doubt whatever
about the brightness of the sun. Nor of its heat either,
for that matter, and I had just sunk off into a peaceful
doze when the whirr of my check-reel awoke me to instantaneous action—only to find that the ancient one had
thought it funny to pull off a few yards of line to wake
me up. I pretended, out of politeness, that I too thought
it amusing, thus tempting him to repeat the silly performance next time my eyes shut. However, Colonel or
no Colonel, I wasn't going to stand that, and was in the
act of telling him so, when my reel suddenly gave vent
to a prolonged screech which might have been heard a
mile off. The rowers stopped, and the Colonel at once
commenced winding in his line, as I lifted my rod and
gazed anxiously at the emptying reel. Why didn't I give
him the butt?    It's no use giving a heavy mahseer the 32        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
butt. You might as well give the Irish mail the butt.
Many and many a mahseer have I encountered since that
day, but even now, twenty years afterwards, I well remember the sensation of impotence that came over me
on my first encounter with | Barbus Tor." Would he
never stop? Apparently not. Yet he did, in the nick
of time, and at last I began to reel up. You will meet
people who will tell you that a mahseer only has this one
first glorious rush in him; that after that it is a mere question of winding him up. Greater nonsense never was
talked. Certainly it is true that in deep sluggisii pools
or lakes he will only fight in a sort of dogged " pull
devil, pull baker " style after the opening ceremony, but
over and over again have I noted the same trait in salmon,
the difference being that the mahseer takes as long to
land with treble gut as the salmon does with single.
After an anxious ten minutes' give-and-take, we at last
caught sight, far away down in the depths of the brilliant
water, of a dark shadow. Slowly but surely it became
more and more distinct until at last there hove in sight
the finest fish I had ever had hold of. One of the boatmen produced a landing-net big enough to pick up a
sheep in, and then—then, as the fish lay feebly on the
top of the water, he made a dive at him, got him half in
and half out of the net, lifted him a quarter in and three-
quarters out of the boat, and—dropped him! Crack!
went the top joint and down, far down, dived the fish.
However, I managed to get hold of the line and hand-
played him slowly back again. This time the Colonel
took the net, and, making no mistake, lifted my prize,
my first mahseer—a 13-pounder—into the boat. A
smack on the head from a stretcher put him out of his
pain, and we went ashore to lunch; as I drank his health
in a well-iced whiskey peg, and gazed with wondering
admiration on the glorious green and gold and bronze
of his huge scales, I temporarily forgot my exile and
tasted the cup of happiness for the time being.
Having been thus 8 blooded," I spent most of my
holidays—in   those days Thursday was a holiday in FISHING AND PHILANDERING        33
India, as well as Sunday—either at Karakwasla or on the
banks of the river. With a brother officer, who was also
prepared to give up the fascinations of the band-stand
and the seductiveness of " Rosherville "—the " Ultima
Thule " of river boating parties of the " poodle-faking
description—we went further and further afield in search
of sport, until there was not a run for twenty miles of the
river down which we had not spun our spoons. How
little we knew about it, and how much better we should
have done if we had only spun natural bait instead, as we
discovered later on.
We never got any big fish in the river, but as we used
lighter tackle those we did get gave us all our time to
overcome them in the heavy streams, fighting away to the
last as gamely as any sea-trout, though they never
jumped out of the water. Six or seven pounds was our
biggest fish in the river, and I think 191b. in Karakwasla.
But the river undoubtedly held much larger fish, for one
evening a Carnatic carp, weighing i2lb., jumped into a
racing eight, between stroke and a fair lady who Was
coxing it. They did not upset, but they went as near it
as it was possible to do without.
A friend who used to accompany me on most of these
expeditions was in some ways like the old lady's parrot,
in that he indulged much in reverie. It used to be my
business to provide our lunch from the mess. On one
occasion, after we had discussed a cold fowl, some curry-
puffs and hard-boiled eggs, followed by a few jam tarts,
bread and cheese, cake and fruit, he said to me: " You
go in for too extravagant lunches; next time I will see
to this part of the show.''
To this, with my usual good nature, I assented, and on
the next fishing trip my friend opened a small—very
small it seemed to me—basket, and produced with a grave
air two minute pies. I asked him where his lunch was,
and was considerably annoyed when he said that the two
tiny pies were all there was for the two of us. Being
fearfully hungry, I set to work on mine. It was not unpleasant, and I munched away in sulky silence for some
twenty minutes. At the end of that time I was not halfway through my puff, but could not have eaten another
morsel to save my life.
With a deep gasp, I rolled over, and inquired, | What
in thunder is in these infernal things ? "
Gazing quietly at the wedge I had consumed out of
mine, he replied with a sigh. "You haven't done badly,
you've eaten about half a calf!"
They were made of compressed veal.
From Poona my regiment was moved to Nasirabad
with a detachment at Neemuch. At neither station did
we find a fine river like the Mooti-Moola, but, on the
other hand, the small game-shooting at the former and
the big-game shooting at the latter were far ahead of anything we had been able to get in the more social surroundings of Poona. At Nasirabad on Thursdays and
Sundays, by driving somewhat afield, twenty couple of
snipe and duck or quail, with a few sand-grouse thrown
in, would be by no means an exceptional bag, whilst
even on days when it was impossible to get away till after
lunch, one could generally get within sight of blackbuck
or chinkara. At Neemuch there was even better,
because more varied, shooting than at Nasirabad, and it
was there that, in company with my friend " Felix," I
made my first bow to big game.
The occasion was a remarkable one. A panther,
beautifully driven, came tearing between us as we sat
perched in two trees, some forty yards apart, Being a
beginner I was allowed first shot. Talk about the
poetry of motion! Never shall I forget the graceful,
sweeping bounds with which the beautiful beast swept
across the open patch to the jungle beyond. Bang! and
I missed him clean with my first barrel.      Bang! and
Felix ' missed him too. Then, at the very last moment,
as he seemed to be poised in mid-air, over a bush 6ft.
high, on the other side of which was impenetrable jungle,
I pulled again, and the next moment the panther had
disappeared. How bad I felt. How sadly I apologised
to my tutor.    All he said was, % Don't worry; I've shot FISHING AND PHILANDERING        35
it through the heart." Somewhat comforted, but very,
very doubtful, I joined the great shekarry as he cautiously
advanced towards the bush. Not a sound. We peered
in, and there lay the panther, sure enough, on its left
side, with a huge clot of blood on its right shoulder.
" By Jove! " said I, " I must have shot him after all."
"I'm afraid not, old chap," answered c Felix.'
" That's my bullet coming out."
By this time the beaters arrived, and we pulled our
quarry into the open. They turned him on to his right
side, when^my friend pointed out the hole made by his
bullet going in, and, even as he spoke, inserting his
finger in the hole, he pulled out my bullet, flattened to
a beautiful mushroom, lying close under the skin on the
left side. Subsequent investigations proved that our
bullets—neither knew the other had fired a second barrel
—must have passed within an inch of each other. No
wonder it was dead!
Then there was a week with my poor friend H ,
who now, alas! sleeps under the shadow of Spion Kop—
in the Khoki Ravine, Central India. Four bears, two
crocodiles, and a fearsome midnight stalk of a tiger—we
knew no better—which had killed a cow within a quarter
of a mile of our tents on the night of our arrival. Not
a bad week for two raw subalterns! Here I shot the
best blackbuck the regiment got while in India, a symmetrical 24m. head. But what about the fishing? Ah,
yes!    Of course; I apologise.
As already stated, there was none very close, but one
of our majors got an invitation to come and bring a friend
for ten days at Christmas time from the hospitable officers
of the Deoli Irregular force. To arrive there necessitated a sixty-mile drive in the major's tonga, and involved a most parlous crossing of the treacherous sandy
bed of the river we were to fish—the Chambal, I think.
On the morning after our arrival we started for the
camp, another ten miles, more or less across country.
At one place, where it was more across country, the
major, of whom I stood in desperate awe—albeit all of m
us subalterns admired him more than he ever knew—
essayed to drive over a bank about a foot high. When I
picked myself out of the cotton-field, he was nursing a
strained wrist and using language, the mere recollection
of which, even after twenty years, still makes me feel
hot—and he tells me he's a Churchwarden now!—while
our host was rubbing one shin with his other foot and
starting in to mend the harness.
However, we eventually reached one of the two most
beautiful camping grounds I ever saw. The river,
which up till now had meandered at its own sweet will
through miles and miles of flat, sandy country, here
came to a gap between two noble marble rocks, some
700ft. or 800ft. high. At their feet swirled a huge, deep
pool, about half-a-mile across, from the far side of which
the river once more came to its senses and swept away
under steep, rocky, wooded cliffs, the home of countless
monkeys, sambhur, cheetal, pig, and a few tigers, bears,
and panthers. The pool and the river below it swarmed
with crocodiles, so, fond as we both were of swimming,
we determined to deny ourselves the luxury in that neighbourhood. It was a remarkable spot. We pitched our
tents on a green and grassy bank, under the grateful
shade of some glorious trees, at the base of the marble
rocks, and on the very edge of the pool. We could
stand in the rippling waters of the river up to our knees,
and cast our baits into almost unfathomable depths. The
edge shelved directly down. One could have stepped
over the side from the river into 60ft. of water.
There we stayed for nearly a week. The sport was
good, but the methods were tame. The modus
operandi consisted in covering a largish hook with a lump
of dough about the size of a filbert, and waiting to see
what would come along. Various and weird were the
arrivals. Sometimes it would be a mahseer; sometimes
a " Wallagu Attu "—a fearsome beast this, a sort of
cross between a pike and a conger-eel. Sometimes a
trout—Barilius bo la—of whom later; and sometimes
another fish, somewhat like a pollack, whose name I have FISHING AND PHILANDERING
forgotten, but a game creature, who on occasions took a
fly, and ran to about 3lb. in weight. Very often it would
be a turtle, reluctant to the last, and the very deuce and
all to get the hook away from. In the mornings and
evenings the trout would rise merrily, and out came the
fly-rods to fill the pot. The Indian trout—this particular variety, I mean, for there is another sort in the Cashmere rivers—rises well at the fly, and takes a small
spinning bait too. He is not to be distinguished from
our white trout except by a close observer, being only
deficient of the adipose dorsal fin, and, like the mahseer,
carrying his teeth in his throat. Moreover, they play as
well as any white trout, frequently jumping out of the
water, but unfortunately seldom run to much over 2lb.
in weight.
Tiring at last of the dough-dropping style, I one afternoon took a spinning-rod of Herculean proportions, and,
• embarking in a canoe, set forth to explore the river lower
down. It was full of huge rocks and boulders, disintegrated from its marble cliffs, while on every accessible
sand-bank or flat-topped rock lay a huge crocodile, lazily
enjoying the sunshine, eyeing me as I went by with a sort
of look as much as to say he was speculating where he
would like to begin. After a couple of miles or so, I
emerged into more open waters, and, as they
looked trouty, mounted two white trout-flies, and
put the question. The response was instantaneous. About a dozen trout rose and jostled
each other so that all failed to take hold. Next
cast they improved in their manners, and then how
I regretted not having my light fly-rod. With my tackle
it was possible to flip them out almost as soon as they were
hooked. For once in my life I have seen trout rise well.
After about an hour I stopped. How many I threw
back I do not know, but I kept forty, which weighed
21 lb. Then I discovered that raging thirst " consumed
me quite," when lo! at my very elbow popped a soda-
water bottle and gurgled into a tumbler not devoid of
whiskey.    It was like the Arabian Nights.    Then my 38        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
host appeared. It was his pet preserve, but seeing a
stranger in it he had generously only interfered in time to
save me from dying of thirst. The shades of night—good
Lord! I had forgotten the time—were falling with a
vengeance. As my unknown host asked where my camp
was I remembered the sunken rocks and the sherry-and-
bitters aspect of the assembled crocodiles. I would walk
home, thanks very much, and send for my boat next—
what was that? A dull, menacing, guttural roar, reverberating from hill to hill and back again, dying away to
a whisper, fraught with pathetic gnawings of empty
feline stomachs. No; I would not walk home. What
was to be done ? Then my noble-minded friend said he
would lend me an experienced boatman to paddle me
back, and I heartily thanked him and bade him farewell.
About half-way up the river a fool of a mahseer, about
3lb., in weight, jumped into the boat, giving my nerves
a start that I shall not readily forget. After which we
came in sight of the twinkling lanterns of the major's
search-party, and I anticipated a hearty wigging for the
fright he had got. However, the sight of the iish made
him all right, and dinner was real good that night; as
was also the subsequent pipe under the brilliant starlit
Next day was our last. The trout were rising before
dinner, and we were whipping for them when a swirl in
their midst showed the presence of something bigger,
" Try a spoon, Major," I said. He tried. So did the
something bigger, and in a minute his rod was bending
gaily. I was just coming up with the net, when suddenly there was a dead pull, and in a moment the line
began to unwind slowly off the major's reel, while the
point of his rod descended almost into the pool. Our
servants called us to dinner. Hang dinner! Lanterns
were lit. An hour passed; but the situation showed no
signs of changing. " Oh! put on a bit of strain, Major,''
I urged. " Put it on yourself, you young ass," he
grunted back. " Feel the rod." I felt it. How the
tackle stood I knew not.    At last I heard him begin to FISHING AND PHILANDERING
wind in. Slowly, slowly, slowly he reeled up. Was
the bottom coming out of the pool? Peering into the
depths by the light of the lantern, a huge shadow came
in sight. Very cautiously the major dragged it over the
lip of the pit into the shallow river. Very neatly two
coolies seized it, and carried it high up the bank. A
goonch—huge, black, repulsive, with a head as big as its
body. Thirty-three pounds in weight, with a 4-pound
mahseer stuck tight between its huge teeth, and the spoon
equally tight in the mahseer's leathery mouth.
Although a far cry from Nasirabad to the ChambaL
that sixty-mile drive was a very small affair compared
to my next trek. A mighty fisherman had fired my
imagination with a description of the sport to be obtained
in the Doon Valley—which sounded of Jan Ridd, albeit
it was spelt differently—and had provided me with a map
and all sorts of other information. I took my two months'
leave, with a fishing rather than a shooting programme,
and, since everyone else preferred the latter sport, had
perforce to make my trip in solitary grandeur.
After spending a pleasant evening in Delhi, by way of
a break to the 500-mile railway journey, I arrived at the
beginning of my troubles the following morning, as I
drove away from the Dak bungalow at Saharanpore.
The driver of the .ramshackle sort of " growler " had
never heard, it seemed, of the names of any of the places
marked on my map except one, but at that one he assured
me there was a river and a Dak bungalow, which seemed
to make it certain this must be the point I was aiming for.
After a desperately boring drive of twenty-five miles
along the dustiest and least interesting road in India, we
arrived somewhere, and while my servant unpacked my
kit and took command of the neighbourhood generally, I
armed myself with a \ rod, and, guided by a
local wag, walked through a mile of sand,
in which each footstep sank well in over the
ankles, to the bank of the river. It was some
half-mile wide and as dry as the inside of a good racquet-
court, with the exception of a chain of miserable pools of mm
frog-haunted, stagnant, slimy water, about 3ft. broad
and 2ft. deep. Was there no other river? None for
another twenty-five miles, and that only a small one compared to this.      If the sahib would wait till the rains
came, the sahib would But the sahib would not.    He
tramped back to the bungalow instead, and re-examined
his map. Yes, by jingo! there it was, of course. What
a fool I had been to trust the hasty map of a non-topographical-survey friend. He had inadvertently put in
the arrow-head, which should have indicated the north,
pointing due south! It does not bear dwelling on. We
crawled back, and that evening (it was really too hot
to drive in a stuffy vehicle all day) started once more,
this time with our noses pointed north. Waking at 4
a.m., I crawled from the recesses of the wheeled coffin
to gaze on the most splendid sight that it had yet been
my luck to look upon in India. We had drawn up on
the very top of the pass leading over the Sewaliks, a
roughly serrated, densely vegetated range of hills some
3000ft. high. Far away below me a green valley,
streaked by a noble silver stream. Far away beyond that
the swelling foothills of the Himalayas, then in the full
glory of ten-acre beds of brilliant rhododendrons, and
farther on still those glorious mountains themselves,
tipped, as it seemed, with frosted sugar, silent yet
eloquent in their gorgeous magnificence, sharply outlined
even sixty or seventy miles away against the turquoise
blue of the early morning sky.
Drinking in the glorious scenery and splendid champagne air, so nerve-bracing after the long months on the
dreary plains, I turned to find my faithful servant at my
elbow with a cup of steaming coffee from the Dak bungalow hard by. Then away down the easy gradient to the
diamond-sparkling Arson river, speeding away for all it
was worth to tumble into the mighty Jumna some four
miles lower down.
Mahseer and Indian trout (Barilius bo la) were there
in plenty, while the bungalow, within a quarter of a mile
of the river, afforded comfortable accommodation; but the FISHING AND PHILANDERING
fish were not large, and I soon shifted down to the Junction Pool. Here it was necessary to engage " senai-
men," to enable one to get out where the fish lay. A
native bedstead was placed on two inflated carcases, while
the men took to the water and, half wading, half
swimming, conveyed one to the pools and streams. I got
an 81b mahseer, but, alas! the " senai-men " were on
the way up to the hills, and refused to stay more than a
couple of mornings.
But " misfortunes are sometimes blessings in disguise," and the present instance proved the truth of the
adage. I transferred my camp to the other side of the
Jumna by means of the floating ferry, and marched across
to the Giri. Here at last was the ideal river—a mixture
of the Dee and Findhorn—now in a brown spate from
some storm far away up in the mountains, but obviously
running down.
I spent three or four days trying to shoot cheetal, and
obtained a couple of fair heads. But there was one stag
which I failed to obtain, though seeing him daily. His
head would be a prize worth having, and I abstained from
firing at any others in the hope of obtaining the coveted
trophy. At last there came an evening when the river
was fishable, and I got hold of a nice 1 lib. mahseer by
way of a start.
The next day's sport was the best I ever had. Starting out at 3.15 a.m., I stalked through the forest, moving
silently over the dense carpet of leaves sodden with a
heavy dew, in hopes of meeting the giant stag. Plenty
of others were about, but no sign of my ambition. The
sun got higher and higher, till at length the leaves began
to crackle, making any further stalking an impossibility,
and I was on my way home, tired, hot, hungry, and disappointed. Crossing a siriall patch of cover there suddenly came a crash from the far side. Monkeys, I
thought. Or perhaps cheetal! I ran as hard as I could
to the edge of the trees, and there, streaming away across
the open, was the biggest herd I had yet seen, and leading them at full pace, a good 120 yards away, my stag. 42        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
I threw the rifle up and pulled as one might chuck one's
gun up at a rabbit, and like a rabbit he fell, head over
heels, once, twice, thrice—shot through the neck, stone
dead. I can see him now, but could scarcely believe
my eyes then. A beautiful, regular, shapely head was
his, with 36m. horns, a prize that any man in India might
have been proud of.
A refreshing tub, a hearty breakfast, a few letters, and
at four o'clock in the afternoon off to the river. I only
had four casts. The very first accounted for my then
record mahseer, a 2 5 pounder, as game and gallant a fish
as any salmon I ever played. The next cast a fish came
at me and missed, but as the little natural bait—a
" blackspot " or " chilwa "—came wobbling across the
stream at the next attempt, the same fish, presumably,
came again, and this time took hold. The pool was
about a hundred yards long, and both these fish took
it in one express-train rush, fighting their way stolidly
back to the white water at the head, only to once more
break violently, resistlessly away. He proved to be a
19-pounder. By this time it was nearly dark, but one
more cast resulted in the death of a 4^-pounder, the very
best size for the pot; for in clear streams like the Giri
the mahseer is by no means to be despised, though the
very small ones are too bony, and the very large ones
too oily.
Many another noble fish rewarded me in this pool.
One evening the bait was taken almost as it touched the
water, nearly forty yards away, and with the usual
glorious burst a fish swept down to the tail. Back again
to the head, and back once more to the tail, where the
water shallowed before breaking over the lip into the
rapids below. There I got a glimpse, and knew he was
a big fellow. And going out of the pool, too. Strain?
He'd have pulled me in, I verily believe, for the rod,
though much too heavy, could not have broken the
trebly-twisted treble gut. Nine strands of salmon gut
twisted together—try and break it with your stoutest rod.
Well, if he meant going down, I meant following, and FISHING AND PHILANDERING
there, fifty yards away, a tree had fallen into the river.
There was nothing else for it; I jumped in, and, half
swimming, half floating, holding the rod aloft with one
hand, followed my captor down, and, for the time being,
was played by the fish. As soon as possible I landed.
Some half-mile down he came to a stop, and lay in full
view not more than 20ft. away, apparently considering
the situation. Now, in spite of the tackle I was using,
it was another quarter of an hour, and probably an hour
from the time he was hooked, before I could move that
fish. Then slowly and reluctantly he swam into a little
bay. Two coolies with me jumped in to secure him.
One wave of his tail and he was gone from between their
very legs, and my heart stood still and the end of the
world was at hand. But his gallant breath was gone
too; the current washed him up against a rock, broadside
on, where he lay supine, just long enough to enable my
coolies to pick him up, head and tail, and carry him
ashore.    And so I killed my only 40-pounder!
A word in conclusion as to the sort of outfit for Indian
fishing. Mahseer vary so greatly in size, running up to
ioolb. in weight, that a double set of tackle is a necessity.
For the larger fish all that is necessary is a strong salmon
rod, on the stiff side, especially in the tops: the Castle
Connell balance is the very thing, or, if split cane is preferred, the rod known as the " Hi-Regan," made by
Messrs. Hardy. My own favourite rod is by Farlow,
16 feet long, a thought stouter in the top joint than one
would choose for salmon, but perfection for the heavy
work entailed by big mahseer. A 4^in. to 5in. reel, capable of holding 150 yards of line, one hundred of which
might be ' backing,' is the next requisite, and with care
will last a lifetime. Personally, I should select one of
the new casting reels, with an easily-adjustable check.
Spinning traces should be of treble-gut or ' telerana,'
with an ( anti-kink ' lead fixed about a yard or four feet
above the bait. This lead is indispensable, and precludes the possibility of any worry from kinking lines.
I have mine made with a loop at each end, the trace being 44        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
made in two pieces with a loop at the end of each. This
greatly facilitates a change of leads for fishing at different
depths and strengths of streams.
For a flight you do not require so many hooks as you
do for a pike, the mahseer having a soft leathery mouth
and a habit of getting the hooks well into it. You cannot beat a ' Pennell ' flight, with a straight reverse hook,
and only one flying triangle, but the hooks must be
specially tempered. This brings us to the baits, and the
momentous question, natural or artificial. The answer,
however, is easy enough, though the supply is often a
very different matter. Natural bait every time, when
you can get it, is the answer. As regards getting it, in a
country where labour is cheap and the minimum wage
unknown, the best way is to employ a native to get it for
you, which he will readily do with a few casts of his net
in the stream you are fishing in, or some tributary thereof.
If you cannot get a native fisherman, keep a small casting
net for yourself: the waters are full of ideal spinning baits.
Of artificial baits the best is a hog-backed spoon
as silvery or as golden as possible. The smaller
mahseer, fish up to iolb. in weight, occasionally rise well
to lake trout and salmon flies, but if you want to get hold
of a big fellow, and cannot get natural bait, put on a
spoon or a very large Devon minnow, the former for
choice. There used to be a tackle-maker of the name
of Luscombe at Allahabad, a practical fisherman, whose
goods could be relied upon, and who could be trusted not
to mount baits on split-rings.
Above all, have snake rings on all your rods, with
agate centres if expense is no object. I remember once
seeing my line was round the lowest ring on my rod, the
only one that was not a snake-ring: I knew the danger,
and moved my hand to undo it, but before I got there I
had hooked and been broken to smithereens by a fine fish.
Oh! those fish we lose: what huge fellows they always
seem; yet where would be the joy of fishing if one never
lost a fish.
For smaller rivers and smaller fish use smaller tackle: FISHING AND PHILANDERING        45
a handy ten or twelve foot bamboo or split cane, or a
double-handed 14-foot trout rod, with the rest of the
tackle in proportion, is what is best suited to meet the
case. But for trout fishing, of course, use your trout rod,
and prodigious fun you can have with " Barilius Bola "
on a light weapon. When you first meet with him you
will fancy yourself in Ireland playing a white trout; for,
like that game fish, he seems to be as much out of the
water as in it. And when you have landed him, unless
you are a bit of a naturalist, you will still think so, though
you will change your mind later on when you eat him.
Not that he is bad eating by any means, but his flesh
is white, and his bones are ubiquitous. The smaller
mahseer, between two and five pounds in weight, are very
fair eating: when bigger they get greasy. I have never
tried a gaff against a mahseer's scales, having early been
warned that it would not penetrate them; yet have I often
read letters of men who do use gaffs. Personally, I
always used a large net.
Spring and autumn are the best times of the year, and
with one last word of advice, worth all the rest put together, I will bid a regretful farewell to the grand fishing
obtainable in the East—get " The Rod in India," by
H. S. Thomas, and therein learn all you require to know
before you begin to profit by your own experience.
And I wish the reader also to take notice, that in writing of it I
have made myself a recreation of a recreation.
Izaak Walton.
Mahseer (after Locksley Hall).
Colonel, give me leave a little in the springtime of the year :
Give me leave to fish the Giri, for a fifty-pound mahseer.
'Tis the place, and all around it seems but little changed to me:
Here I camped, aye, there my tent stood, underneath that mango
Here the cheetal in the morning pure snow-spotted did appear :
There the cavern in the cliff side where I slew the old she-bear. 46
This the stream they caught my bait in, full of gleaming bait e'en
now :
That the forest where the monkeys used to slip from bough to
Whilst before me flows the river, slightly swollen from a flood,
Far away in Himalaya, bringing down the foot-hill mud.
Glorious Giri!    How I loved thee more than twenty years ago :
Thou art true to thy old rock-bed—I am true to thee I trow.
Mixture of the Dee and Findhorn, thou to-morrow grand will fish :
If I had old John beside me there'd be nothing more to wish.
Here's the best pool in the river, in whose foaming head there lay
Many a strong and mighty mahseer in what seems but yesterday.
Here I hooked my forty pounder : killed him down stream half a
mile :
Nearly treading, as I followed, on a lazy crocodile.
Noble stream, thou'rt bringing memories crowding up into my
soul :
Gallant friends and old time sweethearts swell the swelling muster
Social Simla, gay Mussoorie, polo, cricket, dances, rides,
Champagne air, health-bearing breezes from the snowy mountain
There's my butler's call to dinner through the mellow evening
bright s
With a bit of luck to-morrow morning early I'll be tight. CHAPTER III
A fisherman he had been in his youth,
And still a sort of fisherman was he.
Don Juan.
Introduction to salmon—Jonathan's best fish—Johnny's hat—
Fishing or whist—A determined bull—Jonathan's friend—Heresy
—My discarded bob-fly—Advice gratis—Outside—Late nights.
Having won my spurs amongst the mahseer, the spring
following my return from India found my fancy lightly
turning to thoughts of salmon and the long-promised trip
to Galway with ] Jonathan,' which we had so often
planned. Even in those days he had to use four figures
to count the fish he had killed. To him a salmon seemed
about as important as a small pike did to me. Yet was
our first trip to prove as eventful to him as to me. As
I was quartered on the Curragh at the time, we arranged
that he should come there for me, as I could not get away
till the Saturday evening. So he came, and dined at
mess on Friday, when he captured all hearts, as much
by his charm of manner as by the Villar-Villar tobacco
which he so generously distributed, albeit he was the
guest and I his host. And yet, and yet, much as he
enjoyed meeting my merry companions, and late as we
went to bed, he told me he could " hear the West
a-calling," and asked if I'd mind his going by the early
train, so that he could see about lodgings and maybe
have a cast or two, I to follow later as soon as duty per-
47 Mprv-
mitted. So away he went, and well for him he did so.
For when I arrived at 8 p.m. and asked him if he had had
any sport, he modestly replied: " Yes, I've got a nice
little fish; I kept him to show you; but wait till after
supper. I think I would like to send it to your regiment
for their lunch at Punchestown." A nice little fish.
Well, well. As soon as my baccy was alight he opened
a cupboard door revealing to my astonished gaze the
biggest salmon he had ever killed, 35lbs., and as fresh
as a daisy. But I would not let him send it to be carved,
however skilfully, for a lot of hungry race-goers. No;
I made him send it to Rowland Ward instead, and
annually when I visit my friend I feast my eyes on those
noble proportions which it is my piscatorial ambition to
Next day began my education. Our henchman, who
rejoiced in the name of " Johnny," was, like his father
before him and his son after him, a past-master of angling
craft. To hear him and ' Jonathan ' talk fishing was in
itself a liberal education: to hear them indulge in repartee,
English and Irish wit, both of the keenest, was a pure
delight: but it was not until they indulged in mutual
recrimination that the seventh heaven was reached.
Never shall I forget a friendly wrestling match between
them, in the course of which " Johnny's " new black
bowler fell into the river: all unaware of his precious tile
floating placidly seawards, " Johnny " rose from the
ground, saying, " Give me back the hat, Mr. John,"
under the impression that my friend had in some
mysterious manner secreted it somewhere on his person.
Never, never shall I forget the expression on his face
when the true state of affairs dawned on him, or his mad
rush down the bank in the hope of recovering it before it
reached the Gulf Stream.
Oh! those pleasant, pleasant days. An archbishop
could not have been dull in " Johnny's " company.
Those Sunday afternoons when we used to sit and yarn
with old ' Nicholas ' and make him tell again and again
the same old tale of the pike that was so huge they were FISHING AND PHILANDERING
afraid to take it into the boat, and the eel with " a mane
like a harse."
There was nothing that " Johnny " did not know
about fishing. On one occasion four rods fished a long
morning and part of an afternoon blank, till in despair
they agreed to adjourn to the club and play whist, as it
was then. On the way we had to cross the bridge, which
no true angler ever did yet without looking over it. The
river was full of fish, as we very well knew. Suddenly
1 Johnny " plucked my sleeve. " To blazes wid yer
cards," he whispered; " I'll get your waders and we'll
try it from the other side." So the other three left me,
and I sat and contemplated five peal lying on a white
slab side by side, apparently motionless. They must
have seen every one of our flies a score of times: yet it
is a solemn fact that no sooner did a small " Sir
Richard " come sailing over their heads, fished from the
left side of the river instead of the right, than they found
it quite irresistible. One after the other they meekly
rose and kissed the rod in a manner of speaking. All five
did I get, and good big peal they were. Later on I got
another, and as I joined my friends at dinner and told
them what had happened they could scarcely swallow
their soup, so great was their rage and envy.
Now long recitals of sport are apt to pall, but herein
lies a moral, which he who fishes may read, mark, learn,
and inwardly digest. In later years it brought me three
more fish in the last hour of a blank day. Lay it to
heart, my brethren, that it may some day tighten your
lines, lighten your hearts, and weighten your baskets.
Other writers have dwelt upon it: hundreds of anglers
can confirm it: yet must it be well rubbed in. Therefore,
if you own both banks, and have toiled all day unsuccessfully from one, go round, Cross over, swim, fly, jump,
somehow or other get across, and try it from the other
Talking of crossing a river, an incident that once
occurred to me in the south of Ireland also contains a
moral, not without a warning.      I was fishing a long
4 5o
curving bank, with six to eight feet of deep heavy water
on my side shallowing away to a strand on the other,
whereon stood a mighty and bellicose black bull.
Whether the waving of my rod, or something in the
features of the small boy who was gillying for me, vexed
him I know not. Certain it was that something did.
He began to bellow and snort, pawing up the ground in
a manner which would have been more than ominous but
for that deep and rapid stream between us.    Verily we
" Heard the shout of Hiawatha,
Heard his challenge of defiance,
The unnecessary tumult,
Ringing far across the water."
But I was not afraid of him; far from it. Indeed, I commenced to chaff him, pointing out the futility of his rage
and its utter foolishness. With dramatic suddenness he
stopped swearing, and, after regarding us curiously for
a moment or two, turned, walked up stream to the ford
at the head of the pool, and began to cross. " Paddy,"
said I to my small factotum; " perhaps it would be as
well if you walked up to the ford and I shooed ' that beast
back. I think his owner would be sorry if he came over
here." Nothing daunted, " Paddy " proceeded to the
attack, while I, though interested in the animal's movements, strolled leisurely on in the direction of a plank
which crossed a deep drain bounding the field.
" Shooing," however, seemed to present no terrors to
the venomous brute, which continued placidly to pick its
way across the stream. Whereupon " Paddy " did the
most foolish thing, suddenly turning tail and bolting: in
my direction moreover. A bull is an expensive animal
to injure, and I had no mind for being injured myself
either, so I too " broke into double time," as we say in
the army, and shortly afterwards into treble, nay, quadruple time, crossing the plank about five yards ahead of
" Paddy," who arrived about a similar distance ahead of
the bull. Wherefore scoff not at such enraged animals,
even though a mighty river flows between you and them. FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Amongst " Jonathan's " many friends was an eccentric young gentleman, who may here pass by the name
of " Thread." Possessed of most comfortable means,
he delighted in dissipating them in a variety of queer
fashions. One Christmas, being wishful to make a present to the local police force, who had doubtless frequently befriended him, he purchased no less than forty
geese for their dinners. These reluctant birds he caused
to be thrown into the air at short range that he might
shoot them down, so making an excellent entry in his
game book for the benefit of his wondering English
friends. Late one evening " Jonathan," of the open
heart, told him that should he ever find himself in the
neighbourhood of his, " Jonathan's," home in Sussex,
he felt sure his father would be pleased if he would drop
in and see them. Some three months afterwards, about
two o'clock in the morning, " Jonathan " suddenly
heard a tremendous din at the hall-door. Convinced
that a desperate gang of burglars had concentrated, my
friend armed himself with a bludgeon, assumed his
dressing-gown and slippers, met his father similarly
attired on the landing, and together with him approached
the door. There on the threshold stood " Thread,"
still abusing the driver of a ramshackle old " growler,"
in which he had driven out from Brighton, some fifteen
miles. He turned beaming to greet " Jonathan " and
that gentleman's astounded parent, urging both to be
careful and tender with a snapping monkey, which he
pressed into their reluctant hands. Returning to the
four-wheeler, he took the opportunity to add a few
remarks to those he had already hurled at the unfortunate
charioteer, while he drew from the dark recesses of the
vehicle a live owl, a moribund hawk, and, later on, a huge
specimen of a pelican very badly stuffed, the neck of
which being broken caused it to droop its head in a forlorn and uncomfortable manner, whilst cotton-wool protruded in some quantities from an orifice in its bosom
or breast. :c Thread " refused to retire for the night
until his precious treasures had been safely housed, and 52        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
" Jonathan " has frequently told me that he would cheerfully have given £$o for me to have seen his father's face.
Next day " Thread " presented his miserable pelican
to each of " Jonathan's " four beautiful sisters in turn,
accompanying the gift with a proposal of marriage, and
invariably requesting the return of the bird on meeting
with a firm refusal. Next night, about an hour or two
after the family had retired, they were awakened by an
appalling din on the roof. This proved to be caused by
" Thread," who explained that, being unable to sleep,
he had ascended to have a bath in the cistern, but that,
having inadvertently closed the trap-door behind him,
and being unable to open it from the outside, he had
found himself obliged to call attention to his dilemma by
hammering on the roof with some dumb-bells, which, as
he said, fortunately, he had provided himself with for
the purpose of obtaining some exercise after his ablutions.
One of his most humorous episodes I was privileged
to be a part observer of myself. " Johnny " was one'
day earning the full pay of a British officer by no harder
labour than falling asleep on the bank while I fished,
when he suddenly said: " Will you excuse me for a few
minutes, sir; my wife wants me. I can hear her whistlin'
beyant." Half an hour later he returned, while shortly
afterwards a small boat rowed by a solitary figure started
up the lake. I Do you know who is in that boat, sir? "
he presently queried. I expressed my ignorance.
" Well," he continued; " that's Mr. { Thread.'
Maybe you are aware he is engaged to marry one of Lord
' Blank's ' daughters, and what has he done by way of
hilarity but blacken his face and put on a pair of my
old trousers, hind side afore, and off with his gun to
Menhigh. He's goin' to start shootin' till the keepers
come, and then, when he's taken before his Lordship,
he's goin to say who he is." It struck me at the time
as a novel and curious departure in the delicate art of
courtship, and two minutes later I knew it to be a foolish
one indeed, for behind me sounded the jovial voice of the
Master of Menhigh, enquiring what sport was like.    For FISHING AND PHILANDERING
his Lordship did not often come townwards, but when he
did he went back late, and we were prepared for all night
sittings at the club on such occasions. We had one that
time, or nearly, Lord '' Blank " driving off in high spirits
at 2 a.m. In the meantime " Thread " had succeeded
beyond even his aspirations. His fiancee and her sister,
out for a walk in the woods bordering on the lake, hearing
shooting and attributing it to the keepers, went off to join
in the sport. Coming suddenly round a corner on a
ragamuffin with a black face, who incontinently flew
towards them waving his arms, one sister dropped to the
ground in a dead faint,, and the other fled for her life,
uttering such piercing screams that they soon brought
forth keepers, coachmen, butler, footmen, dogboys, etc.,
etc. Seeing their beloved young mistress lying prone
with a ruffian of Satanic aspect bending over her, they
made short work of the wretched " Thread," who was
speedily rendered as unconscious as the girl. The procession then started for the castle, where, upon signs of
life appearing in their prisoner, they threw him into a
dark and dismal dungeon about ten feet below the level
of the lake. In the small hours of the morning Lord
" Blank " was unable to make anything of the garbled
narrative they poured into his astonished ears. When,
however, the would-be murderer was brought before him,
his rage got the better of him, and nothing but
% Thread's " hasty retreat back to his cell saved his life.
Nor was it till late next morning that he was at last able to
establish his identity and wash his face.
It was " Johnny " who first taught me to tie a salmon
fly as well as to throw one. Like the gillies of every
other river I have ever fished, he and all his family placed
^implicit reliance on flies of their own manufacture, and
regarded all others with loathing and scorn. Certainly,
their flies killed well, however poorly they appeared in
comparison with the majority of Scotch and English
patterns. Certainly also, this particular fishery adjoining the mouth of the river, their flies were the first seen by
ascending fish.    But on another river, on which I have 54        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
spent some hundred of the happiest days of my life, for
forty miles from the mouth they pin their fancies almost
exclusively to what they term a " Lemon-grey." Being
a heretic, from an angling point of view, I pay no attention, believing in size and to a certain extent on colour,
according to background, sun, etc. Others more easily
led, not quite so cocksure you think perhaps, buy their
old " Lemon-greys " as fast as they can be tied, and
the weary fish, ascending from one pool to another, one
fishery to another, view the same old fly sweeping over
their heads morning, noon, and night, till at last they
sink to the bottom in utter disgust, cursing the want of
imagination and originality in the bipeds they see waving
about on the banks.
One season " Jonathan " had extraordinary sport in
Ireland with a Scotch fly—a " Lady Caroline." He
killed some fifty fish with it, and gave away many and
many of the sombre little combinations to others, who also
met with great success. Next year he arrived with a
much larger stock, and what was the result? Not one
single fish did he get on that particular fly. What was
the reason of that? No; don't ask me. That is one of
the mysteries to which I offer no solution, contenting myself with a recital of the bare fact.
The strangest incident that ever befell me happened
one evening when fishing with 'j Johnny." He had prevailed upon me to stay out long after everyone else had
gone home in disgust, as he said the tide often brought
up a fresh fish or two. Doubting much, but hoping
more, I remained out, until late in the evening I hooked
a fine fish of anything between fifteen and twenty pounds
on my tail fly. For the custom there is to fish for salmon
with two flies, about four feet apart. It is a custom that
I always disliked, though it is true that with an up-stream
wind one did often get a noble rise when " tipping the
bob," or in other words " dapping " it along the surface
what time the tail fly pursued its subaqueous and more
conventional course. But I had recently lost two fish
hooked on the tail fly through the bob fly catching in the JONATHAN IN NORWAY.
rocks, and had vowed a mighty vow that should I lose
another in a similar manner I would for ever discard it,
except occasionally. (I know it's Irish.) This particular pool I was fishing was immediately above one of the
town bridges, on the sea side of which a wooden platform
on iron uprights had been erected. In the event of a fish
going under the bridge an attendant could gaff up the
line from this platform, hand playing the fish till the
angler, having cut the line as the last yard flew off the
reel, hurried round, when the line could be restrung and
the battle commenced anew. My fish jumped several
times, but eventually expressed a determination to go
through the arch. The water being heavy, no arguments I could produce served to induce him to change
his mind. '' Johnny '' ran out on the platform, signalled
that he had the line gaffed up, I duly cut it and joined
him. But instead of the line being some way down the
river, it went deep into the water at our very feet. There
was nothing very strange in this, and I bade my gillie
give the fish a stir up with the butt of the gaff to induce
it to get a move on. "I can feel him," he said. "Then
for goodness sake gaff him," I replied, being wishful to
end the fight and go home a hero. " Johnny " reversed
the gaff, lay down flat on the platform, and sank it deep
in the water; a rapid stroke, and " Got him," he cried,
bringing the gaff up hand over hand. Alas! he had j \ got
him '' right enough: got a large dead white dog, with my
idiotic bob fly firmly imbedded in his miserable hide.
By this time a considerable crowd had assembled on
the bridge, amongst them two young ladies, one of whom
—however, let me stick to the point. The shout of
laughter that went up from that humorous Irish crowd
must have been heard by my fish where he was chewing
my tail fly somewhere in the sea. It entered into my soul
as deeply as the gaff had into that for-ever-to-be-accursed
dog. From that day forth I have restricted myself to
one fly for salmon; the other, in spite of endless protestations from my gillies, I assure them has gone to the dogs.
The keenness and anxiety for your sport of those well- 4W
known attendants is past belief. Day after day, season
after season, they never tire: always ready to tie on a
fly, borrow a shrimp, or offer advice. Even to " Jonathan " they offered advice when he, the past-master,
would be playing a fish. " Stand where ye are ":
" folly him down ": " raise your hand ": " gie him the
butt ": " line, line, gie him line ": " wheel now,
lively ": a host of such wisdom, albeit as frequently as
not entirely contradictory, would assail anyone playing
a fish. Often I had begged them to dispense with it and
leave me to play my own fish in my own way. But it
was no use. They simply could not help it. Once,
when playing a fish I knew to be small, I stooped down
and laid the rod on the bank. '' Now will you shut up ?"
I asked. " Oh! for the love of God, sir, pick up your
rod, and the devil another word will I say," pleaded
" Johnny," but no sooner did I pick it up, to find the
fish still there, than he broke out afresh, " Wheel, wheel,
lively now: stand: gie him line: folly him down," till in
sheer weariness I " follied " him, or stood where I was,
or indulged my henchman in some way or another.
Once, when " Johnny's " elder brother was looking
after me, he paid me the greatest compliment I ever received. I was fishing the near bank with a short line,
when a fish of iolbs. made one of those graceful head and
shoulder appearances, not rises, some four or five feet
above my fly. Instinctively I raised my hand smartly,
to fix the hook firmly somewhere near the outraged
salmon's pectoral fin. " I couldn't ha' done it neater
myself," yelled " Mike " as he snatched up a gaff and
fled down the bank after me as I fled after the fish, which
never stopped till he reached the cribs, a quarter of a
mile down stream.
One year on my way to fish I received a wire at my
club in Dublin telling me the water was too high and not
to come for a day or two. So after dinner I played
billiards with a friend of great skill at that fascinating
game. We played on right through the night till broad
daylight shone through the skylight of that dear old FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Bohemian institution, only retiring to bed as more sensible people were leaving theirs. Next night I was on
my way to mine at the reasonable hour of n p.m., when
another friend, an even better billiard player, a splendid
fisherman, and the best of good company, seized my arm,
saying, " No, you don't; I've got a match at whist on,
and you have got to come and play.'' Weakness or good
nature? or both? or love of whist? Which was it? I
don't know. Only this I know—I went. When at last
I escaped at 6 a.m. I swore no earthly consideration
should detain me another night in the capital: the water
might be out in the streets in the West for all I cared: I
was going there, and, again, I went. That night 9 p.m.
seemed a reasonable hour for bed. But it was not to be.
" The very man," sang out a jovial friend in the hall
of the Gal way Club as I passed through. " ' Jack ' is
swaggering awfully about his billiards; you simply must
come and play him." Well, if I simply must I simply
musted, and hundred after hundred we reeled off till
somewhere between four and five o'clock, on my third
night out of bed, a tap came at the window of the
billiard-room, which gave upon the street. It was
" Johnny." " Come on out of that; the river is in
grand order, and I have your rod here now." Weak
with fatigue, I uttered no remonstrance: anything to
escape " Jack." So to the river we went and I killed
a fish. Then, however, I returned to my lodgings,
double-locked the door, whatever that may mean, and
slept for twelve hours—Irish.
Now for the art of catching fish, that is to say, how to make a
man—that was none—to be an angler by a book.
Izaak Walton.
An all night rain has ceased at last,
The welcome spate is pouring fast
Into the salmon's cool, dark home,
Bearing its clots of creamy foam. 58        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
The flashing sunshine's golden beam
Searches the porter-coloured stream,
Till as its bed still deeper grows
It's murmur dies, when slow it flows
In many an oily, curling eddy,
Then broadens out and seems to steady.
The further bank uprises high
Where fir-trees silhouette the sky,
With silver birch and hazel shade,
And bracken for a carpet laid :
Around us miles of purple heather,
And—best of all—grand fishing weather.
Anticipation joyful grows,
And see ! just there a salmon rose :
" Popham "? " Jock Scott "? or " Silver Grey "?
Or '' Dublin Fusilier '' to-day ?
By Jove ! a pull—electric thrill—
Down goes the point at Salar's will;
While screaming winch with joyful song
Proclaims a salmon large and strong.
A tearing rush, then a leap in air,
Like a silvery bow, whence the drops fall fair:
A forty pounder, playing like a trout,
With fan-like tail, and beak-like snout.
But the bottom is gravel and spate-swept clear,
And, though game to the last, the end draws near :
Till we catch a glimpse of a silver side
That looks in such water golden dyed.
Full thirty minutes he's fought like a boar,
But his doom is sealed and he'll fight no more :
For the gaff goes home with a quick sharp clip,
And the quiver that runs from vent to lip
Is gone with the merciful " Priest's " sharp sting
On the shapely head where the tide-lice cling.
Forty-five and a half says the steel-yard "true—
The fish of a lifetime lies in view. CHAPTER IV
The skilful angler allows her fish to play its foolish self, till,
exhausted with splashing and struggling, she can land it without
the line cutting her fingers or the water wetting her dress.
Whyte Melville.
Philandering—A digression—Worcester sauce—Fresh eggs—
My dinner party—Hunting—Shooting—Charles and my change—
also my rod—A perilous trip—Bridge—Poker—South African fishing—Charles' lunch—Christmas at Colenso.
It would almost appear to be a moot point whether the
chief object of the gentle art of entertaining is to entertain, or to be entertained: the correct answer probably
being that the entertainment should be mutual.
Having been somewhat unfortunate—from the financial point of view—in the selection of my parents, and
having elected to ornament a notoriously underpaid profession, I personally have the honour on nine occasions
out of every ten, to act the part of the entertained, in
return for which I endeavour, to the best of my poor
ability, to entertain. It is probable that this is generally
the aim and object of the average guest, and if he does
not mind thinly-veiled allusions to his having imitated
King David and " exceeded," or to acting the part of
society-clown, in spite of a tendency to possessing views
on more interesting subjects, he will be voted a success,
and, further, provided that he can find time within the
59 ^Hm
next fortnight to fit out his hostess's butler with a brace
of visiting cards, be asked again.
It will be very generally conceded that to entertain
well it is not necessary to entertain, and that the highest
summit of the art is reached by allowing one's guests
to please themselves and not to fuss around. Now
amongst many other good friends I have the fortune to
possess one best friend, who for many years past has fed
and entertained me on countless occasions. I have had
the misfortune to offend this fairest of fair creatures.
And all so unwittingly. Every bachelor will sympathise
with me, and I think every married man too. My
offence consisted in a request for a little Worcester
sauce. In fact one object of this short digression is to
warn my friends of the dangerous risk they run in acquiring a taste for this delicious condiment. It appears that
I thereby insulted not only my dear friend's cook, but
also my dear friend's dinner. Dark and lowering looks
succeeded the bright sunshine of her smiles of a moment
since. I was asked what was wrong with the food. My
palate—my jaded palate she called it—was attacked.
My manner of life was harshly criticized: my hours of
retirement held up to scorn and obloquy. Nay, even our
happy, harmless club meetings on the rug in front of the
fire-place, nigh unto " Besika Bay," " where the merry
cock-tail circleth and the anecdotes are told," sternly
taken to task, and severely reprimanded.
Shortly after this " regrettable incident" she and I
found ourselves the guests of another kind hostess, this
time in the country, and at dinner on the first night
" l'affaire Worcester sauce " was discussed. My new
hostess sided entirely with me, and declared that her
most excellent principle was that her guests should have
what they liked, and not what she happened to like herself. I said to myself, here is indeed the ideal hostess :
here is comfort: here is peace without carping criticism :
and as the butler brought me the sauce of strife, I could
not help glancing somewhat triumphantly at my best FISHING AND PHILANDERING        61
friend. But next morning came the debacle. However
quiet the night " Battle's magnificently stern array"
arrived with breakfast. I suddenly became conscious
that something was "rotten in the state of Denmark,"
as I perceived my hostess eyeing my egg with wonder
and amazement. Suspecting that she might have
sniffed something that had escaped me, I took a hasty
smell. But all seemed well, and yet that look remained
in my friend's eye. " Please, what have I done ? " I
asked, fearing I had upset the coffee, or some such dire
catastrophe. In a voice broken by emotion my friend
replied, " You have taken pepper with your egg! " It
only proves how much sin may be entirely unconscious.
I had done so every morning for a quarter of a century.
Ye gods! Pepper with my eggl Why not? Because
it was an insult to the new-laid eggs: an insult to the
noble fowls who had taken the trouble to provide them
all-fresh daily from the farmyard hard by, whence their
exulting paeans had that morning roused me, far too
early, from my slumbers. I was given to understand
that French eggs of the quality labelled " Good " should
be purchased for my consumption if I insisted in my
desperately perverse behaviour, and I blushed and hung
my head for shame. When lo! a rumble from the
direction of Wavre. The Prussians at last. A grand
flank attack by my best friend, " Why on earth shouldn't
the wretched man have ' pepper if he pleases ? '' How
deeply thankful I felt for that timely assistance. I had
been on the point of adding a few drops of the forbidden
sauce, but of course refrained from sheer gratitude, and
the best friendship that ever was became bester than
Undoubtedly it is hard to. please everyone. " If thou
hope to please all, thy hopes are vaine," said Francis
Quarles, but the mere fact of trying should surely be
sufficient. I remember once asking a couple of men to
dine at my club. Their tastes were entirely unknown
to me, and the really, I think, brilliant, idea occurred to 62        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
me to have three different " hors d'oeuvres," soups, fish,
birds, and savouries. My guests had first choice alternately and expressed themselves highly delighted.
On another occasion I had two men—brothers^-to
dinner, and, in my anxiety to please, consulted the very
highest authority with a view to the provision of a pleasing repast. In the smoking-room afterwards, when the
" Napoleon" brandy and Cabinet Uppmanns were
under way, one of my guests remarked, " You know,
my dear boy, the best part of this club is the outside."
Long before I could fit him out with a suitable repartee
his brother said, " Well, there's nothing to prevent you
going outside."
It is not only in feasting however that one's conduct is
open to criticism. Trouble lurks hidden in many
another unexpected quarter, and the ideal guest requires
to be a fairly good all-round man if he is to steer clear
of all the pitfalls that beset his path.
Some years ago I received a kindly invitation from a
friend to come and stay with his people for a couple of
balls, one the annual Hunt Ball, the other a private
dance in their own house. Being fond of dancing I
gladly accepted. After an easy journey from Padding-
ton I was duly landed in a most comfortable West-
country house at afternoon-tea-time. My friend was
not home from hunting, but his people gave me a warm
welcome, and one glance at one of his sisters made me
feel very glad I had come, and eagerly anticipate the
coming ball. It was in every respect a brilliant function
—the most salient feature being the fact that the fair
lady made up for my lack of acquaintances by graciously
allowing me a liberal share of her programme.
There was indeed only one shadow over that evening.
It appeared at supper. My friend " Charles," who I
might mention was, and happily still is, a distinguished
Cavalry officer, brought his partner to sit at the same
table at which I was disporting myself with his sister,
when I discovered that next morning I should be expected to pursue hares with a neighbouring pack of FISHING AND PHILANDERING
harriers, whilst on the day after there was to be a lawn-
meet of the foxhounds at their own house.
I must admit at once to being a nervous and unskilful
horseman. The prospect of riding an unknown steed
over an unknown country was therefore one that filled
me with dismay. As a rule I make no attempt to hide
my dislike of the chase, but the enthusiasm of my fair
partner, and her unconcealed pleasure at hearing her
brother had a mount for me were so evident, that I confined myself to asking my friend later on if the horse
he intended me to bestride was of a confidential character. He laughed me to scorn: declared I was always
making out I couldn't do things: that one thing at
all events I could not do was pull his leg: and so
on, sending me to bed in a most uncertain frame
of mind.
The morning proved mild and pleasant, thus dispelling my last hope that it might have proved too bad for
out-of-door sports, or that a severe frost might have set
in. We had danced till 5 a.m. th^ night before, and my
nerves as I heard a small cavalcade of horses approach
the front door were, to say the least of them, very shaky
indeed. However there was nothing for it but to pretend the prospect was a pleasing one, and I certainly
felt more cheery on seeing that my fate was little more
than a pony, as I felt certain my weight would be bound
to tell on him ere long. As we ambled down the drive
I began to feel less sure about this. The animal, which
had the appearance of being over-fed and under-exercised, commenced to adopt a crab-like mode of progression, which filled me with dismal forebodings, and
when at last he laid his ears back and began to tremble
all over, I asked my host what his chief characteristics
were. He calmly replied -that he did not know: that
he had only recently acquired him; and had in fact never
before seen anyone on his back. Whatever his ideas of
hospitality were they evidently differed materially from
mine, and I heartily wished that some terrible misfortune
might speedily overtake him as I listened to that callous 64        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
answer. The cob had, however, one redeeming feature,
a decided attachment for the mare which my fair friend
rode easily and gracefully alongside. This equine
friendship compensated to a large extent for his other
less amiable qualities, and he followed that beautiful
horsewoman over one or two small jumps in such a
comfortable way that I almost began to enjoy myself.
If only I had remembered the old adage about pride and
a fall. But alas! I too was to have one. Longing to
distinguish myself in the eyes of my guide, my nerves
tingling with the music of the pack, I cried to her that
it was my turn to give her a lead. The part of the fence
I selected was no very formidable obstacle, but the part
my steed selected was. Bounding high into the air it
cleared it gallantly, but bounding still higher into the air
I cleared everything, for, after describing a complete
somersault, I landed in almost a sitting position in the
further field. The lady caught the quadruped, and
asked anxiously if I had sustained any severe injury.
But even as she asked I could see that she was shaking
with suppressed convulsions; I answered in the negative
and further added that she might laugh, when she gave
Way and laughed until I had serious fears that she herself would fall off.
Again that evening we danced till five in the morning. At eleven a.m. I was awakened by the butler, who
seemed surprised to find me still prone. He told me
my horse was at the door. I told him to send it away
and get me a doctor. Nor would I consent to stir until
any chance of catching up the hunt was completely out
of the question.
Then there is shooting, a sport of-which I am fond.
But to those who suffer from chronic asthmatical
catarrhal bronchitis the ascent of steep heights is fraught
with considerable trouble and distress. The best part
of the summer had been ruined as far as I was concerned by the fact that we had been undergoing Brigade
and Divisional training in a very hilly country. One
mountain in particular had been a bugbear to me.    It FISHING AND PHILANDERING        65
rejoiced in the name of 2002, and had been the scene of
most of our engagements. We had attacked it from all
four corners of the compass, in the chill of dawn, in the
heat of mid-day, and during the long, cheerless watches
of the night. But at last our trotrbles came to an end,
and those of us who were bent on shooting packed up
our traps and hied away to " Merrie Scotland." I was
bound, for an eagerly-anticipated fortnight, for a moor
rented by my best friends. Very beautiful was the
scenery through which I approached it, and very warm
was the welcome that greeted me on arrival, while during dinner on that first night I received much sympathy
as I recounted all the hardships and sufferings I had
lately undergone in the service of my King and country.
In the smoking-room later on my long-legged, active
host said he would show me a map of the moor. Hardly
had he opened it than my eye, trained to map-reading,
caught sight of those ominous figures 2002. " What is
this ? " I asked, placing my finger on the spot. " That's
where we generally begin, my boy; the best part of the
moor," he answered. I turned sadly away to help myself to a whiskey and soda, and in broken accents said,
" You can tell your man he needn't unpack my guns."
And to that resolve I held. It was no use. I am not
one of those who believe in making toil of what should
be a pleasure. Moreover I should only have delayed
the rest of the sportsmen. However there were plenty
of other things to do: motors wherein to scour the
country : rivers to fish in, and lakes to boat on : lawns for
croquet and lawn-tennis : and, best of all, the most congenial society of that sex one so longs for after a prolonged course of mess-dinners and ante-room buck.
So the time passed pleasantly enough : the sportsmen
being kept busy and well out of the way, though their
bags were daily diminishing. At last my host
announced that he would have to commence driving, and
I smiled to myself as I thought with gratitude that I had
not been brought into the state of life of a keeper. My
amusement was short-lived.    After an earnest conversa- 66
tion with his wife my bosom friend turned to me and
broke the appalling news that, being short of beaters,
he wanted me to act as a flag-man next day. I do not
think I closed my eyes that night. After breakfast next
morning the head-keeper, 6 feet 6 inches high, about
5 feet of which were legs, fitted me out with a beastly
pole, on the top of which was tied a wretched rag of
some red material. Armed with this I sallied forth at
io a.m., and for eight weary hours, broken by only one
brief interval for lunch, I toiled breathlessly up and
down — principally up — crags, ravines, morasses,
boulders, and broken precipitous mountain sides. I do
not think I reached 2002, but certainly must have
reached 2000 several times. Gasping in an agony of
shortness of breath I would suddenly become aware of
loud shrieks in the distance. Looking up it seemed as
if all the grouse in Scotland were coming my way at
once : unable to utter anything but oaths and the hoarsest
sort of yell, I nevertheless feebly waved my danger-
signal in their faces. Sometimes I did some good, but
more generally I should say some harm, for, in spite of
my utmost endeavours, it seemed I was usually some
quarter-of-a-mile out of my proper place. That was a
day on which I have never yet been able to make up my
mind whether I was entertaining or being entertained.
Fishing hospitality is yet another form in which friends
may be entertained, and is not for one moment to be confounded with fishy hospitality. I remember one of those
rare occasions, alluded to above, when I acted the part
of host instead of guest, the latter post being ably filled
by my late host, the gentleman who had insisted on my
hunting. After an all-too-brief week in town, ending
with a dance at which his sister had again been present,
he and I met at Euston one morning to take our tickets
for the West of Ireland. I paid for mine with a ten-
pound note, and was about to pick up the change, when
my friend " Charles " put forth his hand and plucked it
from under my nose. To my remonstrances he merely
answered, " My dear fellow, if you're going to argue FISHING AND PHILANDERING
about wretched money matters at the very beginning of
our trip we can't expect a very pleasant ten days."
Arguing about money matters! Indignant as I was, I yet
could not help smiling, and though I alluded to the
incident more than once during the journey, the only
result was to produce a look of sorrow and pity on my
friend's face, and a statement that he was disappointed
in me. On the boat we indulged in a light lunch : paying for mine with a sovereign, I was a little more than
indignant when " Charles " once more annexed my
change, as the steward was about to hand it to me. It
was too much. I flatter myself considerably on my
toleration, broad-mindedness, and equable temperament,
but this was more than I could bear. Still he turned a
deaf ear to all my importunities, merely remarking that
I seemed to have temporarily forgotten my obligations
as a host. In Dublin I stood him a dinner at my club,
when, in spite of all my care, he once more repeated his
hateful trick. Host or no host I informed him that no
fortune could stand out long against such a guest as he
was proving himself to be: he only murmured that it
was a habit he had acquired, and then fell asleep in the
train that bore us away westward.
Next morning I was up early and went into his room
to call him. He lay sleeping as peacefully as an innocent man. On his dressing-table were seven sovereigns
and some silver, all of which I annexed, and then went
out to have a look at the river. We met at breakfast,
the only allusion he made to the financial incident being
a request that I would let him have a sovereign to go on
with.    This I did.
After breakfast I fitted him out with rod, reel, and
line, and engaged the best man on the river to act as his
attendant, no other than my friend " Johnny." Now
" Johnny " was also a purveyor of tackle, and regarded
my loan of rod, &c, with some disapprobation. Leaving " Charles " to fish the best pool I then wandered off
down the river, returning at about 1 p.m. for lunch.
Looking over the bridge I saw him hard at work in :^^^"
waders. He informed me that he had already killed
two fish and was the proudest man in Ireland. But I
soon perceived that he was using a strange rod, and on
my asking him where mine was, he replied, " Oh! I've
smashed that to smithereens." " Johnny," his attendant, was meanwhile making frantic signals to me from
the background, later on explaining that the gallant
" Charles " was " the grandest man that ever came to
Galway," and that he had already sold him £12 worth
of tackle.
The days passed pleasantly away, and we enjoyed fair
sport. We made a trip up the lake and got caught in a
gale coming back. So hard did it blow that our two
boatmen, saying they did not know the part of the lake
we were in, resigned themselves to fate and fell on their
knees, offering up promises of many pounds of candles
in the event of their being spared. " Charles " took the
tiller and I stood up in the bows, clinging to the mast
and calling out " port" or " starboard " as the wicked-
looking submerged rocks came into view ahead. After
a time the cold became severe and I told my soldier-
servant to take my place for a spell. In answer to an
enquiry from " Charles " as to his swimming abilities
he had already made us laugh by the anxious inflexion
of voice with which he assured us that he could not hope
to accomplish more than ten yards. Barely had he
taken up his place when he saw a yellow rock just show
its vicious head in the hollow of a deep surge. Innocent
of nautical terms, he roared at the top of his voice " Left
incline, sorr," which proved just as effective. However we were all saved and the last afternoon of our trip
arrived. I was fishing about a hundred yards below my
friend, when I suddenly became aware of Cr Johnny"
rushing up to my side in the most frantic state of excitement and indignation that I have ever seen a human-
being in. I What sort of a man is this you brought to
Galway ? " he exclaimed, literally foaming at the mouth
with rage. " He says he never meant to buy any tackle
from me at all, and was only after borrowing it all the FISHING AND PHILANDERING        69
time." Poor " Johnny." If ever a man was drawn he
was that day, for the twelve pounds had by this time
swollen to fifteen, and he fully believed that yet another
and greater injustice was in store for Ireland at his
expense. However, I need hardly say that all his claims
were satisfied when, his face wreathed in smiles, he put
us into the night mail.
There is another form of hospitality which can lead
to considerable inconvenience. I allude to bridge.
Since its introduction into England the points for which
it is played have been gradually lowered in social circles,
but it is still very difficult to arrange them so as to suit
everyone's pocket. Ten shillings a hundred may seem
scarcely worth playing for to some, whereas such stakes
mean desperate gambling to others. Ethically speaking, the points should undoubtedly be fixed to suit the
shallowest purse. If one plays decently someone can
generally be found willing to " carry " one, or tables can
be so arranged that those wishing to play high can play
together, and vice-versa. Those who suffer most from
this arrangement are good players with small means.
They sometimes find themselves reduced to playing the
merest " bumble-puppy," for it is almost invariably the
case that the best bridge is at the higher points table.
It is not alone at bridge, however, that this difficulty
is to be encountered. I once went to stay with a friend
in Dublin for Punchestown races. My host was an exceedingly well-to-do bachelor, as were also my two
fellow-guests. After dinner my friends proposed poker.
I had only played this game once before in my life and
then only for a five-shilling rise, so when they suggested
a £2-rise I hastily made my excuses. These, however,
they over-ruled. They declared that they must have
four to play; that I could always " go out"; that a beginner always won; that they would write down the
values of the hands for me; &c, &c, &c.; with the result
that I weakly gave way. They then kindly wrote down
the various combinations, which, however, I fancied I
could remember.    My host fitted me out with a hundred
 ___—__^^ 7o
pounds worth of counters, and the game commenced.
Slowly but surely my pile diminished. At last I was
dealt a "straight." I attentively studied the paper at
my side, and then, as the man on my left had not " come
in," asked the other two, whom I knew well (I had not
met the man on my left before that evening) if I might
consult him. Both had a fat pair and were anxious that
I should play, so they eagerly consented. Looking the
stranger squarely in the eye, I said " Ought I to take a
card or not ? " He said, " Oh ! this is all rot: we ought
not to have let this chap play." " There you are," I
said, " I knew I ought to have taken a card, and I ought
never to have played: but as it is I'll play as I should
have done, for I ought not to have asked advice." My
friends placed me with two pairs, and as they each drew
a third card to their pairs, thought they had only each
other to contend against. At £30 my host " went out,"
remarking that he hated beginners, but the other player
went on up to ^40. His indignation when I took the
pool has never faded from my memory, though it all
took place many a long year ago. On this occasion,
although I was being entertained, I feel I may undoubtedly claim that I in my turn also proved somewhat
I had originally made " Charles'" acquaintance
soldiering in Natal. Finding that he also was an ardent
fisherman, we frequently made some pleasant " parties
carrees " on the banks of the Umsinduzi, the little river
that flows by Pietermaritzburg. Sometimes the ladies
would provide tea: sometimes I did. At last, hearing
of some better pools rather further away, he and I determined to have a day alone together. (Which is what I
mean, and the English language must bear the blame
if it is not quite clear to the meanest capacity, as anything short of genius is usually termed.) We agreed
that we would really fish and not frivol, and to put the
crupper on the whole thing, " Charles " declared that
on this occasion he would provide the lunch, as well as
drive me out.    On arriving at the rendez-vous, the mess
——— 1
of the very crack cavalry regiment, which he graced for
short intervals between his periods of leave, I was gratified to see my host and the mess-sergeant tying on a
really fine basket behind the rather ramshackle old dogcart, in the shafts of which pranced a dangerous-looking
piece of " blood." The basket appeared about the size
of one's linen basket, and I could not help admitting
that when " Charles " did things at all he did them well.
Presently we started. Our road lay down hill through
the town, and there being a species of rail to cling to I
was not immediately precipitated out on to my head.
As we swung into the main street on our top-speed we
were enthusiastically cheered by the rickshaw-boys at the
corner. Most of the pedestrians dived into the shops,
but a few bolder spirits yelled something as we passed,
which, taking to be abuse, we ignored in a dignified
manner. Two or three coloured policemen also
bellowed out some advice or warning, whilst one or two
people whom we knew appeared to be convulsed with
laughter. " Silly jugginses," said " Charles." " They'd
laugh at anything: we'll have a ripping day, my boy,
and I've got an A.i. lunch for you." By this time we
were some two or three miles clear of the town, and some
idea born of the word lunch and the grinning idiots we
had passed, caused me for the first time to look round.
There, at the end of some thirty yards of line, jumped
and pranced our precious luncheon basket, doing a sort
of bibbety-bob down the road at a full twelve miles an
hour. Only once have I seen " Charles " look grave :
that was the occasion : in silence he handed me the reins
as soon as he succeeded in pulling up: in silence he
examined the basket. And lo! a miracle. All was
well: nothing smashed. Five minutes later it was tied
on once more : I was admonished to " do something "
towards the day's sport and keep an eye on it from time
to time, and we were soon bowling along once more.
It really was a miracle that nothing was broken : for in
place of the delicate repast I had figured to myself, in
place of what I had guessed would be a chicken and
" 72
some salad, some caviare and cake, or what not, with
perhaps a bottle or two of their pet " Moet," " Charles "
had provided twelve bottles of beer, two glasses, a
corkscrew, and some bread and cheese.
I remember another delightful fishing party which
camped for a week hard by Colenso railway station, and
fished the Tugela in those very pools so soon afterwards
to become historic. Little did we guess that in a few
months' time the site of our happy camp would be pulverised by lyddite and resonant with whistling bullets.
One of our party was to be Prime Minister of Natal,
and well I recollect seeing him strip and dive into a ten-
foot pool to liberate his line which had got hung up on
the bottom. Happy days and pleasant places : alas ! to
be so soon riven and torn : those noble bridges so gracefully spanning the broad river, so soon to be broken
down by the crack of dynamite; those bush-covered
banks that were so soon to prove the last resting places
of so many of our brightest and best. Well, it is all over
now, the storm has cleared the air, and it is to be hoped
for all time, but we who remain must never forget our
loved comrades who cheerfully paid away their lives as
the price of the British Empire.
But I think all that love this game may here learn something
that may be worth their money.
Izaak Walton.
The New Love.
(After Whyte Melville).
Oh ! once I believed in my old twelve bore,
And had faith in my cartridge bag,
But now no more of grouse and snipe
Or rights and lefts I brag.
But ^iye me the joy of a peaceful day
By the side of a well stocked pool,
With my friend to share, and I do not care
Though the whole world call me fool.
For what is the whole world after all
But a medley insincere
Of folk who gaze with uplifted brows
On others whom they think queer.
Let your motto be " Please yourselves my friends
And you'll please me," your aim
To do as little harm as you can :
Or, in three words, play the game.
Then fins  were  invented :  When Queen  Amphitrite
Stirred up her force from Devonian beds,
The race of the fishes in ocean grew mighty,
Queer looking fishes with bucklers for heads.
Fishes, fishes—small greedy fishes !
With wings on their shoulders and horns on their heads,
With scales bright and shiny, that shoot through the briny
Cerulean halls on Devonian beds !
John Stuart Blackie.
Connemara—A slip of the pen—Galway—Cong—The castaways.
—A brace of liars—Recess—White trout—Cashel—The Zetland
Arms—It's landlord—Screebe—Costello—A brace of trout.
Connemara holds vast possibilities of sport, partly
recognised at last, with the result that fishing parties are
now catered for as well as the ordinary gangs of tourists
who visit the West only for its air and scenery. One
fishing expedition stands out clearly in my memory.
The trip originated through a comparison of fishing-
books—my Irish and their Scotch—on a winter's night,
as we sat round the fire in the smoking-room of their
house in town.
Though both very keen on fishing, neither of therri^
had ever been in Ireland, so we then and there deter*
mined that at the first opportunity they should join me
on the other side of St. George's Channel, when we
would do a tour somewhere in the West, which they
declared must include not only fishing and scenery, but
also an opportunity for them to make a thorough study FISHING AND PHILANDERING        75
of the peculiarities of the Irish character and temperament in a fortnight.
Our first attempt was a dismal failure, owing to the
misunderstanding of one letter in a word. She—" the
Best Friend "—wrote to me in May proposing some
fishing in what I took to be Iceland, to which I replied,
regretting that it was impossible for me to get leave just
then to go so far as Iceland, when she—having written,
or meant to write, Ireland—thinking I was laughing at
her writing, would not correct my mistake. Shortly after
which I went " dapping " in Lough Derg for three days,
whence I sent them some trout, and proposed a visit to
them in town, a proposition which I must admit they
most hospitably fell in with, though anxious, no doubt,
to hear my explanations as to why I could not go fishing
with them, seeing that there seemed no difficulty about a
week or ten days' leave. My explanation was, however,
gracefully accepted on my production of the lady's letter,
in which Iceland and not Ireland most distinctly
But the next attempt resulted in my meeting them at
Broadstone Station on one of the few fine days in that
August, whence we were comfortably and expeditiously
conveyed to Galway in an excellent train, and that afternoon, by the courtesy of the proprietor of the Galway
Fishery, we accounted for a nice basket of white trout,
most of which fell to her husband's rod—the sportsman
of the party—I being guide, philosopher, friend, poet,
artist, courier, lady's maid, and general utility man.
At this time of year it is very necessary to book rooms
considerably in advance at any of the angler-frequented
hotels, and our fortnight had been mapped out for some
time, leaving us only one day in Galway. Determined
to make the most of it, I went out for an hour or two
before breakfast next morning, but only rose three fish,
without hooking any of them; whilst another foolish man
—I should say early riser—lost three fish which he
hooked. So that, however true it may be that the early
bird secures the first worm, it by no means holds good 76        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
that the early angler catches the first fish; for neither of
us early birds got one all day, whereas my friends, who
had lain comfortably in bed until 7-30, were both successful later on. After breakfast, my fair friend, attended
by the faithful " Johnny," took the boat, while " the
sportsman " and I fished from the bank, with considerable perseverance and no success. She, however, very
soon hooked a couple of fish, both of which unfortunately
refused to succumb to even her fascinating invitation, a
breach of politeness I scarcely looked for in an Irish fish,
but shortly before lunch another and better brought up
young salmon came along, and this one, after a capital
fight of ten minutes, I duly gaffed for her.
In the afternoon I accompanied her in the boat, having
clearly perceived that the fish were lying on the shallows
and not in the main run of the river, or " drain," as it is
called; very shortly her pertinacity in sticking to the fly
was again rewarded. An enthusiastic crowd soon
gathered on the bridge, and a most sporting bout ensued,
which nobody could have enjoyed more than I did, as
in such a current it was absolutely necessary that I should
support my friend's waist to prevent her falling out of
the boat. It was a good fish for the time of year, and in
taking a fleeting chance with the gaff, I only succeeded
in getting him by the tail, with the result that he was
no sooner on than off, while I, in my anxiety, slipped up
and blunted a remarkably sharp rock with my knee.
However, the hook was still in him, and a second and
more successful attempt on my part resulted in the death
of a bright ten-pounder. After such a quarter of an
hour, delicate wrists and arms were naturally somewhat
tired, so I fished the shallows down, first with a fly, and
then with a prawn, without a touch of any kind. The
delicately-veiled sarcasm of my friend as she compared
my success with hers brought murder uppermost in my
mind, and as the boatman hauled back up the river my
line suddenly tightened, and the next moment I had a fish
by the back fin, to the surprise of " the Enchantress,"
the respectful admiration of " Johnny," and the infinite FISHING AND PHILANDERING
disgust of the fish, to judge from the variety and activity
of his subsequent evolutions, which ended in his going
through the bridge, and back to sea again for all I know,
a few minutes later. After which we rested and had a
cup of tea out of our thoughtfully-provided—I have mentioned who was courier—tea-basket, when " the sportsman "—who despised such light refreshment—kindly
hooked and killed a small peal of about 5lbs. for our
edification and amusement.
Our destination next day was Cong, to which we proposed to go by steamer, but " the stormy winds did
blow," and after a roughish passage we had barely
reached half-way when the captain said it was too rough
to go on, and, after placing us and our baggage ashore
at an almost uninhabited spot, proceeded to tie up for the
night. The prospect was, to say the least of it, the reverse of pleasing, and I looked with some anxiety at my
friends to see if I could in any way gather from their
demeanour what they thought of me as a guide, philosopher, friend, etc., but they accepted the situation with
the greatest good-nature, and treated the episode as an
excellent joke, and worthy illustration of Irish modes of
travelling. Since there was no possibility of beds or refreshment in the vicinity, and Cong was some fourteen
miles distant, it became necessary to look about for some
conveyance; dijigent search was at length rewarded by a
car of sorts, not to mention a somewhat dilapidated-
looking horse, but I explained that all the others were
at the Dublin show. Leaving all our " impedimenta,"
except our dressing-bags, in the care of an old lady who
had kindly sheltered us from the gale by her peat fire,
we made a start, and eventually reached the Carlisle
Arms at Cong at about 10 p.m., after a drive through
pitch darkness without any lights-—another Irish custom.
Our carman on this occasion was certainly of a type my
friends had never seen before: his Saturday-evening
sobriety, his cheery optimism, and his delight when I
endeavoured to lighten the monotony by singing a regimental   song   combining   to   keep   them   thoroughly mm
interested. On hearing the song he at once claimed to
have been in the regiment himself, nobody laughing more
heartily than he did when his failure to answer my questions regarding his company, etc., compelled him to
acknowledge that he had been telling what he called " a
bit of a lie." A little later on my fair friend said: " Oh!
what a story," on the conclusion of one of my best anecdotes, upon which this Ananias set up a blood-curdling
yell—" Hooroosh, Mick," cried he; " there's two of us
liars on the car." The sight of a well-set-up trout of
i2lbs. in the dining-room at Cong filled us with the liveliest anticipations of sport; unrealised alas, for although
we spent the next day trolling in Lough Mask with enormous baits of every variety and description, our basket
in the evening contained only two small trout about the
size of the phantoms we had been fruitlessly, but by no
means weedlessly, dragging about the depths of that most
beautiful lake.
Cong contains one or two points of interest besides its
desirability from a fishing point of view. In the first
place there is the wonderful river flowing from Lough
Mask into Lough Corrib, the first few miles of whose
course is subterranean until it rises to the surface again
in a huge pool at the end of the town, whence its water
flows in three branches, only to unite again in a short
distance, for the remaining mile or two of its course to
the lower lake. It is quite creepy to see the clear water
circling up out of the black depths, and then, after a turn
or so round its parent source, depart, some to the East
and some to the West, while another portion tips through
the mill-wheel into a pool, the black waters of which,
according to local legend, have never yet been fathQmed.
An interesting country to a geologist, with its black rocks
looking like huge slices of Gruyere cheese, its glacier-
ground, whale-like humps of limestone, and its far-famed
green-marble quarries. In this same pool a year or two
afterwards another friend was fishing for small trout, and
killed a splendid five-pounder. Then there is the old
ruined Abbey: the monks' fishing-house in the river,
where the salmon used to ring a bell to announce their
arrival: the stone at one end of a bridge, where you may
stand with one foot in Galway and the other in Mayo: the
cell full of skulls and old bones: and only a mile away
through the trees a vista of the modern glories of Ashford
House, with its turrets and gables alight in the sun, forming a contrast to the ancient relics in the Abbey
sufficiently startling to prompt thoughts of the fleeting
nature of all earthly matters in even the most thoughtless.
A twenty-mile drive along the north shore of Lough
Corrib on a bright sunny day—few and far between in
that most unfortunate summer—through some of the
most beautiful scenery in the West of Ireland, with the
ever-varying lights and shades on the purple mountains
of Connemara on our right, and the dancing, sparkling,
island-studded waters of Corrib on our left, followed by
eight miles in a train, brought us to that most comfortable of hotels at Recess. Its situation baffles the
descriptive power of my pen, a jumble of lakes, rivers,
moors, mountains, woods, and flowers being the principal
features of the beautiful landscape in the midst of which
it is built.
Almost too comfortable and civilized for an angler's
hotel it seemed to the male portion of our party, but later
on the returning fishermen emptying creel after creel of
splendid sea-trout, with an occasional salmon, on the
verandah, proved that it was as sporting as it was convenient; and the next two days often saw our lines tight,
and our hearts in our mouths, as the gamest fish that
swims in the British Isles made desperate attempts to
escape the wide-mouthed landing-nets.
From Recess to Cashel is only a drive of some four
or five miles, and here we were greeted by the most
genial of hosts, who recounted with great delight his
meeting with and introduction to King Edward on his
visit, and the interest His Majesty had taken in the Connemara Cavalry Escort, which our host had organised for
his reception.      Here, at all events, the prospect was 8o
sporting enough to please the most enthusiastic angler,
though at the same time comfortable enough to earn the
favourable comments of " the Enchantress," who, however, never grumbled at anything, accommodation,
weather, want of sport, or other hardship; she proved
herself indeed as good a fisherman as the best of us, while
her bridge at night might have served as a model for many
a self-satisfied club player.
It would be hard to find a more typical West of Ireland
prospect than that afforded by the windows of the Zetland Arms Hotel, as the ground slopes away in front of
the house to the rock-strewn, almost land-locked bay^—
most beautiful of all at low-tide—and stretches far behind
over splendid moors and loughs to the majestic group of
mountains known as " The Twelve Pins." And what
delicious lobsters used to come out of the bay and find
their way into our luncheon baskets; and what lovely
islands covered with purple heather, rowan berries, and
ferns, in fair Lough Gowla, to land on in the afternoon
and make a cup of tea, when a temporary calm put an end
for the time being to the fishing.
Certainly, the sport might have been better, our best
day only realising 33 fish, of which " the sportsman "
accounted for 17, whilst we in the other boat got half each
of the remainder, but these white trout are fine sporting-
fellows to catch, and the weather was against us for some
time, all the lakes being much above their usual summer
level. We spent one day at Screebe, perhaps the best
of all the salmon and white trout fisheries of Galway,
where private enterprise has been rewarded beyond the
dreams of avarice, and where the owner killed eighteen
peal on the fly in one day that year, only showing what
can be done by hatcheries, care for spawning fish, etc.
So it was with no small regret that we turned our backs
at last on Cashel, its splendid sporting possibilities, its
wild scenery, its civil-spoken, handsome peasantry, and
its most cheery host. With an Irishman's eye for beauty
and grace, he had been so captivated from the first with
my beautiful friend, that as we ate our last lunch he
appeared with a bottle of his best champagne—-and a good
wine it was—and requested us to drink her health and
speedy return to the wilds of Connemara, which we duly
did, not forgetting to drink his as well. Nowhere else
but in Ireland could one meet with such a farewell; nowhere else could one be so sure of a warm welcome when
the next visit, already fully determined on, may come off.
And so back to Galway in time to enable " the sportsman " to catch half a dozen sea-trout round the cribs,
which were afterwards fished for our benefit, as were also
the eel-nets after dinner. Next day it rained in such
torrents that only " the sportsman " would venture out
to fish, earning a well-merited reward for his bravery in
the shape of a grilse and half-a-dozen sea-trout, whilst
the remainder of the party completed sketches, played
" spite patience," and—I can answer for myself at all
events—thoroughly enjoyed themselves in spite of the
utter brutality of that summer day.
Besides Screebe there are many other private waters
which are well looked after. I was privileged to enioy
a fortnight once at Costello, when it was in the hands of
a small club. Better white trout fishing I never had.
though on that occasion there was such a drought that
only the lower lake was fishable, and we nearly gave up
going altogether.
On the afternoon of our arrival, in company with my
host, we went down to the lake as soon as we had snatched
a hasty meal, only to find that the boatman, not expecting
us to fish till next day, had not turned up. We determined to launch the boat and do without him, upon which
my friend stepped into black mud up to his waist by way
of a good start. Of course he had to return to the lodge
for a change, while I occupied myself in putting up the
rods, soaking the gut, etc. I do not suppose we had
much more than a couple of hours' fishing, which was a
pity, as the trout were never in better mood, and I myself
accounted for twenty-one fish weighing twenty-five
pounds. It was, indeed, our best day; yet we had some
other good ones too.    On one occasion I hooked some-
6 82
thing that played very deep and very strong for a long
time. I was convinced that I had hold of a salmon, a few
of which occasionally succumb to the lake-trout flies.
But it turned out that I had hold of two stout trout, one
of two pounds, and one of two pounds and a half, the
latter being hooked outside by the bob-fly. The best
fish out of 220 weighed 3^1bs., and a noble fellow he
was. Unfortunately that little club has long ceased to
exist, and the water is now in private hands.
For angling may be said to be so like the mathematics, that it can
never be fully learnt: at least not so fully, but that there will still
be more new experiments left for the trial of other men that succeed us.
Izaak Walton.
An Irish Trip.
All the way through Connemara,
Steamer, road, and rail:
Tell-tale blushes cheeks adorning
Erstwhile thin and pale :
Where the sun has gently kissed you
As it were in fun—
If I had my heart's desire
I would be the sun.
All the way through Connemara,
Mountain, moor, and lough;
Neatest ankles shyly peeping,
Which a London frock
Enviously hid from all eyes,
Now your pretty suit
Just revealing, till I'm feeling
Mad to be your boot.
All the way through Connemara,
Salmon, peal, and trout;
Screaming winch and pulse fast beating,
Care and anxious doubt.
Whence comes strength to play ten pounders
Till you tired felt,
And my arm your_waist supported—
Oh ! to be your belt. FISHING AND PHILANDERING
All the way through Connemara,
Galway, Cong, Recess,
Cashel, Screebe, with fishing breezes
Which your curls caress :
Fresh across the broad Atlantic,
Ozone soft and kind,
Filling you with health and pleasure—
Would I were the wind. CHAPTER VI
In all vice, pleasure being presented like a bait,
Draws sensual minds to the hook of perdition.
A bicycle picnic—Not a success—Impossibility of pleasing
everybody — Quotations — Dapping — Killaloe — Grace's Hotel—
Lough Derg—Salmon—Water bailiffs—The unhooked fish—A big
" If thou hope to please all, thy hopes are vaine : if
thou feare to displease some, thy feares are idle."
So spoke old Francis Quarles, one of the wisest men
who ever lived, and though quoted in part before it will
bear repetition. Having once received a practical illustration of the above adage, I make no excuse for telling
the story here, though it has nothing to do with fishing.
At the time I was a dashing young Captain of Foot,
quartered at Portsmouth. For some reason, which I
have never yet been able to discover, the Portsmouth
matrons regarded me with greater favour than the Portsmouth damsels—with one most fair, but dark, exception.
These seniors found in me some hidden quality, which
in one respect resembled that we are accustomed to associate with the bull-dog breed : trustworthiness, reliability
and dependability, with the result that greater latitude
was allowed me than was accorded to any of my guilty—I
mean giddy—brethren. On one occasion I was even
permitted to chaperon some young ladies to a dance :
but only on one occasion. That, however, was soon for-
given, and as soon as confidence was restored, I determined to show how worthily it was placed by giving a
bicycle picnic. I invited three and a half couples—the
half couple being the dark young lady previously mentioned—to meet me with their bikes on the Floating
Bridge on a certain afternoon at a certain hour. All
accepted : all arrived punctually. On the bridge going
over to Gosport I took the male portion of the first
couple aside : I pointed out that owing to differences of
gear, and one thing and another, it seemed to me inadvisable that we should all attempt to keep together on
the other side, and invited him and the other half of his
couple to wheel wherever their fancy wound them, and
to meet me for tea at Farnham at 4.30 p.m. He heartily
concurred, whereupon I repeated the motion with No. 2,
merely substituting Titchfield for Farnham as a rendezvous. He also concurred, as did the third party. I
forget at the moment where I appointed to meet this
latter, but anyway it was miles from Lee-on-the-Solent,
whither I adjourned with my particular half-couple : not
that she was particular: only pleasant: and fully enjoyed the merry jest. Indeed it was a most complete
success. Yet I failed, it appeared, to " please all."
For by a strange coincidence all four couples recrossed
by the same boat about 6.30 p.m. To my intense surprise, I was met by nothing but the sourest looks: such
discourtesy to a host filled me with amazement: I
deputed the dark one to solve the problem. In a few
minutes she returned, shaking with laughter—she was
ever prone to laughter, the dear little lady—to inform
me that the other six, acting on the assumption that they
were guests, had gone forth all unprovided with that
filthy lucre which has the power to make our world spin
so merrily on its axis. Poor souls : they had waited and
waited: the confusion of the three men: their inability
to purchase so much as a dish of tea at Farnham, Titchfield, or the forgotten place : the consequent huffiness of
their three partners: their return journey, empty and
uncheered: all these were unblottable blots on what 86
should have been one of the fairest pages in their histories.    And mine had been so fair.
How then can one hope to please all anglers? One
can't. One must displease some. Of them I crave
grace. The more so that I readily admit my departure
from the orthodox. An angling heretic: that is what I
am. And like a true angler, I glory in it. But as old
Izaak observes, " Fishing is an art: or at least it is an
art to catch fish." Being quoted from memory that
may not be word for word exact, yet that always seems
to me the truest criterion of quotation: when word perfect one always suspects a reference to the book-shelf:
here, at least to my mind, " imperfection means perfection hid." We do not all think alike : how lucky that is.
Yet how much more lucky when we can agree to think
differently without resort to blows or even abuse. For
certain it is that it is an art to catch fish. As also that he
is an artist who catches them. Why all these cross-
examinations as the basket is turned upside down and
the dozen or so silvery, slimy, slippery, spotted beauties
slide along the bench for inspection. " What fly did
you get them on ? " Well, perhaps some of them were
on it. And if the rest were on a minnow, what harm ?
The true secret of success in angling is adaptability:
conformation to conditions : a blue-bottle deftly dapped
under the alders has often accounted for many a well-
filled creel on a hot, still afternoon when orthodoxy returned empty.
Have you ever done any dapping? The real thing
as practised in Ireland with a May-fly or a Daddy Long-
legs? If not, try it on the first opportunity and learn
how trout can rise at times.
" The fly is up come at once have reserved room and
boat for you." Such was a telegram I received towards
the end of a recent May from my old friend Mrs. Grace,
of Ayle Vane House, Killaloe, with whom I had been
corresponding on the subject of dapping.
Three or four hours after leaving Dublin landed me
at Birdhill (there is a connecting train on to Killaloe FISHING AND PHILANDERING        87
now), and as we drove down to the bridge I was filled
with envy at seeing a boat fishing for salmon in the
grand water below the bridge, and then again on arrival
by seeing several fine trout, each of 2lb. or 31b. weight,
in a landing-net, which had succumbed to the May-fly
that very day.
A trout, a spring chicken, and an omelette, all excellently cooked, and served up by a modest—my! she
was modest, that girl—beautiful—and she was beautiful
—young Irish girl, formed a meal that the Savoy could
not beat. A pipe on the bridge in the evening, a chat
with my fishermen of the next day, and " so to bed " in
a state of mind " too good for any but anglers, or very
honest men."
What a beautiful place Killaloe is. The long grey
bridge with its multitudinous arches, the weir with its
constant humming roar, the dark yet clear, porter-
coloured water of the Shannon clearing after a spate,
and the golden, gotse-grown hills all round, combine
with the white-washed houses and the scent of peat to
make it one of the most picturesque, as it is one of the
most sporting, towns in Ireland.
After a sound breakfast we started on our row of
some two or three miles up the lake. There was one
thing that puzzled me, new to the game as I was, and
that was the absence of our flies. True there were some
even thus early dancing about, and some drowned specimens coming down the river, while in the boat were two
curious white deal boxes with sliding lids, perforated
with small holes. Anxious not to betray my ignorance,
I had surreptitiously glanced into these, only to find them
empty : fearful that my boatmen had forgotten the bait,
I asked them at last where they were. They smiled compassionately, saying we had not yet arrived at the place.
The entrance to Lough Derg is truly beautiful. On
the left, in the midst of a small park that comes down
to the water's edge, is a mound covered by a dense
clump of magnificent trees, the actual site, so my men
informed me, of Brian Boru's castle.    The hills, too, 88        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
come sweeping close down to the lake, covered with
glorious gorse in full bloom, the fragrance of which
sweetened all the air. Near their summits the lichen-
covered grey rocks stood out bare and contemptful in
their grand beauty, looking as if they had half a mind
to start from their high holds and hurl themselves at
any intruders who should venture to disturb them. I
remember a spot in India which these rocks reminded
me of, where I was once stationed on a hill-side waiting
for a bear, but where nothing (short of the bear) would
have tempted me to fire a rifle, for fear of bringing an
avalanche upon me.
Presently we arrived at a small island, with a few
thorn bushes and hazel trees growing on it, its shores
fringed with reeds interspersed with gorse. Here each
boatman armed himself with one of the deal boxes, and
began to gather flies for the day's fishing. Ten minutes
sufficed to collect enough for half-a-dozen boats, and
then we started to work in real earnest.
Dapping is best practised with what is known as a
double-handed trout rod, about fourteen feet long. To
the end of your line you must attach some yards of very
light undressed silk,, line, obtainable locally, and to this
again some five or six feet of gut: on the end of this it
is well to have a hook, and on this you impale a couple
of May-flies, first snipping their heads, for of course
every true angler is merciful. One other thing is necessary, and that is a good breeze, before which the boat
drifts broadside on, which blows your line out ahead of
you, the rod being held so as to allow the flies to dance
naturally over the tops of the wavelets. The trout rise
grandly on these occasions, and it is most exciting when
you have spotted a rising fish ahead and know that
another moment or so will put your flies right over him.
The fish you stick may be one pound or he may be ten,
which is one of the chief charms. You may kill a brace
or you may kill a dozen. But whether your sport is indifferent, or whether it is first-rate, if you are a real
fisherman at heart the beauty of your surroundings will
eat into your soul. FISHING AND PHILANDERING        89
One day, sitting at lunch, I counted nine different
sorts of wild flowers without moving, and the profusion
of primroses, violets, anemones, cowslips, bluebells,
ragged robin (" kisses in clusters " as they more delight -
fully call it elsewhere), and, above all that magnificent
gorse in full bloom, ought to be enough to content anyone. Of course there are many other places from which
the lake can be fished—Mount Shannon, Nenagh, &c.—
which have the advantage of avoiding the somewhat long
pull up the river, but as I speak only of what I know, I
leave them out, for are there not the Westmeath Lakes,
considerably nearer to Dublin; but I cannot say how to
fish them or where to stay, whereas in recommending
anyone to Killaloe, and my friend Mrs. Grace, I know
I shall be more than justified in the eyes of those who
may take my advice.*
My best bag was fourteen fish, none of them under a
pound weight; my best fish only three pounds; but as I
said before, these trout run up to almost any weight and
I have been unlucky. A friend of mine, spinning in
Lough Mask with two rods out, once caught a trout on
each at the same time: one was ten pounds, the other
sixteen. I have seen them; set up together in a huge
But it is not only trout that one catches at Killaloe.
Sometimes it is salmon—the finest salmon in Ireland.
Often one can get a boat on preserved water for the
wages of the boatmen, while there is always the free
water available.
But I have been unlucky with the salmon there as
well as the trout: never having killed a heavy fish,
though I once got hold of one, which would probably
have sent my personal record up with a jump. Things
had been very, very dull, only enlivened by an occasional old kelt or a small spring fish, of which the best
had been i61bs. Not a bad fish in its way a sixteen-
pounder, but not what I sought.    I want to catch a
* While correcting.these proofs I very much regret to state I have received the
news of Mrs. Grace's death. Her daughters, however, intend to continue the management of their hotel. 90
salmon as big as " Jonathan's" and, though he has
probably killed ten fish to my one, I do not despair of
succeeding. Anyway, on this particular day, the river
was so high that anything but harling was out of the
question, and I sat smoking peacefully while my baits,
a fly about 2\ inches long and a Devon, fished their best
at the end of some forty yards of line. My head boatman was, as a rule, somewhat taciturn, but somehow we
got on rather well, and many a story of forty-pounders
landed and fifty-pounders lost did he pour into my ears
on that beautiful April morning. One of his yarns deserves recording. Between him and the water-bailiff
there existed a quiet hatred that was more convincing
than the loudest " back-chat," the reason for which consuming animosity being as follows. On a certain day
at a certain place, my man, whom I will call " Jacob,"—
" fear not thou worm Jacob "—was fishing with a certain
gentleman, when they saw another gentleman playing a
fish from the bank, at a spot where it was impossible for
him to follow his fish, even then far below him. Watching the struggle with interest, " Jacob " saw that as the
fish slowly dropped down stream a few yards more would
bring it to his boat. Singing out to his fellow-boatman
to hold the " cot," he picked up the gaff, and a second
or two later saw the fish, accompanied by another,
almost within reach. A moment more and he gaffed it
triumphantly, only to find that it was not the hooked
fish, but its mate, that he had thus unlawfully secured.
The hooked one kindly took it into its head to return
up-stream, and there the matter might be thought to
have ended. Not so. The water-bailiff had also been
an interested observer, and prosecuted " Jacob" for
illicitly gaffing an unhooked fish. The makings of a
very pretty quarrel, which, I believe, is not ended yet.
" Jacob " had barely finished when the stone on my line
was jerked violently off, and by the time I had the rod
in hand a considerable quantity of line had gone too.
Then began one of the strangest bouts I ever had with
a fish.    Slowly, slowly he seemed to be yielding to the FISHING AND PHILANDERING
heavy pressure brought to bear, until at last he was level
with the boat and I had a nice short line on him. But
slowly and sedately he forged ahead, and slowly and
sedately we followed, sixteen feet of stout greenheart
bent almost double. It seemed as if he intended going
to Killaloe. Up, up, up : against that heavy spring
water we slowly followed, the fish all the time nearly
under the boat, but deep down, and well out of sight.
Some two hundred yards above where I hooked him,
quite that it was, there was a deep, still backwater.
Selecting that in preference to the main current this
traction-engine fish slowly led us into it. Arrived at the
top he seemed as one who had lost his way, or as a huntsman casting his pack: circle after circle he slowly sailed
round that pool, ever coming nearer and nearer. At
last, after some twenty-five minutes of this carp-like behaviour, the hook came out of him, and I was left to
ponder on the vicissitudes of life. I would not have
minded so much if I had seen him : if he had but shown
himself once : if I could but know roughly what I had
been hanging on to. But it was not to be. On one
other occasion I was to lose what I think would have
made me famous, but these are the only times when I
have lost fish that seemed to me probably prodigious.
Those who do not angle are fond of saying that it is
always the heaviest fish we lose, but surely in a quarter
of a century of fishing I may be forgiven if I claim to
have laid hold of two exceptionally large fish.
Doubt not, therefore, Sir, but that angling is an art, and an aft
worth your learning.      The question is rather, whether you be
capable of learning it? for angling is somewhat like poetry, men
are to be born so. r     .   _, .,
Izaak Walton.
To a Fair Angler.
You are proud of your fishing and beating us all
As your basket you fill with such haste :
Yet to me it is only a proof that the trout
Of Galway have excellent taste. 92        FISHING AND PHILANDERING
All the gillies declare that a lady so fair
Was never yet seen in the West;
Though I fish with some skill, and Bob's better still,
It's certain you're always the best.
You never complain of the wind or the rain :
Small wonder I break into verse :
What matter bad sport when with such a good sort—
Your health ! in a bumper of Persse. CHAPTER VII
This is the news : he fishes, drinks, and wastes
The lamps of night in revel.
Antony and Cleopatra.
Free fishing—Trout or salmon—The reward of virtue—The
Fane—Licenses—The Slaney—An ill-timed pike—A seventh fly—
A bad gaffer—The Liffey—An astonished friend—Perch—A river
flowing up hill—Another form of dapping—Trout—A fine bag—
Midges—Strike duty—The battle Of the Boyne—Billiards—Cricket
—A well provided angler—The Tees—The Hampshire Avon—A
grand fish.
Free salmon fishing is a sport which does not exist in
great quantities in these islands. Moreover, where it
does exist it is in nine cases out of ten owing to the
rights of town lands and so on, and fished to death by the
town-dwellers: or else there is an hotel perched beside
it full of tourists attracted by its advertisements of free
fishing. Having, however, served my country for eleven
years in Ireland, I have occasionally found a nook here
and there where salmon fishing is available without the
necessity of paying rent, or 'being pushed into the water
by the crowds on the bank. Many years ago I was trout-
fishing in a small, deep, sluggish river, the Fane, when
I became aware of a tattered brown figure at my side: he
was all brown: skin, eyes, hair, hat, clothes and boots: a
veritable " Brownie."
" What are ye fishing for? " he inquired in answer to
my polite salutation.
% Trout," said I, though my outfit would have seemed
to make the question unnecessary.
" There's more salmon than trout in this river," was
his surprising answer.
A few queries on my part elicited the pleasing news
that no one preserved the water for miles up or down
stream: that there were plenty of fish, albeit a bit
coloured, it being the end of September: that the river
was open till the 15th of October: that the fish rose well
to the fly: that the best was a " Claret Brown "—I might
have known there would be brown in it—and that he
would have much pleasure in accompanying me and
showing the best places. But it was within a couple of
days of the leave season, and I feared I should not be
able to do much that year. On return to barracks, my
friend Tom Kinn came to my room with a face so long
that I at once concluded he had either lost a near relative
or that his leave had been stopped. The latter surmise
proved to be correct. It was, it appeared, only for a few
days: he was so very anxious to get away on a certain
day so as to cross with a certain young lady: he was
only being kept back for a court martial: would I be a
real pal ?: would I do his court martial for him, and so
ensure his undying gratitude?: and so on. Well, I
would. By Jove! I was a good chap: I was a brick: a
stout man: he would never forget it: etc., etc., etc. So
a day or two afterwards he started off on leave, and I
started off for the courtmartial. Now this was to take
place in the barracks of a very crack cavalry regiment
some five miles from the above-mentioned river. So I
took a change and a salmon rod. The court was a short
one: my hospitable friends fitted me out with an early
lunch: and at 1 p.m., or thereabouts, " Brownie "—to
whom I had wired—and I were bowling along on an outside car to our destination.    There had been a spate, •NEARING THE END.'  FISHING AND PHILANDERING        95
and the water was brimming over into the fields in places,
but of an excellent colour, and I soon set to work. To
cut a long story short, I hooked four fish on the fly in
that short afternoon's fishing, two of which I killed, both
about eleven pounds in weight. I well remember the
rise of the last one. I was fishing a very deep, very still
stretch: so deep and so still that I turned to " Brownie,"
saying, " Surely this is no good," when in the very act
of turning I saw a dark shadow detach itself from the
bottom, rise very leisurely to the surface, and swallow
the " Claret Brown." It was the most deliberate rise
that ever came within my ken.
After that " Brownie " and I had many and many a
day's sport together, without a soul ever asking us for
a license or accusing us of trespassing. Once I hooked
eleven fish in a day, all on the fly, the only bait I ever
used in those waters. Lots of other free fishing have I
found, but never any to equal that narrow little river, a
very " Lethe " in its tranquility. Now, however, its
virtues are recognised, and its days of freedom are things
of the past.
But in Ireland people are so hospitable that nothing
more than a little tact is required. Fishing some club
waters once, which were closed on Sundays, an ancient
general and I drove out to call on a lady who owned a
small river from source to lake, to ask leave for a day's
fishing. She graciously gave us tea and a note to her
keeper. When we met that individual and handed him
the letter, he shyly begged us to read it to him; whereupon the general broke the seal and read: " This is to
grant leave to General W. and Captain Mainwaring to
fish the river for the season." That is hospitality if you
On another occasion I asked a well-known M.F.H.
for leave to fish for trout, when he most kindly invited
me to accompany him and fish for salmon instead. So
one fine morning I met him at the train, and we were soon
" en route." On the way I told him I must stop in the
town to get a license, which he volunteered to get for jgzm
me as he had to get some stamps. I accordingly gave
him a sovereign and waited on the car. When he came
back he said they had no forms, but that he had paid the
money and they would send me one. Putting me in at
the top pool, my friend began some two hundred yards
below me. I had barely wetted my fly when there came
a polite request from behind for my license. I explained
what had occurred, pointing to my host, a J.P. and a
D.L., who had fished there for twenty years, and saying
that he would corroborate my statement. " That will
be all right, thank you, sir," was the answer as the bailiff
moved on down the river. He stopped and talked for
some time to my friend, and I never gave the matter
another thought until a week later, when I received a
summons for fishing without a license. He had never
said one word to my host about the matter, and had simply
done it to earn some cheap notoriety. I have refrained
from calling this man any names, for a month afterwards
he was found drowned in the very stretch we were
I presently joined my friend, who pointed out
a lady walking on the other bank. " There you
are, my lad," said he, ",£15,000 a year and a splendid
" Get her over here, and at once," was all my answer,
but it had the desired effect, and some few minutes afterwards I was bowing and scraping and told to continue
fishing, please. Now, now if only a fish would come: if
she was keen, surely it would enhance me in her eyes:
and—" In him, by the hokey! Tally-ho! " sang out
the gallant fox-catcher. " Well done, indeed; well
done," whispered my fair companion, while visions of
spending £7,500 a year sped through my brain. But
alas! ( The little more and how much it is! And the
little less, and what worlds away! " It was a pike. A
dirty, lantern-jawed swine of a pike. Alas! for my
visions. Nor could I understand the manoeuvres of my
host, who kept studiously in the background, till he afterwards explained to me that in his excitement his own fly FISHING AND PHILANDERING
had caught in his trousers behind, necessitating the undoing of his braces ere he could release himself.
Next day we fished pool after pool blank, till at length
we arrived at one known as " The Fairies' Pool," which
my friend assured me always held a salmon. So I fished
it down twice; first with one fly and then with another.
Then he fished it twice; each time with two flies, making
six in all. In vain he besought me to give it another
try. But it was too hot. I was too comfortable lying
on my back bathed in sunshine, drinking in the glory of
the golden gorse and silvery blackthorn. . At last we saw
his henchman advancing over the sky-line with refreshments. Again he urged me, till, taking heart of grace,
I consented to put a seventh fly over it, provided he would
let me have his share of his wife's delicious home-made
soda cake. He agreed to this, and I fished it down with
the very smallest fly in my book, and killed a beautiful
little nine-pounder as fresh as a daisy.
That evening my host was obliged to leave, but
I stayed on. Fishing the " Fairies' Pool " from the
weir at the top, a salmon in the dead water just above it
sprang into the air, covering me with spray as it fell back.
That was too much; there was not a breath of wind, so it
was useless to put a fly over it, but no sooner did I drop
in a shrimp than it was ruthlessly swallowed, and I killed
a fish of eleven pounds.
On my way back in the evening I rose a fish in a tiny
pool between some rocks, which could not be induced to
come again, so I offered it a shrimp, which it instantly
accepted. My soldier-servant was gillying for me, and
I asked him if he knew how to gaff a fish. " I do, to be
sure," he scornfully answered, taking up his position.
But when the fish came under him he made a tremendous
bash at its head with the back of the gaff, missed, and
got the hook round the line. The fish, as much
astonished as I was myself, indignantly made off: my
servant held on like grim death to the gaff, in spite of
my roaring at him to let it go, and not until I kicked
him into four feet of water would he relinquish his hold:
in spite of which moving accidents we eventually secured
our prize. One more fish killed and one lost completed
a pleasant, not to say amusing, day's angling.
Then there was the old Liffey, up which an occasional
fish finds its way past Guinness' Brewery in the autumn
months. Though unsuccessful in getting one myself,
some of my brother officers proved more fortunate, but
very, very seldom. On one occasion rumours of an
immense pike were spread abroad, and I determined to
have a go for him myself. Having sent my servant out
in the morning to fish for baits in the canal, I joined him
beside the pike's lair about three o'clock in the afternoon,
my friend the County Inspector having promised to bike
out to see the fun. He was a simple soul, and I fear the
butt for many of our boyish witticisms, or what we
thought witticisms: jokes which the good man never resented, and seemed in half-an-hour's time to enjoy as
much as we did. Selecting for my first essay a rudd
nearly half a pound in weight, I attached a huge float and
commenced operations. After some two or three swims
down, I had just plucked the bait from the water to send
it forth again, when a voice behind me exclaiming, "Well
done, indeed!" gave me such a start that I dropped it in
the field behind. 1 Well done, old chap," said the old
gentleman, hurrying up to the fish. " Why, my dear
friend," I answered, " that's my bait."
" Oh dear! oh dear! " he sighed. " You are, indeed,
the most wonderful fellow that ever came to the Depot.
Why, even your bait is bigger than any fish I've ever seen
any other chap catch in the Liffey."
One afternoon a young subaltern given to angling for
pike returned to mess early. On being asked how he had
fared, he replied: " Oh! it was no use: I couldn't get a
pike: I kept on catching some of this sort of fish, so I gave
it up and came home." On examining his bag we found
thereto five perch, which weighed within an ounce or two
of fifteen pounds. Truly e< some have greatness thrust
upon them."
Near the head waters of the Liffey there is a little FISHING AND PHILANDERING
stream which, owing to some optical illusion, appears to
flow uphill. One of the local inhabitants on being asked
by a brother officer if this brook did not flow uphill, remarked, " It does, sorr; and, what is more, it is the only
river in Ireland that does."
In after years there was a trout spoken of in bated
breath, which no one could catch, but which everyone
but me apparently had seen. His lair lay under the
ci Bridge of Sighs " hard by " The Lover's Leap," and
many an afternoon I passed in a boat with the lady whose
beauty gave rise to the nomenclature of the bridge, trying
for the trout, trying to teach her to throw a fly, and trying
hardest of all—but let me stick to this trout. One afternoon we lay long under the shadow of the bridge, and I
was in the act of trying to teach my fair companion the
mystery of a spinning reel, putting her fingers into position and supporting her to prevent her falling out of our
frail craft, when the voice of a miserable brother officer,
addicted to the reprehensible practice of dapping a bluebottle from behind alder-bushes, said: " That's right, old
man: only you want to hold her hand a little tighter each
cast." Needless to say we all knew each other very
One more tale and I must say farewell to the Liffey.
Another officer, also a rival, had agreed with me that a
day's trouting near the famous bridge was desirable from
every point of view. But at the last moment I was
delayed by some wretched orderly-corporal or somethings
and he went on ahead. I fished after him to the lodge
gates, but caught nothing. Going inside to leave my
rod, I saw his bag, a peep into which revealed five brace
of most excellent trout. To transfer them to my own and
fill his up with stones delayed me but a few minutes more,
and very soon I reached the house, where they were all
going in to lunch. Her Ladyship asked after my sport,
and I begged her acceptance of my catch, which I proudly
turned out on the lawn. " Oh! how splendid! " said her
eldest daughter. " What a fisherman you are." I
glanced at my rival.    " Indeed," said he, " I have just ioo      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
as many down at the lodge. I hope you will accept mine
too." But this they said they could not consent to, and
as we biked back in the cool of the evening my comrade
complained bitterly of the weight of his bag. Next
morning he told his servant to have a trout done for my
breakfast and one for his own, and he'd find them in his
bag in the next room. " Will ye have them broiled or
fried, sorr? " asked his man a minute later, producing
a handful of stones to his astonished gaze. Oh! Bard
of Athy! You are not often sold, but you were done
very brown that time, my boy, and you know it, though
you did try so manfully to brazen it out. Very pleasant
were those days beside the beautiful Liffey, albeit the
fish were few and far between, and most of us suffered
dreadfully from midge bites.
There have been many battles of the Boyne since the
unforgettable one of the ist of July, 1690. That it is
unforgettable I have good cause to know. We were
quartered in Sheffield in 1894 and 1895, and, when the
coal strikes took place, were sent out far and wide in
detachments of various sizes. My own particular job
was to proceed with a corporal, a bugler, and 20 men to
a district inhabited by some 15,000 able-bodied miners.
Being of Napoleon's way of thinking that the Lord fights
on the side of the big battalions, I took care to impress
upon my commando the importance of adopting a conciliatory attitude towards our neighbours. One of their
leaders had an interview, unknown to me at the time,
with my corporal, asking him whether he was not a poor
man himself, and whether he did not sympathise with the
colliers in their endeavours to obtain what they considered
" I do, to be sure," answered the corporal.
" And if this young officer of yours was to tell you to
fire on us, you wouldn't obey him, would you? "
" Not fire, is it? Why, we haven't had a crack at yiz
since the battle of the Boyne."
I myself have had some splendid battles in the Boyne.
Nine or ten years ago a brother officer got leave for me FISHING AND PHILANDERING       101
to fish a capital stretch for a whole month, of which the
exigencies of the service only enabled me to avail myself
on three days. My gillie was himself a fine fisherman
and a devotee of the fly, to which lure I confined myself
for some time, but without any success. At length, seeing a fish show, I proposed, after trying him with three
flies, to offer him a shrimp, to which my mentor assented,
but after watching my " modus operandi " remarked in
a sad voice, " Ye may fish for a month and ye will not
catch a fish in this river that way." I told him that my
faith was still whole; that the fish had only seen the shrimp
properly three or four times—it was a difficult cast—and
that he might go away and play with my fly-rod, but to
remain within sight. I think it is no exaggeration that it
was not till the fortieth cast that that fish lost his temper
and swallowed the shrimp. He turned out to be a fresh-
run seventeen-pounder, and my gillie admitted that he
had learnt something.
On my last day it rained heavily and continuously. At
three o'clock in the afternoon my man said, " If ye still
have faith in that shrimp, put one on: the town muoTwill
be down in less than half an hour, and there will be no
more fishing." In that half-hour before the mud came
I got two fish: indeed, the beginning of a spate is just as
likely a time as when it is running out,
On another occasion a party of three went down to stay
at a hospitable country-house for the purpose of fishing
the next beat up stream. " Jack," prince of sportsmen
and best of all good fellows; " Joe," whose store of
tackle would literally have qualified him to open up a
shop; and myself. Our roosts were two bachelor
brothers, and we five had the house to ourselves. After
dinner we played billiards, at which game " Jack " is
a proficient, while I also had played before. Either of
us could give one brother thirty and the other forty in
a hundred, so we played foursomes, and the sovereigns
changed hands without anyone coming to much grief.
We were on the point of going to bed when the elder
brother said: 1 Come; I'll tell you what we'll do.    My
— 102
brother and I will play you and ' Jack ' level for a tenner
a corner." This appeared to me the truest form of
hospitality, and I was on the point of accepting when he
added: " I only make one stipulation: I fix the length of
the game." Now, although no Scotch blood flows in
my veins, I have yet inherited some considerable degree
of caution, and declined to sign on. Not so " Jack."
A gambler from the word go, he declared he would take
my share of the bet whatever the length of the game,
and our elder host then announced that it was to be one
up. This naturally led to a considerable discussion as
to who should open it, eventually ending in the maker of
the bet having first word. He took the extremest care
in his endeavour to leave a double baulk, but getting too
fine on the red, only brought his own ball behind the line,
leaving the red about half-way between the top and
middle pockets, and about one inch from the cushion, on
the right side of the table. More complete safety I never
saw in my life, nor a luckier shot—till then. There was
no " jenny "on: indeed there was nothing: nothing but
a hopeless-looking all-round cannon. I was perhaps in
better form than '' Jack " that week, and he was anxious
for me to try it. Not I: it was his £20: not mine: he must
do or die: and he did. Going out for the cannon, he
played too full on the red, it kissed out on to his ball,
which latter flew round the table into the righthand
bottom pocket, missing the cannon by about five feet. A
great shot. My first meeting with ''Jack," years before,
had been on the cricket ground. My regiment was playing the Phoenix, and in those days we had a " demon "
bowler by name " Maylam, of the Band." He had
frightened out half their side for some fifty runs, when a
quiet, sleepy-looking gentleman issued from the pavilion,
trailing his bat behind him as he slowly made his way to
the wicket. Not much trouble here we thought. Taking
up a sort of semi-recumbent stance, he waited the attack
of c' the demon." But what was this ? A drawling sort
of stroke and behold! the ball flew clear over the pavilion
out of the ground.    " In the name of goodness," I asked FISHING AND PHILANDERING
the umpire, " who is this gentleman?" " That's Mr.
M., sir, captain of the University eleven." That was
more than twenty years ago, but the friendship that commenced that day has done nothing but grow tighter every
year since.
On the morning after the billiard-match we sallied
forth, " Joe " in one direction, " Jack " and I in another.
I Joe " took with him a powerful 17ft. rod, a lighter one
of 15ft., a spinning rod of 12ft, and a 10ft. trout-rod,
explaining to me that there was often a good rise of
large trout at this time of year. Each of these four
rods was of split-cane of the costliest make. In addition to the reel on each he carried, or rather the gardener
did, two extra reels, one a new self-casting contrivance
for spinning, and one carrying a new line he was anxious
to try. One of his large books contained salmon-flies
and casts only: the other held traces, flights, baits, &c.
The two smaller books were duplicates of the large, but
on a trout scale. A huge japanned tin box contained an
assortment of pike tackle. " Any amount of pike
about," he whispered to me in the sort of voice in which
he might have divulged his suspicions as to who stole the
Crown jewels. Two large bottles held gudgeons and
prawns in glycerine. A large canvas bag was for his fish:
a larger one for his lunch. Just as he started, the
gardener's boy ran up with a tin of worms and moss,
and as " Joe " forced it into the gardener's pocket we
fully expected it would have the same effect on that unfortunate individual as the last straw is said to have on
the camel. But he stuck it out, and wishing us "tight
lines," dear old honest " Joe " strode off as happy as a
King Emperor.
We on our part, with our more modest outfit-^-
" Jack's " was entirely borrowed from " Joe "—had but
modest sport. Indeed we only^ot one fish between us,
an 18-pounder, which took a shrimp in the still water
above the Mill, but were cheered on our return to learn
from " Joe," at his ease in an armchair before the hall
fire, that he had got two.    Off we went to inspect them. pm
Dear old thing: he had caught a 61b. pike, and a well-
mended kelt about the same weight. Needless to say
we said no word to upset his complete satisfaction. He
told us how they had spotted the pike, changed tackle,
and slain him. He told us of the bout he had had with
the salmon and the dance it had led him. Unfortunately
another sportsman came in for a drink on his way home,
who could not resist a dig or two.
" That's a fine fish you killed to-day, ' Joe.' "
" Which one ? " queried our friend, ready to fight his
battles over yet again.
" Oh ! I mean the salmon."
" Yes : isn't it ?    I never saw a more silvery fish."
" You're right, old man : silvery it is. Had it any
tide-lice on it, ' Joe ?' "
" Why, really, I never thought of looking. I expect
it had."
" But I don't think it could have had much to eat
recently, had it, old boy ? "
But at this point we intervened and hustled him out
of the room.
I have never killed a salmon in Scotland. Lest it
may be thought I have never had the opportunity, let me
mention at once that by the grace of friends I have
fished the Deveron, the Glass, the North Esk, the Lochy,
and the Add. Yet have I had some of the pleasantest
days of my life on their banks. On one occasion, when
fishing the Add, I took the precaution of taking a bag of
worms with me, and, since the fish would not look at a
fly, cast a bunch into a likely looking stream. Tug, tug,
tug: by Jove! a fish. Giving him plenty of time I
raised the point of the rod and missed him. I tried him
again: he came again: this time I had him: but only
for a moment. Never was such a sporting fish. Time
after time he pulled : time after time I missed him : but
time after time I hooked him: only to lose him unaccountably almost immediately. After one of the
most exhilarating morning's sport I can remember, I discovered a heavy wire stretched from bank to bank across FISHING AND PHILANDERING       105
the stream, and went off to try another pool, like the old
lady's parrot, full of thought: pensive to a degree in
I have never killed a salmon in England. But have
only tried the Tees and the Hampshire Avon. On one
occasion in the latter river, accompanied by a dear old
friend, we started out on the morning after our arrival,
and, on getting to the first pool, were surprised to see a
man with a gun behind a bush, peering into its depths.
Enquiry elicited the astounding information that he had
seen an enormous fish jump and was waiting to try and
shoot it. We did not take long to chase him out of that,
and m>r friend insisting that I should try first, I put on a
large " Golden Eagle " and fished it. Half-way down
came that electrifying tug which puts salmon-fishing so
many miles ahead of all other earthly forms of enjoyment. But our hopes were short-lived. Only a kelt:
a dirty old kelt about i61bs. in weight. In returning
him to the river I somehow cricked my back so severely
that any more fishing was out of the question, and returned to the house, where I had the pleasure shortly
afterwards of seeing my host bring in a 22-pounder.
But my old friend, on his way back in the evening, beat
that hollow. For in the very pool whence we had ousted
the poacher, with almost the last cast of the day, he had
risen and killed one of the very handsomest and best-
shaped fish I ever had the satisfaction of gloating my
eyes upon: 3510s. in weight, with the tide-lice on him.
What say you now?     Is not this worth all my labour and your
patience ?
Izaak  Walton.
The Midge.
She is just like other midges, being very small and black,.
But she differs in one most important thing—
That while others bite you outside, it is deep within your heart
That this particular midge elects to sting. io6      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
It is useless to pursue her in the hope to be avenged :
She's illusive and she's very hard to catch :
It were wiser take your heart out, and having found the spot,
To have a good old satisfactory scratch.
But midges have their midges, as fleas have got their fleas,
And she who smites too often will get smitten :
So one day we'll have the pleasure of viewing with delight
This most promiscuous biter being bitten. CHAPTER VIII
But most his measured words of praise
Caress'd the angler's easy ways—
His idly meditative days—
His rustic diet.
Austin Dobson.
Jibes at fishing—Jonathan as a shot—The poachers—His best
shot—A French shoot—Strike duty again—Bottom fishing—Game
fish or coarse—What is the best fishing—Scotland—A made loch—
The evening rise—A Guardee—Derbyshire trout and grayling—
Salmon or grilse.
However true it may be that fishing is becoming more
popular in direct ratio to the decrease in available waters,
it is probably equally certain that at least five sportsmen
out of every six, taken at random in a club smoking-room,
would vote shooting better sport than fishing; while three
out of the five would probably take the opportunity to get
some wretched old chestnut off their chests at the expense
of angling. To some of the brotherhood this has the
effect which a red rag is said to have on a bull: I personally have never tried a red rag, or indeed any other
coloured rag, on a bull: I once cheeked a bull, but that
tale has already been unwound. Do not imitate these
peppery ones, my brothers: let the shooters remain in
their ignorance lest they learn and sell their Purdeys to
buy split canes. Let their jibes hurl innocently over our
heads: argue, if argue you must, on some other subject.
Both are excellent sports: what matter which is best:
indeed, why should one be better than the other: one probably appeals to us more: let it go at that.
" Jonathan " is a great sportsman in other ways than
fishing. At least, he is a mighty shot: I can answer for
that. But as for hunting: no: I never have seen him on
the back of a horse, and don't suppose I ever shall. But
as a shot I know few better. Under his fostering care I
had my first shot with a gun: at a chaffinch, I remember,
perched on a tree by the Home Farm. That same afternoon he promoted me to a moorhen flying. The
chaffinch I downed: not so the moorhen. A year later,
by the kindness of some friends, I was given leave to
range with a single-barrelled gun over their estate after
rabbits, wood pigeons, plovers, and the like. When
" Jonathan " came down from Cambridge I asked him
if he would care for a day's shooting. Rather! He was
all for it. "Do you mean I may shoot anything? " he
asked as we commenced operations, to which question I
gave a ready assent. We had a most enjoyable day:
three or four pheasants, a brace or two of partridges, some
rabbits and a hare. My joy was, however, somewhat
damped by my mother's reception of the game which
" Jonathan," always cautious, insisted on my taking
home to her. " But, Arthur dear, I'm sure Mrs. S.
never meant you to shoot game: I shall write and send
it to her." Later on I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs.
S.'s answer: " It does not matter about Arthur: he is
only a boy: but I would like to know who the other
poacher was." cc Only a boy," indeed, and % the other
poacher." However, it was all forgiven and laughed
over long, long ago.
In after years I have often and often shot with " Jonathan " and his father, and splendid shots they both were.
As a matter of fact, I consider my esteemed friend a better
shot than any Boer I ever met in the Transvaal. They
never hit me: he did: a splendid shot, from one grouse
butt to another.    Yes, he is certainly a fine marksman.
One of the strangest shoots I ever took part in was outside Paris. Three of us—Athos, Porthos, and
D'Artagnan—I was D'Artagnan—invaded Paris for
Christmas.    The celebrated owner of " The New York 1
Herald " happened to be known to Athos, and amongst
many other hospitalities, invited us down to Versailles
for a day's shooting. The date was the 20th of December, and as the motor was not to come to our hotel till
eleven, it struck me as likely to prove a short day's sport,
and as things transpired, it certainly was. We arrived
safely at his shooting lodge, only to find nobody there.
At about mid-day our host arrived on a drag covered with
sportsmen and beautiful ladies. Oh! such beautiful
ladies. Princesses and Viscountesses and Baronesses.
There are certain misguided friends of mine who call me
a snob. I was in my element. Shortly afterwards we
sat down to a " dejeuner a la fourchette." Lucullus
himself could not have complained of either viands or
wines. As for me, I found myself between a Russian
Princess and an Austrian Baroness, both of whom complimented me deliciously on my French, more especially
my accent. Shooting? Oh! blow snooting. However, at 2 p.m. we rose, and were put into two
waggonettes and driven about a mile to the edge of a
small covert. Then I learnt for the first time what a lot
we have to learn about shooting in England. Outside
the covert, at suitable distances apart, were placed a row
of charcoal braziers in case our poor fingers got cold.
Beside each stood a loader, and—best of all—to each
stand there was a beautiful lady. I forget at this moment
whether the Princess or the Baroness fell to my share,
but, whichever it was, she proved herself perfectly
The ground was flat, but every device known to man
had been adopted to get the birds well up, and they flew
better than I have often seen them do at many an English
and Scotch shoot. One hundred beaters, all clad in red
smock frocks, converged towards the covert, and then the
fun began. Moreover, the shooting was good: better
than I had been accustomed to see: the main difference
being that the foreign Counts and Dukes shot at anything
that got a move on. Pheasants, partridges, blackbirds,
thrushes, starlings, and even robins; nothing that flew
mmsmmmmmmm &m
escaped that fusillade. It only lasted a few minutes:
then we got into the carriages again, were driven off to
another covert, on to which another hundred beaters,
similarly clad, converged: a withering fire was re-opened,
and at 4 p.m. we were all back at the chateau for another
meal, while the bag was 437 pheasants to six guns. A
special train took us back to Paris, and then you might
think the day's sport ended—but it didn't. Our host
could not come himself, but detailed a Viscount to act
for him, when, after another huge meal at the Cafe de
Paris, this gentleman acted as our guide to the mysteries
of Paris. Suffice it to say that he knew Paris; suffice it
to say that he showed it to us: suffice it that when we
crawled to bed in the Elysee Palace Hotel at 3 a.m.,
Athos, Porthos, nay, even D'Artagnan, had seen sights,
drunk drinks, and danced dances that the average Englishman might live in Paris for twenty years and yet be
entirely ignorant of. Which only shows that shooting is
fine sport as well as fishing.
Leaving this vexed and unimportant question, let us
now turn to another: which is the best form of our own
particular sport ? Game fish or coarse ? I do not include
sea-fishing, because that is a phase of which I know
nothing, though I hope to some day.
Now, coarse fishing has always seemed to me a somewhat opprobrious term, and I confess to a very strong
regard for the gentle pastime of watching a float. There
is something so fascinating about that silent messenger:
there it swims, jauntily cocked in all its beauty of paint
and varnish, or graceful taper of the quill supplied by
" the fretful porcupine." Sometimes quiescent: sometimes riding easily over the crests of multitudinous
miniature waves: always on the look out: always doing
its duty: ever ready to give you instant information of
the dark happenings in the mysterious depths below.
Yes: I would I had more opportunities for this form of
angling: the gentle bottom-fisher is much to be envied:
" his idly meditative days: his rustic diet."
At the time of the regrettable railway strike I was on I
the point of starting on leave, instead of which we were
sent up to Yorkshire, where we found very little to do.
After ten most unpleasant days and nights we returned,
and the best of friends asked me to come over and spend
a week and " bring a rod." Knowing him to be a dry
fly expert, I took a "Houghton" and its accompanying
paraphernalia. At lunch on the day after my arrival a
request to pass up any bread left andjm indent on a lady
for '' some more cotton wool '' excited a curiosity which
his wife says is at all times too abundantly active. An
inquiry as to what he was making paste for merely elicited
the hackneyed formula "wait and see," so I waited, and
presently, after a short motor drive, saw—saw a series
or chain of small ponds, artificially banked up in a miniature valley—saw the selected pond, now half empty, but
wholly muddy and opaque. cc You see that bottom
pond, my lad? " quoth my host, producing a mass of
floats and such like coarse tackle from his pocket, '' that's
full of pike and wild duck, the one just below us is full
of perch and kingfishers, this one is crawling with half-
pound roach, and the one above holds huge tench. I
want some of these roach for our pond in the Japanese
garden, so just set to work."
I set. Scarcely had my float cocked ere it bobbed, and
then disappeared. Up you come, and out you come, and
a capitally shaped roach, with fins like an Aurora
Borealis, came sailing through the air. Fast and furious
was the fun. Some were just under half a pound, some
were just over; the smaller ones were returned; any unfortunates injured by the hook were slain " for the
gardener's boy," an eccentric, who would probably have
eaten anything; in an hour we had two dozen selected
specimens, with which we hastened back to the motor, and
fifteen minutes later they were successfully transferred
p all alive and kicking " into the miniature pond.
Whilst on the subject of the peculiar taste of the
gardener's boy—an incident on the Hampshire Avon
comes to my mind. My host, perhaps the best salmon
fisherman that river ever knew, suddenly turned to me ii2       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
one day, and said, " You see that chap over there? I'll
bet you a sovereign my dog finds and kills a rat, and that
chap skins and eats it within thirty minutes, if you like."
I did not like; but consider it; what would you order for
a palate like that ?
But about this time appeared in the columns of
" The Field " the stirring accounts of the capture of
several giant carp, proving that " coarse fishing " can at
times be productive of splendid sport. But for my own
part, I must plump my votes for the game fishes, all insufficiently protected as they are by the game laws.
Next comes the question: salmon or trout? In favour
of the latter is his greater ubiquity, if ubiquity may be
for this occasion treated as a relative term. Also the
more economical outfit: and the far greater amount of free
water. Moreover, when the mood really seizes him,
there is no doubt he is hard to beat. But, personally
speaking, I have only known three really good taking
days, and each of those only extended over a few hours in
the late afternoon. Once in India, an occasion already
treated of: once with white-trout in Ireland, also dealt
with: and once with brown-trout in Scotland, to be told
of later on. Not very often in some thirty years it must
be admitted. Nor must it be gathered that I have never
had good fishing at other times, but those were the three
red-letter days. And although there is much more free
trout fishing than salmon, there is yet little enough of it in
all conscience. As ' cThe Little Man" once put it, in discussing the comparative advantages and disadvantages
of being quartered in England or Ireland, " If you go
for a walk on the road you get killed by a motor-car: if you
step off it you get prosecuted for trespass: and if you so
much as take out a pinkeen the length of your finger you
get six months." Very far from f free " was the water
in which I once met brown-trout on the take proper, but,
since it proves the possibilities that a little trouble can
produce, it may be recounted here.
Two years before, my host and I were packing up our
rods,  after an all but blank day,  beside one of the FISHING AND PHILANDERING       113
darkest and most sombre of all the dark and sombre lochs
of Argyllshire. To reach it had required a hard climb
of an hour and a quarter, and we agreed that the game
had been scarcely worth the candle, though I had once
spent a most happy day there in years gone by. As we
lit our pipes and dropped slowly homewards—I am far
better downhill than up—my friend told me that a new
loch was in process of formation for a water supply to
the port, meaning the harbour, not the rich vintage wine
with which his butler so liberally supplied me nightly.
" My landlord," he continued, " has retained all the
sporting rights, and means to stock it with Loch Levens,
so I hope some day, old man, you will come home with a
heavier creel than the one MacTavish is carrying
Two years passed, and so did the conversation out of
my head, so much so that I seriously debated whether to
take a trout-rod North that August lest I should again
be driven up those precipitous three miles of crag and
bog to that dour mountain tarn. But there was a sea-
trout pool at the mouth of the burn, and my <( Houghton " duly accompanied me in the end. The first thing
I heard on arrival was that the new loch had turned out
a complete success,.and was full of trout averaging well
over a pound each, and of such unsophisticated natures
that my hostess was good enough to add, " Even you
will be able to catch them."
Next morning, accompanied by a fellow guest and the
incomparable MacTavish, I set out with high hopes and
airy spirits, for they told me it was only a step, and a
c< quite-quite easy climb." But climbing is not my
forte; give me a funicular railway any day. After a
steady plod of half an hour, I asked the gillie if we were
nearly there. He pointed to a forbidding-looking pinnacle on the far-distant sky-line, and remarked, " Oh!
ay, she's just under yon wee bit hillock." She was:
another good half hour away, and about 7,000ft. higher
up. Yet we eventually arrived, and a welcome breeze,
which gradually reduced my temperature to normal, was
stirring up a most inviting ripple on the dark waters at
our feet. The little loch was formed by a small masonry
dam, so cunningly situated that with very little expenditure, some forty-five acres of water had been retained
and spread over the moor we had shot over only two years
We were soon afloat, and began a drift along a promontory which pushed out into the loch almost cutting it
in half. A glance satisfied me that my companion was
a workman, as well as the possessor of very neat ankles,
and I started casting from the bows. But a few minutes
had passed when " Phloph!" she was into a fish, and
a good one too. Right hard it played for full five
minutes, until I slipped the net under No. i, a well fed
trout as ever I saw, of i^lb. My turn came next, then
hers again, and so it continued for some time, fish for fish:
then I got two running, and my companion in a most
whimsical voice complained as I played it, " It's not
your turn." At last the rain carried out its threat, the
rise came to an end, and we sought the shelter of a huge
boulder, on the leeside of which we munched a most
appetising variety of delicacies. We only got one more
small fish, and, being thoroughly soaked to the skin, gave
it up early and went home, taking with us eight trout,
weighing nib., having returned one or two which would
have been considered whoppers in the burn. Pleased
as Punch, I carried them in to show to my hostess, who
merely remarked, p Mr. B. and I got eighteen, weighing
2ilb." " How many did you get?" I asked; and " A
dozen, my dear," was her answer. That dozen had got
to be beaten.
Two days later, accompanied this time by " The Pride
of the Coldstream Guards," I once more accomplished
the ascent of the Matterhorn. Leaving him in the boat
with MacTavish, I fished from the bank, picking out
every likely-looking bay and casting carefully amongst
the weeds that fringed the shore. There was but little
breeze, and never once did any of us see a rise other than
those prompted by our flies.     Yet we had good sport. FISHING AND PHILANDERING      115
Just before lunch I had the luck to get the record fish of
the season, two ounces over 2lb., as playful as a kitten
and as strong as a young bull. At four o'clock, just
when I confidently looked for an improvement, my youthful " Guardee " expressed himself tired, so we sounded
the " stand fast " and marched home. Apparently he
got over his fatigue without much difficulty, as, shortly
after tea he went for a long walk with the very lady I had
intended to escort myself. Our bag that day was nine
trout, weighing n^lb., not counting some half-pounders
put back.
Two days afterwards a party of four of us arrived at
the loch, which unfortunately presented the appearance
of a plate of burnished steel. Only two small trout lay
on the heather as we lunched, very shortly after which
the boat was rowed up to where I was casting over a
rising fish, and I was invited to " come home and play
bridge." But something told me they would come on
the rise later, and their blandishments fell on deaf ears,
MacTavish, after landing the vendor of india-rubber and
his two fair companions, returning to have some serious
fishing with me. c Ye dinna have a verra good chance
when the young leddies is talking to you all the time,"
said the veteran, though we both agreed that it was a
vast pity that her devotion to hospitality prevented my
hostess and his mistress from coming out for a day. Her
dozen had been the best bag to one rod so far, and it
did not appear likely to be beaten. Picking up a trout
here, and letting go a trout there, we arrived near the
end of the loch, and my total was six decent fish, and
two or three indecent, which latter had been duly returned. Then, as the sun touched the summit of one
of the Western peaks, they came on the rise with a vengeance. Well inside the hour I accounted for eight fish
and lost two others—large ones, of course. However,
I had got fourteen, weighing i61b., which, with two the
stockbroker had secured, made MacTavish fairly groan
before he got them home across the moor.
Three other good bags were made before I came re- n6      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
gretfully away—sixteen of 2o£lb., fifteen of i8lb., and
fourteen of 191b., the latter as handsome a lot of trout as
any angler could wish to see. All these pleasant days,
the result of judicious stocking of water whose raison
d'etre had been economical, show that with a little care,
and for a very small expenditure, sport may still be
obtained, even in these degenerate days.
But supposing the vote is for trout rather than salmon,
there rises the further knotty point as to whether dry or
wet fly is the better fun. One can only speak personally,
and, personally speaking, I have had very little dry fly
fishing. That it is the very acme of art will probably be
very generally admitted. That it is the most productive
of a well-filled creel depends on circumstances. I once
accompanied three well-known exponents of the purist
style to some club water near Sheffield. Old Izaak says:
'' I think the best trout anglers be in Derbyshire: for the
waters there are clear to an extremity." Certain it is
that my friends were artists, and the waters clear that
day. They all assured me that the dry fly was the only
way to catch fish in their water, and declared that so
doughty a fisherman as myself would have no difficulty
in acquiring it. But I knew better. I have always
found the greatest difficulty in acquiring it, and though
the fly occasionally falls with moderate accuracy, yet
nothing I can do will make it cock. The keeper was
told to look after me, and, on our arrival at the waterside, asked me if I was so desperately bent on fishing
dry, as in his opinion they were feeding better under
water. Gladly I took his advice, with the result that
when we met in the evening I produced three brace of
fine grayling ar^d a brace of good trout, the united catch
of three far better anglers being one small trout. So
much for adapting oneself to circumstances.
But to return to the main line, my vote must oe given
in favour of salmon fishing. To my mind the charm of
having hold of something heavy, something that you cannot throw over your shoulder no matter how strong your
tackle,   easily  over-rides any of the  advantages  and FISHING AND PHILANDERING      117
desirabilities of trout fishing. Then the prize when one
has obtained it: the silver and lilac beauty of the king of
fishes in sharp contrast to the grass on which he lies:
the pleasure of sending such a fish to one's friends: the
glow that courses through the blood after a thirty
minutes' bout in even the coldest weather. Oh! yes.
Salmon fishing for me when I can get it every single
time without die shadow of a doubt.
And which is best even then ? Heavy fish on strong
tackle: the ever present chance of the fish of a lifetime:
or grilse on lighter tackle and more of them. Here is
a question to which I find great difficulty in supplying
an answer. In my life it has fallen to me to have more
good days amongst the grilse, or peal, as they are called
in Ireland, than with any other fish. Once I hooked and
played twenty-seven, though I didn't kill them all, nor
even half of them. Heavy fish have not come my way:
yet I cannot answer the question. One is always hoping,
hoping, hoping. The very cast one has just made may
be the one that will bring him up. At any moment he
may come along. That is the charm: the ever-present,
ever-expected, unexpected. The minutes that pass without a glimpse of what must surely be a big fellow. The
roll in the water and the huge circling wave that floats
away down stream. The lazy, almost feeble appearance
of a tail spread broad as a lady's fan. The evanescent
gleam deep down in the brown water, till at last he swims
slowly into sight, head down, tail waving perilously, oh!
so perilously, near the line. The last few yards as the
gaff stretches slowly over, till a quick sharp stroke ends
the long battle, and the fish that will make us famous
lies at our feet* Three or four quick blows on the
beautiful head: three or four ineffectual flaps of the great
tail, and then the quiver that runs along the silvery flank
which betrays that all is over. But that is the point: the
main point. All is not over: never in our lifetime will
the memory of that encounter fade. Printed on the
retina as indelibly as on the film with which we photograph him, we can see him still lying there in all his n8      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
majestic beauty. f Our friend has \ not ' caught one
that weighs double "; " the game for the candle " will
" pay us to-day." It will cost something to have him
set up, but what does that matter? Nothing. He is
worth it all. He is achievement: success: the reward of
patient endeavour: the fulfilment of ambition: he is it.
The question is answered after all: the pen has flown
to help: the inward is revealed: light has come at last.
Salmon fishing for me and the biggest fish obtainable at
If it be a cloudy day, and not extreme cold, let the wind set
vhat corner it will and do its worst, I heed it not.
Izaak Walton.
Brook Trout.
Out we drive from Sheffield
O'er hung with its pall of smoke,
Which a thousand chimneys dark outpour
From furnace of coal and coke :
Fresh air we breathe as we mount the moor,
Which our lungs most sadly lack,
And we pay no heed to the warning grouse—
" Go back," ** Go back," Go back."
Through Hathersage village we swiftly drive
Where it nestles midst larch and oak, -
To meet " Little John "—he is six feet four—
Where he's put in the gut to soak.
It has rained all night so the stream comes down
Just perfection of colour and height,
While the soft grey clouds keep off the glare
And prevent it from being too bright.
My host decided to send me up
With the trusty John to show me
The best of the water and where he ends,
Then started to work below me.
With wading-stockings and nine foot rod,
Even that's o'er long in places,
I take to the water, for overhead
The foliage oft enlaces. FISHING AND PHILANDERING       119
They're game as a pebble these little brook trout
That swarm in these pretty reaches,
In every eddy, behind each stone,
Just where experience teaches.
P'r'aps one in each dozen is half a pound,
But they're shaped like fat sea bream,
And you get them two or three at a time
In this sweet Peak-country stream.
With just one whopper to top the lot
A pound and a half or over,
With nut brown back and golden beam
Pink spotted on bed of clover.
When we lay them out to count the bag
We've a hundred and twenty-seven :
And dream all night of a long line tight—
A fisherman's earthly Heaven. mm
There's danger even where fish are caught
To those who a wetting fear :
For sport's like life, and life's like sport,
It ain't all skittles and beer.
Adam Lindsay Gordon.
lsaak Walton—Is fishing cruel—Sir Herbert Maxwell's opinion
—Cannibal fish—A trial—Nature's laws—Pain—A Zulu's finger
—Fishing books—Giants of the past—A fishing diary—Jonathan's
doubts—Knots—The discoveries of science.
Of course you know your Izaak Walton : if not, I pity
you : no I don't: I envy you. To me he is the purest
undiluted gold. " That quaint, old, cruel coxcomb,"
Byron calls him, but the poet was evidently no fisherman. Open " The Compleat Angler " where you will
you will find some gem: for if ever a man's heart was
in his work that old man's was : dear old jumble that it
is of religion, natural history, songs and recipes.
Byron's charge of " cruel " often recurs to me as I read
the old gentleman's directions, for baiting a frog for
instance. " Allemachte! " as the Dutchmen used to
say: truly the frogs must have muttered many
" Allemachtes" too. For cruel he undoubtedly was,
though doubtless in ignorance. But the accusation has
been made and claims our fullest inquiry.
At the first glance it would appear that to catch a fish
by means of a hook must be cruel, very, very cruel.
Yet let us examine carefully ere we condemn, especially FISHING AND PHILANDERING       121
as it is we ourselves who stand in danger of condemnation.    Let us have a fair trial by all means.
One of the first excuses one hears on the subject is
that fish being cold-blooded animals feel no pain. This
may be so, or it may not, but certain it is that they have
no means of expressing their emotion other than by
flapping about and wriggling generally, which they invariably do, whether hooked or not. It may be only
their antipathy to the strange element they find themselves in, just as non-swimmers twist and contort themselves on being immersed in water. Equally certain is
it that a fish with a hook in its mouth, or through its
skin displays no violent objection to its presence provided you do not pull on that hook. It will set to work
to try and rub it out against a rock, but it will not double
itself into a hoop, or dash about with its fins to its
mouth, or otherwise show signs of any great discomfort.
Then, again, say other defendants, if we were to put
a hook in your mouth and pull hard on it you would at
once follow the line, howling loudly no doubt, but following whithersoever led: not resisting with all your
strength and endeavouring to make off in any other
direction than that whence the strain was coming.
Certainly this is worthy of attention.
But now it is my turn to step into the dock and the
first witness for the prosecution, a disreputable looking
old pike, swims up, sniffs the book, and gives his evidence. Waiting one day for his dinner, which by the way
was late, he saw a something twisting and wobbling past
the rushes in which he lay: thinking it was his dinner,
he had seized it like a flash, only to find that it was something hard and metallic, shaped like the business end of
a spoon, but armed with a triangle of hooks, which had
taken firm hold of the witness and caused him considerable inconvenience till he managed to shake them free
against a sunken pile. Cross-examination revealed the
fact that this ferocious old beast did not feed on salad
only. He admitted that he was indeed not very particular what he ate, as long as it was something alive, 122      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
evincing however a preference for anything that
appeared to be helpless or wounded, and consequently
not very well able„to escape. He preferred to get his
dinner easily, and admitted the fact when asked point-
blank whether he was at times a cannibal.
This made the judge shake his head, and, there being
no other witnesses for the prosecution, my counsel was
in favour of closing the case there and then. But having taken considerable trouble to procure witnesses for
the defence I insisted on their being called. The first
witness was a fat old roach, very short of breath, and,
in view of the loss she had incurred, scandalously
dressed in brilliant silver and crimson. She broke down
on entering the box, which she tried violently to leave
on catching sight of the witness for the prosecution,
whose fins began to wave, whose mouth began to water,
and whose eyes blinked with a yellow tigerish glare as
his gaze wandered over her respectable old proportions.
She gave evidence, with deep emotion, to the fact that
she had been out for her afternoon swim a few days
before, accompanied by four sons and three daughters.
They were admiring the rushes and longing for some
paste and gentles, when the witness for the prosecution
had suddenly dashed into their midst, scattering her and
her progeny right and left, swallowing them one after
another. She herself had barely escaped by diving in
between the roots of an alder, his jaws snapping
viciously within a couple of inches of her tail as she slid
into her haven of refuge. Cross-examined by the pike
she swore that they had not intentionally disturbed him,
and that not one of her unfortunate children had
cheeked him or called him " old lantern jaws."
Several trout gave corroborative evidence, declaring
that it was a monstrous shame that such an old brute
should be allowed to live, and that they were infinitely
indebted to all fair fishermen. This produced tremendous applause from the back of the court, which was filled
with a group of honest-looking men with rods in their
hands   and   baskets   over   their   shoulders.     But   the FISHING AND PHILANDERING       123
applause was sternly repressed and the case continued.
Other witnesses consisted of frogs, eels who complained that their tails had been bitten off, an old water-
rat who had lost his hind legs, a duck who had lost most
of her brood, and a variety of other marine-dwellers.
But before they had all done, the foreman of the jury
rose and informed the judge that they had agreed to their
verdict without leaving the box: and that it was " Not
guilty " in the case of all fish who lived on living matter,
and " Not proven " on all other counts.
" Poor trout," muttered a sentimental old lady wearing a large bunch of osprey plumes in her hat.
" Happy minnows," came the ready answer from a
body of that tribe glancing off into the shallows as they
" How ridiculous," muttered a party of old gentlemen reading the case over their lobster salad. " It is
an attempt to interfere with the workings of natural
laws: surely if the Designer intended fish to eat one
another it is right they should do so." And it is equally
certain that if it depends on a Designer he designed that
men should fish, or they would not do so. tf Fish?
Yes: fish of course, but not with cruel hooks," is the
reply. But compare the lot of a rod-caught fish, instantly put out of all pain by the merciful " Priest" and
that cargo of sea-fish which have slowly sobbed out
their suffocated agony in the bottom of a North Sea
Further evidence is afforded by the countless instances of fish that have been caught witrt hooks and
broken lines in them, cases having been known, and
that not a few, of fish that have almost immediately
been hooked a second time.
A friend of mine, one of the most humane men who
ever lived, and of unimpeachable integrity, recently
told me that he remembered, when fishing for perch as
a boy, having struck only to find the eye of a perch
impaled on his hook: throwing it in by way of experiment, he instantly caught the fish to whom it belonged i24      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
on its own eye. I am a disciple of Sir Herbert Maxwell's, and entirely concur with his remarks on this
subject in his book on " Freshwater Fishes," as I do on
questions of flies, &c.
There is the further remarkable difference in the
ability of human beings themselves to suffer pain.
Surgeons can vouch for many cases of street-urchins who
have calmly contemplated the amputation of fingers and
toes. I remember once examining some tame mice with
a little girl of four or five years of age. Suddenly one
of the mice turned and bit first her and then me, sharp,
fierce little needle-prick, blood-producing bites. At the
sign of the blood the little face began to break up and
wobble: another moment and the tears would have
welled forth : but I said " Oh! what a lark : he (it was
a she) has bitten us both: isn't it fun ? " And fun it
was: great delight at being bitten and much humorous
objurgation of the offender, which, by the way, produced
a day or two later, about a dozen of the pinkest little
abominations conceivable: no wonder it had taken exception to our handling.
But an instance of pain differentiation once came
under my own personal observation, so remarkable that
I then and there gave up all attempts at guessing what
amount of pain anyone or anything other than myself
really suffers. I was at " Field-training" with my
company on the banks of the Umsindusi, near Maritz-
burg. A bridge was being built by Kaffirs under white
superintendence, and I had taken the opportunity to
let my company study it while we " fell out" and
smoked for a quarter of an hour.. Underneath the roadway of the bridge was fixed a large metal pulley, and
hauling on the rope which ran over it were three or four
Kaffirs, or Zulus, I don't remember which. The man
nearest the pulley—I was within six feet of him—lost in
admiration of the military, allowed his attention to
wander : his hand ran up too near the pulley, was caught
in it, and in a second the top joint of the first finger of
his left hand was neatly amputated.    His expression FISHING AND PHILANDERING       125
will remain in my memory as long as I have one: utter
and complete astonishment. He looked at the bleeding
stump and then he looked up at the pulley, where,
wonder upon wonders, some inch of his finger stuck : he
reached with his right hand and took it down. Then for
some seconds he looked from the stump to the piece removed, as though utterly at a loss to diagnose what had
occurred. Finally a gleam of intelligence passed across
his shiny black face and he made one or two ineffectual
attempts to fit the piece on. Unable to make anything
of it he presently threw the end of his finger into the
stream and calmly began to go on with his work. But
I called the overseer's attention to what had occurred
and he took him away to have the wound dressed. Now
from first to last that native never gave the slightest
sign of pain. He never stamped his foot: he never
screwed up his features: he never gave vent to a sound
of any sort. I vouch on my word of honour for the
entire truth of this story. Now who shall say after that
what pain a fish feels or does not feel. I leave it at that,
and I leave it with a clear conscience, or I would give
up fishing to-day.
Angling is gradually producing a vast field of literature, and of course some of it stands out head and
shoulders clear above others. As in the writing of history so in the writing of fishing. Some authors, splendidly literate, fail utterly to convince : others treat their
subject too theoretically : others carry one out with them
into the fields and along the river-banks, scenting the
room with the very air of their beloved surroundings,
lulling one over the fire side, firing one with fresh zeal,
stirring one into renewed inspection of catalogues and
polishing up of rods, reels, and other necessities of the
Frank Buckland and Francis Francis are giants of
the past: nature loving, gentle, scientific lovers of the
art. The former's Natural History series was and is
one of my most favourite books, standing high amongst
my private opinion of the hundred best books, which,
tremble not, I am not going to inflict on you now. I
won the first volume as a prize for mathematics, since
when, like the Pears soap gentleman, I have never been
able to do any.
IA book on angling " by the latter was given me in
1886 and is amongst my most treasured possessions, the
dear friend who gave it me being long since dead and
gone. " Hot-pot," by the same author, is a collection
of tales weird and wonderful, which always seem to me
No one of recent years has written more charmingly
and gracefully of salmon and trout fishing than the late
Mr. Earl Hodgson, whose lamented death in quite early
life must ever be a source of regret to his countless
But to enumerate them all would be quite impossible,
I cannot resist them: long since they have overflowed
the little bookcase which once held all my fishing books
A quarter of a century ago a younger brother made
me a present of a ledger-book. It was a curious choice
for a very small schoolboy to make for a soldier brother,
but, as it turned out, a most fortunate one for me. For
I then and there turned it into a fishing book and commenced recording my daily observations of fish and
fishing therein. I well remember a cynical major in
my regiment picking it up one day and enquiring its
use. When he heard it he said, " Well, if there is one
thing calculated to make a liar of a man it is keeping
such a book." But amongst all the majors in the British
Army who have ever made mistakes that major made
the biggest mistake that day. For where the fun of
making wilfully false entries comes in is teetotally
beyond me, and an entry made at the time must, to my
mind, be of infinitely greater value than the greatest
effort of the greatest memory, after a lapse of a quarter
of a century. So can I supply chapter and verse for all
my red-letter days as well as those melancholy blank
ones.      Once in my life I had thirty-one consecutive To face p. 126.  FISHING AND PHILANDERING       127
blank days. Not consecutively in the sense of all coming in thirty-one days, for there were long gaps between
them, but made up of odd weeks, and short periods of
well-earned leave. Statistics are to me the breath of
life, although some of mine afford a never-ending fund of
amusement to my friends. Shooting and fishing
records, runs at cricket, breaks at billiards, gains and
losses at cards, literary emoluments—these latter take
up very little room—theatres, ocean voyages, and so on,
there they all are in another book, carefully tabulated,
scheduled, and even indexed. As Mark Antony said,
so say I: " I am not here to disprove " what anyone has
spoken, " but here I am to speak what I do know," and
expect to be believed accordingly. When " Jonathan "
heard I intended to try my hand at a fishing book he
said, " Good gracious ! My dear fellow : whatever you
do let me see it before it goes to press : I tremble at the
idea of what a chap like you may write about fishing."
But I'm not going to : not I: not a chance : let him
write a book for himself: goodness knows he has had
material enough in his life without wanting to snatch at
my modest basket. For " Jonathan" is a purist: to
him a fly is not a bait: it is a creation : a fairy, every fibre
in its wings a matter of supreme importance. In the
club billiard-room one wintry evening we received the
honour and the pleasure of a visit from one of the
mightiest of all living anglers : one whose name resounds
from Kelso to Tweed: there you have his name—
nearly. Naturally we talked fishy: at least he and
I Jonathan" did, while we others listened. He was
very keen on some particular knot for tying on a salmon-
fly. " Jonathan " showed the one he was in the habit
of using. " That! " said the veteran. " That!—Why,
my dear fellow, if you go fishing with a knot like that
you will assuredly never catch a salmon. That's no
use whatever." I expected to see " Jonathan " rise in
his wrath and slay him with the half-butt: but he was
..Speechless : pulverised : impotent. " Well I'm blowed!"
he at length said to me.    " Does he think I'm a be- 128      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
ginner : I've killed over 2,000 fish with that knot.   Well
I certainly am blowed ! "    Only he didn't say blowed.
Before quitting the subject of literature it is necessary to say a few words, but only a very few, on the
remarkable revolution effected by the microscope in our
knowledge of the habits of the salmon. Until recently
we have been dependent on a few marked kelts and
smolts. From them we gathered that the salmon,
going down to the sea as a smolt weighing perhaps a
quarter of a pound, returned in about three months
time as a grilse or peal, weighing twenty, and more than
twenty, times as much. We also thought they spawned
annually and that kelts should be as carefully guarded
as the Bank of England. But in the last few years we
have changed all that. The microscope has brought to
light evidence which cannot be wrong, and instead of
annual visits a fish will often not ascend a river until
three or four years have elapsed since its smolt stage.
The one really important difference this makes is in our
conduct to the well-mended kelts. Is it any longer
worth while to take such care of them, Seeing that in our
attempts to preserve them, they are liberated to continue
the course of cannibalism, which has already resulted in
their being so well-mended, all the way down to the sea.
It is a question that at least deserves careful study.
No life so happy and so pleasant, as the life of a well-governed
Izaak  Walton.
White Trout.
A ride full far on an Irish car
On relief-made roads by night,
*~%V   * * By the moon-kiss'd sea,
Brings John and me
To the lodge where the light shines bright.
When we wake next morn all seems forlorn,
No prospect could seem more drear,
Were it not for the Lough,
With its splendid stock %»*H -
Of white trout, shining near.
Not a wood, not a tree, not a bush could we see,
From our doorstep the moor begins :
As the palm of your hand
So bare's the land
From the Bay to the great Twelve Pins.
But Johnny is waiting, and inwardly rating,
With our double-handed rods :
And our hopes are bright
As our pipes we light—
We wouldn't exchange with the gods.
As our rods we seize a welcome breeze
Comes furrowing o'er the lake :
While the sucking sound
Of the rises round
Proves the trout are on the take.
Our boatman rows and the soft wind blows
As we mount the gaudy flies :
Claret and rail,
With a Zulu tail,
And a bet on who'll get first rise.
" In him," " Hurrah," " Erin-go-bragh,"
We are both of us tight in a minute :
While the leaping trout
Seem almost out
Of the water as much as in it.
Drift after drift, our course we shift
Past the barren and rock-strewn shore:
Now out in the deep
Where the fat chaps sleep :
By lunch we have thirty-four.
But to waste much time would be a crime,
Though a snack and a dram taste splendid :
We are at it again,
Very much "with the grain,"
Till at evening the rise is ended. i3o      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
When the day is done with the sinking sun,
And the lough is like molten lead,
Our eyes we gloat
On the silvery boat,
Where the fish lie bright though dead.
What glorious trout: we lay them out
To count them, a round three score :
While they scale eighty-eight,
Though weighed so late—
Could a fisherman ask for more. CHAPTER X
Just there, where the water, dark and cool,
Lingers a moment in yonder pool,
The dainty trout are at play ;
And now and then one leaps in sight,
With sides aglow in the golden light
Of the long, sweet summer day'
" Days Stolen for Sport," Geen.
Heretical views—Flies—Their variety—Different flies for
different days—Working the fly—Narrow mindedness—Salmon
flies—Trout flies—The birth of the Dublin Fusilier—It's dressing
—Jonathan's criticism—The Faugh-a-ballagh—The Dungarvon—
Jonathan again—Fishing deep—Hunger, curiosity, or rage—A
lady and a dog on one cast.
Although until this last year an unlucky man I can at
least console myself on my great good fortune in not
being born until the nineteenth century. For assuredly
if we had all lived in earlier days my angling friends
would have had me burned at the stake for a heretic.
For a heretic am I—from an angling point of view—
and like a true heretic I stick to my guns. Conventionality has always been my bane, in more ways than
one, but in none more than in fishing. But all this will
appear later. The question before the house now is,
I Do salmon feed in fresh water ? " As the answer requires a book all to itself I do not propose to go further
into it here than to briefly state that I am one of those
who believe they do not.    Had the question been, I Do i32       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
salmon take food in their mouths in fresh water ? " my
answer would have been different. They do: thank
goodness they do. Why? There seem to me only
three possible answers : from hunger, rage, or curiosity.
As the former is to my mind already eliminated we need
not pursue it further, but as to the other two who shall
decide? Probably it is sometimes from one cause and
sometimes from the other. The next question is,
" What food do they most often take in their mouths ? "
and this is really the one important question, and the
one whose solution most nearly concerns us. At times
they will take real flies, artificial flies, natural and artificial baits, prawns, and worms, and lures which combine
the principles of flies and spinning baits.
Taking these in the above order we find that they are
seldom fished for with natural flies, though they have
been seen to take butterflies, May-flies, March-browns,
and Daddy Longlegs. They are indeed often caught
when dapping for trout, but as a means of catching
salmon the natural fly is seldom employed.
This brings us to artificial flies, and herein my
hereticism becomes manifest. The artificial fly used in
salmon-fishing is admittedly not a copy or imitation of
any known fly. It consists of a bunch x>f feathers, wool
or silk, ribbed with gold or silver tinsel, tied together in
such a variety of patterns that its name is legion. Even
as long ago as in old Izaak's days he remarked " You
are to know that there are so many sorts of flies as there
be of fruits," and they have infinitely bred since then.
Now the orthodox fisherman says that the mixing of
these various ingredients in the right proportions and on
certain specific dressings is not only imperative, but that
the fish in one river will rise only at certain flies, while
they will ignore others, though if we hold them in our
hands we can scarcely detect the difference ourselves.
The heretic refuses to give the fish credit for such
perspicacity and pins his faith to size rather than pattern.
He is content to fill his book with half-a-dozen or a
dozen patterns and fish any river with them, always pro- mmtm
vided that he has plenty of different sizes of his favourite
That is the case as concisely as possible. The reason
for the faith of the orthodox is not hard to find. In the
dark ages some good fisherman obtained good sport with
some favourite fly: everyone spoke of his doings:
everyone desired to know what he was killing his fish
with: everyone rushed in to follow his example. The
consequence was that that particular fly was fished far
more often than any other, with the natural result that
far more fish were killed on it and it became a standard,
at all events as far as that particular river was concerned. Thus the various standards became more and
more known and used until nowadays no one thinks of
using anything else until the well-known patterns have
had their say. It is somewhat on a par with Saturday
afternoon cricket matches since the closure came into
force. The same men go in early week after week:
they get all the best of the wicket and the worst of the
bowling and make most of the runs. At last a bowler's
wicket comes along, the tail gets a chance, naturally,
through want of practice and the difficulties which have
given them their opportunity, they fail to take it, and
the order of merit seems more than ever confirmed. So
with certain flies : there are probably more Jock Scott's
sent down first than any other fly, and they probably
kill more fish. And certainly, if the fishy eye is anything like the human optic, they are justified, for it is a
pleasing creation without doubt.
As a general rule one selects a dark fly for a dark day,
and a bright fly for a bright one; there is even a pattern
known as the " Sun-fly." It is of course a matter of
background, the fish always seeing the fly against the
sky, whereas we merely see it against the dark water.
But the main point is that it is a bait: a bait thrown like
a fly is thrown only more so. Life and motion are given
to it as far as possible by jerking the rod up and down,
a procedure which may be beneficial in very still water,
but which is quite unnecessary in a stream.    If you 134      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
would confirm this statement watch a friend's fly in rapid
water: leaping from ripple to ripple and swirl to swirl
it comes swimming along just below the surface for all
the world as if imbued with life. Then get him to
make a few casts in still water with twenty-five to thirty
yards of line, and see how little effect all his jiggling
and jerking have upon the sedate sweep of the mysterious conundrum. '• It is left for a lover of angling, or any
that desires.tto improve that art, to try this conclusion."
Still fish do take it and it is ever so far the pleasantest
way of taking fish. It is so clean and tidy : the flies look
so beautiful in the book and in the bands of our hats: it
is so comparatively easy: and so comparatively little
knowledge of a fish's habits and customs are necessary.
If the fish took it better, or even as well as certain other
baits, one would not require to look further, but certain
of us do not think they do and we cast about for, and
with, other baits accordingly.
But why, oh! why, should your fly-fisherman think it
necessary to revile all other means. We do not revile
him for using what he considers the most killing,
pleasantest, easiest bait to use, so why should he attack
us. The art is to kill fish, and if they will not consent
to be killed by these delightfully easy means must we
therefore go home fishless, when a little trouble, a little
study, show us that there are other baits that they prefer
to take into their mouths either to destroy or examine.
Other baits more likely to rouse their anger or curiosity.
If hunger prompts I would certainly sooner eat a shrimp
than a Jock Scott: if curiosity be the motive, a boiled
prawn must be as strange as a Durham Ranger: if it be
merely anger, one would sooner be tickled by the
feathery part of a Silver Doctor than by the nose of a
Everyone has his, or her, favourite patterns, so there
is no necessity to mention mine, tempting though it is to
do so : in fact it is too tempting and I cannot resist giving my list of a dozen with which I should be satisfied to
fish any river in the world. FISHING AND PHILANDERING       135
Jock Scott.
Silver Doctor.
Lady Caroline.
Sir Richard.
Dublin Fusilier.
Lemon Grey.
Dusty Miller.
With a few tied " Dungarvon "-wise.
And since one may as well be hung for a sheep as a
lamb, here are my favourite trout-flies.
Olive quill.
March Brown.
Greenwell's glory.
Red quill.
Black gnat.
Red Palmer.
Wickham's fancy.
I Jonathan " will be very angry when he reads these
lists. " My dear fellow, why not stick to things of
which you have some superficial knowledge? Why on
earth couldn't you have let me see those lists first ? Do
you mean to say you would go anywhere without a this
or a that? How would you do in Scotland without a
thingamyjig, or in East Wales without a what-you-may-
call-it? " But I can't help it. These be my tried and
trusty friends, jotted down from time to time as they
have brought me sport, set my rod bending and my pulse fflBI
jumping. No : I won't alter them. Let him write his
own book. It is easy enough to write a book, the trouble
is to get it read : but I will buy and read his fast enough
when he writes it.
Before quitting the subject of flies, there remains
something to be said on the subject of two in the above
list of salmon flies, and a word or two as to the broad
principles of working the fly as a lure.
Included in the above list is a fly whose fame has yet
to become known. To those who do not profess and
call themselves anglers the thousand and one other joys
over and above the actual capture of the quarry are
matters wholly vain and incomprehensible. Their sole
criterion of the measure of our happiness is the weight
of our bag: a blank day is to them a lost day—a day
gone uselessly out of our oh! so few days on this excellent earth. For though most of us will agree with
the late Professor Huxley that it might have been a
better world, we must even more concur with him that
it might have been inexpressibly worse. On one of the
pleasantest fishing trips I ever tripped my bag for the
week was a blank.
On one never-to-be-forgotten day of bright sunshine
and low water I was lying prone peering into a salmon
pool as my friend's line came sweeping round, in the
endeavour to see what amount of movement was imparted to a fly at the end of twenty yards of line by
sinking and drawing the hand. The fly in question was
a clumsy creation of my own tying. As it came into
view, a shadow rose slowly only to sink as leisurely
away. " And then and there was hurrying to and fro,"
though the sun instead of the lamps " shone o'er fair
women and brave men." Needless to say my fair friend
annexed that fly. " We must invent a suitable name
for it," she said, casting a last look at a lilac and silver
14-pounder ere it was taken up to the house: " something very killing and fascinating." " That sounds like
a Dublin Fusilier," said I with commendable modesty.
And so it was christened on the spot, and its luck drunk FISHING AND PHILANDERING
out of a tiny silver flask bearing the inscription, " Any
port in a storm, but a vintage wine after dinner," a
present which marked a very celebrated occasion.
So, with slight modifications, was evolved a fly which
on a recent very successful expedition accounted for
exactly as many fish as all the rest of our flies put together. Doubtless we used it more: doubtless it went
in first: even as its namesakes did into Ladysmith : but
even so the result was remarkable. Now the Dublin
Fusiliers were themselves evolved out of the East India
Company's Madras and Bombay European Regiments,
wherefore the tag of Indian crow must not be omitted,
nor the topping of Golden Pheasant for the tail. Their
uniform is scarlet with gold lace: so the body of the fly
must be tied very tight of scarlet, with ribbed gold tinsel.
The hackle in their busby is of Patrick's blue and dark,
rich emerald green. The blue should predominate at
the shoulder, fining off into the green, but the hackle
must on no account be run down the body. In honour
of their Madras origin a strip of Madras jungle-cock lies
along each side of the wing. This leaves Bombay still
unrepresented, so our thoughts naturally turn to " Bombay duck." It is rather difficult to tie this excellent bird
into the wing, so I substitute two strips of gled, or buff
turkey. The remainder of the wing consists of blue,
red and green, the regimental colours, mixed, with a few
heron's fibres and a macaw overall, which, with a peacock herl head for a busby, completes the dressing.
Mr. Malloch, of Scott Street, Perth, ties them for me
and the result is a very handsome fly.
I gave one to " Jonathan." Examining it critically,
he remarked, " I hope nobody will make rude remarks
about the Dublin Fusiliers taking their hook." " No
fear," I replied, " it is those we pursue that take their
hook, my boy."
Shortly after this description appeared in the " Field "
some remarks appeared over the name of my friend
I The Tramp " in the columns of the " Pink 'Un," which
I make no apology for reproducing here. 138      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
" History repeats itself. The rain was swishing down
in the generous manner it is wont to swish in dear old
Ireland; the loughs had overflowed their banks, and the
river, a pea-soupy, muddy mixture, was rising at the
rate of about an inch a minute. Our gillies had been
sent home, our rods stood useless in the hall, and I had
sought consolation in a roomy armchair, a roaring fire,
and a book. But with my fishing companion it was not
so. He was the last word in restlessness. He would
stand whistling at the window, watching the rain-drops
coursing down the panes; he would make heroic efforts
to calm his mind by settling to write a letter or read the
news; and five minutes later abandon both; and as all
this was a trifle distracting, it was with intense satisfaction that I hailed his outspoken intention of trying what
sort of a fist he could make of tying a salmon fly. He
disappeared in search, presumably, of the necessary
ingredients, and, some two hours later, returned proudly
displaying the fruit of his labours. It resembled, in
form, a miniature meat-hook, profusely tied about with
fur and feather, with a red body—for which about a foot
of flannel appeared to have been used to secure the
necessary effect—a dark blue hackle, and a green tail.
It made me feel quite faint, and in a weak voice I demanded an explanation of the nightmare. * Can't you
see, old man ? ' he chuckled. ' That fly's an original
idea.' (It was, my word!) c I'm sick of all the old
stereotyped patterns, and have gone out for something
that'll be historic. It's a regimental fly, that fly is. Red
for the British army, blue for Royal, and green for good
old Ireland. I shall christen it " The Owld Fog," and
if it doesn't turn out a big thing in the fly line I'll eat it.'
The contraction of c Faugh-a-Ballagh '—the war-cry of a
certain gallant corps, which must be heard to be
thoroughly appreciated — appeared to please him
mightily, and he was as happy with his masterpiece as
a child with a new toy.
" Neither of us ever saw I The Owld Fog' on the
water; but on land it was a holy terror.    You laid it FISHING AND PHILANDERING
down upon the table and it immediately disappeared,
to turn up later, after you'd pretty nearly emptied the
room out, clinging to some inaccessible portion of your
clothing. The hotel housemaid got it in her thumb; the
hotel dog got it in his nose; and it was not until we had
seen with our own eyes Patsy Cullinan, the gillie, affix
it firmly in the band of his battered hat that we felt free
of the responsibilities attached to the \ Fog's' vagaries.
And now, as I say, history has repeated itself. For, if
rumour and the columns of the ' Field' can be relied
upon, a young soldier friend of mine has perpetrated a
salmon fly evolved from the distinctive colours of his
regiment; and has, further, with characteristic nerve,
dubbed the creation c The Dublin Fusilier,' on account,
so please you, of its ' killing and attractive' powers!
Good luck to him for a modest soul, and for enlightening me as to how the King's soldiers spend their time!
From the piteous tales I have had to give ear to in the
Service clubs I was under the impression that soldiering
nowadays was, in point of severity, only one degree removed from stone-breaking or the treadmill. It seems
I have been misinformed. For, however hard the
juniors may be worked—after all, it keeps them out of
mischief—it is evident that if the upper ranks can
neglect the training of the recruit for fishing and the
tying of alleged flies, Colonels, and those sort of people,
are enjoying a career of slippered luxury and bloated
ease.    What do I pay taxes for I want to know ? "
Not for us, old man, anyway: at least it is devilish
little we see of your's or anybody else's taxes.
But it has ever been the fate of genius to meet with
scorn "and contumely at its inception, while uncon-
ventionality encounters as little encouragement on the
river bank as it does in the drawing-rooms of suburban
society. The effort of genius which follows came to me
lying prone in a hot bath. It was one of those flashes
of inspiration which only come to ordinary geniuses once
or twice in a lifetime—I myself have only had five or
six.    Go to any tackle-maker in any shop in the world
and ask for a salmon fly. You will find every single
one tied in the same way—with the head up by the loop
and the tail down by the business end of the hook.
Consequently when you give the sink and draw, jerking,
bibbety-bob motion to one of these baits, as you pull it
up against the stream the hackles and wings close up
against the shank of the hook, while we fondly imagine
that they open as we drop our hand, though they are
then moving with the current. Happy thought! Why
not reverse the dressing? Thus as we pull it against
the stream it must indubitably open and more or less
shut as we drop our hand. Furthermore I advocate
carrying the tinsel round to the barb of the hook, or
having a silvered hook; anything a bit flash is what
salmon like. We are perpetually giving them credit
for extreme perspicacity, whereas in reality the only
stupider fish are goldfish. Dear, dear, to hear some
fishermen talk about shades of colour and so on, and
then to read that Sir Herbert Maxwell made a magnificent basket of chalf-stream trout on crimson May-flies.
However they are unconvincible, and after all they do
no harm to others, indeed many of them, apart from their
views about fishing, are harmless, peace-loving, pleasant
souls withal, " Gentlemen of worth and brothers of the
I wrote and asked my friend " Jonathan " to give my
idea a trial and give his answer: " I think your idea
about the hackle being reversed is first-rate : also the
tinsel to run down the hook: but I would go even a
step further and continue the tinsel up the gut line for a
considerable distance, with glass beads at intervals : this
would render the gut absolutely invisible, an object so
long desired by every angler of note. These attractions, coupled with a fly that one moment looks like an
earwig and the next like a long-legged spider, would
cause shoals of fish to follow, if only out of curiosity
to see what the darn thing was going to turn into
Curious that in these two lines he should have hit on FISHING AND PHILANDERING       141
two home truths. But before touching on them I may
state that the fly thus dressed is known as the " Dun-
garvon," after that well-known bird the " Dungarvon
goose," which, as everybody knows, flies tail-first to
prevent the dust getting in its eyes.
Returning to my friend's letter. First as to the
invisibility of the gut. It may be a little startling, but
why should a salmon mind the gut? According to the
latest theories he may have been at the bottom of the
sea for four or five years : why then should the gut hold
out any terrors for him? I don't know. For which
reason, perhaps, I am greatly bitten with " telerana
novo " on account of its invisibility, though that is only
one of its virtues.
Secondly, as to the curiosity of the fish to see what
the " darn thing " is going to turn into next. Well, if
you have roused his curiosity you have obtained your
object: success will crown your hopes : for the only
way in which he can satisfy it is by taking your fly in
his mouth, when if you will firmly raise your hand as
soon as you feel him, all you have to do is to play him
as successfully.
Having finally selected a fly, the next thing is to fish
it, and herein anglers differ as much in method as ladies
do in hats. Some whom I have .watched must have
elbow-room. They will fish a pool down once and then
hasten off to the next, and so on from pool to pool and
stream to stream : never fishing a pool out: sometimes
even leaving a rising fish, because it has failed to lay
hold at the first or second time of asking. Now in
ordinary sized rivers it is very, very seldom right to
leave a fish, especially when they are anyway scarce.
Some people when they see a fish show declare in a tone
of voice that would have made Solomon seem perfectly
idiotic, " Ah! They're running." And off they run
to another pool. Why run ? as the gentleman said when
he was told a sportsman had run away with his wife.
Yes: why run ? Stay where you are and be thankful
you are not fishing over bare stones.    One man will 142       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
fish a mile of river what time another will fish one small
Suppose your fish wont rise: change your fly: try a
size larger : then try a third time with a size smaller than
your original one. No good? Then try two flies together, and if the wind is anything up stream try " tipping the bob," that is making the bob-fly dap. Still
no use? Try a " Dungarvon," and if that's no use then
try a grub : tied on a hook with a lump of lead about it:
you can throw it like a fly : and, if it is any further salve
to your soul, you can tie some hackles on to it. A certain great angler, and talented writer on angling, takes
exception to the word " rising " as applied to a salmon
when it takes a fly. He says they do not rise, and of
course he is right as far as comparison with the rise of
a trout goes, but he is equally as certainly wrong in
objecting to the word rise, for salmon most assuredly
do rise to take the fly. Their natural habitat is close
to the bottom for many obvious reasons, and they rise
when they come up to seize the mysterious object floating between them and the sky. Therefore the deeper
you get down the less trouble you give them in the satisfaction of their curiosity and the more likely they are
to satisfy it. Having exhausted all these methods go
over and repeat the whole programme from the other
bank if it belongs to you. When this has been done you
have three courses open to you. You can try some
other bait, or some other pool, or eat your lunch and
go over the whole thing again in the afternoon, if you
are a purist and must fish fly.
Personally I would sooner catch a fish on a fly, but I
would also far sooner catch a fish than have a blank day.
Only once have I been placed under a disadvantage
from fly-fishing, and then it was trout fishing. Accompanied by a brother officer, his wife, and her lap-dog, I
stood by a reservoir not far from Sheffield looking at a
flat calm. There was little hope of inducing trout to
rise, but I determined to endeavour. I failed right
enough, but ere long my tail fly caught firmly in the FISHING AND PHILANDERING       143
hairy ear of the Chinese monstrosity. Its howls would
have made the interior of a lion's den at dinner-time
seem a peaceful and retired spot: away it went and away
I went after it, my reel singing merrily under the impression doubtless that it was emptying after the king of
all the trout. Its mistress, reviling me, rushed to meet
it, and promptly got a dropper fixed in her hair or neck
or somewhere. Whereupon she screamed in emulation
of her dog's howling: and for some time a rough and
tumble ensued that could not have been matched outside a gladiatorial arena. So even fly fishing has its
drawbacks at times.
You fish as you see me do, and let's try which can catch the first
Izaak  Walton.
On the Deveron.
By sweet " Sunny braes " I spend most of my days,
Though I feel I'm a bit of a fool,
For, though deftly I cast in the teeth of the blast,
The salmon remain in the pool.
Not a rise to be got out of " Moses' Pot,"
Not in " Upper " nor " Lower Tahore,"
Full of fish though they be, fresh up from the sea—
You may watch them leap out by the score.
Though a fly I make fast to the end of my cast
In place of the Satirist's worm,
When the line is not tight Dr. Johnson was right—
Though a fool's not a strong enough term. CHAPTER XI
The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
And greedily devour the treacherous bait.
Much ado about nothing.
Spinning baits—Natural or artificial—Spinning reels—Worms—
Fancy baits—Prawns or shrimps—The bait of baits—Method of
baiting—Method of fishing—Mr. Sheringham's views—His hooks
—Fishing the shrimp \' con amore.''
Spinning baits may be classed in two main divisions—
natural and artificial. Amongst the former those in most
general use are minnows, gudgeon, stone-loach, eel's
tails, and sand-eels. The name of the latter is legion,
but the principal are Phantoms, Devons, and spoon-baits.
Each of these are represented by hosts of different
patterns, and are naturally of countless different sizes.
As a general principle, it will probably be conceded
that the natural bait is preferable to the artificial, its principal drawback being the difficulty of obtaining it. Moreover, under the present laws its use is illegal for many
months of the year: even bottled baits being unobtainable during the close season for coarse fish. In Ireland
the favourite is the " Collie," which can be spelt according to fancy, but which is in reality the stone-loach. But
that there can be much difference in virtue between a
small gudgeon, a large minnow, or a moderate-sized
loach is altogether beyond my belief.    But as regards
mounting any of the above, give me one large hook every
time. Well mounted on one of these, a wobbling spin
is obtained which salmon sometimes find quite irresistible, while if one does lay hold of a big fellow, the
comfortable assurance that the link between you and him
is of a size commensurate with his weight, and perhaps
yours, instead of a mere jumble of weak triangles, enables
you to play your fish with an easy confidence that would
be altogether absent with flimsy tackle.
There is one natural bait which has the merit of being
obtainable all the year round, in which I have the most
implicit confidence, born of many a successful bout, the
silver sand-eel. Any of the good tackle makers will
provide a suitable mount, but my allegiance is pinned to
the pattern supplied by Mr. Malloch, of Perth, under the
name of the " Kingfisher " bait.
Of artificial spinning baits, my vote must be divided
between a ** Devon " and a spoon. Both are practically
ever-lasting, and both are portable and cheap. Soleskin
phantoms are certainly very beautiful, but they are easily
squashed, and apt to be useless after a heavy munching
in the mouth of a big fish during a prolonged fight.
My favourite spoons are of Indian origin, hog-backed
in shape: that is with a ridge down the back. These
continue to spin at a much slower rate of progress through
the water than the more general rounded shape. I like
them bronzed on one side and silvered on the other, but
that, of course, is a matter of individual fancy. I have
known professional fishermen, men whose bread and
butter depended on the correctness of their diagnosis,
who have gravely assured me that only one out of a
dozen precisely similar spoons will turn out to be a killer.
They have never given me any reason for their superstition, and it may probably be assigned to the same category as that which causes them to turn up their noses
at the whole of your fly-book and ask " yer honour's
permission to go and buy a plain little fly at Patsy's
whilst ye are having your lunch." Not "bien entendu"
with any view of enriching themselves or Patsy at your *amm
expense, but in the honest opinion that only the fly or
the spoon that actually has done the mischief can be
capable of repeating the operation.
Of reels for spinning there are almost as many patterns
as there are baits, and evolution has never been more
manifest than in the change which has taken place in this
particular during the last three or four generations.
When one had to coil one's line on the pebbles or among
the bracken, or even in one's hand, forty yards was a
capital cast, but now an adept with a superfine up-to-date
reel will throw about double that distance straight from
the winch. The very finest material and workmanship
are put into these reels, and they are expensive in consequence, yet worth the money every time in the comfort
they give in their use and the distance they enable us to
cast. A very few trials will enable one to get out forty
yards, while so delicate is the mechanism that with one
of mine it is possible to slow down the bait just as it is
coming to the water till one is able to drop it in almost
as quietly as a fly. Not that I dislike a bit of a splash
in salmon fishing; but for that the time is not yet ripe.
Yet I can fish much cleaner by coiling my line when
circumstances render that method possible, and I mean
to try Mr. Geen's method of coiling into a tray next time
I go angling.
The most likely time for a spinning bait of any sort is
towards the end of the day and in heavy water. As a
spate empties itself into the sea it is often difficult to know
quite how your other baits are fishing, but with a spinner,
the heavier the water the more certain you may be it is
doing its duty.
Worms—bah! Pouf! How I hate the things. But
sometimes, when everything else has failed, when one is
more than usually anxious to get a fish to send away,
when the bag is light and the heart is vexed, then perhaps
one may be excused for trying a bunch as a sort of Forlorn
Hope. But do not imagine your task is a light one: do
not imagine you have but to throw them in and let the
current carry them down: quite the contrary: in my FISHING AND PHILANDERING       147
opinion, and, after all, this is my book, and those who
differ can write one for themselves, to fish a worm properly is the very highest branch of the angler's art. Yes:
higher than dry fly fishing. For your worms must go
trickling all along the bottom, bob-bob-bobbing from
stone to stone, lodging, a crawling, repulsive mass, just
above a sulky old fish, or creeping tentatively along his
ribs, tickling him into utter exasperation. I said repulsive, but from a salmon's point of view I should have said
appetising, and herein lies one of my principal arguments
concerning how little one can understand the point of
view of a fish. If you doubt me, make your breakfast
off a succulent dish of uncooked May flies, or try an old
Daddy-Longlegs, and see how you like it.
Then there are any amount of fancy baits, flies that
spin, and spins that fly, I mean spinners that float; at
least for trout there are anyway. But these be all
" fancy bred," and need not concern us further.
There remains last, but by no means least, to my mind,
indeed, best, the prawn. This is the bait I really pin my
faith to, and I have left it till the end of malice aforethought.
Now the prawn, as generally fished, comes under the
head of a spinning bait, but as such it has no use for me.
Take any fishing tackle maker's catalogue, and you will
find half a dozen various mounts, usually named after
some distinguished angler, for attaching to the prawn,
which itself, as supplied in bottles at the same
emporiums, is invariably of the hugest kind and the most
vivid colour. In one prawn tackle figured in a certain
catalogue there are no less than fifteen hooks. Bristling
like this, the prawn is hurled thirty or forty yards away
and recovered as you would, recover a minnow or a spoon.
Or else it is " hung " thirty yards below a boat in a
heavy stream and allowed to fish itself, and herein perhaps lies much of the obloquy attached to its use.
But in that part of Ireland where I graduated all this
is quite different, and I propose to give to the best of
my ability an account of the methods employed in that ^Mif
wonderful fishery where it is in such constant use, in the
hope that you may at least give it a trial.
To begin with, the prawns used there are only half
the size of those one is accustomed to see mounted on
prawn tackle, and are invariably alluded to as shrimps.
At the request of the Angling Editor of the " Field," I
once wrote an article for that paper on the subject, which
with some slight revision is reproduced below, together
with some remarks of the same gentleman after he had
given the system a trial.
The hook should be a round bend, No. i°, 1, or 2,
tied on single salmon gut. A couple of pig's bristles
whipped on with the gut helps very considerably in keeping the bait on. Hold the shrimp near the tail with the
forefinger and thumb of the left hand, and straighten it
out by putting the second or third finger under its head.
Then insert the point of the hook at the root of its tail
(Fig. 1). Push it in until the shrimp begins to bend
around the hook (Fig. 2). Then shift the grip with the
left hand, and, holding it by the sides of its head and
shoulders with the second finger and thumb, put the first
finger on its back and press. Now comes the knack: as
soon as ever it begins to go, encourage it boldly, when it
will slip on as easily as an old glove and lie out straight
along the hook (Fig. 3).
Bring the point of the hook well out, but as far down
the head as possible: salmon do not mind hooks showing,
but it is surprising how they will take the shrimp off and
miss your hook sometimes. If you think you have had a
touch, examine your shrimp. If there is a tiny dent or
nick just at the back of the head, where it joins the neck,
you will very likely get a fish next cast.
The following is an extract from an article by Mr. H.
T. Sheringham, whose weighty and corroborative words
may, perhaps, carry conviction to some " doubting
Thomas," and result in his going home with a fish or
two instead of an empty creel. I hope he will not mind
my quoting him.
" A few weeks ago I described in the ' Field ' a To face p. 11,8.  FISHING AND PHILANDERING       149
holiday on a salmon river in which the shrimp played
rather an important part, and was responsible for most of
the fish which providence permitted me to catch. Since
then one or two correspondents have written asking for
more details as to the method employed, because the
former article dealt with it but sketchily. The use of
the shrimp (distinguished from the prawn either, to speak
more Hibernico, by being but a little one or by being
a real brown shrimp; this, I think, is the better for very
low water) is pretty common on some rivers now, and
A.E.M. has celebrated the merits of the lure in the
\ Field ' more than once. In the issue of August 14th,
1909, he described his way of using it and of putting it
on to a round-bend single hook. It was to his suggestion
that I owed my success—(Hurrah! A.E.M.)—such as
it was, for had it not been for the single hook I should
have clung to the old tradition of a \ tackle,' that is to
say, a couple of triangles or double hooks lashed to the
person of the shrimp, and endeavouring to rescue
triangles from rocks and other obstructions at the bottom
of a river is a pastime of which I very soon grow weary.
Therefore, I should have caught little or nothing, since
the river was at lowest summer level, and, in the pools,
almost innocent of stream; fly-fishing was quite hopeless.
"A.E.M. and other experts—(hear, hear! A.E.M.)
—can bait their shrimp by inserting the point of the
hook at the tail and bringing it out at the head, deftly
threading the beast, in fact, as Thames fishermen thread
a lob-worm. I marvel at this, but cannot emulate it,
because my shrimp either * telescopes ' or falls asunder
when the process of threading is scarcely begun. Therefore, I had to use a baiting needle, putting it in at the
head of the shrimp and bringing it out at the tail. At
first I tried the ordinary baiting needle of commerce.
This was not quite satisfactory because its eye is too
broad; only a very stalwart shrimp would stand having
so big a thing passed through it, especially at the tail,
where there is very little room.    Then I got a darning 150      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
needle about four inches long, filed a slip in the eye to
take a loop of gut, and tried that with much better luck,
coming to the conclusion that a darning needle is the best
thing to use.
'' At first I fished with round-bend hooks whipped on
to gut, but was presently dissatisfied because I thought
the lead, about 2ft. up the gut, was in the wrong place.
I wanted the lead to be closely connected with the shrimp
so that the bait should dart about after the manner of a
drop-minnow. That was one advantage of the shrimp
lashed to triangles—you could incorporate some lead
wire in the arrangement and get the required motion of
darting up and down. Since one of the great advantages
of the single hook method for low clear water was that
there was nothing showing outside the shrimp except
one hook point, I did not want to spoil the effect.
Therefore, I took the lead off the trace and tried wrapping
some lead wire round the shank of the hook. But this
failed because the lead wire, in addition to the whipping,
made the shank too bulky to go into a shrimp of moderate
size without doing it a serious mischief. Then I tried
using an eyed hook of rather thin wire, wrapping fine
lead round it and attaching it to the gut by the Turle
knot. The first figure shows the hook with the lead wire
wrapped tightly on it, and the second shows a hook
baited, both in the exact size that I used. This version
of a leaded hook would, I found, go into the shrimp quite
comfortably, the only difficulty being to get the eye and
knot of gut in, which involved a little manipulation at
first. Practice soon made it quite an easy matter, the
chief requirement being to hold the shrimp with firm
tenderness while the S easing ' process went on. As the
illustration shows, the eye does not get near the shrimp's
tail, so there is no danger of breaking that off once the
needle is got safely through.
Later on, when fortune put some bigger shrimps in
my way, I tied some larger hooks on to gut, incorporating
a thin strip of lead in the whipping, and getting an object
that was shaped like a leaded gorge hook, only, of course, FISHING AND PHILANDERING       151
thinner. These hooks answered well enough, but for
smallish shrimps the eyed snecks depicted were better,
and they seemed to have quite enough hooking power.
After some experiments with loops on the lengths of gut
tied to the hooks, I came to the conclusion that they were
a mistake. If whipped they were apt to get weakened
by constant threading; if knotted they pulled the tail of
the shrimp off. In the end, therefore, I had a loop on
the end of the cast, and attached the tippet to it after each
baiting with the Figure Eight knot. It is worth remembering that with this plan you do not need a slit in the
eye of your needle; you can treat your gut just as if it
were cotton. I mention it because, though I managed
to file a slit in one needle, with another I could do nothing, so hard was the steel."
Since writing the above, Mr. Sheringham evolved a
still further improvement, having some eyed hooks made
with torpedo-shaped lead brazed on to the shank of the
hook, so arriving at his goal in this respect. He very
kindly sent me a dozen to try, but most unfortunately
all the hooks were too small. Personally, I don't mind
the lead showing on the line, and I don't think the salmon
do either, but for those who credit this fish with so much
sagacity he has undoubtedly produced the weapon they
desire. But as one of the most important points in this
style of angling is the ever-present necessity of changing
your lead according to the current or the depth of the
pool, I stick to my system of putting on or taking off lead
wire as occasion demands, frequently altering the amount
three or four times in fishing down one pool. If you
never touch the bottom put on more lead; if you get hung
up every other cast take some off. Personally, I seldom
attempt long casts. Mr. Sheringham says he found he
could get twenty yards by throwing it like a fly and shooting line, as he says " to all intents and purposes it was
fly-fishing, except that the fly was a shrimp." I fish it
much more like a worm, casting more up stream, where
the current flows rapidly, more across in more placid
waters. -mf
Only to-day I received a letter from a friend which,
though it puts me fairly in the limelight, it would be false
modesty on my part to suppress, and, though a perfect
martyr to the real article, I have never suffered from the
false variety. Speaking of a third person, he wrote:
" Strange to say, he quite shaped like killing fish. He
knew all about shrimping, except that there seemed to
be a little indefinable something about his work which
lacked individuality. He seemed to be fishing generally
for any fish that might be there, instead of for an individual fish which had to be tempted like a sick child.
That is the point I have noticed about your fishing of the
shrimp: it's quite a personal matter between you and the
salmon you are making love to. And I firmly believe
yours is the right way for the Blackwater." As I could
not have described my own feeling in the matter one half
so eloquently, we may leave it at that, for my friend's
words exactly describe my views. The overcoming of
scruples must surely prove a charm to even the most
A word or two regarding the best time of day for
fishing. It is said that the early bird catches the first
worm, but one supper at Romanos is better than many
matutinal worms, and I agree with Harry Lauder and
" hae me doots " as to the advantages of very early
rising. For it is certain that one cannot burn the candle
at both ends for very long at a time, and one must perforce choose whether to stay out late at night or get up
early in the morning. As far as trout fishing is concerned, I plump for late fishing, especially when it is a
case of the big fellows, who will look at nothing by sunlight. Everyone has heard of the old Hampshire trout
who could not only tell an artificial from a natural fly, but
also what shop it came from. So with those big trout
that drop down to the lower ends of the Irish lakes in
summer: with them it is a case of night operations or
empty bags. But with regard to salmon, I would
strongly recommend the early morning, having only once
killed a salmon in the dark, and then I had no business FISHING AND PHILANDERING       153
to: but, honestly, I thought it was a great trout. My
opinion is that salmon take better between 10 a.m. and
4 p.m., and best between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Nice
gentlemanly hours, and another advantage of my
favourite fishing.
I now see, that with advice and practice, you will make an angler
in a short time.     Have but a love to it, and I'll warrant you.
Izaak Walton.
A Ballad of the Boyne.
It was the river Boyne my lads,
Bank-high ran by the spate,
And Joseph is out with intent to kill
And expectations great.
" Give me," quoth he, " My fly-book please :
It seems to me a sin
To fish aught but a fly down first:
P'r'aps later on I'll spin."
Then darkly gazed he at the flood,
Knowingly at the sky :
Picked out a three inch " Claret Boyne."
And winked his wise old eye.
But neither Claret, Green, nor Blue
Would make those salmon rise :
So if Joe's choler rose instead
We need feel no surprise.
But see!     He has taken his spinning-rod,
And a nip at his whiskey too,
While his gillie, the gardener, gazed with awe
At the size of his phantom blue.
Then a look came into Joseph's eye,
And the gardener held his breath,
For he'd fished with Joseph oft before
And he knew that that look meant death.
Full forty feet the phantom flew
As the Nottingham over-wound :
Then " In him, by Gad " ; and Bouncer barked :
Now Bouncer was Joseph's hound. m
" By gum " said Joe, " He is twenty pounds
If he weighs a single ounce, Sir."
But the gardener answered never a word,
As he cocked his eye at Bouncer.
An hour passed while the sulking fi$h
Lay still in the same position :
The gardener smoked a couple of pipes.
One is patient when there's a fish on.
But he yields at last to the great split-cane,
Till they view him—an awesome beast—
" Get ready the gaff and the crimping-knife,
The weighing-machine and ' Priest.' "
Then the gardener knelt on the river bank,
Leaned o'er with the gaff to strike,
And swung far into the meadow land
A magnificent six-pound pike. CHAPTER XII
My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
Ezekiel XXIX. 3.
The Cachalot Club—The Bosun—His rod—The club water—
The Bosun's train—His luncheon basket—Other members of the
club—E. Haugh—The Sapper—The Squire—The Admiral—A
rival club—The Tripper—The Little Man—His fish—The Bosun's
fish—The right fly.
The genesis of the Cachalot Club was a letter I received
when in town one leave season. " Please buy me an
outfit for salmon fishing. \ The Bosun ' has taken some
water near here and is going to teach me all about it.
Yours ever, E. Haugh."
Nothing, mark you, about my being asked, and " the
Bosun " my old subaltern and all. However, there was
no doubt about that being all right, and even were it not,
I would certainly ask myself. Dear old " Bosun,"
simple-minded, honest old soul: if ever a man did me a
good turn, you did it when in your innocence you took
that mile of water. Do you remember the afternoon
when I came up to your chateau to look over your tackle:
what plans we made for the future: how kindly I assented
to come over and have a look at the fishing, though in
my heart of hearts how greatly I doubted when you told
me the modest rent you were paying? The old fellow
took me out on the lawn after lunch to try his rod. It
was a relic of, I should say, the days of the Crusades,
as dry as a bone, and as brittle as a carrot. Letting out
a few yards of line, I tried it on the lawn, and broke it to
smithereens just above the lowest ferrule. To misquote
Spenser, "In my right hand a broken rod I held." Some
fellows would have been a bit annoyed: not so " the
Bosun ": he merely agreed that it was most fortunate
we had found it out in time, and we went in and pored
over catalogues, and I marked down about £20 worth of
goods which he at once sent for.
At last a day came when we were able to drive over
and view the water. There was a dear little cottage
where we could put up: where we could meet with simple
fare and a kindly welcome. There was a dear old octogenarian whom I The Bosun " appointed his head
keeper. And there was a yellow flood in the river. So
we left our rods at the cottage and walked up the bank.
One did not require to be much of a fisherman to recognise
the virtues of those seven or eight good pools. B»ut it
was impossible to believe there could be any fish in them,
or how on earth had he obtained it so cheaply ? Yet fish
there were, fish there are, and fish I hope there always
may be, for when " the Bosun " got tired of it, as he did
in a couple of seasons, though he once killed a small peal
all by himself, we took it on between us, he being the
only Midas in the regiment, and the rent having risen,
and formed it into the " Cachalot Club Limited," and a
jolly good club too.
Originally there were only two landlords—brothers-^-
each owning about half a mile on the right bank. Then
the club acquired the other bank, at first by favour, later
on by fortune, or rather parting with fortune. A bit was
added at the top, only one field, but oh! such a pool,
bringing us up, however, to a riparian proprietor, who
fishes himself, and consequently marking our extreme
boundary on that bank up stream. There still remains
a little bit on the left bank which we should like, to absolutely round the thing off, but it is the one little Naboth's
vineyard of a certain angler and his son, and as long as
they want it we won't make a bid for it.    Owing to one FISHING AND PHILANDERING       157
or two good seasons, our rent has risen, and we now pay
in all probability a very fair price for it, which in a way
is hard, as our pertinacity made it, and it had fetched less
than half for some years before. However, we are very
well satisfied as matters are at present, and only hope our
various landlords—there are four now—may be equally
pleased. Being an honest man and no politician—vide
Plato—I know not what effect the Home Rule Bill may
have upon our Eden, but
" Where the apple reddens
Never pry—
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I."
and I daresay and hope the " status quo " may be maintained there even if it is a bygone factor in the Balkans.
From time to time the " Cachalots " have greatly
changed. The original President—the gallant "Bosun"
—has left the regular service and become a Special Reservist. A mighty angler before the Lord, and after the
ladies, was " the Capting," and he seldom stirred out
angling without a train of three or four skirts in admiring
attendance. You wanted your best suit of clothes when
you went out fishing with him. His luncheon basket was
as big as. a Saratoga trunk—he never did things by
halves. Once he lent us that wondrous receptacle,
giving me the strictest injunctions regarding its safe
return, as he apparently intended to hand it down as an
heirloom in the " Bosun " family. Very carefully we
saw it put in the guard's van at our little South of Ireland station, and very carefully we searched for it when
we got out at Fermoy, where we were then quartered.
Not a sign: not a label: not a trace: not even a funeral
note: it was gone. Happily, it turned up two months
later at Southampton, though how it had gone there, or
why, was beyond the ken of any member of that intelligent railway staff.
" E. Haugh " is perspiring somewhere in India, all
his energies devoted to the cultivation of the other 158      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Battalion Band: quite in the rightful order of things, seeing that he is absolutely and completely ignorant of any
single note of music. He was what I call an unlucky
fisherman, obedient and even observant for half an hour:
then wandering off on any old errand. He invariably
applied his military phraseology to the incidents of the
chase in very amusing fashion, and would speak of
" rendering a blank return," no fish having " indented
on " his fly, and alluding to a fish that was playing rather
well as " violently resisting the escort."
The '' Sapper " has gone to Egypt, and we never hear
of him. He was a fisherman if you like, and why he never
comes home on leave and puts in for a bit of fishing is
more than we can imagine.
" Billy " and the " Squire " are still happily in our
midst, the former now being an excellent angler, while
the latter always was, and, moreover, as pleasant and unselfish a companion as I ever fished with. This year
" The Admiral " hoisted his flag and joined us. Last
year we suffered from a couple of bad " Cachalots," but
they will never throw a fly there again. There is no room
for jealousy and bad temper caused by inability on those
sunny banks and verdant pastures. Indeed, we have
determined to become more select than ever, and are
thinking about an entrance fee in addition to the fiver
One year the regiment ran a rival club, consisting of
" The Bosun " (oh traitor), " The Little Man," and
The Tripper.'' They took a certain famous pool, with
a bit of a stream below it, and, to say the least of it, they
paid enough for it. "The Tripper" had a blank season,
which surprised me until I saw him fish. Nowadays, it is
true, we live in a sort of breathless rag-time, but his
methods could not be expressed by any musical synonym.
Mercury in a cock-tail mixer is the only comparison that
occurs to me at the moment. He and " The Bosun "
one day honoured me by an invitation to fish as their
guest. On our arrival at the little cottage where they
kept their tackle it is no exaggeration to say that " The o
Tripper " was out of the car, had his rod put together
and ringed, and was " en route " to the pool, with his
mouth full of gut, before the old " Bosun " and I had
divested ourselves of our coats. I stood as one amazed:
talk about " quick change " artistes: but then, there is
nothing " The Tripper " cannot lay his hand to. Presently my more sedate old friend and I were ready, rods
up and pipes alight. Half-way to the pool we met "The
Tripper '' coming back. Ye gods! He had fished down
pool and stream: hadn't seen a fish: was " fed up " with
salmon-fishing: and had come back for a trout rod. He
caught us up again just as we reached the bank, and
began fishing it down for trout, of which he caught a
brace, averaging about i-nth of a pound each, upon
which he chucked that and went off to gather shells or
pick flowers or something of that sort, returning in about
a quarter of an hour to know if we hadn't had enough
fishing and wouldn't we come back and play lawn-tennis
or ping-pong.
" The Little Man " is an altogether different style of
angler, and one of the best and most successful trout
fishermen we have ever had in the regiment. But no
purist: no stilted conventionalist: no, far, far too sensible.
If the trout will not take his fly offered in the orthodox
manner, you will see him wander off into the field, or up
a hedge-row, or round the trunks of oak trees. Watch
him when he comes back. Stealthily stealing up the
bank, peering through a bush here, round a corner there.
More like a conspirator, or a murderer, or an old Bojee,
than a respectable field-officer. See, he has spotted a
fish: his motions become more creepy than ever: inch by
inch his rod is pushed out through the branches of an
alder. A tap or two on the butt to shake the line through
the rings and let the natural fly drop naturally on the
water—phloph!—and a few minutes later a 2lb. trout.
That's " The Little Man." Unlike " The Bosun," he
loves to be alone when he fishes. Unlike " The
Tripper " he did not have a blank year. No: he killed
a fish: a salmon of about iolbs. weight—though it was i6o      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
never weighed. Unsatisfied with the amount of sport it
had shown in the still waters of the pool, he dragged it
down into " the sthrame," where it bucked up. Finally
he killed it, and in the cool of the evening tied it on
to the back of his dogcart and drove off home, thinking
all through the ten miles how he would have it cooked,
and whom he would invite to partake of it. Arrived
" chez lui," he hailed his wife in triumph, who hastened
to his call, overjoyed that her dear " Little Man " had
had some sport at last. But alas! and alas! Alas for
the best laid plans of mice and " Little Men." Like
" Charles' " luncheon-basket in a former chapter of this
veracious history, he had not tied it on tight enough, and
had dragged it home, bumpety-bump, all those ten miles
through dust and flints and mire of all sorts and conditions. I remember a picture which made a great impression on me as a boy, of a North American Indian, who,
on seeing his first locomotive, had incautiously lassoed it,
forgetting that the other end of the rope was made fast
round his body; arriving in consequence at the next stop
as a piece of " pemmican " or " biltong." I always
think of that picture when " The Little Man " tells us
the story of his only salmon of that season.
Nor did " The Bosun " have a blank year: nor was it
to be expected of so mighty an angler—I wonder if Nim-
rod ever fished, and if that was how he got his name—
which is an aside, of course. No: " The Bosun " got
two—fish. Never till my dying day will I forget with
what beaming pride he arrived in my room one evening
as I was dressing for mess, trailing several feet of
slippery, well-mended kelt behind him. " What do you
think of that, my boy? " he asked. " Think? Well,
I think you'll get three months if you're caught with it,"
I answered, and oh! but the dear old thing was upset.
Poor old chap: he wrapped it up, put it in my cricket bag,
took it home, and with the assistance of his gardener
" buried it deeply at dead of night " in a corner of his
back-garden, with a " lantern dimly burning."
Full many a silvery old kelt, however, is killed with FISHING AND PHILANDERING       161
culinary intent and of fell purpose. Many times have I
been assured by professionals that they are then infinitely
better for the table than the old red October fish. They
may easily be that, and perhaps recent microscopic discoveries will lead to less reverential treatment for these
old cannibals in future. Fishing yet another bit of my
favourite river one day with a very ancient gillie, I hooked
a kelt on the fly, and as soon as satisfied of its identity told
the old gentleman to put me ashore to tail it. To my
surprise he had assumed the gaff, and, moreover, expressed his firm determination to use it. I turned a deaf
ear to his entreaties, and he point blank refused to put
me ashore. Neither would give way, nor would the hook
come out of the kelt, so, making a virtue of necessity, I
managed to lean over, pick it up by the tail, and put it
in the boat. Old Methuselah, torn between anguish at
the approaching departure of several dinners and admiration of my dexterity, remained in a state of masterly inactivity while I dropped the fish in, holding on to his
tail till its wagging proved that the engine was going
again, and it presently slid off. Had I been writing of
anyone but myself I should have dwelt at greater length
on the skill shown in tailing a fish out of a boat.
But " The Bosun's " other fish has yet to be accounted
for, and if anybody can account for it they deserve considerable praise. For some occult reason fish do not
ascend above a particular weir in this river much before
April, the February and March fishing below it being
of great value in consequence, while that above is of no
more use than a length of the Grand Junction Canal.
But a mere trifle of that sort was not calculated to put
" The Bosun " off. On the very first day he could
obtain leave from field-training away he went, mindful,
no doubt, of Francis Francis' advice to keep the fly in
the water. Heavy rain had brought down a huge yellow
spate: it is true it was just showing signs of clearing, but
as for being in a fit condition to fish, well, " que-voulez-
vous " and shrug your shoulders. So off he went by
the early train and fished away for all he was worth,
devoting most of his time to the stream where the heavy
rush of water precluded any possibility of a fish, and
ignoring almost altogether the pool where some stray
pioneer might by an outside chance have been resting
his weary fins.
Then there arrived on the scene the local poacher.
There is no better fellow than the Irish poacher if you
only take him the right way: let him fish for trout, and
he will never disturb your salmon water, and will see that
nobody else does, and will give you every bit of assistance
in his power as well. Ever ready to listen to advice,
" The Bosun " showed his fly, which was promptly
declared about ten sizes too small. Out came his book,
and behold! it was the largest fly in it, though, of course,
it was not in it, being on his line. Had the poacher a
fly? He had not. Good heavens! Of course not.
What would the likes of him be doin' wid a salmon fly?
But he remembered thinking some gentlemen were staying in a bit of a cottage near by the one time for the
fishin', and maybe they might have been after laving a
fly behind them. " Happen," said " The Bosun," who
had been quartered in Yorkshire. Together they
adjourned to the shebeen, where, by permission of its
mistress, they rummaged in an old chest of drawers. And
there If at the back of beyant " they discovered a monstrous old blue and black fly on a double hook. The
moths had been very busy with it, and had left only the
tougher fibres of the wing: the tarnished old tinsel was
frayed at one end and drooped plaintively from the tag:
one barb was rusty and the other barb was blunt. Altogether it wore a woefully out-of-date aspect. But the
poacher pronounced it to be the right size. " The
Bosun " flung it into the very centre of the seething
cauldron, and a fresh-run 17 pounder obligingly swallowed it. I have seen a man's face when he has just
been appointed to the command of a crack Fusilier Regiment: I have gazed upon an Eton boy returning to the
pavilion at Lord's after making a century: I have watched
various friends emerge from various church doors with FISHING AND PHILANDERING      163
their blushing brides on their arms: but for pure, unadulterated, glowing pride, I have never see anything to
touch '\ The Bosun " as he came into the mess that
evening with his fish. Good luck to him: may he land
many and many another: would he were with us yet " to
witch the world with noble fishmanship."
But we did other things besides fish in these pleasant
Irish quarters, and I must tell the tale of a famous cricket
match, an occasion on which I think I may claim to have
fairly shone as a host. My regiment played County
Cork, and although I had warned them of our weakness,
and told them not to bring too strong a team, our eyes
were nearly blinded when they came out changed and
ready for the fray. Colours of every ray flashed in the
sun—M.C.C., Free Foresters, Zingari, Incogniti, Eton
Ramblers, Na Shulers, Upper Tooting Bicycle Club,
every blazer that was ever designed or sewn together by
tailors with smoked glasses. They explained that they
could not help it: they were on their way to Dublin for a
cricket week, and were obliged to bring their best team,
etc., etc.
Now though the sun was shining at the time, it had
rained all night. The wicket was still soft enough to be
easy, but every hour was increasing its treacherous
difficulty, so we were lucky to win the toss, and managed
to collect some 150 runs before lunch. I claim that no
man can mix a better cup than I can, but I knew my
friends, and for once doubted myself and the potency
of my brew. Consequently, I emptied another bottle of
brandy into it, the acclamation with which it was poured
down proving I had been right. Our guests next
averaged a couple of glasses of port all round, and were
also good enough to highly approve a new liqueur
I brought to their notice, after which they had some
brandy with their coffee, and then began to talk, all at
once, declaring it to be one of the pleasantest matches
they had ever played. Meanwhile, the sun had not been
idle, the result being that we got seven of their best
wickets for 13 runs.     One or two seasoned old topers 164      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
at the end got half a dozen each, but their total was
only 39.
When we wrote to arrange a date for the same match
next year they said they would not play if I did. But by
that time I was at the Depot, and a full-blown major. A
subaltern, with about a year's service, wrote begging me
to come down and play just for this one match. But I
was getting no cricket, and declined, saying I was out of
practice and could not hope to make any runs, in answer
to which he had the cheek to wire, " We don't want you
to make runs; we want you to mix the drinks."^
I shall commend any angler that tries conclusions, and is industrious to improve the art.
Izaak  Walton.
Father Joseph.
" You are old,  Father Joseph," Jack Melton remarked,
'' And of tackle you own a vast lot:
Pray how many eels
Have you caught with these reels?"
Said Joseph, II Don't talk Tommy-rot."
" You are wise, Father Joseph," the young man went on,
Unabashed by the snub he had got:
I You may say what you like
But I know you catch pike."
Said Joseph " I fish for the pot."
1' You have rods for fly fishing, for prawning, for spinning :
Have you all you require?" asked Jack :
Then Joe winked his eye
As he made this reply,
" All but one for a silly fool's back."
-' You have baits, you have weights, you have flies every size,
Every pattern that e'er was invented :
What use such a hoard?"
Said Joe, getting bored,
" Why answer a man who's demented?" ^sl?* FISHING AND PHILANDERING       165
M What sums you must spend my extravagant friend,"
Said Jack, as he pinched a few flies :
" You have gaffs, nets, and ' Priest,'
And last, but not least,
A weighing-machine of huge size."
" You are youthful, Jack Melton," the old man replied :
" * Beri-beri' you suffer from doubtless :
If you'd listen to reason
And use flies in season
You "might not so oft come home troutless."
" For the fly you should choose, and the right one to use,
Must depend on the wind and the water,
The cold or the heat,   .
The clouds, and your beat,
If you wish to indulge in real slaughter."
" The clouds must be neither too high nor too low.
The water too dark nor too bright:
You should glance as you pass
At the state of the glass,
And study the heat, Fahrenheit."
" You are kind, Father Joseph," Jack Melton then sighed:
3 Will you lend me a rod for the Major?"
" With pleasure," said Joe,
" He's a sportsman I know,
And at angling a very old stager.''
Now the moral is plain for the blindest to see :
If you hav'n't got lots you can't lend it:
And the very best thing
Your money can bring
Is joy to your friends when you spend it. CHAPTER XIII
A river that from morn to night
Down all the valley plays the fool :
Not once she pauses in her flight,
Nor knows the comfort of a pool.
R. L. Stevenson.
A general's inspection—The shrimp in low water—Converted
but unconvinced-Ajlycerine shrimps—A persistent taker—Evening fishing—An eager fish—Ducal water—Novel theories—A
Guard of Honour—Bridge at the Castle—r-Their Majesties—A
seventy pounder—Trout and pig's liver—The missing butler—The
occult lady.
An Irish June at its loveliest and best. Best that is
from everybody's but fishermen's point of view. At its
best for cricket, tennis, picnics on the river and all
kindred sports and pastimes: at its worst for fishing
and ducks. The brooks had all run dry: the mighty
river itself was dwindling daily. The heat was about
7 degrees worse than the Sahara and the breezes did not
exist. In spite of which equatorial state of affairs the
British Army went gaily and optimistically about its
A long day's inspection had drawn to a satisfactory
conclusion: the most searching questions had been ably
and intelligently answered, and die most elusive tactical
problems solved, with a celerity and ease that would
have ensured an even money chance of a Field-
Marshal's Baton had we been serving under Napoleon.
As it was, the General was well enough pleased and
finished up by asking me to dine with him that night and
fish on some aristocratic water that had been put at his
disposal next day. Now the General was a fly-purist
and I had to submit to a good deal of good-natured
criticism of my well-known shrimping proclivities, and
the relative advantages and disadvantages of sticking to
the fly and returning empty-handed, or tickling the
piscine palates and coming home with a couple of fish
and a cucumber. Also there had been recorded in the
" Field " a recent adventure of mine when the water
was high and brown, and a certain amount of leg-pulling took place over that. But it was a merry meal
none the less, and not the least amusing part of it perhaps the General's remark to his A.D.C. after my
departure, when, speaking of my stories, fresh and fresh
from " Besika Bay " as they were, he said, | All chestnuts, my boy; all chestnuts."
The water next day was low and clear enough for a
Winchester trout, and as that part of the river was
strange to me I reflected gladly that I had received a tin
box of my beloved shrimps from Galway that morning.*
The morning was spent in throwing a succession of
different combinations of feathers and tinsel into the
water. It was good exercise, the air was pleasant, and
the surroundings picturesque. Beyond that, however,
there was not much to be said for it, and when we sat
down to lunch my host remarked that they did not seem
to be taking the fly well that morning, a remark with
which I entirely concurred. " What shall we do ? "
he asked next. I Shrimp," said I, " knowing the
language," and offering to mount one for him. "No
thank you," he replied, with an air which if we had been
on parade would have led me momentarily to suppose
I had given the word " Right turn " instead of " Left
wheel,"  or   " Ground   arms,"  or  some  such  heinous
* Johnny  Lydon,  Corrib View,  Galway,  has  been  my  shrimp
merchant for the last twenty-five years. 168      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
offence. " No thank you : not for me : I've got a new
spinning reel I want to try, but you can do anything
you like." With the result that in ten minutes' time I
was into a good fish, which allowed itself to be played
up to the gaff, and then rolled off.
" Come and look at my line," said the General, and
I came and looked. My word! It resembled nothing
earthly, unless perhaps a magnified edition of the tangle
left at the bottom of a plate of vermicelli soup. At his
very first cast the reel had flown off, over-running gaily
as it sped through the air. Talk about the Gordian
Knot! And this one could not be cut: nor were either
of us wearing a sword. In a quarter of an hour, however, we had things ship-shape again, and then I heard a
small still voice, from one whose word of command
could at other times and in other places be heard by
every man in a mobilised brigade, " I think I'll try your
plan now." So a shrimp was soon mounted on a single
hook, and, to my great delight, he was shortly firmly
fixed in a i6lb. fish, which I gaffed for him. The octogenarian gillie who was attending us beamed all over.
Though a fly-fisherman to the backbone he declared that
if you must use bait, the little prawn with the one hook
would beat the lobster with a dozen every time. But
even though we had both hooked a fish on the shrimp in
the gin-clear water, he begged me so hard to try a fly,
which he said had been the champion on that water for
forty years—none other than our old friend " Inky boy "
—that I could not refuse, and we did nothing more. But
the General saw there was something in the shrimp after
all, and as he drove me home in the cool of the summer
evening I could see that his opinion of me as a strategist
and tactician had, if possible, gone up. Having put in
for a fortnight's leave that morning, I called in at the
orderly-room on my way to dress for mess just in time to
change it to three weeks.
Once more we fished the same water together: once
more we stuck to flies till lunch: once more we shrimped
afterwards: and once more he killed a fish and I lost one. FISHING AND PHILANDERING       169
Oh another occasion I fished it alone, and learnt one of
those valuable lessons which are open to us every time
we go a-fishing if we will but keep our eyes open and
learn them. It is a well-known fact that a fish will often
come again at a fresh shrimp, but till that day I was very
doubtful of their making a second attack on one preserved in glycerine. This time I had no fresh ones,
while the water was as low and clear as before. All day
long I never had a pull, until at six o'clock in the evening,
wading in mid-stream in three feet of water, clear of all
weeds and rocks, there came the welcome pluck-pluck.
The shrimp was all right, but it was a fish right enough,
for there was the little dent on the top of the head which
a salmon so often makes clearly visible. With the same
length of line and in just the same place, at the full
stretch, he came again. Here was my theory disproved
—the right treatment for salmon fishing theories. At
the next cast he touched it again. A fourth time, a fifth
time, and a sixth time he took it in his mouth. But at
the sixth time of asking—surely it was tempting providence to ask more than three times—I got the hook into
him, a lively little peal. Many a time since then hasrthe
assimilation of that lesson provided me with sport.
In the popular Irish station where we had all this sport
there was a variation in the way of salmon fishing which
I have not seen practised elsewhere. It did not begin
till just as the sun was going off the water, and it did not
last long after it had gone. My " modus operandi " was
to play a game or two of croquet at the club, and then,
when others were thinking of going home to dinner, we
used to adjourn to the boathouse. " We " consisted of
a subaltern to pull the boat and a very sweet and charming
widow to make the tea and cook the eggs. The ' Venue"
was about two or three miles down, where we would put
the lady ashore, and then, on a perfectly flat, still portion
of the river, where there was not an atom of perceptible
current, the subaltern would let the boat down by feet,
sometimes by inches, gripping on to the reeds and rushes
on the banks.      Meanwhile, from the bows I would let 170      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
down a shrimp very slowly and draw it up equally slowly
searching out all the holes and skirting along the weed-
beds. Sometimes we got a fish: generally we didn't.
But whether we did or whether we didn't, it was all pure
happiness, and I never knew tea taste better, or ate better
cooked eggs and savoury sandwiches, than we used to find
waiting when '' the widdy gave the party.'' After which
the subaltern got the bit of exercise he doubtless found
extremely beneficial, while I smoked the pipe of peace
and listened to the words of beauty in the stern sheets.
Lower down the river there was a most comfortable
hotel, residence in which entitled one to fish various pools
in turn. On our first essay " E. Haugh " and I were
flooded out, the rain descending in sheets all the time we
were driving over, and though the spate did not come
down until the evening we only got a couple of hours'
fishing. After a hasty lunch we secured a gillie for " E.
Haugh," and went down to the river. I mounted a fly
for myself, but since the gut had not been moistened, forbore to draw the knot tight, letting the fly fall in the
river for it to soak, while I looked round to see how the
gillie was getting on with my friend's outfit, which he was
putting together. As I did so there came a pull at my
all-unready fly. Horrified at being caught napping, I
raised the point instinctively and fastened in a fish.
Knowing the gut to be quite dry, I did not dare put any
strain on him for two or three minutes, during which he
contented himself with chewing my fly, probably
ruminating on the strange mouthful, and regretting the
haste with which he had laid hold of it. Then I called
his attention to the job in hand by putting on the pressure,
and in five minutes landed a lively little peal of 61bs.
weight. It was the only fish we got, and getting it was
certainly a most astounding piece of luck. The rest of
our time was devoted to what " E. Haugh " called
" reconnaissance work "—exploring the various burns
for trout.
This hotel water abutted on some Ducal pools of great
celebrity, leave to fish in which when the Duke was away
being occasionally obtainable by anglers of unimpeachable character and respectability. I often got leave.
And once had a most wonderful experience there, but as
it bears on another of my pet theories, it must be
narrated in its proper place.
They also had some curious ideas about fishing in the
Castle. On the occasion of the visit of His Majesty the
late King Edward VII. I had the extreme honour and
delightful pleasure of commanding the Guard of Honour
furnished by my regiment. Throughout the four or five
days of our stay everybody did their utmost to make us
welcome, and there are few pleasanter recollections in
my life than the memories of the gracious words of the
King and Queen Alexandra. Our band played during
dinner, and the red-coated sentries dotted about the ivy-
covered grey walls and battlements looked most
The night before the arrival of the Royal party the
Duchess, who was extremely fond of a rubber, asked me
if any other officers played to bring one to dine and make
a fourth. So a subaltern without a bob in the world came
along, and after a most homely dinner, we four sat down
to play bridge. Before commencing I enquired what
points they would like-to play, to which the Duke replied
by enquiring if ten shillings would do. I knew what he
meant all right, but said: " Well, to tell you the truth,
I'm afraid 10s. points would be rather too high for us,"
upon which his secretary burst in: " His Grace means
10s. a hundred." " Oh, 10s. a hundred," said I.
" Oh! that will suit us admirably." " Good gracious,"
said the genial old Duke; " did you think I meant 10s. a
point. My goodness! I wonder what Mr. Brodrick
would say to that? " So 10s. a hundred we played: a
fearful gamble for us, whose mess points are is. 3d. a
hundred, and I well remember the language of the subaltern as we went to bed, he having had to hand over three
beautiful sovereigns.
It was their angling ideas that I began about, but my
anxiety that everyone should know that I have dined with 172       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
a King and Queen of England has made my pen run riot.
During the port stage of dinner we talked fishing, and
the Duke told me that from observations of the nets and
cribs, they believed that the fish which came into the
river in the spring did not come to spawn, but merely
for change of air, much as one goes to the Riviera or
Switzerland. This seemed to me incredible, and I said
as much. " But," said the Duke, " we have proved it.
We have caught fish in the cribs, marked them, released
them, and caught them again in the nets some distance
lower down." But even that failed to convince me.
" Suppose," I replied, " one was going to be married,
and on arrival at the door of the church, was seized and
held while a label was stuck into that part of one's
anatomy which most nearly corresponds to the adipose
dorsal fin of a fish: would one on being released
not immediately rush back to one's club and there lie
doggo till the pain and irritation were gone, and remain
a bachelor all the rest of one's life? " A view of the
case which the Duke was constrained to admit had not
previously occurred to him.
By agreement with two gentlemen of vast wealth, the
cribs, or killing hatches, as they call them, opposite the
Castle have for some years past been left open in return
for a large sum of money during the months of February
and March, which, in combination with the hatching
establishment hard by, has undoubtedly had the effect
of improving the river ioo per cent. Yet the upper
riparian owners, who do nothing themselves towards
either improvement, are unsatisfied. What they want is
more fish and unraised rents. What I want is £15,000
a year and a deer park.    We all seem to want something.
Another friend of mine, who owns some of the river
about ten miles from his house, and a motor car to get
there in, not only does not fish himself, but lets his fishing.
Because his British Columbian experiences have spoilt
him for home fishing. Staying with him once on a
memorable occasion, he got me leave for a day, and on my
return home with a brace of fish, which I displayed with FISHING AND PHILANDERING       173
great pride, he merely pointed to a large glass case in
his hall, and sadly remarked, " What's the use after
that ? Come and play pyramids." " That '' was then,
and to the best of my belief is still, the biggest salmon
ever landed on a rod and line, a glorious monster of 7olbs.
in weight, caught in British Columbian waters.
About that time a youth enjoyed some phenomenal
trout fishing a short distance above my friend's house.
Situated on the bank is a bacon factory, and situating
himself on the wall thereof, the youth fished with—what
do you think—pig's liver. Dear me! Wretched brat!
Why did he not save up his money and buy some flies?
I don't know; all I do know is that he accounted 2olbs.
of trout an ordinary evening's sport, and I used to long
to be allowed to go out and situate myself beside him;
but, of course, the social side of my character precluded
any possibility of my being allowed to do that, and I did
my duty, and most pleasant duty it was too, instead.
One Sunday, accompanied by one of the best soldiers
who ever commanded a British regiment, I went over
from camp to lunch with my friends. Our host was away
golfing somewhere, but Her Ladyship welcomed us
warmly, and introduced us to her party. The time
passed pleasantly enough, though it was a vile day outside, but it kept on passing, and still no sign of lunch. At
last our hostess rang the bell and made enquiries from the
footman who answered it. He had a grievous tale to
tell, and grievously he told it. The butler, it appeared,
had been very strange all the morning, till at length he
had gone down to the river, taking the dog with him,
started off in one of the boats, and had not returned.
Amongst the party was a young lady accredited with
powers of the occult. She at once said that she had
" felt " this all the morning: that she had not liked to
say anything about it before through fear of upsetting
people, but that she knew there was something awful
going to happen. My poor friend only required that to
thoroughly upset her, and we all went off to the river,
lunch being postponed sine die, for the butler had the 174      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
keys, and what sort of a lunch could we have without
them. On hearing that the man was a powerful swimmer
and an expert boatman, I, for one, did not share the
pessimistic views of the lady with the second sight, nor
did my soldier friend, and we both tried to reassure our
hostess. But she, poor lady, declared there was something uncanny about her Cassandra-like guest, and feared
the worst. On arrival at the boat-house we were, therefore, considerably cheered by the sight of the butler, propelling a water-logged boat against wind and stream, in
our direction, with the terrier doing look-out man in the
bows. Nor was it long before he got into dry clothes,
produced the keys, and furnished us with enough port
to adequately drink to his return from the grave.
These, my honest scholar, are some observations told to you as
they now come suddenly into my memory, of which you may make
some use.
Izaak  Walton.
Sea Fishing.
One has often heard tell there are fish in the sea
Quite as good as the fish that are out,
Which I always believed till July the 16th,
But now it's an axiom I doubt.
For I caught such a beauty one day at Bexhill—
I picked her right up in my arms—
That you'll never convince me another exists
That can equal her exquisite charms. CHAPTER XIV
" Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea."
" Why as men do a'land : the great ones eat up the little ones."
The Bosun's peal—Crimping it—His accident—Old Tom Shea
—Good days and bad—Smiler's fish—The Quarry pool—Garrett
Fitzgerald—Grand sport—The eels in the mud—Jack Douane—
Memory—Somnambulism—Mice—Bull-dogs—Starlings — Salmon
and blasting—Disturbing fish.
The opening season of the Cachalot Club, when " The
Bosun " was the only member, all the rest of us being
honorary members, was a good fishing year, but he himself had but an indifferent time of it. To begin with, he
was sent off to Spike Island on detachment, too far from
the river for an odd day's fishing. After missing the first
two months in this annoying manner, he managed to get
over a few times, but invariably had the misfortune to
turn up on days when the fish were not taking, or he
would arrive on the bank only to find his man had forgotten to put in his reel, or that somehow a wrong top
had crept into the rod bag, and would either not go in
or else wobbled feebly about, presenting a most uninterested, half-drunken appearance. One day, having
seen to everything himself, he would arrive with flies,
only to find the fish were feeding on shrimps: the next
he would leave his flies behind only to find them lepping
all over the river. Never did anyone have such a series
of misfortunes. But everything comes to him who waits,
and one morning on my arrival at the cottage I was struck
dumb on seeing in the larder a peal, or, rather, what had
evidently once been a peal. As it was, it resembled a
Bulgarian atrocity, being carved into some fifteen or
twenty thin slices, down to the backbone. " The
Bosun " was still dressing when I went up to his room,
but in his brightest and best mood. " Well, old chap,
what do you think of that ? Nice fish, isn't it ? Gave me
tremendous sport to land, I can tell you. I'm all right
now: got the knack of it, and am certain I'll get any
amount of others.'' I asked him what the mangling was
for. " Mangling? " he shouted. " Why, my boy,
don't you know that you should always do that to a fish:
it's called ' crimping,' and makes the flavour infinitely
better."     Dear old chap.
But his bad luck was not over yet. For before getting
another fish he fell whilst getting over a low stone wall,
broke two ribs, and spent the remainder of the season in
bed in the cottage. So his father came down to keep him
company, and do a bit of fishing as well, and we had some
good sport together.
Personally, I had begun with two blank days, but on
the third got three fish, iolbs., io^lbs., and 151DS., which
poor I Old Tom," " The Bosun's " old keeper, insisted
on carrying home himself, flatly refusing to allow me to
help, though his summers counted well over eighty.
Dear old man: keenest of the keen: peace to his memory.
One day to my astonishment I saw he was in tears as he
sat on the bank behind me. " Why, Tom," I asked,
" what troubles you? " " Well," he said, " they do
be burying my sister to-day." Horrified, and knowing
the importance Irish people attach to funerals, I asked
him why he had not told me and attended it. " Well,
sir, I was thinking of it, and then I was thinking that it
could do no good to her, and maybe I might be some
good to you, and I thought I would feel better being out
with your honour." Like all Irishmen, Tom was ever
desirous of giving the answer he thought would please.
Walking home together one evening, I was accosted by
a seedy-looking individual who requested alms. " Will
I give him sixpence, Tom? What sort of a man is he?"
I asked. " Oh! he's an honest poor man," he answered,
and the honest poor fellow got his sixpence accordingly.
About a hundred yards further on I said: " Tom, that
was a desperate-looking fellow I gave the sixpence to:
he's a bad hat, isn't he? " " Oh, he is that, your
honour: he's a damned old rogue." Ever ready to
oblige was " Old Tom."
Another day " Tom " and I got four peal, and finished
the day in triumph with a 19 pounder in as heavy a shower
of rain as I can remember in the British Isles. Luckily,
the wind was behind me, but the huge drops tore up the
surface of the stream till it seemed as though " lashed
from the foam of ages," while my taut line dived into it
under the arch of a miniature rainbow.
Fired by these captures, a brother officer and his wife,
together with a very long subaltern, alTflesirous of seeing
a salmon killed, accompanied me on my next expedition,
the only result up to tea-time being that the long-legged
Dougall, fishing for trout, hooked, and very nearly
landed, a salmon. As my friend was making tea for us
by the side of a rocky pool, which often made up for a
blank day, I got a small 8 pounder: this would have
been scarcely worthy of mention were it not that in
stepping back to the bank (I had been wading) I slipped
and sat down gracefully in some two feet of water.
Luckily it was July, and I got a couple of peal on the
way home, and she got stacks of wild flowers, so everyone
enjoyed our day's outing.
At the end of the month two other brother officers came
over with me, " Smiler " and " E. Haugh." After
mounting flies and starting them off, I followed, and was
at once fast in a lively peal. A small bush grew between
me and " Smiler," but, on turning to call his attention to
the fish, my astonishment was only exceeded by my T78      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
amusement when I saw that he was under the impression
that it was rising to him, and that he was casting over it
repeatedly in a high state of excitement each time it came
to the surface, which lack o*f attention on my part
doubtless lost me the fish, as the hook soon came
There followed prolonged spells of musketry and
manoeuvres, and it was not till late in September that
any more fishing was to be had. Then came the poor
" Bosun's " accident and a request that I would come
and take his father out fishing. On the day of my arrival
the old gentleman won a shilling from me. Finding him
on the bank, sore from fruitless castings, he bet me a
shilling that I would not catch a fish: at my very first cast
I got a fine pull, and most clumsily left the hook in him,
either from striking too hard or from the gut being rotten.
That was the day before my discovery of the Quarry
Immediately above our fishing was a small weir, above
which lay a deep still stretch of water about 150 yards
long. Herein fish after fish threw themselves out of the
water in the most tantalising fashion. A venerable
looking old man stood watching me, and on enquiry
proved to be the owner of the field. He said I might fish
in it if I cared to, but rather damped my ardour by saying
there had not been a fish killed in it for thirty years, but
was as pleased as I was when an eleven pounder came
along within thirty minutes. Thus opened a friendship
that has steadily ripened ever since, and thus was
acquired a pool which not only suited my contemplative,
make-a-friend-of-the-fish methods, but also turned out the
most productive of all our mile of water.
The following morning I went out alone, as it was
raining heavily and the Colonel was subject to rheumatism. In the new pool a fish came at once, and then went
even quicker, as with one fierce mahseer-like rush, he tore
off some sixty yards of line, after which he settled down
about ten yards above the weir and gave way to a fit of   FISHING AND PHILANDERING       179
sulks, combining the reserved dignity of a Red Indian
with the mystery of a submarine. Apparently refreshed
by his rest, he next showed signs of an intention to go
down the river, where there was no chance of following
him, as a small tree, too high to pass the rod over, effectually barred the way. At this moment I discovered a
silent watcher at my elbow: dressed as a postman, he
stood within a yard of me engrossed in the battle. Thinking I was into a 40-pounder at last, I handed him my
watch and chain. " What for? " he asked. " You
don't mean to say you're going to try and follow him."
" I most assuredly am," was my reply. " If that fish
goes down, I'm going too." " Hold on for three
minutes for any sake," he answered and doubled away to
a cottage, whence he shortly returned breathless with a
saw. Then commenced an epic: the postman sawed like
grim death: the fish fought for his life: inch by inch he fell
back to the rush of water over the weir: and I for my part
held on as I never held on to a fish before. Which would
give first it was impossible to say. " He's going," I
cried at last as the salmon turned, and availing himself
of the heavy current, went off as though my 16ft. green-
heart had been a lady's riding-whip: in another second
I should have followed into the water, when in the very
act of doing so a crack like a pistol-shot proclaimed the
fall of the tree, and then, in military parlance, we all
" broke into double time." Other bushes there were to
be overcome, but by this time my servant had " joined
the glad throng," and by combining forces with the postman, pulled their tops down till they just, just enabled
me to pass the rod over. Two stone walls and a blackthorn hedge were negotiated in a manner which would
have done credit to a competitor for the Conyngham
Cup, but a trip in a drain proved disastrous to the
favourite, and put me into the river up to my waist. No
sooner in than out and away again as madly as before.
An elder bush had to be pulled up by the roots by my
rapidly-swelling cortege, and that brought us to the
Rubicon, a long bridge, half a mile from where the fish 180      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
had been hooked. No ordinary bridge either, but one of
some dozen arches, every one of them, except the far one,
with a wire stretched across it festooned with weeds, and
down the far one, selected by the fish, some six feet of
rushing black water. He got within ten yards of salvation, and then something induced him to turn and have
another sulk. But by now I had been in him just one
hour, and by sheer force pulled him over to my side,
when that noble-minded postman rushed into three feet
of water, took a fleeting chance with the gaff, and triumphantly bore him into the field. And was he a 40
pounder? No. Was he 30? No. Was he 20? No:
he was 18, but instead of being in his mouth, the hook
had been in his pectoral fin all the time, which, of course,
accounted for his prolonged resistance. But it was the
finest bout I ever had with a salmon, and when the postman went off he altogether forgot to return me my gold
watch. But it could not have been safer in the Bank of
England, for that day commenced a friendship which
has never known a cloud in all these years. Oh! excellent Garrett; easily could I fill a book with you and your
anecdotes and sayings: your scorn for bunglers and your
admiration for artists: your knowledge of the river and
your love for the " small little lemon grey " now, fickle
that thou art, turned to passionate attachment to the little
red shrimps from Galway. Once I was playing a fish,
and a brother officer looking on said: " By Jove! he's a
twenty-pounder, isn't he? " To whom Garrett wither-
ingly replied: " We'll discuss his qualifications when we
have him on the bank." On another occasion he was
fishing with my wife, and I came on them from behind
sitting silent side by side gazing into the river. "You're
very quiet, you two," I ventured to remark. " Yes;
we're just cogitating—like the eels in the mud," was his
astonishing simile.
Oh! those Irish similes: if one could but remember
them all or even a quarter of them. There was that
prince of fishermen, Jack Douane, of Fermoy.    I asked FISHING AND PHILANDERING
him to get me some worms to go salmon fishing. On
going down to the stable yard over which he presided to
get them, he turned them out for my inspection, as miserable a lot of gudgeon bait as ever I saw. " Why,
Jack," said I, " what's the use of these wretched
microbes; they're no use." " No use? " he exclaimed
in a most aggrieved tone, as though I had asked him to
lend me a shilling. " No use? I declare to goodness
if ye don't get behind a bush when you're puttin' them
on, the trout'11 lep out and ate ye."
On the day after the battle of Roskeen Bridge an incident occurred which has powerfully affected my angling
ever since. Certain things have occurred in my life
bordering so closely on the incredible that were it not
for there being witnesses to verify them, I should perforce have to cease from narrating them, and that would
be a pity since they are true. I tell them here, however,
with a sense of complete confidence, since no one will
have read so far unless he or she is an angler, and since
all the rest of mankind and womankind have conspired
for some occult reason to call us fishers liars, we must
necessarily club together all the more closely and believe
each other's stories. For instance I can distinctly remember—I can see it now—a scene that occurred long
before I had completed my second year. That it was an
impressive scene goes without saying: that people say I
only remember it from hearing it so often described also
goes without saying. But as I have described actors and
" mise-en-scene " with sufficient accuracy to convince
my father, and as it is a fact that I remember seeing it, no
more need be said as to my contention. My father and
mother were walking in their garden in India, the latter
carrying me in her arms, when a native soldier with a
grievance came up and fired two shots at them with a
rifle. He missed and hurriedly left, and of this part I
know nothing. My parents went indoors, my father into
one room to write a report, my mother with me into
another, the rooms communicating by folding doors. My
mother put me on a piano and put her head down on her 182       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
arms, overcome by the shock. Suddenly she raised her
head. Advancing on tip-toe across the room came the
murderer, this time with a drawn sword. My mother's
scream brought my father in only just in the nick of time
to seize the man's wrist as he was in the act of making
his blow: my mother rushed round, and, seizing him by
his long black hair, pulled his head back. One of the
Guard—my father commanded the station—rushed in,
and seeing his beloved sahib and mem-sahib struggling
with a native, cut him down, the blow almost severing
his arm, cutting deep through the collar-bone. The
man was mad, of course, and suffered the extreme
penalty of the law as there applied. Now that scene I
can still see.
Again, I used to be a sleep-walker. Once, when fishing in the Himalayas, I came out of my tent in the dead of
night, jumped into the river, and was swimming, twenty
yards from the bank, when I woke up. My first feeling
was what a cold night it was: then I saw the moon: how
can I see it so clearly through my tent I thought?: then
I found myself swimming and wide awake. The stream
as near as a toucher carried me down a rapid: indeed,
nothing saved me but the fact that I drifted on to a rock:
even then I should probably have been drowned, for,
though I had swum slantingdicularly towards the bank,
I was still some yards from it, and the current that flowed
between was much too strong to wade or swim in. But
the coolies who accompanied me had been awakened by
my old butler's cries, and, though none of them could
swim, most gallantly made a chain, and, holding one
to another, managed to wade across and pull me into
safety. Yet have I had a narrower escape from drowning than that. On going out to the South African war,
my party was transhipped at Cape Town to a ship called
the " Ranee," employed in the Indian trade. On her
we were to journey to Port Elizabeth. The night before
we reached our destination I dreamt that the ship was
turning turtle.    So vivid was the impression that I pulled FISHING AND PHILANDERING       183
myself together as I sprang up in my bunk. Too late
to try and escape by way of the saloon, I felt convinced
my only chance was to go out through the port-hole, expecting to emerge on to the side of the ship as she turned
over. And through the port-hole I went, head first. I
should have been swimming now but for the fact that the
coolies, it being a calm night, to save themselves trouble
the next morning, had let down the ladder sort of arrangement one descends from a ship by, so that, instead of
being parallel with the deck over my cabin, it was now
at an angle of forty-five degrees below it. On to this I
fell, hitting my head and spraining my wrist, but instinctively clinging on. There the officer of the watch, hearing the thud, found me, and I think it will be admitted that
was a close shave. Another swimming incident. Quartered under canvas at Browndown about the year 1895,
it was our daily delight to bike down to bathe in the
Solent. One day five of us went down—V., a fine
swimmer, " The Blighter " and " Dibs," indifferent
exponents, " The Little Man," an inveterate sinker to
the bottom, and myself. The weather was glorious, the
sea warm and calm. We four swimmers struck boldly
out, V. and I leading, while "The Little Man" paddled
about ingloriously and unabashed "in statu naturalibus."
On we went, delighting in the conditions, " The
Blighter " and " Dibs " falling further and further
astern, neither with the moral courage to turn back first.
At last they called out they were tired and going back,
whereupon V. and I turned and swam back leisurely
behind them. We were all taken some way down towards
Alverstoke by the tide, " The Little Man," like an old
hen with a brood of ducklings, in mortal agony running
along the shore. " Dibs " was out first, when, though
puffing like a grampus, he denied altogether having had
too much. " The Blighter " came next. " Weren't
you nearly drowned? " asked the old hen. " I was,"
said " The Blighter," " as near as a toucher, and what's
more, I got cramp and sang out to ' Dibs,' but all he did C~l
was to strike out more vigorously than ever, saying,
' Then God help you; I can't.'
Then there were my mice. It occurred to me to see if
I could tame the wild mice that inhabited my quarters at
Aldershot. Night by night they were induced by crumbs
of cake to come nearer and nearer, till at last they would
climb up my legs, feed out of my hands, and perform a
variety of tricks. This was too much for my young companions to swallow, so I used to hold receptions. The
sound of our voices talking did not interrupt the show as
long as everyone kept perfectly still, but the slightest
move sent every one of my little pets scuttling off to their
On another occasion I have seen, and so have several
others, my old bulldog eating his dinner out of a plate
.in the yard, contentedly permitting four or five full-grown
rats to share it with him.
One of the prettiest sights imaginable was an old starling playing with her young ones on my lawn last
summer. And no doubt there are thousands of other
things to be seen if people would only keep their eyes
This is rather a long preamble to my fishing story, but
it is necessary to pave the way a bit before recounting it.
Watching the river one sultry summer's day, it occurred
to me that the reason fish refused to take in such weather
might be because they were all half asleep like myself,
and that possibly a brick-bat or two in their midst might
make them sit up and take notice. This theory I ventilated in the " Field," incurring the usual derision that
invariably greets any novelty of ideas.
On the day in question the Colonel and I started fishing
in the Quarry Pool. For a quarter of an hour we fished
most carefully, but then we had to stop, for a workman
came to tell us they were about to explode a charge of
dynamite in the quarry. Watching the blue smoke curling away from the fuse, I found myself wondering what
the fish would think of the concussion, and remembered FISHING AND PHILANDERING       185
my own remarks on stirring them up. Now whether the
workmen had put in an extra charge for our benefit I do
not know, but the explosion seemed a mighty one as the
huge rocks, riven from their hold, rose slowly into the
air only to descend again into the field with a mighty thud.
One block, at least twice the size of a man's head, fell
with a thundering splash into the very middle of the river
not forty yards from where we had been fishing. ) * Now
is the time," quoth the Colonel, " to prove your precious
theory." The ripples caused by this bolt from the blue
had barely subsided as I made my next cast, and felt a
pull at the shrimp. In another cast or two he came again,
and I killed a fifteen pounder.    Verbum sap.
Shortly after this account appeared in the " Field,"
the late Mr. Earl Hodgson published his beautiful book
on salmon fishing. On page 101 he recounts his impressions on the subject. Admitting that when he first read
it he had allowed a tinge of scepticism to obscure his
vision, he goes on to say that to his great surprise he
discovered almost at the same time in an old book on
salmon fishing a description of an experienced and successful fisherman who at times adopted the very same
method: that is to say, he advocated stoning a pool when
the fish refused to take. Mr. Hodgson drew various
other deductions from the incident all tending to explain
what had previously seemed to him anomalies and contradictions. For my own part, I have since proved on
more than one occasion, to more than one angler, that
it is an undoubted fact that disturbances in the water
may under certain circumstances prove beneficial rather
than detrimental to sport.
The practical part, it is that that makes an angler : it is diligence, and observation, and practice, and an ambition to be the
best in the art, that must do it.
On the Glass (after Adam Lindsay Gordon).
I said to my host, Robert Jardine,
At the pool where the Glass river bends,
I What is life without baccy and fishing,
And one or two nice little friends?"
He replied, with his mouth full of sandwich,
(' There is just one thing more I could wish ";
Then paused for a pull at his whiskey,
That this river was fuller of fish."
The waters fall and flow
By fragrant banks, and still below
The great three pounders rise and take
The palmer, alder, dun, or drake.
Now by that stream, if there you be,
I prithee keep a place for me.
John Buchan.
Ambition—A big pike—Difficulty of bait fishing—Col. Cane's experience^—The shrimp in high water—Billy's fight with a salmon—
Hooked fish disturbing others—A great day—Novice's luck—
Another great day—The Colonel changes his name.
Everyone wants to kill a bigger fish than the next man,
or shoot a heavier stag, or make more runs at cricket,
or buy a bigger motor-car, or win more battles, or make
more speeches, or something: in some way or another
every man has some sort of ambition: yes, he has : because if he hasn't he's no man : so you see you are wrong.
Fishing ambition generally runs to size rather than
numbers : it is probably natural that it should : yet size
in itself is, after all, a purely relative matter: if an
elephant seems so huge to us what must we seem to a
flea: no wonder they hop. And elusive as the volatile
insect just alluded to above is the genuine, Caesar's wife
sort of 4olb. pike. This is the standard weight set up
as just outside the limit, and the man who kills on rod
and line in fair fight, and afterwards weighs in the
presence of creditable witnesses, a pike of 4olbs., will
be as famous amongst fishermen as the man who catches
a 7olb. salmon or a 3olb. trout in the British Isles.
Once there appeared in the pages of the " Irish Times "
a brief statement that two pike, one of 42ibs., and one of
481bs., had been captured in Lough Corrib. On hearing that the heads of these fish were in the possession of
Mr. Milne, the manager of the Galway fishery, with
whom I was acquainted, a practical fisherman to be relied
upon, I wrote to him: here is his reply.
" There is no doubt as to the weight of the 481b. pike.
It was caught by Edward McDonagh, of Portaragh,
near Moycullen, with a gaff, in one of the inlets of Lough
Corrib. It was a female and nearly spent; had it been
caught before it spawned it would have been nearer
6olbs. than 481bs. I have the head in my possession.
. . . The 48-pounder was weighed by John McDonagh
with scales borrowed from a shop, and witnessed by
John Melia and others. I know the man who caught it
intimately, and he says : ' Ah! sure, it is nothing to the
one that is there yet: he has a head as big as a basket
and a body as long as my boat.' I herewith enclose
Later on Mr. Milne very kindly sent me the heads,
but they were so very—well, ripe, when they arrived,
that after measuring them, with a brother officer, I
hastily sent them off to a naturalist in Dublin, whose
remarks in reply were most cutting. Anyway I give
such measurements as I took.
From angle of mouth, round bone, to centre of jaw,
From angle to angle of jaw, over head, 8^in.
From re-entering angle in top of head bone to point
of jaw, 9^in.
From gill cover to point of jaw round bone, 13m.
From inside edge of eye to inside edge of eye, 2^in.
From angle to angle of mouth, i.e., clear inside
measurement of breadth of jaw, 7^in.
The teeth were very large, old, yellow and decayed.
Oh! those monsters that are lost. Old Nicholas Brown
and his story of the one he was afraid to take into the
boat, and his eel " with a mane like a harse," sink into
insignificance in comparison with the pike they still
speak of with bated breath on Lough Derg. Nor, since
the human race from time to time produces its giants,
do I for my part see why some enormous fish should
not occasionally lurk hidden in those deep Irish lakes.
Once upon a time an article appeared in the " Field,"
written by some fly purist, alluding to an exponent of
any other form of the art as " a bait-fishing snatcher,"
and I see that whatever fish he rose or failed to rise he
got a fine rise out of me, as I replied at some length in
an article entitled " J Fly only' and other methods."
Yet even in writing it I claimed to be in no controversial
mood, and am still less sanow, but based my reply on
what seemed to me the different degrees of difficulty of
various sorts of fishing. Very likely that sportsman
did not intend to be abusive : perhaps he only intended
it as chaff, but chaff can be as different as chalk from
cheese. " I may chance have some quirks and
remnants of wit broken on me," but whereas some break
it so gently that the fracture is pleasing, others rub in
one's little failings till everything is raw. For instance,
only yesterday a friend, after various remarks of an
extremely personal character regarding the shape of
my figure and my fondness for No. 1 Burton, went on
to say that my head would soon cease to resemble even
a turnip, as that vulgar vegetable at all events had
something growing on it. Later on another friend,
equally impertinently personal, remarked that my brow
grew more intellectual and my person more majestic
daily, and that a three-cornered hat alone was wanting
to complete my resemblance to the Emperor Napoleon
1 st. Well, one rubbed me up against the nap, the other
smoothed me down with it. Both were equally blameworthy, yet one made me growl while the other made
me purr. So with these " fly purists." Can the matter
not be discussed amicably ?    The only reason I mention i9o      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
it here is because I put fishing in the following order,
beginning with the easiest: i, Harling; 2, Fly-fishing;
3, Spinning; 4, Prawn-fishing; 5, Worm-fishing. My
article produced a letter from a great authority, which
I quote here to show wherein he differed from me, though
I admit that it may have risen one or two of the " Fly
only " order of the brotherhood.
I Sir,
" I agree entirely with what Major Mainwaring
has said on this subject, except that I consider the prawn
the most difficult of all lures to use really well. I think
it is obvious that the best fisherman is the man who can
adapt his methods to the varying conditions of weather,
water, and the mood of the fish, instead of having to put
up his rod and go home when, as is often the case on
most waters, the fly is perfectly useless. Indeed, a man
may be a champion fly caster and hardly worthy of being
called a fisherman at all, and I have known many such.
After a tolerably long trial, since I live on the banks
of a salmon river and have been fishing ever since I
was big enough to wield a rod, nearly forty years ago,
my experience is that some of those who decry bait-
fishing are those who are incapable of practising it. We
all prefer fly-fishing for obvious reasons of cleanliness
and simplicity: but to stick to it invariably through
thick and thin would mean on many waters exceedingly
few fish. To quote my own home water, since the
middle of April I have killed fifteen fish, ten with spinning-baits—either gudgeon, roach, or dace—four with
worms, and only one with fly, though the latter method
has been given every chance. Am I a poacher or worse
because I have killed these other fourteen? Some
writers seem to assume that we bait-fishers only use
baits to thinly veil snatching or stroke-hauling, which
only shows their ignorance of the subject. Let them try
in an ordinary stream with a heavily enough leaded bait
to give them the smallest chance of success at this game,
and I venture to say they will catch many more rocks FISHING AND PHILANDERING      191
than salmon, and they will not like their tackle-maker's
bill when it comes to paying. It is all very well for
millionaires who can afford to rent first-class fly waters
like those on Tweed to be fly purists, but for us ordinary
mortals, who, I venture to say, are just as good sportsmen, and probably from force of circumstance better
fishermen, as I understand the term, it is entirely a
different matter. Besides, after all, is not a fly, artificial
monstrosity though it is, really a \ bait,' just as much as
any other lure which we try to persuade the fish to take
into his mouth, the only difference being that it swims
on or near the surface instead of in mid-water or near
the bottom?
(Signed)      " R. Claude Cane."
A plain spoken man is the Colonel.
A very general opinion prevails that the shrimp is only
a low water bait, but such has not been my experience.
One year " Billy" was elected a member of the
I Cachalots " and, having sold his horses well and being
in generous mood, rented an extra stretch of water for
three or four pounds to give us a bit more elbow-room.
He was the fly fisherman of the confederacy—I say
I was " because now he is an ardent shrimper—and
opened the season with a couple of fish on I the small
little lemon-grey." After this some days passed, and
by the time we could get away from barracks again a big
flood came down the river. It was pouring away by the
time we started, and a glance at it out of the train made
us hope to find it fishable. But alas! on arrival at the
station we met the one-armed keeper, but for all his one
arm a better fisherman than most men of my acquaintance with two. To see him tie a fly or mount a bait with
his one hand while he held the hook in position with the
hook at the end of his other arm, put our clumsy efforts
to shame. He told us he had just been down to the
river, which was far too high and very dark in colour.
The only chance, he said, was a very big fly; but as for
me and my shrimp, why I might as well return to Fermoy 192      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
and have a cast on the barrack square. However, there
we were, with three days' leave, we had come to fish and
we intended to fish for all his evil prognostications. I
began with a shrimp out of sheer obstinacy, and at once
landed a trout of fib. If a trout could see it why should
not a salmon? True the water was very high and very
dark, but it was a clear peaty darkness, and I longed to
kill a fish with a shrimp just to show what the little
fellow could do, no matter what the water was like.
And sure enough in the same pool, a few minutes later,
I was into one. " Billy " arrived breathless, after a 300
yards' run in waders, just as I gaffed a bright nine-
pounder. But all day long heavy showers in the distant
hills were keeping the water up, and it was with anxious
hearts that we fixed a mark in the river before turning in.
Next morning it was as high as ever. I commenced by
hooking a fish and losing him in a dark still pool, and
almost immediately afterwards lost another. Five
yards lower down another fastened and, as it was impossible to follow him, I had an anxious twenty minutes
before a friend who was trout-fishing put the gaff into a
nineteen-pounder, which had been some time in the
river. " Billy" then borrowed a few shrimps in a
shame-faced sort of way, and has never gone fishing
without them since. On the last day of our leave the
same climatic conditions prevailed—heavy showers and
dark, high water. In the same still pool—it was the
Quarry pool—in which I had hooked the fish the day
before I got hold of a beauty. Twice he ran across to
the other side and tried to climb out on the opposite
bank, and once, after a fifty yards' sprint, threw himself,
a glittering silver crescent, clear out of the water.
Though there were a good many men looking on, none
would take the responsibility of gaffing him, so I had to
do it myself, a fresh-run fish of 22lbs., shaped like a fat
Then, while we were waiting for the trap at the bottom
of our fishing, with almost the last cast of the day, I got
a noble pull and hooked a game fish.    His gameness
soon exhausted him, and " Billy," making a splendid
shot with the gaff, threw him out, silver-bright, on to"
the sloping bank. But even as he did so he himself
slipped in: into about 4ft. of water. As he scrambled
out he met the salmon scrambling in, each in desperate
haste to return to his own element. A tremendous combat in the " catch-as-catch-can " style then ensued : now
the fish was under " Billy," and he tried to shovel it up
the bank with his hands : now it slipped from under him
and he grappled at its head, its tail—anywhere. Powerless to intervene, shaking with laughter, I could only
watch the Homeric contest in awe-struck silence. But
at last the slippery customer proved too much for my
friend, and, with a farewell flourish of a broad tail, disappeared into the depths between " Billy's" legs.
Never shall I forget the agonised face of sorrow he
turned to me; never, I regret to say, shall I forget the
language he used. Slowly he disengaged the line from
about his legs, and then from a blackberry bush, when
suddenly I saw his face change. Grasping the line with
determination in his mien, he shouted to me, " He's still
on! Look out I tell you! He's on, man." | Then
for goodness sake let go the line," I shouted, and, marvel of marvels, the fish was still firmly on right enough.
But in a couple of minutes more the hold gave and the
hook came away. I was really not so very sorry—not
half so sorry as " Billy." I was very sorry he was so
wet, but, as long as that fish got over the wound from the
gaff, I cannot grudge him his escape. He will never
have a closer one.
Having eased my mind of the theory as to the benefits
to be derived from rousing fish to a sense of their duty
by stoning them, there is another form of disturbing
them that I want to dispose of. How often one reads
of people who, having hooked a fish, have proceeded to
pull him away from the pool in order not to disturb
others. Twice in one expedition this theory received
such a severe shock that as far as I am concerned it
ceases to be a theory at all, and I believe the spectacle
of a hooked fish and its antics to be beneficial rather than
prejudicial to sport under certain circumstances.
The expedition consisted largely of crocks: that is to
say two-thirds of it were crocks: two of us had lately
emerged from the convalescent home for officers at
Osborne, the generous and deeply-appreciated gift of
His Majesty the late King Edward VII. The third
was my friend " R," who had fished with me in the
" Cachalot" waters before, and with considerable success. My invalid friend " L " suffered from palpitations of the heart or some similar disease and had to be
pretty careful what he did, so he decided to stick to
trout fishing, as he seemed to think it was no time for
the excitement of a first salmon. From the depths of
our respective bath-chairs at Osborne we had talked a
lot of fishing, and I had spoken somewhat disrespectfully of the " Cachalot Club " waters as " a couple of
holes and some trickles," which had for some reason
rung in " L's " ears and made him disbelieve the salmon
part of the sport altogether.
On the morning after our arrival " R " began in one
of the " trickles," and I set to work in my favourite
" hole," " L " contenting himself with watching me while
he put up his trout-rod. Time n a.m. At 1.15 p.m.
I R " came tramping up in his waders for lunch. We
asked him whether he had got anything. " No: but
there are fish in the river, which is something: I've seen
a couple of good ones. Have you got any? " " Yes :
I've got a few," I answered modestly enough: I had
been thinking for the last hour over the composition of
that answer to the question he would so surely put. " A
few! What the deuce do you mean by a few ? " he
fairly bellowed with surprise. Hnable to wait longer,
Garrett picked up my Burberry " Slip-on," and there
lay revealed to his astounded eyes four spring salmon,
bright as mint shillings, 10J, io|, u-J, and 14 pounds
in weight. Now the point of this story is neither to
boast unduly nor to dilate profusely on the merits of this
or that particular lure, but to combat a theory.    Ninety-
nine anglers out of every hundred maintain that when
playing a fish it is advisable to coax and wheedle it away
from other fish, lest Their Serene Highnesses should
perchance be disturbed, and their appetite or curiosity
thereby be diminished. This may be right. Who can
say? But if those who say that the salmon sometimes
takes our bait in rage are justified, then may not his rage,
not to mention his curiosity, be increased by the eccentric behaviour of his brother, sister, wife, or cousin?
Who shall say? One can only produce facts and leave
the arguments to abler pens.    The facts were as follows.
The pool in which these four fish were killed is some
120 to 150 yards long, 30 broad, and about 10ft. deep.
The fish, however, lay along a strip not more than forty
yards long, and fairly close in under the bank. There
is a barely perceptible current through it. Until I
started fishing in it no one had attempted it for thirty
years. It is of course our old friend the Quarry. The
first fish took the first shrimp. For ten minutes or so it
dashed about in the usual conventional manner, and was
gaffed in the only place where it was possible to get down
to the water, which had certainly been, from a fisherman's
point of view, disturbed. Starting with another shrimp
at the place of gaffing I was into fish No. 2 at the first
cast. Now what price a playing fish frightening others ?
What about the fish we see following a hooked fish?
The third shrimp produced a third fish in exacdy the
same place, all three being on the bank in less than fifty
minutes from the time of our arrival. The fourth did
not take for nearly an hour. After lunch we got two
more, " R," at my urgent solicitation, discarding his fly,
getting one of them.
This was too much for | L," who had never killed a
salmon, so next morning, fitted out with a double-handed
14ft. trout-rod of mine, he made his first essay and killed
a small fish of 61bs. I got a 7-pounder, and " R " lost
two fish in one of the streams. On the third day 1 R "
killed a small fish and lost six others in some water
below ours, very hospitably placed at our disposal for a ^^"
day or two. " What have you fellows done ? " he enquired when we met in the evening. " Oh! we've got
a good many," we answered—another form of reply
which we had carefully thought out on the way home.
" A good many ! " he roared. " How many ? " " Half-
a-dozen," we exclaimed together. What a bag it might
have been but for " R's " lost fish. " L," the novice,
had begun with an 1 impounder in our bottom pool, a
deep swirling maelstrom in miniature. While playing
it his reel came off, and when I arrived to his assistance
he had the rod in one hand and the reel in the other.
I took the reel from him and for some time we mutually
played the fish, until I managed to fix it on again.
Walking up stream we arrived at a spot where we had
seen a fish show under a bush the clay before. And
here I would caution my friends how they cut down the
bushes on the banks. True they very often get sadly in
the way, but I am very sure that if they are ruthlessly
cut down the fish shift away to other spots. I told " L "
to try him (yet there have been people who have accused
me of selfishness), pointing out where he should stand,
and he had him first cast: the same weight as the first.
Two fish to my none, and, in spite of my anxiety for his
sport, I must confess it gave me furiously to think. In
the Quarry pool I got a 16-pounder, and he immediately
afterwards another of 910s.. Three to my one, and him
a novice. However, on the way down in the evening I
got level with a couple of fish of 7 and 10Jibs.
On the fourth day I fished my neighbour's water, the
only incident being that a cow ate a good bit of my
" Slip-on " when I wasn't looking. On walking up to
the Club water I met " R," who had one fish. He sat
on the bank watching me, and when I hooked and lost a
fish, offered me a lot of gratuitous and extremely sarcastic advice anent the way to play fish, which proved so
valuable that half-an-hour later he very kindly gaffed a
10-pounder for me. It was then late, but we had a try
in the bottom pool, when he got a peal and I got a 14-
pounder, which played like a sea-trout, leaping four FISHING AND PHILANDERING       197
times clear out of the water at the end of fifty yards of
After this our sport fell off with the improvement in
the weather. We continued to get a fish or two daily,
one a 20-pounder, but they proved very hard to
tempt. I The tender nibblers would not touch the bait."
" L's " fifth fish was a 24-pounder, larger than anything
I had ever killed, and only exceeded in the Club waters
by a 24|-pounder caught by " Jonathan " on a " Devon,"
and a 27-pounder killed by Garrett.
Then " L " had to leave us, and " R " and I went
down to some hotel water for a couple of days before he
had to return to England. On the first day we got a
couple of fish, and spent the second with my good
friends Col. and Mrs. " S." on their water. In their
hall reposed two magnificent salmon of 44^1bs. and
46JIDS., both of which they had killed in their own pools,
causing our hopes to rise indeed as all four of us made
our way to the river. We did not catch anything, and
§ R " unfortunately lost the handle of his gaff, but we
learnt a new form of jam-tart for luncheon, a new place
for home-spun, and a new method of getting out an
extra yard or two of line. They insisted on my trying
every fly in their books as well as every one in my own,
and I only used a shrimp for half-an-hour and without
result, the spot chosen being entirely unsuited to my
methods. The Colonel looked on for some time in
silence : then he spoke. " My dear fellow : really : well,
I have heard of the fish you kill and read your letters in
the " Field " : but do you mean to tell me honestly that
that is how you fish: all I can say is that down in this
part of the river it would be sheer waste of time. Not
one fish in a dozen sees your bait. We sometimes use a
prawn on a ' tackle' and occasionally get a fish on it,
but your way, well, to put it mildly "    " Don't put
it at all, Colonel," said I, 1 I'm sure to get a fish before
we reach the end of this pool." Unfortunately I
couldn't get a salmon to play up and prove me right,
and so ended the first lesson, leaving the Colonel one iq8      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
up.    But retribution sharp, sudden, and severe was very
close at hand.
This was to have been the end of the trip, and, were it
not for the fact that I recently read somewhere that
egotism was the outstanding feature of the character of
Napoleon Buonaparte, it would also be the end of the
recital; yet quite apart from my own share in it, the lesson
conveyed by what happened next day is so all-important
that I mean to detail it in full. To begin with, my
friend " R " went off by the morning mail, and I felt
sad and went away to pack my own rods and tackle.
That done I designed a game of croquet, as Mrs. " S "
had challenged me to play her at the Club that afternoon, and it seemed to me that I was short of practise.
But in the hall of the hotel I met the Admiral—now a
most honoured member of the Cachalot Club—who had
come over to try the hotel waters, and who wanted me
to go down and show him the river and the best pools.
I of course assented—when will my character be fully
appreciated—and took him down to the hole below the
killing hatches. There, to my surprise, were Col. and
Mrs. " S," sitting side by side on a bench glaring darkly
at the eddying waters. In order to fully convey my
moral, I must rub in the fact that this lady and gentleman
had lived on the banks of the river for some ten years,
and that they were accounted as good and as successful
anglers as any that ever wetted a line in it. They told
us they had fished half-a-dozen different flies, a regulation prawn as big as a small lobster, covered with a
" cheval-de-frise " of hooks, and a spoon which looked
like an animated looking-glass when Mrs. " S " gave it
a despairing swim. Only the evening before a dear old
gentleman had laid down the law in the hotel smoking-
room that after a spoon no fish would look at anything
else for a couple of hours. I had a few shrimps in my
pocket, left over from the day before, and urged my
friends to try them. " Bait the hook well: this fish will
bite." ("Much ado about nothing.") But no: their backs
were broken : not a fish would look at anything : let me FISHING AND PHILANDERING       199
take one of their rods and try myself if I liked. Within
three minutes the rod was bending and bowing its welcome to a 5lb. peal.    "Wonderful," said the Colonel:
" Marvellous," said his wife : and " good," said
the Admiral. ! Nothing would content them but that I
should try again, and in ten minutes a 13-pounder was
kicking on the grass. The Admiral and I then went
back to the hotel for lunch, after which I rejoined my
friends. The car that was to take us to croquet had not
turned up, but the Colonel had experienced some difficulty in threading the rather stale shrimps and would I
have another try? Before the car came I had two more
fish, of 7lbs. and 14IDS., and finished up with two games
of croquet.
The moral is twofold: the irresistible appeal, even
under the most unfavourable circumstances, of the small
shrimp, fished near the bottom, and the non-disturbance
of other fish by playing fish, for all four were caught
standing in one spot, with the same length of line let
down to the meeting of two currents. If the recollection
of these two points should ever serve to tighten a loose
'line the perpetual ego may be excused. I almost forgot the third lesson, which I preached for the edification
of my friends " R " and " L." A fish which followed
my bait utterly refused to take it. " I will put my hook
in thy nose," nevertheless thought I; so while we
munched our sandwiches my gillie flung in two or three
chunks of rock some twenty yards higher up. Ten
minutes afterwards that fish took and was taken. My
friend Colonel " S " was so impressed that he said he
should slightly alter his name and change it to Shrimp-
I envy not him that eats better meat than I do, nor him that is
richer, or that wears better clothes than I do: I envy nobody but
him, and him only, that catches more fish than I do.
A Blank Day.
Rumour says there are fish in the river to-day,
Which I see little reason to doubt:
What remains to be seen
Is quite different—I mean
Will those fishes consent to come out.
Whether rumour spoke truth or whether she lied
Is a problem unsolved it would seem :
But I'm ready to swear,
If they ever were there,
They're still in and not out of the stream. CHAPTER XVI
The wise find delight in water.
Slave!     I have set my life upon a cast.
Richard HI.
Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, down on the ploughed fields.
Marcus AureUus.
Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of
/. Kings, XVIII. 41.
The Bard of Athy—A visit to Jonathan—Age of spawning fish—
Fishermen's veracity—A dry season—Blank days—The Lochy—
The Deveron—The Avon—Salmon on trout tackle—A collision—A
lion—Tommy—His patience—His driving—His wife's jewellery—
A coincidence—The Curate's trout—That wonderful child.
Though yielding to no one in my admiration of Shakespeare and Bacon, I must confess to having been completely disinterested in the furious altercation as to
whether the former was the latter, or the latter was the
former, or whether the latter wrote the former or vice
versa until a few days ago, when the importance of the
discussion was brought vividly home to me in a very unpleasant manner. For my friend " The Bard of Athy "
tells me he intends to write no more, but to content himself in future in criticising my works. He gives as his
reason his fear lest posterity should attribute his work
to me, or rather mine to him, since all my endeavours to 202      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
make him publish his efforts have so far proved fruitless.
What the world will lose should he continue in this resolve is too dreadful to contemplate, and in order that at
least some of his poetry may see the light, I have included
some«of his verses among my own in this volume. As,
in my opinion, they are of equal merit, or at all events,
very nearly up to the standard of mine, I am prepared to present a handsome prize to such of my
readers as succeed in picking out the " Bard's " productions.
I have just returned from my annual visit to " Jonathan." In most respects I found him very much " in
statu quo " as regards fishing. A month in Norway has
left him colder than ever with regard to fishing with any
other bait than feathers, and what will happen to him
should the plumage bill become law I fear to guess. We
argued for hours and through many feet of glorious
tobacco on the question of whether salmon feed in fresh
water. We tried new rods in the passage. We discussed reels. He showed me his new shaped hooks,
straight below the barb, which he claims improve the
chances of firm hooking by 50 per cent. But, above
everything else, we talked of the new discoveries which
the application of the microscope to the scales of salmon
has brought to light.
One item anent these discoveries is less astonishing
than it would seem to be at first sight. The fact seems
proved that salmon do not invariably return to the rivers
to spawn at the same ages. Well, do men all get married
at the same age ? Then why is it so wonderful that some
salmon should remain bachelors so much longer than
others ? Yet there is one fact that seems generally overlooked—the great runs of grilse, or peal, as they are
called in Ireland. Does not this point to the fact that
the natural bent of salmon is to return within a year of
their first descent into the sea, and that the other cases
are the exception rather than the rule ?
At one of the annual dinners of the Fly Fishers' Club,
the President made a noble defence against some of the FISHING AND PHILANDERING      203
charges made against our craft. We who have so long
and so patiently borne " the slings and arrows of outrageous jibes " at the hands of our brothers who hunt
and shoot might, he said, comfort ourselves with the
soothing reflection that we were at least as truthful as
politicians or certain North Polar explorers. Here, at
least, was a standard, since Plato laid it down that no
politician was honest even in his day. It is true they
may have improved since: very few things are certain.
Swollen with pride and confidence from the President's
words, I determined to confute at least one of the base
charges most frequently brought against us by those poor
creatures who do not fish—that we tell not of the lean
years, delighting only to boast of those of the bursting
So I open my fishing diary that it may confirm the
record, carried only too clearly in my memory though it
is, of a terrible sequence of blank days. They began on
the Lochy, one of the best, as it is one of the most beautiful, of Scotch rivers. My host rented two beats, for
which he paid the nominal sum of £600 for two months—
a mere nothing. Over many a bottle of '63 Martinez had
he told me of the bags of former years. Never was visit
more eagerly anticipated. But, alas! and alas! towards
the end of May the skies waxed bluer and bluer, till in
June it seemed as if it could never rain again. Foolish
youths and maidens clad in flannel, armed with cricket
bats and tennis racquets, met me with fatuous smiles and
senseless comments on the ridiculous weather, insensible
to the awful omen conveyed by the fact that if we were
now confronted by the climate of Egypt, we might at any
moment be smitten by one of its plagues. Seven days I
fished with every imaginable device. Amongst other
lures, I had invested in a bran new boxful of special
Lochy flies, and was rewarded by seeing my rod bend
once—a mere passing nod—only to straighten again
immediately, as though ashamed of its momentary
weakness. That was the beginning. Worse was to
An outpouring of the above woes to " Jonathan 1
brought a soothing answer and an invitation to fish the
Deveron in October. He also added that two of his
sisters would be there: one of them—however. Then
and there I began my prayers for rain. Returning daily
throughout the autumn manoeuvres, soaked to the skin,
to a dripping tent, the very embodiment of Mr. Manta-
lini's immortal " body," I hugged myself in the delightful anticipation of dark, heavy water foaming and curling
and eddying down through " Sunnybraes " to " Moses'
Pot," and fell asleep, to dream of 40 pounders that refused to be packed in my biggest fishing bag. Enough.
But for the sisters there would have been little sweetness
in the uses of adversity on those eleven blank days.
Total forward, eighteen.
Early the following year, accompanied by another kind
friend and famous fisherman, I arrived on the banks of
the Hampshire Avon to fish the water which then belonged to Mr. J. Turner Turner. At last the water was
right, at all events, and as we lighted our after-breakfast
pipes and stepped gracefully forth, armed with our trusty
rods, hope sprang eternal, and no shadow of a doubt
about it. " That hope and patience which I wish to all
fishers." But it gradually sank lower and lower, till it
flickered out as I returned empty-bagged. We fished on
for two more days, but I did nothing. Three blank days.
Total forward, twenty-one. A day off from the hill to
try and break my luck in the North Esk made twenty-
two, and finished that year. The twenty-third was an
attempt to kill a salmon in the Avon before sailing for
India, but, as that river was then spread out over the
adjoining fields, that also proved abortive.
The exigencies of the roster brought me home in a
year's time to serve at the Depot, but the authorities
recognised the necessity of a little leave first, and " Jonathan "again called me to the Deveron. For eight days
did I both toil and spin, and during the latter part of the
performance once got hold of a fish by the tail, but soon
let go again.    True, I caught some trout, but nary a FISHING AND PHILANDERING       205
" saumon." But that was the end of it. Thirty-one
consecutive blank days. In the next sixteen I had sixty-
two fish, but this is a record of empty bags, not full
Then there is that nauseating accusation that the fish
we lose are always the biggest. But I can only think of
three occasions in a quarter of a century when I think the
fish lost was a really big fellow. But a brother officer
of mine had a totally different experience. He went
forth after trout, and did not return for mess. At 11 p.m.,
as he was still absent, I turned in and fell asleep, composing a suitable epitaph. Shortly after which he woke
me. I lighted a candle and a pipe. White as the paper
I write on, he told me of a three hours' fight he had had
with a huge salmon on his trout tackle. In the darkness
he had played it almost dead, when suddenly the hook
flew back, and he would never get over it—never. But
next night history repeated itself. That settled it. No
more trouting for him. He spent the next day ordering
a salmon outfit from the catalogues of most of the English
and Scotch makers, and in the evening, hoping to " pull
out Leviathan with an hook " before his Brobdingnagian
kit arrived, I accompanied him to the river. But I never
have any luck. Just as it became too dark to see, a loud
shout of triumph from my friend brought me hastily to
his side as his long legs scurried down the bank. In a
minute or two he turned and appeared to be getting some
of his own back. Then a minute later his little trout
reel would give a pitiful screech, and away he went again.
At the third repetition I began to smell something very
much like a rat. The stream at this point split into two
heavy currents, midway between them being some large
piles, whose noses just jutted out of the water. With his
fly tightly fixed in one of these, the foaming torrent in
between occasionally gave his line a tug-tug-tug. Instantly he gave a little to the expected rush, when the
stream would catch the belly of his line, tearing it off the
reel in the most convincing manner in ^tie darkness.
When I could see no way out of it but to prove to him 206      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
what was the matter, if we were to get any sleep that
night, I hardened my heart and spoiled his three night's
sport and the legend of a fish that would have lasted his
There were three of us fishing that night. As we
drove home through the inky darkness we discovered that
our Jarvey was as drunk as Davey's sow. I reproached
him for not having any lights.    "Ah! never fear, your
honour: sure, I can see better in the "    Slap!  Bang!
Crash! As I slowly began to realise that I was not dead
after all, a lion suddenly roared within two yards of where
I lay prone in the ditch. I thereupon lay proner till
someone had the unparalleled audacity to strike a match,
when we discovered we had run into the Royal Mail,
which in those days was drawn by an ass, whose insensate bray I had mistaken for the majestic voice of the
king of beasts. After collecting as many letters and
parcels as we could find, and solacing the driver of
the ass cart, we eventually reached the Curragh at
midnight in that condition known in the service as
" fed up."
Why weren't we killed? I don't know. Yet another
occasion occurs to me when anybody but subalterns or
very junior captains must inevitably have come to a bad
end. My lifelong friend " Tommy " (he gave me the
table at which I am writing) essayed to become an angler,
and, since he owned a pony and trap, I very kindly undertook his education. But as he had less patience than a
cobra with a stomach ache, he never attained to any very
lofty summit in the art. If the trout took at once, well
and good; he remained and flicked them out. But if they
kept him waiting, well, he couldn't afford to waste his
time whatever a lazy chap like me could do, and nothing
would content him but he must go home and add up the
mess accounts, or polish his keys, or some such inanity.
After careful thought I saw a way out of being dragged off
like this, and on the next occasion pointed out to him that
we were likely to get more fish if we separated, with the j
result that on arrival at the bridge he went off upstream, FISHING AND PHILANDERING      207
while I made my way down. As the trout in my part
were rising freely, I did not exactly hurry, so that when
I got back I found '' Tommy " troutless, and in a temper
which would have compared badly with that of a buffalo
accidentally tickled up by snipe-shot, an incident which
it has been my privilege to view, so I know. We did the
first two or three miles in recordytime, during which I
gained an insight into " Tommy's " opinion of my character which was entirely novel to me. His candour was
complete, while he lashed his suffering pony whenever
he paused for breath till we literally flew along. We
were coming to an awkward turn out of the main road,
and, just at the moment when I was about to open my
mouth for the first time to beg him to shut off steam, he
suddenly threw the reins at his feet and clasped his hands
over his eyes. I judged he had been struck blind, but
managed to pick them up and steer round the bend, after
which " Tommy " explained that a fly had suddenly
flown into each eye. He is one of the most careful,
methodical men in the world. Lunching with him
shortly after his marriage, he had been showing me his
wife's jewellery, contained in dozens of cases, locked in
a drawer of his safe. He had just finished when his wife
called him into another room. It only took a few seconds
to transfer the whole store to my pockets, leaving the
cases just as they were, but I had barely sat down again
when he returned. He wanted me to go out into the
garden then, or up to the mess, and carefully locked the
safe, putting the keys in his pocket. But before reaching
the door a thought seemed to strike him. He returned,
opened the safe, hastily counted the cases, once more
locked it, and again approached the door. But again he
paused: again he unlocked the safe: opened a case:
nothing in it: opened another: equally empty: and a
second later he sprang at my throat. But you want to
know a man well before you can play hanky-panky with
his wife's diamonds like that.
Looking through my fishing book once it occurred to
me that an interesting article might be made up of all the 2o8      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
most wonderful things that had happened to my friends
in their angling experiences. So I wrote to them. I
regret to say that the first yarn I received in reply was
sufficient to deter me from going any further in that train
of thought. Yet a coincidence that occurred to me and
another member of the " Cachalots " was so strange that
I am sorry now I did not write down the other answers.
The last day of an unsuccessful trip had arrived. I
wanted a fish to travel with badly—it gives one such an
air, that long straw torpedo-shaped package—and I had
recourse to—hush—worms, in spite of William Shakespeare's advice to " fish not with this melancholy bait,"
though he was alluding to another sort. Just before
lunch came the pluck, pluck of an eel, and an
eel it proved to be—nasty brute. In went another
bunch, and very soon came quite a different " how do
you do, pluck, pluck, pluck." " A salmon for a sovereign," I said to my friend S., " come and see." So
my friend came and I struck. Up came a salmon and an
eel. The former apparently merely for a look at the
scenery, for in a second he was gone, while the eel remained. Later on in the afternoon another " Cachalot," " The Squire," arrived with three fish. He said,
" I got one in rather a funny way. When I struck and he
came up to the surface, I'm blowed if there wasn't a big
eel alongside trying to pull the shrimp out of the salmon's
mouth." This fighting for food with such low creatures
as eels on the part of such gentlemen as salmon at one
time, and their absolute refusal to have it at another,
seems to introduce jealousy as a factor to be reckoned
with in fishing problems. Kipling points out that " the
blackbuck is stalked through the bullock." So why
should we not let down an imitation eel alongside our
shrimps or worms.
Almost as wonderful is the case of the incomprehensible trout. The theatre of war was a deepish gin-clear
stream, wherefrom it was considered possible only to take
trout by the most advanced and up-to-date methods.
The only alternative was to dap—to peer cautiously over ■s
the bank, to gently insinuate the point of the rod, with
only a foot of line hanging from the top, through interstices of the bushes: to let the natural bluebottle drop
lightly on the surface and travel the foot or two it could
go in a life-like manner. No: not there. One more try:
no: and we are off to some other haunt to try for another.
My host and hostess had gone to a garden party, my
refusal to attend which had earned me the unqualified
admiration of their eleven-year-old daughter. We had
struck up an alliance from the day of my arrival, when,
having found the bachelor's bath full of gold fish, sooner
than disturb them I had rung for a tub in my room. She
said she would take me out fishing. I sparred for time,
obtaining a respite till tea, but after that not an instant.
The very slowest of walks down through the sloping outskirts of the park made one as hot as a marathon in a
burning fiery furnace. But that remorseless child led
Eventually she said, " That's where Mr. Smith is
always crawling about trying to catch fish." A
desperate place to put a floating fly indeed, though presenting possibilities to the dapper. With infinite care I
twice managed to let an old bluebottle pass over it to
my satisfaction. Not at home evidently. " Let me
try," said my small guide. So I gave her the rod and
helped her to pass it through the leaves, whereupon the
fly bobbed on the water, only to bob off it again, hanging
three inches above the surface like the captive balloon
over Cove Common. " I think it's best to rest it."
She suited the action to the word, and down went the
bluebottle with a splash: then the foot or two of line
tightened as the fly was borne down stream till it came
to a full stop, when she rested the rod on a convenient
bough. The bluebottle lay on its back: from either side
of it there stretched a tiny ripple where the gentle current
laved its wings: a more obviously tethered, artificially
held, unattractive looking bait you never saw. So I
loaded a pipe and lit it, thinking of Antony and the
"'yellow-firmed fishes,'' and ' 'the hook that sooner or later
is in every man's nose," though I could see the fly out of
the corner of my eye. I had scarcely thrown away the
match when from under the bank there shot a formless
shadow: the bluebottle was gone, and in a twinkling I had
the rod out of the indignant child's hand. We had no
net, and the bank was very awkward, but eventually she
held the rod while I leant far, far over, until I managed
to scoop the Curate's trout, played to a standstill, far
away into the buttercups and daisies. He weighed
2lb. i ioz. But why he took that fly must ever remain a
mystery, though my small companion saw nothing
wonderful about it.
She was a queer child that, even as children go. As
we made our way home through the lush meadows of
that marvellous June, she asked me questions beside
which Staff College problems became the merest ABC.
'' And have you got a horse ? " I had. '' What do you
call it? " " The Moated Grange." " What a funny
name for a horse. Why do you call it that? " I ex^
plained that I did not always call it that: that, in fact, I
had a system, by which I altered its name to that of the
residence of the young lady with whom at the time I was
in love. After a short pause to consider the merits of
this form of nomenclature, she began again. " And has
the girl who lives at jj The Moated Grange ' got any
horses? " I told her that she had—three hunters and a
fast-trotting pony. Again she pondered, till I thought
she had forgotten the subject, but just as we reached the
house she said in a meditative tone, 1 I wonder if she
calls any of her horses Tournay Barracks? " I had to
admit that I feared she did not. The child seemed relieved: I verily believe she had designs on me for herself. Well, well, " Time heals all wounds," but it is
the meantime that matters, isn't it. FISHING AND PHILANDERING      211
You must endure worse luck some time, or you will never make
a good angler.
Izaak Walton.
Dry Fly Fishing.
Calm and peaceful through the meadows
Flows the slow and placid stream
O'er its golden bed of gravel,
Clear as crystal doth it seem.
In the fields the kine are grazing,
In the blue sky soars a- lark,
In the depths the caddis hatching
Whence the May fly will embark
On it's brief ephemeral voyage,
Some to swim, and some to drown,
Covering bushes, reeds and river
With a living amber down.
Stately Drakes come gaily sailing
With their cocked wings, grey and green,
Fat three pounders cease their " tailing,"
Never such a rise has been.
Phloph !    how gentle, yet what business
In that sound there seems to be :
I have got ten brace already,
And it's surely time for tea :
Yet there's something too inviting
In that ring to leave behind;
Just one more to break my record
If the fates continue kind.
Creeping slowly, slowly nearer,
Now I think I reach him may :
That was almost up I fancy,
Just another yard we'll say :
Right: it drops two feet above him—
Phloph!   Splash!   Grrrrrrr!   Oh ! sweet check reel:
Trusty, bending, bowing split-cane:
Only fishermen so feel.
When he fails to reach the weed bed,
Dives he for the sunken pile:
Makes a maddened dash for freedom
For the weir-gate, like a file.
Gallant fish, your day is ended :
Never more you'll rule the pool,
Scattering silvery glancing minnows
Through the pleasant chalk-stream cool. 212      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Slowly shortened line till grasped
Is the roomy landing-net:
Back the point goes over shoulder
And you're in it—five I'll bet.
Five it is and one ounce over :
Rowland Ward shall make your case;
Then amongst my other trophies
You shall have the pride of place. CHAPTER XVII
Just one cast more: how many a year
Beside how many a pool and stream,
Beneath the falling leaves and-sere,
I've sighed, reeled up, and dreamed my dream.
Andrew Lang.
A rod case—The point of view—High water—Hooked in the
thumb—The Crown Princess—New and cheap water for the Club
—Lightning—Last casts—How many—Happy endings—The
charm of fishing.
I have been given one of those beautiful yellow leather
rod cases, and thrill with pride on the platform when I
see ordinary trippers and tourists gaze on it with wonder
and me with awe. I have always regarded a pair of guns
as the hall-mark of a sportsman's respectability, and if I
took to shooting again should certainly get a new leather
and brass-cornered double case for my old 12-bore, in
place of the single canvas one it has lived in for so many
years. For this leather rod case has set me aspiring once
more. Yet it worries me in some slight degree: it seems
dangerous to trust it to the eccentricities of a guard's van;
yet it takes up a lot of room in one's compartment. My
new fishing partner has, however, solved the difficulty by
insisting on its going in the van. Nothing matters very
much, but a very little matters a great deal.
It is all a question of the point of view.    The other
day crossing the river opposite Tilbury with a subaltern
who had never gone down to the sea in ships, we saw a
tender leaving the side of an ocean liner flying the " Blue
Peter." The tender was crowded with the friends and
relations who had been seeing their friends and relations
off, and her sides fluttered with pocket handkerchiefs.
" Look how they're cheering," said the boy. Poor
souls: far more likely sobbing their hearts out. I never
see a ship starting without thinking of those lines
of Whyte Melville's:
** Sad hearts are on the sea to-night,
But sadder on the shore."
Smiles and tears: they are very near akin: if the sun
always shone we should never have seen the stars.
Memory is always most bitter when it is most sweet. Let
us get back to the bank.
As the fame of the " Cachalot Club " spread, more
and more of my friends expressed their desire to become
members, until it became necessary to look about and see
if we could not acquire a little more frontage. One year
the fish had run up a month earlier than usual, and my
friends had enjoyed good sport before I could get over.
But when I did, there was any amount of water at all
events: indeed, my gillie, Garrett, pessimistic as an old
crow with the toothache, declared it would not fish for
three days, so I determined to spend the next morning
on reconnaissance work. A subaltern in my regiment,
whose people lived on the bank, assured me that his father
owned some splendid pools, to which we were welcome,
while a friend of his said we might also fish his water, the
next above. He was to meet me three miles down the
line, and with light hearts I and my servant started on
our route march to view the promised land, or rather
water. And splendid water it proved; but alas! most of
it quite unfishable, on account of high wooded banks and
appalling naked snags just where a fish would lie. When
we had reconnoitred it and tried a few casts, it was time
to go to lunch chez my subaltern, and as the fishing
appeared somewhat problematical and the port decidedly
inviting, " a drink like nectar; indeed, too good for any
but us anglers," with an excellent anchorage in a cosy
billiard-room, what time we embarked some coffee, I permitted myself to be seduced into giving an imitation of
George Gray for half an hour or so. And that with a
water fining down and fish in it! I blush now when I
think of it, for on returning to the stream, where it was
just possible to fish a bait, a fish showed. Hats off!
The first fish of the season: you will never have any luck
unless you do. That is one of my two superstitions.
The other is my firm belief that there is a fairy in a billiard
ball. Begin to sympathise with the other fellow: "Hard
luck, old man! By Jove, they are going bad for you,"
and from that moment they will begin going rotten for
you. Mark my words. It is so. But this fish, albeit I.
had been so polite, refused to acknowledge the Irish
shrimp on the English hook (one of a dozen sent me for
trial by Mr. Sheringham) by even so much as a flicker
of his tail: but I had also been presented with the
" dernier cri " in spinning reels. " It was given to me
by a most honest and excellent angler," while Mr. Mal-
loch, of Perth, had, in acordance with my request, forwarded to me a bottle of his " Kingfisher " baits.
" Scotch, please," must have been what that fish meant
when he snowed, for he wolfed one of those baits in a
manner which fixed eight out of the nine hooks firmly in
his mouth. What happened to the ninth? " Wait and
see." The water was heavy, the fish lively, and the
" brushwood boy "—I mean banks—precluded any pursuit. At which moment the latest word in spinning
wheels gave a deep sigh, struck work, and resolved into
silence: in other words, something went wrong with the
works, the check refused to act, and the salmon went freewheeling down towards the mouth of the river, while I
cut my fingers trying to control the line and prevent its
over-winding. After ten minutes of intimate acquaintance with the precise feelings of an early Christian martyr 216      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
with a lighted match between his fingers, matters began
to smooth out, and my servant took up a strong position
at the foot of the bank. It would appear that I am
fated to go through life accompanied by people with a
penchant for playing cup-and-ball with salmon. I have
told the story of the fish which | Billy " gaffed and released without baiL This time history tried to repeat
itself, but just failed. For though my man duly gaffed
the fish, only to let it slip back into the water, he threw
himself bodily on to it, the only marvel being that he did
not turn it into a postage stamp. Even so, the gallant
fish would have won its way to a continuation of the proceedings had I not by dint of roaring at him induced my
man to put his fingers through its gills and so carry it up
the bank and well into the field behind. Now your
patience with regard to that ninth hook reaps its reward,
for it was fastened as securely into my servant's thumb
as the other eight were into the fish. The subsequent
proceedings, involving as they did a surgical operation
with a new fishing knife (also a present from the same
good friend), and a flow of language which would have
made a bargee blush, cannot be done justice to in these
pages. Suffice it that a fresh-run 14 pounder was the
order of merit for that day, a day on which we had been
told we might as well fish in the road.
But even as we drove home the heavens opened and
the rains descended, and for three whole days even I
had to admit that fishing was impossible—the more
readily perhaps in that there were compensations. This
is a tale of fishing, but to make it intelligible it is necessary
to state that on the first morning" of the flood a friend
residing in a neighbouring castle, whilom one of the best
bats who ever tapped for Middlesex, rode over to see
me, accompanied by a vision before whom I fell flat on
the spot, a lady who can only be likened to a Crown
Princess, by which name I christened her that day. Also
staying in the castle was a dark and sinister man who had
come over to fish, with whom the Crown Princess had
made a bet that she would get a fish before he did.   After
dinner she enlisted me under her banner, and I promised
her the first I could catch to win her bet.
. Next day my landlord introduced me to a farmer, who
said he owned a field above and another below the bridge
hard by our lodge, very handy for a morning or an evening cast, and with one little hole above the bridge, some
thirty yards long, of which I had often heard. He
appeared disappointed when I offered him a sovereign for
his fishing, saying he thought I would have given him
three. This, I pointed out, had never occurred to me,
but in a weak moment I said I would give him another
sovereign if I killed a fish in his water—a fatal blunder—!
for on the first day the river fished I killed a handsome
15-pounder, which was at once despatched by hand to
the Crown Princess, arriving just before the departure
of my hated rival, but in time to extinguish any hopes a
mere civilian might still have entertained after the military had entered into competition.
Next day I had just put the gaff into an eight pounder
from the same place when an angry voice haled me over
a gorse bush on the opposite bank, threatening me with
various horrible penalties for having waded in and fished
the hole, which was undoubtedly on his side of the river.
Verily a soft answer turneth away wrath, for after a few
moments' conversation when we met on my way home,
the owner of the raucous voice not only consented to rent
me his side of the fishing for half a sovereign, but also
said he would cut down some bushes, and so enable it to
be fished without the necessity of wading. Thus by a
little civility and £2. 10s. od., our "Cachalot Club" had
acquired yet another pool on the river. I say had, for it
is no longer ours, and the word is all the more apt in that
it possesses a double meaning, for if ever a man was
" had " it was me that sunny day. To cut a long story
short, neither of these riparian gentlemen had the
smallest claim to the fishing they had so obligingly let,
which, in fact, belonged to a friend of mine, who had
often generously given me leave on his other water lower
However, from that time on the fishing improved, and
we got a few fish running up to 2olb. and 2lib. before a
series of most unpleasant thunderstorms sent the river up
and kept the fish down for the remainder of our brief
leave. I am afraid of lightning. It altogether ruined
any enjoyment I got from the South African campaign,
and I am not ashamed to own it. On our last day three
of us were fishing the Quarry Pool side by side, while an
obnoxious thunderstorm was coming up cloud over cloud.
I announced my intention of beating the retreat, but my
companions merely scoffed, continuing to cast while I
reeled up. Suddenly a blinding flash, accompanied by
a simultaneous appalling crash, as it seemed, over our
very heads, sent us all three scurrying off: nor could I
help smiling, even in the midst of my alarm, at the pace
with which those long-legged friends of mine made for a
handy house.
Everyone who has had a blank day—and what angler
breathes who has not—must remember how he hoped
against hope, even up to the last cast on the most hopeless
day. The late Francis Francis' advice about keeping
the fly in the water should be ever present in one's ears,
and the chief charm perhaps of the craft we love so well
is that the only time one cannot possibly expect a rise is
when one's fly is out of the water. Even so I have known
a salmon jump up and take a shrimp caught up on a twig
and dangling some six inches out of the wet.
But it is more particularly on last casts that my
thoughts are dwelling at present. One always wants to
fish one more pool, try one more fly, fish the last stream
down once again, or even have just half a dozen more
casts. My plan is to allow myself five—^-my lucky
number—more casts: then one more for a fish, one more
for luck, and one more for a lady, and if that won't bring
them up nothing will, and I turn regretfully homewards.
Many and many a time one's last casts prove futile, but
the few occasions when they do not more than compensate us, I have been deeply pitied by a fair creature for
a blank day, but when I told her of my thirty-one con- To face p. 218.  FISHING AND PHILANDERING      219
secutive blank days, the dainty brows ascended into the
pretty fringe, while a look came over her face something
like that which came over the face of poor Dan Leno's
horse when that noble quadruped looked at him as much
as to say, " Good Heavens!    What is it? "
On one occasion I had fished hard all through a warm
spring day till 4 p.m. without seeing a fish. Then I went
to beg a cup of tea from my landlord's sister. She
appeared quite shocked on hearing I was going to surrender and walk home. As an inducement to keep the
flag flying, she offered to drive me the two and a half
miles to the station if I would only have another try.
This was far too good an offer to refuse, and when, an
hour later, she appeared on the bridge with the car, I
was there to meet her with two fresh-run salmon lying
in silvery splendour against the emerald background of
the grass by the roadside.
A last cast once further confirmed my unconventional
theory that the playing of a fish, far from frightening
others, acts on them in some sort of '[ sherry and bitters ''
fashion. Again and again have I noticed this, and the
following incident added further testimony. I had
arrived at our lowest and favourite pool, which I fished
down twice as carefully as possible. With a train to
catch, time was of considerable importance, but instead
of winding up and then looking at my watch, I consulted
it while my shrimp was trailing below me. As I returned
it to my pocket the waters parted, a broad brown back
appeared, and I was " in him." Ten minutes later I
gaffed a nine pounder. Whilst playing him another fish
jumped three or four times, so I fished it down again, and
duly caught a beautiful twelve pounder, and a later
On yet another occasion the unexpected came to pass.
On a Monday of a week which was to be devoted to three
days' racing and a two-day croquet tournament, I, with
a fellow-guest, was sent to try our luck in the river.
Johnny Lydon, of Galway, had sent me a few shrimps,
but the stream had " never been so low in the memory of I
the oldest inhabitant." We did not expect to do more
than spend a quiet day by the riverside while waiting the
arrival of two young ladies who were coming to swell the
house-party, and whom we were to take back in the motor.
My friend's rod had to be spliced, but before it was up
that gin-clear water had yielded me a small salmon, a
bright enough fish for September. I said: " Will you
put on a fly or catch fish? " He preferred the former,
and we did nothing more until 5 o'clock. It was very hot,
and I was sitting on a weir gate while the little shrimp
was busily fishing the stream below: on the very point
of winding up—indeed, I had half risen to do so—"pluck,
pluck," and I was into another, the last fish of that
There is the charm. Any cast may be the one that will
set your rod bending, your reel screaming, and your blood
tingling through your veins. So fish it out, the last cast
as carefully and expectantly as the first. Try everywhere, try everything, and try your best all the time: then
if still unsuccessful, you will at least have the satisfaction
of knowing that, though you could not command success,
you have at least deserved it.
I love any discourse of rivers, and fish, and fishing: the time
spent in such discourse passes away very pleasantly.
Izaak Walton.
Night Fishing.
Have you ever been out fishing
In the dead of night in dreams ?
Ever cast a fly or spun a bait
In Lethe's tranquil streams?
Where the fish are huge and hideous
And indulge in wondrous play,
And keep you animated
By their metamorphic way. FISHING AND PHILANDERING      221
An incident occurred to me
As lately as last night,
A mixture of good sport, true love,
Mad jealousy, and fright:
Which for your benefit I'll try
To tell as best I may,
When you'll agree with me night-fishing
Easily beats day.
I was staying with my best friend,
Who was anxious I should wed
A very charming widow,
Whose husband wasn't dead :
Whom I'd never seen or heard of,
But whom she declared would suit:
Who excelled in mathematics
- And extraction of cube root.
I was sent down to the river
With a gillie very glum,
While she motored to the station
For to meet my fate, who'd come
To spend a week or two and see
If I could really flirt
Up to my reputation :
A remark which I thought pert.
The river was in order :
I put up a Lemon Grey :
Though some telegraphic wires and poles
Were sadly in the way,
And sang weird tunes as o'er them quivered
Countless telegrams,
While the reeds all made right-angles, squares,
And parallelograms.
I had scarcely cast my fly when I
Was in a splendid fish,
Which showed antipathy to being
Got ready for the dish,
And sulking lay quiescent
In despite my steady strain,
When up the motor snorted -^
With the ladies from the tram. ill
One glance sufficed to demonstrate
The stranger'd do for me :
Good-looking, prepossessing,
And as rich as rich couldbe.
The wires festooned and coiled until
Transformed into an arch,
And played, with variations,
Handelmehlson's wedding march.
But what is this ?     The water
Into golden syrup turns,
The fish becomes so desperate
The line the treacle burns :
When, springing high into the air,
The fish became a bird :
And even in my dream I thought
That seemed a bit absurd.
The more I reeled the further flew
That crimson coloured goose,
Chewing between his mandibles
My fly, now working loose :
I ran like mad along the road
To try and stop a break,
The motor buzzing after,
Till the road became a lake.
My glum and silent gillie now
Said " Mind the blooming wire,"
But, do my best, that wretched bird
Flew higher still and higher:
Until it fell, stone-dead it seemed,
Hung up, a tangled mass,
The line all looped around the poles,
Me looking like an ass.
But luckily a house hard by
I thought might let me shift
The beggar out, so in I went,
And mounted in the lift,
Until I reached the top-most floor
Where I could cut the line:
Down fell the quarry in a ditch
And gave of life no sign. FISHING AND PHILANDERING      223
That ditch grew ever deeper
Till it loomed a vast abyss,
And I found my poor self standing
On an awesome precipice.
And then—Oh Horror! my gillie growled
"I'm going to take your life :
I am that widow's husband whom
You think to take to wife."
With brutal glee the grinning corpse
Began to push me off,
Yet ere I fell he had to stop—
He'd such a bronchial cough.
The goose became a battle-ship
Slow sailing up the cliff,
When, taking heart, I bashed the corpse
To powder in a jiff.
The ship's crew all were silent,
Sedate and very grave:
The water lapped the hatch's combs
In many a tiny wave :
It seemed they were court-martialling
The Army Council for
Promoting Winston Churchill
To command a man-of-war.
Then home I went despondent
And without a single fish:
My hostess met me at the door
Saying " You can have your wish :
That corpse was my own husband,
And not that, lady's coy :
The artful hussy ! thinking she
Could rob me of my boy."
Somewhat perplexed and rather shy,
Clad in attire light,
I felt I must do something,
Though what I knew not quite.
But just as round her waist I placed
My ever ready arm,
She broke away and said " *Tis day:
And hark! there's the alarm." 224      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
I woke : the wretched noise we'd heard
Still ringing in my ears,
Growing loud and ever louder
Till it at length appears
All red and brass and hairy hats,
The terror of the land,
A-marching off to early Mass
The Third Battalion Band. CHAPTER XVIII
When men of a certain sort, ladies, are in love, though they see
the hook and the string, and the whole apparatus with which they
are to be taken, they gorge the bait nevertheless—they must come
to it—they must swallow it—and are presently struck and landed
W. M. Thackeray.
The biter bit—^-Caught at last—Low water—My best salmon—A
bet—Garrett on gaffing—The unexpected—-Bad weather—A big
fish—The Squire's letter—The point of view of the fish—Killaloe
revisited—Her first fish—The fish that others catch—The fish we
There is an old adage to the effect that the pitcher that
goes too oft to the well is bound to get broken in the
long run, the truth of which is once more exemplified
in my own case. For I who have so often been the
catcher have at last been caught. Fairly caught and
landed. So firmly was I hooked, that in the spring,
when a chance of doing a bit of catching came my
way it was ignored, and I forswore the haunts of the
Cachalot Club for a week amongst the peaks of Derbyshire, and the thrill of a tight line to become a target for
Cupid. " Never mind," said that fair angler, | we will
go and fish together in the autumn," and with that prospect I went through a summer drill season in perfect
content. All my friends said, " You will catch no more
fish now you're caught yourself." For in February last
I took a Blue Gentian on the sunny slopes of Mont
Pelerin, and three months later was gaffed and landed
as recorded above. But my friends were all wrong, for
both of us have caught fish since, while a fresh and most
beautiful charm has been added to the banks by the new
honorary member of the Club. It was, however, within
ten days of the end of the season when those three
blessed balls ascended into the sky near Camps Farm,
signifying that the manoeuvres were ended and the leave
season at hand : but by the time we reached the river
only seven and a half days remained for fishing.
There we were, however, at last, and never had I seen
the river so low—fully a foot below normal fishing
height, clear as a chalk stream, and ruffled only by a
harsh east wind, conditions which remained in force all
our time, but which left us the solitary consolation of
having the river to ourselves. Within half-an-hour of
our arrival came the first gentle accost, almost imperceptible, but a fish in very surety. Look at the head of
the shrimp: you see that nick in it: that was made by
a fish : now watch. There ! I told you so : and a good
fish too. Too heavy to hand over for practise in playing. Fighting well and strongly for a big fellow: now
lashing the water against the weeds under the far bank,
now trying to force a way out of the pool, and now returning at top speed, drowning the line and bringing my
heart into my mouth. At last we caught sight of him
deep down, boring, boring, boring for those treacherous,
razor-backed rocks at the bottom, where so much of my
good tackle lies. And now, look, do you see? He is
followed by another almost as large. Even in the excitement of my first fish of the season, anxious though I
was to kill him—was she not looking on—yet in my
heart of hearts I wondered—wondered what that silent,
devoted follower was thinking: *wondered if I should
mind so very much if the hold gave: almost tried to
make it give. But that was beyond human nature—mine
at all events—and Garrett gaffed it neatly and swung up
a shapely 24-pounder.    As a matter of fact my best fish. FISHING AND PHILANDERING      227
Twenty years ago I killed a 21-pounder: years afterwards I broke that record with a 2 2-pounder : three years
ago this was increased by a fish of 231DS.: and now again
I had added a solitary pound. It can only mean that
some day I shall make a prodigious leap and double or
nearly double it. But I cannot complain, for with me
it has been a year of records : to get command of one's
regiment: to marry a wife: and to land one's biggest
salmon all in the self-same year, should surely satisfy
most people. Yet I felt in my bones that greater things
were in store. Moreover, this early fish had won me a
wager. On the Same day that we started for Ireland
the Pride of the Seaforth Highlanders had left for
Scotland. At dinner in their mess one night, primed
with their port and almost deafened by the maddening
pibrochs, or whatever they call them, which their
wretched pipers had blown into my suffering ears, I had
made a bet with my friend that I would kill a salmon
before he shot a stag. As it turned out I only won by
a quarter of an hour—Irish time—for he had stalked
and shot a glorious " Royal " on the morning of his
arrival, and till he heard from me, looked upon the
money as in his sporran.
After lunch came another fish: a much smaller one:
so this time the rod was handed over as soon as its preliminary antics were concluded. Nor was much instruction needed to ensure the point being kept well up, the
strain steady, and the eyes fixed on the mark: sounds
like musketry instruction, doesn't it? Poor Garrett:
although he had fallen under the spell that finished me,
yet he never can bear to see the rod given over to anyone.
However he knew it was no good arguing in this case,
so contented himself with taking the very earliest opportunity with the gaff and, taking it well and truly, he
passed up an eleven-pounder. Only once in my life
have I known him to be utterly flummoxed. He tried
to gaff a biggish fish for me—i81bs. it proved to be—
only to see the gaff slip off its side. Cursing himself
for a blundering novice, he tried again with as little 228      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
success. After one more abortive attempt he threw it
away, walked in, and tailed the fish. Then he showed
me the gaff: by some mysterious mischance the point
had got turned completely on one side : I doubt if it
would have gone into a pat of butter.
Next day added two more fish to the bag, 2oJlbs. and
I7^1bs. The first confirmed another of my own particular theories—that fish are like women, you never do
know what the dickens they will do next. Garrett having taken the top of the taking part of the pool, i.e.,
where the fish took, for my wife, telling me I might " try
up above in the flat water," I tried. Previously removing all lead. Ere the " Pink 'Un " had sunk six inches
a fish made a great swerving lunge, and either missed it
or changed its mind at the last moment: another point
of resemblance you see. At the next cast—I was now
fly-fishing with a prawn—he made a second and more
successful bid, later on paying the penalty, but putting
up a spirited fight previous to doing so. The other fish
Garrett caught while we were at lunch, on the 14ft.
double-handed trout-rod which my wife was using, the
praises of which he sang so loudly that it seemed to me
he must have somewhat mistrusted it before. Apropos
of this rod hangs a little tale. Amongst the many wedding presents we received was a featherweight 9ft. split-
cane, given to me by my friend "Jim "—Porthos of that
delightful Parisian trip wherein I played the part of
D'Artagnan. When I told my wife I had an old 14ft.
rod that would be the very thing for her, she remarked
in a most indignant voice, " Why can't I have your new
split-cane ? "
But the shrinking water and the swelling wind were
combining to render our prospects of sport less and less
likely. The following afternoon brought a 10-pounder,
the only pull of the day. The day after, owing to a
visit to my subaltern and his people, I only reached the
bank at 3.30 p.m., immediately hooking, and shortly
afterwards losing, a fish about the same weight, while
Garrett landed a peal.    Slowly but surely sport was FISHING AND PHILANDERING      229
decreasing, till at last the vanishing point was reached
and the next day was blank.
On Saturday the wind increased to a gale, making
good fishing.most difficult, yet before lunch an 11-
pounder and a peal succumbed. After that meal my
wife got as far as the bank and was then blown home.
The weather rapidly went from bad to worse, till to
Garrett's infinite relief I sent him home too. As
politely as possible he let me know his opinion of me for
remaining out, but " there came a whisper silver-clear,"
something told me I was going to have the sport of my
life, and induced me to sling bag and gaff over my own
shoulder and continue the brave fight.
All down the Two Tree pool I angled in vain, the
fish refusing even to show in the teeth of that abominable wind and rain. At the very end of it I stood
pondering, my shrimp dangling just below the surface.
Was it good enough? I had never killed a fish in the
field below in all the years I had fished it. Was it
likely I should do so on such a day? These two fields
are divided by a deep drain, some 20ft. wide, across
which my landlord had laid for our benefit a single
plank. It was the same plank that years before had
saved me from being projected into space by the infuriated bull. I thought of that incident and—what could
that have been ? A dimple as of a rising trout near my
shrimp: then—well—then a tug and a rush, and what
did all the foul weather in the world matter then ? Two
or three stately passages across to the strand and back
under the deep, curving bank whereon I stood. A good
fish surely by this heavy, ponderous pull. Ah! would
you? He would. Away, and away, and away, like the
rush of a mahseer, unpreventable, irresistible, magnificent. " Look at the line," screamed my winch, and but
just in time, though there had been over a hundred yards
of it. Desperate cases demand desperate remedies. I
must follow and that right soon. Yet the only means of
pursuit was over that rickety plank, and would my line
clear that bush beyond?    Whether it would or whether 230      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
it wouldn't, it was the only chance. I dashed across,
rod in my left hand extended as far as possible, and—
yes—just clearing that villainous bush. But here was
no time or place to halt, and I broke into double time,
and a moment later into quadruple. What I did that
hundred yards in I do not know, but it could not have
been very much outside standard time. Then the reel
stopped and I followed suit, and my friend slowly came
up stream to meet me. Barely was he opposite when
he came clear out of the water for a look at his foe.
Yes: it was him—him at last! The fish that was to
make me famous: lengthy and most monstrous fat: a
very Tichborne of fishes. Apparently far less pleased
with my appearance than I was with his, back he fell,
only to tear off again at express speed, this time up
stream. When he stopped just below the drain I was
as blown as a victor in the Olympic games. Then up
and out he came again, and oh! my doubting friends,
but he was a grand fish! And yet, and yet, what could
make such a monster play like this ? Could he be
hooked outside ? I feared he must be, for with the
gathering gloom closing in, I knew if so it must be a
long fight. Anyway he must be pressed if the victory
was to rest with me, so I pressed him. Surely after all
these callisthenics he too must be blown. Slowly,
slowly he yielded, yard by yard I coaxed him, and then
—then the hook came out of him, and I was left to walk
home across the fields alone. How big was he? I do
not know: and of what avail to guess ? He was gone
from me: gone like yesterday: gone for ever. Yet
where would be the joy of fishing if one never lost a fish?
As insipid as flirting if one never met with a rebuff, or
feeding if one never had an appetite. No: I did not
grudge him his freedom: he had caused every pulse in
my body to throb with tingling blood : he had given me
ten minutes' regal sport: but oh! I would like to know
what he weighed.
The last day of the season was saved from being a
blank by a sporting peal, and then we moved our quar- FISHING AND PHILANDERING      231
ters to another river which was still open. Before recounting our adventures there, which were not many,
I must quote a letter from "the Squire," one of the
oldest members of the Club, a letter which proves that
though I had his sympathy I also had his scepticism.
I What a pity you lost the big chap. He is now
probably telling the story from his point of view, to a
couple of admiring hens, in some shallow stream up
Mill Street way.    I can hear No. 1 hen say:—
And what happened then, Bill, when you succeeded
in spitting out the military gentleman's hook ? '
"My dear, it was awful,' replied Bill. 'I heard
some bad language when I jumped the net last spring.
I heard some pretty hot stuff when I rose short at Major
P.'s fly at Kilbarry. But this chap fairly scared me : I
could see him up on the bank shaking his fist like a madman. Oh! my goodness: I just headed up stream
away from him until I was out of hearing.'
*! I suppose too,' said No. 2 hen, * he went off swearing you were 4olbs. if you were an ounce.'
" ' Quite on the cards, Madam,' said Bill, who weighed
an ounce or two short of 2olbs. I These military gents
are capable of any enormity.' "
Well, I may be revenged on some of their offspring
some day.
As I said we now shifted our quarters to the Shannon
in the hope of getting hold of something really heavy
there. A warm welcome awaited us from the Three
Graces, who rule over the destinies of Grace's Hotel,
Killaloe, who had known me when a mere bachelor, and
who now gave me a double welcome in my new character. It is good to be greeted so. It is good to find a
fire burning and the water boiling after a cold journey.
And it is very, very good to hear the river is full of fish.
But for three days I tried flies, spinning baits and
prawns without a touch or sign of recognition : excepting
once from a miserable pike of some 61bs. Hardest to
bear of all was the sight we saw on the third morning in
the pool above ours, where two ancient fishermen were- 232       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
plying their trade, while the angler who rented the water
did not take the trouble to come out. Four fish they
caught that merry morning: i2lbs., i61bs., 321DS., and
33lbs. One of the best judges of literature in England
told me recently that if one could write down one's exact
thoughts one could produce the most interesting book of
the season. But I cannot write down mine as I felt them
on seeing those ancients literally festooned with fish as
we sat eating our lunch. One of those big fellows would
have made me a proud and happy man : to them it was
nothing: they had spent their lives catching heavy fish.
Nor can I describe my feelings when one of the Miss
Graces came to me that evening to say that she had induced the gentleman who owned that wondrous pool to
give me leave to fish it next morning. Without expecting too much I must confess to high hopes in spite of
the infernal wind and low water which greeted us next
day. For the pool was deep, and the lower the water
the more fish congregated therein. For 3-J hours I did
my best and my Methuselah boatmen did their best:
without avail: not a touch of any sort, though fish to
dream of wallopped about on all sides of us. As
though to accentuate matters my wife, with our boatmen, fishing our despised water, caught her first salmon,
and played another up to the gaff. 1 These be accidents that we anglers sometimes see and often talk of."
And before we left, two professionals caught three fish
in our free water. One of which was 4210s., shaped as
I have never seen a salmon shaped, a prize which had I
caught it should have been set up by the best man in
London, but which ended its mortal career as an ignoble
Alas ! and alas ! That such things should be. How
easy to have bought that splendid fish : how easy to have
had it set up: how easy to have told the tale of its capture. As it was I nearly bought it as a present for the
mess : but when one of its captors had the audacity to
say how well it would look stuffed in my ancestral halls,
I turned sadly aside and felt inclined to go out and FISHING AND PHILANDERING      233
weep bitterly. Eighteen fat pounds bigger than my
biggest fish. It does not bear thinking of. So we fished
on, and at last I got hold of one, and it weighed 61bs.,
and that was the anti-climax.
She and I both love all anglers, they be such honest, civil, quiet
Izaak Walton.
A Visit to the Zoo.
I have seen the anaconda
Anaconding all around,
Forked tongue from flat head hissing
Forth its sibilaceous sound,
Till I wished I'd always stuck to
Tea, or been in childhood drowned.
I have seen the beaver beaving
And have heard his angry dam
Roar as came his white teeth clashing
On some empty shell of clam,
Till my thoughts flew back to trekking
O'er the veld and Lipton's jam.
I have seen the Hip-Hip-Hip-
Hurrahpopotamus at dawn
Sadly chewing bunless currants
With a weary look of scorn,
And a passionate desire
To possess a rhino's horn.
I have seen the Bactrian camel
And the wily tiger-cat
Envying a python lunching
On a most reluctant rat:
While the monkeys sat and jabbered,
Though I never knew what at.
I have watched the Bengal tiger
Hungering for a mild Hindoo,
And—with good thick bars between us—
Gazed its staring eyeballs through,
Till I wondered why Prov. made them,
And why Noah saved them too. 234      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Oh ! You hoary headed villain 4
Oh ! You wicked old man Noah :
What a chance you had that flood-time :
You had but to close the door
On the silly, useless beasties,
And we'd never seen them more.
Cockroaches, and wolves, and earwigs,
Tigers, reptiles, snakes, and fleas,
Wasps and hornets, flies, mosquitos,
Worst of all, those Indian bees,
Sharks and deadly alligators—
Query—weren't these in the seas?
One can only marvel vainly
At the purport of Noah's haul:
What good end is served by all these
Noxious creatures, great and small.
But, since we can't solve the problem,
We must bear it and that's all. CHAPTER XIX
The salmon is accounted the king of fresh-water fish.
Izaak Walton.
Take my bait, O King of fishes.
" Hiawatha/1 Longfellow.
I wish ye sport.
Cymbeline IV., 2.
Pessimistic forebodings—Conventionality or unconventionality
—Theory or practice—Book-learning or Garrett—Hiding or seeking—To strike or not to strike—The fish extraordinary—Sartorial
anecdotes—A welcome invitation—New ground or, rather, water
—An old spoon—Triangles or single hooks—Triumph and
Disaster—Aquatic Heavenly twins—What might have been—
Heavy floods at the end of April and beginning of May,
producing most optimistic accounts of probable sport in
the columns of the " Field," resulted in a bad attack of
" springfret " before the exigencies of the service permitted me to pack my rods and away with me to the southwest of Ireland. Moreover, letters from two other
members of the " Cachalot Club " urged me to expedite
my movements. Never had there been such a show of
fish in the river; never had they taken so well; it could
not last; I must come at once; and so on. But with the
best intentions in the world matters could not be hurried,
and it was a wet night on May 20 before I arrived at
the little wayside station. My friend the stationmaster
called me into his office to show me three ten-pounders
and a twenty-five. 1 That's what Mr. B. has sent up
from the river so far, and he's out yet; that's what you
have to beat," he said. Then, like everyone else, he
proceeded to say there would be no difficulty in doing it,
as " the river was stiff with fish," " tons of them in every
pool," etc. Yet for some inscrutable reason I felt no
confidence; the better things appeared the more pessimistic I became; it seemed as if I had lost my nerve;
showing how wrong some of my friends can be.
Next morning my friend S. arrived, and we began.
My object is not to give a record of each fish we caught
and lost, but to discuss the actions of certain fish under
varying circumstances. Suffice it that he caught more
than he had ever caught before, including one monster
nearly three times the weight of his previous best, while
I, too, killed a few, one of which was 3^1b. bigger than
my former record. Then the fine weather asserted itself,
and as the sport diminished the bucking on the bank increased. S. was attended by the faithful " Garrett,"
whose one-time allegiance to myself had received such
shocks from my unconventional theories that he now regarded me darkly out of a corner only of his eye whenever
I propounded any more than usually unorthodox
One hot, sunny day, after some two hours' hard
flogging of the glittering stream, we three foregathered
at my favourite pool. The other two arranged themselves recumbent, but I first adjusted my rod so that my
shrimp—yes, I was trying a shrimp—swam in the current
some two feet below the surface, close in under the
bushes. 1 Is it eels you are wishful to catch? " murmured Garrett; " I never seen the like o' you and your
tricks." Lighting my pipe, I asked him in reply whether
he would go in front of a bush or behind it if he was
anxious to remain hid, and told him of recent research and
subaqueous experiments. "In the 'Field,' is it?" and the
scorn in his voice woke S./who was just beginning to To face p. 236. p*ppilT FISHING AND PHILANDERING      237
snore. '' Sure I read what you wrote two years ago; one
column and a half, and not one word of sinse from beginning to end." It is necessary to state that Garrett
is aged, and most respectful really, being much privileged
in consequence. " But, nevertheless, there is a dale in
colour," he proceeded, " and I am not well satisfied at
all wid the colour of the Major's clothing; them grey
things is altogether too light." I interposed a remark
here about Dr. Ward's photographs of the man in the
white coat. [j That," said he, " is beyond the bounds
of belief. Man and boy, I've fished this river for forty
years, an' you come here wid the things ye read in books
and try to discountenance me. 'Twas only this morning
I was tellin' the Major that one way an' another an' whatever else ye wear, red will send every salmon in the river
tearin' mad wid fright back to the say. 'Twas your
friend Mr. G. told me of that, and what happened at
Galway when ye brought the young lady wid the red
parasol on to the bridge."
" But what about my waistcoat then? Have I not
worn the same old red waistcoat years and years, and
killed about a hundred fish within a mile of where we
sit with it on ? " " Ye have," he sighed, " and had you
have laid it off you would have killed five hunderd."
That line of argument being thus effectually closed, I
inquired the ancient man's opinion as to whether any
advantage was to be derived from endeavouring to hide
xWhen salmon fishing. ce Never in me born days," he
muttered, turning to my friend S., who was deriving
much pleasure from the debate, " have I heard such questions axed. Sure I known the Colonel when he was a
Capting, and he had some sinse that time. Listen to him
now, Major; and after all I was telling you about keepin'
low, and wadin' and all. Sure he'll be after undoing all
the good instruction I'm giving ye. Now look at Mr.
B.—one of the . best fishermen ye'll see—always
crouchin' and hidin' and speerin' over the bushes more
by token as if he was a poacher wid a stummickache. An'
who  kills  more  fish  than  him? "      $ Certainly,"   I 238      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
admitted, " Mr. B. is a great angler, and absolutely the
most unselfish one I know. But you and I, Garrett, can
see a great way in the air, but a very little way in the
water: is it not possible that fish can see a great distance
in the water, but only a little way in the air? Consequently one may be more visible when wading than
people "
" Come away out of this, Major," burst out Garrett to
S., "or you'll be gettin' to be a heretic too. Anyone
knows that ye have but to show yourself to scare every
fish away." " But," said I, " have you ever seen me
hide or crouch, Garrett? Have I not always stood upright? What about that fish that took my hanging .
shrimp when the water was quite clear two days ago, when
I was standing bolt upright, and with only a short line
out." " Sure that was the merest chance, though 'tis
true ye do kill fish now and then standin' on this bank."
" Well, do you think it possible, Garrett, that a good
deal may depend on one's appearance? If I stand up
here, looking pleasant and sociable, don't you think it
possible that the sight of me may be an attraction; though
I quite admit that if you showed yourself the fish might be
scared back to the sea? Do you think there is anything
in that? " " I do not. I think one man looks very
much like another. Stand up now and see if ye can
attract a fish. See can ye catch that fellow? " he continued, as a twenty-pounder sprang into the air opposite
us. " Well, anyway, you will admit that a fish, even if
hard pricked, will come again at once, won't you? " I
" That I am prepared to admit, and also that it was
yourself who proved it to me. But, sure, we're wasting
time discussin' book-learnin' ways when we had a right
to be fishin'. Come on, Major. If ye want to kill a
fish," turning to me, " I'll give ye a little Lemon Grey
that will kill him."
Then, as S. rose yawning, I asked Garrett whether he
did not think it possible that a fish that had swum through
forty miles of little Lemon Greys and Green and Oranges FISHING AND PHILANDERING      239
of local manufacture might prefer something a little
different; whether salmonkind, like mankind, might not
be predisposed to an occasional change; but no, I might
use up all my Jock Scotts, Silver Doctors, and Lady
Carolines, and it would be a mere chance if I got a single
rise. So they left me, and I shifted my hanging shrimp
to the next bush, and ten minutes later killed a
14-pounder within 2ft. of the bank. But as it was killed
in a manner I had learned in other waters, Garrett merely
sighed on seeing it that night.
That evening, after Garrett had gone to his supper, S.
inquired over his cup of tea, ' 'Ought one to strike a fish ?"
I told him that conventionally he should not; that the
accepted tenet was that the fish so far obliged as to hook
himself by his own weight; that some authorities went so
far as to say you might raise your hand; but that for my
part I gave a fish a jolly good jog in the mouth to drive
the hook well home, which any decent single gut would
easily stand. I quoted my friend J. G., the very best
fly fisherman (note the insidious differentiation from previously expressed definitions of this noted angler) of my
acquaintance, thrower of forty yards of dead true line,
slayer of thousands, and purist of purists. He had
carried B fine and far off "to such extremes that he only
landed one fish to every six or seven he hooked. At last
he saw the reason; his line was so long and his cast was
so fine that he dared not bury the barb.
" And if you rise a fish, do you wait five minutes? "
asked S., now arrived at the jam stage of our homely
meal. I told him that twenty years ago I had done so,
even measuring the time with a watch, but that now I
covered the same cast again at once. The idea of waiting being that the fish, having missed the fly, cruises
round looking for it, and that time should be given to
allow him to return to his lodge; but that in my opinion
he was much more likely to take it when looking for it
than after having given up the search and retired pumped
to his favourite rock. To me a salmon says, " Hullo!
There's one of those curious little things, and one of those 1
animals on the bank trying to catch it. There it is!
Blowed if I won't have it myself! " I heard a deep sigh.
Garrett, returned from supper for our letters, was leaning
against the door. " They'd have burnt ye at the shtake
a few years ago," was all he said.
But my last fish managed to surprise even me. A gale
of wind driving tropical rain precluded any fishing except
in sheltered corners. I was leaving at midday, and
badly wanted a travelling companion, so stuck to it.
The little shrimp had travelled across a heavy current
until it hung just below me in a place where there was
no sort of rock or obstruction within 4ft. of it, when it
suddenly came to a dead stop. I raised my hand and
found I was caught up in something. Evidently some
branch, I supposed, which must have floated down. In
vain I tried to release it; pull as I would, there it was,
stuck tight in something. " Well," I said to my gillie,
" whatever this is, it gave a pull just like a fish. I'll be
able to tell old Garrett I got a pull out of a branch every
bit as good as a fish.'' Then I started j erking and twitching the line to release the hook, which at last came away
with a flick and a dilapidated shrimp. To put on a fresh
one by the single hook method was the work of thirty
seconds, and in another five I was stuck fast in the same
place; but this time, after the strike, twenty yards of line
were torn off my reel, and a bright 11-pounder accompanied me by the mail.
Sitting with my friend and billiard rival, F. S., well
out in the front of the pavilion at Lord's to avail ourselves
of the full virtue of a transient sun-bath, what time Surrey
were endeavouring to avoid defeat by Middlesex, we
shortly found ourselves talking fish rather than cricket.
He had been fishing with our mutual friend P. lower
down on the same river. On hearing my story anent
trying to get the hook out of a fish, he added one so confirmatory of my argument that salmon do not mind being
pricked that I asked his permission to reproduce it.
F. S. is a man whose conversation bristles with as many
points as a cheval-de-frise, and is adorned by many grace-
L *£
ful metaphors far beyond the bounds of my poor pen, but
I must make an attempt to imitate his forceful delivery.
" I was trying a shrimp, and my idiot of a gillie
never tested the cast, with the result that after about ten
minutes a whacking big fish went off with about two feet
of it in his mouth.    I told the idiot what I thought
of him, which occupied the three or four minutes he took
putting another cast on; but certainly within five minutes
I was into another heavy .    He turned out to be an
old of a kelt about 3olb. in weight, which was rather
vexing, but you can imagine my surprise when I found
the remains of my gut trace and shrimp tackle complete in
his mouth."
Surely this may give pause to the hackneyed old
phrase, " No chance of him coming again; I pricked him
hard.'' One more story F. S. told me before the players
came in to lunch and broke up our soiree. A friend of
his, fishing on another river well known to both of us,
hooked a fish which went absolutely mad. It was evident
he was hooked outside, but when the end came it was conclusively proved that that fish was dead out of luck, for
he was not hooked at all. A marked fish, the fly, or
rather the hook, had passed through the split ring by
which the marking label was attached to the fin; which
explains how a salmon was caught without a hook being
in him at all.
It looked very much as if this trip was to conclude
my fishing for the year, for when the programme of the
drill season was published it became apparent that the
manoeuvres were not to finish till the 2781 of September,
and, as our Cachalot Club water closes on the 30th of
that month, it was good-bye to any chance of an autumn
fish out of the Quarry Pool. But observe how fortune
smiles on the deserving. While signing up the Record
of Service book I became aware that the address of the
last-joined subaltern was Doonass, and what salmon-
fisher has not heard of Doonass. Sending for the budding Wellington one question was sufficient to elicit the
wonderful fact that it was his father who owned that
mam n 1
fishery, while he added that he felt sure, if it was not let
in October, his parent would be pleased to arrange for
me to have a few days' fishing therein should I be in the
vicinity. Should I be in the vicinity! I should.
I would take very good care to be in the very closest
vicinity. And then one glorious day followed another,
and one rainless week succeeded the one before it.
Down, down, down went the " Reports from rivers"
column in the " Field," and down, down, down went
my hopes. Indeed, but for one never-to-be-forgotten
night, when the elements found me consigned with
several hundred, nay, thousand, other unfortunates, to
the top of the most exposed peak in the Chiltern Hills,
and took the opportunity to rain incessantly upon us for
eight cold, dreary hours, it seemed as if it would never
rain again. Filled with the most dire forebodings, I
arrived late one evening at Doonass, for the hospitable
invitation to fish had been accompanied by the still more
hospitable invitation to stay, and was at once filled with
joy and rapture on hearing that there had been a nice
little spate, which was just running away, and that there
was quite a chance of a fish or two. Next morning
Thomas Enright, scion of the world-famed Castle
Connell family, came up to the house for me and my
tackle. Living on the banks of perhaps the most
famous bit of salmon water in the kingdom, it was only
in accordance with the vicissitude of things that neither
my host or his sons fished. Ye gods and little fishes!
What would I give for that abode to belong to me. For,
as if to make things easier and pleasanter than they
naturally were, the river makes a noble bend here, allowing the builders—probably they were anglers^—to select
a most convenient site in the very angle divided off by
the foaming rapids.
For the benefit of those who may not know I will give
a short description of these Castle Connell waters.
They are divided up into the following fisheries, Doonass,
Worldsend, Summerhill, De Burgho, Woodlands,
Hermitage, New Garden, Prospect, and Landscape, but
■the  greatest  of  these   is   Doonass.     Although  these
stretches are practically always let, it occasionally hap^
■pens   that   a   tenant   is   anxious   to   sub-let;   Messrs.
■Enright, Castle Connell, would be sure to know of any
of these fleeting opportunities, and anyone with a week
lor fortnight to spare should write to them for particulars, for they also own the comfortable hotel in Castle
I Connell, where one, less fortunate than myself, would
put up.    But to continue: the Doonass water consists
■ of the following pools, on the right bank of the river,
land, since their characters vary quite as much as those
■of the anglers who fish them, the fortunate sportsman
■with the right to do so has fishing at his disposal in
I almost any height of water.    Commencing at the top
■there are Sallybush,  Lacka,  Lurgah, Old Turf,  The
[Dancing Hole, Lickenish, Old Door, Black Weir, The
[Island, Poul Coom, Faalgorribs, and Franklin's Eddy, a
I very galaxy of wealth of water, a regular tiara of salmon-
haunted holes, and flats, and streams.
Thomas Enright, with a rod over each shoulder, and
I my bag slung over his back, entertained me as we walked
[down the one field which separates the house from the
I river, with the most optimistic views of vast possibilities.
[Barely had he introduced me to his brother Edward, who
was to accompany us in the cot, when a salmon of noble
proportions popped up his head to welcome me, a salu-
I tation which I instantly returned by taking off my hat,
'and remember what was said before, that if you don't do
that to the first fish you see you will have no luck.
So we embarked on Lacka and fished it down twice,
as also Sallybush, and though we moved a fish at the
"Dublin Fusilier" he would not call again, and at
lunch time we disembarked, with one small white trout,
which had failed to resist the charm of a fly nearly half
as long as itself. We had stuck religiously to the fly
all the morning, one excellent reason for doing so being
that the shrimps had not arrived. After lunch we went
to Poul Coom, and here also we were greeted by many
a stately head and shoulders, while occasionally some 244      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
noble fellow would throw his whole glittering length
clear out of the water. In the very tail of it the same
fly produced a thrilling boil, but, as in the morning, no
second effort. A Jock Scott, and a Black Dog, met with
no better success. Had I a minnow? I had. It was
no manner of use. Had I a spoon ? I had. A couple
that had lived in the pocket of my fly-book for a quarter
of a century and had swum to victory against mighty
mahseer in the Giri in the eighties. My good fairy had
induced me to send them both to Malloch to be re-armed,
and Thomas viewed them with approval, while Edward
was sceptical, and I was merely doubtful. But it was a
difficult cast with a vengeance. Not only did this salmon
live in a little flat a good twenty-five yards away, but
behind my back there grew an enormous, and most out
of place, blackberry bush. Time after time I failed to
get the spoon to my fancy, or the salmon's, till at last
Thomas, somewhat grimly, told me that would do. But
it would not do, not for me, nor for the fish : I could not
stand being beaten like that, and I said so. The very
next cast was a beauty—I am sorry, but the truth must
be told, and it was a real beauty. I was in the act of
saying it would cover him, when all my efforts were
needed to prevent his going down to Limerick in his
first rush. After that it was easier, and a few minutes
later Edward slipped the gaff into a 23-pounder. And
oh ! but what an artist he was with the gaff. For twenty-
five years have I watched the instrument being used,
but never in the manner of old Edward.
Since both my gillies held the very general opinion
that a playing fish disturbs a pool, which in my opinion
is absolutely incorrect, they removed me to a funny little
cast at the head of the island. Here one stood on a
rock and with a short little line fished the water at one's
feet. Tingling with my recent success there came into
my mind some verses of the poet I have sworn by ever
since, as a boy in India, " Departmental Ditties," came
into my hands. I thought of " If," that wondrous poem,
which in a few lines sums up the pros and cons of life FISHING AND PHILANDERING       245
and stirs me from my lowest depths to my greatest
heights, in the endeavour to live up to those splendid
" Ifs."
I If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.''
Could I ? I wondered, and—Ah !—down in the deep,
a bending shadow of light returning to the murky unknown, after a rise as swift as any grayling's, and a
bending, quivering rod point denoting he had hooked
himself. Himself? Well himself or herself, for I was
never to catch another glimpse. For full ten minutes
that fish swam slowly to and fro, and round and round.
During all that time he, or she, never went ten yards
from the spot where the fight began, and, in spite of
utmost strain, never once did the casting line come out
of the water. Ah ! Gone. Gone without a chance of
knowing those proportions. Thomas grunted, | That
was a big fish": Edward knocked out his pipe in
silence : I said, " Shall I never get a big fellow ? " and
then I remembered " If." Now was the time to see
whether I could % be a man, my son " : I had met that
afternoon with " Triumph" I hope without undue
elation, and here, close on his heels, was | Disaster,"
black and hopeless disaster. Could I treat it " just the
same ? "    I could.    I would.    I did.
Three chastened men but undismayed, we made our
way to Lacka, old Lacka as Tom called it, vowing
he would not exchange it for the rest of the river.
The autumn evening was drawing in as we got
there, but the shrimps had arrived from Limerick,
and, the fly having had Jts full share, a mounting of two triangles was adjusted to one of the
little red fellows and in he went. I did not like
the mounting and said so, and Edward was inclined to
agree with me. Then, just as we reached the eddy,
tug-tug there came a gentle pull, and as the rod was
raised most of the six hooks went home and a fine game 246      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
of pully-hauly ensued. The question before the house
was whether this fish would consent to stay in Lacka
and be gaffed like a gentleman in the " Bloody hole," as
the favourite spot for that operation is more euphoniously
than politely named, or whether he would insist on
descending the rapid, to what seemed to me a ghastly
place of rocks mysterious and rushing eddies. That
this was his intention became manifest after some ten
minutes' heated argument, throughout which those invaluable brethren paid me the compliment of giving me
no advice whatsoever. But now as we slithered down
the foaming, tumbling water I was told to turn my hand
in to the other side and that was all. Arrived at this
station I found breath to murmur " He's only a small
fish after all: about 15 or i61bs.: I caught sight of him
coming down the top of the water," an observation which
elicited no reply. The next question was whether he
was going to get out here or go on to the next station,
and the gathering gloom closed round us ere it was
answered. But at last he came slowly closer, Edward
picked up the long gaff, and a few seconds later it was
neatly inserted. And then, and not till then, as the
aged gillie put forth his strength and slowly brought
foot after foot of fish over the side of the cot, I realised
that at last my hopes were crowned and I had killed a
big fish. How splendid he looked in the fading light
as we landed and laid him on the grass. Triumph!
Triumph! We shook hands at last, and oh! but it was
difficult to treat such an impostor, such a glorious impostor, unenthusiastically. I put him at 331DS., my boatmen at 34IDS., but my steelyard only weighed up to
30, and that left his tail on the ground. So Edward
carried him up to the house, and host and hostess and
subaltern officer came in to the kitchen to admire him.
A bit coloured of course, but what of that. All I cared
about was his weight. I so wanted to beat 35lbs. For
did not two of my oldest friends, living in juxtaposition,
each own a case with a 35-pounder in it, the one from
Galway, and the other from the Avon.    But truth will
Jk mmmm
out and this fine fellow failed by half-a-pound to come
up to his rivals. Never mind : what matter : I was satisfied : completely satisfied.
Since it may happen to a brother, or sister, angler
someday to catch a monster beyond the power of their
steelyards, here are one or two tips to arrive at the
weights of fish. Suppose you have no weighing
machine : take the length and girth in inches: then
L+ 1000* °2 w*^ approximately equal the weight in
pounds, where L = length, and C= circumference.
Next suppose you have a steelyard, but not a sufficiently powerful one. Take a stick three feet long. At
a point B, one foot from one end, A, tie a bit of string
and attach it to a beam or hook. At the end A hang
your fish; to the other end, C, attach your steelyard,
and pull till the stick A B C is horizontal: then the
length B C being double the length A B the fish
will weigh twice the amount indicated on the weighing-
Again, suppose you have no machine, but a known
weight. Call your stick E D, and hang your fish, B, at
the end E, and your known weight, A, say iolbs., at the
end D. Now lift your stick and find out a point C on it
where equilibrium is obtained, and measure the distances
E C, C D. Then, A equalling iolbs., E C five inches,
and C D thirteen inches, the weight of the fish is 10 x 13
= 261bs. 5
Next day I met Triumph twice in the shape of 2olbs.
and 22lbs. fish. Both succumbed to shrimps after two
or three flies had done their best. The triangles and
Thomas were to the fore, and all was well. Water and
weather were holding up, and life was worth living. Yet
the next day everything went wrong. For a long time
I fished fly and shrimp, and both were equally useless.
Then in an hour I hooked four fish and lost every one of
them. Here was Disaster with a great big capital D, and
as the hooks came away from the last, which seemed a
" dangerous big fish " as Thomas called him, Edward
and I went on strike and insisted on the substitution of 248      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
one big single hook for the two triangles and their
accompanying needle.
But it was not till next day that the single hook got an
opportunity, but when it came it seized it bravely. The
fight which followed was a matter of very few minutes.
A few ponderous and dignified circles in Lacka, a halfhearted attempt at a return to the sea, and a slow yielding
to a pressing invitation to come to the above-mentioned"
hole. Once more a fleeting glimpse in the dark water
made me grievously under-estimate my friend: for once
again after the gaff went home did Edward groan as he
put his back into it to heave a noble fish inboard. Here
was welcome Triumph back once more: here was
evidently a larger fish, and better built than the other.
Had I done it this time ? By Jove! I had: 35f lbs. % Io
Triumphe." What a fish! What a present for the
sergeants' mess, outvieing the previous one eaten by the
officers: beautiful twins, whose outlines adorn the walls
of my smoking-room, to bring back golden memories each
time they fill my eyes.
What a week it was: how those two impostors alternated: what a chart my spirits would have shown in spite
of all my efforts at equanimity. For next morning I
hooked a fish in Lacka and played him for some thirty-five
minutes, down through pool after pool till the inevitable
in such water occurred, and my casting line came back
cut through. What splendid gut it was: one does not
like to advertise, but justice is justice, and my old friend
Mr. Harold, of Mallow, will supply my gut for the future,
as he has done a great deal of it in the past. Well, it
was nobody's fault, and my principal regret was that we
had no idea of his size: truly he may have been anything:
he might have made me famous. But the day was far
from over; misfortunes seldom come singly, and late that
afternoon every detail of the morning battle was exactly
repeated, and I was left with two cut casts, and an arm
that ached far into the next day.
However, before the week was over came consolation,
dressed up as 12 and 17 pounders, rewards of keen atten- FISHING AND PHILANDERING      249
tion to business, hard work, and a due and just appreciation of a situation, whose salient feature was represented by the fact that the fish were not taking the fly.
But this is not the place to re-open old wounds. Live
and let live; fish and let fish; thanking our stars when our
luck is in the ascendant; hoping against hope when our
star is below the horizon; but, above and beyond all, rejoicing at the good fortune of others, and doing our best
in every way, at all times, to improve their prospects and
make life fairer for them, whether out in the open on the
pleasant banks, or in the more tangled troubles that beset
our daily lives.
Be quiet and go a angling.
Izaak Walton.
The following lines were written by a friend of mine, who has
very kindly given me permission to reproduce them here. I count
myself very fortunate in securing such a conclusion.
In my Fishing Book.
(After A. B. Paterson's Verses).
I have gathered these f Records " afar,
In the sunshine and rain:
On waters where e'er fishes are,
And many are slain;
On days when the sport was the best
And you " couldn't go wrong " :
In storm, too, with infinite zest,
I have fished hard and long.
They are just the crude facts of my sport,
Afar and anear,
Of many a fish lost or caught,
As year follows year.
But the wonderful scenes they recall
By loch, river and stream
Are the best recollections of all—
A beautiful dream. 250      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
This little account of my bag
Means nothing to you :
But for me the old joy, should it flag,
'Twill awaken anew.
Their merit indeed is but slight,
Yet I shall not repine
If you grant me a moment's delight
In these pages of mine.
J. E. Deacon. INDEX
' Buchan, John, 187
Add, River, 104
Buckland, Frank, 125
Admiral, The, 155, 158, 198, 199
Byron, 120
Alexandra, Queen,   171
Allahabad, 44
Alverstoke, 183
Cachalot Club,  155,  156,   157,  158,
Angler at large, 17
175, 191, 194, 198, 208, 214, 217,
Antony, Mark, 127
225, 235, 241
Antony and Cleopatra, 22, 93
Cambridge,  108
Arson, River, 40
Cane, Colonel, 187, 191
Athos, 108, 109, no
Cape Town,  182
Athy, Bard of, 201
Cashel, 74, 79, 80, 83
Avon, River, 93, 105, in, 201, 204,
Cashmere, 37
Castle Connell, 43, 242, 243
Ayle Vane House, 86
Chambal, River, 35, 39
" Charles," 59, 62, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71,
72, 160
Bacon,  Lord, 201
Chiltern Hills, 242
Besika Bay, 60, 167
Churchill, Winston, 223  *
Bexhill, 174
Coarse fishing, 18
" Billy," 17, 22, 158, 187,  191, 192,
Colenso, 59, 72
193, 216
Compleat Angler, 17
Birdhill, 87
Cong, 74, 77, 78, 83
Blackie,  John Stuart, 74
Connemara, 74, 79, 81, 82, 83
Bombay, 137
Corrib, Lough, 78, 79, 188
"Bosun, The," 155,  156,  157,  158,
Costello, 74, 81
159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 175, 176,
Crown Princess, The, 213, 216, 217
Cullinan, Patsy,  139
| Boyne, River, 93,  100,  153
Curragh, The, 47, 206
Braid, J., 23
Brian Boru, 88
Brighton, 51
D'Artagnan,  108,  no,  228
Brodrick, Mr., 171
Days stolen for sport, 17
Brown, Nicholas, 48, 188
Deacon, J. E., 250
Browndown,  183
De Burgho, 242
" Brownie," 93, 94, 95
Dee, River, 41, 46 252       FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Delhi, 39
Deoli, 35
Derg, Lough, 75, 84, 87, 189
Deveron, River, 104, 143, 201,
4  Dibs," 183
Dobson, Austin, 107
Don Juan, 47
Doonass, 241, 242, 243
Doon Valley, 39
Douane, Jack, 175,  180,  181
" Dougall," 177
Dublin, 56, 67, 69, 77, 86, 89
Grace, Mrs. and the Misses, 86, 8
Grace's Hotel, 84, 231
Hardy, Messrs., 43
Harold, Mr., 248
Hathersage, 118
Haugh, E., 155, 157, 170, 177
Hermitage, 242
Himalayas, 40, 46,  182
Hodgson, the late Earl, 126, 185
Dublin  Fusilier,  The,   15,  58,   131
136,  137. 243
Edward VIL, King, 79,  171,  194
Enright, Edward, 243, 244, 245, 246,
247, 248
Enright, the late John, 26
Enright,  Messrs.,  243
Enright, Thomas, 242, 243, 244, 245,
Fane, River, 93.
Farlow, 43
Farnham, 85
"Felix," 34, 35
Fermoy, 157, 180, 191
Findhorn, River, 41, 46
Francis, Francis* 125,  161, 218
Galway, 47, 68, 74, 75, 79, 80, 81,
83, 91, 167, 180, 188, 219, 237,
Garrett, 12, 29, 175, 180, 194, 197,
214, 225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 235,
236, 237, 238, 239, 240
Geen, Mr. P.,  131,  146
Giri, River, 41, 42, 45, 46, 244
Glass, River, 104, 186
Gordon, Adam Lindsay, 120, 186
Gosport, 85
Gowla, Lough, 80
Jardine, Robert, 186.
"Joe," 101, 103, 104
"Johnny," 47, 48, 49, 52,  53, 54,
55. 56. 57, 67, 68, 69, 76, 167,
"Jonathan," 17, 18, 20, 25, 26, 27,
47. 48, pj 52. 54. 56, 90,  107,
108, 120, 127, 131, 135, 137, 140,
197, 201, 202, 204
Jumna, River, 40, 41
Karakwasla, Lake, 31, 33
Killaloe, 84, 86, 87, 89, 91, 225, 231
Kinn,  Tom, 94
Kipling, Rudyard, 30, 208
Ladysmith,   137
Landscape, 242
Lang, Andrew,  213
Lee-on-the-Solent, 85
Liffey,  River,  93,  9*:
Limerick,  244
" Little Man, The,"
160, 183
Lochy, River, 104, 201, 203
Luscombe, Mr., 44
i55.  158,  i59>
MacTavish, The,  113,  114,  115
Madras, 137
Malloch, Mr., 137, 215, 244
Mallow, 248 INDEX                                253
Mask, Lough, 78, 89
Ridd, Jan, 39
Maxwell, Sir Herbert, 29, 120
Rod in India, 45
May lam, Drummer, 102
Mayo, 79
Saharanpore, 39
McDonagh, Edward, 188
"Sapper, The," 155, 157
Melia, John, 188
Screebc, 74, 80, 81, 83
Melton, Jack, 57, 101, 102, 101
, 164,
Sewaliks, The, 40
Shakespeare, 201, 208
"Mike," 56
Shannon, River, 87, 231
Mill Street, 231
Shea, Tom, 175, 176, 177
Milne,  Mr.,  188
Sheffield, 100, 116, 118, 142
Mont Pelerin, 226
Sheringham, H. T., 15, 17, 144, 148,
Mooti-Moola, River, 34
I51. 2IS
Mount Shannon, 89
Simla, 46
Moycullen,  188
Slaney, River, 93
Mussoorie, 46
"Smiler, The," 175, 177
Southampton, 157
Spike Island, 175
Napoleon,  13,  100,  166,  189,
" Squire, The," 155, 158, 208, 225,
Nasirabad, 34, 39
Neemuch, 34
Stevenson, Mr., 13, 23, 166
Nenagh, 89
Summerhill,  242
North Esk., River, 104, 204
Switzerland,  172
Osborne,  194
Tees, River, 93,  105
Thomas, H. S., 45
#        F
"Thread," 51, 52, 53
1 Paddy," 50
Tilbury, 214
Paris,  108,  no
Titchfield, 85
Paterson, A. B., 249
" Tommy," 201, 206, 207
Pennell, Cholmondeley, 44
1 Tramp, The," 137
Pietermaritzburg, 70, 124
"Tripper, The," 155,  158,  159
Poona, 30, 31, 34
Tugela, River, 72
Portaragh, 188
Port Elizabeth, 182
Turner-Turner, Mr., 204
Tweed, River, 127, 191
Porthos, 108, no, 228
Portsmouth, 84
Umsinduzi,- River, 70, 124
Prospect, 242
Punchestown,  48, 69
Versailles, 109
Queries, Francis, 61, 84
Walton,  Izaak, 28, 45, 57, 72, 82,
86, 91, 105, 116, 118, 120, 128,
Raleigh, Sir Walter, 29
i32.   H3»   J53.   l64»   x74>   l85-
Recess, 74, 79,  83
199, 211, 220, 233, 235, 249 254      FISHING AND PHILANDERING
Ward,  Dr.,  237
Ward, Rowland, 48, 212
Wavre, 61
Westmeath Lakes, 89
Whyte Melville, G. J., 59, 72, 214
Woodlands, 242
Worldsend, 242
Zetland Arms, The, 74, 80
Printed by Ebenezer Baylia $>• Son, Trinity Work$, Worcetter, and London.    University of British Columbia Library
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