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Title: Black Bass - Where to catch them in quantity within an hour's ride from New York
Author: Bradford, Charles Barker, 1862-1917
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Libraries.)



BLACK BASS.


  WHERE TO CATCH THEM IN QUANTITY WITHIN AN HOUR'S
  RIDE OF NEW YORK.


  Best Methods and Baits fully treated upon, with salient
  Practical Hints upon choice of Rods and Tackle.


  Weather Prognostications and Atmospheric Influences Reviewed.


  [Illustration (handwriting): Charles Barker Bradford]


  NEW YORK:
  THE W. P. POND PUBLISHING CO.,
  37 W. 24TH STREET.


Copyright, 1888, W. P. Pond & Co.



    Let me live harmlessly, and near the brink
      Of Trent or Avon have a dwelling-place:
    Where I may see my fly or cork down sink,
      With eager bite of pike, or bass, or dace,
    And on the world and my Creator think:
      While some men strive ill-gotten goods t'embrace:
    And others spend their time in base excess
      Of wine, or worse, in war or wantonness.
    Let them that will, these pastimes still pursue,
      And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill,
    So I the fields and meadows green may view,
      And daily by fresh rivers walk at will.

    --_Ancient Angler._



[Illustration: Black Bass Fishing]


There is probably no more welcome news for one fond of black bass
fishing than a description and general details of where good sport
may be had; and when the individual is a unit in the population of a
large city and suddenly learns that this is obtainable within an easy
distance, the information is worth its weight in gold, in his
estimation, if in no one else's. The main object of this paper on
black bass fishing is to supply that knowledge to a large contingent,
and also to give a few hints to those, who, fond of fishing, may
still be open to a few practical hints. There are possibly many
fishermen like myself, who, while not unfamiliar with salt-water
sport with rod and line, still know and fully appreciate the pleasure
of fishing for the fresh-water black bass.

Salt-water fishing is grand sport, but there are many denizens of a
city who have been reared in the districts of fresh-water streams,
lakes and ponds, who have not had the opportunities of cultivating
salt-water sport, and who even when surrounded with every facility
for its pursuit, would still be elated at finding some well-stocked
stream near at hand. Anglers, as a rule, are unable to go far a-field
in search of fresh-water fishing, and for six years past it was a
continual thorn in my flesh, mortifying me considerably, that no
information could be obtained of any good fishing that did not
necessitate an absence of several days.

Last season, entirely by accident, I ran upon a magnificent place
within nineteen miles of New York City. It is a beautiful spot,
easily reached without much expense or trouble and within an hour's
ride by rail. In all my search, this is the one spot I care to
recommend to my readers. Take the cars from Jersey City to Rahway, N.
J., and upon arriving there walk to a small village called Milton,
half a mile west of Rahway; pass through this, continue half a mile
further west, and you will reach Milton Lake. An hour and a half's
time covers the distance. I generally take the one-thirty p. m.
train, and return in the evening; but trains run almost every hour to
and from Rahway.

Milton Lake is a body of water about a mile square, with two outlets,
one falling over a picturesque stone dam twenty feet high into a
stream about ten feet wide; and the other outlet, a small stream
flowing through a mill-gate to the Milton Mills. In each of these
streams there are plenty of bass, but in the lake proper and in the
little brook that flows into the upper end of the lake, they are in
abundance. I pass the lake itself and follow the little stream for
about half a mile until I come to White's Farm. This I have found to
be the finest fishing ground. The stream is about eighteen feet wide
at the narrowest part and from fifty to sixty at its widest. It rises
miles upon miles back in the country somewhere, and runs rippling and
chattering over the shallows, surging silently over the pools until
it empties into the lake. I have never fished higher than White's
Farm, being well satisfied with the sport obtained there, but the
resident farmers tell me that there is even finer fishing up stream.

Like the average fisherman, I am more or less superstitious, and
having always had good luck at my favorite place (the edge of a fine
piece of wood, which, by the way, contain a few woodcock), I do not
care to seek further, and, perhaps, fare worse.

Here, where the stream branches off from a wide pond-like section,
and slowly flows past two dozen or so fine willows on either bank, I
have made a rude seat in one of the trees, and using a coat for a
cushion, have spent many pleasant hours; not always fishing, but on
hot summer afternoons, shaded from the sun, just letting my line run
out in the water, careless about either rise or catch, in quiet
repose, looking at the beautiful natural landscape around me, fairly
enchanted with its rural splendor. Then I feel that for a short
space, at least, I have thrown off the burden of a busy life, and
can quietly absorb all that Dame Nature thus generously affords. I
see the silvery sky-reflecting stream winding its peaceful way
through the rich pasturage, under the rustic bridge, past the line of
undulating willows, that, moving with the faintest breath of air,
seem ever bending down to kiss its ripples; past the green banks and
orchards, on through clover patches, and sedge-lined promontories,
flashing like burnished metal at the rifts, black as night in the
pools, dappled and flecked by the mirrored clouds, kissed into "cat's
paws" by the faint breeze; on it goes until its farther course is
lost in the shadow of the olive-green woods that tower in massive
darkness against the soft amber-colored clouds and pale blue sky. The
watchful kingfisher, perched on the other side of the stream, eyes me
askance but has no great fear at my presence, the splash of a
disturbed turtle or the heavier fall of a diving frog calling for his
more earnest attention. Bass are leaping in every direction; far up
on the hillside sounds the bell of a cow; nearer still calls "Bob
White;" robins are piping; the wrens are chirping; a hungry crow
dismally cawks, and all these sounds mingle with the music of the
millions of trilling nameless tiny insects concealed in the deep
grasses below me and in the fluttering leaves over-head.

What greater pleasure can a busy man wish for than to now and again
"leave life and the world behind" for a few hours and amid
surroundings like these smoke and chat with a congenial friend, in
pleasant shade, until the sun sinks towards the West, and the work of
fishing begins.

One can fish equally well from bank or boat. The stream sides are
grass-bound and flower-decked to the very water edge, affording dry
and safe footing, with here and there a fence to lean against, or
hang your impedimenta upon. A little to the left of the farmhouse is
the orchard, succeeded by a wood of nut and oak trees, which slope to
the banks of the lake, and under whose shade bass may be caught at
any hour of the day, be the sun ever so hot. The water here is deep
and cool, and I use it as a swimming ground. It is also a fine place
to cool drinks in. A bottle of Piper Heidsieck or a bottle or two of
beer slung into the depths of the pool with a stout cord, can be
drawn up an hour later cool as a snow stream in the mountains. A
little distance above a rustic bridge spans the stream, under and on
either side of which, just in the shadow line, a dozen or more fine
bass, weighing up to four pounds each, may be seen at any time. As
one crosses the bridge they raise their weather-eye and look up, but
do not move, whilst hundreds of young bass, an inch or two in length,
shoot from the innumerable crevices like so many fresh-water shiners.
The very foundation of the bridge seems to be alive with them. There
are also a number of giant sun-fish here which seldom refuse a bait.
At daybreak on fine mornings, when camping there for a day or two, I
have caught in less than an hour half a dozen two-pound bass, not
counting other fish and small bass which I tossed back. I used one of
Chubb's ordinary silk trolling lines and one of Abbey's spoons,
which, by the way, to my fancy spin more freely and better than any
others I have used. This I worked sometimes from a small bark canoe
and sometimes from a wooden one, which I keep at the farm, and use to
paddle up and down the stream between the willows and the bridge, or
upon the lake itself.

Many men prefer a boat and oars, but I find a light canoe infinitely
preferable. The double paddle makes less splash than the oars, and if
one can use the Canadian single blade, it does not make any noise at
all. Added to this it is easier managed, one sees where one is going,
and it can be lifted with one hand from stream to lake, and lake to
stream.

The fish under the bridge are very tempting, but also very wary, and
the residents say they are but seldom caught from the bridge itself.
One day I cast a yellow-body fly, (a clumsy affair, but the best I
had, having lost my fly book on the cars) and as it fell on the water
I let it drift under the bridge, more in carelessness than by intent,
and as it reached the rich bank of green weeds out of my sight, I
felt the tug and magnetic vibration that every angler knows so well.
Quick as a flash I dropped from the bridge to the bank, ran knee deep
into the stream, and fighting the fish clear of the structure and
reeds, landed a three-pound five-ounce beauty at my side on the
bank. "That's the first fish I've seen caught from the bridge," said
an admiring native, and it was the only one I ever caught, although
my line has dropped there many times before and since.

Now I know the trick. I made a stout cord fast to a stump above the
bridge, and let my canoe float down under and through the bridge,
then I cast my fly, and a boy sitting in the bows slowly pulled me
through again up to the stump. The fish seeing no splash, only the
passing shadow of the silent canoe, took my fly readily, and in the
early morning I was sure of a fairly good catch. If fished for from
the bridge, they will lie there, and never move a fin; the current is
weak, and if scared away by a stone or twig, they will return in a
second or two, almost to the same spot. I fancy the first one I
caught was not a regular "bridge bass," but was one swimming up
stream at the edge of the weeds in search of his breakfast. Now if
any of my fishing friends think they can catch these bridge bass, I
will guarantee to show them (or they can go and see for themselves)
from six to a dozen of the beauties lying there at any time.

When I do not succeed with them to my satisfaction, I get some one to
systematically drop stones and drive them up stream, where, perhaps
out of pure unadulterated cussedness, they seem to readily take a
fly. A great advantage of this spot up stream is that the baby bass
and sun fish give but little trouble. The principal nuisances are
the large eels. If the line touches the bottom for an instant an eel
seems certain to be waiting for it, and I would as readily handle a
squid as an eel.

My brother, who frequently accompanies me, is not a fisherman and
prefers fishing for eels, and by a rule of contrariness the bass
bother him quite as much as the fresh-water "snakes," as I call them,
bother me.

Among my troubles I must not forget the mud turtles and snappers.
They, too, are a nuisance when baiting with worms, and anyone who
desires a few of the "shell-backs" can be abundantly accommodated.

For more than two miles of this lovely stream any man who knows how
to handle a rod or throw a fly can land, or at least hook, some of
the liveliest two to three pounders he could wish for, and although
bass vary in their tastes at different periods of the day, I know
nothing better than the common trolling spoon as a regular thing.
There is one pool where I would almost be inclined to wager that I
could get a strike with either spoon or fly every ten minutes during
the first two hours of daylight, or from five to eight in the
evening. That is saying a good deal, but it is a fact.

The best fish I caught last season was when I was going up stream in
the canoe near the mouth of the lake and close to the right side. By
a sudden movement I shot under some willow branches. I was just
letting my line run out after a weed strike and was holding the
paddle in my left hand, with the line between my teeth, using my
right hand to give a good push to clear the boughs, when "zip, zip!"
a beauty seized my bait as I floated out. I got nervous, upset my
canoe and rolled into the water, but waded on shore and landed my
fish. He weighed four pounds, seven ounces, live weight, and I have
his head and tail and a clear conscience to prove it.

The last half day of the season I was fishing at Milton Lake, and I
caught eighteen fine bass, and two eels, the latter as large round as
a policeman's club and as dirty and slimy as usual. Eels always
remind me of a skinny circus contortionist. When I am unfortunate
enough to hook one, I generally make a clean cut of two yards of silk
line, hook and all, and tie him up to the fence, or bow stay of my
canoe. I would willingly let all of them go again only from a
lingering remnant of a boyish superstition that they would go and
tell all the bass how horribly indigestible my bait was.

I remember catching a big snapping turtle, weighing about twelve
pounds, in the lake one day. When I pulled it up, my companion
grabbed it, and I really think I would have jumped overboard but for
the fear that others might be around to make things more pleasant for
me for jumping "from the frying pan into the fire." I suppose a
salt-water fisherman would have yelled and danced for joy; I am not
built that way. When I fish for bass, I want bass, and when I fish
for turtles--No! I would not want them even then. The next one that
takes my bait can have pole, line, hook and all.

The bass in the lake are innumerable, but they are more difficult to
catch than those in the stream, a fact which pleases the true
fisherman, who fishes to match his skill and science against the
instinct and cunning of the fish, rather than with the one sole
intention of making his bag larger than that of any preceding angler.

Remember the lake bass want _sport_ more than _food_, and the bait
must be handled in a lively manner to bring success. Some fifteen
years ago this water was stocked by some wealthy Jersey men, and,
from what I can learn, not half a dozen expert anglers have visited
its waters in the past ten years, and there is no record of anybody
ever having fished the stream I here describe.

Last season I only met three strangers at the lake, but they never
seemed to catch anything beyond eels, turtles, sun-fish, and a few
two inch bass, the name of which they did not even know, and I got
into their bad graces by telling them they ought to return the bass
into the lake. They thought I was a crank, in fact one of them told
me so. These men were salt-water sports, and one man who came there
from Newark, N. J., was actually baiting with shrimps for fresh-water
bass and had no less than eight hooks upon his line, all baited with
shrimps. This man also told me that there were no decent fish in the
lake, and strange to say, this appears to be the general opinion of
the few visitors.

I met one good fly fisherman a year ago, who had several fine
beauties on the bank. He had taken his stand behind my tree before I
arrived, and he was an artist. We became good friends and promised to
meet again, but have not done so as yet. He agreed with me that the
lake was full of beautiful fish, and that they were a trifle hard to
catch, which fact we both agreed was very good for the interests of
the true lovers of the art of angling.

Another fine place for bass within an easy distance of New York is
Greenwood Lake, which lies half in New York and half in New Jersey.
It is on the Erie railroad and has several good hotels and a club
house open during the summer. Guides are to be had at a moderate
figure, and the fishing during the last three seasons has been good.

Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island, is another good fishing ground. Take
the Long Island railroad to the depot at Ronkonkoma; from there
stages run to the lake during the season. Distance, about two miles.

Tuxedo Park is confined to members of the Tuxedo Park Club, and has a
fine supply of large and lively bass, which take a fly remarkably
well.

At Lake Hopatcong, N. Y., bass are plentiful, but without a guide
little good is to be done. It lies on the Morris and Essex railroad,
two hours ride from Hoboken. During the summer a very good house, the
Hotel Breslin, is open. This hotel was first opened last year, is
exceedingly moderate in its charges, is well fitted throughout, and
is by far the best house of them all. There are several guides at the
Lake, the best average of them being Morris Decker, who has an island
in the lake on which he lets out tents to camping parties, supplying
them with all necessaries at reasonable terms. He is well posted in
the various feeding grounds, and with him good sport is a certainty,
if the weather is right. There are some very large bass here. Mr.
Eugene C. Blackford has caught several at four and a half pounds, and
five and a quarter pounds. One was caught three years ago weighing
eight pounds two ounces. There are plenty of good pickerel, and
anglers are but little annoyed by sun-fish or eels. There is a fine
fishing club-house on Bertrand Island, which is very exclusive. The
best bait here has proved to be live bait, minnows, or frogs. Now as
regards bait for still-fishing, I have tried almost everything at odd
times.

Bass are very peculiar fish as regards feeding. Sometimes they take
one bait right along all day, and at other times will change morning,
noon, and night, also from sunshine to cloud. I generally start in
the early morning with grasshoppers, and if that does not suit them,
I vary it to the helgramite--known to naturalists as the larvæ of the
horned corydalis, locally called "dobsons," "dobsell," "hellion,"
"crawler," "kill-devil," etc.--a live minnow, small green frog, small
bull-head, or a "lamper"--local name for small lamprey eel.

The dobson is the most stable bait for still fishing, and a good plan
is to pass a piece of silk under the shield in the back and then pass
the hook through that; the same scheme is equally good with
grasshoppers. Towards evening, I found worms a very good bait, except
when rain threatened.

In using a minnow, I pass the hook up through the lower lip and out
the nostril; it then lives a long time. Some anglers hook through
both lips, the lower one first. Hooked either way, a dead minnow
moves like a live one. I always treat a minnow as Izaak Walton spoke
of a frog, "as if I loved him."

The angler cannot be too careful of his minnows. I change the water
frequently, not waiting for them to come up to breathe; it is then
too late, and they cannot be resuscitated. In hot weather I place a
piece of ice in flannel on the top of the pail. A little salt added
to the water is a great improvement, about as much as will lie on a
silver quarter, to two gallons of water. Fifty minnows to a five
gallon pail with a handful of weeds to keep the fish from bruising
themselves, is about the right proportion of fish to space.

Of all baits the old Florida "bob," I think, is still the most
effective. It was mentioned by Bertram, in 1764, and is still used.
It is made by tying three hooks back to back, invested with a piece
of deer's tail somewhat in the manner of a large hackle, studded with
scarlet feathers, forming a tassel or tuft similar to that used on
the trolling spoon. If this be thrown with a sweeping surface draw
under trees or bushes, it is almost irresistible.

On the spoon I always run a lamper or a minnow, and for slow water,
like the stream at Milton, or for lake fishing, I manufacture one as
follows: A spoon not more than three quarters of an inch in length.
If you cannot buy one so small, get one made by some working jeweller
or metallist. Then slide a round black bead as large as a pea on your
line just above your hook, letting the spoon be above it. This will
be found to spin in the slowest water, and, as every bass fisher
knows, the slower the rate of progression, the better, so long as the
spoon is spinning. I seldom use any sinker at Milton Lake, there
being little or no current, and the trees as a rule keep off any
wind. In the stream I generally drift down, letting my line float in
front of the boat, and getting well down stream troll back up stream,
to drift down again. For the benefit of the tyros I may here remark,
that success in trolling for bass, I think, depends largely upon a
perfect knowledge of the depth of water, and that the bait should be
kept about eighteen inches from the bottom all the way. I study the
pools in my favorite streams, locating them by trees, etc., on the
bank, and then judge the depth my bait lies at by the angle at which
my line runs from my mouth or pole to the water. This will, with a
little practice, tell me at what depth my bait is swimming. Dobsons
and small bull-heads I obtain by striking the large rocks in the
rifts and shallows with another large stone, and setting a net fixed
upon a bowed stick behind it. The bull-heads and dobsons will float,
stunned, into its meshes. I have also found them clinging to old
spiles supporting a dam, or submerged stonework. They may be kept
alive any length of time if placed in a can containing rotten wood.
They are the best shallow water bait for still fishing. My experience
is that it pays better to buy bait than hunt for it, which takes up
time and tires one.

An all important point is the best day for fishing from a weather
point of view. We all know the varied ideas and superstitions of
fishermen, and truly there is a great deal to be said in favor of
many of the theories when backed by actual observation.

Bass are found in different localities at different times; in the
early part of the season they will be found on the rifts where, of
course, the water is warmest; the best bait at this time is the
helgramite and larvæ; as the season advances they will move to the
deeper still water that lies under the bushes and trees, taking
insects and flies; and later still, they will be found in the deep
holes, lying under rocky ledges, or where gravel has fallen from the
banks and been washed away by the spring freshets. At this period the
best bait is small minnows, crayfish, molluscs, etc. Yet without
rhyme and reason, I find they may at any time be found in deep water
one day and in the shallows the next.

As a rule I fish the shallows until the reeds, rushes, and other
aquatic plants fringing the deeper waters are well grown; then I try
among them, finding flies give the best sport.

For bait fishing, it really does not appear to make much difference
what weather is around, so that the wind is not a cold or chilly one.
The fish in deep water are not so easily affected as those in the
shallows, and very good sport may be had even in a stiff breeze, if
moderately warm and fine. In fact _some wind_ is necessary for black
bass fishing, and it is better to have too much than none at all. One
reason for this is, that wind ruffles the surface of the water and
renders it more difficult for the fish to see the angler.

This is a point of greater importance than is commonly supposed. Fish
both see and hear well, and the idea that they cannot see is based
upon the great difference visible between an artificial fly and a
real one. As a matter of fact few men could tell the difference
between them _when in the water_, the surface being covered with
froth and suds from an eddy or foam and bubbles from a rapid, the
surface ruffled by a fresh breeze, and shadowed by drifting clouds. I
have frequently seen bass dart like an arrow and seize the bait from
a distance of thirty feet. A sombre suit of clothes, the hue of which
mingles with the foliage or verdure, is a wise precaution, for fish
undoubtedly see, and see remarkably well.

How often have we seen a bright glistening substance like a sleeve
button or a coin, dropped into water and swallowed immediately? I
have known bass to be caught on a bare bright hook, and the funny
stories one laughs at about wintergreen berries and fish scales
proving attractive bait are not so much out of probability.

In the Southern States a belief exists that bass are always on the
feed when the moon is above the horizon, particularly at rise and
set; many old experienced fishermen will only fish during the last
quarter until the new moon. The same variety of ideas exist regarding
rain; one angler believes that bass will not bite before a rain,
another during a rain, and still another after a rain. As a matter of
fact they feed irrespective of rain, but of course we have all found
the best time is undoubtedly just _after_ a rain, because of the
great number of insects and larvæ that are washed or shaken into the
water from the overhanging branches of trees and bushes.

One reason why they do not take the bait so well just _before_ the
rain is because of the lull that takes place, causing the water to
become flat and still, so rendering objects, especially the angler,
more distinct. The bass is a very wary fish, and requires but little
to make them uneasy and shy. Night and morning is the best time for
bait fishing, unless the weather be cold; then from about 3 to 6 p.
m. For fly fishing, two hours after sunrise and one hour or two
before dark will be found the most tempting time.

In lake fishing it is always best to run out to the deep water and
fish in towards the shallows or feeding grounds, as the boat being in
the deeper water is not so conspicuous to the fish in the shallows.
When a bass is hooked, I always work toward deep water, so as to play
the fish freely and avoid snags, rocks, weeds, etc.

If fishing from a bank, I get as near the level of the water as
possible, and when a fish is hooked, I head at once to the deepest
water practicable.

I find it a good plan to let the bass have the bait from two to ten
seconds, according to the way he takes it; then strike at once,
giving him line freely, but keeping the thumb on the reel as a drag.
Click reels are an abomination. I never jerk the rod, but hook with a
twist of the wrist, remembering the golden rule that from the moment
a bass takes the bait until he is landed _the line must be kept
tight_, as one second of slack line will lose him. The point of the
rod I keep bent by the pull of the fish, which is made to fight for
every inch of line. I reel in whenever practicable and kill the fish
on the line.

I never let a fish get among the weeds; I coax him off if possible,
but if this is not practicable, I give him the butt, and either get
him away or break the pole, which is preferable to losing the fish by
weeds or snags. When thoroughly exhausted, I land him, of course, but
am never in a hurry. If a pole net be used I sink it under him and
gently lift it until the fish falls into it.

In order to appreciate black bass fishing to the full, considerable
attention most assuredly must be paid to suitable tackle. Any boy may
catch sun-fish, suckers, or trout with a bean pole, a piece of cord
for a line and a rude nondescript bait. Black bass are a fish of an
entirely different type, and the day when a black bass rod was
considered to mean one weighing two pounds and measuring sixteen
feet, with a chalk line, and a reel like a small clock, is delegated
to the far off past of ten years ago. Some few of the old anglers
made their own rods, and scored heavily in their takes of fish, to
the wonder and amazement of the other fishermen who still adhered to
the old heavy pattern.

My idea of the best rod for black bass fishing is the happy medium
between the trout fly rod, and the trout bait rod. The one I
generally use is eight feet three inches long, weighs nine ounces, is
three-jointed, the balance perfect, and the bend true from tip to
butt. It was made by H. H. Kiffe, 318 Fulton street, Brooklyn. I have
killed many bass with this rod during the past two seasons, some
weighing as high as four pounds, and have also caught pickerel
weighing eight pounds with the same pole. The butt is white ash, and
the second joint and tip finely selected lancewood. The butt has a
wound grip, and the metal tip is of the four-ring pattern, the
strongest and lightest made. I prefer standing guides. Some people
prefer Greenheart or Wasahba for tips, but lancewood or red cedar is
the best, I think.

The great fault in many rods is want of "back," which results from a
too slender butt. This produces a double action in the rod, and
prevents a clear satisfactory cast. In England this quality was made
a specialty for salmon rods some years ago, it being supposed that it
increased the length of the cast. Recent experiences proved this to
be a fallacious idea, and such a rod required quite an education to
use with any degree of accuracy.

If a man can throw a minnow thirty yards with any degree of accuracy,
he should be well satisfied, as that is more than sufficient for
average bass fishing.

A peculiar, but, I think, mistaken idea is that a rod should be in
proportion to a man's size. One can understand this idea in regard to
a gun for which a man should be measured as for a coat, but with a
rod it is different, and should be made to vary with the type of
fishing practised. The difference in weight being only a few ounces
exposes the foolishness of this theory. All that matters is the
question of balance; if that is all right, the size or weight matters
very little.

A more important point is, that a cheap rod is always a dear rod, in
price alone. As in anything else, work and quality of material go for
everything, and if a good sound rod is required, a fair price must be
paid to some good maker for it.

The line is a most important item, and it is always best to give a
good price for a hand made line turned out by a good firm. The
braided line to me is the perfection of excellence. I do not like a
tapered line at any price. Next to the silk line I prefer the silk
grass lines of the Japanese.

The finest hooks in the trade are made in England, where special
attention has been paid to this industry for over two hundred years,
the town of Redditch being supported almost exclusively by the hook
factories. The best are the "Sproat," "Cork-shaped Limerick," "Round
Bend Carlisle," and "Hollow Point Aberdeen." The hook is of the most
vital importance to the fisherman, and the best shape is that where
the point of the barb is turned round towards the shank. First class
hooks are always japanned or black; the inferior ones are blued, and
these, if subjected to a heavy strain will straighten right out. The
black bass is extremely liable to cause this, as it always struggles
hard both in and out the water from the moment of hooking to the
final gasp. A hook with the proper bend will never pierce foul, but
will strike right through the mouth, never springing out.

Regarding flies, every man has his own opinions and fancies. My own
favorites are the "Marston," "W. H. Hammett," "Keader," "Silver
Ibis," "Vermont," "Imperial," "La Belle," "Royal Coachman," "Blue
Jay" and "Claret," made by C. F. Orvis, of Manchester, Vt.

As to spoons, most people use far too large a spoon for bass, I am
sure; even the dealers do not recognize this fact, and are
continually pressing pickerel spoons upon their customers who do not
happen to know better. My idea of a bass spoon is one no larger than
one-third of an ordinary teaspoon for the hand-line, and for rod use
one even still smaller.

Artificial insects may be used in surface fishing, but only the most
skillful anglers should expect success, as the manipulation of them
requires exceedingly delicate service.

I believe that the black bass will eventually become the game fish of
the country. Trout streams are drying up by reason of trees being cut
down; mills and factories being erected, and dams holding the water
half stagnant during half the year. This must eventually deal a death
blow to the trout, and even now the votaries of black bass fishing
outnumber those of the trout ten to one.

One last piece of advice I offer you, is to always reel the line
carefully after fishing, as a man would clean his gun after shooting.
Guide it to its place with the thumb, and run it from side to side of
the reel like cotton on a spool. This will let it dry evenly and
prevent all bunching and snarling. It is just as easy to do this as
not, and the habit once gained will become a mechanical act, and save
you lots of trouble and time before and afford you good pleasure
after you begin fishing.

[Illustration (decoration)]





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