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Pike are in Season from May to February, (the Female fish are to be preferred;) are bold biters, afford the Angler good sport, and may be fished for all the Year; but the best months (especially for trolling) are February, before the weeds shoot, and October, when they are rotted; the latter is to be preferred, as the Pike are fattened by their feed during the Summer, and from the lowness of the waters, their Harbours are easily discovered.
For Trolling, the rod should be twelve or fourteen feet long; but a strong top for this fishing, with a ring at the end for the line to run through, may be fitted to a fly or general Rod; there should be one Ring upon each joint to conduct the line, which is better than a greater number, (and these rings must be set on straight, that it may run freely, so that no sudden check after the bait is taken prevent the Pike from gorging it:) the line should be of silk, with a swivel at the end to receive the armed wire or gimp, and at least thirty yards long, wound upon a winch or reel, fixed to the but end of the rod. Hooks for trolling, called dead gorges, and other sorts for trolling, snap, and trimmer, and fishingneedles, are to be bought at every Shop where Fishing-tackle is sold, (and many kinds, both naked and baited, the Engravings represent :) in the choice of the first, let them not be too large, nor their temper injured by the lead on the shanks, nor the points stand too proud; and, although usually sold on Wire, it is recommended to cut off the Wire about an inch from the lead, and with double silk, well waxed, fasten about a foot of good Gimp to the Wire,
with a noose at the other end of the Gimp, large enough to admit the bait to pass through, to hang it upon the line. The best baits are Gudgeons or Dace, of a middling size; put the baiting-needle in at the mouth, and out at the middle of the tail, drawing the gimp and hook after it, fixing the point of the hook near the Eye of the fish; tie the tail to the gimp, which will not only keep it in a proper position, but prevent the tail from catching against weeds and roots in the water: thus baited, the hook is to be fastened to the line, and dropt gently in the water, near the sides of the River, across the water, or where it is likely Pike resort; keep the bait in constant motion, sometimes letting it sink near the bottom, and gradually raising it; the Angler need not make more than two or three trials in a place, for if a Pike be there, he will within that time bite, if he means to do so; when the bait is taken, if at a depth too great to see, it will easily be ascertained by the line being drawn tight, and by some resistance: let the Pike have what line he chooses, it will be soon known when he has reached his harbour by his not drawing more; allow from five to ten minutes, for his gorging the bait; wind up the line gently until the Pike is seen, (which he will permit, though he has not gorged :) should the bait be across his mouth, give more time; but if he has swallowed, manage him with a gentle hand, keeping him however from roots and stumps, which he will try to fasten the line upon; in clear water veer out line until he is sufficiently tired, and a landing-net can be used; but by no means, however apparently ex
hausted, attempt to lift him out with the rod and line only; for the moment he quits the water, he will open his mouth, and from his own weight, tear the hook from his stomach; and the fish will be lost to the Angler, although it must inevitably perish.
In trolling, the bait should never be thrown too far in small rivers the opposite bank may be fished with ease, and the violence of its fall upon the water, in extensive throws, soon spoils the bait, by rubbing off its scales, and alarms the Pike, instead of enticing him.
The bead-hook is used by putting the lead into the mouth of the live bait and sewing it up; the fish will live some time, and, notwithstanding the lead, will swim with the support he receives from the line, with nearly the same ease as if at liberty: this is the most successful way of tempting the Pike.
Pike are to be allured by a large bait, but a small one is more certain to take them: never suffer weeds to hang upon the hook or bait when recast into the water, and which cannot touch the Surface too softly. Always prefer a rough Wind, and when the Stream is clear, for trolling: Pike never bite in white water after rain, &c. If a Pike goes slowly up the Stream after taking the bait, it is said to be a Signal of a good fish.
The largest Pike ever known to be caught by Trolling, was in Scotland, in the year 1784, by Colonel THORNTON; an engraving of this fish is given, which wanted only two ounces of fifty pounds weight; he was an hour and a quarter upon the line, before