« PreviousContinue »
Poacher has nothing to do but to disturb the water, (and by even drawing a small Rope along the bottom he can effectually do it,) and away fly the fish (especially Carp) to those Retreats, where he very coolly walks after them, and there takes out with his hands as many as suits his own, or the party's, strength to carry off; and this without any trace of mud or weeds being drawn, to the shore, to cause suspicion, and prevent his future Visits.
If an Island surrounded with deep water cannot be had, a space nine feet long, and five broad, should be encircled with Oak piles, to which Elm boards should be nailed, three feet or more up from the bottom (the tops of the piles may be left a foot longer ;) this should be made where the water stands six or seven feet; the fish, upon any alarm, will retire thither, and remain out of reach of Nets, or of the Poacher's fingers, by groping.
Weeds in ponds, however unseemly to the Eye, preserve them from the ravages of the Poacher; they afford Shelter for fish to spawn in, and form to them an agreeable Shade in sultry weather, especially the Water lilies and flags for Pike and Perch; they likewise serve to restrain the Current, and thereby in Summer assist in keeping up a greater body of water. Their growth, as well as all sub-aqueous plants, is known to have an increase proportionate to that of Vegetation in the open air, after a shower of rain. If Water (from their foul appearance) must be cleared from Weeds, SWANS will effectually do it. Two pair of Swans kept a large piece of Water, at Burgh
ley, the Marquis of EXETER's, free from Weeds, which used to employ three Men for Six Months in the Year to preserve it tolerably clean.
In stocking ponds with Carp the utmost caution should be observed to procure the Stock from large fish. In Sussex, where, perhaps, this Fish is more numerous, and more attention paid to its improvement, than in any other County, persons who are concerned with waters, and who consider their produce as an article of Commerce, keep Carp to breed from whose weight is from eighteen to twenty pounds each. The Young of such fish attain a Growth almost incredibly more rapid than those derived from stunted Carp. Store Tench ought also to be selected from large and healthy fish, or they will never answer their Owners wishes or Expectations.
Ponds should not be overstocked; nor, in the Opinion of many, be suffered to remain unfinished longer than three Years, by which it will appear what fish thrive best; and by lying dry some Months, the bottom may be sown with Oats, which will when green be good food. In ponds so situated as to have Communication with each other, never put into the upper of them either a Pike, a Bream, or a Roach; the Spawn will get through the Gratings, and by that means all the lower ponds will unexpectedly swarm with them. The Pike will destroy the fry of the Carp and Tench, and the two latter will consume all the food which should be the subsistence of both parents and progeny; Pike, Bream, and Roach should,
therefore, on no account be ever put into the first or highest of a Succession of Ponds *.
* Some have recommended in raising Carp to have three ponds. One wherein the fish are to Spawn, (which is mostly from May to July,) and in which they should continue during the Summer and ensuing Winter. A Second for the Convenience of nursing up the young fry; into which they should be put the end of March, or early in April following, choosing a calm but not Sunny day for their removal, and being careful to prevent their being destroyed when coming to the Sides of their new habitation. In this Pond they may remain two Years, and become four, five, or six inches long. The third or Main pond is for the Reception of those that are so grown as to measure a foot or more in length, including their heads and tails.
The proportions advised for the Stocking these different Ponds are-For the first Sort, per Acre, "three or four Male, and six or eight Female Carps, those of five, six, or seven Years old, in good health, with full Scale, and fine full Eyes, and a long body, without any blemish or Wound," are to be preferred. The pond must be previously cleaned of all sorts of Voracious Fishes, and other Animals, as " Perch, Pike, Eels, and Trout; the Water Beetle, and also the Frogs, the Newts or Lizards,” have a warm and open exposure with Soft Water, and all kinds of Water-Fowl kept from it. For the Nursing pond a thousand or twelve hundred Carp may be not more than sufficient for an Acre; and for the Main pond one to every square of fifteen feet is the allowed Space, as their growth depends greatly on the room and quantity of Food.
Some advise the stock to consist of Carp and Tench, three to a square Perch; and in first stocking large Waters, where they extend to three or four acres or upwards, Carp three hundred to the Acre: and in restocking, after two or three Years, four hundred. For Tench the first should be more numerous than the Carp, and the restocking may be so high as Seven or Eight hundred to the Acre. Perch being such great breeders, six hundred of them to the Acre will be sufficient.
Water that is rich and white suits Carp best; that which has a
The Ova of fish are wonderfully numerous; their prolific powers are detailed in Mr. HARMER'S Tables, and the vast increase both of the Carp and Tench removes all apprehensions of a Scarcity where a very limited number indeed of milters and spawners are kept for breeding: the pond best adapted for this purpose is one having Rushes growing about it, and where there are gravelly Shoals, upon which some cast Bavins, to protect the spawn and fry: Experience has shewn that the first Season after a pond has lain dry during the Summer, Carp, Tench, and Perch, will breed most plentifully in it: and they will do the same in a Pond fresh made. The Compiler turned the Current of a brook into a very large gravel pit, (after furnishing it with a sluice, and conveyance for the waste water) that had not been worked for years, and was swarded at most parts of
thicker Appearance, and a greater deposition of muddy matter, is preferable for Tench. Perch are capable of being raised in almost any Water. Eels succeed best where the ponds are fed with Springs, and there is a large portion of rich Sediment. should never be kept but in separate breeding Ponds, where the supplies of small fry are very considerable, and are not wanted for. Stores. Carps, Tench, and Perch, and a few Eels occasionally, are the fish principally cultivated with a view to profit; but Perch` and Eels should not be admitted where the Waters are but thinly stocked, as they are great devourers of young fish. Carp and Tench answer best together, when the Ponds are extensive; in others, the former being the most powerful fish, beats and deprives the latter of his Food. Carp seldom are productive to their Owners in less ponds than half an Acre, whilst Tench thrive in those of any Size. Perch and Eels, also Tench and Eels, succeed well together; and it more frequently happens that Carp injure themselves by Breeding than Tench.
its bottom; he put into it about thirty brace of Carp, of which none weighed less than eight, and some as much as eleven, pounds each Carp: the produce was, the next year, astonishing; he caught at one throw, with a Minnow Casting-net, upon the shallow at the mouth of the pond, 1025 Carp, from one to two inches long: a considerable number of these were given to the Gentleman who lived at Little Waltham Hall, who had some very good pieces of Water, and into one of which, of about two Acres, they were put: five years after the pond was fished, and the same Carp weighed, many of them, upwards of four pounds each; an instance decidedly in favour of the Stock of large Carp.
In taking fish out of Ponds to be put into others one caution is, to bruise and handle them as little as may be when the water is drawn low, and Nets are employed, the fish (which will probably be numerous at a haul) should not be drawn directly to shore, but taken out of the Net whilst in about eighteen inches of water, they will be clearer from mud, and less liable to bruises: Hoop-nets should be fixed upon poles, to hand them ashore, and not too fish put many into one Net; if this sort of machine is not to be had, flag-baskets may be a substitute; but when a pond is designed to have all the water let off, and the fish shifted, these Hoop-nets should always be in readiness; in them they can be placed clear, or afterwards cleansed from the mud with little trouble, and still less damage to the fish.
All fish bear carriage best in Winter; that is, from November until March is over: should there be a ne