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Observations on the PEARCH, and Directions how to fish for him.

Piscator. THE Pearch is a very good and a very boldbiting fish. He is one of the fishes of prey that, like the Pike and Trout, carries his teeth in his mouth, which is very large: and he dare venture to kill and devour several other kinds of fish. He has a hooked or hog back, which is armed with sharp and stiff bristles, and all his skin armed, or covered over with thick dry hard scales, and hath, which few other fish have, two fins on his back. He is so bold that he will invade one of his own kind, which the Pike will not do willingly; and you may therefore easily believe him to be a bold biter.

The Pearch is of great esteem in Italy, saith Aldrovandus and especially the least are there esteemed a dainty dish. And Gesner prefers the Pearch and Pike above the Trout, or any fresh-water fish: he says the Germans have this proverb, "More wholesome than a Pearch of Rhine" and he says the River-Pearch is so wholesome, that physicians allow him to be eaten by wounded men, or by men in fevers, or by women in child-bed.

He spawns but once a year; and is, by physicians, held very nutritive; yet, by many, to be hard of digestion. They abound more in the river Po, and in England,

beginning of September to the end of May. They will bite all the hot months; but are taken best in April and May.

There are no better baits for this fish than a middle-sized lob-worm, or red. worm, well scoured; a gentle; a young wasp grub, boiled; or a green worm shook from the boughs of trees.

Use a strong grass, or gut; and a goose-quill float without a cork, except in rivers where the cork is always to be preferred.

Fish very near the ground. And if you bait with gentles, throw in a few at the taking every fish, which will draw them to your hook, and keep them together.

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(says Rondeletius,) than other parts: and have in their brain a stone, which is, in foreign parts, sold by apothecaries, being there noted to be very medicinable against the stone in the reins. These be a part of the commendations which some philosophical brains have bestowed upon the freshwater-Pearch: yet they commend the SeaPearch, which is known, by having but one fin on his back, (of which they say we English see but a few) to be a much better fish.

The Pearch grows slowly, yet will grow, as I have been credibly informed, to be almost two feet long; for an honest informer told me, such a one was not long since taken by Sir Abraham Williams, (a gentleman of worth, and a brother of the angle, that yet lives, and I wish he may:) this was a deep-bodied fish, and doubtless durst have devoured a Pike of half his own length. For I have told you, he is a bold fish; such a one as but for extreme hunger the Pike will not devour. For to affright the Pike, and save himself, the Pearch will set up his fins, much like as a turkey-cock will sometimes set up his tail.

But, my scholar, the Pearch is not only valiant to defend himself, but he is, as I said, a bold-biting fish: yet he will not bite at all seasons of the year; he is very abstemious in winter, yet will bite then in the midst of the day, if it be warm and note, that all fish bite best about the midst of a warm day in winter. And he hath been observed, by some, not usually to bite till the mulberry-tree buds; that is to say, till extreme frosts be past the spring; for, when the mulberry-tree blossoms, many gardeners observe their forward fruit to be past the danger of frosts; and some have made the like observation of the Pearch's biting.

But bite the Pearch will, and that very boldly. And, as one has wittily observed, if there be twenty or forty in a hole, they may be, at one standing, all catched one


after another; they being, as he says, like the wicked of the world, not afraid, though their fellows and companions perish in their sight. And you may observe, that they are not like the solitary Pike, but love to accompany one another, and march together in troops.

And the baits for this bold fish are not many: I mean, he will bite as well at some, or at any of, these three, as at any or all others whatsoever; a worm, a minnow, or a little frog, (of which you may find many in hay-time.) And of worms; the dunghill worm called a brandling I take to be best, being well scoured in moss or fennel; or he will bite at a worm that lies under cow-dung, with a bluish head. And if you rove for a Pearch with a minnow, then it is best to be alive; you sticking your hook through his back fin; or a minnow with the hook in his upper lip, and letting him swim up and down, about midwater, or a little lower, and you still keeping him to about that depth by a cork, which ought not to be a very little one: and the like way you are to fish for the Pearch with a small frog, your hook being fastened through the skin of his leg, towards the upper part of it: and, lastly, I will give you but this advice, that you give the Pearch time enough when he bites; for there was scarce ever any angler that has given him too much.' And now I think

(1) Although Pearch, like Trout, delight in clear swift rivers, with pebbly, gravelly bottoms, they are often found in sandy, clayey soils: they love a moderately deep water, and frequent holes by the sides of or near little streams, and the hollows under banks.

The Pearch spawns about the beginning of March; the best time of the year to angle for him is from the beginning of May till the end of June, yet you may continue to fish for him till the end of September; he is best tak in cloudy windy weather, and, as some say, from seven to ten in the forenoon, and from two to seven in the afternoon.

Other baits for the Pearch are, loaches, miller's-thumbs, stickle-backs; small lob, and marsh, and red-worms, well scoured; horse-beans, boiled; cad-bait, oak-worms, bobs, aud gentles.

Many of these fish are taken in the rivers about Oxford; and the author of the Angler's Sure Guide says, he once saw the figure of a Pearch, drawn with a pencil on the door of a house near that city, which was twenty-nine inches long; and was informed it was the true dimensions of a living Pearch. Angl. Sure Guide, p. 155.

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