The Teesdale Angler Part 1

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The Teesdale Angler.

by R Lakeland.


I find it requisite to say something by way of preface to the Teesdale Angler, chiefly, because I wish it to be understood that my work, though bearing a local t.i.tle, is intended as a help and guide to Trout fishers generally, especially those of Yorkshire, Durham, Westmoreland, and c.u.mberland.

To the extent of my ability, I have endeavoured to point out, and explain the various methods, means, and devices, natural and artificial, for taking Trout. The Artificial Fly List will I trust be found amply sufficient for most Anglers. I have only to add, that my treatise is the result of a considerable amount of practical Angling experience, extending over a period of upwards of 35 years, and the chief object I have in view will be accomplished, if the hints and instruction contained in it, tend to aid the diversion, and promote the amus.e.m.e.nt of those who wish to be proficient in the art of a pleasing and fascinating recreation.



_Pisces Fluviales_–RIVER FISH.

_Salmo_–The SALMON.

_Trutta_–The TROUT.

_Thymallus_–The GRAYLING.

_Capito Seu Cephalus_–The CHUB.


_Anguilla_–The EEL.

_Various seu Phocinus_–The MINNOW.

_Cobitus Fluviatilis Barbatula_–The LOACH.[1]

[1] This fish has only been observed in the Tees during the last few years.

I deem a very brief notice of the above varieties of fish sufficient,–they have been described over and over again by much abler pens than mine, and I advise all those who are desirous of minute details, as to their conformation and habits, to have recourse to one of the published Histories of British Fishes,[2] indeed all the above fish and their varieties have been faithfully and naturally described in (I take it for granted) every angling book that has yet been published. As to Salmon, I need allude no further than observe (as every one knows that they are both ocean and river fish) that they afford, when plentiful, excellent sport to the angler, taking freely the Minnow, Worm and Fly, that they generally select the deepest pools of a river for their chief residence, but yet may be taken anywhere with the fly where there is three feet of water. They generally rise best about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, and three in the afternoon of a day. When there is a little wind stirring, if accompanied by rattling showers of hail or snow in the Spring, or heavy showers of rain in Summer, so much the more likely for sport.

[2] Very many clever men have written diffusely on Ichthyology.

Aristotle was one of the first who divided fishes into different orders, he divided them into three, but Linnaeus separated them into five.

Salmon fishing in every respect is similar in the _modus operandi_, to that of Trout,–requiring not more, if so much skill, but more nerve and patience with, of course, much stronger rod and tackle, and larger flies, and if you try worms, two large lob worms well scoured, should be put on the same hook,–you also require a Gaff for large fish. The best Salmon Flies for the Tees (which is by no means a good Angling river for Salmon) are the Dragon and King’s Fisher, to be bought at most tackle shops, and a fly deemed a great killer made with a bright scarlet body, and wings from the black feather of a turkey.


The Trout almost every one knows, that the Trout is a delicious fish, beautiful and elegant in form and appearance. Trouts vary, being yellow, red, grey and white, the latter like Salmon, go into salt water. Trout sp.a.w.n in the winter months, after which they become sickly and infested with a species of what may be denominated fresh water lice. In winter he keeps to the deep water; in spring and summer he delights in rapid streams, where, keeping his head up the water, he waits for his expected prey. There is no other fish that affords such good and universal sport, or that exercises the skill and ingenuity of the angler so much. The different modes by which to effect his capture are fully described under the different heads of fly trolling and bottom fishing. This fish (but seldom taken any great weight) abounds in the Tees and its tributary streams.


The Grayling is a beautifully formed fish, and affords the angler good sport–he is a much better-flavoured fish than the Chub, though not comparable to Trout. He delights in rapid streams, and during the Summer months is rarely found in deep water. The Grayling will take the same flies and bait as Trout–a little black fly is an especial favourite with him, but he will spring a long way out of water to catch a fly of any description which may be sporting above him. The Grayling sp.a.w.ns at the end of April and beginning of May.


The Chub is a very timorous fish, utterly worthless as food except during the winter months. He frequents deep water, and loves shady places, where he can shelter under the roots of trees, &c. The Chub sp.a.w.ns in May and June. He is a leather-mouthed fish, so that once hooked you are sure of him; he struggles fiercely for a moment, then yields without further effort, and allows himself to be dragged unresistingly to land. He will take the same flies as the Trout, also all kinds of gentles, maggots and worms, especially small red worms; is fond of the humble Bee, Salmon Roe, and Creeper; will take a variety of pastes, as old white bread moistened with a little linseed oil and made into small b.a.l.l.s; old Cheshire cheese mixed with a little tumeric, and bullock or sheep’s brains, also bullock’s blood mixed with wheaten flour, and worked up to a proper consistency, are all good baits for Chub in the winter months. A c.o.c.kchafer with his wings cut off is also a very good bait for large Chub. When rivers are frozen, you may catch Chub by breaking a hole in the ice, the fish will come to the aperture for air, and, perceiving the bait, take it–your line need not extend to the depth of more than a yard. Observe that your paste b.a.l.l.s are of consistency sufficient to adhere firmly to your hook, which should not be larger than a small May-fly hook, or two No. 3 fly hooks tied firmly together are much better.


The growth of Salmon, as is well known, is so surprisingly quick, that Smelts from Ova deposited by Salmon during the Autumn and Winter months, will in some instances, by the first week in May, be found to weigh after the rate of five or six to the pound. They rise very freely at the fly, and afford the angler (who is fond of small fry), lots of sport, they are partial to streams, and also to a gaudy fly. Smelts will rise at almost any moderate sized fly, but the three most killing, are a small black fly, with scarlet or crimson silk body, black fly, ribbed with gold, or silver twist, golden plover’s speckled feather from the back, and gold twist. They are also rather fond of a fly made from a partridge’s breast feather, and body of crimson floss silk. The flies must be fastened upon small hooks not larger than No. 1. Few Smelts are to be seen after the second week in May. There is an old saying,

“That the first flood in May, Takes all the Smelts away.”

Salmon Trout, or Herling as they are called in Scotland, are a beautiful and elegantly formed fish, and rise very freely at common Trout Flies, these fish go into salt water.


The Pink is plentiful in the Tees and many of its tributaries, it is altogether a handsomer fish than the Trout, to which however in some respects it bears a strong resemblance. It is seldom taken above a quarter of a pound in weight. Is very vigorous and strong for its size, delights in rapid streams, takes the same baits and flies as the Trout, but when the water is low and the weather hot, is exceedingly fond of the maggot, or brandling worm. The Cad bait, with a little hackle round the top of the shank of the hook, kills well. The hackle should be Landrail, or a Mallard’s feather dyed yellow, the latter for choice.


May be termed amphibious, for about the time oats run, he has been met with at considerable distances from water, and has even been detected in pea fields, gorged with the usual accessories to duck, to which in some respects he is so far a.n.a.logous–that though a foul feeder he is excellent as an edible. He inhabits mud and sand banks, and also conceals himself under tree roots, stones and rocks. You may angle for him with Salmon Roe, a lob-worm or Minnow after a flood and before the water has subsided, but he is usually taken by night-lines, baited with lob-worms or Minnows. As I have before intimated, he is not nice, and will not refuse any kind of garbage. If you angle for him your tackle should be strong and leaded, so as to keep your line at bottom.


The Minnow is in deep water during winter, and the shallowest of streams in summer; he is taken with a small red worm, or with young Cad bait. The Minnow bites freely in fine weather, and you may take almost as many as you please by angling for them. When the water is clear, they may be taken by means of a large transparent gla.s.s bottle, wide at the top of the neck but gradually narrowing, in fact a complete decoy; inside the bottle are red worms, and the bottle, to which is attached a string, thrown round the neck, is cast into the water; in a little time a shoal of Minnows surround the bottle, enter, and feast. When the bottle is tolerably full, a pull at the string brings bottle and Minnows to land.


Is found underneath stones at the bottom of rivers and brooks, and also amongst gravel; it is a good bait for Trout and Eels. The Loach will bite freely at small red worms. The hook same as for Minnows.


Though an ugly looking fish is good to eat; you may catch him with any small worms and small hook, he is found amongst stones and gravel.


Angling is such a popular recreation that professors of the gentle craft are to be found amongst all and conditions of the _Genus h.o.m.o_. The disciples of glorious old Izaack–is not their name Legion?

In early youth, fascinated with the capture of the tiny Minnow or glittering Gudgeon, the youthful Tyro is known in after years as the expert Salmon and Trout fisher. To become a really expert angler, requires a good deal of energy, perseverance, and activity, accompanied by a suitable amount of patience and ingenuity. In the fourth chapter of Waverly are the following observations, “that of all diversions which ingenuity ever devised for the relief of idleness, fishing is the worst qualified to amuse a man, who is at once indolent and impatient, such men’s Rods are quickly discarded.” My advice to those who are desirous of enjoying “the contemplative man’s recreation,” is that they undergo a probationary course, under the guidance of a competent professor. Three or four days of diligent observation employed in watching the manual operations of an instructor, would go far towards giving them a pretty good idea of how to set about catching a Trout with either fly or bait; indeed much more so than any written or oral instruction could convey. In fact if they are attentive spectators, they may soon acquire a fund of useful practical information, with which they may commence angling with a fair chance of success. Theory may be very good, but practice is much better, and will only make the complete angler. Good Rods, superb Flies, and the best of all kinds of tackle are of little use, if any, in the hands of a person who has not previously acquired some notion as to the proper application of them.

Doubtless many a sanguine aspirant to piscatory fame, has, after an expensive outlay at a tackle shop, been grieviously disappointed when trying his luck in a celebrated Trout stream,–he discovers to his intense disgust and mortification, that the fish will “not come and be killed.” Probably, and indeed most likely, he throws down his rod, votes fishing a bore,

“Chews the cud of bitter disappointment o’er, Has fished his first and last, and so will fish no more.”

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