The Fishing Punt on the Thames. 1859. From The Book of the Thames from its Rise to its Fall. Text and formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Pittsburgh and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

We never yet knew an ardent fly-fisher who was not also an enthusiastic lover of nature; in truth, it is almost impossible to separate the one from the other. The trout is an inhabitant of the swift, clear, running stream, where tlie banks are fringed with the tall flag, and the pebbly bottom is half concealed by beds of rushes, often extending many yards of continuous length, and rising to a level with the water. On the top of these beds, or in the narrow spaces between them, the trout lies with his nose against the stream, waiting to rise at any moth or fly that may chance to be floated down on its surface. The experienced angler knows a "likely place" where a fish is to be found, and casts his artificial fly, with wonderful precision, within a few inches of his nose, even at a distance of twenty or thirty yards. Other favourite spots of resort are close under high grassy banks, bushes, overhanging trees, eddies, behind fragments of rock and large stones, at the junction of streams; in fact, wherever it is probable the current of the water will carry or collect such food as the trout prefers to feed on. If the trout be β€” as he unquestionably isβ€”" a bold and voracious feeder," he is readily alarmed, even by so slight a thing as the shadow of the line or the rod, if it chances to pass over liim, and when once frightened away from his home he does not soon return to it.

Angling is often called an "idle pastime," and we cannot deny that to sit in a comfortable chair in a firmly-moored punt on the bosom of the Thames seems an amusement open to such an imputation; but to walk fifteen or twenty miles in a day, "whipping the water" from sunrise to sunset, during twelve or fourteen hours, is anything but an idle pastime. Whatever fatigue it brings with it, however, it is pleasant, healthgiving, and instructive β€” so far as to make the angler acquainted with much of the science of nature, animate and inanimate, and keenly sen sitive to the beauties that Providence, with so lavish a hand, spreads out before his gaze as he wanders by the side of the winding, silvery stream β€”

To tempt the trout with well-disscmbled fly,
And rod.

References

Hall, Samuel Carter, and A. M. Hall. The Book of the Thames from its Rise to its Fall. London: Arthur Hall, Virtue, and Co., 1859. Internet Archive version of a copy in the William and Mary Darlington Memorial Libray, the University of Pittsburgh. Web. 10 March 2012.


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Last modified 11 April 2012