This most excellent bass bait is another of limited service. Bass and chub seem to be the only fish that take it with any degree of certainty. Its peculiar wriggle while swimming is its best point, for it is an awful pesky live bait to get snagged on the bottom. We are obliged to keep the live lamprey on the move all the time or good-bye to our tackle. The lamprey-eel (often known as the 'lamper") belongs to a very low order of animals, having no bony skeleton, no gills, ribs, or limbs, and being a naked eel-shaped creature with a sucker mouth, the lips of which are fringed with fine hairs. It inhabits the fresh cold waters of rivers and brooks, and gets its living by attaching itself to other fishes, feeding on them by scraping off the flesh with its rasp-like teeth. Adults attain to a weight of several pounds and two feet in length.
This creature is the only one I would never think of breeding or transplanting for food purposes, indeed its destruction and extinction from our streams would be a most desirable thing. Like the common eel it is nocturnal in its habits, moving about the deeper parts of the bed of rivers in sluggish places which are haunted by suckers and other coarse fish. It is only the very young that is used for bait, the best size being about five inches long. These are usually found in black muddy sand close to the shore of slow-moving backwaters of rivers, and a shovel is all that is necessary to capture them. Dig deep, best under several inches of water, and throw the mud upon the dry bank, then search through it with the hands for the wrigglers. They are more slippery and agile than the eel, and of all live bait the most difficult to impale on the hook. A dead one is no attraction to the bass; its wriggle only is the attraction.
By the time this is in print I shall have perfected a floating lamprey; at present my artificial, while very natural in appearance, is the only non-floating bait I have made. It wriggles all right, but must be kept moving or it sinks to the bottom, with the same difficulty to recover as the natural bait. I shall work on this bait till I succeed in producing a lamprey that wriggles and at the same time floats in suspension about mid-water or near the bottom, according to where it is fastened on the leader. In many rivers the lamprey as a bait is most attractive to bass, and if the artificial is made as I think it ought, it will be one of the best baits for bass fishermen to use.
Various Creatures That Game-Fish Eat (Drawn From Living Specimens).