Black Bass

The yellow perch of America (Perca flavescens) is very much like its European cousin in appearance and habits, but it is not so highly esteemed by American anglers, because they are fortunate in being possessed of a better fish in the black bass, another member of the perch family. There are two kinds of black bass (Micropterus salmoides and Micropterus dolomieu), the large-mouthed and the small-mouthed. The first is more a lake and pond fish than the second, and they are seldom found in the same waters. As the black bass is a fly-taking fish and a strong fighter, it is as valuable to the angler as a trout and is highly esteemed. Bass-flies are sui generis, but incline more to the nature of salmon-flies than trout-flies. An artificial frog cast with a fly-rod or very light spinning-rod is also a favourite lure. For the rest the fish will take almost anything in the nature of worms or small fish, like its cousin the perch. A 4 lb bass is a good fish, but five-pounders are not uncommon. Black bass have to some extent been acclimatized in France.

The ruffe or pope (Acerina vulgaris) is a little fish common in the Thames and many other slow-flowing English rivers. It is very like the perch in shape but lacks the dusky bars which distinguish the other, and is spotted with dark brown spots on a golden olive background. It is not of much use to the angler as it seldom exceeds 3 oz. in weight. It takes small worms, maggots and similar baits greedily, and is often a nuisance when the angler is expecting better fish. Allied to the perches is the pike-perch, of which two species are of some importance to the angler, one the wall-eye of eastern America (Stizostedion vitreum) and the other the zander of Central Europe (Sandrus lucioperca). The last especially is a fine fighter, occasionally reaching a weight of 20 lb. It is usually caught by spinning, but will take live-baits, worms and other things of that nature. The Danube may be described as its headquarters. It is a fish whose sporting importance will be more realized as anglers on the continent become more numerous.


The carp family (Cyprinidae) is a large one and its members constitute the majority of English sporting fishes. In America the various kinds of chub, sucker, dace, shiner, etc. are little esteemed and are regarded as spoils for the youthful angler only, or as baits for the better fish in which the continent is so rich. In England, however, the Cyprinidae have an honoured place in the affections of all who angle "at the bottom," while in Europe some of them have a commercial value as food-fishes. In India at least one member of the family, the mahseer, takes rank with the salmon as a "big game" fish.

Carp, Tench, Barbel, Bream

The family as represented in England may be roughly divided into two groups, those which feed on the bottom purely and those which occasionally take flies. The first consists of carp, tench, barbel and bream. Of these carp, tench and bream are either river or pool fish, while the barbel is found only in rivers, principally in the Thames and Trent. The carp grows to a great size, 20 lb being not unknown; tench are big at 5 lb; barbel have been caught up to 14 lb or rather more; and bream occasionally reach 8 lb, while a fish of over 11 lb is on record. All these fish are capricious feeders, carp and barbel being particularly undependable. In some waters it seems to be impossible to catch the large specimens, and the angler who seeks to gain trophies in either branch of the sport needs both patience and perseverance. Tench and bream are not quite so difficult. The one fish can sometimes be caught in great quantities, and the other is generally to be enticed by the man who knows how to set about it. Two main principles have to be observed in attacking all these fish, ground-baiting and early rising. Ground-baiting consists in casting food into the water so as to attract the fish to a certain spot and to induce them to feed.

Without it very little can be done with shy and large fish of these species. Early rising is necessary because they only feed freely, as a rule, from daybreak till about three hours after sun-rise. The heat of a summer or early autumn day makes them sluggish, but an hour or two in the evening is sometimes remunerative. The bait for them all should usually lie on the bottom, and it consists mainly of worms, wasp and other grubs, pastes of various kinds; and for carp, and sometimes bream, of vegetable baits such as small boiled potatoes, beans, peas, stewed wheat, pieces of banana, etc. None of these fish feed well in winter.