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Piscatory Archery.[1]
Part 3 of 6

Look ahead of you: when did you ever see an Archimedean screw more beautifully marked out than by that group of bubbles ? They are very light, indeed, and seem thus gracefully to struggle into the upper world; they denote the eager workings of some terrapin in the soft mud at the bottom of the lake. In the shade of yonder lusty oak you will, perceive what arrow-fishermen call a " feed;" you see the bubbles are entirely unlike any we have noticed ; they come rushing upwards swiftly, like hand-fills of silver shot. They are lively and animated to look at, and are caused by the fish below, as they, around the root of that very oak, search for insects for food. To those bubbles the arrow-fisherman hastens for game: they are made by the fish he calls legitimate for his sport.

In early spring the fish are discovered, not only by the bubbles they make, but by various sounds uttered while searching for food. These sounds are familiarized, and betray the kind of fish that make them. In late spring, from the middle of May Jo June, the fish come near the surface of the water and expose their mouths to the air, keeping up, at the same time, a constant motion with it, called "piping." Fish thus exposed are in groups, and are called a "float." The cause of this phenomenon is hard to explain, all reasons given being unsatisfactory. As it is only exhibited in the hottest of weather, it may be best accounted for in the old verse:

"The sun, from its perpendicular height,
Illumed the depths of the sea;
The fishes, beginning to sweaty
Cry, ‘Dang it, how hot we shall be!’"

There are several kinds of fish that attract the attention of the arrow-fishermen. Two kinds only are professedly pursued, the "carp" and the "buffalo." Several others, however, are attacked for the mere purpose of amusement, among which we may mention a species of perch, and the most extraordinary of all fish, the "gar."

The carp is a fish known to all anglers. Its habits must strike every one familiar with them, as being eminently in harmony with the retreats we have described. In these lakes they vary in weight from five to thirty pounds, and are preferred by arrow-fishermen to all other fish. The "buffalo," a sort of fresh-water sheep‘s-head, is held next in estimation. A species of perch is also destroyed, that vary from three to ten pounds; but as they are full of bones and coarse in flesh, they are killed simply to test the skill of the arrow-fisherman.[3]

The incredible increase of fishes has been a matter of immemorial observation. In the retired lakes and streams we speak of, but for a wise arrangement of Providence, it seems not improbable that they would outgrow the very space occupied by the element in which they exist. To prevent this consummation, there are fresh-water fiends, more terrible than the wolves and tigers of the land, that prowl on the finny tribe with an appetite commensurate with their plentifulness, destroying millions in a day, yet leaving, from their abundance, untold numbers to follow their habits and the cycle of their existence undisturbed.

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