Part 5 of 6
In arrow-fishing, two persons only are employed; each one has his work designated-"the paddler" and "bowman." Before the start is made, a perfect understanding is had, so that their movements -are governed by signs. The delicate canoe is pushed into the lake, its occupants scarcely breathe to get it balanced, the paddler is seated in its bottom, near its centre, where he remains, governing the canoe in all its motions, without ever taking the paddle from the water. The fisherman stands at the bow; around the wrist of his left hand is fastened, by a loose loop, the cord attached to the arrow, which cord is wound around the forefinger of the same hand, so that when paying off, it will do so easily. In the same hand is, of course, held the bow. In the right, is
carried the arrow, and by its significant pointing, the paddler gives directions for the movements of the canoe. The craft glides along, scarcely making a ripple; a " feed" is discovered, over which the canoe stops; the bowman draws his arrow to the head; the game, disturbed, is seen in the clear water rising slowly and perpendicularly, but otherwise perfectly motionless; the arrow speeds its way; in an instant the shaft shoots into the air, and floats quietly away, while the wounded fish, carrying the spear in its body, endeavours to escape. The "pull" is- managed so as to come directly from the bow of the canoe; it lasts but for a moment before the transfixed fish is seen, fins playing, and full of agonizing life, dancing on the top of the water, and in another instant more lies dead at the bottom of the canoe. The shaft is then gone after, picked up, and thrust into the spear; the cord is again adjusted, and the canoe, moves towards the merry makers of those swift as cending bubbles, so brightly displaying. themselves on the edge of that deep shade, cast by yonder ever green oak.
There is much in the associations of arrow-fishing that gratifies taste, and makes it partake of a refined and intellectual character. Besides the knowledge it gives of the character of fishes, it practises one in the curious refractions of water. Thus will the arrow-fisherman, from long experience, drive his pointed shaft a fathom deep for game, when it would seem, to the novice, a few inches would be more than sufficient. Again, the waters that supply the arrow-fisherman with game, afford subsistence to innumerable birds, and he has exhibited before him the most beautiful displays of their devices to catch the finny tribe. The kingfisher may be seen the livelong day, acting a prominent part, bolstering up its fantastic topknot, as if to apologize for a manifest want of neck; you can hear it always scolding and clamorous among the low brush, and overhanging limits of trees, eyeing the minnows as they glance along the shore, and making vain essays to fasten them in his bill. The hawk, too, often swoops down from the clouds, swift as the bolt of Jove; the cleft air whistles in the flight; the sporting fish playing in the sunlight is snatched up in the rude talons, and borne aloft, the reeking water from its scaly sides falling in soft spray upon the upturned eye that traces its daring course. o But we treat of fish, and not of birds.