This section is from the book "American Game Fishes", by W. A. Perry. Also available from Amazon: American Game Fishes: Their Habits, Habitat, and Peculiarities; How, When, and Where to Angle for Them.
Neither will I soon forget the idyl of that day, when a bevy of laughing beauties-school-girls-picnicking from New Bedford, accompanied by a staid, elderly matron, came trooping along the shore, gathering up the Irish moss, pebbles, and shells or fossils washed from the cliffs overhead, giving a scream of delight at each new find. One of them, incited by that spirit of mischief inherited from her grandmother Eve-misled, no doubt, by the roughness of my costume, the weather-beaten shirt and hat, tattered trousers, and my swarthy, sunburned complexion-mounted on the rock by my side, and, in the most demure manner possible, commenced to ply me with all sorts of embarrassing questions-whether I was married, or engaged, or had a sweetheart; and was this a cold place to live in in winter, and other quizzing of like nature.
tending to great discomfiture and unrestrained merriment on the part of her more bashful companions; for, although some of the questions drew heavily on the imagination for a reply, I had not the heart to mar their innocent fun by appearing in true character as one of the wicked denizens of the great metropolis, but kept up the rustic simplicity to the end, when, tired of their chaffing, or seeking more fun, they glided away along the beach, leaving in my memory, never to be forgotten, the echo of their merry ripples of laughter.
Some of the greatest catches known, of large Bass, were made from the iron piers built for the purpose by the late Thomas Winans, at Newport, Rhode Island. In three months of one year-July, August, and September-he and his nephew, Thomas Whistler, caught one hundred and twenty-four Bass, weighing two thousand, nine hundred and twenty-one pounds, an average of over twenty-three pounds, the largest being one of sixty pounds. There were but nineteen minnows taken in the season, that weighed six pounds or under. This sounds like a fish yarn, but I have the highest authority (documentary) for the statement. Noteworthy days were those when, on the 20th of September, their two rods brought to gaff twelve fish, weighing four hundred and seventy-seven pounds, or on the 9th of the same month, when they landed two hundred and five pounds, and when, on the same day, Miss Celeste Winans caught four, weighing respectively, forty-eight, fifty-five, thirty-five, and thirty-nine pounds. There are but few Bass anglers who would not be proud of this record made by a delicately nurtured woman. Mr. Winans was an invalid, and fished but a few days in the season; otherwise the catch would have been much larger.
Is there more royal fishing than this?-expensive, but still royal. I have no doubt but that, taking in the cost of the two iron structures and the many other incidentals, every pound of Bass caught cost him five dollars. He, Mr. Winans, would buy his two hundred-yard twelve-thread linen lines by the hundred, costing two dollars and fifty cents apiece, and would never use one a second time, fearing that they might have been frayed by the rocks, and thus lose him a heavy fish. This thorough sportsman died a few years ago, leaving some millions to his heirs-he was poor, but otherwise respectable.
But it is time to stop. Here we are giving away what little we know about fishing-contrary to the precepts of the late Wynkyn de Worde (A. D. 1491) who, in his introduction to the famous "Treatyse on Fysshynge," holds forth in this manner:
"And for by cause that the present treatyse sholde not come to ye hondys of eche ydle persone whyche wolde desire it yf it were emprynted allone by itself put in a lytyll plaunflet, therefore I have compylyd it in a grete volume of dyverse bokys concernynge to gentyll and noble men to the extent that the forsayd persones whyche sholde have but lytyll mesure in the sayd dysport of fysshynge sholde net by this meane utterly destroye it."
By Francis Endicott.