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through a tin tube), successively, ten dead houseflies, towards a Trout known to me by a white mark upon the nose (occasioned by the wound of a hook), all of which he took. Thirty more, with Cayenne pepper and mustard plastered on the least conspicuous parts of them, were then administered in the same manner. These he also seized, twenty of them at the instant they touched the water, and not allowing time for the dressing to be dispersed; but the other ten remained a second or two upon the surface before he swallowed them, and a small portion of the dressing parted and sank. The next morning several exactly similar doses were taken by the same fish, who probably remembered the previous day's repast, and seemed to enjoy them heartily. From these and similar experiments, such as getting Trout to take flies dipped in honey, oil, vinegar, &c., I concluded that if the animal has taste, his palate is not peculiarly sensitive.
My experience goes to prove, contrary to the opinion of some who say that the Trout will take every insect, that he does not feed upon the Honey Bee (Apis mellifica), or Wasp (Vespa vulgaris), and that he very rarely takes the Humble Bee (Bombus).
It seemed to be a common practice with those who plied for food near the hut, to make a very
strict inspection of almost every little object which floated down the stream, taking it into the mouth, sometimes with avidity, sometimes more slowly, or cautiously, as if to ascertain its fitness, or unfitness, for food, and frequently to eject it instantly.* This seems to favour the notion, that if the Trout has not a taste similar to our own, he may be endowed with some equivalent species of sensation. It may also account for his taking a nondescript artificial fly; but it furnishes no plea to quacks and bunglers, who, inventing or espousing a new theory, whereby to hide their want of skill or spare their pains, would kill all fish with one fly, as some doctors would cure all diseases by one pill. If a Trout rejects the brown hive bee at the time that he greedily swallows the March-brown fly, it is clear that the imitation should be as exact as possible of the last, and as dissimilar as possible to the first.
I have very frequently watched fish in an apparently hesitating attitude when Bees and Wasps were within their ken. How far either smell or taste may be concerned in this seeming indecision I cannot determine.
On one occasion I observed a Humble Bee which floated down the stream visited by a Trout,
* After having, perhaps, appropriated some little insect embarked upon it.
who suffered himself to descend also with the current just under the Bee, his nose almost touching it for about three feet, but he struck away without taking it.
At another time I saw a fish swim up to a Humble Bee which was thrown to him, and examine it very attentively; he then cautiously and leisurely took it in his mouth and descended with it, but immediately afterwards gave it up; he then seemed to be closely occupied with another Humble Bee, swimming up to and away from it, six times, each time almost touching it with his nose. Ultimately he took this also, but immediately rejected it again.
Sir H. Davy (Salmonia, p. 28.) says: “ The principal use of the nostrils in fishes, I believe, is to assist in the propulsion of water through the gills for performing the office of respiration ; but I think there are some nerves in these organs which give fishes a sense of the qualities of water, or of substances dissolved in or diffused through it, similar to our sense of smell, or perhaps rather our sense of taste, for there can be no doubt that fishes are attracted by scented worms which are sometimes used by anglers that employ ground baits.” Also, p. 184., he says: “ We cannot judge of the senses of animals that breathe water that separate air froni water by their gills ; but it seems probable that as the quality of the water is connected with their life and health, they must be exquisitely sensible to changes in water, and must have similar relations to it, to those which an animal with the most delicate nasal organs has to the air."
Surely no reasoning can be more sound than this. Should not our endeavours be directed, rather to this discovery of sensations in fish, which we have not, than to attempts at comparison between our own senses and theirs ?*
Having examined the stomachs of many Trouts taken in almost every week throughout the three last entire fishing seasons, with a view chiefly to assist my choice of flies for the catalogue in our fourth chapter, I found that his food consisted, besides Flies and Caterpillars, principally of Water Larvæ, as Strawbaits, and Stonebaits, swallowed whole, with the stones and small shells adhering to them, — Squillæ, or Fresh-water Shrimps, Small Fish, Young Craw-fish, Spiders,
* Those who may have curiosity enough to pursue this interesting topic, might possibly find amusement in the perusal of a paper read to the French Institute by M. Duméril, August 24th, 1807, and translated in Nicholson's Journal, vol. xxix. p. 344., in which many circumstances judiciously adduced, and fairly reasoned on, lead him to three general conclusions; viz. Ist. That the organ of taste in fishes, if taste they have, “ does not reside in the mouth.” 2ndly. That the sensation of taste, or some equivalent sensation, " is imparted to them by the apparatus which had hitherto been considered as adapted to perceive the emanations of odorate bodies.” And, lastly, “That no real smell can be perceived in water."
Millipedes, Earwigs, and Water Beetles. I never discovered Frogs, Snails, or Mice, but have no doubt that other waters afford other dainties; and “ Sauce piquante of fish-hooks” is common to most Trout streams.
A convenient method of examining the contents of the stomach is to put the materials into a hair sieve and pump clean water upon them; when parted and sufficiently clean the whole may be put into a large cup of clean water, for examination.
This method of testing the actual food of the fish in different waters and seasons will give the angler most valuable information respecting his game. Worms are the earliest bait that can be employed with success after the winter; then comes the troller's turn, with his spinning minnow or bleak for the larger Thames Trout; and the fly fisher will find the fish in the humour for feeding on the various insects that skim the surface of the brook, as the advancing spring brings forth its teeming myriads, and peoples the glad waters anew with winged life and ani. mation.