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Coarse Fish

Compared to what is known about the early part of the life history of
the _Salmonidae_, our knowledge of coarse fish is small. Fortunately,
however, such lengthy and complicated proceedings as are necessary to
obtain a good stock of trout are not necessary to obtain a good stock of
coarse fish. If even a few rudd, perch, dace, pike, or carp are put into
water where they have a good supply of food to begin with, and which is
suitable otherwise for their well-being, the amateur's chief trouble
after a few years, if the water is not heavily fished, will be to keep
down the stock of coarse fish in proportion to the supply of food.

I have seen many cases where rudd, perch, dace and carp have increased
to an enormous extent from a few fish introduced into the water. Some
four years ago we put a few small rudd into a mill-pond at home,
thinking that the fry they produced would serve admirably as food to the
trout which also inhabited the pond. In about twenty months the pond was
full of small rudd, and last year we netted out many hundred, as the
water was terribly over-stocked with them. The same thing has happened
in almost every case which has come to my knowledge; that is, of course,
where the waters have been stocked with food, and suitable to the fish

The way in which dace will increase when put into a suitable water is,
if possible, even more remarkable than what happens in the case of the
rudd. I will quote one instance, which proves this very conclusively. A
few years ago there were no dace in the Sussex Ouse. Pike fishermen,
however, used to bring live dace to use as baits. Some of these escaped,
or were set free by the fishermen at the end of their day's fishing, and
now the Sussex Ouse contains more dace for its size than any other river
I have ever seen.

While rudd thrive best in a pond or lake into which a stream flows, dace
require a river or stream to do well. They will, however, thrive and
increase rapidly in a river where trout are not a success. A muddy
bottom with occasional quickly running shallows, seem to constitute the
best kind of water for dace. The largest, and by far the best
conditioned dace I have seen, have come from the tidal parts of rivers,
where the water is brackish at high water. Dace from such a water have
also the advantage of being very good eating, as they have, as a rule,
not got the unpleasant muddy taste usual in this fish.

Perch and pike will thrive both in rivers and in ponds or lakes which
have a supply of water from a stream or from springs. They both increase
in numbers very rapidly, and when protected, are more likely to require
thinning down every few years, than artificial assistance from the

The king-carp is the best fish for the amateur who wishes to obtain good
bottom fishing from an absolutely stagnant pond. This fish is much
bolder and a more free feeder than the common carp. It increases so
rapidly in numbers, and is a hard fighting and lively fish.

Most of the coarse fish deposit a much larger number of eggs than do any
of the _Salmonidae_--that is to say, in proportion to their size. In
stocking a water which contains no fish, the amateur may wish to hurry
on the process of nature in the case of coarse fish; and, fortunately,
this is fairly easily managed. In the case of perch, rudd, pike, and
carp, but little change of water is required to hatch out the eggs. The
eggs of these fish take but a short time to hatch; and if they are
protected, and this protection is also given to the little fish for a
few weeks, it will generally be found that an amply sufficient result is
obtained. The eggs should be spread out carefully on wicker-work or the
lids of baskets and kept in the light. A trickle of water which is
sufficient to change the body of water in the pond in which the ova are
put will, as a rule, be enough. The amateur must be careful that the
pond in which he hatches the eggs does not contain any of the many
enemies I have described in former chapters. If it is at all possible to
protect the eggs and the little fish, it is best to hatch out the eggs
in the pond which it is intended to stock, for it is exceedingly
difficult to keep the newly-hatched fish in a rearing-pond on account of
their very small size. It will be necessary to use muslin or flannel
screens instead of perforated zinc. Care must be taken that there is not
too great a flow of water, as this will cause the little fish to be
drowned at the outlet screen.

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