Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Sport - Angling 

Spite of Nature, who has withdrawn almost all that is ferae naturae from his immediate neighbourhood; spite of game-laws, fishing-laws, laws of trespass, and the network of penal clauses, the handiwork of lawnmowers in parliament assembled, encircling him at every step on this forbidden ground, your cockney, unable to quench the thirst of blood, unequal to repress the noble rage for conquest of the feathery and finny prey, persists in invasion of the suburban ponds, ditches, dairy-farms, and nursery-grounds, “going a fishing,” or “going out a shooting.”
    On a fine, warm day in September, we have counted in Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, no less than two hundred and eighty-four anglers, large, small, and intermediate, including gentlemen, chimney-sweepers, military officers, blackguard boys, in short, every gradation of the indefinitely graduated scale of metropolitan social life, was here represented, in exact conformity with Dr. Johnson’s definition, “a worm at one end, a fool at the other.”
    Of these, some were accoutred in full fishing panolpy ;somewhat in the style in which we may imagine a renter of a water on the Tweed takes the river on a fine fresh morning, atter a spate, when the salmon are on the run. Splendid brass-mounted rod, with spear, multiplying reel, and spare-tops ; landing-net, long enough and strong enough to land, if need be, a tolerably active grampus; japanned tin-can, to hold live-fish, if by accident there should be any to put in it ; a box for gentles, a bag for ground-bait, a mat to carry sundry piscatorial odds and ends, and you have the cockney angler turned out in complete style.
    It is amusing to see the result of all this artillery in two or three wretched roach, or misbegotten gudgeons, swimming in the japanned tin-can ;nor are even these seduced from their watery element with- out an expenditure of as much ground-bait as would have purchased a tolerably-sized cod-fish at Billingsgate.
    The thorough-going angler brings in his basket half a quartern loaf, which, chewing, he casts in at intervals, close to where his float swims, with provoking equanimity, upon the surface ;sometimes he has a bag full of ground malt, a handful of which he jerks upon the water; nothing can be more ridiculous than the disproportion of ends to means, exhibited by these worthy disciples of the gentle Izaak Walton.
    The poor fisherman, on the contrary, ill furnished forth in a way that contrasts mrvellously with the piscatorial panolpy of his monied brother. A rudely put together hazel-rod, without fittings of any kind, sometimes a willow, or even a walking-stick, with the usual appurtenances, serve his turn; nor does he seem much less successful in his fishing than the other.
    Everywhere around London, whether by the Regent's Canal, the New River, the Surrey Canal, and even in the docks, you will find a profusion of anglers, of all sorts and sizes, - the mechanic out of work, the truant schoolboy, the lazy good-for-nothing, the Chelsea out-pensioner upon sixpence a day, the tailor or shoemaker on “strike," all swell the motley mob of metropolitan piscators. The fishing-tackle shops abound with tantalizing announcements of "Subscription Fisheries," abounding with jack, dace, roach, gudgeons, and every variety of pond arid river fish ; the subscription varies from half-a-guinea to two guineas, and the advertisement usually concludes with a notice that no angler is to carry away on any day's fishing more than ten pounds weight of fish. This we take to be one of the many jests broken upon the peaceful fraternity of anglers; since the capture, in any one day, of ten ounces of fish, we should imagine much nearer the usual average of the success of suburban sportsmen.
    Upon the banks of the rivers at some distance from town, say within a radius of ten or twelve miles, you will find anglers, patient and unmoved as mile-stones, though at much shorter intervals. These are, generally, gentlemen of an uncertain age ;some, indeed, judging by the bald-pate, or the silvery locks, might, without the slightest stretch of veracity, be called old. These are favourable re-presentatives of the genuine cockney angler.
    They are never seen pursuing their art in the immediate precincts of the town; the little boys are a source of infinite annoyance to them, and, besides, they have a character to lose; they go somewhere they are told at least, that something may be caught; and they do not return without being able to boast of not less than one glorious nibble.
    They are requipped, cap-a-pie, with all the accoutrements of genuine Izaaks; with the additional comfort of a portable chair, upon which they sit in the sun, with patience worthy the art which they profess, now and then uncovering to wipe the perspiring head, or applying a little flask to the lips, which possibly contains some exhilirating elixir.

John Fisher Murray, The Physiology of London Life , in Bentley's Miscellany, 1844


    THE love of sport, as it is complaisantly termed, displayed by all ranks and classes among all the nations and tribes of the genus homo, is hardly less manifest among the dwellers in close and crowded cities, than among the nomadic lords of the forest and the plain. Whether it be that there is something in the sudden death-dealing vindication of man's authority over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the dumb denizens of the deep, that is gratifying to his vanity and egoism, or whether there be a pleasure independent of that in circumventing the wise instincts which nature has so variously implanted in the whole animal mind to ensure the due preservation of their several races, we are not going at this moment to inquire. It is enough for our present purpose that, irrespective of the demands of necessity, which we leave out of the question, wherever the human biped can find the two elements that go to constitute the savage recreation of sporting - to wit, the animal to be hunted or slain, and the means of hunting slaying it there he is sure to be found asserting his cruel prerogative, and rejoicing in the sport. 
    Nay more - if the game be not forthcoming, so strong is the instinct to hunt and slay, that he will purchase vermin for the sake of worrying it - or start from his winter fireside or his warm bed to go in search of the meanest quarry that runs or burrows, swims or flies. 
    The sportsmen of the metropolis may be divided into two very separate and distinct classes: the professionals and the amateurs - the former being the aristocracy, the latter the profanum vulgus of the species. With the first, comprising in its catalogues of great names, all, or nearly all, the "crack shots" of the day - slayers of thousands of pigeons and pluckers of thousands more - as we do not pretend to be initiated into the manifold mysteries of their hidden craft - have never been admitted to the secret conclave at the "Red House" - shot sparrows from the trap in Bill Grimes's meadow- or won a pig or lost a pound at a pigeon match in the whole course of our lives, we cannot pretend any intimate acquaintance, - and must, therefore, leave them alone in their glory - a glory by the way which few of them would be willing to exchange for a reputation, however well deserved, established upon any other basis. We must confine our attention in this brief paper to that large section of the middle and lower orders with whom the pursuit of sport would seem to be a sort of governing instinct, impelling them to assume the angle in summer and the gun in winter, and to plod thousands of miles through the dust and swelter of one season, and the rain, snow, and drizzle of the other, in the pursuit of what they rarely by any chance come up with - game.
    The angling season begins in London with the very first disappearance of frost and the first blush of blue sky in the heavens; and, with comparatively few exceptions, Sundays and holidays are the only days of sport. The young angler begins his career in the Surrey Canal, the Grand Junction Canal, or the New River, which ever happens to be nearest to the place of his abode. His first apparatus is a willow-wand, bought at the basketmaker's for a penny, and a roach-line for fivepence more. A. sixpenny outfit satisfies his modest ambition; and thus equipped he sallies forth to feed - not the fishes - them he invariably frightens away - but himself, with the delusive hope of catching them. The blue- bottles have not yet left their winter quarters, and "gentles" or maggots are not yet to be had; so he has recourse to kneaded bread or paste, hoping to beguile his prey with a vegetable diet. In order that the fishes may be duly apprised of the entertainment prepared for them, he crams his trousers-pockets with gravel, which he industriously scatters upon his float as it sails down the stream, doubtless impressed with the notion that the whole finny tribe within hearing will swarm beneath the stony shower to take their choice of the descending blessings, and finding his bait among them, give it the preference, and swallow it as a matter of course. The theory seems a very plausible one; but we cannot say that in practice, though witnessing it a thousand times, we ever saw it succeed. For the sake of something like an estimate of the amount of success among the juvenile anglers of this class, we lately watched the operations of a group of nearly thirty of them for two hours, but failed in deriving any data for a calculation, as not a fin appeared above water the whole time. With the exception of a few "stunnin' bites," and one "rippin' wallopper," which was proclaimed to have carried off a boy's hook, there was no indication of sport beyond that afforded by the party themselves.
    When the sun, bountiful to sportsmen, begins, as Shakspeare has it, "to breed maggots in a dead dog," a new and superior race of anglers appears upon the margin of the waters. The dead dogs then have their day, and are now carefully collected from holes and corners by the makers and venders of fishing- tackle, and comfortably swaddled in bran, where they lie till their bones are white, originating "gentles" through the live- long summer for the use of the devotees of angling. Now we see something like tackle deserving the name: capitalists who think nothing of a crown, aye, or a pound either, by way of outfit; rods of real bamboo, straight as an arrow, and fifteen or twenty feet long; floats of porcupine quill, and lines of China twist; bait boxes, fish-cans, and belted baskets, and all the paraphernalia of the contemplative recreation appear upon the banks; but still no fish, or nothing larger than what a half-pound trout would gobble up in his prowlings through some country stream for breakfast. All these mighty preparations are made against a generation among which a full-sized sprat would rank as a triton among the minnows. Not one Cockney sportsman in ten thousand has ever seen a trout alive, and would perhaps be as likely to be pulled into the water by one of a couple of pounds' weight as to pull the fish out, were he by any miracle doomed to the terrible alternative.
    The oriental's enthusiasm for the sport has no sort of relation to his success. We met Charley Braggs in our last Sunday evening's walk returning from his day's amusement. Now Charley is a machine-man in the Printing-office, and having put the Sunday paper to bed at about two o'clock, instead of going home to his own after a week of unremitting toil, he had set off for Hornsey by moonlight, where, perching himself upon a bank, he had sat from three in the morning till seven at night, bobbing for small fry at a bend in the New River. His basket was well stuffed with grass; among which he pointed exultingly to four or five little silvery victims, whose united weight would have kicked the beam against a quarter of a pound. And yet Charley thought himself successful; and so lie was in comparison with the average of New River anglers.
    But we must ascend in the scale in order to do fair justice to our subject, and take a glance at the angling establishments in the neighbourhood of London, where good-sized fish are really caught, or, as the phrase is, "killed;" and where, in order that there may be no doubt about it, their skins are plentifully varnished and preserved as evidence of the fact. Upon the banks of the several rivers that empty themselves into the Thames at various points in the vicinity of London there are numerous establishments of this kind. We shall sketch one where we have before now passed a delicious day in the enjoyment of the dolce far niente, and which will serve very well as a sample of the whole.
    We mount upon an omnibus, and driving four or five miles through the suburbs in a north-easterly direction, are set down at a turnpike-gate in a neat, tree-sprinkled village. Leaving the village to the west, we take the turnpike-road, which leads in a direct line to the river, where, at the distance of half a mile from the village, it is crossed by a substantial and handsome bridge. Traversing the bridge, we turn to the right after a passage of a few score paces, and enter, through neatly- trimmed walks, upon the grounds and gardens of a country inn. Covered seats and rustic alcoves - arbours, and quiet, snug, leafy retreats, abound in the gardens and grounds which abut upon the river's brink. The water foams and dashes with the unceasing noise of a cataract over a series of wooden dams, erected to divert the main current into a new channel for the purposes of navigation - the old bed of the river being that rented by the proprietor of the inn, and by him strictly preserved for the delectation of his patrons, the amateur anglers of the metropolis. Let us enter the house, and proceeding upstairs to the piscatory sanctum, look around us while we impinge upon a bottle of the landlord's unexceptionable ale. Here we are in the very paradise of the London anglers, and surrounded with the trophies of their cunning and patience, ranged in glass-cases, and labelled with the weight of the immortalised victims and the names of their fortunate captors. Here it is recorded, for the instruction of future generations, that a gudgeon of seven inches three-eighths in length, and five ounces and a half in weight, was captured by the redoubtable Dubbs of Tooley Street, on the 6th of August, 1839; and though Dubbs himself for aught we know, may long since have been gathered to his fathers, the wide-mouthed witness of the fact, the gudgeon himself, still hangs in the centre of his glass-case, suspended like Mohammed's coffin between heaven and earth, to bear perpetual testimony to his prowess. Yonder is a perch of three pounds, caught by Stubbs of Little Britain; and above it a mavellously chubby chub, caught by Bubb of the street called Grub. These memorials of past achievements no doubt have their due influence, and urge the rising heroes of the angle to emulate their great forerunners. One whole side of the dining-room, you see, is parcelled out in lockers large enough to contain the necessary tackle and apparatus; and each locker is neatly painted, and bears the name of the amateur to whom the contents belong. These - and their number is not small - are the regular subscribing members of the angling fraternity; and here on every Sunday throughout the summer, unless the weather be very bad indeed, they muster strong, often arriving while the dew is yet on the grass, and pursue their silent pleasures till dinner, steaming on the table at two o'clock, calls them together to report progress and recruit their strength.
    The conversation on these occasions is characteristic and technical, and altogether fishy. 
    "Ha, Bubbs !" says Stubbs; "shake a fin, old trout. What's the cheese? You don't look very fresh about the gills to-day."
    "Why," responds Bubbs, "you see I started afore light, and had but a scaly breakfast - not quite the thing in the ground-bait, you see. I'll be all right as a roach after I've nibbled a bit, I daresay."
    Happy the man who at the dinner-table can display to the view of his admiring comrades some fish of mark - some roach of ten, or chub of twenty ounces. Old exploits are gone over for the hundredth time, with added particulars at every repetition. Baits are overhauled and discussed along with the brandy and water. Moss-crammed bags, where blood-worms, dung-worms, lobs, and lance-tails are kept to scour, are ransacked for specimens, and notes and maggots are compared, and much finny and vermic lore is elicited from the veterans of the silent art. The dinner and grog being duly honoured, the rod is again resumed beneath the shadowy shelter of the trees on the river's brink; and long after the gloom of night has descended upon the gurgling stream, the brethren of the angle in populous silence pursue their labours. It is now seven years since friend iBubb caught his big chub: the monster fish rose at his fly full sixty feet off; on the opposite side of the stream, where there is an eddy of the current rebounding from you projecting piles. It was the work of an hour - the hour of Bubb's life - to bring the "wallopping gentleman" safe to land; and ever since, throughout every Sunday and holiday of the fishing season, has Bubbs been lashing away at the water with his whipping-rod and fifty yards of line, in the fond expectation of catching another to match him. "Good-luck to your fishing !" say we. We cannot wait for the next bite, but must be off to see what the punters are about in the Thames.
    "Patience in a Punt" is the title of an old caricature, representing the "elderly gentleman" of hat-and-wig notoriety seated on a dilapidated chair in a fiat-bottomed boat during the pelting of a pitiless storm, from which he is but partially sheltered by the skeleton of an umbrella, and, with eyes intent on his float, waiting for a bite. The picture is as applicable at the present hour to the class for whom it was intended, as it was when published forty years ago. The punt is a nondescript kind of boat, with perpendicular sides and square ends. The fishing-houses on the banks of the Thames - of which there are plenty on both sides of the river, from Putney to Kingston, and beyond - are abundantly provided with these boats, in which the angler sits upon a chair, and generally baits for barbel, the only fish in the waters near London, with the exception of the pike, which, from the unwillingness he manifests to leave his native element, can be said to yield anything like sport in the catching. In some parts of the river near Twickenham they are exceedingly plentiful at times, and thirty or forty pounds' weight of them are not unfrequently caught in a day by a single rod. There is one thing against them, however, and that is, that they are worse than good for nothing. They hardly deserve the name of fish, being a species of mud vermin armed with snouts, and they taste of earth to a degree perfectly nauseous. People every season die through eating them, yet they are eagerly sought after, and an immense amount of time and expense is annually thrown away in their capture. The virtue of patience in connection with punt-fishing is exemplified in waiting day after day half the season through before you make acquaintance with a single barbel. These unsavoury creatures herd together in swarms, and migrate from place to place, seeking a new feeding-ground when the old one is exhausted, and seldom staying long in one spot. As it is never possible to tell where these herds of river swine are lying with their snouts in the mud, you may plant your punt fifty times before you light upon a swarm, and thus cultivate your patience to the highest pitch of perfection.
    In conjunction with the barbel-fishing in the Thames, we may notice the bream-fishing in the different docks. It seems an odd thing that there should be any connection between the corn-laws and fishing for bream; yet a connection there certainly is. Some of the docks appropriated for the reception and unlading of vessels freighted with grain became gradually well-stocked with this particular fish, which thrives well upon a bread diet. Corn that from long hoarding under a high duty had become weaviled and worthless, was frequently thrown overboard, and that in vast quantities; and the consequence was, that enormous specimens of full-fed, aldermanic-looking bream were occasionally lugged forth to the light by the amateur anglers of the docks. We have seen them hauled up to the surface from a depth of twenty feet, looming through the green water like the broad, white waistcoat of an alderman through the reek of a civic feast. Apparently too fat to wag their tails, they dangled supine upon the treacherous hook, and only winking a bleared eye under the unwelcome light of day, "gave up their quiet being" without an attempt at a struggle.
    In walking about the streets of London one is struck with the singularly great proportion of fishing-tackle shops, taken in connection with the actual requirements of the population. There are some districts literally crammed with them-quiet, retired spots generally, where the traffic in other things is small, and the passers-by comparatively few. The key to this apparent riddle will be found in the fact, that the London makers supply the greater part of the kingdom - that nearly the whole of the fresh-water fishing-tickle of England is the produce of London manufactories. The harvest of these tradesmen is of course the summer season, and they spare no pains to make it as profitable as may be. At any of these shops you may purchase liberty to fish in private ponds or streams, situated, some of them, in distant counties, and contract for board and lodging at a moderate rate, or at any rate you choose, during your stay.
    But we must proceed summarily to notice the winter field- sports of the indigenous Cockney with dog and gun, or with gun and no dog, as it may happen. Of this class of sportsmen there is no variety: the species is one and the same, and you might almost fancy it is the same individual you meet with everywhere, turn your face in what direction you will out of town on a Sunday in winter. He is a sort of hybrid specimen, half-artizan, hall-mendicant, with a dash of the area sneak. Unwashed, untrimmed, and you may be sure unlicensed, he saunters forth with his hands in his pockets; his gun, a long iron-barrelled, rusty old flint, balanced under his arm; while his unctuous rags flutter in the wind. He is followed at a little distance by a half-starved, unwilling whelp, which is too well acquainted with the vigour of his master's toe to venture his lean and lank anatomy within kicking distance, and which cannot always be seduced by the combined allurements of oaths, whistlings, end peltings, to participate in the day's sport. He carries his powder and shot in his pocket, and measures the charge with the bowl of a tobacco-pipe; and his game is anything that flies or runs, from a crow to a water-rat. His impatience for sport seldom allows him to straggle farther than the brick-fields, which on all sides of London constitute the line of demarcation between the country and the town. Here he loads his piece and his short pipe, and with the latter firmly gripped by his teeth, prowls among the half-baked bricks, waging war among the sparrows and wagtails unfortunate enough to come in his way. Tie is the terror of the cottagers and gardeners of the suburbs, and the admiration of a cluster of ragged urchins, who gather round him and do his despotic bidding with alacrity. He never aims at a bin on the wing; and never, if he can help it, pulls the trigger without first securing a convenient resting-place for his long barrel. With all these precautions he considers himself fortunate if he kills once out of three times; and all the dead sparrows he carries home cost him at least ten times their weight in lead. We have met him more than once in the custody of the policeman, marching off to the station for sending shot through cottage windows, or leaping garden-fences after maimed sparrows. It is fortunate for the public that his recreation is generally over early in the day. By one o'clock the public-house is open, and even though his ammunition be not by that time all shot away, as is generally the case, he cannot resist the vision of the pewter-pot, which rises before his imagination as the destined hour draws near. Sometimes a wild ambition seizes him; he will learn to shoot flying, and then you may perchance come upon him in some retired field under Highgate Hill, in company with some congenial spirit, furnished with a luckless pigeon tied by the leg, at which these considerate sportsmen fire by turns, as the miserable bird rises in the air to the length of the string. The last time we witnessed this delectable sport, the string was severed by the twentieth discharge, and the unwounded bird got clear off, to the mortal chagrin of the pair of brutes.
    The purlieus of Whitechapel and some other districts of London are yet disgraced by the disgustingly-cruel and sense - less exhibitions of dog-fights, badger-baitings, and rat- slaughters; in which latter spectacle of barbarity certain wretches in human shape, envious of the reputation of the celebrated dog Billy, have aspired to emulate his exploits, and arc actually seen to enter the arena with a hundred or more live rats, which they are backed, or back themselves, to kill with their teeth alone in a given time! The cockpit, too, yet survives, and mains are fought in secret and out of ear-shot of the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Animals. These and similar brutalities, however, - thanks to the dawn of a better feeling and a more enlightened self-respect among the lower orders - are very much on the wane, and it may be fairly hoped will hardly survive the present generation of Cockney sportsmen.

 Charles Manby Smith, Curiosities of London Life, 1853

see also Charles Manby Smith in The Little World of London - click here

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Angling — London anglers are in a great measure indebted to the Thames Angling Preservation Society for their sport, so far regards the Thames itself, and the goodly list of subscribers publishef in the annual report of the society shows that its efforts are not unappreciated. The society, which requires a donation of £10 10s., or an annual subscription of £1 1s. to qualify for membership, has London offices at 20, Moorgate Street, and has the benefit of the invaluable services of Mr. William Henry Brougham as secretary. Its object is declared to be in the rules, “to protect the fisheries of the River Thames, and to increase the quantity of the native fish, and to introduce other kinds by means of pisciculture or otherwise.” The business of the society is manage by a committee, who recommend among other duties, the necessary number of river-keepers, and have power to prosecute persons guilty of poaching, illegal fishing, netting and other offences against the law. For the long list of Thames fishing stations and of river-keepers, as well as of London fishing clubs, the report of the society should be consulted. Specal facillties, by means of what are known as privilege tickets, are granted by the railway companies to anglers. Among the principal stations on the Thames, within the London district, may be mentioned Isleworth, Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington, Kings-Sunbury, Weybridge, Laleham, and Staines. About 8s per day may be taken as the cost of a man and punt. There is also good fishing in the Lea (see BROXBOURNE), which is looked after by a Preservation Society similar to that on the Thames; the New River; the Brent and the “Welsh Harp” reservoir at Hendon; and other waters to the north of London; and a day’s sport may be had in the Colne, and at Thorney Broad, West Drayton. Every information of value to anglers will be found in the “Angler’s Diary,” a useful guide published at the Field office at 1s 6d – (see THAMES).

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Angling Clubs.-The following is a list of London Angling Clubs:
    EAST CENTRAL ASSOCIATION OF UNITED LONDON ANGLERS, "Bald-Faced Stag," Worship-square, Finsbury. - Chairman, Mr. S. Morgan. Secretary, Mr. R. Ghurney. Meet on the first Monday in each month.
    WEST CENTRAL ASSOCIATION OF LONDON AND PROVINCIAL ANGLING SOCIETIES, "Portman Arms," Great Quebec Street, Baker Street-Hon. President, Mr. P. Geen. Chairman. Mr. L. Bonvoisin. Vice-Chairman, Mr. Beckett. Secretary, Mr. T. Hoole. Meet on the third Friday in each month at 9 o'clock. 
    CENTRAL ASSOCIATION OF LONDON ANGLING CLUBS, "Star and Garter Hotel," St. Martin's-lane, Charing Cross. Chairman, Mr. J. C. Murray. Treasurer, Mr. F. C. Hatfield. Secretary, Mr. R. Stebbings. Meet on the second Friday in each month at 9 o'clock. 
    ANGLERS' BENEVOLENT SOCIETY, New Foresters' Hall, Clerkenwell-road, Clerkenwell, EC. President, J. Spreckley, Esq. Vice-Presidents, Messrs. P. Geen and S. Morgan. Secretary, Mr. R. Ghurney.
    ACORN, "Royal Oak," Spencer-street, Goswell-road.
    ALBERT, "The Crown Coffee House," Crown-street, Old-street.
    ALBAN'S, ST., "Royal George," Great New-street, Kennington Park-road, SE.
    ALLIANCE, "Old Red Lion," Great Warner-street, Clerkenwvell.
    ALEXANDRA, "Duke of Wellington," 3, Colt-lane, Bethnal-green.
    AMICABLE BROTHERS, "Bald- Faced Stag," Worship-sq., Finsbury.
    AMICABLE WALTONIANS, "George the Fourth," Goswell-road.
    ANGLER'S PRIDE, "Red Lion," Dockhead.
    ATLAS, 73, Newman-street, Oxford-street
    BARNSBURY, "The Albion," Caledonian-road, near King's Cross.
    BATTERSEA PISCATORIAL, Queen's Hotel, Queen's-road, Battersea.
    BERESFORD, "Grove House Tavern," Camberwell-grove.
    BERMONDSEY BROTHERS, "General Garibaldi," Southwark Park-road
    BLACKFRIARS, "Ordnance Arms," York-road, SE.
    BLOOMSBURY BROTHERS, "Rose and Crown," Broad-st., Bloomsbury
    BOSTONIAN, "Dalby Tavern" Dalby-street, Prince of Wales-road Kentish Town.
    BROTHERS WELL MET, "Berkeley Castle," Rahere-st., Goswell-road 
    CAMBRIDGE FRIENDLY, "Rent Day," Cambridge-street, Hyde Park-square.
    CADOGAN, "Prince of Wales," Exeter-street, Sloane-street, S.W.
    CARLISLE, "Clarendon Club," 80, High-street, Islington.
    CANONBURY, "Crown and Anchor," Cross-street, Islington.
    CARNALY CASTLE, "The Carnaly Castle," Carnaly-street, St. James's.
    CAVENDISH, "British Lion," Cavendish-street, New North-road, Hoxton.
    CITY OF LONDON, "Cogers' Hall," Bride-lane, E.C.
    CLAPHAM JUNCTION, "Lord Ranelagh," Verona-street.
    CLERKENWELL AMATEURS, - "George and Dragon," 240, St. John-street-road, Clerkenwell.
    CLERKENWELL PISCATORIAL, "White Hart," Aylesbury-street, Clerkenwell.
    CONVIVIAL, "King's Head," Mitchell-street, St. Luke's.
    DALSTON, "Hope," Holly-street, Dalston-lane.
    DE BEAUVOIR, "Lord Raglan," Southgate-road, N.
    EAST LONDON, "Duke of Norfolk," Norfolk-street, Globe-road.
    EDMONTON AND TOTTENHAM, "Three Horse Shoes," Silver-street, Edmonton.
    EUSTONIAN, "The Wheatsheaf," Kenton-street, Brunswick-square.
    EXCELSIOR, "Two Eagles," South-street, Lambeth
    FRIENDLY ANGLERS, "Albion Tavern," Albion-street, Hyde-park 
    FRIENDLY ANGLERS, "Jacob's Well," New Inn Yard, Shoreditch.
    FREE AND EASY, "Jane Shore," High-street, Shoreditch.
    GLOBE, "Globe Tavern," Blackstock-road, Highbury
    GOLDEN BARBEL, "York Minster," Foley-street, Portland road 
    GOLDEN TENCH, "Somers Arms," Boston-road, King's Cross.
    GOOD INTENT, "Crown Inn," Bethnal-green-road.
    GREAT NORTHERN BROTHERS, "Robin Hood," Southampton-street, Pentonville.
    HAMMERSMITH UNITED, "Builders' Arms," Bridge-road.
    HAVELOCK BROTHERS, "General Havelock," West-street Triangle, Hackney.
    HEARTS OF OAK, "Black Bull," Thomas-st., Brick-lane, Spitalfields.
    HIGHBURY, "George Hotel," Foothill-road, Finsbury-park. 
    HOXTON BROTHERS, "Jane Shore," High-street, Shoreditch.
    IZAAK WALTON. "Old King John's Head," Mansfield-st., Kingsland-road.
    JUNCTION BROTHERS, "Shakespeare's Head," Barnsley-street, Bethnal-green-road.
    JUNIOR PISCATORIALS, "The Cock," Clapham Common.
    JOLLY PISCATORIALS, "Sugar Loaf," Great Queen-street, W.C. 
    KENNINGTONIAN, "The Clayton Arms," Kennington Oval
    KENTISH BROTHERS, "George and Dragon," Blackheath-hill.
    KENTON, "Kenton Arms," Kenton-road, South Hackney.
    KING'S CROSS UNITED, "Albion," Caledonian-road, N.
    KENTISH PERSEVERANCE, "Corner Pin," Cold Bath, Greenwich.
    KNIGHTS OF KNIGHTSBRIDGE, "Grove Tavern," Grove-place, Brompton-road. S.W.
    LARKHALL, "The Larkhall," Larkhall-lane, Clapham.
    LIMEHOUSE BROTHERS, "Dunlop Lodge,"  70, Samuel-st., Limehouse.
    LITTLE INDEPENDENT, "Russell Arms," Bedford-street, Euston-sq.
    MARYLEBONE, "Bank of England," Cambridge-place, South Wharf-road.
    METROPOLITAN, "Rose Inn," Old Bailey.
    NEVER FRETS, "Cronnard Shuttle," High-Street, Shoreditch. 
    NAUTILUS, "British Lion," Central-street, St. Luke's.
    NORFOLK, "Norfolk Arms," Burwood-place, Edgware-road.
    NORTH~EASTERN, "Shepherd and Flock," Little Bell-alley, Moorgate-street.
    NORTH LONDON, "Prince Albert," Hollingsworth-street. Holloway.
    NORTH-WESTERN, "Lord Southampton," Southampton-road, Haverstock-hill.
    NORTON FOLGATE, "Rose and Crown," Fort-street, Spitalfields.
    NEW GLOBE, "The New Globe," Mile-end-road, E.
    OLD BOWER, "Duke's Arms," Stangate-street, Westminster-bridge-road.
    ODDS-AND-EVENS, "Monmouth Arms," Singleton-st, Hoxton.
    PENGE, "Lord Palmerston," Maple-road, Penge.
    PECKHAM BROTHERS, "Prince Albert," East Surrey-grove, Peckham.
    PHOENIX, "Tavistock Arms," Werrington-street, Oakley-square.
    PISCATORIAL, "Ashley's Hotel," Henrietta-street, Covent Garden.
    PRINCE OF WALES, "Royal Standard," Seymour-place, Edgware-road.
    PERSEVERANCE, "The Perseverance,"  Pritchard's-row, Hackney-road.
    PUTNEY AND WANDSWORTH UNITED, "Coopers' Arms," High-street, Putney.
    REFORM, "Jolly Coopers," Clerkenwell-close.
    RICHMOND PISCATORIAL, "Station Hotel," Richmond, Surrey.
    ROYAL GEORGE, "Royal George," Crown-street, Soho.
    ROYAL PISCATORIAL, "The Albion," Rodney-road, Walworth.
    SAVOY BROTHERS, "Black Prince," Chandos-street, Strand.
    SILVER TROUT, "Star and Garter," St Martin's-lane, Charing-cross.
SIR HUGH MYDDELTON, "Three Johns," White Lion-street, Islington.
    SOCIAL BROTHERS, "Prince Regent," Dulwich-road, Herne Hill.
    SONS OF THE THAMES, "Three Tuns," Rupert-street
    SOUTH BELGRAVIA, "Surprise," Vauxhall Bridge-road.
    SOUTH KENSINGTON PISCATORIAL "Coleherne Hotel," South Kensington.
    SOUTH LONDON, "George and Dragon," 235, Camberwell-road.
    SOUTH HACKNEY, "The Lamb,"  Wick-road, Sooth Hackney.
    SOUTH ESSEX, "The Elms," Leytonstone.
    SOUTH ESSEX PISCATORIAL, "Victoria Dock Tavern," Victoria Dock-road, E.
    SPORTSMAN, "Lady Owen's  Arms," Goswell-road.
    ST. ALBAN'S, "Walnut Tree," St. Alban's-rd., Kensington-rd., SE.
    ST. JAMES AND SOHO, 30, Gerrard-street, Soho.
    ST. JOHN, "White Bear," St. John-street, West Smithfield.
    ST. PANCRAS, 58, Burton-street, Burton-crescent.
    STANLEY ANGLERS, "Lord Stanley," Camden Park-road.
    STAR, "Bird in Hand," Northampton-street, Clerkenwell.
    STOKE NEWINGTON, "Prince Albert," Victoria-rd., Stoke Newington.
    STEPNEY, "Beehive," Rhodeswell-road, Stepney.
    STRATFORD BROTHERS, "Coach and Horses," Broadway, Stratford. 
    SURREY PISCATORIALS, "St. Paul's," Westmoreland-rd, Walworth. 
    SUSSEX, "Sussex Arms," Grove-road, Holloway.
    TRAFALGAR, "Star and Garter," 13, Green-street, Leicester-square.
    TRUE WALTONIANS, 100, Liverpool-road, Islington.
    UNITED ESSEX, "Dorset Arms," Ceylon-road, Stratford New Town.
    UNITED MARLBOROUGH BROTHERS, "Red Lion,"  22 and 23, Portland-street, St. James's.
    UNITED SOCIETY OF ANGLERS, Wellington. Shoreditch
    UNITED BROTHERS, "Druid's Head Tavern," Broadway, Deptford.
    WALTHAMSTOW, "Common Gate," Wark House Common, Walthamstow
    WALTON AND COTTON, "Crown and Woolpack," St. John-street, Clerkenwell.     
    WALTONIAN,  "Jews Harp," Red-hill-street, Regents-park.
    WALWORTH WALTONIANS, "St. Paul's," Westmoreland-rd., Walworth.
    WEST HAM BROTHERS, "Queen's Head," West Ham-lane, Stratford.
    WEST CENTRAL, "Cross Keys," Theobald's-road, High Holborn.
    WEST LONDON, "Windsor Castle," King-street, Hammersmith.
    WESTBOURNE PARK PISCATORIAL, Pelican, All Saints-road, Westbourne-park.
    WOOLWICH BROTHERS, "Prince Regent," King-street, Woolwich.
    WOOLWICH INVICTA, "Golden Marine," Francis-street, Woolwich.
    WOOLWICH PISCATORIALS, "Cricketers Arms," Sand-street, Woolwich

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881

Piscatorial Society, The, established 1836, the largest and most influential society of the kind in London. Head-quarters, Ashley's Hotel, Henrietta-street, Covent Garden, London, WC.- "The objects of this society being to meet their friends and associates in social conversation and harmony (religion and politics being totally excluded), and to encourage fair angling." Part of the funds are appropriated in giving prizes, and in forming a museum and a collection of works on angling. "The election shall depend on the decision of the society by ballot, one black ball in four to exclude."  The name of the candidate must first be submitted to the committee for approval. Entrance fee, 10s. 6d. subscription, £1 1s. A sum of money is voted annually, to be divided into prizes by the committee, as they may think advisable. Five competitions for various fish also take place at stated intervals during the year for the greatest weight subject to the rules for size of fish. It is the secretary's duty fairly to insert the names and weights of all fish taken, with full particulars, in a book kept for that purpose, and every Monday evening to read the weight of fish caught by each member, and to lay the book of the same on the table. Any member refusing to give the locale where the fish were taken, and the name and address of the fisherman, if required by the committee, shall not be allowed to take any prize for the same. Members are only permitted to weigh fish caught by themselves with rod and line. Only two rods are allowed. The attendant is not to angle for, strike, or play the fish, but merely land the same. The museum contains many specimens of large and rare fish. The library is well stocked with books, both ancient and modern, and the members have the privilege of borrowing a volume any Monday evening and retaining the same for a week.
    The total value of prizes offered in 1880 was as follows: Given by the club, £14; private prizes, £59 4s. 6d.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881

But to proceed with my fishing story. I was on night duty. It was in the month of August (if I recol lect rightly), at any rate it was a Sunday night preceding a Bank holiday- possibly it may have been the Whitsun holiday; however, that matters but little. By some means it had got into a local weekly newspaper either Kensington or Bayswater neighbourhood, that fishing would be permitted in the Round Pond on this particular Bank holiday. I had met someone during the early part of the night who intimated this announcement to me, however, not having been apprised by my superiors of any such notification, I treated it for what it was worth, doubting if it had happened at all. Eventually the time came round to open the gates. I commenced about four o'clock (I was the only constable on duty in the gardens that night), so as to have the last opened by five a.m., the authorised time. To walk quite three miles round the Gardens and open between twenty and thirty gates one could scarcely be expected to start much later. This done, out of curiosity I strolled towards the pond. Up to that time I had not seen a sign of a fisher man, so I did not feel in the least alarmed; but on my emerging through the trees on the Kensington side of the Gardens, imagine my consternation on beholding round the pond no less than thirty or forty persons, all busily engaged in preparing their rods and tackle, and - some even had commenced angling and having sport for I saw them pulling the fish out. Ladies even were there with camp-stools, luncheon baskets, etc., evidently they were bent upon having a good day of it. I set to work and demanded to know from the first party I came to, upon what authority were they taking such a liberty with the regulations. They referred me to the paper I have mentioned. I replied that, not having received any official instructions on the matter, my duty was to stop them. They protested it was "all right". I persisted it was not "all right", and took out my pocketbook, and, I am sure, wrote down a dozen names and addresses, and the more I wrote the more there appeared to be arriving on the scene. I thought to myself, I am just about as much use here as not at all, so sent information to the police station of what was going on, and very soon half-a-dozen men in blue arrived, whose presence quickly had the effect of conveying to these ardent anglers they were under some "misapprehension", and they quietly, but most disappointedly, packed up. One enthusiastic piscator, I remember, judging from his appearances came from the slums of Notting Hill on the strength of. the information obtained from the "local organ", openly defied the police. He had his fishing-rod, which consisted of a long trimmed garden pea-stick, wrested from him by a constable, and had the mortification of seeing it broken up and thrown into the pond. Firm measures had to be taken, or the place would have been overrun by such characters. However, it gradually passed off quietly without any magisterial proceedings, as the transgressors, I need hardly state, were the victims of a hoax.

Edward Owen, Hyde Park, Select Narratives, Annual Event, etc, 
during twenty years' Police Service in Hyde Park,