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was as improbable as to have the mouse scratch out the
But he did not consider, that there be Fishingfrogs, which the Dalmatians call the Water-devil, of which I might tell you as wonderful a story : but I shall tell you that 'tis not to be doubted but that there be some frogs so fearful of the water-snake, that when they swim in a place in which they fear to meet with him, they then get a reed across into their mouths ; which, if they two meet by accident, secures the frog from the strength and malice of the snake ; and note, that the frog usually swims the fastest of the two.
And let me tell you, that as there be water and land-frogs, so there be land and water-snakes. Concerning which take this observation, that the land-snake breeds and hatches her eggs,
which become young snakes, in some old dunghill, or a like hot place : but the water-snake, which is not venomous, and as I have been assured by a great observer of such secrets, does not hatch, but breed her young alive, which she does not then forsake, but bides with them, and in case of danger will take them all into her mouth and swim away from any apprehended danger, and then let them out again when she thinks all danger to be past : these be accidents that we Anglers sometimes see, and often talk of.
But whither am I going? I had almost lost myself, by remembering the discourse of Dubravius. I will therefore stop here ; and tell you, according to my promise, how to catch this Pike.
His feeding is usually of fish or frogs; and sometimes a weed of his own, called pickerel-weed, of which I told you some think Pikes are bred; for they have observed, that where none have been put into ponds, yet they have there found many; and that there has been plenty of that weed in those ponds, and that that weed both breeds and feeds them : but whether those Pikes, so bred, will ever breed by generation as the others do, I shall leave to the disquisitions of men of more curiosity and leisure than I profess myself to have: and shall proceed to tell you, that you may fish for a Pike, either with a ledger or a walkingbait; and you are to note, that I call that a Ledger-bait, which is fixed or made to rest in one certain place when you shall be absent from it; and I call that a Walkingbait, which you take with you, and have ever in motion. Concerning which two, I shall give you this direction; that your ledger-bait is best to be a living bait (though a dead one may catch), whether it be a fish or a frog: and that you may make them live the longer, you may, or indeed you must, take this course :
First, for your Live-bait. Of fish, a roach or dace is, I think, best and most tempting; and a perch is the longest lived on a hook, and having cut off his fin on his back, which may be done without hurting him, you must take your knife, which cannot be too sharp, and betwixt the head and the fin on the back, cut or make an incision, or such a scar, as you may put the arming-wire of your hook into it, with as little bruising or hurting the fish as art and diligence will enable you to do; and so carrying your arming-wire along his back, unto or near the tail of your fish, betwixt the skin and the body of it, draw out that wire or arming of your hook at another scar near to his tail : then tie him about it with thread, but no harder than of necessity, to prevent hurting the fish ; and the better to avoid hurting the fish, some have a kind of probe to open the way for the more easy entrance and passage your wire or arming: but as for these, time and a little experience will teach you better than I can by words. Therefore I will for the present say no more of this; but come next to give you some directions how to bait your hook with a frog.
Venator. But, good master, did you not say even now, that some frogs were venomous; and is it not dangerous to touch them?
PISCATOR. Yes, but I will give you some rules or cautions concerning them. And first you are to note, that there are two kinds of frogs, that is to say, if I may so express myself, a flesh and a fish-frog. By flesh-frogs, I
, mean frogs that breed and live on the land; and of these there be several sorts also, and of several colours, some
being speckled, some greenish, some blackish, or brown : the green frog, which is a small one, is, by Topsel, taken to be venomous; and so is the paddock, or frog-paddock, which usually keeps or breeds on the land, and is very large and bony, and big, especially the she-frog of that kind: yet these will sometimes come into the water, but it is not often : and the land-frogs are some of them observed by him, to breed by laying eggs; and others to breed of the slime and dust of the earth, and that in winter they turn to slime again, and that the next summer that very slime returns to be a living creature; this is the opinion of Pliny. And Cardanus undertakes to give a reason for the raining of frogs: but if it were in my power, it should rain none but water-frogs; for those I think are not venomous, especially the right water-frog, which, about February and March, breeds in ditches, by slime, and blackish eggs in that slime: about which time of breeding, the he and she frogs are observed to use divers summersaults, and to croak and make a noise, which the land-frog, or paddock-frog, never does.
Now of these water-frogs, if you intend to fish with a frog for a Pike, you are to choose the yellowest that you can get, for that the Pike ever likes best. And thus use your frog, that he may continue long alive:
Put your hook into his mouth, which you may easily do from the middle of April till August; and then the frog's mouth grows up, and he continues so for at least six months without eating, but is sustained, none but He whose name is Wonderful knows how: I say, put your hook, I mean the arming-wire, through his mouth, and out at his gills; and then with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg, with only one stitch, to the arming-wire of
your hook; or tie the frog's leg, above the upper joint, to the armed-wire; and, in so doing, use him as though you loved him, that is, harm him as little as you may possibly, that he may live the longer.
And now, having given you this direction for the baiting your ledger-hook with a live fish or frog, my next must be to tell you, how your hook thus baited must or may be used; and it is thus : having fastened your hook to a line, which if it be not fourteen yards long should not be less than twelve, you are to fasten that line to any bough near to a hole where a Pike is, or is likely to lie, or to have a haunt; and then wind your line on any forked stick, all your line, except half a yard of it or rather more; and split that forked stick, with such a nick or notch at one end of it as may keep the line from any more of it ravelling from about the stick than so much of it as you intend. And choose your forked stick to be of that bigness as may keep the fish or frog from pulling the forked stick under the water till the Pike bites; and then the Pike having pulled the line forth of the cleft or nick of that stick in which it was gently fastened, he will have line enough to go to his hold and pouch the bait. And if you would have this ledger-bait to keep at a fixt place undisturbed by wind or other accident, which may drive it to the shore-side (for you are to note, that it is likeliest to catch a Pike in the midst of the water), then hang a small plummet of lead, a stone, or piece of tile, or a turf, in a string, and cast it into the water with the forked stick to hang upon the ground, to be a kind of anchor to keep the forked stick from moving out of your intended place till the Pike come: this I take to be a very good way to use so many ledger-baits as you intend to make trial of.
Or if you bait your hooks thus with live fish or frogs, and in a windy day, fasten them thus to a bough or bundle of straw, and by the help of that wind can get them to move across a pond or mere, you are like to stand still on the shore and see sport presently, if there be any store of Pikes. Or these live baits may make sport, being tied about the body or wings of a goose or duck, and she chased over a pond. And the like may be done with turning three or four live baits, thus fastened to bladders, or boughs, or bottles of hay or flags, to swim down a river, whilst you walk quietly alone on the shore, and are still in expectation of sport. The rest must be taught you by practice; for time will not allow me to say more of this kind of fishing with live baits.
And for your Dead-bait for a Pike: for that you may be taught by one day's going a-fishing with me, or any other body that fishes for him; for the baiting your hook with a dead gudgeon or a roach, and moving it up and down the water, is too easy a thing to take up any time to direct you to do it. And yet, because I cut you short in that, I will commute for it by telling you that that was told me for a secret : it is this : Dissolve gum of ivy in oil of spike, and therewith anoint your dead bait for a Pike; and then cast it into a likely place; and when it has lain a short time at the bottom, draw it towards the top of the water, and so up the stream ; and it is more than likely that you
have a Pike follow with more than common eagerness. And some affirm, that any bait anointed with the marrow of the thigh-bone of a heron is a great temptation to any fish. .
These have not been tried by me, but told me by a friend of note, that pretended to do me a courtesy.
But if this direction to catch a Pike thus do you no good, yet I am certain this direction how to roast him when he is caught is choicely good; for I have tried it, and it is somewhat the better for not being common. But with my direction you must take this caution, that your Pike must not be a small one, that is, it must be more than half a yard, and should be bigger.
First, open your Pike at the gills, and if need be, cut also a little slit towards the belly. Out of these, take his guts; and keep his liver, which you are to shred very small, with thyme, sweet marjoram, and a little wintersavoury; to these put some pickled oysters, and some anchovies, two or three ; both these last whole, for the anchovies will melt, and the oysters should not; to these, you must add also a pound of sweet butter, which you are to mix with the herbs that are shred, and let them all be well salted. If the Pike be more than a yard long, then you may put into these herbs more than
a pound, or if he be less, then less butter will suffice : These, being thus mixt, with a blade or two of mace, must be put into the Pike's belly; and then his belly so sewed up as to keep all