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other beasts, taking their meat, not out of their mouth immediately into their belly, but first into some place betwixt, and then chew it, or digest it by degrees after, which is called Chewing the Cud. And doubtless Pikes will bite when they are not hungry, but as some think even for very anger, when a tempting bait comes near to them.
And it is observed, that the Pike will eat venomous things,—as some kind of Frogs are,—and yet live without being harmed by them: for as some say, he has in him a natural balsam, or antidote against all poison: and he has a strange heat, that though it appear to us to be cold, can yet digest, or put over, any fish-flesh by degrees without being sick. And others observe, that he never eats the venomous Frog till he have first killed her, and then,—as Ducks are observed to do to Frogs in spawningtime,—at which time some Frogs are observed to be venomous,—so thoroughly washed her, by tumbling her up and down in the water, that he may devour her without danger. And Gesner affirms that a Polonian gentleman did faithfully assure him, he had seen two young Geese at one time in the belly of a Pike. And doubtless a Pike in his height of hunger, will bite at and devour a dog that swims in a pond, and there have been examples of it, or the like; for as I told you, " The belly has no ears "when hunger comes upon it."
The Pike is also observed to be a solitary, melancholy, and a bold fish: melancholy, because he v
always swims or rests himself alone, and never swims in shoals or with company, as Roach and Dace, and most other fish do: and bold, because he fears not a shadow, or to see or be seen of any body, as the Trout and Chub, and all other fish do.
And it is observed by Gesner, that the jaw-bones, and hearts and galls of Pikes, are very medicinable for several diseases; or to stop blood, to abate fevers, to cure agues, to oppose or expel the infection of the Plague, and to be many ways medicinable and useful for the good of mankind: but he observes, that the biting of a Pike is venomous and hard to be cured.
And it is observed, that the Pike is a fish that breeds but once a year, and that other fish, as namely, Loaches,--do breed oftener: as we are certain tame Pigeons do almost every month, and yet the Hawk, a bird of prey, as the Pike is of fish, breeds but once in twelve months: and you are to note, that his time of breeding, or spawning, is usually about the end of February, or somewhat later, in March, as the weather proves colder or warmer, and to note, that his manner of breeding is thus, a He and a She-Pike will usually go together out of a river into some ditch or creek, and that there the Spawner casts her eggs, and the Melter hovers over her all that time that she is casting her spawn, but touches her not.
I might say more of this, but it might be thought curiosity or worse, and shall therefore forbear it, and take up so much of your attention, as to tell you, that the best of Pikes are noted to be in Rivers, next, those in great Ponds, or Meres, and the worst in small Ponds.
But before I proceed further, I am to tell you that there is a great antipathy betwixt the Pike and some Frogs; and this may appear to the reader of Dubravius, a Bishop in Bohemia, who in his book of Fish and Fish-ponds, relates what he says he saw with his own eyes, and could not forbear to tell the reader. Which was:
"As he and the Bishop Thurzo were walking by "a large pond in Bohemia, they saw a Frog, when "the Pike lay very sleepily and quiet by the shore"side, leap upon his head, and the Frog having "expressed malice or anger by his swollen cheeks "and staring eyes, did stretch out his legs and em"braced the Pike's head, and presently reached "them to his eyes, tearing with them and his teeth "those tender parts; the Pike, moved with an"guish, moves up and down the water, and rubs "himself against weeds, and whatever he thought "might quit him of his enemy; but all in vain, for "the Frog did continue to ride triumphantly, and "to bite and torment the Pike, till his strength "failed, and then the Frog sunk with the Pike to "the bottom of the water; then presently the Frog "appeared again at the top and croaked, and "seemed to rejoice like a conqueror, after which "he presently retired to his secret hole. The Bi"shop, that had beheld the battle, called his fisher"man to fetch his nets, and by all means to get the "Pike, that they might declare what had happened: "and the Pike was drawn forth, and both his eyes "eaten out, at which when they began to wonder, "the fisherman wished them to forbear, and as"sured them he was certain that Pikes were often "so served."
I told this, which is to be read in the Sixth Chapter of the First Book of Dubraoius, unto a friend, who replied," It was as improbable as to have the mouse "scratch out the cat's eyes." But he did not consider, that there be Fishing Frogs, 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 some 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