« AnteriorContinuar »
hatch, but breed her young alive, which she does not then for. sake, 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 whither 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 walking bait; 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 Walking-bait, 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 hody of it, draw out that wire or arming of your hook at another scar near to his tail: then tie him ahout 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 of 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 venemous; and is it not dangerous to touch them?
PlSCATOR. 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 venemous; and so is the paddock, or frog-paddock, which usually keeps or breeds on the land, and is very large and hony, and big, especially the she-frog of that kind: yet these will sometimes come into the water, but it is not often: and the landfrogs 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 t undertakes to give a reason for the raining of frogs : J but if it were in my power, it should rain none but water-frogs; for those I think are not venemous, especially the right water-frog, which, ahout February or March, breeds in ditches, by slime, and blackish eggs in that slime: ahout which time of breeding, the he and she frogs are observed to use divers summersaults, and to croak and make a noise, which the landfrog, 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
* In his 19th hook, De Subtil, ex.
t Hieronymus Cardanus an Italian physician, naturalist, and astrologer, well known by the many works he has published: he died at Rome. 1576. It is said that he had foretold the day of his death : and that, when it approached, he suffered himself to die of hunger, to preserve his reputation. He had been in England, and wrote a character of our Edward VI.—H.
X There are many well-attested accounts of the raining of frogs; but Mr Ray rejects them as utterly false and ridiculous; and demonstrates the impossibility of their production in any such manner. Wisdom o/ God in the Creations ^1o. See also Derham's Pkys. Thiol. *44' and Pennant's Zoologys 4to, Lond. 1776, vol iv. p. 1o.—H.
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 armingwire of your hook; or tie the frog's leg, ahove 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 hough 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 ahout 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 accidents 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 hough 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, with it: The using or not using of this garlic is left, to your discretion.* M. B."
This dish of meat is too good for any but anglers, or very honest men; and I trust you will prove both, and therefore I have trusted you with this secret.
Let me next tell you, that Gesner tells us, there are no Pikes in Spain, and that the largest are in the Lake Thrasymene in Italy; and the next, if not equal to them, are the Pikes of England; and that in England, Lincolnshire boasteth to have the biggest.f Just so doth Sussex hoast of four sorts of fish, namely, an Arundel Mullet, a Chichester Lobster, a Shelsey Cockle, and an Amerly Trout.
But I will take up no more of your time with this relation, but proceed to give you some observations of the Carp, and how to angle for him; and to dress him, but not till he is caught.
Chap. IX. Piscator. The Carp is the queen of rivers; a
On the Carp, stately, a good, and a very subtile fish; that was not at first bred, nor hath been long in England, but is now
* It may perhaps be deemed amusing to compare Walton's method of cooking the Pike, with that practised in the Royal kitchens in the fourteenth and fifteenth centlmes as preserved in the Sloane MS. No. 1so1. "For to make a pyke in galentyne. Take a pyke and quarter hym, and sethe hym in scharpe sawse, and than pille awey the skynne and ley hym in a fayre vessell of tre or of erthe, and than take whyte wyne and whyte vynegre, and take fayre breed and put thereto, and make it hoote over the fyre. and than drawe it thorough a strcynor. Than caste thereto powdrc of pepper and of galyngale of cloves, salt it fayre and gvffe it a lytcll hete and stere it wele togedre and put it to thy fyssche, and whan thou wilte have of it. take uppe apece or two with the sawse, and cast powdre of gynger uppon it and serve it forth.
"A pyke hoyled. Take and make a sawse of fayre water and salt and a lyttcll a!e and a percyle and then take a pyke and nape hym and drawe hym in the bely, and slytte hym thorow the bely, backe, and hede, and tayle with a knyfe in two peces, and smyte the sydes in quartcres, and wasshe hem clene, and yiffe thow wilt have hym rownde scoche hym by ihe liede in the backe, and drawe hym there, and scoche hym in two places or iij in the backe, but not thorough. And slytte the pouche and kepe the frye or the lyvre, and cuttc awey the galle, and whan the sawse begynneth 1o buyle, skym it, and wasche the pyke, and cast hym thereinne, and cast the frye and the pouche thereto, and lete it hoyle togedies. And then make the sawse thus: mynse small the pouche and the frye in a lytell gravey of the pyke, and cast thereto powdre of gynger, cavell, verjuice, and mustard, and salt."
f It has been a common notion that the Pike was not extant in England till the reign of Henry the Eighth ; but it occurs very frequently in the "Forme of Cury," compiled ahout 139o. The old name was Luce, or Lucy. An ancient MS. formerly in the possession of Jobn Topham, Esq., written ahout 1a5o, mentions " Lufios aqnaticos sive Lucres" amongst the fish which the fishmongers were to have in their shops. Three Lucies were the arms of the Lucy family, as early as the reign of Henry the Third ; and in a contemporary Roll of arms they are thus described, Geffrey de Lucy, de goules trois lucies d or.' In the 6th Rich. II. Ao. 138a, the mayor and citizens of London prayed that no fishmonger, nor any other person free of the City, might thenceforward buy any kind of fish to sell again in the City, excepting pikes and fresh eels "forspris fii'ts, anguilles fresshes," &c- Rot. Pari. vol. iii. p. 14a." In the Roll of the same Parliament, the words " hnrspris anguilles freshes, beketes on pikes," occur. Ihid.
Compare Pennant's Zoologvl vol. lii. p. a5o, 4to. Lelandi Collectanea, vol. vi. i, 5, 6.
That the Pike was here in Edward the Third's time is evident from Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, edit. Tyrwh. p. 351, 35a :—
"Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,