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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 swoln cheeks and staring eyes, did stretch out his legs and embraced the Pike's head, and presently reached them to his eyes, tearing, with them and his teeth, those tender parts: the Pike moved with anguish, 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 à conqueror, after which he presently retired to his secret hole. The bishop, that had beheld the battle, called his
(1) Janus Dubravius Scala, bishop of Olmutz, in Moravia, in the sixteenth century, was born at Pilsen, in Bohemia. The functions of the Bishopric did not bioder him from being an Anibassador into Sicily, then into Bohernia, and President of the chamber established to proceed against the rebels who had borne a part in the troubles of Smalcald. Besides the above book, (the Latin title whereof is, De Piscinis & Piscium qui in eis aluntur naturis,) he appears, by the Bodleian Catalogue, to have written, in Latin, a History of Bohemia; and an oration to Sigismund, king of Poland, exhorting him to make war on the Turks. He seems to have practised the ordering of fish ponds and the breeding of fish, both for delight and profit. Hoffman, who iu his Lexicon has given his name a place, says, he died with the reputation of a pious and learned prelate, in 1553, which last particular may admit of question ; for, if it be true, it makes all his writings posthumous Publications, the earliest whereof bears date, anno 1559.
His book On Fish and Fish-ponds, in which are many pleasant relations, was, in 1599, translated into English, and published in 4to. by George Churchey, Fellow of Lion's Inn, with the title of A new Book of good Husbandry, very pleasant and of great profit, both for gentlemen und yeomen, containing the order and manner of making of fish-ponds, &c.
fisherman 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 assured them he was certain that Pikes were often so served.”
I told this, which is to be read in the sixth chapter of the 'book of Dubravius, 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
that as there be water and landfrogs, 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 watersnake, 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,
(1) Walton should have said of the first book; for there it is to be found.
by remembering the discourse of Dubravius. I will therefore stop here; and tell you, according to my promise, how to catch the 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 they think] 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 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 pearch 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
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.
Ven. But, good master, did you not say even now, that some frogs were venomous; and is it not dangerous to touch them?
Pisc. 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 boney, 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 crea. ture; this is the opinion of Pliny. And * Cardanus' undertakes to give a reason for
* In his 19th Book
De Subtil, ex.
(1) 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 bis reputation; He had been in England, and wrote a character of our Edward VI,
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 or 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 sow 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,
(1) There are many well.attested acrounts 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 of God in the Crea. tion, 310. See also Derham's Phys. Theol. 244. and Pennant's Zoology, 4to. Lond. 1776. vol. iv. p 10.