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Salmon Fishing

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CHAPTER VIII.

OBSERVATIONS OF THE LUCE OR PIKE, WITH DIRECTIONS HOW TO FISH FOR HIM.

Piscator. The mighty Luce or Pike is taken to be the tyrant, as the Salmon is the king, of the fresh waters. 'Tis not to be doubted but that they are bred, some by generation, and some not, as namely, of a weed called pickerel-weed, unless learned Gesner be much mistaken; for he says this weed and other glutinous matter, with the help of the sun's heat, in some particular months, and some ponds adapted for it by nature, do become pikes,'-but, doubtless, divers

1 Richard Franks, in his "Northern Memoirs," attacks Walton for what he has said of the pickerel-weed, in the following terms. "When I met him (Isaac Walton) at Stafford, I urged his own argument upon him, that pickerel-weed of itself breeds pickerel. Which question was no sooner stated, but he transmits himself to his authority-viz., Gesner, Dubravius and Aldrovandus. Which I readily opposed, and offered my reasons to prove the contrary; asserting that pickerels have been fished out of ponds where that weed (for aught I knew) never grew since the nonage of time, nor pickerel ever known to have shed their spawn there. This I propounded from a rational conjecture of the heronshaw, who, to commode herself with the fry of fish, because in a great measure part of his maintenance, probably might lap some spawn about his legs, in regard to adhering to the segs and bull-rushes, near the shallows, where the fish shed their spawn, as myself and others, without curiosity, have observed. And this slimy substance adhering to her legs, &c., and she mounting the air for another station, in all probability mounts with her. Where note-the next pond she haply arrives at, possibly she may leave the spawn behind her, which my Compleat Angler no longer deliberated, but dropped his argument,

pikes are bred after this manner, or are brought into some ponds some such other ways as is past man's finding out; of which we have daily testimonies.

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Sir Francis Bacon, in his "History of Life and Death," observes the pike to be the longest lived of any fresh-water fish and yet he computes it to be not, usually, above forty years; and others think it to be not above ten years; and yet Gesner mentions a pike taken, in Swedeland, in the year 1449, with a ring about his neck, declaring he was put into that pond by Frederick the Second, more than two hundred years before he was last taken, as by the inscription in that ring, being Greek, was interpreted by the then Bishop of Worms. But of this no more, but that it is observed, that the old or very great pikes have in them more of state than goodness, the smaller or middle-sized pikes being by the most, and choicest palates, observed to be the best meat; and, contrary, the eel is observed to be the better for age and bigness.

and leaves Gesner to defend it; so huff'd away: which rendered him rather a formal opinionist, than a reformed and practical artist, because to celebrate such antiquated records, whereby to maintain such an improbable assertion." -H. The doctrine of spontaneous generation, once supported by naturalists of great name, is as we have elsewhere said, exploded. The reader need hardly be told that pike breed like other river fish. They spawn (we quote from Blaine) in March or April, according to the temperature of the water, and retiring for the purpose in pairs, quit the rivers for the creeks and ditches. They seek the stillest part of the water, and frequently occupy a mud-bed, or remain towards the edges or shallows, depositing their spawn among aquatic plants, of which reeds and rushes are favourites. The male may be seen during this time accompanying the female with much attention, and when the fecundating milt has been deposited over the ova, the pair then retire into deep water, and seem to feel no further solicitude for the result of the process.-ED.

Walton appears to have quoted from memory, from "Hakewill's Apology," where Gesner is cited as the authority. It is there stated that the fish was put into the pond in 1230. The like account differs, however, three years in the date, from that given in a well-known book, entitled the "Gentleman's Recreation," which is: "In the year 1497, a fish was caught in a pond near Heilbron, in Suabia, with a brass ring, at his gills, in which were engraved these words; I am the first fish which Frederick the Second, governor of the world, put into this pond the 5th of October, 1233." By which it appears, that this fish had then lived two hundred and sixty-odd years."-H.

2 This is a mistake. Large and old eels are not such good eating as those of a smaller size. -Ep.

All pikes that live long, prove chargeable to their keepers, because their life is maintained by the death of so many other fish, even those of their own kind, which has made him, by some writers, to be called the tyrant of the rivers, or the fresh-water wolf, by reason of his bold, greedy, devouring disposition, which is so keen, that, as Gesner relates, a man going to a pond, where it seems a pike had devoured all the fish, to water his mule, had a pike bit his mule by the lips, to which the pike hung so fast, that the mule drew him out of the water, and by that accident the owner of the mule angled out the pike. And the same Gesner observes, that a maid in Poland had a pike bit her by the foot as she was washing close in a pond. And I have heard the like of a woman in Killingworth pond, not far from Coventry.' But I have been assured by my friend Mr. Seagrave, of whom I spake to you formerly, that keeps tame otters, that he hath known a pike, in extreme hunger, fight with one of his otters for a carp that the otter had caught, and was then bringing out of the water. I have told you who relate these things; and tell you they are persons of credit, and shall conclude this observation, by telling you, what a wise man has observed, "It is a hard thing to persuade the belly, because it has no ears.

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A girl was washing her hand in a small pond in Staffordshire, when a pike seized it and lacerated both her hand and arm very severely. -ED.

* Bowlker, in his "Art of Angling," gives the following instance of the exceeding voracity of this fish :-"My father caught a pike in Barn-Meer (a large standing-water in Cheshire), was an ell long, and weighed thirtyfive pounds, which he brought to the Lord Cholmondeley: his lordship ordered it to be turned into a canal in the garden, wherein were abundance of several sorts of fish. About twelve months after, his lordship drawed the canal, and found that this overgrown pike had devoured all the fish, except one large carp that weighed between nine and ten pounds, and that was bitten in several places. The pike was then put into the canal again, together with abundance of fish with him to feed upon, all which he devoured in less than a year's time; and was observed by the gardener and workmen there to take the ducks, and other water-fowl, under water. Whereupon they shot magpies and crows, and threw them into the canal, which the pike took before their eyes of this they acquainted their lord; who, thereupon, ordered the slaughterman to throw in calves'-bellies, chickens'-guts, and such like garbage, to him, to prey upon. Being soon after neglected, he died, as supposed, from want of food." The following

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