Document: Chinook Fishing, ca. 1810 | Excerpt
From Adventure at Astoria, 1810-1814 by Gabriel Franchere, Translated and Edited by Hoyt C. Franchere. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967, p. 112.
“They catch salmon with net or darts. Their nets are made of nettle fibers and are from eighty to one hundred fathoms long. Their darts, or harpoons, are made of two pieces of curved bone, in the middle of which they bind a small iron point about half an inch long. The bone pieces are tied firmly together and are separated at the top to hold the shaft, which is a long pole with two forks. When these hit a fish, the two darts penetrate the flesh; and lest the shock given it and with which the fish feels itself struck break the shaft, which is very slender because of its length, the Indians draw it back and allow the fish to swim until it is exhausted, holding onto the fish, however, by a line attached to the darts.”
The sturgeon is taken with a hook or a net. The hooks are ingeniously made of iron and bound by a strong cord of nettle so that they do not break. They are spaced about twelve feet apart on a line made of tree bark. Having attached a rock weighing fifteen or sixteen pounds to the end of the line, they throw it crosswise over the river, careful to place the buoy at the other end. For bait they use a little fish, called mullet, passing the hook through the gills and sliding the fish along the cord that holds it to the line. As the cord glides up and down, the little fish gives the appearance of being alive; the sturgeon, deceived, swallows the bait and is caught. Although this fish grows very large, he offers almost no fight at all. The Indians catch about ten or twelve a night in this manner.”