Chinook Fishing Implements, 1857 | Excerpt

Document: Chinook Fishing Implements, 1857 – Excerpt

From Northwest Coast by James Gilchrist Swan. With an Introduction by W.A. Katz, Ph.D. Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, reprint of 1857 version, 1966, p. 38.

“The implements used by the Indians for catching salmon were a hook and a spear. The former is in size as large as a shark-hook, having a socket at one end formed of wood. These hooks are made by the Indians from files and rasps, which they purchase of the traders, and are forged into shape with ingenuity and skill. The socket is made from the wild raspberry bush (Rubus spectablis), which, having a pith in its centre, is easily worked, and is very strong. This socket is formed of two parts, which are firmly secured to the hook by means of twine, and the whole covered with a coat of pitch. Attached to this hook is a strong cord about three feet long. A staff or pole from eighteen to twenty feet long, made of fir, is used, one end of which is fitted to the socket in the hook, into which it is thrust, and the cord firmly tied to the pole. When the hook is fastened into a salmon it slips off the pole, and the fish is held by the cord, which enables it to perform it antics without breaking the staff, which it would be sure to do if the hook was firmly fastened. The spear is a float piece of iron with barbs made of elk horn, and fastened in the same manner as the socket to the hook. This spear-head has also a line attached to it, which is fastened to the staff in a similar manner as the hook is. The spear is generally used in shallow water, and the hook is deep water at the mouth of rivers, before the fish run up the streams.”