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Fishing - Indians fished with spears, bows and arrows, nets and seines, weirs or wattlework fish traps, with the bare hand, and by drugging fish with some poison.  They also caught fish with hook and line.

Fishhooks were fashioned from wood, bone, shell, copper, and certain types of cactus thorns.  Some hooks were barbed.  An interesting kind of hook, called a snap hook, consisted of a wooden hoop, the ends of which were held apart by a peg.  This peg was loosened by the fish taking the bait and the ends of the hoop snapped together, holding the fish by the jaw.  Lines were made from twisted bark and from babiche.

Not all Indians fished.  Among the Navajo, Apache, and Zuñi tribes the eating of fish was forbidden by custom.  But those tribes that used fish for food would utilize almost anything that came from the water, from shellfish to salmon, as well as eels.

The greatest amount of fishing was done in the Northeast.  During the "salmon run," entire tribes would turn out for fishing.  the fish were caught by hand, scooped into nets, clubbed, or speared.  In some places they were speared from canoes and even platforms which were built out over the water.  The fish were dried, pounded, and mixed with roots and berries and packed for future use.

The candlefish, caught by the northwestern Indians, was so oily that when dried and a wick placed in it, it served as a candle or lamp.

Captain John Smith, in his history of Virginia, tells that on one occasion the fish were so numerous in the water of the Potomac River that he had difficulty landing his boat.  The Indians of this section used weirs, or wattlework fish traps.

Some Indians used sticks split on the end and caught fish by "pinching."  In winter, holes were cut in the ice and the fish were caught when they surfaced.  The Cherokee, Iroquois, and other tribes placed poisonous barks in streams to drug fish, so that they could be easily gathered up.  Some tribes used fires and torches along the shore or in canoes to attract the fish, which were then speared or taken in nets.

Salmon and herring eggs were a great delicacy.  In collecting herring eggs Indians laid weighted branches under water.  The herring deposited their eggs on these branches, which were then brought up and the eggs dried right on them.  later the dried eggs were scraped off and made into a kind of sausage, by stuffing them in casings made of the intestines of animals.

The Eskimo were great fisherman, and lived principally on sea mammals, particularly the seal.  They had what was probably the most elaborate fishing gear of any Indians, but the harpoon was their most common fishing implement.

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