Longhouse - Work Area

Dip-netting

Dip netting is one of the main fishing techniques used to catch enormous quantities of salmon (spring and sockeye) in the Fraser Canyon. This method involves standing above the dangerous currents of the river narrows, usually from a rock perch or a wooden platform, and dipping a large net attached to the end of a pole into the water. The net mouth is then closed, and the fish inside the net are trapped. The net is hauled out and emptied, so the process can be repeated.

Twined inner cedar bark, or spun nettle, was the primary material used in the creation of the net itself. The production of the dip nets was an extremely time-consuming process. The structure of the net included a net mouth that was attached to a vine maple hoop-this hoop was suspended at the end of a larger pole made from fir or cedar. Fixing the net to the hoop was a complicated procedure, as it had to be fixed in a manner that would allow the net to be securely attached but also be movable, in order to enable the mouth of the net to be closed when it was lifted from the water. To do this, a bone loop was placed around the vine maple hoop and attached to the net mouth to create a durable sliding mechanism that could be used to pull the net mouth closed when it was full of fish.

The two main methods to handle a dip net are based on the two different spawning patterns of the spring and sockeye salmon in the Fraser Canyon. A shallow-dipping method is used to catch sockeye. This involves sweeping the net downstream through the swirling eddy waters and catching the sockeye, which are near the surface. To catch spring salmon, the net is lowered deep into an eddy, and then closed and raised from the eddy. This method does involve using a net-hoop-pole combination which is longer than normal (at 2 metres) and has a wider hoop than normal (at 1.5 metres). A smaller hoop and pole are used in the sockeye method.

During the dip netting, the person operating the net is tied to the shore or platform. The net is tied to shore as well, as it is quite valuable. This preventative measure is very important, as the heavy fish and strong currents can make using a dip net very difficult and dangerous. The strong currents can make the river a dangerous place, especially around eddies, which is where dip netting spots are usually located.

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