Longhouse - Work Area

Shallow Water Harpooning

There were two distinctive activities which involved the use of a harpoon by the Stó:lō. These activities were sturgeon fishing and shallow water harpoon-fishing. The use of a harpoon while fishing in shallow water involved waiting patiently in clear, shallow eddies for a fish to chance by. Despite the simple description, catching fish with a harpoon is not a simple matter. Care must be taken not to hit the tip of the harpoon, either bone or stone, on the rocky river bottom (as this can break the tip of the harpoon). Also, as any angler will attest, refraction in the water is a consideration, as this can scare the fish and lessen the likelihood of catching any fish. The optical illusion of refraction involves the slight bending of light, or images in this case, going through the surface of the water, which can make objects that are underwater seem closer than they appear. It also enables a fish in the water to see objects out of the water, although there is not a direct line of sight.

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