The Halibut Hook Revival
October 25, 2018 7:32 AM   Subscribe

An ingenious Indigenous fishing technology with spiritual significance is making a comeback

Jonathan Rowan lowers his handmade wooden halibut hook into the tranquil early-morning water off Klawock, Alaska, and urges it to go down and fight: “Weidei yei jindagut,” he says in the Tlingit language. From his skiff, the tribal leader, who is joined by two friends, watches the V-shaped hook about as long as his forearm slowly sink and hopes the imagery he carved on the seafloor-facing arm—a beaver perched on a chewed stick—entices a halibut.

posted by poffin boffin (13 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hold up, the hook on display at the Smithsonian is carved with an image of a man eating a halibut? The fish really has no grounds for surprise or complaint then, does it?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:42 AM on October 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Great article, I've seen these hooks often but never understood the mechanics of how they snag the fish.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:49 AM on October 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


the hook on display at the Smithsonian is carved with an image of a man eating a halibut?

The same trope remains in successful use to this day in the form of every Republican Party candidate.
posted by flabdablet at 9:54 AM on October 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


I enjoy the idea that halibut are attracted to the scent (taste?) of cedar. I mean, if tigers like Obsession, why not?
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:05 AM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also liked the diagram mapped to the proportions of a hand; that’s pretty interesting and handy (ahem)!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:16 AM on October 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


One can't help but wonder why they're doing this.
posted by Flashman at 10:42 AM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Agreed! It seems to me that although the pictures show some pretty ornate examples it's a device that has been developed for people to be able to craft one with little more than a knife and whatever raw materials they might find handy if stranded alone in the wilderness.
posted by VTX at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2018


One can't help but wonder why they're doing this.
Just for the halibut.

someone had to
posted by xedrik at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2018 [16 favorites]


well, someone had to take the bait
posted by phooky at 12:36 PM on October 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's so nice to read a good story once in a while. Makes me happy to see the culture being passed on :)
posted by MaximumTaco at 1:42 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I had seen these before but also hadn’t understood how they work. The diagram and the photo both show the hook upside down from how it is shown to work, which confused me at first.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:33 PM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


the entire concept of fishing or hunting with bait or a lure has always been so hilarious and relevant to me, a person who would absolutely and without question pick up and eat a tempting donut that i didn't remember buying but was nevertheless on the floor of my home.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:38 PM on October 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


One can't help but wonder why they're doing this.
posted by Flashman at 10:42 on October 25 [1 favorite +] [!]


Hook,


Just for the halibut.

someone had to
posted by xedrik 14 hours ago [14 favorites +] [!]


line


well, someone had to take the bait
posted by phooky 13 hours ago [5 favorites +] [!]


and stinker.
posted by flabdablet at 1:50 AM on October 26, 2018


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