A low-tech and ingenious way to catch fish

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/25/a-low-tech-and-ingenious-way-to-catch-fish.html


Not familiar with this specific trap, but fish traps and nets were the old school way to fish when you needed to feed a village. Hook and line is more for fun now.


Part the first: I believe those are a species of catfish, judging by the whiskers.
Part the second: Reminds me of the video about catching the tunnel-making catfishes in someone’s lawn by pouring an egg-based concoction down the tunnel.
Part the third: Yet another video spoiled by cropping from square to rectangle, but there’s no link to the original.


Yes, I agree they are cat fish.

I know a native technique (probably used by everyone with rivers), is to weave a cone shaped basket out of sticks or reeds, and then a lid that acts like a funnel. Fish swim in, but can’t swim out due to the current and the tiny hole of the funnel.

I know @DukeTrout is a fisherman, but I have no idea if he is familiar with this technique.


Humans have been taking unfair advantage of the stupidity of fish for millennia, and still do.



This kind of looks like one of those viral videos that have been going around where someone is fishing in an unconventional way (mentos and toothpaste, for example) and cat fish basically throw themselves out of the holes onto dry land. From what I’ve read, they’re almost always fake videos.


This reminds me of slides my dad showed where they were trying to direct salmon up a river in Alaska using fish ladders and wood fences. Some he had to help along by hand.

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That’s the standard format for most fish traps of the pot/hotel type. Most designs use a funnel at the opening such that it’s easier for the fish to get in, but the opening is restricted enough that target fish of the right size have difficulty getting out. The entrance may also be placed in a spot that makes it harder. Like lobster traps have the exit of the funnel placed above the floor of the trap, and projecting inward in a way that makes it unpossible for the lobster to crawl into it.

It’s and incredibly sustainable and targeted method of fishing. But it tends to be most useful in shallow waters where fish stocks are currently lowest.

That’s called a pound net here abouts.

A Few people still run them, especially on the Indian Reservations. Buy they’re far less effective these days with fisheries collapse driving a lot of species into deep water.

They’re again, highly sustainable and targeted. But are very easy and cheep to work. At base you just row a small boat out and pull the fish out with a dip net. Release the by catch, take what you can sell, and leave the overage to live in the net.


That’s sort of the opposite of a fish weir, but in some cultures it was the rule that weirs were to be taken down during spawning season so as not to interfere with fish movement. What you describe sounds like taking it a step further.


It reminds me of it. It wasn’t a weir… it was both a fish ladder and fences to direct the fish up the ladder. There were some that some how got behind the fence and he spent a day helping them get to where they needed to go.

He worked for the Department of Wildlife and they were trying to re-introduce salmon to that river in the late 60s or early 70s. Sorry I don’t have more details. He wrote a book about his hunting/shooting experiences, and is working on one about his fishing, and I expect that to be in there.


Yeah, sounds fishy to me too.


I have caught fish by many methods but not this one. I mostly fly fish, sometimes use conventional rod and reel. I’ve used hand lines, dip nets for smelt, and even caught trout from and undercut bank by hand.

Generally, I prefer to interact with fish more than this technique. This is quite passive.


Yeah, there is fishing for fun, and fishing for just food alone.

Fly fishing - you’re a special breed. That has a whole another hobby with making your own flies. My dad has a fly rod, so I know he has done it. Probably when he was up north. I never have. We do a lot of jigging for crappie at his local lake.

Oh - I have another fish story - I have used a seine net before. We did it to catch bait fish. It worked!


We did this once and only once when I was a kid. Having to clean a thousand or so fish afterwards was enough for us (not a literal thousand, but it was close enough).

I mainly fly fish, as well. It’s far more satisfying than any other kind of fishing I’ve tried (which is most kind of fishing, like you).

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Crappie are great on the fly rod. In the spring, they can be very surface oriented and a small baitfish imitation twitched just under the surface yields smashing strikes that make you think you’ve hooked a fish 10x the size of the one you land.

The trick with processing smelt is to leave them whole and just use s small spoon to scoop out the guts. Fry them whole or just cut off the head. It’s still a lot of work but nothing compared to cleaning a bucket of perch.

Agreed about fly fishing. Even for fish that aren’t usually caught on a fly rod, if I know where to find the fish, I will usually have a go with a fly rod first, and often catch more fish than with conventional tackle.

That’s a beautiful cutthroat in your avatar!!

As the old saying goes: It’s called ‘fishing’ not ‘catching’. When I fish, i like the fact that there’s an element of chance and skill to it. In fact, most of my fly fishing expeditions end without even a bite - which I’m 100% okay with. Just being out in nature is really why I do it.


I’m pretty sure that’s how we wound up processing the smelt, or at least in a similar manner. I don’t remember the specifics, just the assembly line my mom and dad had going as they dealt with them.

I’m the same. I’ll almost always start with a fly rod if I can. Some of the takes and experiences have been incredible (giant bass hitting mouse flies… heck, small brookies hitting the same fly).

And thanks! That one was caught by my brother. It’s a Westslope from Southern Alberta. Watching that fish inhale a hopper is something I’ll never forget.

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Works for wasps, too.


Smelt are best cleaned with scissors. Nothing fancy, just ~100mm or longer, and sharp. Snip off the head, one snip up the belly to the poo hole, and then run a thumbnail up the backbone to remove the innards.

IMHO, of course. And my mom’s opinion, and she’s correct.

Light batter, deep fry 'til crispy. Eat the small ones tail, bones, and all. For the bigger ones, pick off the dorsal fin and pull out the backbone and tail. Yum!

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