Leisters have three barbs attached to the head of the spear and were used for catching salmon and cod. The barbs have reverse-angles which lodge in the fish and prevent it from wriggling free. Some types of leisters had detachable heads. Small bone points are a common find in many archaeological sites dating after 2000 years ago. Some of these likely came from leisters.

    Small points of fishing harpoons


    Sinkers served as weights to hold fish nets and lines underwater. They were made of rounded stones which had grooves or notches pecked into them to hold ropes and lines. Stone fish weights are common in the archaeological record of BC.


    Fishing floats carved out of wood were attached to halibut fishing lines or fishing nets used to catch a variety of fish. Some floats were intricately carved into the shape of animals such as whales or otters. Because fishing floats decompose, and because they may not be recognizable as a float, they have not been found in the archaeological record of BC.

Fishing Clubs:

    Wooden fishing clubs were used to kill fish such as salmon or cod immediately after they were pulled from the water. Clubs were often carved either with simple designs or with more elaborate human or animal designs. Like floats, they have not been found in any archaeological sites in BC.

Herring Rakes:

    Herring rakes were a wooden shaft of about 4 meters long, with bone or wooden teeth attached to one end. Rakes were used to capture herring en masse when they accumulated in dense schools in the early spring. See the Herring Page for more information. The rakes were dragged through the water from canoes and the herring would become caught on the rake's teeth. Some of the many small bone points found in archaeological sites of British Columbia may have been originally used for the teeth of the herring rakes.

Fish Nets:

    Fishing nets made of nettle fibres or cedar bark ropes were used to catch many fish at one time. A net gauge made of wood or bone was used to standardize the size of opening. The nettle fibres were particularly strong and useful for net-making after being split, dried, and spun into a rope.

    Nets were used to catch fish in several ways. Sometimes the net was set up in the water at a low tide and the fish were chased into the net. Fishing nets could also be angled out from a river bank to catch fish. Sinkers were used as weights at the bottom of the net while wooden floats were attached to the top of the net to hold it in place. Hand nets were also used, either from within a canoe or by standing in the water and dipping the bag into the water. These nets were of varying sizes depending on the fish they would be used for. Drag nets and reef nets were also used and were pulled along by canoes. Fishing nets have been recovered from waterlogged sites on the Northwest Coast.

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Tla'amin First Nation