Bone fish hooks, composite fish hooks, fish gorges, fish traps, fish nets, fish harpoons, and fish decoys have been used for thousands of years by prehistoric people to catch fish of all types and sizes. People learned the habits of different fish: how a particular fish ate, swam and the environment it lived in. They used this information to design fishing tools that took advantage of how to catch fish. Nets were used to catch small fish that swim in schools. Traps and harpoons were used for larger fish swimming through narrow waterways and high concentrations of fish, such as spawning fish and fish migrations. The composite hooks and fish gorges were designed for fish that swallow food whole. A bonefish hooks caught fish that nibble or bite at their food.

Fish Net

Fish Net Fish NetA fish net was the tool of choice for catching large quantities of fish in open water – bays, lakes, ponds and large streams. Floating gourds marked the net’s location, shells kept the net on the bottom, and stone weights clustered on the poles kept the net down. The net pictured is a construct of a Calusa net based on archaeological net remains from the Key Marco site in south Florida. This net consists of stick float pegs, ark shell net weights, drilled limestone anchor weights and gourd net marker floats, just like the original net.
Tools From the Earth can make a net to your specifications – contact us.
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Fish Trap

fish trapA fence of sticks across a small stream directed fish through an opening that lead into the fish trap. When the trap is full, the pointed end is untied and the fish are removed. The trap is retied and used over and over /

Traps were often made of saplings that grow straight with few branches tied together with string. This trap made by Tools From The Earth is made of tree saplings and string.
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Stone Net Sinker

fish net sinkerStone sinkers were attached to the bottom of a net to keep it on the bottom of the water. A single sinker was attached to a hook and line to keep it in place in swiftly flowing water.

This style of sinker is made of limestone and is common in coastal areas in Middle to Southern Florida. Archaeologists believe these sinkers were used on the bottom of a net.

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Bone Fish Hooks

Bone Fish HookBone fish hooks were used by prehistoric people for several thousand years in North America. Most bone hooks were made from deer leg or toe bones. As always, our hook shapes and sizes are based on archaeological finds.

The Bone Fish Hook Kit, produced by Tools From the Earth shows the manufacturing stages from deer leg and toe bones. Check out our fishhook manufacturing kit in our Kit Section.

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Fish Gorge

fish gorgeA fish gorge is basically a straight fishhook. The gorge was laid parallel along side the string and bait was wrapped around the string and entire bone point. When the fish swallows the bait, the string is pulled and the gorge lodges in the fish's throat. The gorge is designed for fish that swallow their bait whole.

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Fish Harpoon

Fish HarpoonA harpoon was used for large fish swimming through a narrow opening in a stick fence, in a stream called a weir, or in a high concentration of spawning fish. The harpoon head (pictured) made by Tools From The Earth is on a six-foot long wooden shaft.

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Ice Fishing Decoy

Ice Fishing DecoyFish decoys made of shell have been found on archaeological sites in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. The decoy was tied to a string dangled from a short stick and moved, or "jigged" in the water through a hole cut in the ice.

When a fish came up to investigate, it was stabbed with a short spear. Our ice fishing decoy is made from fresh water mussel shell, just like the originals, and comes with a stick and string for demonstration.

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