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Fishing techniques

Hand fishing

It is possible to fish with minimal equipment by using only the hands. In the British Isles, the practice of catching trout by hand is known as trout tickling; it is an art mentioned several times in the plays of Shakespeare.
Trout binning is a method of fishing, possibly fictional, performed with a sledgehammer.
Divers can catch lobsters by hand.
Pearl diving is the practice of hunting for oysters by free-diving to depths of up to 30 m.
Hand-line fishing is a technique requiring a fishing line with a weight and one or more lure-like hooks.
Stump fishing or noodling is a technique in which the fisher holds the bait in his or her hand and waits for a large catfish to attempt to eat it; when the fish bites, the fisher pulls his or her arm, along with the fish, from the water. It is practiced, mostly illegally, in the Southern and Midwestern U.S.

 

Spear and bow fishing

Spear fishing is an ancient method of fishing and may be conducted with an ordinary spear or a specialised variant such as an eel spear or the trident. A small trident type spear with a long handle is used in the American South and Midwest for "gigging" bullfrogs with a bright light at night, or for gigging carp and other fish in the shallows.
Traditional spear fishing is restricted to shallow waters, but the development of the speargun has made the method much more efficient. With practice, divers are able to hold their breath for up to four minutes and sometimes longer; of course, a diver with underwater breathing equipment can dive for much longer periods.
Bow fishers use a bow and arrow to kill fish in shallow water from above.

Fishing nets

All fishing nets are meshes usually formed by knotting a relatively thin thread. Modern nets are usually made of artificial polyamides like nylon, although nets of organic polyamides such as wool or silk thread were common until recently and are still used in certain areas.

Dredging

There are types of dredges used for collecting scallops or oysters from the seabed. They tend to have the form of a scoop made of chain mesh called dredges and they are towed by a fishing boat. Scallop dredging is very destructive to the seabed, because the marine life is unable to survive the weight of the dredge. This is extremely detrimental to coral bed since they take centuries to rebuild themselves. Dredging could be compared to unmonitored forest clearing, where it can wipe out an ecosystem. Nowadays, this method of fishing is often replaced by mariculture or by scuba diving to collect the scallops.

Fishing lines

Fishing line is any cord made for fishing. Important parameters of a fishing line are its length, material, and weight (thicker, sturdier lines are more visible to fish). Factors that may determine what line an angler chooses for a given fishing environment include breaking strength, knot strength, UV resistance, castability, limpness, stretch, abrasion resistance, and visibility.

Kite fishing

Kite fishing is presumed to have been first invented in China. It was, and is, also used by the people of New Guinea and other Pacific Islands - either by cultural diffusion from China or independent invention.
Kites can provide the boatless fishermen access to waters that would otherwise be available only to boats. Similarly, for boat owners, kites provide a way to fish in areas where it is not safe to navigate such as shallows or coral reefs where fish may be plentiful. Kites can also be used for trolling a lure through the water.
Suitable kites may be of very simple construction. Those of Tobi Island are a large leaf stiffened by the ribs of the fronds of the coconut palm. The fishing line may be made from coconut fibre and the lure made from spiders webs.
Modern kitefishing is popular in New Zealand, where large delta kites of synthetic materials are used to fish from beaches, taking a line and hooks far out past the breakers. Kite fishing is also emerging in Melbourne where sled kites are becoming popular, both off beaches and off boats and in freshwater areas. The disabled community are increasingly using the kites for fishing as they allow mobility impaired people to cast the bait further out than they would otherwise be able to.



Ice fishing

Ice fishing is the practice of catching fish with lines and hooks through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water. It is practised by hunter-gatherers such as the Inuit and by anglers in other cold or continental climates.

Fish traps / Trap Nets

Traps are culturally almost universal and seem to have been independently invented many times. There are essentially two types of trap, a permanent or semi-permanent structure placed in a river or tidal area and pot-traps that are baited to attract prey and periodically lifted.
Indigenous Australians were, prior to European colonisation, most populous in Australia's better-watered areas such as the Murray-Darling river system of the south-east. Here, where water levels fluctuate seasonally, indigenous people constructed ingenious stone fish traps. Unfortunately, most have been completely or partially destroyed. The largest and best known were the Brewarrina fish traps on the Barwon River at Brewarrina in New South Wales, which fortunately are at least partly preserved. The Brewarinna fish traps caught huge numbers of migratory native fish as the Barwon River rose in flood and then fell. In southern Victoria, indigenous people created an elaborate systems of canals, some more than 2 km long. The purpose of these canals was the encouragement and catching of eels, a fish of short coastal rivers (as opposed to rivers of the Murray-Darling system). The eels were caught by a variety of traps including stone walls constructed across canals with a net placed across an opening in the wall. Traps at different levels in the marsh came into operation as the water level rose and fell. Somewhat similar stone wall traps were constructed by native American Pit River people in north-eastern California.
A technique called dam fishing is used by the Baka pygmies. This involves the construction of a temporary dam resulting in a drop in the water levels downstream -- allowing fish to be easily collected.
In medieval Europe, large fishing weir structures were constructed from wood posts and wattle fences. 'V' shaped structures in rivers could be as long as 60 m and worked by directing fish towards fish traps or nets. Such fish traps were evidently controversial in medieval England. The Magna Carta includes a clause requiring that they be removed:
Basket weir fish traps were widely used in ancient times. They are shown in medieval illustrations and surviving examples have been found. Basket weirs are about 2 m long and comprise two wicker cones, one inside the other -- easy to get into and hard to get out.
The Wagenya people, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, build a huge system of wooden tripods across the river. These tripods are anchored on the holes naturally carved in the rock by the water current. To these tripods are anchored large baskets, which are lowered in the rapids to "sieve" the waters for fish. It is a very selective fishing, as these baskets are quite big and only large size fish are trapped. Twice a day the adults Wagenya people pull out these baskets to check whether there are any fish caught; in which case somebody will dive into the river to fetch it.
In the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America, Fishermen submerse a long, visible mesh wall running perpendicular to the shoreline that guides fish (who instinctively swim towards deeper water when coming upon a large obstacle) into a maze that ends in a large mesh "pot", that can be raised up to the boat to haul the fish in. This method of fishing results in fish staying alive until the time they are hauled into the boat, versus being entangled and killed in a gill net. This method also allows for sportfish and other protected species to be released without harm.

Lobster and crab pots

Pot traps are typically used to catch crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and crayfish. Pot traps such as the lobster trap may be constructed in various shapes, each is a box designed with a convoluted entrance that makes entry much easier than exit. The pots are baited and lowered into the water and checked frequently. Similar traps are used in many areas to capture bait fish.
Historically lobster pots were constructed with wood. Today most traps are made from checkered wire and mesh. It is common for the trap to be weighted down with bricks. A bait bag is hung in the middle of the trap. In theory the lobster walks up the mesh and then falls into the wire trap. Bait varies from captain to captain but it is common to use herring. In commercial lobstering five to ten of these traps will be connected with line. A buoy marks each end of the string of pots. Two buoys are important to make retrieval easier and so captains don't set their traps over each other. Each buoy is painted differently so the various captains can identify their traps.

Trained animals

In China and Japan, the practice of cormorant fishing is thought to date back some 1300 years. Fishermen use the natural fish-hunting instincts of the cormorants to catch fish, but a metal ring placed round the bird's neck prevents large, valuable fish from being swallowed. The fish are instead collected by the fisherman.
The people of Nauru used trained frigatebirds to fish on reefs.
The practice of tethering a remora, a sucking fish, to a fishing line and using the remora to capture sea turtles probably originated in the Indian Ocean. The earliest surviving records of the practice are Peter Martyr d'Anghera's 1511 accounts of the second voyage of Columbus to the New World (1494). However, these accounts are probably apocryphal, and based on earlier, no longer extant accounts from the Indian Ocean region.
Dating from the 1500s in Portugal, Portuguese Water Dogs were used by fishermen to send messages between boats, to retrieve fish and articles from the water, and to guard the fishing boats. Labrador Retrievers have been used by fishermen to assist in bringing nets to shore; the dog would grab the floating corks on the ends of the nets and pull them to shore.

Toxins

Many hunter gatherer cultures use poisonous plants to stun fish so that they become easy to collect by hand. Some of these poisons paralyse the fish, others are thought to work by removing oxygen from the water.
Cyanides are used to capture live fish near coral reefs for the aquarium and seafood market. This illegal fishing occurs mainly in or near the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Caribbean to supply the 2 million marine aquarium owners in the world. Many fish caught in this fashion die either immediately or in shipping. Those that survive often die from shock or from massive digestive damage. The high concentrations of cyanide on reefs harvested in this fashion damages the coral polyps and has also resulted in cases of cyanide poisoning among local fishermen and their families.

Explosives

Dynamite or blast fishing, is done easily and cheaply with dynamite or homemade bombs made from locally available materials. Fish are killed by the shock from the blast and are then skimmed from the surface or collected from the bottom. The explosions indiscriminately kill large numbers of fish and other marine organisms in the vicinity and can damage or destroy the physical environment. Explosions are particularly harmful to coral reefs. Blast fishing is also illegal in many waterways around the world.



Electrofishing

A relatively new fishing technique is electrofishing, typically used for stream classification surveys and catching brood stock for hatcheries, or making estimates of populations in a body of water. A gated pulse of direct current is used to cause muscular contractions in a fish, called galvanotaxis, causing them to turn towards the source of the electrical current and swim towards it when correct pulse speeds and durations are used, along with correct current.
A low voltage or short pulse with long gaps will cause the fish to swim away from the device, and high voltage or long pulses with short rests can cause galvanonarcosis, or unconsciousness. Techniques for setting pulse length and patterns, current and voltage require great skill to catch fish effectively without killing or injuring fish if they are to be left unharmed. Dissolved minerals in the water can decrease resistance causing less of the current to pass through the fish, whereas fish recently entering fresh water from the ocean have high salinity and are more prone to electric shock. Also the smaller the fish, and consequently the less surface area in contact with the water, the higher the current required to produce galvanotaxis. Smaller fish also require shorter pulses, closer together, while large fish should have longer pulses at lower power and longer gaps between pulses.
Rigs can be battery powered back-packs or powered by a generator if they are mounted in a boat. They are typically equipped with a "dead-man switch" and a tilt switch to disable the device if the unit is tipped or the operator incapacitated. Protective equipment must be worn to isolate the operator and prevent electrocution.
Electro-fishing is also used to illegally catch Razorfish or Spoots, using a boat based generator. Current is passed into the sediment causing the Razorfish to 'jump' and be harvested by divers. This method of electro-fishing is banned due to the risk to the divers.

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