Week 23: Halibut hook

What kind of fish do you catch with this?

Who made it?

Do people still use them?

Halibut hook

(Click here for larger image)

Answers:

What kind of fish do you catch with this?

This is a wooden halibut hook carved by the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska. Dr Karshner acquired it before 1930, and later made it one of the first additions to the museum's collections. We don't have a record of exactly who carved this, but we do know the animal carving represents the family crest of the person who made it.

Do people still use them?

This kind of hook fell out of widespread use for fishing since mass-produced hooks became available, but they still hold a place of honor in modern tribal culture as art. Why would you need such a fancy hook to catch a fish? Well, the Pacific Halibut is a pretty extraordinary fish: one of the largest flatfish in the world, they can grow up to eight feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds! Fishing has been a central part of both the diet and the culture of the Tlingit, and it shows in the attention and care they have taken in crafting their equipment.