Harriet Reece of Cavendish and Lewiston is the winner!
Fishing weirs is the answer for Week 408 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.
Join in the discovery!
Monday: A type of trap
Tuesday: Were often a community effort
Wednesday: Natural materials were used.
Weirs were often made by the village as a community effort and the fish would be divided among the villagers by a designated fish specialist, according to the information Harry Wheeler supplied for the Clearwater Historical Museum.
These fish traps or weirs were made of brush, poles and stones. The Nez Perce also used natural and man-made platforms over the rivers where the men used dip nets.
Wheeler said tha the Nez Perce around the Ahsahka area would use the narrow part of the river at the sport we now call Bruce's Eddy to build a weir on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. There was a large rock formation ascending into the river. One stone had three horizontal lines carved in it that were used to gage when to start building the trap. The lines were about 6-8 inches apart and about 6-8 inches long. “When the water exposed the first line it was time to put poles fastened crosswise onto the river. The legs of these cross-pieces were anchored and wedged firmly with rocks.. A row of these extended across the river: long poles were laid from the crotch of one to the crotch of the next above the surface, across the full width of the river. While these poles were being set into the water, others would cut short poles five or six feet long and would weave them together with a willow bark into panels, it would look like wicker work: loose enough to let water go through but tight enough to keep fish back.
When the second line was exposed, it was time to put in the weaving. They would bring it down and unroll it. Others would bring more. Panels five to ten feet long would be placed on the upper side of the cross-pieces that carried the long poles across the river. The top of the panels rested on the poles. The bottom was held down by rocks, and the force of the current helped to keep it in place. Soon this wicker panel extended the full width of the river. Big salmon would come up and that was as far as they could get.
When the third line was exposed it was time to build the platforms and start fishing. By setting a pair of cross-pieces about six feet down stream from the wicker weaving and laying down a long pole between them, poles extending from the wicker panels to the long pole could be placed close enough together to make a platform. Men would make several of these platforms and fish from them. Some would make the scaffold project to provide shade for the salmon. Five or six families would work together to make one of these scaffolds which was about as big as a bed. Two or three men fishing from these platforms might easily catch as many as 150 salmon in a day, according to the display at the museum.
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