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A hook of wood, still used in Småland

Fishing in Småland
1950s: the boys Carl and Inge's fishing luck, Huskvarna, Småland. Photographer: AB Conny Rich Foto / Jönköping County Museum (CC BY)

On the production and use of the monkfish in Småland fisheries.

During a trip last summer in Southern Tjust, where the main purpose was a survey of the lakes in the area, I also made inquiries with fishermen in the population about fishing and was told that wooden hooks are still in use in the area around Västervik, at least in the lakes Färgaren and Vågnaren in Törnesfalla and Gladhammars parishes. On the spot I got a model made for the occasion and information about its use, and then I have through the kind mediation of station inspector H. Hallen in Fårhult I got some genuine hooks made, of which 8 are now sent to the Nordic Museum and are kept there under No. 126,339.

Wooden hook
Småland hook in entres.

The appearance is shown in the attached figure. As appears, the hook has no common modern fish-hook form, nor even any proper hook form, and it is not called by the fish arena a hook, or at least has the name enklynna, which probably means simply enklyka. As, however, it performs the same service as an ordinary hook, though not on a pole, I have designated it as such in the title above. It is made from a single hook in such a way that not only the two branches of the hook but also the stem are tapered. In order to make the wood as hard as possible, it is dried in an oven - the finishing is done in winter - and thus prepared, a hook may be used for a whole month without becoming too soft.

The table was attached to the junction point of the three branches. When the hook is to be attached to the bait, which is usually a whole or half herring, the point of the hook is first inserted in the direction of the head of the bait-fish, and so far that the hook can then be moved backwards a little, and one of the two points of the line is inserted. The other, however, may protrude outside the fish but is pressed close to it. When a salmon then takes the bait and, as is natural, swallows it down head first, the protruding tip slides easily past the walls of the throat and gullet. But when it then begins to stretch in the reef, the hook gets lodged transversely in the alimentary canal, as the paw is attached to the middle of the hook, and the spawn cannot spit out the bait. This hook was sometimes used on longlines, but usually in winter fishing from the ice, when the reef is lowered as usual to the bottom through a hole in the ice and fastened to a short pole, which is placed across the hole.

This hook is still in general use in the neighbourhood and is also used by young people. It is considered to be more suitable for lakes than the ordinary iron hooks, as the latter stick so slightly out of the bait-fish that they sometimes slip out easily when the lakes spit out the bait. In the case of the wooden hook it is, of course, the attachment of the talus to the middle which constitutes the most important safety device. It is, as we have just seen, the wide throat of the salmon that has preserved this archaic implement for the present day.

As archaic one should have every reason to consider
this type of hook, although it is obviously not an archetype in the right ascending line to the modern submarine hook. I was informed in my inquiries that this wooden hook was formerly used for fish other than salmon, before ordinary iron hooks came into use, a statement, however, which I could not fully corroborate. Possibly it was only an assumption of my sage, but, as it seems to me, a very probable one. It is also interesting to see how the attachment of the peg to the middle of the hook makes barbs unnecessary.

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