It's always fun to try something different as a fisherman, and I have had a blast making my own hooks.
In researching kitchen spoon lures, and wine cork poppers, I came across several Internet sites discussing 'primitive' or 'survival' fishing hooks.
The hooks are something First Nations peoples, and even early settlers might have used. They are made from what can be accessed in nature, and so can be useful to know how to make if you were ever lost in the wilds and where near a stream or lake which might have fish.
There are of course several different kinds, including more elaborately carved hooks made of bone and antler.
I decided to opt for something a bit more crude, more along the line of something a survivalist might make when lost in the wild and hungry.
So I went looking for thorns.
No I did not go traipsing through the bush looking for thorns. I posted a request to Facebook, and mentioned it at the office. Thanks to Sandy Kerr who found some long thorns (Hawthorne) and smaller Seabuckthorn ones at her parents (John and Lyla Eisen) farm at Mitchellton, and to Rhonda Houghton who brought some thorny branches from a Russian Olive tree from the farm east of the city and left them on the doorstep for me.
Once the thorns were found, making the hooks was rather easy, although there were some decisions to make along the way.
To start, you have to think about the species of fish you are after.
I immediately decided on perch. There were two reasons for the decision.
The first was simply the size of fish. I am not sure the thorn hook would land a hard fighting fighting pike, even a moderate-sized one.
I figured a perch was easiest to bring in on a primitive hook.
That decision did mean having to make smaller hooks though. That meant trimming the thorns a couple of times until they looked small enough for a perch to bite on.
When cutting the thorn you want to do it on an angle which allows it to sit up against the straight wood piece at an angle. Too little angle and the point of the hook is not positioned in a way a perch would get hooked. Too great an angle and the same is true.
Once the thorn is cut at a good angle you need to attach it to the wood.
In a primitive setting the best choice is pitch made from tree sap and wood charcoal and such things. But I was sitting at my desk at home so I cheated with some 'modern pitch', it's called epoxy.
With a spot of epoxy the thorn attached pretty easily.
And then the videos show the hook being wrapped in thread. Survivalists use a bit of reed leave or thread from cloth. I happened to have some sinew at home, so opted for that. I wrapped it, and then dipped in epoxy and that was it, except for a small notch to attach the line too.
While at the workbench I also made a couple of crude paperclip hooks.
One is simply cut with wire cutters on an angle and then bent on an angle. To make an eye to attach to a line I wrapped it around a small paint brush handle.
The second one I set into a hole in a piece of wood, trying to blend primitive with modern survivalist.
So I mentioned two reasons for opting for small hooks for perch, and that was because Cutarm Creek was close. It has been a steady place to catch perch, and while it had been weeks since being there, I hoped a few late season perch might help me prove the thorn hooks can catch fish.
I had wanted to use a willow pole, but that proved hard to find, and I was not sure how to get an eight-foot-plus pole to Cutarm Creek in a car, so went with my usual rod.
But before even getting a nibble I decided I would not use the reel. I locked the reel and made up my mind to back up the shore if I had a bite.
I did use a bit of minnow for bait, and that proved a mature challenge. There is little hook to work with, and you can't 'thread' the minnow onto the shaft of the hook easily. That is where a long pole and just drop it gently into the water would help.
Sadly on our mid-October visit to Cutarm the wind howled, getting any hook out in the water was a problem, and for the first time the perch were not biting -- at all.
So I can't discount the primitive hooks since a standard jig came up empty too, but on that day had it been a survivalist issue I would have gone hungry.
But I will try the hooks again one day. They were too-much work to make not to use again.
Next year I hope to try another primitive hook, the 'gouge hook'. Again it is something easily researched online.
The idea of the gouge is that the fish must take the baited hook deep. Only then do you set the hook, which has the thorn, or small piece of sharpened wood turning in the fish's throat.
I did contact a conservation officer to make sure such a hook is legal. It is, but he did note it would not be a hook to use where size limits might require release of fish, which of course is good advice.