Kohl on fish-spears
Originally published in 1860.
Of all varieties of fishing, the one best suited to a hunting people appears most extensively used--namely, spearing. Most astounding are the many sorts of fish lances they have invented, and how cleverly they use them. This is the species of fishing least used among us. And we might draw the conclusion from this fact, that the people were at first exclusively hunters, and then at length applied their hunting operations to fishing, thus converting Diana's hunting-spear into Neptune's trident. They spear fish in winter and summer, by night and day. They spear the huge sturgeon and the little herring--often, too, even smaller fish. In winter, spearing is almost the sole mode of catching fish. Very naturally so, for the firm coat of ice supplies the secure position so necessary for the fisherman to throw and aim with certainty, and which the oscillating canoe does not afford him so well. One of the most remarkable forms of winter spearing of which I was told, is "sturgeon spearing." They perform it on the ice in this way: they cut with their ice-chisel a round hole about two feet in diameter, and over this hole build a hut of bush-work, which is again covered with a cloth. The fisherman crawls into this hut with the upper part of his body, the legs remaining outside, and places his face over the hole. The light falls through the transparent ice, and illuminates the crystalline waters for a long way round. The artificial darkness over his head keeps off any reflexion from the opening, and he can see clearly to a depth of forty or fifty feet, and watch the movements of every passing fish. With their long spears and certain thrust, the fishermen strike to an extraordinary depth. Their spears are frequently thirty-five to forty feet in length; but, for all that, they handle them so cleverly that their prey, which they fetch up from such a depth, rarely escapes them.
Johann Georg Kohl, Kitchi-Gami: Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibway (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985), 328-329.