Fishing Technique of Hezhen Ethnic Group
In the compact communities of the Hezhes, they can go fishing at all seasons. Spring and autumn are rush seasons, while the other two are slow seasons. Being richly endowed by nature, they have created original skills in fishing through time-tested experience. The Hezhes know clearly when to fish, where to fish, how to fish, and even can tell exactly the species of fish there. Of all the peoples in the world, they are in the lead for the number of the fishing tools and the detailed division of labor.
There are three sorts of fishing tools used by the Hezhes, namely spears, hooks and nets. One type of the spears is the spear whose shaft cannot be separated from the prong. While the other type is the spear whose shaft can be separated from the prong after the fish has been speared. There are cords fastened to the head of the prong so that the fish caught cannot escape. The latter type of the spears has big ones and small ones. The big ones are used specially for spearing the Huso dauricus. This kind of fish, weighing 500 kilograms, could be caught in the previous years, while those of 400 kilograms or so can sometimes still be speared in recent years. The iron head of the big spear is about 70 centimeters long, with three juxtaposing prongs while the prong in the middle being 30 centimeters long. Around every prong there are four barbs. The shaft of the spear is 4 meters in length, and 4 centimeters in diameter. The shaft and the head of the spear are connected by a horsetail cord of over 6 meters long, with a float made of fish air bladder fastened to it. There is still a cord of over 7 meters long fastened to the end of the shaft. When spearing Huso dauricus, the sampan has to be held fast by stakes hammered in the beach of rip current of 1 to 1.5 meters deep. While Huso dauricus come near in adverse current, a cooperation of at least 2 persons is called for to spear the fish at a distance of five to ten meters. There is hardly any wrong judgment. When speared, the fish will writhe and struggle, and will swim away with the spear and cord. Fishermen will follow the float and finally pull the fish onto the sampan. If the Huso dauricus is too huge, it will be pulled directly to the shore and hung it in a tree with the cord. Then when exhausted, it will be cut into some pieces to carry back.
It is much of another kind of interest to catch fish in winter. The fishermen of Hezhe nationality build a hut on the ice of the River and cut a one-meter diameter hole on the ice. When the door is closed, it is dark inside the room and bright under the ice, which makes it easy to see the fish and spear it when it comes under the hole. Previously, there was such a large quantity of fish that the fishermen just sat beside the hole and scoop fish with a strainer. They could get tons of fresh fish within half a day. Then fish would then be frozen in the natural low temperature and delivered to the other parts of the country in boxes.
In the seasons of spring, autumn, and winter, fishermen usually catch fish with hooks. The kind of hooks varies according to the fish. There is a certain fishing gear named “quick hook” which has over three hundred hooks attached to the fishing cord of forty to fifty meters long. With this “quick hook”, a string of fish is available at one time.
Among all the means to catch fish, nets are the most effective to get the largest quantity. When the fishing season draws near, every fishing family of Hezhe nationality begins to make preparations by getting solid food prepared and patching nets. The net they usually use in large water areas is ten to fifteen meters long and two to five meters wide. Sometimes, more than ten nets are connected together. There are good chances that more than 5000 kilograms of fish is available at one time. If the hospitable fishermen happen to have guests, they are bond to entertain the guests with delicious dishes of fish.