Traditional Orca Halibut Hook by Fred Trout
Alaska Natives fished from small dugout canoes, and they have to be careful not to hook a halibut too large - a monster-sized fish would easily capsize their boat. For this reason, hooks were designed with just enough space between the base and the barb to catch a halibut no bigger than what the canoe could handle.
The Alaska Natives' clever fishing methods came as a result of quietly studying their prey. Observing that halibut inhale their food (rather than bite or nibble at it like salmon and other fish do), they designed a V-shaped hook fitted with a barb. When the halibut sucked in the bait, the barb lodged itself in the fish's cheek. Today, commercial longliners and sport fishermen use circle hooks, which are amazingly similar to the traditional Native halibut hook design concept.
Fred Trout, whose Tlingit heritage comes from his father, who is L’eeneidi (Dog Salmon) on the Raven side of Auk’w Kwaan Tribe, Juneau, is an accomplished carver and Northwews Coast Artist. Mr. Trout completed a three-year course study at the Totem Heritatge Center, Ketchikan, Alaska, earning a Certificate of Merit in carving.
He apprenticed with Master Tlingit Carver Nathan Jackson, working with Mr. Jackson on a 30-foot totem pole, Honoring Those Who Give, a commemorative pole that stands outside the Totem Heritage Center. Mr. Trout has studied with Tlingit Carvers Ernie Smeltzer, and Rick Beasley; Haida Artist Reggie Davidson; Tsimshian Carver David Boxley; and Steve Brown.
Fred Trout uses Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar and Alder to create carved and painted bentwood boxes, paddles, masks and Totem poles. His work is in private collections around the world and has been featured on Martha Stewart’s television program. He also has been featured in the Exploration Gallery and Eagle Spirit Gallery in Ketchikan, Village Store in Saxman and Ravens Journey Gallery in Juneau.