In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
A Fisherman picking salmon from his gillnet
A fisherman picking salmon from his gillnet.
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 134
a fisherman picking salmon from his gillnet Gillnetters Being Towed Watch a clip that illustrates gillnetting Take a tour aboard a Fraser River Gillnetter

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"Corklines and Leadlines" - Gillnetting for Salmon

Gillnet fishermen set fence-like gillnets across the path of swimming salmon, hoping to catch their gills in the mesh.

The gillnet is set out in the path of the migrating salmon, one end is attached to a buoy and the other end is attached to either the boat or another buoy. The upper rope of the net, known as the corkline, has floats attached that keep the net top up. The lower rope of the net, known as the leadline, has weights that hold the net bottom down. The gillnet then drifts vertically in the water until the fisherman is satisfied he has caught enough salmon. Using a hydraulically powered drum, the fisherman hauls in the net and picks out the fish. A device called a level wind evenly redistributes the gillnet back onto the drum in preparation for the next set.

The fisherman chooses net mesh size to target specific fish and mesh colour to match the colour of the water. Salmon will avoid gillnets they can see. Gillnets can be up to 1,200 feet (over 365 metres) long and 60 meshes deep. The typical mesh size for salmon is a little over 5 inches (130 mm).

Over the years, gillnetters fishing for B.C. Packers caught mostly sockeye, pink and chum salmon for canning.

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