A fishing net or fishnet is a net that is used for fishing. Fishing nets are meshes usually formed by knotting a relatively thin thread. Modern nets are usually made of artificial polyamides like nylon, although nets of organic polyamides such as wool or silk thread were common until recently and are still used.
Types of fishing nets
Hand nets are held open by a hoop and are possibly on the end of a long stiff handle. They have been known since antiquity and may be used for sweeping up fish near the water surface like muskellunge
and northern pike
. When such a net is used by an angler
to help land a fish it is known as a landing net
. In England
, hand netting is the only legal way of catching eels
and has been practised for thousands of years on the River Parrett
and River Severn
Cast nets are small round nets with weights on the edges which is thrown by the fisher. Sizes vary up to about four metres in diameter. The net is thrown by hand in such a manner that it spreads out on the water and sinks. Fish are caught as the net is hauled back in.
is performed by two men, each seated in a coracle, plying his paddle with one hand and holding a shared net with the other. When a fish is caught, each hauls up his end of the net until the two coracles are brought to touch and the fish is secured.
The Chinese fishing nets
(Cheena vala) are used at Kochi
in India. They are an example of shore operated lift nets
because they are held horizontally by a large fixed structure and periodically lowered into the water. Huge mechanical contrivances hold out horizontal nets with diameters of twenty metres or more. The nets are dipped into the water and raised again, but otherwise cannot be moved.
catches fish which try to pass through it by snagging on the gill covers. Thus trapped, the fish can neither advance through the net nor retreat.
The drift net
is a net that is not anchored. It is usually a gillnet, and is commonly used in the coastal waters of many countries.. Its use on the high seas is prohibited, but still occurs.
are nets that have been lost at sea. They may continue to be a menace to marine life for many years.
A stake net is a form of net for catching salmon. It consists of a sheet of network stretched on stakes fixed into the ground, generally in rivers or where the sea ebbs and flows, for entangling and catching the fish.
A trammel is a fishing net set vertically in the water with three layers. The inner layer is of a finer mesh than the outer layers.
is a large fishing net that may be arranged in a number of different ways. In purse seine
fishing the net hangs vertically in the water by attaching weights along the bottom edge and floats along the top. A simple and commonly used fishing technique is beach seining, where the seine net is operated from the shore. Danish seine is a method which has some similarities with trawling.
is a large net, conical in shape, designed to be towed in the sea or along the sea bottom. The trawl is pulled through the water by one or more boats, called trawlers
. The activity of pulling the trawl through the water is called trawling.
- See also: History of fishing
Between 177 and 180 the Greek author Oppian
wrote the Halieutica
, a didactic poem about fishing. He described various means of fishing including the use of nets cast from boats, scoop nets held open by a hoop, and various traps "which work while their masters sleep". Here is Oppian's description of fishing with a "motionless" net:
- The fishers set up very light nets of buoyant flax and wheel in a circle round about while they violently strike the surface of the sea with their oars and make a din with sweeping blow of poles. At the flashing of the swift oars and the noise the fish bound in terror and rush into the bosom of the net which stands at rest, thinking it to be a shelter: foolish fishes which, frightened by a noise, enter the gates of doom. Then the fishers on either side hasten with the ropes to draw the net ashore.
Pictorial evidence of Roman fishing comes from mosaics which show nets. In a parody of fishing, a type of gladiator called retiarius was armed with a trident and a casting-net. He would fight against the murmillo, who carried a short sword and a helmet with the image of a fish on the front.
In Norse mythology the sea giantess Rán uses a fishing net to trap lost sailors.