How to Make a Bushcraft Fish Hook

This afternoon I went for a walk to Cherry Beach with Monty my trusty beagle.

There was a fine rain, but nothing to worry about - a dozen retiring swans drifted across the bay, and a few shuffling people with their boisterous dogs made the trek along the beach. I sat on a bench at the end of the point looking out across the bay, out beyond the islands into the expansive lake and let Monty wander about in the underbrush to visit smells and dogs and leaves.

Out came my Laguiole pocket knife and snap went a dead branch from a tree beside the bench (mine doesn't have a Damascus steel blade like the one below however. I wish.).

I began to whittle away, and soon I had the makings of a fish-hook. I had started with a perfectly straight length, and after in-cutting the curve to reveal the v-shaped base, I added a curve to the shaft to balance it out - two-inches of wood. The hook was next - this would need to be a length of bone or metal attached with pitch or cordage to against the flat base, pointing upwards at an angle toward the top of the shaft. I wandered along the beach and found a length of electrical copper wire, stripped the sheath off of it, induced metal fatigue in it until I had a one inch strip. I ground this against a large flat stone until I had a sharp, shiny copper point.

Carefully placing both the copper point and the wooden body in my jacket pocket, I retrieved a stick, half an arm's length from the beach. The willow bushes growing in the sand hold fast in part because of their extensive surface root network. Poking a few inches down in to the sand yielded a straight impediment. I scraped the stick along this line until a root appeared. I cut it into a 2 foot length, coiled it, and sat on a bench. Similar to spruce roots, willow roots work well as bushcraft cordage. Quickly I removed the 'bark' from the root, and again a sheath of fiber until the core remained. I split the core gently, ensuring that I peeled back the thicker side more radically until it balanced out, and soon I had a one foot length of flexible, strong cord. Had I boiled it the root in ashes it might have set the strength, but alas I had no fire and was not in the mood for one. I gently wrapped the base and the copper point with the root until I had a perfectly capable fish hook. Next would be some attachment point or hole for the line, which I didn't get around to. I suppose I might have melted some spruce resin and added powdered charcoal for a firm glue, and maybe fire-hardened the base.

All I needed was some line, some bait, a pole, a lake that was not contaminated as Lake Ontario and patience. But I had little patience left, the cold rain was hurting my exposed hands, and Monty was looking a little bedraggled.

I took apart the contraption, as I had not set it firmly, pocketed the fishhook base and the copper point, got Monty into the car and drove home.

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