Makah Tribe Expands Traditional Halibut Hook Study

For the past few years, the Makah Tribe has been conducting studies to compare the fishing performance of their traditional halibut hook (called a čibu·d – pronounced “chi-bood”) to circle hooks commonly used in halibut fisheries.

In 2015, the tribe found that while circle hooks catch more halibut, they also have a significantly greater rate of bycatch than the čibu·d.

“In the 2015 study, three halibut were caught on circle hooks for every one halibut caught on a brass čibu·d,” said Joe Petersen, the tribe’s groundfish biologist. “We’re trying to get a one-to-one čibu·d to circle hook ratio so anglers will choose to use čibu·d to help reduce impacts on non-target depleted fish species commonly caught during recreational halibut fisheries.”

Fishing performance of each handmade brass čibu·d was variable based on the shape of the hook and materials used for construction. Based on those results, the tribe made modifications to the size and materials, then conducted a new study in 2017.

In addition to testing the newer design of the brass čibu·d, the 2017 study also evaluated the fishing performance of čibu·d made from wood, stainless steel and plastic. The wood čibu·d was made with western hemlock or Pacific silver fir wood and used elk bone for a barb, lashed in place with spruce root. A sharpened steel rod was used for the other types of čibu·d.

In July, the first phase of the study compared the fishing performance of the four čibu·d. Using herring for bait, the tribe found the fishing performance was about the same for the plastic, steel and brass čibu·d, but not as good for the wood čibu·d.

Since the plastic čibu·d was more economical to make and maintained a more consistent shape, it was used for the second phase of the study in August. Its fishing performance was compared to a circle hook during August. Results from the summer’s efforts will be analyzed this winter and submitted for peer-reviewed publication.


Photo: A wooden čibu·d was used to catch a halibut off Neah Bay during the Makah Tribe’s 2017 čibu·d study. T. Royal

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