Photostory #282: Prairie Fishermen Reap Rich Winter Harvest
National Film Board of Canada
April 4, 1961
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Two crooked black branches sticking forlornly out of an empty waste of wind-packed snow on one of Canada's many northern lakes are the only evidence of a multi-million dollar Canadian winter industry. They mark the ends of a 50-fathom gill net (set four feet down under the ice) and the beginning of an industry that last year in Manitoba alone produced 15,000,000 pounds of delicious-eating freshwater fish. Commercial winter fishing in Manitoba's three big lakes is a growing business. The fresh-caught fish are sped by air to distant and growing markets in newly-developed insulated boxes that eliminate the need for ice. The fishermen are frequently summer-time farmers picking up extra dollars during the long winter months, but there are a number of year-round operators who make a steady living by fishing. Besides a net and some form of transportation, the most essential piece of equipment is a "jigger". This simple, home-made gadget was invented back in 1912 by a tired blacksmith who had spent a long day punching holes at 10-foot intervals in order to set his nets. The jigger scoots under the ice, worked by a trailing line, making it possible to set a 50-fathom net in just three minutes.