The Net Needle
The Net Needle
Fishing for Cajuns was a way of living self-sufficiently and they used net needles to hand-make their own fishing nets.
As you can hear in the video, the object was used to make "dip nets" for the purpose of crawfishing. This needle was most likely hand carved out of some type of wood. The nets produced by the needle were most likely used for catching different types of fish, in this case specifically, crawfish. Crawfish are small, red crustaceans that have become a southern delicacy.
Traditionally, crawfish are caught with traps and this allows them to catch more at a time. However, the dip nets are a more small scale way of catching. knowledge of fishing for crawfish was passed down from families. It is customary during crawfish season for small children to come out with their fathers to learn the art of crawfishing. The next step is obviously to eat the catch.
Crawfish boils are big community gatherings. They continue to keep Cajun culture alive. However, crawfish boils are no longer exclusive to Cajuns. They have become so widespread that they are now associated with the south. It is amazing to see how something as simple as a net needle was used to feed a whole community. Cajuns were and still remain at their core resourceful and self-sufficient people.
The two images show the net-making process and a "dip net" with crawfish.
Mayeaux Wright, “The Net Needle,” History Harvest of Louisiana French-Speaking Heritage, accessed June 24, 2017, http://louisianafrench.omeka.net/items/show/150.