A fishing net is a net used for fishing. Nets are devices made from fibers woven in a grid-like structure. Fishing nets are usually meshes formed by knotting a relatively thin thread. Early nets were woven from grasses, flaxes and other fibrous plant material. Later cotton was used. 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.
Fishing nets have been used widely in the past, including by stone age societies. The oldest known fishing net is the net of Antrea, found with other fishing equipment in the Karelian town of Antrea. The net was made from willow, and dates back to 8300 BC.The remnants of another fishing net dates back to the late Mesolithic, and were found together with sinkers at the bottom of a former sea. Some of the oldest rock carvings at Alta (4200–500 BC) have mysterious images, including intricate patterns of horizontal and vertical lines sometimes explained as fishing nets. American Native Indians on the Columbia River wove seine nets from spruce root fibers or wild grass, again using stones as weights. For floats they used sticks made of cedar which moved in a way which frightened the fish and helped keep them together.With the help of large canoes, pre-European Maori deployed seine nets which could be over one thousand metres long. The nets were woven from green flax, with stone weights and light wood or gourd floats, and could require hundreds of men to haul.
Fishing nets are well documented in antiquity. They appear in Egyptian tomb paintings from 3000 BC. In ancient Greek literature, Ovid makes many references to fishing nets, including the use of cork floats and lead weights. 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 cast net. He would fight against a secutor or the murmillo, who carried a short sword and a helmet with the image of a fish on the front. 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. Read more