From J. Stanley Gardiner (1898), "The Natives of Rotuma," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27:425-428.
The fish-hooks of Rotuma were generally very crude. Indeed, the extent of the reef is so great that, except by isolated villages little deep-sea fishing was carried on. The fe, or shark-hook, was made from a shrub, the tiere, which, when it reached the height of about 3 feet, was twisted into an open knot, with a diameter of about 5 inches; it was then allowed to grow for about two years before being cut. The hook was then shaped, and a piece of hard wood spliced on as a barb projecting inwards. The bait was tied on over the barb; the fish working at this, as the wood was springy, gradually got its jaw between the barb and the stem of the hook. On being struck the barb caught in the gills, and the fish was hauled up sideways. A similar hook, but smaller, the oiniafa, was used for catching a large species of rock cod, the roog. Small round hooks were cut out of pearl shell or turtle bone, 1-2 inches in diameter, and termed ovi; a barb was always cut on the outside. Those of pearl shell for certain fish were not baited, nor towed behind the canoe. Proper spinning baits are termed pa, and were of two kinds, the one large, of pearl shell fixed on bone 4 inches, or more, long, and the other small, 1-2 inches, of pearl shell alone. Both had underneath a hook of turtle shell or bone, and at the end a few short white feathers of the tavek, or boatswain bird, sticking out. Tjija, long fish with very narrow jaws, almost too small for any hook, are caught by a lump of spider's web at the end of a line on a long bamboo, when the tide is coming in. The teeth are numerous and long, and cannot disentangle themselves.
The mesh of nets is exactly the same as the English mesh. Hand-nets, like landing nets, called ti, are of rather oval shape, with a strongly spliced frame. They are used for catching lobsters on the reef at night or flying fish, attracted by a torch on a canoe. The latter fish used to be regularly attracted by large fires on certain islets of the reef. To catch small fish, the women collect the loose pieces of coral and stones of the shallow water of the boat channel of the reef, and form heaps of them about 9 feet long by 3 broad and 2 high. At low tide they are covered by from a few inches to 2 feet of water. These they visit daily and feed with cocoanut, scraped up and mixed with a little of the ink of the cuttlefish, which is commonly caught in holes on the reef. At some part of the stone heap a fish basket, the afuli, may be placed; this trap is usually circular in form, about 1 1/2 feet in diameter, and 8 inches high. It is made of any shoots and twigs of suitable size and the midribs of cocoanut leaves; the mouth is in the middle of one of the flat sides, and the fish of course cannot escape, owing to the ends of the frame projecting inwards; the whole is bound together by pieces of the bark of the fou(Hibiscus sp.?). Ordinarily for fishing in the stone heap a large basket, the afmamass, is partially filled with loose pieces of coral and placed flat with its month in the stone heap at one end. The stones are then moved back one by one from the other end, the fish being driven back more and more from stone to stone, until finally all take refuge in the basket, which is then emptied of its stones, and the fish, prawns, and crabs left; the fish are then slipped into another afmamass, tied to the waist, and a fresh heap will be worked over. Sometimes instead of the basket a net, vou hulaghui, with floats above and weights below, may be placed round the stone heap, but this is more commonly used for placing round any large overhanging coral head, from under which the fish are driven by a stick. The usual method of killing them, when they have entangled themselves in the net, is to place the mouth under the water and bite them just behind the head. A throwing net, voi kiri, 6-8 fathoms long and a fathom deep, weighted at the bottom with shells and with floats of wood above, if cast well, falls in a complete circle and surrounds the fish. It is used principally at high tide, when the fish come on the reef in great shoals and close up to the shore.
For turtle a net, the voi hoi, of very strong sinnet, with a mesh of about 6 inches, is used. It is put down in a passage on the reef just before the tide commences to ebb, and any turtle that may be on the reef driven into it by canoes. Two canoes remain one at each end of it; and when any turtle is seen to go in, a man from each dives after it and seizing it by means of its front flappers, turns it over so that it is compelled to come to the surface; they then call "Koko urofi," a phrase confined to this fishing.
A large net, vou hapa, is made for fish driving, with about an inch mesh; it is always made of alol. To make one a whole district will combine, and each household will have its allotted share. The net has a great pocket in the middle, about 12 feet in circumference, open at its ends; it is about 25 yards long, and tapers somewhat. From it two wings come out, 80-100 yards long by about 6 feet deep. A suitable spot is chosen inside the reef either at one of its larger passages or between two islets, and here two rows of stones are placed at about a right angle with each other; their length varies, but if possible they end in water not more than a couple of feet deep at low tide. At the angle they do not join, but run parallel to one another, about 4 feet apart, so that the pocket of the net can be fixed between them, while the sides of the net run along the two lines of stones. The net is held down by the stones below, and supported upright by stakes driven in between them
At Noatau the point, selected to drive to, is in a big passage in the reef, and to here the lines of stones run from the reef and at right angles to this from the shore. The net is put down at quarter-ebb and firmly fixed under the direction of an elected chief of the fishermen; at half-ebb the Noatau people come up and range themselves along the lines of stones, and continue these to the shore and reef with canoes or in the water. When this is done a signal is given, and the Oinafa people form a line right across from the shore to the reef close to their village and commence to drive down. As they come up the ends of the net will be carried round and closed in. It will now be about an hour before low tide. Lot after lot of fish will be driven into the pocket, and removed into the canoes. Any fish speared or caught outside the net is the property of the one who catches it, while the rest are equitably distributed through both the districts after a division between the two has been made on the islet of Husela, off Noatau; for, if brought on shore, the fish would all be the property of the Noatau people. In one drive we obtained, with about 200 people, 648 large fish of different kinds in the net, and estimated weight at rather over 1 1/2 tons. They were laid out on the ground in tens and then again in groups of ten of these, each ten of about the same size.
The first time the vou hapa is used it is termed the hou i ug vou, or "the wetting of the net," and the second time the hou i ug vou, or "the hauling of the net." The fish caught in these hauls are all cooked together, and a feast is held; subsequently the net will be lent to any part of the district which desires to use it, or to any other district for the half of the fish it catches. Any noh, sagir, turtle, or sharks caught belong to the chief; any one eating them without his leave would get sick and probably die, did they not faksoro him.
A particular net, the vou siu, is used for catching the siu, a long, very strong fish, which will jump any net. The net is about 12 feet long by 6 broad, and fixed between and at the ends of two bamboos, 18 or 20 feet long. A number of canoes paddle along on the reef when the tide is high, in two lines, with a man, the toko, on the watch at the head of each. When the siu are sighted, which is usually near the shore, everyone jumps into the water. While some surround them with a net, the others get these ready to catch them, when they proceed to jump the net. If the party fishing is large with several canoes, this fishing is termed vou roa.