The Double Heart

As told by Sergius Moonin to Jeff McMullen



These people want to know about the driven fish traps of a long time ago. So they came here to ask me about it, and I could tell them which I know.

Well we used to drive ‘em early in the spring, in May. Perhaps start from the Bluff of Flat Island, and then move to Seldovia. Next thing Nobel Point, from there to Bluff Point. Going up to the Inlet to each trap we used to drive to the sister fish trap in Salamatu and Nikiski, Polar Point. This company used to have nine traps, driven traps they used to call ‘em. In Bluff Point there was a longer trap, 3,700ft. In length, and 2 spiller and two hearts. Double hearts, it was the greatest in Cook Inlet. We had 2 traps in Salamatu. We number one to Nikiski, and Polar Point the last one. First time I started in the year of 1929. I used to fish in the seine. Then one year in the middle of the season, closing period, I was eating breakfast, we had a tent down there above the china house. So one morning when I was eating, Gorman Ageina, he says, “Johnson the superintendent wants to see you right now in the office.” So I went down, soon as I get there, he asks me “Would you like the job?” It surprised me. Almost the same hour (a half hour later) he told me to go get my stuff, clothes. “We’ll take you over to Bluff Point trap.” That’s the way I was started. I did not know anything about traps. Then I picked up quite a few things that summer because it was the biggest and the longest trap that summer. Well, I have done pretty good that summer. I was working two months that was $60.00 per month, plus room and board. That was a $120.00 season. The car came and Skinny Scacer said we’ll get started pulling wire on the trap, getting wire and wood for the trap. Every season we used tear them apart and build them again the next year.

At Flat Island was our deepest trap (9 layers). In Seldovia was another deep one (7 layers). So I went up and fished a Bluff Point trap. They took me up for another season. $300.00 a season that was big money then. Room and board two months there then cut lines from the filler. Then we sunk it down. Then when the tender came we load all the stuff up. The next day we go and pull all the fish traps. We start from Flat Island, up to the inlet. Then we had nine traps. Then the last 5 seasons, I was with them too. Last of 5 seasons, we worked from first of April to the middle of September. The last 10 seasons we were getting 4 thousand dollar seasons. Oh, that was big pay. We were getting pay 8 hour overtime in. The first 7 seasons, I was at Bluff Point trap. They moved me from there to Noble Point; they had a cabin on the trap. I was there for 4 seasons. Then the next thing, to Seldovia traps. There was a great big guy. I had him for 3 seasons at Noble Point. First year I had Ephim Anahonak with me; the last season I had Peter Moonin. The last in Seldovia, I had Ephim A. Last season I was at Flat Island in 1955, no 56! 1956 was the end of the driven fish traps. Next year I pulled in my traps because my crew complained about it. They told Joseph that the driven fish trap in Nikiski always had fish. The next season I was seining again. Since that time I have been seining. The driven traps were now out of use. When they made them, they had a lead from the shore and went out to the trap. The trap was made of a spiller, pot, fist, dravet, square; each frame is about 40 square ft. 40’ x40’. When the fish came into the trap, they would close off the spiller first. The fish would go into the heart and then to the pot and then the spiller. The trap had a walkway on hand; it also had rope handles which you would hold onto as you walked on it. You couldn’t fall overboard. When closing period came, you would loosen the ropes and let the trap sink. When the fishing opened again, we would pull the trap back up.


Fish Trap drawing by Marvin Norman

Sergius Moonin 














Copyright 1981,  Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.  All rights reserved

Volume 1