Ancient Fish Traps

The fish traps have been in existence for a few thousand years. They were the easiest and most logical way used by Stone Age people to catch fish. They were originally built by the Khoi up to 3000 years ago and are still in use today. Most of the traps are shaped in a half moon and vary in size. Early cave dwellers noticed that fish got caught in the natural tidal pools as the tide receded. Enlarging these pools by packing stone in strategic areas was a logical extension of this idea. On dark nights the fish do not notice when the tide starts to go out. When the water has retreated from the traps, leaving the fish stranded, they may be caught by hand. 

Packing of the walls of a fish trap is a precise job and today only a handful of men are capable of doing it. There is a fascinating history of how these vywers were passed down from fathers to sons through generations, each one bearing its own name like Wonderwerk (miracle), Niksvanger (nothing catcher!) and Krom Knie (crooked knee).

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Record catches in one harvest include 26 Mussel cracker in “Roodt se vywer”, 98 Elf in “Vlei”, and 5000 Mullet in “Groot vywer”.

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