Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/795

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THE URAL COSSACKS AND THEIR FISHERIES.

These carts are contracted to carry the catch to the city markets (there is no railroad in this steppe). No less than ten thousand carts are used here, and if you add ten thousand more carts belonging to fishermen, you may imagine how imposing must be the sight of the peaceful armies.

The fishing in the upper part of the Ural River, as I mentioned before, is carried on in winter, under the ice, and that is PSM V43 D795 Ural fisherman preparing for ice fishing.jpgFig. 7.—Ural Fisherman Ready for Through-Ice Fishing, called Bagrenie. the most peculiar of all fisheries. It is called bagrenie, which means "hooking," because the fishing is accomplished by a peculiar kind of hook. When the ice in the river becomes firm enough to support the weight of the fishing-army, which generally takes place in December, an order is given by the communal administration for the army to meet at Uralsk, from which point the fishing is begun. On a fixed day, thousands of people, old and young, hasten to the appointed place.

Let us now see how the fishermen dress for this winter fishing. One of them ready for work is represented in the picture. Light and comfortable garments, waterproof mittens and boots; in one hand a chisel, in the other two haft-hooks—the long one (with a haft of seven or more fathoms) is used for catching fish, lying (as a rule) in deep places on the bottom; the short one is destined to hold the fish when it is brought to the surface of the ice.

At about 9 a. m. the banks of the river, near the place where the shoals of fish have gathered, are crowded with thousands of horses and sledges, so that it becomes difficult to reach the river. Fishermen go down to the ice and stand on it in endless lines on both banks of the river, anxiously waiting for the signal—a cannon shot.

The ataman has gone out in midstream; every one is looking for him impatiently. The signal having been given, two living waves of people rush forward to the middle of the river, and the