Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/797

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THE URAL COSSACKS AND THEIR FISHERIES.

arduous work begins, every one trying to be the first to make a hole in the ice with a chisel. In a few minutes an entire forest of long hafts grows up over the river, as though some magic power had been at work. The fisherman moves the haft up and down, and listens intently that he may know when the fish touch the hook. Once this has happened, he hooks the fish by an alert movement, then hauls it immediately up to the surface of the ice, calling in the mean time for help from his fellow fishermen. They fish here, usually, in groups of from six to twenty men, for it is not easy work to pull up a huge sturgeon of several hundred

PSM V43 D797 Ural river fall catch dressed by natives.jpg

Fig. 9. — Fall Fishing on the Ural River. Dressing Fish by Natives.

pounds weight. In a very short time the surface becomes marked with blood and covered with big fish.

The most important fish caught in winter are different kinds of sturgeon, viz., the large sturgeon (Acipenser huso), Russian sturgeon (A. Guldenstädtii), star sturgeon (A. stellatus) and A. Shypa. Each decidedly differs from the other and from species caught in America. For the flesh and particularly the roe (caviare) very high prices are obtained in the winter season; one single big female of the "large sturgeon" is sold for 100 to 200 rubles ($64.50 to $129).

Of course, not every one succeeds in catching such a valuable fish; on the contrary, many, in spite of great efforts, do not catch any, not even the smallest sturgeon. Nevertheless, this fishing being an alluring lottery with winnings, everybody hopes to be a lucky one, and this is the reason why so many of the Ural