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To live by the lake is to be fond of fishing
The most popular passion of the Petrozavodsk citizens

The first constructions on the territory of the future city were not factory constructions, but small fishing log huts (tonyas) existing long before in the mouth of the river Lososinka. Hardly they have existed long near to Petrovsky factory. The river Lososinnitsa after construction of dams and factories replacing each other in the lower course quickly lost the glory of the salmons' river, in which in former times "any fish was caught: both whitefish, and small fish... and salmons all summer long... "

Mortning at the fish market

Logmozero and Shuya were also rich in valuable breeds of food fishes. Monks of Solomensky monastery from time to time had to sort out relationship with their neighbors, fishermen from Zaozerie, Sulazhgora, and Shuya, where the sources of the XVI century list either "weir", or "big weir", that is fishweirs, the partitions for catching salmon in the river. In XVIII century there were trials in Senate investigating disputable cases (growing into long conflicts) of local rich men (such as, for example, Petrozavodsk burgomaster Korotiaev) and peasants for the right of installation of fishweirs.

In the beginning of XIX century as a result of the similar conflict the Senate has ordered to destroy the dam at the flour-grinding mill of the landowner and businessman Peter Lachinov...

Petrozavodsk merchants in XVIII arranged their fishweirs more often in the place called Peski, but carried valuable fish in city reluctantly, since therethey were offered to sell unscaled salmon in 1780, for example, for 90 kopecks per pood and scaled for 1 rouble per pood. "On May 5, - ratmann (Ratmann, from German 'Rat' - council and 'Mann' - the person, elective members of city councils, town halls and archpriest boards in XVIII and XIX centuries) Michael Antsiferov reported, - I have seen, that there was no fresh fish at the quay, and Bezzubikov (the merchant) answered uncivilly: "I am neither a contractor to you, nor I have contracted to deliver salmons to you..."

The best trading from Petrozavodsk to St.Petersburg by the beginning of XIX century was "salty fish of different breeds and poultry...", and local dealers earned the capitals buying up the catch from the peasants cheap.

N.Ozeretskovsky, who has visited Petrozavodsk in 1785, has noted that in the mornings fishermen brought there (on the quay) by boats "generally whitefish and salty red fish, which exhaled rather nasty smell, notwithstanding, inhabitants bought it up like hot cakes... " (as against salty fish sold to St.Petersburg this was leavened in Karelian style).

In Peski in XIX century the city began to lease fishings to the interested persons for 3 years. As a rule, tenants were peasants of Sulazhgora and Zaozerie (in 1857 the income from these fishings was 20 roubles and 50 copecks, and in 1860 it was 47 roubles).

In 1890s the municipal duma has introduced tallage for mooring of fishing boats of 10 kopecks from an empty boat and 20 from a boat with a catch.

When the sterlet has appeared in Onego

More often coastal fishing season began one week prior to spring holiday of Nikola (May, 9), and the deep-sea fishing started by the end of May. The latest catching finished in the open lake. The most widespread in catching were perches, pikes, breams, white-fishes, smelts, salmons, and whitefishes. Regarding some breeds of the fishes seldom met in Onego the local fishermen made various assumptions and legends. For example, it was considered that occurrence of such fish as a sterlet in Onego is connected with the fact that the deputy T.I.Tutolmin in 1780th has decided to build a pond near the lake Logmozero and has ordered to bring there sterlets, catfishes and sturgeons, but the cage with them was broken at the Ivanovo islands, and the fish was escaped and then reproduced. Anyway in 1860s the sterlet was even referred by researcher Poliakov to the commercial catch.

Some of fishes were not count for fishes by Petrozavodsk citizens believing it to be snakes (eel). Fishermen had special dislike for the stickle-back since because of its gluttony the catch was sharply reduced in some places of the lake, by the end of XIX century there were lots of stickle-backs in the Petrozavodsk bay. Stickle-back was called "nasty" fish.

Islands and coast of Onega were built up with fishing small log huts (during the whitefish catching season women fished there on a par with men). Under the certificate of eyewitnesses, the amount of such small log huts on some islands reminded villages. Special popularity among fishermen of the city was gained by "Derevianskie ostrova", "Nemetskoye", "Pukhta", "Pesotchki".

Instead of wearing pants through in the office...

...On July 7, 1792 mister provincial public prosecutor has not found the head of the office of the local state institution Filimonov and registering clerk Romanov on their workplaces in the department. A police officer sent to their homes was "declared by their folks that they have left to lake Onego to fish..."

Many of Petrozavodsk small officials (their number in XIX century has considerably increased) receiving the scanty salaries were engaged the diversified works to support their families: preparation of brooms and haymaking, gathering of fire wood scattered by storms on the coast, and, certainly, fishery.

By XIX century they began to unite for fishing in small artels constant, as a rule, during the season. The artel consisted of 2-3 persons, but for distant (for 50-60 versts) fishing they could employed the fourth. (At the end of XIX century the fourth was paid 30 kopecks per day, fed, received tobacco, but the catch was divided for three). The members of the artel bought themselves a boat, collected instruments of catch, "ledger-baits", a grapnel for unhooking the hooked tackle, and a bag. The basic instrument of catch was so-called "maselga" (hunters under its name were called "maselschiks" in the city). Maselga was a very long thin cord (up to 1.5 kms) with ropes every 5-8 meters adhered with hooks fastened on their ends. Small fish like smelt or whitefish was baited on hooks. After every 50-100 hooks the sinker stones were adhered to the cords, and after every 10 hooks there were floats. Maselga was used for catching palias and salmons, and was set from the boat. There were about 100 hooks on maselga, and it cost 1-3 roubles (constant artels always possessed their own maselgas). Depending on the number of hooks (from 1000 to 300) it was the catch was distributed: the last received 1/3 of the catch, but bosom friends divided it in equal parts.

The members of the artel rowed by turns, set fishing nets: while one pair sets, another cooks meal. Maselgas were taken out by turns, and then the fishers went to the harbor having shared the catch. Having paid 20 kopecks for a boat, officials sold surpluses of fish to local dealers. And the next Saturday after 3 o'clock in the afternoon the strollers on quay of Petrozavodsk could observe again unusual vanity prevailing here amazed "with subjects, dressed up in suits no more afraid of dirties, neither fading, nor ripping, some had multi-colored patches, they dragged sails, other had fishing shells, usual copper teapots and dixies..."

For the majority fishing was the remarkable weekend vacation. Konstantin Eremeev (also serving as the official of State Chamber in due time) wrote that almost all youth of the city were "hunters and fishers of hares, heath-cocks, ducks, salmons and palias".

What became of fish

...By the end of XIX century efficiency of fishery on Onego began to fall appreciably. For studying the reasons in 1895 the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property sent the ichthyologist and fish breeder Nickolay Nikiforovich Pushkarev to Petrozavodsk, whose first result of work became the book "Fishery on Onego" published in St.Petersburg in 1900. Pushkarev has offered a number of measures for restoration of the balance broken by men, among which there was a struggle against pollution of waters, catch of stickle-back as the wrecker of fish economy, etc. The following measure offered by Pushkarev in 1913 (the scientist continued to cooperate actively with Olonets zemstvo) was construction of a fish-breeding factory in Petrozavodsk with the purpose of cultivation of salmon, palia and trouts.

Published in the newspaper Karelia N30 on March 21, 2002


Created November 16, 2000
Last Updated June 17, 2003
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