On the two «half-open days» I gave Pavel a masterclass on medieval fishery. Here is a report about it.

On Saturday, November 23, I gave Pavel some theory, demonstrated him medieval fishing gear and told how to manufacture it. Besides, I made an inventory of Pavel’s equipment.

We examined the net. Pavel weighted up if he should use the net as a whole, or it’s better to cut it and make a landing net and fish traps. We discussed it and decided that he shouldn’t cut the net. Floats should be made of pine bark. Sinkers — fragments of broken pottery. One can easily make a hole in them or simply tie a thread around.

Pavel is going to make a fishing rod of hazel. Pavel has much linen thread and seven hooks. But only three of them are suitable for rod with float. Pavel agrees that all the equipment should be prepared at home, not during the fishing itself.

Pavel decided not to use harpoon and arrows for fishery. Instead of icepick he uses an axe. To clean the ice hole from cracked ice and snow Pavel uses a wooden scoop.

On Sunday, November, 24, in the morning we went to the practical session. In the forest I saw Paul getting worms: he turned logs and rushed to his prey like a kite. Unfortunatelly, there are very few active worms in the late autumn. Pavel has a compost heap, but it is very small and there are few worms as well. So, it was obvious, that the main bait for Pavel should be dough.

The discussion began about Pavel’s irrational use of corpses of small animals. Instead of impalement, mice should be disembowled, cut into pieces. Their meat should be sticked on hooks of weighted lines to catch predatory fish. Pavel had been interested in the procedure of washing bloodworms but after learning the details he gave up this plan.

There are evidences that in the lake not far from the farmstead there is roach, perch, pike, trout, burbot and carp. The practice proved only presence of perch and roach. We found two promising places for fishing. One of them is near the farmstead. There is a creek with sandy and relatively clean bottom. It is good to place here all four weighted lines and the net. There is also another creek, but it is full of sinkers. It’s convenient to fish here with spoonbaits and rod.

We equipped a place for fishing: laid several poles near the water, resting them against the trees. This helps not to fall into the water. Pavel is already good enough in manipulations with the rod, hooks and worms. The only problem is that there is no fish in this nasty low season! We failed to see any fish, even small fry. We didn’t have a single bite in half an hour. Fish had gone into the deep and become «slack».

And what about baiting? Pavel’s grain rapidely sprouts and grows moldy. If it is steamed out, it will be a good lure. Pavel is going to add clay and make delicious «balls» for baits.

Then we went to learn how to manipulate with weighted lines. The technique is simple: with ample movements we reset the thread to the ground. Then we take a forked stick with a handle length of about 50-70 cm; put the bait on the hook; put the thread in the stock of the forked stick, so that the load and the hook were on one side of the «missile» and the thread — on the other. We hold the thread with the left hand, and the stick with the right. Then we throw the hook with the load in the water (one can throw at forty meters and very precisely): the thread is unwounding and following the load. After this thread is wrapped several times around a stick, which is driven into the ground at an angle. The thread is stretched like a string and we hang there a small cleft stick — it will signal biting.

When Pavel said that he had caught the other day two roaches in a pool on the creek, we ran there. We had only an hour left, because a medic was waiting to examine Pavel.

So, this creek is in a couple of minutes from Pavel’s farm. Pavel’s net is of proper size (5 meters), so we could use it very well. We blocked the stream (3.5–4 meters) and set a tangle net for «filtering». The method is very simple. A net is carefully laid in the water near the shore. To one end of the net a rope is tied and fastened to a tree or a stake. To the other end of the net a long piece of rope with a load is tied. The load is thrown to the opposite shore. Pavel crossed the creek, took the rope and pulled the net. Then he fastened the rope to a tree. That’s all.

Then Pavel went to the medic and I returned from Middle Ages into cosy modernity.

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