Almost every island in the shallow part of the reservoir has its own housing – a dugout. And even several dugouts were dug at different ends of the islands and islets. It all depends on the fishiness of the channel, on the catchability roach, perch or pike place, and closer to the Volga – and zander. Some of the dugouts were built by fishermen to fish kilometers of nets here in the spring, and some were dug by romantic city fishermen or pensioners in order to live and fish for weeks in the channels and on the reaches of the islands.

It is not always possible to immediately find a fishing dugout. It is – either to know where it is or just by chance you sometimes come across a low mound under the snow with a pipe-stamen. Usually in front of the dugout there is a clearing for evening relaxation, with a table, benches and charred spears in the place of the fireplace. You dig up the entrance to the house, push the wooden door, and towards you you will meet damp and mushroom mold with a smoky smell from the walls. The mushrooms themselves turn white on the logs, and in the twilight one can see bunks of boards, polished with bodies, shelves with all the necessary and unnecessary trifles. However, in other situations, an old cracker not eaten by a mouse, a box of matches and a jar of salt can become the most important of the important ones, especially when the boat capsizes in the channel or an unwary fisherman dives under the ice.

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Despite the seeming wildness and unattractiveness of housing, suitable for the eyes of a city homebody except for a homeless person, in the evening everything changes magically here, as if the house owner returns to the habitable place, and begins to cross busily in the corners or under bunks behind a stack of firewood. On the warm walls, glare of fire from a flushed stove-stove, on which a pot-bellied kettle is already puffing and puffing, play. It smells of bacon with garlic and hot fish soup from large perches with ruffs for the first boiling. So, the snotty ones are thrown into the pot, so that later they can pour large perch slices into the fragrant broth and splash a glass of vodka there and throw a coal from above. I don’t know why there’s a coal when everything is smoked, but it’s accepted that way. And with vodka and ear is sweeter – tested. Fresh and fluffy pine spruce branches on the bunks have a sharp smell of pine needles and resin. A receiver purrs on a nail at the head of the bed, and the full moon looks out through a small window, behind which a frosty night is visible more black than black, stretching for a long time, comfortably and as if in a sleepy daze, when reality is not always distinguishable from sleep.

Doze off quietly to the hum of the stove and the crackle of wood, and then ice fingers will crawl under the sweater – it’s time to heat the stove. You throw resinous shavings with birch bark to the pine splinters – a flash and again the humming of the stove to the blush on the tin sides. Can’t stand the heat of the stove and push the door out. Long shadows lie in the clearing, silvery with moonlight. Trees are cracking, or maybe Leshy – the forest guy is coughing behind an inversion, slyly squinting with a green eye at an overgrown foolish fisherman. Above, among the tops of firs, there is a high sky in a transparent haze, where pale stars appear, and a huge Moon with black eye sockets and pursed lips glows with a cold infernal light. This is her time, when motionless horror and quivering delight reigns from this boundless terrible beauty.

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All these impressions are available only to a lone fisherman and an overnight stayer in a similar dugout in the middle of a deserted island. Goblin and brownies avoid noisy companies. And the moon will already appear as an inanimate cosmic body, a satellite of the Earth. Ordinary and familiar …

… Here is a small picture, an episode. A little about dugouts and little about fishing. But it will be later.

We just looked into our old tried and tested dugout, digging an entrance in the snow and opening a board door. Everything is in order: the stove is in place, even firewood was left from the fall. So it will be warm.

We go into a wide channel, where sometimes in the spring roach-sorghi were caught. To tell the truth, if you are looking for a real soroga heavier than three hundred grams and up to a kilogram, you have to go to the Volga, to Voroniy Island. At least in the channels close to the Volga, you can stumble upon a school of large fish. In earlier times, this was the case. In the spring, a kilogram roach was not particularly rare in those places and in those years. And now there is a chance to find a strong and heavy soroga, but the search may take a day. And not the fact that the next morning the flock will be in the same place. In addition, I have with me the vents, on which I make the main bet. Since half of the day has already passed, my task is only to catch live fish, that is, small roach. Friends just do not want to break their legs over the snow porridge for another three or four kilometers for the sake of the remaining hours of daylight.

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Roach pecked cheerfully and often.

Alexander Tokarev and fishx.org

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At the old dugout

“How we built a dugout”

Pike snack in the dugout

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