A supplementary branch of the traditional economy, fishing in the past was usually undertaken by impoverished Kalmyks who were in need of an additional source of income or food. By the eighteenth century work migration to the lower Volga began to take on a mass character. At the fisheries Kalmyks did two types of work. Those who were employed as fishermen went to the sea in groups of three or four on small boats called ongts. They used nets of various designs, including drift net (golm) fyke net (tyavdg golm), seine (shuugul) as well as fishing rods (gakhul’). Other Kalmyks were employed on land to cut, wash, clean, salt, and dry fish. At the turn of the nineteenth century fisheries had become the major source of employment for many Kalmyks living along the banks of the Volga and the Caspian Sea. Depending upon their financial situation, Kalmyks engaged in fishing could be divided into three groups – free, contracted, and hired fishermen. In the Soviet period, the Kalmyk fisheries were state-supported enterprises.

Alexei Naranov, About Fishing and Fish Products


Leonid Khochiev, About Fishing