Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trip to the Bichi River, Udyl Lake, Amur River - Part 2 (Udyl L.)

In the lower reaches the Bichi River before entering the Udyl Lake is forming a big delta.  The area is swampy & treeless; it looks like tundra.  My camp is hidden near one of the nearby streams, Bitki R.  The distance to the lake is 1 km. 

End of June is time of downstream migration of the chum salmon smolts.  All predatory and non-predatory fish is now feeding by these small silver smolts.  I will be using smolt imitations of appropriate size.  My main goal is to catch Amur whitefish with a fly. 

The area is flat, the current - rather slow.  The terrain is not spectacular, but it is notmal for habitats of whitefish.

I was using 7 weight rod, floating line and sink tip.  Whitefish is normally not coming close to the surface, and prefers to feed in middle layers of water. 

Amur whitefish

Amur whitefish; the biggest specimens of the species can be up to 5 kg. 

This species of whitefish is predatory; it has terminal mouth.

Along the north shore the 50 km long Udyl Lake is very shallow

On the gravel bars of the lake outlet there are lots of cornelians

Kolchem village at the lake outlet

To be continued...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Trip to the Bichi River, Udyl Lake, Amur River - Part 1 (Bichi)

I was floating the lower reaches of the Bichi River, crossed the Udyl Lake, and went down the channels to the Amur River.  The trip had ended in the Bogorodskoe village.  From here I went by regular bus to Khabarovsk. 

The MI-8 helicopter, which had to take a group of taimen fishermen back home, had brought me to the river. 

The helicopter is gone, and I had stayed alone on the river.

The plan was to move downstrean with inflatable kayak.  The main goal for the trip was to catch Amur whitefish with a flyrod (nobody did it before). 

I was fishing in the river on the first day.  After a strong rain it became murky, and I was limited to the sloughs and bays.

Big bright flies are the best for Amur pike (this one is called "Rainbow")

Amur pike

Smaller streamers were bringing "predatory minnows" - Amur minnow ...

... and Amur ide.

Good size pike

This pike is kept for the supper. 

The "anti-wobbler" fly is one of the best for pike.  The uright blade makes the fly both wiggle and come to the surface.  I will make a post on these unique flies a little later. 

To be continued...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Manoma River, Amur River drainage. Part 3 - lower part of the river

In the lower part the Manoma R. is slower than at the upstream stretches.  The most numerous fish of this area is Amur ide.  This ide is not as big as European ide; 400 g fish is considered good size.  Ide is omnovorous; it is biting baitfish imitations same as dry & wet flies. 

The most ancient and the best way to cook fish is to grill it.  Ide, same as all members of the Carp family, is very bony.  If you cut its back and sides across with a sharp knife, the fish will become as boneless as trout.

This is Amur pike, caught among weeds in a river bay

Local fishermen with a "long boat"

This quiet pool below the cliffs is clost to the confluence of the Manoma and Anyui Rivers.  !0 km downstream Anyui R. is joining the mighty Amur R. 

St.-John's wort

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Manoma River, Amur River drainage. Part 2 - middle reaches of the river

We were floating the middle and lower part of the Manoma R. - the stretch between the Upper Manoma and Lower Manoma villages.
Arthur & Alexander are in a bigger boat; I was using a small rubber raft

The river flows through dense forest; this the area where the Amur tigers are present. It is a pity I was never lucky to see this animal. One of my friends was; it is good to him that he can run very fast.

Manoma has some log-jams; only one of them requires portage

In some places in the river there are true carpets of freshwater pearl oysters

I was fishing with small streamers on tubes. The first fish was gudgeon - a predatory one. Very strange... I had never thought that this fish can eat minnows...
Flathead asp Pseudaspius leptocephalus is populating the entire drainage of the Amur River. The species prefers cold water; it is most numerous in the lower parts of the mountainous tributaries to Amur. Unlike the European asp it is never caught on the surface.
Now you understand why this fish bears the name "flathead asp". It looks like an attempt to create a pike out of a carp..
This is one of a few venemous snakes of the Far East - the Ussuri copperhead Gloydius ussuriensis. This snake was crossing the river and did not want to bite flies.
To be continued

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One more trophy taimen

This trophy 40+ kg Siberian taimen was landed (gear, not fly, sorry) in October 2009 in the middle reaches of the Tugur River. The fish had probably a couple of chum salmon in its stomach. Taimen was released, so I can not tell it for sure. Chum salmon is numerous in Tugur; this is why there are so many big taimen in the stream - they have plenty of food. Some fish were observed moving behind a school of running salmon - exactly as a herder with a herd..

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Manoma River, Amur River drainage. Part 1 - upper reaches of the river

Manoma River is tributary to the mighty Anyui R., which joins Amur River 200 km below Khabarovsk. Upper reaches of the Manoma are mountainous. This part of the stream is populated by selection of fish species which are typical for the "trout region" of the Far East: bluntnose lenok, sharpnose lenok, grayling, and Chekanovski's minnow.
In hot weahter of mid July it is a good idea to fish till the dark hours. In twilight you could expect bites from the most careful, older fish. Tributaries and side-channels of the Manoma River are small; here we catch mostly grayling
Creek fishing is rather hard and requires lots of hiking and climbing. The casting is difficult - in many areas there is no room for backcast. The best tackle in this situation will be 7' or 8', 3 or 4 weight rod. Here I am using only furled leaders: common tapered ones does not allow to present the fly properly. Chekanovski's minnow is biting small flies, if you present them in bays and sloughs of a creek Lower-Amur grayling is easy to distinguish from other grayling species by its rounded dorsal fin with two red strips along the upper edge. This is very bright fish, which do not grow big - unlike the Arctic grayling. Cherry salmon in the Manoma River is rare fish - Manoma and Anyui are the uppermost spawning area of this salmon in the Amur drainage. This large smolt is, probably, a dwarf male which has "decided" to go out into the salt water after one or several spawnings with anadromous females. Typical cherry salmon smolts are much smaller. Lenok is sitting mostly near the bottom; it is not possible to catch this "Siberian trout" with dry flies every day. By the subterminal mouth one can see that this is the sharpnose species of the Brachymystax genus. This fish bit a heavy nymph, imitation "something edible" - probably, scud.
This is the flybox of one of my friends. This fisherman can tie excellent superrealistic flies. Such fly models very popular in many regions of Siberia. The fish simply can not resist.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sakhalin Island, Evai R. & Chaivo Bay, Part 2

After catching some more flounder from the bottom I had a different bite - a strong jerk of the line just after its landing. This was kundzha of whitespotted charr (Salvelinus leucomaenis). The ecological niche of the species is similat to the one of bull trout on the North-American coast of Pacific.
This predatory charr can be as big as 15-18 kg, but it is reaching this huge size only in some waters. The biggest kundzha is found in some streams of the Eastern Kamchatka.
On the shores of the Chaivo Bay grows larch forest. At the background you can see the narrow sand spit which separates the bay from the Sea of Okhotsk. Fresh starry flounder was put on a grill with onions
Flowers of Labrador tea
Starry Flounder on Foodista