Monday, January 4, 2010
Trip to the Bichi River, Udyl Lake, Amur River - Part 3 (Amur R.)
Lone young swan on the Bystraya channel on the way south from the Udyl Lake ourlet
Moving along the braided and twisted channels, I am nearing the Amur River upstream from the the town of Bogorodskoe. Huge bird-of-prey, Steller's sea-eagle, was the first who saw me coming to the main channel of a river, which is 3 km wide in this area.
On a sand bar I have found a scull of something what should have been as big as a crocodile. Kaluga sturgeon Huso dauricus is still common in the lower Amur, regardless to strong poaching for its caviar & meat.
I have crossed the main river early in the morning. I was feeling a lot like in the sea on a calm day - wide expance of water, big ships...
On a sand bar at the head of one of the islands I have spotted "double hunt". A big school of 10-15 cm long Amur ide was feeding on some tiny fish. Several tens of some bigger fish were preying upon ide.
I have started to cast a streamer and lost it very soon - the line was bitten off. After shifting to steell tippet I have started catching Amur pikes. This was a strange habitat for any other pike - flat sand bar with 70 cm of water plus current. For this species, Esox reicherti, it is a typical feeding area.
Along the next island something different was feeding on the surface. Thousands of big fish were "eating water". These were silver carps (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). It is typical plancton feeder, which is catching ist food by filtering the water. In out area it is considered "non-for-sports" fish; it is caught with only nets. In in this place the fish were definitely trying to get as much surface film as possible - there were lots of tiny bugs in it. I have decided to try catching one of these strange fish with a fly. For hours I was moving through the schools of feeding carps, casting tiny dry flies on front of opening mouths. If they are swallowing dead insects, sooner or later they should get my imitation instead...
In 2 hours I had a gentle pull (the fly was soaken wet and sinking) and hooked something very strong and fast
The first silver carp in my life! This 3 kg specimen was landed with a #16 dry fly. It took me over 10 minutes to land it with 7 weight.
The last camp at the Amur River. Tomorrow I will come to Bogorodskoe and take 14 hour red-eye bus ride to Khabarovsk.