Saturday, July 30, 2011

Amur River, downtown Khabarovsk

The city park in Khabarovsk is situated at the Amur River.  Here, near the rocky hill which you can see at the background, the military camp Khabarovka was established back in 1858.  
 When the water is not too high, the local fishermen always gather near the former cliff, at the base of the embankment.  Here one can catch different fish, predators & non-predators.

Hear the hill the current goes away from the rocky bank and forms a deep area with a backcurrent. 
 The best fishing time during the hot months is late evening & very early morning. 
Tonight the biting was not too good.  I was able to catch one medium size skygazer.  The fish had bitten a fly in the middle layers of the water, at the seam between strong  & slack currents, at the depth of about 4 meters.

This is the "fly" which had done the trick.  It is called "Anti-Wobbler".  The clear plastic blade of the fly is turned upright.  It makes the fly wiggle & moving up on the retrieve.  This particular fly had foam back, but I often tie such ones with no foam.  The action of Anti-Wobblers is one of the best for catching different pelagic predators - both freshwater & marine.  I am using them with a sink tip or with sinking line.    
Lights in the park

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot July at the Amur River - one more weekend

Mid summer in Amur is normally hot and calm.  On the sunrise the huge river looks like a mirror.  The water temperature was 25*C. 
Lots of small fish were jumping at the lake outlet.  These 10-20 cm long silver Cyprinids (mostly sawbelly) were preying upon some tiny, 1,5-2 cm long fish.  Bigger predators, probably, 0,3-1 kg skygazers were time to time making boils in the middle of the sawbelly schools.  Dog eat dog!  The water in Amur was high & murky.  In such situations the skygazer is normally aiming only the big groups of its prey, and ignoring the solitary fish (same as your fly).  I have decided to move into the lake.       
In the lake the surface temperature was 28*C!  At the outlet there were also schools of sawbelly which were hunting on little fish.  Sawbelly looks like a bleak, but you often catch it with streamers. 
 I have tried a tiny wobbler-fly on #10 hook and caught some predatory sawbellies as well.
The lake is formed by an old river channel; its widest & deepest part is a flooded sand pit. 
 In the lake there were lots of little skygazers. 
This corner looks promising - it should be inhabited by some bigger predator
 This plant is normally growing in the areas with at least 1,5-2 meters of water.

I was covering the snags and weeds at that "juicy" corner with a silver streamer and caught a snakehead.
The head of this fish is covered with scales and looks borrowed from a snake...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Out-of-hand cast, or “Read the classics”!

The numerous books on flyfishing technique do not pay attention to one rather important issue – how to prepare yourself to the first cast.  Most often you can read something like “...pull some line off the reel and spread it in front of you on the bank or water.”   At the real fishing even the first cast should not scare the fish.  There is not always enough room behind you for the backcast.  The people often start with several (longer & longer) roll casts, but these create lots of squelching noise.  Imagine yourself standing among the bushes at the undercut bank, or on slippery logs of the log jam..  How will you start the fishing?

Long ago I have invented a simple & elegant beginning:
1/  Pull 4,5-6 meters (15-20’) of line off the reel, and shake it out through the guides.  The rod is held vertically, so the line hangs down.   
2/  Take the fly with the thumb & index finger for the hook bend, so the point will not touch your skin when releasing the fly into the flight. 
3/  The cast itself is similar to the roll cast – move the rod outward and backwards and stop, so the D-loop will be formed.  The left hand holding the fly should follow the swing of the line loop.  During the pause the fly in your left hand should be beneath your right elbow. 
4/   Now you can make the forward stroke with the rod – the same as by the roll cast.  When the rod will be loaded, release the flyYou will be surprised how straight & far it will travel.    

This cast is the best method to put the tackle back to work after changing the fly.  After many years of using this technique I was reading the lectures of Vasily Litvintsev, the first   serious Russian flyfisherman who did write on the "trade".  This fisherman was living ein the end of 19th century and in the beginning of 20th.  On one of the pages I have found a description of this “out-of-hand” cast and a picture which I want to show here. 

I think that namely V.Litvintsev had invented this cast about 100 years ago.  At least I was not able to find anything similar in English fishing literature.
After this I had a conclusion that it is a good idea to read and reread the classics.  In the old books it is possible to find the gold nuggets of the ideas which were undeservedly forgotten by the descendants of the Beginners… After reading old books the fisherman also realizes that his fishing success in many respects depends on new materials with which the modern physics & chemistry have greatly improved our tackle.   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot July at the Amur River

The first part of the summer in Khabarovsk was rather cold & rainy.  Only by mid July we have got the usual hot weather - over 30*C.  The nights are also very warm. The water in the Amur River is 22*c, and in the lakes  - 24-25*C.     These days the city people are using any possibility to go the water to swim. 
On the weekend I was with my family on one of the lakes at the Bolshoi Ussuriiski Island, about 5 km from the border with China. Some of the local fish of the northern origin do not like hot weather.  On the contrary, some species had come here from the tropical waters.  Hot summer is the time when they are feeding most active.  
 These aquatic plants form thickets at the depths of over 2 meters. 
Predators love sitting in a shade, below the green ceiling. 
 I was moving in an inflatable kayak along the weed beds and reed walls.
 Amur catfish was caught with sinking line & pink-and-purple wobbler fly.  
This little snakehead was caught with typical pike tackle: floating line, steel tippet, and red wobbler fly with yellow legs, tied on #1 hook.  
Snakehead is very strong fish with sharp teeth and powerful jaws.  Amur River is the northernmost part of its range. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Manoma River, July 2011

Manoma River is a tributary to the mighty Anyui River, which is joining the Amur River from its right bank at the distance of 700 km from the sea.  The upper reaches of the Manoma could be reached by old logging roads. 
 The river is 17*C, and the damp air - about 30*C.  This creates fog which was rather thick during a part of that day. 
 In the morning I was barely able to see my friends fishing.
In the Manoma we normally catch lenok & grayling.  The biting on that day was not too good; the fish was rather picky.  We had luck with #10 Stimulator dry flies and with some dark nymphs.   
The typical "lower Amur" grayling is normally small.  The fish of this size is always mature.  Compare it with Arctic grayling from the North - the minimum maturation size in many rivers is 28-30 cm.   
In many places along the river the wide leaves of the butterbur are seen. 
 One of the flies which was working well on that day. 
 In June & July the brown bears are eating a lot of the butterbur chards.  The severed chard continues growing, and forms a characteristic "flower" with 4, 5 or 6petals. 
 These are the "bear-flowers"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Amur River - at the dike near Khabarovsk (July 2011)

The Pemzenskaya channel of the Amur River is crossed by a stone dike which is supposed to support the water level in the main river channel. 

During last years the water level in Amur was high; the dike was seriously destroyed by the floods.  Now it is not forming a drop as before.  The river bottom below the former dike is covered with huge rocks which are providing shelter for the predators. 

 Local fishermen are fishing with long poles & bobbers with bait of little fish.  

Small catfish is among common fish caught near the dike.  In most cases I am using bright streamers tied on offset hooks.  "Normal" streamers are lost too often due to the rocky bottom.

Skygazer looks like a herring, but it belongs to Carps.  
One of the best flies to catch skygazer is a wobbler fly fished in middle layers of the water. 

Mandarin bass Siniperca belongs to rockfishes (Sebastidae)

This little fish was caught with a silver streamer on the offset hook 

Mandarin bass sits close to the rocks; the fly should move slowly, with jerks.