Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gone to Kamchatka

I'm gone to Kamchatka peninsula for 6 weeks.  Plans - some exploration & research in the northern part of the peninsula, and then in its south-west.  

Ichinski vlc (3621 m)

See you in October!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mandarin bass

I was fishing the same spot at the dike on which I had written on Aug 6.   At the Amur the fishing conditions are changing literally every day.  This time there were no skygazers in the casting distance.  I had spent two hours casting & changing flies, and lost some on the rocks, but had not seen any rises of the feeding predators; there were no bites of fish. 
 One more last cast, and one more..  When the streamer was passing an area above big rocks in a current, the line stopped.  I was completely sure that it was one more snag, and started to make jerks with the rod, trying to pull the line up.  I was not able to unhook the fly, but suddenly it became evidently that the "snag" is moving into the depth.. 
 Mandarin bass (Chinese perch) Siniperca chuatsi is ambuscader which is attacking its prey from short distance.  In nineteen seventies the species was listed as endangered, but now it is rather numerous in the Amur near Khabarovsk.  Big city with its dikes, cofferdams, bridges, and other underwater structures is creating lots of excellent bass habitats.  This bass weighs 1150 g (almost 3 pounds), and the maximum weight of the species is to 8,6 kg (19 pounds). 
 Comparing with the bass species from USA, Mandarin bass is never jumping when hooked.  It is rather secretive bottom fish which is hard to see even in the areas with good density. 
 Chinese perch had strong jaws & sharp, rather long teeth.  It is not a good idea to grab even a small, 2-pound fish for its lower jaw - it will surely damage your thumb. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lotus are blossoming!

Regardless to the harsh winters Amur River have some aquatic tropical animals & plants.  One of them is lotus.  This magnificent "weed" can be found on some lakes near Khabarovsk.  The best time to see the blossoms is about August 1st. 
 The water in the lake is low due to hot weather.
 Pink blossoms are over 25 cm across. The species is Nelumbo komarovii Grossh., 1940 
 The flowers will not last for more than a week.
Water can not moisten the lotus leaves  - they are covered by "wax" layer.
 My wife at the lotus "field"
By November this lush vegetation will die, and the plants will sleep under ice till the next summer.
 These cones contain lotus seeds which can sleep, if necessary, for thousands of years.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Amur River near Khabarovsk, at the dike (August 06, 2011; 5 - 11 AM)

I was fishing from a boat from the right bank of the Pemzenskaya channel, below the dike (this image is taken from the left bank).  
Today a big school of medium size skygazers (3-5 pounds) are feeding on sawbellies and other little fish.   I was casting big silver-pearl streamers and Antiwoblers with a two-handed rod and intermediate leader. Amur River is now low and rather clear (in summer I had not seen it any more clear than this).  I  
Skygazer is never jumping; this fish always pulls the line to the bottom. 
 This simple fly on a "golden" hook was working the best at that day.
 Skygazer of medium size
 I was using two flies; the smaller one was on a tippet tied to the hook of a big upper streamer. 
Pearl Antiwobbler was working as well
A little Mandarin bass was also caught with the same tackle. 
When too many spin-fishermen had started to cast the jigs across my line, I had decided to go home.   
 The fish was sometimes boiling right near the boat, in slack water. 
 Over a dozen fishermen are too many for this little place..
Here you can see that the dike is completely destroyed by the 2011 floods. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ussuri River, first day of August 2011

Ussuri is a big right tributary of the Amur River; it is 897 km long.  Along its middle & lower part Ussiri delimits Russia (right bank) and China.  Two rivers meet in downtown Khabarovsk.  Ussuri water is normally more clear than in the Amur.   
About 5 in the morning I was at the Ussuri R in the southern part of Khabarovsk.  The city downtown is 5 km downstream from me.  It was still completely dark.  Some fish were chasing fingerlings & splashing near the very bank.  I had started to fish with a pearl Antiwobbler (see )with no foam and caught some small size skygazers (Erythroculter erythropterus).  On a floating line this fly becomes a skater, and below the surface on retrieve it has a wobbling action and comes to the surface (  Silver-and-pearl Antiwobblers is one of the best "flies" for the pelagic Amur River predators.  Due to its active vibrations the fish can "feel" them even in murky water or in darkness.   
The area where I was fishing is a gravel spit between a riffle and a bay with a back-current.  The eddy forms a hole on the distance of 20-40 meters from me.  
 With the daylight the fish start feeding farther from the bank. I had shifted from a 9' rod to a double-handed one, with a floating head &15' sink tip.  The fly was the same.  The first bites were from Mongolian redfin.  It is a beauty!  The scientific name of the redfin is  Erythroculter mongolicus.   
 Mongolian redfin (below) looks similar to the flathead asp (Pseudaspius leptocephalus) which dwells in the same river.  The easiest way to distinguish the species is a long sharp spine in the dorsal fin of the redfin: asp has no such spine.  
 Amur three-lip (Opsariichthys uncirostris amurensis) is a small, avaricious predator.  It is often biting flies & lures prepared for much bigger fish species.  
 About 8 AM I see mighty splashes - these should be the yellowcheek (Elopichthys bambusa).  I am changing the sink tip to the clear, intermediate one.  The fly is still the same.
 This is a little yellowcheek - the biggest ones can reach 2 meters long!  The fish is very strong; its bite feels like powerful pull, and the first run of even a small fish is dangerous for the tackle.    
 Powerful jaws of yellowcheek have no teeth - it is one of the Carps.  To kill its prey the jaws have cutting edges and a know at the lower jaw - similar to European asp. 
 Powerful forked tail is much wider than the fish body.  
 This is the Antiwobbler which was working the best on that day