The snakehead is a very thermophilic predator, which is why this Far Eastern alien has taken root in Asian waters. Usually at the end of August, with the first cool nights, the activity of the snakehead sharply decreases. At this time, he often stands motionless at the surface of the water in quiet grassy backwaters, begins to hunt closer to noon and is practically not interested in artificial baits. But what is there artificial – even a snakehead frog floundering right on its nose will only push it lazily and retire into the underwater thickets. But warm autumn weather can change the snakehead’s seasonal schedule. This happened in the fall of this year. From September, I usually completely switch to catching asp and zander.
So at the beginning of October, I went to catch these predators in the lower reaches of the Chirchik, where there are many of them in the vicinity of the pre-mouth rifts. And the weather was good, and the water was clear, and the roll was beautiful, but for the whole morning we did not manage to feel a single blow, although the asp and small perches were driving the fry quite actively. Experimenting with baits and guides didn’t help, so I headed for the next roll, a kilometer downstream. On the way, I looked at one of the Chirchik ponds, in which I successfully caught snakeheads in the summer. The pond is an old Chirchik backwater, fenced off by a gravel dam. The reservoir is quite large, but long abandoned and more than half overgrown with tall reeds. There are also decent crucians, grass carps, and, of course, snakeheads. But they don’t catch much in it, mostly locals, since there are practically no approaches to the water. I managed to get to the small bay, and I decided to make a couple of control casts. More for order, since in the cool, clear water neither the snakeheads themselves nor any signs of their activity were visible.
The very first postings of my favorite popper dispelled my doubts: there are snakeheads in the bay. True, their autumn behavior was very different from the summer one. If in the summer, after several gurgles, the snakeheads quickly flew out of the thickets and greedily grabbed the bait, or at least tried to do it, now the predators only accompanied the popper, and at a decent distance. The snakeheads seemed to be driven more by curiosity than by the urge to eat. I put both large poppers and very small ones, which I use for catching shemai and tricot – I have no grip, although I perfectly see attempts to attack the bait. I change the bait drastically – I put a spinner, then a small wheel-bar. No result, even the attempts to attack stopped. I decide to check out a medium-sized surface wobbler depicting a fish at its last gasp, belly upside down. The movements of the bait are practically indistinguishable from the behavior of a living prototype, and deepening only 20-30 cm is an excellent option for navigating over underwater thickets.
When the wobbler was guided along the border of thickets and clear water, the backwater came to life. First, some snake-headed kid tried to eat him; he even pushed the bait once or twice. Then there were a couple of unfinished attacks of larger instances, and finally the first real grasp occurred. The snakehead, which looked a little more than a kilogram, was very playful: shaking his head, he made a couple of candles, then rushed into the grass bush with all his might, twitched there a couple of times and got off. The subsequent half-hour rinsing of the fish gave nothing. Apparently, the one who descended while playing the snakeheads scared off the population of the bay. After the experienced bites, the desire to move down the Chirchik in search of asps and pike perch somehow disappeared. I decided to give the bay a little rest, and then resume attempts to catch the autumn snakehead. This time I put in a well-proven bait, which caught at least three dozen snakeheads of various sizes. True, everything was in the last season, and for some reason, predators did not like it this summer.
I call this Chinese wobbler a cuttlefish – it is so absurd. Rounded at the front and obliquely chopped off at the back, slightly convex barrel with tees hanging from below and a silvery horizontal petal in the tail. The wobbler is very stubborn, as during wiring it tilts on the nose at 45 degrees, but does not dive deep into the water and has a very lively, fussy game. Recently, one of my hobby colleagues found the “primary source” of this “cuttlefish”: in the original, the wobblers are called Banny. On the second lead – a powerful bite. At the same time, no bait escorts, but immediately and for sure. Since everything happened in a clean place, I quickly pull the predator ashore. The one and a half-kilogram snakehead caught on both tees, so I had to tinker with its release. Then miracles began. Casting – snakehead. A couple of casts are another snakehead. The predators grabbed the bait as soon as it reached the surface of the water! Such activity is rare in summer, and in the fall I have never seen anything like this, although I have been catching snakeheads for twenty years.
A short break to calm down the fish, throw – and again a bite. The copy was caught for two kilograms, you can’t take that immediately. However, no struggle came out: the snakehead dived under a huge island of grass and all attempts to drag out the fish or at least free the bait were unsuccessful. There was only one such wobble-rock with me, I didn’t want to stop fishing, so I had to climb into the cold swamp slurry and save my beloved “bannik”. During this procedure, the snakehead safely came off the tee. It took half an hour to dry and warm, after which Banny went back into the water. A large snakehead grabbed a wobbler far from the shore, in a small channel between islands of vegetation. Since, fearing to lose the bait, I switched to my “cruising” three-meter spinning rod with a 40-libra braid, I decided not to stand on ceremony and dragged the fish with all my might, trying not to let it into the grass. However, the strength did not help me: after a candle and a couple of powerful jerks, the snakehead came off. I examine the wobblers – a pitiful sight: the paint peeled off, the blade is broken, the eye is lost, the hook from the tee has turned into a single piece. Yes, forceful methods for playing a decent snakehead are not suitable.
He threw the crippled bait in the heat of the moment, and it was grabbed by the snakehead by 800 grams. Moreover, he swallowed it so that the poor fellow had to cut it to release the hook. Apparently, this was one of the last snakeheads to inhabit the bay, since I had not caught anything else until evening. But in the end the fishing turned out to be very exciting and productive, and my love for Banny grew even more. It looks like this bait should catch both pikes and large perches in overgrown places; it is a pity, it is difficult for us to verify. A couple of subsequent fishing trips were devoted to the Syrdarya asp and pike perch, but after the rise and turbidity of the water, I had to switch back to the lakes. In the floodplain lakes of Syrdarya, there are very large asps, which begin to be caught closer to winter. I got to one of these lakes in the afternoon, hoping to recoup the bastard on the river. The view of the lake reassured me: in the clear water, I immediately saw a couple of Aral asp under two kilos, plying 15-20 m from the shore. Here and there splashes of large fish were heard.
After several casts, a decent chubby grabbed the medium-sized shaker, but quickly got off. One could see how some dark fish were chasing after the same shaker. I throw in the same place, I spin slowly, at the very bottom. A resilient blow – and now I am bringing the violently resisting fish to the shore. But this is not an asp, but a snakehead. I change the spoon for my favorite Banny, slowly carry it along the edge of the coastal reed wall – and I get two more snaps of 1.5 kilogram snakeheads, one of which, however, came off, huddled in the reeds. The capture of an autumn snakehead is a rare pleasant surprise. Thanks to the warm autumn, the clear lake, my beloved wobbler and the most fanged “snake” for the wonderful fishing that brought me back to last summer for a while.