In search of asp
Finding asp in the summer is not a problem. It hunts at the very surface and demonstratively shows its presence with powerful blows of its tail. But this is in summer and autumn. In winter and spring, he usually does not show himself in anything. Only from the middle of spring it sometimes begins to appear at the surface, leaving circles, but you should not be guided only by them: melting bream often leaves similar traces. In this situation, it remains to rely only on knowledge of the reservoir, and in an unfamiliar place – on the features of the underwater relief.
In spring, asp can often be found in areas with a depth of up to four meters, where strong streams coexist with lulls or return flows. Although the asp likes to stand on the rapids, he still needs to rest in a calm place. As well as pike perch, asp loves areas with a dense bottom, rocky or clayey. In such areas, underwater ditches or ravines are often formed. Asp loves to stay close, along the edges of the ditch.
Good points are the exits from the pit to the roll, but you should look for asp only where there is a smooth rise of the bottom – it does not hold on to steep edges. The chub has a special love for the rifts themselves, but here it is better to look for it not on the rift, but in the areas above and immediately below. There are bites on the roll, but only where the depth is at least 1.5-2 meters and if there is a sufficiently deep hole nearby. From the point of view of fishing, the zone of backwater is very promising, where a smooth current turns into a rapids. This place is worth fishing for first.
It is quite difficult to deal with all the subtleties of the underwater relief, but the success of fishing largely depends on this. The easiest way to study the bottom is to use a boat and an echo sounder, but in the conditions of the Moskva River this is often difficult to do. We have to use the “manual method”, or rather, a jig. With its help, you can study the bottom topography in the desired area in sufficient detail in one or two trips. As a rule, our small company begins to develop a new asp place with the fact that everyone hangs up cheburashkas without baits and knocks the bottom, determining its density, the presence of underwater hillocks, dumps, snags. At first glance, this is a waste of time and effort, but over the years we have become convinced that without this we can only count on random success.
Features of spring fishing
This spring the asp brought us another surprise: the traditionally daytime predator switched to twilight feeding. The bite of the day for all our last fishing trips happened only sporadically. This behavior began to manifest itself even in winter, when less than a quarter of all asps caught by us fell on daylight, the rest at dusk. There were separate outbreaks of diurnal fever in winter, and they happen now, but they are too short-lived to count on them.
On March fishing trips, most often the morning bite began long before dawn, somewhere from 4: 30-5: 00 in the morning and lasted until 8 o’clock. Evening – approximately from 16 to 22-23 hours. It turned out, in fact, night fishing with all the relevant features. The main one is that at dusk the fry moves to the very shore, and the asp is pulled up behind it. Under these conditions, the use of traditional asp lures – castmasters, jigs and the like – is irrational, and a wobbler becomes the most effective bait. In the dark, the asp approaches the shore for a short distance, so a casting range of 25-30 meters is quite enough.
Unlike traditional long-range lures, it is not possible to successfully fish with a wobbler in all places. Ideally, find the point where the rebound jet is offshore. Here you can make a close, but accurate casting and release the wobbler for a considerable distance. But there are few such places on the Moskva River. There are more of them, for example, on the Oka, which is famous for its braids stretching from the coast almost to the middle of the channel. On the Moskva River, I know of only a few places where you can walk almost to the middle by low water. But they are well known to anglers and are constantly busy. It is difficult to fish there even on weekdays, and on weekends a real queue forms. Such fishing is of no interest to us.
Another thing is the places where small rivers flow into the Moskva River. Here flocks of fry flock together, and asp is pulled up to them. However, the performance of such points largely depends on the weather. There were periods in March when, after rains, the water in the tributaries became cloudy, which immediately affected catches. Asp does not like muddy water and immediately leaves such places, and returns only after the water is enlightened.
Tackle and bait
There are many publications devoted to asp tackle, so I will dwell on this issue very briefly. The main requirements for the tackle are ease of use and reliability. When choosing, it is always worth remembering that, on the one hand, you will have to wave the stick all day, and on the other hand, that after the chub, a kilogram of fish can be caught even by 7-8 kg. It is worth dwelling on the baits in more detail. When fishing for asp at any time, including in the spring, you may need a variety of baits. This is one of the features of his catching. Of course, it makes no sense to carry your entire arsenal to the river, but a certain assortment should still be constant. The main thing in the bait is the size, which should approximately coincide with the size of the fry that the asp is currently hunting.
If we talk about spinners, say about heavy spinners, then it is better to use models with a white matte petal or brass, but polished. A dark copper spring is rarely successful. If maximum casting is required, spinners such as castmaster are used, white or brass – there is nothing new here. In spring fishing, there are several features associated with lures. As we have seen more than once, it is useless to put any streamers or wabiks in front of the main bait in the spring. Not only will there be no bites on them, but it will be worse to take on the main one. The second feature is that when fishing at dusk at a short distance, light turntables completely lose to wobblers. This is rather strange, since in summer it is usually the other way around.
Of wobblers, it is better to use a minnow with a depth of up to one and a half meters. The size is limited to 110 mm – it avoids larger chubs, regardless of its own size. It is advisable to use models with a relatively small amplitude of play. Such wobblers often attract not only asp, but also pike perch, which hunts in the same places at dusk. As for the models, it is very difficult to single out any specific ones. The choice depends a lot on the personal tastes of the angler. Suitable models are in the lines of almost all leading manufacturers: Smith, Zip Baits, Megabass, Rapala. No less important than the game is the color of the wobbler. If in the summer it is quite real to catch asp for a bright bait, then in winter and spring, of course, preference should be given to natural colors.
The season also affects the animation technique of the bait. Many spinning anglers are of the opinion that the asp takes the best with fast retrieving. In summer it sometimes happens, but in spring it often happens the other way around. Depending on the specific conditions, the speed of the bait can vary, and you have to constantly pick it up, but the bait that goes at high speed will never take the asp. It is a little easier with wobblers: most often the asp takes on the slowest even wiring. You shouldn’t use any jerks or other tweaking options. This pattern is not entirely clear, especially since most of the wobblers we use are designed specifically for twitching.
Both for asp and for spinning divers in late March – early April, the hottest season begins. The males caught in March already have rough scales, which indicates a readiness for procreation. Females have swollen bellies from the eggs. It is difficult to say how mature it is, since we immediately release all the caught fish back. This year, in March, my fishing friends managed to note the capture of specimens of 5 and 6 kg, I still have the largest asp for four and a half. But there is still a little time before the spring ban, and since the activity of the asp is growing, there is a chance to catch something more worthy. This is quite realistic, given that in the Moscow River in past years we came across specimens up to 10 kg.