INSTEAD OF REFERENCE
One species of sabrefish, Pelecus cultratus, lives in Russian reservoirs. In general, it must be said that this fish is quite thermophilic and its number decreases from south to north. Although along the Volga, the sabrefish rises quite high in some years, entering large and medium tributaries. In addition, some of the Volga reservoirs are inhabited by a resident form of sabrefish. Unlike semi-anadromous, it does not perform extended pre-spawning migrations. Chekhon does not enter small rivers and floodplain lakes (ilmeni, eriki), preferring space – inland seas, vast reservoirs, flowing lakes and mainly large rivers, it avoids overgrown and silted areas.
If you look into the “bible” of the fisherman – the well-known work of L.P. Sabaneev, then in the chapter on sabrefish you can read the following: Oku to Kaluga, and a year to Orel, to Sviyaga, to Unzha, Vetluga, Kostroma, Sheksna to Beloozero, Mologa and even Tvertsa … ”Today, unfortunately, due to the total pollution of water bodies with toxic substances, this fish is found less and less , except perhaps the lower reaches of the Volga, where there is still an opportunity to hunt for it purposefully. I personally had a chance to catch sabrefish here in all fishing seasons, with the exception of winter.
Chekhon rarely weighs more than a kilogram. At the same time, it is an extremely fast-moving and not very shy fish. She has an elongated body, strongly compressed from the sides, resembling a short saber in shape and covered with a silvery shimmering blue scales. The side line is zigzag. On the abdomen from the throat there is a sharp keel, devoid of scales. The upper mouth allows you to easily capture food from the surface of the water. The dorsal fin is short, strongly pulled back to the tail. The pectoral fins are long, reaching the base of the pelvic fins. The usual body length is 30-40 cm, but specimens up to 60-70 cm are sometimes found.
Like most cyprinids, sabrefish feeds all year round, except for the spawning time, when its activity is mainly aimed at prolonging the genus. Its fry first feed on zooplankton, then on insect larvae, crustaceans, and also terrestrial insects, which are washed away by rain or blown off by the wind from coastal vegetation and steep banks.
In the third year of life, sabrefish becomes a predator, eating mainly juveniles of various fish and such small fish as bleak, verkhovka, bipod, tulka, smelt, etc. During the spawning period, it feeds poorly or completely ignores food. Most often, sabrefish is called a riding fish. I would not say this, because I know very well that at certain times of the year, schools of this fish feed both half-water and at the very bottom.
When sabotaging sabrefish, as, indeed, any other fish, it is important to know at what time in a given body of water its eggs pass. This will help you navigate the timing of fishing before and after spawning. Depending on the climatic zone, it usually spawns in May – June, at a water temperature of 15-20 ° C. With a sharp cold snap, the calf stretches up to two or more weeks. Active biting is observed during the pre-spawning run and a few days after spawning. They catch sabrefish in open water from early spring to late autumn. In the summer, it fattens mainly in the upper layers of the water, with a cold snap it goes to the depth. Winter fishing is practiced less frequently. Usually, 2-3 bloodworms or a small piece of worm are used as a nozzle, attached to the hook of a winter float rod. Not every fisherman has had a chance to catch a fabulous bite of a silvery beauty – sabrefish. But we all know how tasty this freshly cooked fish, dried or uncooked, is delicious, especially with beer.
Catching in spring
It was in early April on the Kharabalyk channel in the lower Volga. Early in the day, my friends rushed off in an UAZ to the Kalmyk steppe for reconnaissance, hoping to find ilmeni or eriks between the Volga and Akhtuba. I was given the role of a day in the camp. However, this coincided with my desire to finally get serious about catching sabrefish, the pre-spawning course of which is most pronounced at that time. At first I tried to fish with a deaf float tackle, having chosen a small reach with a depth of up to 3 m. But after only roach and roach were concentrated on the lured place, I switched to picker fishing. And I caught it already without bait, making casts closer to the opposite bank, where the main channel of the channel passed.
I reasoned something like this. There are no flying insects yet, larvae hatching from eggs and especially fry – too. Therefore, sabrefish should feed either at the very bottom, or slightly higher. My predictions were confirmed. Literally a couple of minutes after the throw, the tip of the picker first jerked briefly three times, and then a smooth pull followed. I cut and bring out the silvery sabrefish sparkling in the morning sun. Letting her go free as a token of gratitude, throwing in the tackle, having made a worm with a “stocking”, and again a bite. Chekhon took flawlessly for about an hour, then the biting suddenly stopped, since, probably, the time for the morning zhora was over.
In general, it must be said that many fishermen consider sabrefish to be a spring fish. Its behavior during this period primarily depends on the timing of spawning. On the Lower Volga, for example, already at the end of March dense flocks of semi-anadromous sabrefish rise upstream, to the places of their traditional spawning grounds. Usually in late April – early May spring floods begin, when numerous floodplain lakes are flooded with river water. After the flood recession and the water clearing in the rivers and canals, sabrefish is well caught with various tackles, including bottom ones, interspersed with roach, dopa, bream and other carp fish.
author: V.A. Kazantsev “Fishing in open water”