Zander belongs to the perch family. Until a certain age, it leads a gregarious lifestyle. Large individuals keep alone and reach a length of up to 1 m. A record weight of a pike perch of 20 kg has been recorded. It reaches sexual maturity by the age of five. Spawns at a water temperature of 15-20 ° C. It prefers large and medium-sized rivers (it practically does not enter small ones), as well as flowing lakes with a hard bottom and vast reservoirs of the Volga type. During the day it stays in the depths, as a rule, on a drop into the main channel, at dusk it behaves more actively: it comes closer to the coast, it can hunt in the upper layers of the water. Twilight is the best time to catch it. The nibble is not stable at night and largely depends on the season, weather and other conditions. The stubborn resistance of large pike perch when playing, as well as its gastronomic advantages make this fish one of the most prestigious trophies for spinning.
On that April morning, I was chasing asps, which, according to the law of meanness, hunted on the opposite bank of the Kharabalyk River. With a fairly strong crosswind, my oscillator did not always splash down in the right place, and then, slowly rotating the handle of the spinning reel, I drove the bait downstream or across it in the hope of a blind blow. Empty. After the next cast, at the risk of breaking the lure, I make a stepped drive at the bottom and during one of the short pauses I feel a light blow through the rod. Hoping for an asp, I was ready for an immediate strike; hooked quite sharply and felt the weight at the end of the line. After several minutes of struggle, I had … a pike perch under three kilograms in my hands. Without thinking twice, I replaced the spinner with a jig (yellow twister). And before noon I caught a couple of wonderful pike perch.
But it was fishing in the lower reaches of the Volga, where in April it is already quite warm. In central Russia and closer to the northern regions, from year to year, early spring pike perch fishing does not differ in particularly comfortable conditions. Its main feature is that you need to guess clearly over time. You can be sure that the pike perch will take, but you do not know exactly when. And if you find yourself on a bad day, when it is raining, then snowing, and even with the wind, this, of course, is not the best option. And, nevertheless, it is in early spring that fishing for zander is extremely exciting and effective.
As you may have guessed, when fishing for zander in early spring, first of all, you need to know the timing of spawning of zander in the reservoirs that you intend to visit with a spinning rod. If in the Astrakhan region it is, as a rule, the middle – the end of April, then in the northern regions of the European part of Russia the spawning time can shift up to a month or more. In spring, pike perch can be found more often in areas with a gravel or rocky bottom, where their spawning grounds are usually located. Spawning areas where pike perch flock, as a rule, are distinguished by clean, fast-flowing water with an average depth of 0.3 to 1.5 m. And these are usually the outlets of small rivers and the mouths of spring streams. Spring pike perch go upstream either to a certain place convenient for spawning, or until they run into obstacles such as a dam, dam or completely shallow areas. Experienced goose-goers explore just such places in the spring.
Depending on early or late spring, the spawning dates for pike perch may not coincide. Its pre-spawning course begins, as a rule, soon after the ice has melted – on reservoirs and rivers at a water temperature of 5 to 8 ° C. A few weeks before spawning, pike perch flock into flocks, and fishing can be amazingly successful. However, depending on the geographic location of the region, the local fishing ban terms must be respected. In the Moscow region, for example, it is usually installed from April 10 to June 10. If you manage to get to the river in the midst of a zander spawning run, you can probably do a lot of spinning near shoals, below dams, dams and other obstacles. It often happens that already in the pre-spawning period, some pike perch, mostly small males, concentrate near dams and shoals. As for the larger individuals, the bulk of them prefer to stay close to the spawning grounds at this time. During this period, I recommend exploring such promising places as deep holes below the rifts; backwaters bordering the main stream; areas below the headlands; mouths of tributaries.
On the shallows and reaches of rather large tributaries, you can fish both from a boat and from the shore, depending on availability and convenience. On small rivers, where it is easy to move along the coast, it is preferable to fish for calm deep holes below the rifts and shoals. When wading, good quality waders and warm, waterproof clothing can make fishing more comfortable. The only drawback of this type of fishing is the frequent loss of baits when catching on rocks and bottom debris. Therefore, the stock of jig lures should be as large as possible. In especially “strong” places, the angler is rescued by non-hooks, as well as rigging with a Tyrolean stick.
One of the most important factors in successfully catching zander in early spring is to bait as slowly as possible. The colder the water, the slower your tackle handling should be. If the current is quiet enough, you can simply float with a wobbler, spoon or jig behind the boat. The choice of lures for fishing zander in spring is not as wide as in summer. This is explained by the fact that the abdominal cavity of the fish is filled with caviar and milk. Therefore, I would recommend, first of all, the use of soft baits (twisters, vibro-tails, foam fish), the size of which does not exceed 6-7 cm.The color of the bait depends mainly on the type of food fish that pikeperch feeds on in this reservoir, and is selected empirically … If zander ignores artificial lures, try tandem fishing.
author V.A. Kazantsev
Open Water Fishing (Complete Fishing Guide)