It reaches sexual maturity in the fifth or sixth year of life with a weight of 400-500 g and a length of 30-35 cm. Spawning grounds (gardens) are usually located in areas with a fast current and clean water. Spring spawning. Lenka is caught from the bottom, half-water and above. Known to most European fishermen only by hearsay, this handsome salmon commands respect not only for its grace, but also for its fighting “character”. The minutes of fighting him are remembered for a long time. Lenok is always a prestigious trophy. It is no coincidence that in the catches of fishermen in Siberia and the Far East, this fish as a trophy takes the second place after taimen.
However, traditionally little attention is paid to the practice of fishing lenok in Russian literature. Usually we are talking either about fishing with a spinning rod (2-3 oscillating spoons of the time of F. Kunilov and 3-4 spinners are mentioned), or about a rare, but very exotic way of fishing with an artificial mouse. At the same time, the feeding range of this freshwater salmon is quite wide, which in turn determines the choice of tackle and baits. In particular, a separate conversation, in my opinion, deserves a way of catching the so-called running donkey, which I will discuss below.
In my small homeland, in Transbaikalia, lenok is as common a fish as chub or asp in the waters of the European part of the country. On open water, except in the middle of summer, when hot weather sets in, it takes greedily and is quite accessible even for beginner anglers. By the end of August, small and medium lenoks begin to slide from small mountain rivers into larger ones, or rather, to areas in their lower reaches, where there are deep pits for wintering. The peak of the stroke, according to my data, falls at the height of leaf fall, when lenoks weighing 2-3 kg and more begin to appear in the catches. They slide down, as a rule, alone or in pairs, while smaller specimens flock into flocks by age (10-20 individuals).
During this period and up to freezing-over, lenoks actively feed; bites occur both on the shoals and at depth. In well-known places, I have repeatedly come across a situation when lenoks appeared there completely unexpectedly. Their concentration was observed for several days, and then they also suddenly disappeared. I took 5-6 handsome salmon and wait for the arrival of new “guest performers”. I must say that in the height of summer, when hordes of insects pester you, fishing on the taiga rivers is like torture. Another thing is the golden time of leaf fall. At this time, the lenok, preparing for wintering, takes on artificial and natural baits especially recklessly and confidently.
Closer to freeze-up, lenoks living in taiga rivers are concentrated in the deepest places with a good oxygen regime. Taking into account the fact that many Siberian water bodies today are not distinguished by their ecological well-being, we can only talk about the autumn slope of the lenok only conditionally. That is, I want to say that if in the upper reaches of the river there are acceptable conditions for him to successfully winter, he will not go anywhere from here, especially in the lower reaches, poisoned by industrial and domestic wastewater. The fact is that this freshwater salmon is a big lover of clean water. In addition, many isolated lake populations live in the high-mountain lakes of Siberia and the Far East. So, if you are going to hunt for lenok in September – October, there is only one reference point – the purity of the reservoir and the ability for this fish to survive the harsh frosty winter. Catching lenok at the time of leaf fall also attracts the fact that you get great pleasure from communicating with almost pristine nature, when on a quiet early morning you can hear the leaves coming off the branches and slowly whirling, falling into transparent streams.
author V.A. Kazantsev
Open Water Fishing (Complete Fishing Guide)