Most fishermen who come to Akhtuba in the summer or in the fall know about the midge only by hearsay and have a poor idea of what it is. I must say that my opinion about this scourge for a long time remained somewhat abstract. This is partly why I agreed to go to Akhtuba in the midst of the flight of midges. Not that I really wanted to feed these insects with my blood. It just seemed very tempting to catch zander during its zhor.
As soon as an active discharge of water begins at the Volga HPP, and this usually happens at the very end of May, the water level below the dam rises sharply. In the region of central Akhtuba, for example, it rises by an average of 5-6 meters. Large water, as a rule, holds until mid-June, and then the discharge is reduced, and the level gradually decreases. At maximum rise, vast areas of land between the Volga and Akhtuba channels are almost completely covered by water, and a mass of fish rushes in to lay eggs. Then, with a decrease in the level, this year’s fish and fry slide back into the channels, from them to large and small Erika, and from there to the rivers.
The process of migration of huge schools of fish to the steppe for spawning and back is repeated from year to year, and, of course, predators have already developed a certain reflex: with the beginning of the level drop, it gathers at those points where water from the steppe goes into the channels, which are enough in early summer full-flowing, 1.5-2 meters deep. Malek, in huge swarms, moves along the channels to the Eriks, where predators await him, first of all, pike perch, pike and sabrefish. The latter is also not averse to feasting on fry-yearlings. Flocks of pike perch, and even pike, are divided: the most “smart”, or hungry, do not wait for prey to be in Africa, but rise directly into the ducts. Most often, they stay at a distance of 30-50 meters from the mouth and intercept swarms of fry, so to speak, on the way to the big water. The rest are waiting for the fry in eriks at the mouths of the duct. Different conditions affect the time of hunting. If the zander, which entered the ducts, hunts all day, and most likely – at night, then in Erika he goes to feed early in the morning and in the evening.
The most effective fishing happens in the channels themselves, however, for this you need to have a good command of spinning. Casts must be very accurate. The width of the duct is small, the depth is also around the bushes, so any unsuccessful casting causes a lot of problems. It should be borne in mind that, despite the hunting excitement, zander at this time is very careful and even shy. One loud sound, say, an oar strike on a boat – and the bite stops for at least an hour. If everything is calm, bites begin almost immediately. Most often they occur at the moment the bait falls on the water. The pike perch takes very sharply, with a strong blow. Casting is usually done upstream, so the pikeperch hits the bait towards the opposite – the pleasure of such fishing is difficult to convey.
As for catching pike perch, standing in Erica, here the best option was to throw the bait directly into the channel, at least 5-10 meters. There were usually bites at the moment when the bait was leaving the duct in Eric. The predator just stands in wait and waits for the prey to bring under his nose. Although it seems that the entire surrounding zander was going to feast on the fry, we did not come across trophy specimens. Most often, pike perch went in size from a kilogram to three. True, we found a deep brow in Erika, where the echo sounder showed a large accumulation of large fish. Perhaps the largest zander were there, but we were not able to force them to peck.
With all the abundance and activity of zander, effective fishing was not always obtained, but it was not a matter of fish at all. There are few fishermen at this time, but there are also convenient fishing spots. Therefore, each one usually gathered several boats, and as soon as someone thundered the oar, the nibble stopped for a long time at all. In order not to waste time in vain, at such moments we switched to catching sabrefish. As a rule, she stood in huge flocks a few tens of meters from the mouth of the canal. Chekhon also loves fry very much, but, in turn, is an object of hunting for both large pike perch and catfish. When we sailed before dawn, we saw how these owners of the river hunt.
As for the lures, the pike perch at this time was not too capricious and took well both on twisters and vibro-tails. The only condition is that they must be in bright colors: white, pearlescent, lemon. On the dark bite was significantly less. Weight loaded at shallow depth and strong current ranged from 8-12 grams. Although the pike pecked regularly, most caught without leashes, counting on zander.
The mosquito and mosquitoes were an integral attribute of every fishing. Around the fishermen not even flocks gathered, but whole clouds of insects. They appeared on a certain schedule. In the early morning, an hour before dawn, a mosquito hosted – a good, large one, but mosquito nets and repellents helped a lot from it. This time was the most pleasant for fishing. Having densely processed hands and putting on a mosquito net, one could catch for pleasure. But not for long. Somewhere an hour after the mosquito, even before sunrise, a midge appeared. It is known that she is able to climb into any crack in clothes. In just a couple of hours, fishing under clothes and a mosquito net is more than a dozen of these tormentors. They crawl over the body, climb under the glasses, behind the ears, in the hair, but at this time they do not bite.
The main “pleasure” begins when the sun warms up more. By 11 o’clock, when the air temperature goes over 30 degrees, especially if there is no wind, you become wet with sweat, and this leads the midge to frenzy. Catching becomes unbearable, it remains to roll up and go to the base. At about four o’clock we went fishing again and again surrendered to the power of midges. Her attacks were weakened just before sunset, but a mosquito almost immediately did not take her place.
We spent four days on Akhtuba in the midst of a midge, and now we have a good idea of what it is. And yet, no matter how the vile rages, the bite of pike perch in the ducts and eriks still outweighs. So much so that on the way to Moscow we already made plans for next year.