If in closed reservoirs with stagnant water, dying vegetation in winter leads to a sharp decrease in the oxygen content, then in rivers underwater thickets are more an advantage than a disadvantage. Exceptions are shallow bays with a muddy bottom and oxbow lakes, which are separated from the river with an increase in ice thickness. In such places, fish can be caught for a maximum of a week or two after freeze-up. Then its activity decreases sharply. And if there is an opportunity to move to more comfortable areas, the fish amicably leave the “dead zones”. Another thing is the coastal strip of the river with a weak current, densely overgrown with algae. There are many hiding places, an abundance of various food for non-predatory fish, which, in turn, attracts predators.
In small rivers, the best fishing spots are pits. In medium and large rivers, the fish prefers in the winter period sandy-rocky dumps in depth, underwater heights, around which the depth is 5-7 meters or more. Various species of fish willingly keep on warm water, where canals with waste water from hydroelectric power stations flow into the river. And of course, one should not forget that good fishing happens below rifts, rapids, dams and locks. Here the fish is kept from the beginning of freeze-up and until the ice breaks up. In general, I must say that river fishing is especially win-win during the dry winter period. However, with the onset of warm spring days, it becomes dangerous for a fisherman to move on river ice due to numerous gullies. Therefore, on rivers, sometimes already in mid-March, fishing should be stopped and visited reservoirs where the ice is still strong enough.
Any reservoir as an artificial reservoir has its own characteristics. The living conditions of fish in it largely depend on the regulation of the water level, the drop of which in certain periods, especially before the spring flood, can reach 2-3 meters or more. The creation of reservoirs, of course, has a lot of negative consequences for river ecosystems. Today, even to an uninitiated person it is clear that blocking rivers with concrete dams and dams turns water bodies into a kind of sedimentation tanks. All kinds of harmful substances accumulate at the bottom of the reservoirs, which have a detrimental effect on all living things. To cleanse such reservoirs, volley discharges of water are practiced. What does this lead to? The food base for non-predatory fish, as is known, is located mainly in the surface layer of silt. After a salvo discharge, harmful substances only move from place to place, while the food supply is crushed, carried away by a strong current, and in some areas is simply destroyed.
In such a situation, many fish may fall into a state of depression and do not eat at all or change their traditional sites, depending on the presence or absence of food. The roach, for example, which prefers depths of up to five meters, is now deprived of them and is forced to adapt to the changed environment. Flocks of bream and silver bream leave for deep-water edges or parts of the reservoir, as a rule, in September-October. And while the oxygen regime remains favorable, these fish change their sites, located at different depths (starting from about five meters), only as the food supply becomes scarce. This behavior applies not only to white fish, but also to such predators as perch, pike perch, pike, burbot.
The first ice catches the fish where it was actively feeding at that time, and there is no pattern here. The fisherman should be aware that the autumn zhor of the same bream begins in September-October and by the time the ice forms, if the frosts are late, it can gradually disappear. This is not such a rare situation for the reservoirs of the Moscow Region. As a result, on the first ice, the bite can be sluggish, and sometimes the fish does not take it at all. In reservoirs that are part of the water supply system of large cities, in particular Moscow, the location of various fish primarily depends on the autumn discharge of water. If the water is discharged gradually and the discharge level does not reach the critical level (3-4 m), then this process does not affect the behavior and location of the fish. But if there is a sharp drop (when the water level drops by several meters in a short period of time), the fish stops feeding for a long time. In other years, such a discharge is observed, for example, in almost all reservoirs in the Moscow region.
After the formation of ice, the consequences of the autumn discharge of water are still very strong – the food supply is literally scattered over the reservoir in separate islands. And in many places familiar to fish and fishermen, there is no food for the only reason – it was simply washed away. In other, seemingly unremarkable places, the fish begins to hold on constantly. The salvo discharge vaguely resembles the spring flood in rivers, from the consequences of which the fish cannot recover for a long time. The soil is most strongly displaced along the channel and adjacent areas. Why “along the channel”? Because the main movement of water masses occurs here (by the way, on the channel, the flow or movement of water is observed almost constantly). The easiest way to find areas with a newly formed food base is based on the location of the flooded river bed. After each powerful discharge in the reservoirs, the following picture is observed:
• in places where the channel runs parallel to the bank or the current and practically no artificial or natural barriers are created for the movement of water, the soil layer is always demolished to the adjacent gently sloping area, or, as it is often called, the pre-channel “table”;
• most of the washed off sludge remains in the channel if it makes a sharp bend and is located perpendicular to the flow;
• when the channel turns, a significant part of the silt also remains in the area located behind it in the direction of the current;
• Least of all the soil is washed out of the pits located behind the islands or artificial shelters that impede the flow;
• The food supply is well preserved in bays remote from the channel and in deep parts of the reservoir surrounded by snags.
Over the years, I have almost thoroughly studied the Ruza reservoir near Moscow and have repeatedly observed the negative impact of volley discharges on the ichthyofauna of this reservoir. For example, in 1999 on the first ice the search for fish here was reduced to the search for promising places with a good food base. Beginning winter fishermen, I can advise before the first fishing trip from the ice to take a detailed map of this reservoir and, focusing on the diagrams, look for places where schools of fish may be at the moment. I am sure that the result will be guaranteed by sixty percent. The remaining 40% depends on professional knowledge of the reservoir and luck. Naturally, there is also a general rule for searching for promising places after water discharge. On the first ice, the fish will always stay where the width of the reservoir is maximal. In some narrow places, the food supply can be completely destroyed and is able to recover only by spring.
We also note that in the process of filling the bed of many such reservoirs (in Soviet times this was usually done in a hurry, by holidays), villages, forests, stumps, twists, shrubs, all kinds of coastal debris, etc., often went under the water. usually there are still water bays. An exception is the bays into which streams flow. Fishing in areas where there is no current is rarely good in winter, since all the fish try to stay close to the fresh stream that brings life-giving oxygen to the underwater inhabitants. Proceeding from this, in the reservoirs, one should look for fish sites on the dumps of the main river bed, as well as along the edges of flooded banks in the lower reaches of dammed tributaries. Well, of course, you need to take into account the strength of the current, which depends solely on whether the sluices are open or not.
The behavior of fish living in regulated water bodies is in the overwhelming majority of cases stereotyped. It is most active after freeze-up, as a rule, on the first and last ice. But the situation is somewhat different in the reservoirs that are part of the water supply system of large cities. There are pumping stations along the banks that regularly take water. In such reservoirs, the oxygen regime remains favorable throughout the winter season.
As for the search for sites of this or that fish, in this regard, everything is not so simple. The ability to navigate vast reservoirs is achieved by exceptionally extensive fishing practice.
author – Kazantsev V. – Catching from the ice. All Secrets of Ice Fishing (Complete Fishing Guide)