Each river has its own character and characteristics. Many of them persist from year to year, but at the same time, the river is constantly renewing, the outlines of the banks change, the bottom relief changes, and the fish change their habits. On the Oka River, with its powerful current, this process can be traced very clearly. Every year I open the summer spinning season in well-known and familiar places, but every time it’s like on an unfamiliar river. Now the summer has already passed the middle and some preliminary results can be summed up.
Well, he doesn’t, that’s all!
At first glance, the river has hardly changed, at least if we talk about the Beloomut area. The same steep banks, steep edges, wide watering. However, as for the predator, I felt the changes on the very first fishing trips. The pike perch nibbled even more or less, but the pike refused to take at all. Sometimes I even had a suspicion that she was simply gone in the river. Even in those places where she came across from year to year, there were no bites.
Meanwhile, of all Oka fish, it is the pike that is of the greatest interest to me. Of course, we are not talking about squints, and not even about adults of 1.5-2 kilograms. It’s interesting to catch them, but I don’t see any point in hunting specifically for such a fish. A trophy pike weighing from 5 kilograms is another matter! Such “crocodiles” almost never come across by chance. We have to calculate the places of their camps, determine the time of going out to feed, pick up bait and wiring – in general, hunt in the full sense of the word. Of course, hardened pikes are not found on every fishing trip, but the struggle with each of them remains in the memory for many years. When you have been fishing in the same area for many years, a familiar route is developed – from one catching point to another. I must say that with all the diversity of the relief on the Oka, there are not so many places convenient for large pike.
Often the distance between them is several kilometers, so I prefer to move from one point to another by car, since the coast allows it. My usual route takes more than 10 kilometers and there are about a dozen checked points on it. Unlike fishing from a boat on large reservoirs, where you simply cannot do without a navigator, on the river everything is much simpler: every bush is familiar and it is simply impossible to make a mistake with the place of fishing. And nevertheless, this year I could not find a key to a large pike. Not only crocodiles refused to peck, but also ordinary predators. Of course, the fisherman will always find an explanation for the lack of bite, especially since this time there were reasons and quite real ones. For example, the water level on the river was constantly jumping. On one of the fishing trips, the water rose by 30 cm during the day – for a river like the Oka, this is a lot.
One way or another, it was necessary to invent something. Even in previous years, I noticed that most often a large pike stands under a steep drop-off and grabs the jig lure at the moment when the line falls on the edge, and the bait is still swaying below. It is difficult to fish in such conditions. The fishing line, or rather, the cord cuts into the clay edge, and contact with the bait disappears for some time. There are other problems as well. Colonies of shells are often present on the slopes, and the cord, after contact with them, quickly breaks down. In addition, it often happens that the bait firmly cuts into the edge, so you just have to tear the line. In general, if it were not for the chance to catch a mother fish, then it would not be worth fishing in such places, but pikes were most often taken there.
From classic to pole mounting
Trying to find a way to more conveniently catch steep edges, I decided to abandon the classics and go to leash mounts. I must say that it is widely believed among spinningists that any options for leash rigs for a large predator work poorly. Up to a kilogram, a maximum of two, they catch no worse than traditional rigs, but larger ones, from 3-4 kg, are better for catching fish on the classic with a Cheburashka. Perhaps this approach is generally legitimate, but in certain conditions there may be exceptions. In fact, it turned out that way. Having estimated the different options, I settled on the simplest installation: a piece of mono line with a diameter of 0.4-0.5 mm, a length of 40-50 cm, on it a sliding olive weighing 28 grams, at the ends of the winding rings. As it turned out, such a load is quite enough for fishing even in a strong current. I fastened a 40 cm long metal leash to one of the ends of the mono line and screwed the double to it tightly. The bait, which is usually a vibrotail, I put on one hook, the second presses it from the side.
As for the lures themselves, I realized long ago that the optimal size for the Oka predator is 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm). For some reason, even hardened pikes take worse on larger lures. Moreover, vibro-tails work much more efficiently than twisters. In terms of color, the choice is large: any light tones – yellow, lemon, olive, pearl, white. Of all the rubber variety we have today, I prefer Mann’s. They are very soft, play well, however, they do not live long – until the first bite of a large predator. The new rig also required special wiring. It makes no sense to make a sharp step when the bait is at least half a meter behind the load. In principle, in this situation, it is possible to do without stepped wiring at all, but in this way it is convenient to constantly monitor the bottom. I kept the step, but began to make it more protracted, with pauses after each cycle. The main moment is when the load stops hitting the bottom. This means that the line is on the edge. When the load rested on the curb, the bait, in contrast to the classic installation, continues to play, the current blows it and sways.
With the new editing, things went better for me. We began to come across pikes, but not yet large ones, somewhere under two kilograms. There were no special problems with them, although it is very difficult to take fish from a high steep cliff. Using a powerful spinning rod with a dough of up to 5 ounces, I would typically lift fish up to 2kg up just on the rod. But with the larger ones, this option did not work. The trophy had to be towed through the water to the point where you can go down to the water. But not always fish, and pike especially, agree to such a walk, and gatherings often happen. I have been trying for a long time to come up with a way to lift large fish on a high cliff. At first I wanted to make a landing net on a very long handle, but then I settled on a hook. The handle was made from an old 8-meter telescopic rod. The upper thin knees had to be removed, and the handle was 6 meters long. For a long time I could not decide on the hook until my friend brought an ordinary fish hook, but of a huge size. Once he was going to catch trophy catfish on the Lower Volga, but he never got ready to. Here is the catfish hook and it turned out to be very useful.
Bagorik turned out to be extremely comfortable. It allowed you to reach the fish from any cliff. And, most importantly, the fish was not afraid of him and behaved completely calmly – it was possible to gently put the hook under the lower jaw and lift the trophy, like in an elevator. Although with the new installation there have been more successful fishing trips, “crocodiles” have not been given to me for a long time. The first one was caught only in July. The pike weighing a little over 6 kilograms took not at all where I expected. It happened on a spit, where I caught burbot several times with a jig. The spit slopes gently about forty meters from the coast, but its side slopes are quite steep. It was at the drop-off, just twenty meters from the shore, and there was a bite. That time we were fishing together with a partner, and he, having gone down from the cliff, helped to take the fish. The second pike of the same size, caught a week later, I had to take alone with the help of my long hook. He survived, which I was very happy about.
If we sum up some of the results of the beginning of summer, then it is necessary to highlight several points. First, the predator – both pike perch and pike – reacted much better to mounting with a sliding lead and bait on a long leash than to the classic. Second: almost all fish, including large ones, were caught at a shallower depth than it was before. Last year, for example, bites most often occurred at depths of 4-5 m, this year – at 2-3 meters. Apparently, for some reason, the predator began to hunt not at the base of the heaps, but at the very top.
And the last thing: the biting time has changed. Usually large pike took from 10 am to 1 pm. In the evening I have not come across anything “trophy” for several years. In the same year, the situation changed: now the pike takes best after 4 pm. Interestingly, one regularity remained unchanged: a burst of predator activity begins at the moment when the boundary of the shadow from the coast reaches the level of the stall. When the shadow passes this zone, the biting stops – apparently, the predator scatters along the channel. One way or another, but summer is in full swing, “crocodiles” are still found in the Oka, so every spinner has a good chance to enjoy trophy fishing.