Sapsho is the largest lake in the territory of the Smolensk Lakeland National Park and one of the most beautiful in all of Central Russia. “Baikal in miniature” was the name of the great traveler Nikolai Przhevalsky, who named the village in the north-eastern part of the lake, located on a high bank covered with pine forest. In addition to beauty, the lake has long been famous for its pikes and large bream. True, this fame has recently faded somewhat, but there are still a lot of fish here, as I was convinced last fall, successfully catching a large pike on Jerky. This is how a person works: once having visited an interesting place, he seeks to be there again. Therefore, when in August the question arose of where to go as a family, the choice was unequivocal – on Sapsho.
I go down the path from a rather steep sandy slope and go to the boat station. The tariff there is quite high – one hundred rubles per hour. Since I was going to swim with an echo sounder all over the lake, I decided to try to rent a boat from the local population, and I succeeded. The first day is training. The task is to go with an echo sounder through the water area, see what depths prevail and where the fish stands. At the same time, at least briefly get acquainted with the topography of the bottom. Mormysh competitions are often held on this pond in winter, so such information will not hurt, and it’s also very useful to hammer in the navigator the coordinates of dumps, underwater umbilicas and other promising places. We arrived for a week, so I could afford to devote the whole day to studying the reservoir.
Sapsho is a lake of glacial origin with a length of about three kilometers, quite deep, up to 18 m, and with a completely unpredictable bottom topography: it’s the same ten meters from an island to the bottom, then a long bank stretches almost to the very middle of the lake. I find shallows and dumps near the nearest island by echo sounder. There are a lot of fish. It stands mostly two meters from the bottom, but its size is not at all impressive. On the first dump from 4 to 7 m I find a large accumulation of bream. I go around trying to find the silhouette of a pike, but in vain.
On oars – this is not on a motor, the use of which, by the way, is prohibited on Sapsho. Still, I decide to go around the lake. It’s worth it: there is a beautiful landscape around with hilly, like shaggy hedgehogs, islands densely covered with pine. Just in case, I dismiss the track with a two-meter Yo-Zuri. Holidays – 50 meters. After catching zander under oars in the open spaces of the Yauz reservoir with its rather high wave, Sapsho seems to be just a paradise windless corner. In general, the impressions of the first day were wonderful, the only thing that puzzled me was that there wasn’t a bite for the whole day. In the evening I’m thinking over a plan for catching a predator – pike, if you’re lucky, or, at worst, perch. The main thing is not to let the fishing reputation fall in the eyes of my soulmate, who is persistently claiming a place in the boat.
The next morning I am sailing off the coast and heading to the thickets of aquatic vegetation to check whether there is a predator in the grass itself and along its border. There are many wobblers in the box, mostly surface mines. However, in an unfamiliar pond and spinners should not be neglected. So I decided before leaving and took with me a rather weighty box with baubles, although the backpack was already packed to the limit. When traveling, it’s always like this: pick up a bunch of gear, and catch only a dozen wobblers. Each fisherman has such a weakness, although he himself may laugh at others. Tackle the fisherman like gas – fill all the free space, that is in a vest, that is in a backpack: maybe this will come in handy, or maybe that.
Last fall, Pike took quite active on Sapsho, so it was not difficult to find it along the thickets of pests and coogs. But the summer made its own adjustments: in the heat and calmness, the pike did not take on wobblers and swings, nor on frogs that can be led directly along the surface of the grass. For the whole day there was only one sluggish way out, and even then it was clear that the pike was quite medium-sized. Popper provoked several perches, but they reluctantly accompanied the bait to the boat, and then disappeared into the depths.
Tired of sitting on a jar, I light a cigarette and look at the mirror surface of the water: not a breeze. Fish rarely splashes and is small – apparently, fry or bleak, which, as it turned out, is clearly abundant in the lake. In one place, 80 meters away from me, bursts occur quite often, but after a moment I understand that this is a predator hunting! The anchor instantly appears in the boat, and my plastic bowl breaks. As I recall from the echo sounder, in this place the depth is about 10 m. Is the fry kept above this depth?
I carefully approach the casting distance and put a turntable – a six-gram Niakis with a white petal. The first cast brings a thick bass. I relaxed a bit, only having caught a few dozen perches, when the usual confidence in success came. Striped with enviable constancy attacked the pinwheel, but the size of the fish left much to be desired. I try to tweet with microcovers. The bites continue, the favorite is the Rigge 35F gray. The only negative of this wobbler is that the perch often takes it deeply. I don’t want to tinker with pulling out the bait, but the size of the fish slightly increases, and 300-400 g specimens appear in the catch.
For four days spent on the lake, a complete picture of the activity of the fish develops. The abundance of fry dictates its own rules, and in the following days we caught only on small baits. The pike took a small one, up to a kilogram, mainly in the channels between the islands, where the depth, as a rule, did not exceed 4 m. Most often, the pike came across the edge of a narrow strip of grass. There is a lot of bream in the lake, and, feeding on 5-7 m, it was quite possible to count on a good bite of the forest bream up to 500-700 g. However, with such fishing you have to be on your guard: there are a lot of bream in the lake, and 1.5-2 kg each, which also loves bait. Passing with an echo sounder through a pond, I have often come across flocks of a large bream, which, however, stood half a meter from the bottom. Local fishermen lower it to the bottom with bait and catch it on the donks. In a well-bred place, three-kilogram bream and even larger ones were found in catches.
Unfortunately, the heat made the predator passive. As a result, we managed to catch only a dozen pikes up to one and a half kilograms and a lot of perch weighing from 100 to 600 g. The best results were shown by white Mepps 00 spinners. Posting in the surface water layer was the most efficient. As soon as the chipmunk appeared, an immediate bite of the perch followed. Small wobblers also worked well, while Jerky calmly slept in the boxes. Perch and medium-sized pikes with enviable constancy supplied us with a scythe, stretching to the middle of the reservoir.
However, there was a large pike in the lake, and it seemed that in a considerable amount. This was evidenced by several exits of very worthy specimens and a pair of baits cut along with leashes. But all my attempts to get a trophy specimen did not lead to anything, and just before I left I managed to pull out a pretty decent pike weighing about 4 kg.
I devoted the last day of fishing to the jig, however, especially and not hoping for success, since before that all the fish had been caught at the surface. On the other hand, I could not leave the reservoir abounding in deep piles without checking them with a jig. Pike picked up a three-inch white twister at the very base of the dump, leaving for 12 m. Since we had to leave, we let go of all the fish caught on the last day. Therefore, it took 10 minutes to raise the pike from great depths, otherwise it might not survive after a quick rise. While fighting, I experienced a strange feeling: I did not care at all whether I would pull her out or she would get off. The main thing – I was able to find and catch a decent pike. The hooks hooked shallowly, and I was able to free the fish right in the net.
The time for large pikes will come in the fall, and I will return to the shores of this amazing lake, which has taken a firm place in my schedule for autumn fishing trips.
author Alexander FROLOV