Most anglers on the first ice, armed with a fishing rod with a small jig, go fishing for roach or perch. The fish is active, the ice is thin, it is easy to drill, and most importantly, it is not at all necessary to go far from the coast, where the ice is still unreliable.
I can’t say that my friends and I don’t like this kind of fishing, but catching pike or pike perch is still more interesting, especially since the entire predator during the first ice period is also very active.
During this short period, fishing with girders is much more effective than even spinning in the fall, at least in reservoirs. There are several reasons for this. The fact is that with a spinning rod, even from a boat, you can fish only a small section of the bottom, and it is not at all necessary that you will be in the right place at the right time.
With the zherlitsy everything is different. Tackles are placed depending on the bottom relief, at the best points, as a result, in the first few hours, you can determine whether you have guessed right with the place. Each predator has its own routes along which it moves when hunting. As a rule, they are associated with a specific depth and are tied to channel edges. So if you choose the right location for the girders, then the chances of a good catch increase noticeably.
The second reason is that, before winter, the predator from small rivers flowing into reservoirs, slides into large water and takes places on the estuaries, at the underwater edges of the flooded part of these rivers. A significant part of the predator from the coastal zone departs there, so that its concentration in certain places is now much higher than at other times.
Considering all this, my friends and I went to the Uglich reservoir, in the area of the confluence of the Volnushka river. We caught a good predator there in late autumn with a jig and had a good idea of where to look for it now. These places are also attractive by the fact that the fishing pressure here is still not too great, and you can safely look for promising points, moreover, there are no problems with places at fishing bases either.
The only thing that caused concern was the state of the ice. As it turned out on the spot, its thickness varied from 2–3 to 10 cm. This difference was caused by the fact that there were cracks along the ice field through which water protruded.
And since there was a small, 3-5 degrees, frost, she immediately froze. Here the ice thickness reached 10 cm and it was possible to walk boldly, and in the areas covered with snow, you had to move very carefully, constantly checking the ice in front of you with an ice pick and keeping a rope with a weight and a lifeguard ready.
Many fishermen believe that pike should be looked for near the coast, at a depth of 2-3 meters in the first ice. But, based on past experience, we knew that its concentration in the coastal zone is low, so we immediately went in search of the flooded channel. The Volnushka bed is very winding, and we had to drill more than a dozen holes before finding a suitable site.
A curb at a depth of 4 m and a drop off at 6–7 meters (see figure). This was the best option. Depending on the pressure, the predator can change the hunting horizon, but still does not go far from the channel boundaries. As a rule, pike perch prefers to hunt at the bottom of the dump or in the channel itself, the pike often keeps at the edge of the edge, sometimes sinks to the bottom of the dump or goes out for watering.
Therefore, when placing the vents, we tried to place them both along the base of the stump and along the edge.
It should be noted that, depending on where the zherlitsa stood, the live bait dropped to a different distance from the bottom. On the edge it was raised by 10-15 cm, and at the base of the dump – by 30-40 cm, so that it was clearly visible from the bottom. Upstairs, on the edge, it was unnecessary.
It’s easy to set the depth accurately. When the lead touches the bottom, do a few turns of the reel in the opposite direction. Knowing the length of one turn and the size of the leash, you can set the distance to within a few centimeters.
A few words about the zherlitsa. Of all the designs, we prefer homemade, duralumin, on three legs. The main line is 0.4 mm, the leash is 40 cm long, also made of monofilament, with a diameter of 0.35 mm. Many people use a metal lead, or a double mono lead. We have a double leash only for a third of its length. To do this, a 15 cm long loop is knitted on the line of the leash, at the bottom point of which the double is tied.
The sinker is an ordinary sliding olive weighing 6–8 g. There is practically no current here, so more is not required. Double hook No. 2. We pierce live bait with one hook under the fin so that the sting is directed back. In this case, the hook, when biting, is pressed by the tips to the body of the live bait and does not prevent the pike from swallowing it from the head, but when trying to spit out the bait, both hooks cling to the mouth.
Fishing technique and tactics
From the very beginning, we sent one of us to catch live bait near the shore, and the rest went to look for places for gnats. While the channel was found, our friend at a depth of about a meter managed to catch a couple of dozen perches weighing 30-40 g. Perch, of course, is not the best option, but there were no roach or minnows. Best of all for the perch worked a small white jig with the addition of one bloodworm. He took the perch actively, so in an hour we already had the necessary supply of live bait.
We chose a good place for fishing, and by 9 am all the girders were charged, but the first bite occurred only at about 1 pm. It turned out to be a kilogram pike that took it from the riverbed. Then other bites followed, but the bite ended quickly; in an hour and a half there were 5 flags, which brought us two more small pikes.
The start was not very good, but we didn’t want to change the place. After spending the night at the fishing base, in the morning we were again on the ice. We left the charged zippers for the whole night, but did not see a single flag in the morning.
On the second day, the first bite occurred at 11 o’clock. The only zherlitsa worked, which was not on the dump, but on watering at a depth of 4 meters. Unlike others, this pike, grabbing a live bait, went without stopping. After 20 meters of line came off the reel, I realized that something had to be done.
He made a sharp cut, but in response he received a powerful jerk, which even the mono line could not soften, and literally a second after the cut the line weakened. The pike was clearly of a very decent size, but it was not possible to pull it out. The double was in place. Apparently, for this pike, it turned out to be too small and simply did not catch in the mouth.
Then things went more successfully. The bite was, although not very active, but it continued almost without interruption until dusk. Only pike was walking, weighing from 800 g to 2 kg. Small pikes grabbed live bait, reeled off about a meter of fishing line, stopped, swallowing, then began to move again. The larger pike took more actively, taking off 5–6 meters on the move, and only after that froze.
When biting on the vents, the question always arises at what point to hook. In this matter, we acted according to the classical scheme: after the “shot” of the flag, we let the pike freely remove the line. At the moment of stopping, they also did not hook, giving her the opportunity to turn the fry more comfortably. The sweep was done when the pike resumed movement. But this option often led to retirements.
Another possible option is this. After the pike has resumed its movement, we slow down the line a little, sometimes tugging a little. The pike senses danger and turns around. In this case, the leash hits her by the “mustache” and the pike will not be able to spit out the bait. After that, you can energetically hook. With this technique, I had only one retreat. Under ordinary conditions, however, troubles occurred much more often.
The result of a two-day fishing was quite decent: 16 tails for three. As it turned out, some other companies had more modest success. Apparently, they made several mistakes: they placed the girders without sticking too much to the edges, and besides, almost all of the tackles were very rough with thick metal leads and a double number 1. There were bites, but the pike quickly felt the catch and spat out the bait.