This small fish, which has an elongated silvery body, feeds quite actively in winter, and when finding places of its concentration, fishing can be quite exciting. There are several ways to catch dace in winter.
Yelets is a widespread fish both in Russia and in Western Europe. There are two main types – common dace and Siberian dace. In turn, the common dace has several closely related subspecies, and the two main forms of the Siberian dace are the red-finned and the white-opera. The distribution area of two species of dace covers most of the territory of Russia. This is a schooling fish. The most numerous are flocks of small dace. The head of the school is usually occupied by larger individuals, but the largest fish are often found singly.
Dace loves a fast current and a hard bottom (usually sandy or sandy-rocky) and usually stays on it throughout the year. In winter, it prefers fast-flow pits and other bottom depressions. Often found on shallow rifts. It is generally accepted that dace in cold weather keeps only on deep holes and only in a thaw does it go to shallow waters, but I can disagree with this. So this year, at the beginning of January, with a frost of -16 … 25 ° C, dace was successfully caught in the Kostroma region on the Unzha and its tributaries. At the same time, the fishing depth was 1–1.5 m and rarely exceeded 2 m. The Yelets kept in flocks both in the Unzha itself, the width of which in the fishing area was about 60–70 meters, and in the lower reaches of its forest tributaries 10–15 m wide (one of them is the Knyazhaya river).
On large rivers, including on the Oka, dace in winter could be found on the fast flow of ditches located near the coast, and on other rapids. Sometimes such fast ditches can be found under high steep banks. Of the winter fish, the dace is probably one that keeps on the rapids. Usually, there is no other medium-sized fish next to the dace, as it drives it away.
On the tributaries of the larger dace, they are most often looked for in the depressions of the channel. Favorite spots for this fish can be sharp bends in the channel, holes and ditches with a fast or medium current, which are often found closer to the mouth of the tributary.
Alluviums in the form of sandy underwater spits and islets can also serve as a reference point in the winter search for dace. In such areas, it was often possible to find flocks of rather large dace closer to spring on the tributaries of the Rybinsk Reservoir.
On small rivers, when fishing for dace, hooks to obstacles at the bottom can occur.
Dace goes well for both float and jigging tackle. This fish can also be fished with combined rigs, including the step-by-step method.
In the case of float fishing, the rig must be such that the rapid current does not drag the float under the water. At this point, the thickness of the line is critical. Since the mass of the dace is usually no more than 150 g and specimens up to 200 g rarely come across, you should put a high-quality monofilament with a diameter of no more than 0.08 mm. Even a strong current blows out such a line weakly, and this allows a small float to stay close to the water surface. The bottom rig may look different. Sometimes the line is passed through a sliding “olive” weighing 15 g and is blocked with the smallest lead pellet, leaving a leash 15–20 mm long. Sometimes a fixed sinker is attached to the end of the main line, and above it, at a distance of 20–30 cm, a long leash is tied to the line, which with the bait attached to the hook will attractively move from side to side. When choosing the length of the leash and the height of its attachment, the strength of the current is taken into account and the peculiarity of the dace is kept at a level not higher than 5–7 cm from the bottom. Hook number 18.
Fishing rod with nod and jig
One of the most convenient winter fishing rods, suitable for catching dace, is the balalaika. It’s good if such a fishing rod is also equipped with legs – this will allow you to fish with a stationary jig. The sensitivity of the nod is chosen according to the strength of the current and the mass of the jig. Depending on the behavior of the fish and the selected section of the river, jig fishing can be passive or active. With active play, the rod is always in the hand, and the jig is used to wiring, all the time playing along and moving it up from the bottom, at a distance of up to 30-50 cm, and again lowering it to the bottom. If the mass of the jig is selected in such a way that it is pulled off by the current near the bottom, then you can let it go a little downstream and pull it up with stops. At times, the jig is stopped for a longer period. Most often, bites follow during such stops. In passive fishing, the rod is installed on the ice in such a way that the nod bent under the mass of the jig is above the hole. From time to time, a nod is wiggled with a finger, which causes an attractive wiggle of a bloodworm or other attachment on the jig hook.
For fishing in the wilderness, small, dim jigs that can withstand strong currents are best suited. These are different forms of tungsten droplets, including more elongated ones, as well as models of jigs such as “larva”, “ant” (two- or three-section), “pellet”, “lentil” and others. Beads (combination – white and red, yellow and white) can serve as an attractive addition to the attachment. In general, the angler should have a large assortment of jigs of different shapes and colors in stock, which allows him to quickly pick up the key to the active fish.
Some anglers prefer tandem fishing for lead jigs, set at a distance of 10-15 cm from each other. Most often, bites occur on the lower jig, and the upper one mainly plays the role of an irritant and a weighting agent for the rig. Due to the fact that the lead jig is lighter, the dace takes it more boldly. This, of course, concerns mainly the lower jig, since the upper one is weighted down by the mass of the lower one. Using a tandem, they experiment with the color of the jig, for example, the top one is bright, and the bottom one is black or gray.
In this case, a nod serves as a bite signal on the fishing rod, and equipment is made on the fishing line according to the principle of a float (with an end or sliding sinker). The hook is used with a long shank No. 18. The color of the hook is selected depending on the color of the attachment. In order to make stepped wiring, you need to select an end sinker of such a mass that, if it is lightly detached from the ground, it would move forward along the stream for a certain distance, and then again lay down on the bottom. At the same time, the bait on the hook of the leash installed above the sinker behaves attractively on the current. Such oscillations of the bait from side to side with simultaneous movement forward attract all fish that are active in winter, including the dace. However, when catching a dace, you need to very quickly respond with a sweep to the slightest fluctuations in the nod when the lead stops.
Often two holes are drilled nearby to catch dace. In one, a fishing rod is permanently installed for passive fishing, and in the other one is caught with constant playing along with the bait.
Finding fish in fast water is very caloric. In this regard, the fish regularly shows appetite, which helps to collect the dace with a properly prepared bait. In winter, I prepare groundbait according to the summer principle, that is, I make balls from certain components, but such that they go into a large cone feeder. In this case, you will need balls no larger than a table tennis ball. If the flow is fast, the feeder must be heavier with a lead plate, otherwise it can be strongly deflected by the flow.
The balls of groundbait laid out on the bottom should slowly erode, otherwise the dace will quickly get full. Dace, even in winter, responds well to the plant components of the feed, so I include oatmeal, milk powder, egg powder, and bread crumbs in the mixture. Be sure to add feed bloodworm – up to 10-15% of the total bait. For fishing in a fast current, I weight the mixture with sand, gravel or sifted clay so that it fits more compactly. Adjust the viscosity with water. Depending on whether you are fishing in rapids or in areas with a slower flow, the bait should be made more or less viscous.
In frosty weather, a tent is set up over the hole.
Bloodworm is the main winter nozzle for dace. It should be pushed under the head so that the tail moves attractively under the influence of the current. A good addition to the bloodworm is the burdock moth larva. Because of its whitish-yellow color, it is clearly visible in the water and has many carp fish to taste. Another addition to bloodworms is a tiny piece of bacon. On such a “sandwich” they managed to catch a dace on the Oka and even on Pakhra. By the way, it happens that the combination of bloodworms with a small ball of styrofoam noticeably improves the bite.
On the Tarusa (a beautiful tributary of the Oka), as well as on other small forest rivers, it was possible to catch a dace with a piece of worm.
It is believed that maggots work poorly on dace in winter, but Kologriv and Kostroma fishermen on Unzha mainly catch dace for maggots – and quite successfully. Sometimes a “sandwich” of maggot and bloodworm is used.
Another good bait, especially for rivers flowing through wooded areas, is the caddis flies. It is important that after baiting, the larva retains an attractive appearance for a longer time; the fish may not pay attention to frayed caddis flies. In winter, I collect caddis flies in non-freezing areas of forest streams with a sandy or sandy-rocky bottom. This larva looks like a grayish white worm. He has three pairs of legs near his head. The house looks like a protective case. Caddis flies glue it together with saliva from various bottom debris (microbranches, bark, pebbles, etc.). To bait on the hook, the larva is carefully pulled out of the house without damaging it. Store the caddis flies in an inner pocket in a box lined with moss.
Time to catch and bite
According to my observations, in February the best bite of the dace is observed in the morning hours and in the evening. The dace takes the nozzle quickly, but immediately sensing something was wrong, he usually immediately throws it away, so the main thing is not to miss the moment of hooking. Constant control of the slightest movement of the nod and the ability to hook in time make fishing gambling. The bite can be expressed in a short slope of the nod or in its slight rise. When playing, the dace behaves smartly. If you find a catchy place, you can observe frequent bites even without bait. On dace rivers, catch holes can bring up to two to three dozen fish. But still, this fishing attracts not so much with trophies, as with the opportunity to experiment with different rigs, lures and baits. In addition, I mainly go to small picturesque rivers for dace, and this is also an aesthetic pleasure.