Heading for trophy zander


Situated in the north-west part of European Russia on the territory of three regions (Tverskaya, Vologodskaya, Yaroslavskaya oblasts ), Rybinsk Reservoir (Rybinskoye vodokhranilishche in Russian) is the biggest artificial reservoir in Europe. Owing to its size (over 120 km in length; about 55 km in breadth), it is often called Rybinsk Sea. Not only is it famous for its size, but also for being rich in fish. This is where fishermen from Moscow and neighbouring regions head for in hopes of catching trophy pikes, zanders and perches. Our story is going to be about zander fishing.


In spring, when meltwater starts to collect under the ice's surface, the fish begin to move and feed more actively. Representatives of the carp family (bream, roach and others) gather in large schools trying to save themselves from predators and become the centre of zander school whirling movement which doesn't last for long, and if you happen to find yourself fishing at such time, you have a good chance of catching a record trophy.


As soon as we received a message from a local fisherman saying that fish schools had started to move in the Sea, we started to prepare for the journey. So there we were, on the following morning, standing on the ice. We weren't the first to come; there was a big group of men drilling the ice in search of zander. I looked around more closely to see what kind of jigs the fishermen were using and found out that most of them had Williams spoons; only the minority was using balance jigs and hand-made spoons.


Our company (there were three of us) had Williams spoons of different colours and models, and for some reason there weren't any identical spoons in our set. We found out at the end of the first fishing day that the Ice Jig 60 (colour H) had been the most popular with the zander. This model had gone to Alexander as a result of our morning spoon lottery distribution and helped him catch 4 zanders, one of which was a real trophy - 8.5 kg! Shortly before catching it Alexander spread MegaStrike attractant over the spoon. Anatoly and I used a Whitefish and a Wabler that were not liked by the zander at the beginning of the day very much but, as the evening was approaching, each of us was also rewarded with a 4-kg zander having used MegaStrike beforehand.  Before we went fishing on that day, we doubted the effectiveness of MegaStrike attractant under winter conditions, but our doubts were dispelled on the very first day of fishing. Every time we caught a big fish, we did it on the spoons smeared with the attractant.



Zander didn't bite all day long; there were breaks between the periods of active biting when we switched over to perch fishing using A-Elita Submarine balance jigs. These jigs are equipped with high-quality Owner hooks, move actively at almost any retrieve and attract perch effectively.


The second day of fishing was also quite interesting because this time the zander reacted to different Williams models better. We had remembered the positive result of using MegaStrike attractant and started using it from the very beginning of the day, and, as a result, there were two times more bites at our hooks than at those of our neighbours who were fishing without the attractant, but we didn't manage to catch a fish larger than 4 kilos. The schools of big fish might have already gone to some other places.


While I was watching the fishermen, I was trying to find out what kind of retrieve could give you the biggest catch and I noticed that most of my neighbours were using two different techniques:


- Lifting the spoon up 15-20 cm slowly, then dropping it slowly keeping the line taut in order to slow down the movement. Pause for 3-5 seconds followed by a series of quick jerks while lifting the spoon up no more than 5 cm, then lifting the spoon up 15-20 cm again.


- Popping the jig up about 1 m, then letting it free-fall. Pause for 5-7 seconds; then popping the jig up again.


Fish was caught more often when the first technique was used, but it was not big (1-2 kg), whereas the second technique brought the fishermen real trophies.


We remembered our fishing not only for the catch, but also for the pictures we took, one of which showing Alexander with the record 8.5-kg zander was later used for the Williams Catalogue 2012. Try using Williams spoons and MegaStrike attractant when you go fishing next time, and soon there will surely be new pictures of wonderful trophies in your photo archive.