Tag Archives: jigging

Lake wolf

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I simply can not understand people who like zander fishing. I am not talkinga about guys in a boat on a Danube. That´s pretty cool. You are in a boat, you find them, catch some, and you´re good. Those who do it from a bank i do not understand. Let me explain myself. Let´s take Sava river as an example. During summer, mosquitos eat you alive. They´ll bite you in the ass if they can. In autumn you´re up till that same ass in mud. But, winter.. Winter is my favourite. Usually you stand in one place for a couple of hours. You don´t move. Cause last time you have been here you had a bite you didn´t realized for you´ve been casting like maniac for last 4 or 5 hours and of course you wasn´t concentrated after that time. Or, you pulled a grub out of a water in one moment and it was half way off the hook. And even though you didn´t feel a bite, and there are no teeth marks, or just because of it, you are certain it was a meter long fish. Yeah, right!

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So, that´s why I can´t understand those who feel fishing for zander from a bank is such a cool thing. That´s why we started, on Robert´s urging, chasing it in lakes. Not to many people in Croatia does it. I don´t know why. Let´s be real, there is far more zander in lakes than one would think. Like every fish from percidae family, it protect its spawn and it has advantage in a start prior to pike, second most common still water predator in Croatia. Yes, pike grows bigger, but, opposed to the pike, you can persuade zander to take a bite almost any time of day.

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Dusk and dawn are top periods of course, but if day is cloudy and murky, you can have a whole lot of fun if you use light, or ultralight action rods, like Sakura Trinis Neo and Garbolino Ghetto Rider are. During day time fishing, we focus on transitions from the shallows to depths. He likes to spend its time there. He´s fond of deepest parts of a lake, too. Biggest problem with zander is to track him down. Once you find them, it´s not a problem to catch it.

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Mr glass-eye (one of the names we call it here, i personally prefer lazy ass no good), likes to spend most of its time somewhere down low. In some kind of a neutral mode. Meaning he is not feeding frenzy, but, hey, if something interesting goes by him, he´ll pretty much sure bite it. Softbaits rigged on a jig hook are first choice, logically. Let´s keep it simple and say there are 2 types of softbaits I use. First ones are those with distinct action. Baits like Slotter Shad, or Sakura Punshad. Other group contains of swimbaits with fine, subtle action. Sakura Slit Shad is a great example. Jig heads are another story. A lot of it depends on them. Again, let´s keep it simple and say there are 2 basic presentations. If fish is lethargic and fishing is slow, I use lightest jig head I have in the moment. That´s usually 2-3 grams. I let it sink and twich it slowly. Real slow. I wanna get that inactive zander time to make up his mind.

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When I get bored, I take 10-12 g jighead and do some snap jigging. To provocate reaction strike. It´s hard to miss, but sometimes I don´t feel the bite, just weight on the other side of a line. That´s why i like to use salted and scented softbaits. When fish is active, when they have itchy teeth, I don´t think about jighead weight at all. 3, 8, or 12 grams, it´s all the same to me. Easiest way to describe presentation in that period is a comparison with EKG signal. It is one sharp snap of a rod tip continued with a 2 or 3 weaker snaps. I let it sink after that, let it rest for some time and continue. Strikes are usually when bait is falling down.

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You can try steady retrieve, but I don´t like it cause too many times zander boiled behind my lure next to bank. Meaning, they got interested, but there was no trigger that would make them bite.  Last, but not the least, one thing that turned up to be quite important. Fluorocarbon leader. Zander maybe doesn´t have eyes as big as a wolf in a fairy tale, but sees well. Sometning between 0,20 and 0,30 will do the trick. And it will keep your braid from wear.

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Wrong turn

Where the wild hogs go is a title of an old croatian TV serial as well as a title that perfectly suits terrains that Robi and I visited, looking for pike somewhere between Okučani and Nova Gradiška. We came a bit too early in season and caught only a few baby pike, but perches forfilled the day big time. That` s why we`re seriously thinking that we rename our ultra light fishing to ultra slit fishing. But, one step at the time. Robi is bothering me to visit these canals for 2-3 years now. As we were driving up the highway, he was talking how pikes attack top water lures, how you can catch fish over 7-8 kilos and so on , all in a channel 7-8 meters wide and 1 meter deep. Yeah, right, I was thinking. Next moment we are getting off the highway at Okučani, then drive down the road and take a wrong turn somewhere. Dude wasn` t here for a couple of years, and of couse he didn´t checked on Google Maps where exactly he went fishing couple years ago. So, it` s early in the morning and here we are, in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely nobody on the road that we could ask for direction. After some dispute and calling names, we decided to get off of the main road and head towards the woods that we saw in the distance. Behind the forest is a Sava river, and forest itself should be transected with canals. At one of them Robert fished for pike before, and logically, if there is pike in one of them, it should be in all of them, more, or less. After 15-20 minutes of driving down the road we hit the first canal.

Given that we do not know where we are, we have no choice but to try a method of attempts and errors, as we say here in Croatia. Couple of minutes later, our gear is arranged and we are ready to kick some pike´s butts. As we came close to water, I realised that it is only 30 cm deep. So I am throwing a lure only formally, without any hope at all. At a third try, nice pike misses my lure, raising a cloud of silt of the bottom! Well, I am thinking, maybe Robert wasn´t talking nonsense during the way here after all. Downstream, canal is unapproachable so we give up of it.

Each of us caught a couple of baby pike in the next canal, so we decided to sit in the car and go deeper into the woods. Gravel road soon turns to dirty path with plenty of muddy holes and my beautiful Mazda is soon unrecognizable. After a few muddy and uncomfortable kilometers on the left side we finally see the canal. First lay-by is ours and a little bit later we are following footsteps of wildlife through the ruined forest down to the water. Thru the entire length of a canal visible to an eye, piles of branches stick out of a water, and literally, some parts of canal contain more trees than water. That´s why Roby is casting a spinnerbait, while I lay my hopes in 85 mm long Slit Shad rigged weedless on a worm hook. Nothing happens for a while, only a buddy of mine is commenting that he feels like something is poking his spinnerbait from time to time.

After a while, I finally have a decent stroke in the mesh of branches and Slit Shad finally lands a 15 cm long perch. I am replacing Slit Shad 85 with one 75 mm long and landing another perch, around 20 centimetres. 25 lb tested wire trace and almost 2 centimeters long snap doesn´t bother them at all. Robi puts 5 centimeters long Slit Shad on, and in next 5 throws lands 5 perches. Ok, that´s it, screw the pike, screw the heavy duty equipment, let` s do some ultra light fishing! In a moment we are back at the car, and next moment we are back on the water with our UL rods. Next few hours we are literally killing ourselves in perches between 20 and 30 centimeters long. Closer to surface fishes are smaller, but when lure comes to the bottom undisturbed, bigger fish hits it. Although water is a bit muddy, even the smallest perch packs whole bait in its mouth. They are flawless! Although we would probably catch bigger fish by increasing jig weight, both of us use 2 gram round head jigs on our hooks so we can control bait better. In really heavy conditions we rig our Slit Shads on a small worm hook weighted with tungsten on a shank of it. This decreases percentage of hook-ups, but we are taking out perches from the spots that would be inaccessible otherwise.

After some time and God knows how many fishes caught and released, I am picking up a spot that it´s almost screaming it´s hiding a decent fish. There is a huge tree in a water after which there is a zone of deeper, calm water with many branches in it. I am coming butt down and on all 4  and taking out 7-8 perches in as many casts. Next cast brings me a porky, humpy fish and I am calling Robert to come and make some photographs. During the shooting, I am joking with Robert by saying I cleaned him a spot from small ones so he can catch a big one. He took me seriously and now he´s aiming the worst cover there is with 5 cm long Slit Shad. After a couple of snags and lost lures, tip of his Game Hunter starts to pump, and Twin Power starts to skid. I know it` s wicked and mean of me, but I really am hoping he hooked a small pike instead of a big perch! But no, life isn´t fair! Little bastard soon lands big perch, 30+ cm long in my own opinion. Superb catch for water this big and I can only congratulate to my friend. A few shots later, nice hubby fish is getting back in a deceptive certainty of a water. After that we caught some more perches in same spot, and than decided it´s enough for today. More than enough. We´ll be back for sure. If we don´t get lost along the way, that is…