четверг, 24 декабря 2009 г.

Sea of Okhotsk near Magadan - ice-fishing for rainbow smelt

Rainbow smelt Osmerus dentex mordax is a numerous anadromous fish of the North Pacific.  In winter it comes to the sea shores and feeds under the ice.  Magadan fishermen like to catch it both for fun and for food.  Smelt is very tasty if fried on oil. 

"Horseless" fishermen which do not have cars are trying to get a ride to the best fishing places, far into the Gertnera Bay near Magadan.


Gertnera Bay near Magadan is frozen.  By the sunrise all smelt-fanatics are already on the ice with their cars.  Looking for the schools of smelt, the fishermen sometimes get out as far as 5 km from the bank.


First bites, first smelts


After a snowstorm the snow on the sea ice is too deep for the trucks to go through.  On the first day after storm it is possible to move only on foot. 


To fish for smelt you need ice-auger, small scoop for ice, winter rod with lures, and something to sit on.  One can not fish out of a tent or shelter - the fish schools move fast, and fishermen have to follow.
Most of Magadan fishermen use custom-made stainless augers - salt water will destroy a normal auger quite fast.


Local smelt rigs in most cases look like garlands of tiny flies, imitations of marine plancton animals.  The best colors of the lures are light green, yellow, white, or pink.  The depth where we fish is normally between 15 & 25 meters.  The fish is most often found between 1 &4 meters from the bottom, but sometimes we catch it right below the ice.  My rod is 75 cm long and has wire hooks, which allow wrapping long line when lifting the fish to the ice.  This is much easier than pulling the line with the hands. 


This time I am fishing about 4 km from the nearest bank


If you are lucky to find a school, it is easy to catch several dozens of smelt in an hour. 


Rainbow smelt (Osmerus) - above
Pond smelt (Hypomesus) - below


The most common fish in winter catch near Magadan:
Saffron cod
Rainbow smelt
Pond smelt



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