Sun was already quite low over the horizon and you could sense that this beautiful, sunny day was shortly coming an end. River and its surrounding were completely calm; the only intruders spoiling the silence were few swans moving around the old river bed. Blending in that mystical scenery, I crouched down by the river and started to carefully observe the spot where the main current was being blocked by a tiny spur made up of some turf, rocks and clay. Just past this point, in the backwater, a bunch of sunbleaks were shoaling. That sight brought a faint grin to my face. You would think that nothing can spoil such an idyllic moment. Then, suddenly, the water exploded with millions of droplets and a loud noise cut through the calm air. Right where the tiny fish were playing carelessly a blink of an eye ago, a huge tail of a fish appeared for a brief moment. “Finally, he decided to show up” I thought…. (to be continued)
Asp angling, as that was the perpetrator of the described situation, for majority of anglers still is not an easy task to deal with. Plucky fish, that does not respond to any lure, made many go completely bonkers about it. It should not come as a surprise that lots decided to give up, leaving the fishery with nothing but curses sent towards the cunning little beast. For many, though, that fish will remain a main goal of their spin fishing expeditions. I have to confess that I belong to the second group here. For a few years now I dedicate a huge chunk of a season to asps. Today I decided to share with you my experience with that fish in perspective of an equipment and technique necessary to catch them.
Let me begin right where I should – with the equipment. Typical asp rod should normally have 270-300 cm. Length of the pole is mostly dictated by a necessity to be able to perform very long casts. Asp spinning rods should have a rather fast and – above all, very dynamic blank, capable of sending lures really far, while being able to receive and absorb a powerful strike of a fish. Casting weight usually rests somewhere between 28 to 30 g. Only in particular situations there is a need to use a rod with casting weight up to 35 g or even 40 g. At the beginning of the season I had a pleasure to test two MIKADO Excellence series rods. First one was the Excellence Action spinning rod. I was using the 270 cm, 7-28 g of casting weight version. Rod is made of hi-modulus carbon fibre. Blank has been fitted with a top-shelf guides and a very comfortable and functional Sea-guide mount. It has a split handle made of cork and cork-rubber. Overall, the rod is really slender and pleasant to use. It is easy to handle, has a very quick action, yet when exposed to an increased pressure, it reveals a deep, beautiful deflection. It works really great with lures within 10 – 25g range, so it can easily deal with most of the asp ones.
Another rod worth mentioning is the Excellence Sea Trout. Even though it was designed for sea trout angling, as it usually happens, it got adapted for other species, including asps. You need to know, though, that angling for both of those species have a lot in common; there is a reason why an asp is called a poor man’s salmon, after all. In both cases you need a solid, meaty blank that can deliver weighing a dozen grams or so lure rather far and absorb movements of dynamically fighting fish. I was using a lighter representative of that series – the Sea Trout 275 cm long, with casting weight of 7-28 g. That spinning, just like the Action, is fitted with top-quality guides and a Sea-guide mount. It has a cork-made handle and a rubber foregrip. Besides the fact that the rod has identical parameters to the Excellence Action, you can sense slightly more power hidden within. It is also a little bit quicker.
Let’s get (to the) reel now. Asp rod requires at least a 3000 or 4000 sized reel. Above all, it has to be really sturdy. Asp angling puts quite a significant burden on a reel and it needs to be clear that a low-quality equipment will not last you a single season. Obviously, a decent brake and precise spooling mechanisms are a must. I decided to pair the Action rod up with the Sicario 3007FD reel. It is a strong and reliable piece of equipment, fitted with six bearings, one thrust bearing and a CNC crafted crank, finished with an EVA foam handle. Characterized by smooth and effortless action, the reel easily spools the line and has a very precise brake. In case of the Sea Trout rod I decided to use the Golden Eye 4007FD reel. Just like the Sicario, it is made of a light and durable graphite, has a CNC crafted crank, six bearings and a thrust bearing. It also stands out with a solid and strong gear and good spooling action.
Now let’s talk about the lures and accessories. Starting with lures – I most often go with wobblers of different sorts. Lately, though, I did turn back to spoons as well; I need to admit that it was a successful comeback. I truly believe that those, a bit forgotten now, lures can be a way to success. Especially at the well-angled fisheries. One of the most important elements of our lures are the treble hooks – especially when a braided line is in use. They have to be solid and sturdy. Sadly though, most of the range available on the market does not provide that. I had a number of cases when I finished a long and strenuous hauling, or a powerful strike with splayed treble hooks. That is why, these days, in order to be completely sure that that it will not happen again, I am exchanging all my hooks and treble hooks in my lures. Lately I had a chance to use BKK treble hooks – the BT662-UA Ultra Antitrust and BT632-MT CP Point models. They are really great in terms of quality and I need to say that they never failed me so far. Additionally, I can recommend you a large, fly fishing landing net – particularly the one with a rubber-coated wires. It is particularly handy at riffles, when you need to quickly get to the shore, after landing a large fish, in order to take a picture of it.
The technique of asp fishing per se depends on many factors and varies a lot, therefore it cannot be simply put in a short and general article of such sort. I would like to share a few tips and tricks here, though. They will be especially useful for the anglers that have only started to plan their fishing adventures involving those amazing fish. I hope they will bring you at least some initial successes.
First thing first, once you go aps fishing, stick to it. There is no plan changing when first symptoms of frustration appear, no re-rigging to a different kind of fish. Patience and persistence are the key values in here – they are as important, as a well-selected equipment. Next important thing is to know your fishing grounds. The more frequently you will visit the reservoir of choice, the more you will know about locations and spots of preference of the predators. Asps, in a warm part of a year, very often reveal their position with a distinctive hunting technique, that make them really easy to spot. Then we move to another point, which is the human factor and behaviour by the water. Laugh all you want, yet asps really are very easy to frighten; you have to keep a safe distance from the water (the longer, the better) and do your best to remain as invisible for the fish as possible. Hence, ignore laughter of your angling colleagues, make sure to crouch down at the riffle, hide behind a large shrub by your side, or behind a broken branch at the rocky spur. While choosing a right spot try to avoid places most frequently selected by other anglers, filled with people. Note that peer pressure does not help in asp angling. Mind that the beginnings are always difficult, yet rest assured – those fish are worth all the hassle. Trust me saying that your first, fully intentionally caught fish will open your eyes to the asp-world and consecutive angling trips will bring at least twice as much joy.
…I know that asp well. I am coming here for a week now. It shows up right before the dusk, attacks the schools few times and vanishes. Just as if it was having a last, quick snack before the oncoming night. It is that experienced type, a PhD among fish, that does not get tempted with quickly spooled lures. In first few days I showcased him the entire content of my special asp lure box. At first attempt, he barely got to the lure yet he did not decide to bait. A day later, after switching to a classic, bleak-alike wobbler, he got tricked and unleashed his power in a bait attempt. Unfortunately, I only managed to keep him on a hook for a short while. He quickly got off, annoying me quite a lot. After that there was nothing that would catch his attention. Today I will try once again… Water got alive again. The asp hit the shoaling fish for a second time. Keeping my position, I quickly reach to the box and I grab the bleaky killer. Cast at an angle, down the stream; short break and I spool the wobbler back, along the side. No effect. Another cast… again, nothing. At the same time the fish attacks school of bleaks once more. He must have seen the wobbler and chose not to react. Something needs to be changed. Either the lure, or I will just wait a few more moments. I decide to go for the wait. I spend next 5 minutes sitting completely still. Asp shows up yet again. I cast another time, trying to be as quiet, as humanly possible. Wobbler falls into the water, yet this time I allow it to float a few meters down. After that I close the reel and start to spool the wobbler back along the side. When the lure reaches a perfect attack spot for the predator, I make a quick and sharp flick. I know well that this tricks often does wonders – I personally tested it so many times. AND THEN… A massive bait! Even though I was ready for it, it still surprised me with its power. I make a quick strike, and it’s there! The rod bends to the limit while the fish tests my brake, moving a few meters down the river. I only hope that I won’t lose it again… Few more moments pass and I slowly start to haul that massive fish back closer towards me. Asp never gives up and tries to get away few more times. Shortly I am able to catch it with my own hand. It is huge and so heavy that I can barely keep in my palm. Finally, I caught it… I keep handling it, still feeling my heart pounding…
Mikado Fishing Team