Mikhail Nikishatov, “Sport fishing” | June 17, 2017
Not so long ago the “ice battles” made a noise, the last trips behind smelt on the melting dark ice of the Gulf of Finland are still fresh in my memory, and my hands itch, as they say, itching on a spinning rod. Of course, compliance with the requirements of the Federal Fisheries Agency, which introduced a spawning ban on spinning fishing in the waters of the Leningrad Region until mid-May, and generally until June 1 in Ladoga, is rigorous for sports fishing enthusiasts. But all the same, the soul of a fisherman is already somewhere out there, in open water, with a spinning rod in his hands and in search of a spotted predator.
Early spring gives us the opportunity to catch a truly trophy pike. It spawns into endless bays and channels following schools of “white” fish, becomes closer to last year's reeds and the reeds bowed their yellow heads. In the soul of the fisherman at this moment feelings arise, excited by the fishing instinct. I would call these feelings spring fishing aggravation, and the lack of spinning in the hands is comparable for many with a lack of vitamins.
I think that this spring aggravation and the intolerable desire for fishing make the brain work as hard as when solving some serious working issue or unexpected problem. I smiled a little with my mind - and the decision suddenly came about by itself: what is impossible with us is possible in Finland!
A couple of years ago I met with the Belarusian fishing guide Anton Antonovich, better known on social networks as Anton Fisherman. I recalled a recent New Year’s conversation with him and a conversation about possible fishing in the previously unknown archipelago in Tammisaari (Tammisaari) in Finland. It turned out that in early spring and late autumn there is a real fishing mecca. I was somehow even ashamed that I did not know about such a place famous in world fishing circles. Tammisaari is part of Raseborg (Raceborg) in the province of Uusimaa (Usimaa), all this is located in southern Finland (photo 1) There Anton, under the wing of Finnish guides, helps organize fishing for Russian-speaking fishermen. Well, Tammisaari - so Tammisaari, where ours did not disappear!
The fulfillment of the desire to catch a trophy pike just five hundred kilometers from St. Petersburg to relieve the syndrome of fishing avitaminosis seemed to me a mere trifle. Moreover, Anton prepared his new guide boat for this season. North Silver PRO 610 Fish (photo 2), packed with all modern fishing gadgets, and even with the necessary gear for trophy fishing.
In fact, I only needed to bring my favorite fishing suit Westin W4 Flotation Suit, stock up with desire and grab some European pieces of human joy. Yes, and still find partners to make it more fun together, and the rest was much more budgetary than in splendid isolation. Having contacted Anton, I found out that in the twentieth of April he just had free windows and a couple who wanted to keep me company. So it turned out that paying for a boat and a guide for three was much nicer. And it turned out that three in the boat plus a guide - this is a completely optimal composition. Well, you have to go!
I could not stand it and broke loose a little earlier than my new fishing partners - Alexei from St. Petersburg and Dmitry from Moscow, since I had both time and great desire. He arrived a day earlier than our “national team” to talk with Anton, learn about tactics for catching trophy pike (1 meter +), get acquainted with the technique of fishing on large silicone baits up to 100 g and master the throw with a hard spinning reel with a powerful batecasting reel. Of course, I have little experience fishing with similar gear, but lighter tests, I got it on fishing trips on publishing trips to other European ponds. In Europe, this is not considered something special and is used everywhere. Here in Russia, the so-called “soap dishes”, especially of such a large size, are not very popular so far, their share is about 3% of the total sales of various fishing reels.
The first day was not in vain - a new tackle came easy enough for me, forcing, however, to work pretty hard on the muscles of the elbow and shoulder joints weakened during the winter period. Only occasionally did I rest a bit, picking up a spinning more familiar to me Stinger PowerAge 902M with a test up to 35 g with the same inertialess coil in the amount of 3500. And at the same time I checked all my trump cards, tested over the years, in the form of a Kuusamo - Haauki (which means “pike” in Finnish) and a small secret Japanese composer.
After making sure that small baits work, and a small pike is here, I still picked up a powerful casting comel Savage gear with coil Okumaequipped with weighty "silicone" Pig shad from Strike pro (photo 3) and Abu Garcia Svartzonker McRubber (photo 4), so adored by the local trophy pike. There were other favorites - for example, the Finnish lure Islure akonar (photo 5), distinguished by the capture of a good trophy (photo 6) This 100-gram wobbler has an unusual yawing “game” with jerk wiring, which is very attractive for large pike.
“I cut a stick, tied a rope to it, bent a hook from a wire”
Now Anton is 30. It's hard to believe, but at the same time he has been passionate about fishing for more than a quarter of a century. He fell ill with this affair at the age of four.
- In childhood, in the summer I was constantly with my grandparents near Novogrudok. About four years old I saw the village men fishing. And I myself wanted to. I cut a stick, tied a rope to it, bent a hook from a wire - well, I went to catch it. The local fishermen, seeing my “gear”, of course, laughed and minimally explained to me what I was doing wrong. In Minsk, my mother bought me a bamboo fishing rod. And we went to the swamp to catch carp. Mom sat on the shore and knitted, and I caught. Where only did not fish in childhood! And in the summer sports camp, where he came, as he was engaged in water skiing. And in Sochi, where my mother and I sometimes relaxed at sea. And in the village, of course ...
- Did your grandparents let you go without problems?
- Of course, they had a large farm - there was enough work. And I did not fly too. But how did we agree? First, mow, dry hay or milk cows - and only then go fishing.
Anton's largest study desk drawer was littered with fishing tackle, and he had even more specialized literature on fishing in his childhood than educational. This, however, did not prevent Anton from studying well at school, lyceum of BSU, and then at the faculty of finance and banking of the Belarusian State Economic University.
“Repairing mobile phones, selling discs ...”
By the pike, Anton, who had been growing up without a father since he was two years old, was never given anything. However, from childhood he was not one of those who lay on the stove and waited for weather from the sea.
Photo: Arthur Prupas.
- Already in the 10th grade, I got a job in a company to draw, digitize cards. And then what just did not do. He repaired mobile phones, sold drives, printers. After the first year I went to work in a bank. Subsequently, he became deputy director of a new company that was engaged in advertising credit products. Later he worked in the representative office of a Lithuanian company engaged in container shipping. He was responsible for foreign economic activity in a pharmaceutical company. Thanks to my work, I always had a visa, which allowed me to travel around Europe in search of trophy pikes.
“I decided to monetize my passion”
Work in the office brought Anton money, but did not bring pleasure. And once he decided what is called combining business with pleasure.
- Being, for example, in the same Holland, I always enviously envied the local fishing guides. He understood that I just arrived and then I’ll return to the office, and the guides will remain in the meantime to fish. And once I decided to monetize my hobby and went into fishing tourism.
In 2014, he registered as an individual entrepreneur. I bought and restored the boat. And after that there was nowhere to retreat.
- Was it hard to start?
- There were some savings, I borrowed something, I was not afraid to get into loans. At first, few believed that in Belarus my idea could be realized. Skepticism was felt. But nobody put me in the wheel. National parks “Narochansky” and “Braslav Lakes” have concluded agreements with me that I can go out on the water on my boat with a motor of 90 horsepower, although in general there is a ban on the use of motors over 15. And we have mutually beneficial cooperation. I settle my clients only at the bases belonging to national parks. And even in low season. The tourist season on the same Braslav lakes ends at the end of August, and I have almost the height in the autumn months. Last year, until the freezing, he worked and returned from Braslav to Minsk only in December.
- Aren't you afraid to get burnt?
— If a person wants and can work, loves his job, then he will work in any conditions and find an opportunity to earn. At the same time, of course, it is desirable that you like the business that you are doing. It gives strength. I have to work hard, but I'm doing what I love, and so I'm happy. When I hear something like “Your business will be strangled,” I disagree.
Why and on what grounds should I "choke"? I do everything honestly. All taxes have been paid. I conclude an agreement with each client. The people who gave jobs are on contracts.
- And who, by the way, works with you?
Anton's assistant with Sergey Rutenko.
- My bride is responsible for all paper work and work with clients: accounting, customer base, contracts. My friend and assistant is engaged in our new service - rental of motor boats prepared for fishing. The client doesn’t even need anything of his own, come, board this boat with a 5 hp engine, an echo sounder and other things you need in fishing and catch it for your pleasure. This season, together with the Nanosy-Novoselye ethnocultural complex on Lake Naroch, we are launching a project - a new fishing guide is starting up, which is being trained and will work under the Anton Fisherman brand.
“I can go abroad for a salary of 2 thousand euros per month, but I don’t want to”
Anton Fisherman, although he himself likes to catch it from a boat, seriously thinks about offering services to winter fishing enthusiasts: “There are so many tragedies with these fishermen. Therefore, regardless of the wishes of the customers, their safety will be primary ”. He organizes fishing tours in the near and far abroad countries: for example, next year he plans to organize tours for Indonesia for his clients, from where he literally just returned ... He is expanding cooperation with manufacturers of tackle, echo sounders, and boats.
In general, Anton feels like a fish in water in his business. And he doesn’t want to “emerge” in another country. Although they offer.
- Many people have questions about our tax system. But I pay taxes as an individual entrepreneur - and they are about half as much as the money paid by the fishing guide in Finland. It is clear that there are other incomes. But I still would not want to work as a guide at any base in the same Sweden. I can go abroad for a salary of 2 thousand euros per month, but I do not want to.
I am interested in developing the direction of fishing tourism in Belarus. And I believe that the future lies with him. For example, in Sweden, income from sports and recreational fishing is much higher than from industrial. And we, I am sure, also have every opportunity to achieve the same result in the future. There are lakes, there are fish.
- Yes, on the majority of Belarusian lakes, to put it mildly, not very ... Now we have almost no well-equipped places where you can launch a boat into the water. There are no civilized gas stations on the water, which is why people pour gas from cans. Something, of course, gets into the water and pollutes it. Many where and nowhere to stay comfortably. And yet…
- Was there an unplowed field in the field of fishing tourism before you?
“Let it sound immodest, but something like that.” No, the farmsteads also offer fishing. But basically this service is formal. I myself tried many times to use it, and the maximum that I received was accommodation and a boat, and it was completely not equipped. And who will convey the experience, tell where, what and how?
I now have good experience, a client base and promotional materials that attract new customers. These are mainly Belarusians and Russians, but we also attract foreigners from the West. A visa-free regime is in our favor.
- Do not catch all the fish?
“This is not possible, no matter how many customers come.” I advocate recreational fishing and the catch-let-go principle. This principle does not oblige to let go of all the caught fish, you just need to take as many fish as you can eat at a time, not engage in fishing. Small and large, captured fish must be released - this is the rule in my boat. They took pictures, shot a video - and released. Fish is a rival. And an experienced opponent must be respected. Clients share my position and come to me not to catch a bag of fish, but for trophy emotions and fishing experience.
- Do famous people turn?
- Of course, they turn, everyone loves fishing! Since I suggest it is sport fishing, athletes often turn. Handball star Sergey Rutenko is now our regular customer. Using our service, Sergey was seriously interested in fishing. People from show business, politics, and cinema come to us. The clients are different, and we all have the same, good attitude. Before the trophy pike, everyone is equal.
- Are your clients only men?
- The bulk, of course, are men. But there are women. Often come in pairs and even with children. By the way, our service is a good option to make friends with the fishing world, usually this is love from the first catch.
He who wants, he seeks opportunities, who does not want - seeks reasons. About what part of this aphorism relates to Anton Fisherman, probably, one need not speak again. His deeds and plans speak best of all. From the nearest:
- In April-May, we have a ban on access to water. But do not I sit at home? I tow a boat to Finland by car, gather groups from Belarusians, Russians, Finns - and forth.
Photo: Arthur Prupas and from the personal archive of Anton Fisherman.
I decided to try while young
Anton launched his service this year - in June the boat season opened. Prior to this, the young man had been preparing all winter: restored the boat, thought over the site. It is recognized that quitting a stable job was not an easy decision. The young man worked as a top manager in a company that deals with pharmaceutical substances. Prior to that, he made a career in near-bank structures, was the head of the representative office of one of the Lithuanian companies. The conditions were good and the salary was more than decent.
“But in the morning you wake up, and you don’t want to go to work ... And you understand that you are doing absolutely unloved business just to allow yourself to go abroad several times a year, which, you see, is strange. While young, I decided to try, while there are no children, I’m not attached at all, - Anton explains his decision.
Modern fishing - how is it?
A young man shows us what modern fishing should look like. The first prerequisite is a good speed boat. He bought his in an unsightly form - dirty and scratched. I polished, painted and ordered from America the right “stuffing".
Until we have sailed from the shore, we carefully consider the instruments on board, which are called echo sounders. This is a mandatory "toy" of a modern fisherman, which allows you to read the bottom topography. Anton went further and bought echo sounders, which thanks to a special scanner display what is happening not only under the boat, but also on the sides, which increases the chance of successful fishing.
To stop the boat in the right place, the interlocutor brags, it is enough for him to lower a special electric motor into the water and press one button on the echo sounder screen. Fisherman adopted this advanced technology from fishermen-athletes. Before arriving at the place, it was necessary to anchor, given the direction of the wind and the flow of water. It took time every time.
One of the fish finders
The main motor of the boat - Honda 90 horsepower. In general, motors over 15 horsepower for tourists are prohibited in the national park. But by agreement with the administration, Anton Antonovich received such a privilege. At a speed of 50 km / h, he accelerates the boat along the Orochansky smooth surface. We are happy to catch cold spray of water and look forward to a successful catch - with such and such a technique!
Landmark - trophy fish
Anton and his fellow fishing friends focus mainly on predators: perch and pike. And they are primarily interested in trophy fish - large. If we talk about pike, then its length should be at least a meter, so that lovers of trophy fishing will receive full satisfaction.
A few weeks ago, our interlocutor caught a 10-kilogram pike 113 centimeters long on Naroch. For Belarus, this is a very big fish. This season he was lucky to catch 4 worthy Belarusian pikes.
And Anton caught the largest pike in his life in Finland. Length - 120 centimeters, weight - 10.6 kilograms. Photo: from the personal archive
Максимум, который когда-либо рыбаки ловили на Нарочи, рассказывает Антон, щука весом 18 килограммов (если верить только документально подтвержденным источникам). А вообще у рыбаков есть привычка преувеличивать свой улов.
— Недавно администратор отеля подходил ко мне и говорил: вот смотри-смотри, поймал рыбу в 20 килограммов! И показывает фото с рыбой весом 6−7 килограммов максимум. Я ее потом назвал " чуровской щукой", как у Путина (In 2013, there was news that Vladimir Putin caught a pike weighing 21 kilograms, which raised doubts among professional fishermen. - TUT.BY).
One bait can cost 50–70 euros
For such a large fish, the guide has a huge number of lures - the so-called "pike bucket". All of them are impressive in size. The fact is that the pike tries to eat prey ranging in size from 10 to 70% of its mass, so large baits are needed to catch trophy fish.
Some of them are relatively inexpensive - 10-15 dollars. There are exclusive baits worth 50–70 euros. To get them into the collection, fishermen queue for the master for a year. Once Anton was sorting his stocks and counted only one bait for 5 thousand dollars.
Some of the baits have their own “game”: when you lower them into the water and navigate through the water, they begin to wag their sides and imitate the movement of a real fish. There are also those who are deprived of acting and require the ability of the fisherman to choose the correct method of posting through the water. This also has its own interest.
Anton and his friends catch perch on ordinary small artificial baits, which almost all Belarusian fishermen have. You can, of course, catch live bait, but Fisherman focuses more on sport fishing, where this is not accepted.
The gear collection is no less impressive. Most of them are very powerful, because they are designed for catching large fish.
How to find big fish
It is not the season for pike in the summer heat (in such weather it eats very rarely), therefore we were oriented to catch perch. In search of fishing spots, Anton and his friends use an exclusive map from athletes. It indicates the Orochansky deep reliefs. Predators like to sit "in ambush" at the depth difference, so it is very important to know the relief anomalies. In addition, the map shows the places where fishermen were lucky in the past.
On the sounder we are looking for the so-called "vertical flocks." Usually large perch, when it begins to feed, is arranged in a flock. In addition, fishermen take into account many other factors: transparency of water, vegetation at the bottom, the presence of fodder fish, and so on. "This technique is worthless if you don’t know how to use it," - explains Anton.
Stopping the boat in the right place, choose the bait. Anton demonstrates fishing tricks to us together with the same fishing fan Valery - an expert in fishing tackle and lures. To our surprise, the fishermen do not ask for silence: the local fish got used to the sound of the motor.
A special pleasure is to take fish with your hands ...
Literally in the first few minutes, Valery was lucky. On the hook is the first perch. "For us it’s very small," - fishermen are not shy about some neglect of non-trophy fish. When they catch a perch, they immediately release it.
A few minutes later, a larger predator pecked at the bait. Fishermen noticeably liven up and expect to catch a kilogram perch by one and a half. It turned out that the pike fell for the bait - not a trophy, but the most ordinary one. "For the average fisherman - such a pike is good. For me - no. Sometimes clients look at me and say: you’ve sniffed," - the guide laughs.
Anton unhooks the pike and grabs it by the gill bones - he generally loves to take fish with his hands. "I have all hands in scars because of this, because the pike has 600 teeth, they are multidirectional and very sharp. But this is a special pleasure."
Trophy fish is taken out of the water using a special net - landing net (you can fit into it yourself). It is needed in order to make the pike comfortable while it is being taken out for a photo: partially the landing net remains in the water. The fishermen capture the catch on camera, take the bait out of the mouth ... and release the fish. We personally observed how a pike caught by Valery after a couple of minutes, as if nothing had happened, swam about his business.
Fishermen return home empty-handed
Frankly, we were somewhat surprised by this act: what kind of fishing without a catch? It turns out that the habit of letting out caught fish has recently become a kind of religion for modern fishermen. This principle is called "catch and release" ("catch and release"). Anton considers it important to promote respect for fish.
The same pike that fishermen were not satisfied with
- This principle does not imply the release of all fish. But I believe that it is very important to release large trophy fish, because it is a breeding stock, it gives very good offspring. Plus, it’s just humanly a pity to take fish with you, which, imagine, is 30 years old.
Anton's observance of this principle began a long time ago with banal laziness. The fish needs to be stored somewhere (the fish caught in the morning by the boat already deteriorates in the evening), cleaned, and so on. Anyway, if you calculate the cost of ordinary fishing (boat, tent, food), it’s cheaper to go to a restaurant and order salmon, Fisherman concludes.
Pike - tenacious fish
In response to our concerns about the viability of the caught and released fish, Anton spoke of a recent study on this topic. Pike in the mouth placed the bait with beacons and released them into the water. It turned out that within two days all the fish on their own freed from the bait. "A pike is a very tenacious fish. I caught a pike without eyes, with a gnawed tail, or a jaw that has been cracked. Damage is bad, but even a damaged pike continues to feed and hunt."
Before releasing the fish, Anton does the “aeration of the gills” to saturate it with oxygen, leads the pike by the tail back and forth, so that it begins to come to life. And only then returns to the water.
In Belarus, the idea of "catch and release" is not very popular yet. Customers at first, like us, are surprised. They expect to catch fish, fry it ... In the course of fishing, Anton shares his vision and offers to release the first fish caught - just try it. So far, no one has refused. Fisherman assured us that keeping a fish alive is a pleasure that you want to experience again and again. Therefore, most often, customers then themselves offer to release fish.
When a fish ignores fishermen
After the caught perch and pike, our fishing did not work out. We moved from one fishing place to another, but to no avail - the fish did not bite. Anton explained that a lot depends on the activity of the fish. If she does not want to eat, no matter how she teases, there will be no catch.
Sometimes such unlucky days happen with customers on board. Given the price of fishing guide services - $ 250 per day - bad luck may seem like a disaster. However, Anton assured us that he had not yet been dissatisfied. Most often, experienced customers order fishing for several days, so as not to get into trouble. Sometimes Fisherman offers an alternative: for example, to catch carp or trout in other reservoirs.
Basically, the service is aimed at pros - people who know why they are going and do not ask questions, why it is so expensive. Anton gives figures for comparison: in Finland, such fishing costs from 500 euros per day without accommodation and meals.
People who are completely “off topic” also come. Recently, for example, a man asked to ride his wife on a boat. Fisherman does not take such customers on board, for him interest is in high-quality fishing.
For customers who caught trophy fish, Anton has a bottle of champagne
Fishing is becoming more popular among young people
In general, there have been more and more fishermen in recent years, including very young guys, says Anton Antonovich. Modern gear and new technologies are popular. There was such a trendy direction as "street phishing" - fishing in the city. Young people chat with each other on social networks and gather on Svisloch together to fish.
By the way, this is a stereotype that in the city you can only rely on small fish for cats. Fisherman’s friend Valery used to catch 2.5 kilograms near the circus perch. Yes, and Anton himself once started fishing in a small pond in Uruchye. As a 4-year-old baby, he saw somewhere that adult uncles were fishing and asked his mother for the first fishing rod. Fishing has been his disease for 24 years.
Anton began to travel abroad fishing tours from the age of 20 when his first money appeared. He tries to visit Belarusian lakes at least once a month. The process itself captivates him so much that in the boat he is ready to spend days on end. It happened, and slept on a boat. In general, Anton’s largest marathon is 9 days, when he fished from morning to evening with a break for a 4-5-hour night's sleep.
- Naturally, when the fish is not caught, irritation may appear. It immediately becomes boring, I do not like it, you get tired of the search. But in any case, even if it was unsuccessful fishing, it is better than a day out of fishing. People who are not keen on fish will never understand this.
In his hobby, which grew into a business, Anton has already invested about 50 thousand dollars (a jeep for transporting a boat, the boat itself, equipment, gear, website development, and so on). When this money pays off, he has no idea. But he is full of confidence that he took up a promising business, which until recently was a dream.