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Known by many names, the sabrefish (or ziege, sichel, and sabre carp) is a fish species native to Eastern Europe and surrounding Asian regions, and can be found in the waters of the eastern Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea basins. These fish usually grow to between 25 to 40 cm (10 to 16 inches) in length, and is a pale, silvery fish. It usually swims near the surface in estuaries and lakes, while some populations live permanently in rivers and streams.
The sabrefish is a schooling fish that love to be near the surface of the water that they inhabit. They mostly feed on zooplankton, small fish, crustaceans, insects, and other small aquatic creatures. Their body shape closely resembles that of a large herring, with a belly that has a sharp keel, or edge, and when viewed from the side appears to be curved. With a straight back, this gives them a sword-like shape to their body and is where they gained the name sabrefish. The lower jaw points sharply upwards, and the large pectoral fins are long and pointed with the lateral line wavy and running down the lower sides. These fish ascend the rivers to spawn from May to June, and the eggs are deposited into the open water. It sometimes breeds in brackish water, for example in the Gulf of Finland. The eggs will hatch around three or four days later, and after spawning, the migratory fish return to their estuaries to feed.
Sabrefish fishing can be productive using all types of fishing methods and equipment. One of the most effective is the simple float or bobber, using it to suspend some bait near the top of the water where these fish like to hang out. Some popular bait that is used is the classic worm, or even maggots or grubs will successfully catch these fish. Fly fishing tackle can also be used and can be very productive, as these fish will eat flying insects that land on the surface of the water. Whatever method you may choose, it is important to be patient while fishing for them. These fish can gently strike the bait a few times before they actually commit and strike it. Give the fish a chance to take the bait before you try and set the hook, and it is a good idea to have a hook remover on hand to make it easier to removes hooks that the fish who may have swallowed it. Once you hook into a fish, you will need a good net if you want to complete the fight and bring the fish to the bank. Make sure your net is large enough and sturdy enough to handle the species of fish that you are targeting, in this case the sabrefish. Large, triangular, folding nets are gaining popularity among anglers because they are big enough to accommodate many different sizes of fish, but they are also lightweight enough and fold down to a manageable size for transport and storage. A medium to lightweight rod should be enough to catch you multiple fish, but again plan for the biggest fish you might catch.
Although sabrefish are known by many names, it is an underrated fish and really not too well known. But if you are anywhere near where they call home, you can easily enjoy catching these beautiful fish and fairly easily as well. The sabrefish or ziege may be one that you need to put on your fishing bucket list to try out at least once, because you may be surprised at how fun they are to catch!