It can be said without exaggeration that every third Kazakhstani family has its own fisherman. It can be a father, a son or a brother. In addition to traditional commercial fishing, sport-and-recreational fishing is actively developing in Kazakhstan: there are federations, clubs, and fishing communities. The national fishing sport team of Kazakhstan has twice become the world champion in the team scoring. Of course, all this is not a coincidence - our anglers have many places where they can hone their skills. We will tell you about the prime fishing spots, about rivers and lakes where eminent fishermen come together for trophies not only from Kazakhstan but also from all over the world.
At all times the Ili River delta in the Southern Balkhash region was considered the best place for fishing. There are plenty of species of fish and the trophies are impressive. Our delta became famous abroad in the early 1990’s, when the first foreign travelers from Europe made powerful advertising to the delta in foreign media calling it ‘the best place in the world to catch trophy catfish’. By the way, two-meter-long giant catfish is also found in Syr Darya River in Southern Kazakhstan but, unlike in Balkhash region, there is no such diversity in the offers of services for recreation. Today in the delta there is more than a dozen good comfortable fishing recreation centers. Not only foreign travelers but also Kazakhstanis are coming here to have a rest. They come with families, with children, and wives, because apart from fishing here you can just have a great time enjoying the nature, ride motorboats through the maze of reed jungle, scuba dive in the purest lakes of the delta. But, of course, to get a decent trophy remains to be the main goal. In addition to catfish, large representatives of the cyprinoid fish are being caught here: carps, grass carps. The asp spinning fishing in Kazakhstan is very interesting.
In recent years snakeheads have ecized in the delta. Although the locals consider it a real depredator (and not without a reason: this aggressive predator eats everything that moves and is a threat to herbivorous fish), but it is exotic for the guests from other regions of the country and from abroad, and therefore is of great interest.
In addition, the delta is considered to be one of the best places for underwater hunters. Here they even hold annual competitions on catching trophy specimens of catfish, carp, grass carp, and pike perch under water!
By the will of the pike, at the fisher’s command
(The phrase is taken from a Russian folk fairy tale about Emelya who caught a pike, but the pike, in exchange for her freedom, empowered Emelya with a magic talent: every Emelya's wish became true only after saying a magic phrase "By the will of the pike, do as I like" This article has been named by a reworded phrase).
The pike is what Balkhash doesn't have. Just the way the pike looks is indicative of its agility, aggressiveness, and rapacity. The Black Irtysh River is famous for its trophy pike. It is a river that runs into Zaysan Lake in the Eastern Kazakhstan Province. In addition to pikes, large perches and bream are of interest to anglers in this region.
The pike also inhabits the rivers of Central Kazakhstan: Ishim, Tobol, Nura and in the south: in the Chuy spills and Syr Darya River. Shalkar Lake located 150 km away from the city of Uralsk is famous for its pikes too. They say that this fish sometimes reaches 40 kg, but in recent years no fish of that size was caught. Fishermen usually share photos of 15-20 kg predators on various forums.
The Giants of the Caspian Sea
The beluga of Acipenseridae family is recognized to be the largest fish in Kazakhstan. It is found in the Caspian Sea, the weight reaches 300 kg. But beluga is an endangered species and, therefore, catching it is prohibited. However, the waters of the Caspian Sea and the Ural River running into it are full of other interesting fishes permitted for catching: pike perch, roach, carp, mullet, bream, catfish, asp. Catching of the sturgeon species is prohibited, as well as the Caspian salmon, the Caspian lamprey, the Black sea roach, as all of them are endangered species.
Strangely enough, but there are practically no fishing bases for amateurs in the region, whereas, the Internet is repleted with videos where local fishers catch a mullet directly from the bank or shore.
In the river where trout is plashing…
In the mountains of the North and Central Tien Shan, in Jetysu (Dzhungarian) Alatau, the osman is being caught as well as the trout in some rivers which was introduced in Kazakhstan (the first planned trout acclimatization works in Kazakhstan was carried out almost a hundred years ago in 1929-1935) in the rivers and lakes of the foothill zones of Almaty Province. Fishing for trout has always been considered aristocratic, although difficult, because sometimes you have to walk more than one kilometer in search of places where the trout lives.
The inhabitants of taiga rivers
Fishing of gray fish in taiga rivers of the Western Altai, for example, in the Chernaya Uba River and the Belaya Uba River is difficult and unusual. Just to get to those places is an adventure, but if he/she gets there, he or she will sure be unbelievably happy just having caught a few fish. Usually, few local recreation centers throw the fishers several kilometers up the stream of rivers (or rivulets) by special vehicles, and during a day a mountain fishing amateur goes down the stream of the river checking the depressions he likes. Far from civilization, in the vicinity of bears and other forest inhabitants, such fishing gives people a lot of emotions. Therefore, according to anglers, it is not the trophy per se but the process itself that is important here.
By the way, there is the taimen in the same rivers, although, fishing for the taimen, even the sport one (catch and release type), is forbidden in Kazakhstan.
Ice Fishery in Korgaljyn National Park
Nur-Sultan (Astana) residents are fishing on the banks of Ishim (Esil) River, go to the lakes of the Burabay Resort, but winter fishing on the lakes of the Korgaljyn Reserve is of particular interest to local anglers. As soon as ice appears on the ponds, hundreds of anglers go to drill holes. This, by the way, is a considerable help to a small staff of the reserve, whose duties include rescuing fish from suffocation. An excellent example of thought-through interaction, beneficial to all parties!
Okunkol Festival on Lake Alakol
Lake Alakol, located in the semi-desert zone in the east of the Balkhash-Alakol depression, is interesting to those who fish in large amounts, the commercial fishermen. It is not very interesting for the recreational anglers: it is almost impossible to catch a trophy specimen from the shore, and it is not recommended to go out into the open water by boat. Even the commercial fishermen are afraid of strong winds, which the Dzungar Gates are famous for. They say that even if there is a mild wind, one must urgently to return to the shore.
It is interesting that it is here when Okunkol fishing-and-tourist festival has been held in autumn for eight consecutive years already, near Akshi village. The amateurs catch perch, pike perch, carp right from the shore. And although their catches not always impress the trophy hunters with the size, the participants of the tournament don’t have less emotions!
What is the most important in fishing? True! The process itself!
The small private ponds located near major cities are worth mentioning separately. Basically, these are the suburbs of Almaty and Nur-Sultan of course. The owners of such ponds equipped them with gazebos, and built small houses in some places. They stocked the ponds with fish, mainly cyprinoid fish species, and now they give an opportunity to enthusiastic anglers to satisfy their fishing need for a certain charge.
Of course, not all the ponds, rivers, lakes, reservoirs of our vast country are mentioned in this article. You can get more detailed information from the fishers of the region where you want to go to. After all, those with the fishing spirit belong to the fishing fraternity already! And brothers should be helping each other!