Fly Fishing Kamchatka – Rainbows
Species: Rainbow trout, Khundza
Season: June – October
Capacity: Varies between destinations
Cost: Variable based on river package
Located virtually at America’s back door, only a few hours by plane from Anchorage, Alaska, is Russia. Mysterious, misunderstood and often mislead, this frontier holds a universe of fly-fishing opportunity that has only just been tapped. Forget all your Cold War notions and Chernobyl nightmares. This is a country so vast and with infrastructure so undeveloped that the majority of its hinterlands remain totally unspoiled and barely fished.
Imagine yourself on a windswept stretch of crumbling tarmac, in far east Russia, as a giant helicopter fires up its turbines and signals the start of the fishing adventure of a lifetime. The immense rotors spring to life and the sounds and excitement become almost unbearable as you and your trip mates scramble inside to find a seat amidst a mountain of gear- rafts, tents, stoves, metal crates, coolers, dry bags and enough food and vodka for a small army! The powerful machine lifts the impressive load with ease and you are soon whirling above a landscape unlike any you’ve ever seen before.
Forested hills of birch and cedar surround vast meadows of wildflowers, and in the distance, snow covered volcanic peaks trail whisks of plume into the cobalt sky. There are sparkling creeks and rivers everywhere, rambling through countless valleys, large and small, with nary a soul to be seen. Where are all the anglers you wonder, with all this good looking water and rumors of big trout? The pilot puts you down on a silver of gravel on the edge of a long run of boulder strewn rapids, and before you can even finish putting on your waders, someone else already has a fish on, and sure enough, its a beauty, jumping and careening as only rainbows can and do.
Welcome to Kamchatka. For years it was off limits to any exploration, foreign and domestic, but now it is open for travel. And though it seems deserted, it won’t be long before the rest of the world finds out just how good the trout fishing is on this long isolated peninsula. In dozens of rivers along its coasts, there are rainbow trout, among other species, in numbers and size that call to mind conditions in Alaska fifty or more years ago. Amazingly, the few guiding operations in existence have barely scratched the surface, leaving most of it as yet untapped.
And what better way to enjoy this “Last Frontier” of trout angling than by floating its wild rivers in rafts, with native guides, fishing virgin stretches of water each day, camping on gravel bars marked only by the tracks of animals, totally immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Kamchatka’s awesome backcountry?
The Kamchatka float and fish program is set up for 7 and 10 day expeditions with the season runing from July into mid October. West coast guests arrive in Petropavlosk, Kamchatka from Anchorage while those anglers coming from the east coast of the US will travel through Moscow to Petropavlosk. Once on the peninsula, with weather permitting, anglers are flown by helicopter out to the rivers for their float fishing adventure. After each trip, there is time usually scheduled into each trip for some local activities such as sight-seeing, souvenir shopping, volcano trekking, horseback riding and a farewell party with ethnic music and dancing at a rustic dacha.
These float and fish safaris provide a unique and intimate experience of Kamchatka’s superlative wilderness and fabled fishing. Since they are not burdened with the logistics of maintaining fixed camp operations, they can offer trips on rivers few others have visited, and are continually exploring to provide their clientele with the very finest wild fishing available. All trips begin on remote headwaters, floating silently, without noise of motors, to give you the opportunity to see, enjoy and photograph wildlife up close, not to mention the treat of fishing stretches of water not accessible by any other means. Camping streamside in a new location every night, with a background lullaby of running water, untainted by the sound of generators. Each day on the river is a new adventure, with unfolding vistas of spectacular country, glimpses of active volcanoes, wildlife sighting, hot springs, native ruins and artifacts and of course plenty of fabulous fishing.
The food on these trips, unbelievable, is the only way to describe it. Two native cooks accompany each expedition, and the fantastic Russian meals these girls whip up from scratch each and every time you eat, are just as memorable as the fishing. In the evenings, you will enjoy the camaraderie with your trip mates and guides, swaping stories and toasting each other until sleep finally wins you over, luring you to the tent.
Kamchatka’s wild rainbows, called “Mikizha”, are big and unsophisticated, so you won’t need a great deal of technical skills or elaborate gear to do well fishing for them. Deepening on the month, anglers usually fish the surface with a mouse and other dry flies or nymph fishing techniques with egg or flesh type patters work well the remainder of the time.
The “Kundzha”, otherwise known in English as an Eastern Siberian Char can become as large as 15 pounds and Coho salmon near 12 pounds. Other species playing host the these waters are grayling and in some places large pike and “Lenok” the Russians version of the brown trout are also available though many of the summer months making for some of the most well rounded fishing available anywhere. Most of the trout and steelhead are going to average around 4-6 pounds but it usually isn’t difficult to locate fish of much larger proportions often exceeding 10 pounds.
For the river expedition, along with your American guide, you will be accompanied by 2-3 native Russian guides and two Russian girls who will do all the cooking. We will be using self bailing, 14-16 foot SOTAR rafts to carry the gear, but most of the fishing will be done out of the boats, as the rivers have perfect wade and casting conditions for almost their entire length. You determine the pace and extent of each days downriver travel. We will set up a deluxe camp each night at ideal fishing spots to allow for leisurely angling to your heart’s content. These deluxe camps consist of separate tents for sleeping and dining, private bathrooms, portable hot showers and even streamside steam baths called “banyas”. Help with the loading and unloading of the gear is expected but only takes a few minutes and the rest of the time is all yours.
For those that have fished in Alaska before, the same rules apply when trying to select gear for this trip. Steelhead and the larger rainbows are going to require rods in the 6-9 weight range while grayling will do just fine on 4-6 weight rods. Bringing sink tips is always a good idea but normally floating lines are the most universally used with great success.
Again, we can’t stress enough that our trips are selected for their intimate and personable settings. Excellent guides coupled with exceptional waters are what make the trips we offer so special and different from others. We invite you to join us on a trip most anglers will never take in their lifetime!