Russian Experience – 1st to 16th June 2007
Previous autumn (August 2005) fishing on the Kola P. produces nice but sometimes coloured fish – this a 19lber on my first evening.
Spring fishing this year was something different!
I was fortunate enough to have two weeks fishing on the Kola peninsula, and for the first week visited the river Kola (and 1 day on the Kitsa tributary), at a camp about 1 hour’s drive upstream of Murmansk perhaps about 80km from the sea. The Kola river is not just reputed to have, it actually does have some of the worlds largest Atlantic salmon running up to spawn, and some would say that it is second only to the famous river Alta for the size of fish. The river is large, wide, some pools over 5 metres deep, but most of the fishing is done in runs of 1.5 metres or so. The time of the year (arctic spring) means high & cold water, and that’s what we had – arriving with the river about 1 metre over normal level, and the water temp ~7°C, but clear.
29lber (estimated) from “Mike’s pot” above home pool R. Kola June 07.
As the realistic size of fish to be encountered could include hard-fighting springers up to or slightly over 50lbs weight, and the large fish had a reputation of running back out of pools, through the tail-outs, and down rapids strewn with huge granite & basalt boulders, I had been advised that 30lb Seaguar Ace leader was necessary to hold and land such fish , especially considering some possible rock abrasion during such battles. The rest of the equipment was suitably stepped up, with 45lb core guideline heads, 72lb Monic running line, and my preference of 260m + of 100lb gelspun backing, on a Daniellson 11fourteen reel, and cast from a Loomis classic 15’ #9/10 rod.
However, I did mostly use my new Meiser 13’ MKS #9/10, the same reel & backing, and a Rio
750 grain Skagit line, and the same or 25.5lb Seaguar Ace leader.
The flies were mostly plastic tubes, and I had particular success on my own variation of a Green Highlander, but also black & yellow, and the Phatagorva.
For the week, the 16 rods landed 145+ fish, ranging from 6lbs to 44lbs, average weight for the week for all rods being 19.94lbs. I personally landed 19 fish, from 15 to 31lbs, average weight 20.7lbs.
I lost about 11 fish, including all four fish hooked on the last day! Of the ‘lost’ fish, I had 2 breakoffs on 30lb Seaguar, the first was a very large fish (or at least very strong, and the 15 minute fight included twice hauling the fish away from the fall-away into the rapids, and then it ran twice up and along the far side, the second time a ping was felt and the line gave as the fish ran around a boulder. The other large fish (seen nearing the net and about 30-35lbs) was fought away from the tailout, to the shore, and the leader gave just before it was ready for the net – the leader had been previously abraded & such leader damage was unnoticed until the line gave out. Water temp at the end of the week was around 9.5°C.
The river Kola camp is offered to non-Russian visiting fly fishermen for a short season between end May and end July (approx) after which the Russians can fish this section also (the local Russians get licences to fish below the waters administered by the camp from the end of May or ice break at all times).
The camp is situated near the river Kitza junction with the river Kola, and it is my understanding that about 10km below and perhaps a little more than 10km above the junction is available for non-Russian visiting fishermen.
The availability and full details of the camp are via http://www.Lax-a.is
which is a sponsor of the Speypages.
In general, many of the previous 'problems' on the river Kola experienced by visiting fly fishermen have been solved, such as 'poaching', and access to the river, and although much of the early spring fishing must be done from inflatable boats as it is literally too difficult or dangerous to wade in such a large, wide & deep, powerful and very cold river in the early weeks.
However, the potential rewards are good numbers of large & powerful Atlantic salmon in the river, and every opportunity to contact the fish of a lifetime.
....to be continued for the 2nd week....