Just got back Saturday night...it was an adventure, that's for sure! There's too much to type here, both positive and negative. It was my first trip to Russia and I learned it can be a very frustrating place at times, especially for inpatient Americans. That said, I met and fished with some really great Russian anglers who were very helpful and a lot of fun to fish with. Really, making new friends was the best part of the trip. They got a real kick out some of my Canadian flies, especially the Wulffs, Ghost Stone, Butterflies and Buck Bugs. We did a lot of fly swapping, which was really cool.
Like here in the Northeastern U.S., it was a freakishly early spring north of the Arctic Circle. The run of truly large salmon came in two weeks early this season, so we pretty much missed it. The water was over a meter lower than normal levels for the time of year.
There were some pretty decent stragglers, however. The fish in this video was my best landed on the trip. The "film crew" arrived about halfway into the fight. I was using 25# test and a 85-90% cranked drag and I was still concerned the fish was going down the rapids below. Thankfully, it all worked out. It made the 6 mile hike on railroad tracks (with some close calls with passing trains) worth it.
As far as flies go, all my fish but one wanted the Sugerman Shrimp, as sort of simple, bastardized Irish Shrimp in Canadian clothing. One of my Russian friends and I hooked 9 salmon on the Sugerman in a two day span. The only other fly that worked for me (and only that one time) was a small German Snaelda. It was all floating lines and leaders except for the cold mornings, when I used a floating line and a 5.6ips versileader.
We didn't put up very big numbers as I expected to...I think a lot of that had to do with some serious transportation and day ticket-acquisition problems...Getting Kola-3 licenses was a HUGE problem for us and Kola-2/Shonguy was hardly producing for anyone...but we did catch some quality fish when we could manage to get a Kola-3 day ticket and a ride to Loparskaya. I was hoping to make it to the Ura for a couple of days, but it didn't pan out.
Despite the frustrations, if I had it to do over, I would. However, I would not recommend this quasi-DIY trip to most people, especially anglers used to a more full service/lodge experience. My partner is used to Varzuga numbers and he got pretty frustrated. I'm used to Miramichi numbers and, though I expected to hook more, was pretty satisfied regardless.
Go to the YouTube site and choose the HD option on the video...not bad for my little off-brand, $20 13' spey rod!