FLIGHTS HAVE NOW RESUMED BETWEEN ANCHORAGE AND KAMCHATKA.
On ancient maps, the Earth was flat. The unknown lurked beyond the edge of the Earth and was known as Ultima Thule ....meaning the limit or farthest point of any journey. Ultima Thule was a land of dragons and fire and brimstone. For anglers there is at least one Ultima Thule left on Earth. Here the dragons have been replaced by brown bears and the fire and brimstone by volcanoes and geysers.
Jutting south from Siberia into the north Pacific, the Kamchatka Peninsula encompasses a landmass greater than Montana with only one somewhat navigable road into its interior. Kamchatka has been called one of the last great tracts of unspoiled wilderness left in the world. For most of the twentieth century, due to both geography and ideology, Kamchatka has remained cloaked in secrecy. Kamchatka's pristine, clear streams, magnificent birch forests and smoking volcanoes were locked up tight behind the Soviet's iron curtain. With Perestroika and then ultimately, the fall of the Soviet Union, sport fishermen began making exploratory forays into the peninsula's interior. What they found was truly astounding. . . an Alaska of 50-75 years ago.
These lucky anglers reported thousands of clear beautiful streams home to more species (6) of Pacific salmon (including the rare cherry or Masu salmon) than anywhere else in the world. It is now estimated that one third of the total Pacific Ocean salmon run originates in Kamchatka. In addition to the salmon, anglers reported many unique char species and a huge population of rainbow trout that were reported to grow to mythic proportions. These early trips were tough and the logistics difficult. Returning anglers, although thrilled with the fishing, were reluctant to return due to disorganized operations, long waits for flights and exhausting teeth-chattering helicopter rides. We could write a novel on our early experiences in eastern Russia. Suffice it to say that vodka-laced Russian Game & Fish officials, overbooked Russian flights, and helicopter flights that ran only because of under-the-table payments, kept our plans to book any Kamchatka operations on the wish list. We knew the resource was incredible, but until some enterprising Americans were willing to sort out the logistics, we would stay away.
But now, a group that has been exploring the peninsula since 1991 have established two camps on two different rivers. Each of the principals has an extensive background in guiding and managing fishing operations in Alaska and Russia. They all agree that these rivers offer not only great char and salmon fishing, but is the world's finest rainbow fishery!
After their initial forays into the area, two questions continued to intrigue them. . . Why are there so many big rainbows and why is the rainbow density so much greater than Alaska? After much research, the answer was surprisingly simple. . . it all boiled down to bugs! Because Kamchatka is further south than Alaska with warmer weather patterns, the riverine insect life is extensive and includes mayflies, caddis flies and stoneflies. This insect life, when combined with the natural chum line of salmon fry, salmon eggs and decaying salmon flesh, accounts for the absurd numbers of rainbows. In addition to these food sources, much of a Russian rainbow's diet will consist of mice.. big mice! These mice provide an important source of protein and any visiting angler must include suggested mice patterns in his or her fly arsenal when planning for Kamchatka. The average rainbow is close to 20" and 3-lbs. Many fish will exceed 22" and 5-lbs. and a few will exceed 25" and some 30" 'bows lurk in the river systems. All the fishing is done with floating lines and insects and mice keep these Kamchatka rainbows looking to the surface for food. Unlike Alaska, Kamchatka's rivers are rarely visited and you will not hear other boats or airplanes. This is a true wilderness experience. On these rivers, you will fish over 80 miles of river during your stay and each day you will have over 10 miles of river to explore.
The Ozernaya River
The Ozernaya is a river similar in volume to Alaska’s legendary Nushagak River. Much of the river is very wadable over shallow riffles and weed bar flats. The Ozernaya offers superb mousing and streamer opportunities to large rainbows. There can be also some good dry fly fishing at times.
Anglers are based in a warm and comfortable Alaskan-style, fixed tent camp. This camp overlooks the river and is framed by majestic hills. A central dining tent is surrounded by 4 comfortable A-frame cabins for the camp’s 8 anglers. These cabins have both electricity and wood stoves. The dining tent is equipped with a fly tying bench and a pot of hot coffee is always on. The camp has hot showers and flush toilet facilities. The menu is American-style with a touch of Russian. The Best of Kamchatka has extensive experience with Alaskan tent camps and certainly know what it takes to make a operation successful.
This camp employs a handpicked staff of American and Russian guides who have extensive wilderness experience. The guides use jet boats to get to the hot spots, but once there, wading is the preferred technique. The camp staff is a group of local Russians who have worked with the The Best of Kamchatka for many years.
Anglers fish a different beat of ten to twenty miles or river each day. Jet boats are used to access these beats. The Ozernaya has been called the best pure rainbow fishery in Kamchatka. Its true... we've been there!
The Two-Yurts River
The second experience offered by The Best of Kamchatka is the Dvukhyurtochnaya River (we call it the 2-Yurt). This river has been floated for only a few years. The rainbows average 20 inches and can be caught with dry flies, streamers, nymphs and top-water mice patterns. The Dvukhyurtochnaya River carries only moderate flows and fishes more often like a small stream. This trip is a must do for adventuresome anglers looking for a true wilderness experience. Anglers start their week on a beautiful lake and fish the river’s mouth for big ‘bows. The first night is spent in cabins (with a great hotsprings nearby). The next day, the float trip begins. You will camp in comfortable tents riverside and fish to your heart’s content. Anglers have the option of using single or double catarafts as transportation between camps. This is a great trip for hearty anglers.
One last point, getting to Kamchatka is not much more difficult than traveling to most Alaskan lodges. A mere 5-hour flight from Anchorage and a 1-2 hour flight from Petropavlovsk puts you on the river and in camp. From the moment you land in Russia, you will be escorted 100% of the time both by camp staff and a Russian interpreter.
Whether you choose the Ozernaya or the Two-Yurt River, we will promise top-notch equipment, experienced outfitters, great Russian food and some of the best fishing on our planet for rainbow trout, grayling, exotic char and Pacific salmon.
So if you are the adventuresome sort who seeks only great angling and prefers, as Will Rogers once said, “to always drink upstream of the herd”, give us a call today. We’ll fill you in on all the details and send you all the information and brochures on the trips offered by The Best of Kamchatka.