Fishing the hidden juwels of Kola Peninsula.
Swinging for Atlantics under the Aurora Borealis.
The Kola Peninsula is the world’s last great stronghold of wild Atlantic Salmon, and the rivers of the Kola Reserve are the freshest addition to the big names of the north coast, which maintains a deserved reputation of being home to some of the largest Atlantics in the world. The Kola Reserve is comprised of 2 rivers in this wild landscape, the Lumbovka and the Kachkovka, each unique and offering diverse angling opportunities throughout the week. You are in for a fantastic trip! From the magnificent lodge built on the banks of the Lumbovka, you will be sitting roughly 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle, in the remote granite and tundra landscapes that the north coast is famous for. The camp is about 205 miles from the town of Murmansk, about an hour and a half’s flight from Murmansk in the workhorse of the skies, the powerful MI-8 Helicopter. This location is also just at the boundary between what is considered the Barents sea and the North Sea. The fishing season on the Kola is relatively short, but the rivers of the Kola Reserve do have 2 distinct runs of fish, allowing for 2 different times of the year to be very productive to quality angling. The Spring season occurs just as the late melt runoff concludes in early June running until it gets too low and warm in the rivers to maintain quality fishing. The fish this time of year are big and bright, and what the north coast of the Kola is known for. The second season is special with a strain of large autumn run Osenka’s entering the rivers in late August and through September. These fish come in packed with energy to survive an 18 month stay in the fresh water before they spawn. These things are lightning bolts when hooked fresh from the sea. With these rivers being new to the scene on the North Coast we are still learning what is normal and what potential they hold, but our first season scouting was amazing with what we witnessed firsthand. The average size of the fish was excellent, between 15 and 20 pounds in the spring season. We landed fish to just over 30 pounds, with a few more that were just too hot to handle and our scouting party swore would have tipped the scales higher. It is exciting to say the least, to think of the unknown potential in these rivers and what we will discover in the coming years as we get more time and flies swung through the pools. These rivers of the north coast are known for their powerful waters which produce powerful fish, but many of them can be intimidating to fish. The rivers of the Kola Reserve are the perfect size to be covered by fly anglers so you can be sure to get your fly in front of the monster salmon you came to shake hands with.
FISHING ON THE KOLA RESERVE
On arrival, Saturday afternoon, the Lodge Manager will make a quick orientation speech to advise you about the week ahead. Most days will start with a wake-up call at 7.00am and breakfast is available at 7:30am. Everybody must be ready to board the helicopter at their assigned departure times around 8am to 8:30am. Fishing is until the helicopter returns, around 6:00pm. Lunch is served on the river. Pre-dinner drinks, cocktails normally start around 7:00pm with dinner at 8:00pm. Fishing on home-pool is available from after dinner until 1am. There is a guide available on home-pool until this time, with a boat used to access the other side.
The Rivers of the Kola Reserve are very interesting to fish. The large boulders and high gradient make each pool special and unique and a new and fresh challenge to the angler. The standard method of fishing is to cast either square or slightly downstream and let the line swing round with the current until it straightens out and hangs below you, the traditional down and across swing method. Atlantic salmon love to chase a fly on the swing. Presentation absolutely matters on these rivers. It is more important to cast a straight line, with a fly that turns over, rather than a sloppy cast where the fly and leader lands in a pile. Worry more about fishing clean rather than worrying about distance. Do your best by fishing within your comfort zone. There is usually no need to mend up-stream to slow the fly but mending down-stream to speed it up is very effective! Retrieving is also a proven technique, either stripping or figure eight retrieving. Once the swing has finished it is important to leave the fly on the dangle before stripping in line. Atlantic Salmon will follow the fly until it finally straightens, the fly hanging on the end of the leader, suspended in the river current. The sudden take will be impressive to say the least. After each cast take two or three steps downstream so that every cast covers new water. Anglers are encouraged by the guides to concentrate on the water they are fishing. The guides will coach anglers in making sure even small pockets, just big enough for a single salmon, are covered. When you feel the “take”, don’t set the hook! Let that fish have all the time he wants to take the fly and turn on it. When the reel finally starts to click line off, then you bend the rod into the fish firmly as he moves away with the fly, lifting into the tension or pulling snug to the fish. After that, keep the rod up and the line tight at all times. Helicopters: You will be flying most every day in a smaller 5 seater Eurocopter’s. These are reliable and well-serviced helicopters piloted by experienced and highly professional pilots. These small helicopters have an excellent flight record and are amazing tools to get us into and out of distant beats with speed and ease. We will give everyone a safety talk in camp on the protocol to follow each time you fly in one. They can be loud, headsets are provided to reduce rotor noise and to communicate with the other passengers and pilot while flying.