The feeling of waking up in the extreme wilderness of the Russian tundra is magical. Apart from our group of 7 people there were nobody around for hundreds of miles, except for some reindeer and the occasional bear. We had 3 full days left of our adventure before the MI-8 helicopter would pick us up again and fly us back to Murmansk.
As usual we split up in 3 smaller groups and started our exploration of this quite long stretch of river. We could either fish downstream from home pool for a couple of kilometers before the river dropped into an unfishable canyon. This stretch of river had some very nice pools and bends and some of the guys had seen rising fish there the previous evening. We could also take a hike upstream towards the stretch of river called “First Knee”. There was also supposed to be a char lake in that area, something that could be interesting to check out. A third option would be to cross the river and take a hike across the mountain to reach the upper parts of the river. Over the next 3 days we would do all these things and more to really get to know the area. As you can see from the pictures the weather was on our side and the lack of the usual bushy vegetation made hiking up and down the river easy.
Fly fishing in the artic during the summer months can be a challenge for some people when it comes to bugs. Mosquitoes and other flesh eating bugs will do their best to eat you alive. But fishing there in late August was a nice change as there were nearly no mosquitoes or other bugs present. But the apparent downside was the lack of bugs on the water and few rising fish. The fish also seemed to behave differently than earlier in the season as spawning was coming closer. We could see some huge trout jumping high up into the air to make their presence known to their competitors and also what looked to be outright fighting for the best positions on the river. This often gave away their position and we could move in for the cast.
I primarily fished the upper stretches of river near “First Knee” for the rest of the trip and I caught some very memorable trout there. The river in this place is very big, but wadable in many places. There were rocks and various currents all over the place and lots of water to fish. After observing the area for quite some time I decided to get to it and to fish this stretch of water in a very systematic way. I mostly fish with dry flies but with such a large body of unknown water to fish I resorted to using a big olive wooly bugger. It would make it possible to cover larger areas of water effectively and sure enough I did find some nice trout using this method.
Our Kola adventure was coming to an end and the next morning we got picked up by the helicopter and returned to civilization. It had been a fantastic journey with great people and above average sized trout. We would be back next year as well and that would prove to be a very different experience altogether.