We at Salmon Junkies have just returned back home after our summer session at Kola. Summer 2013 will most likely be remembered for its extreme hot dry conditions and a fairly skinny run on many of the Kola Peninsula Rivers. But what will be remembered mostly is that our beloved and dear friend Nick Podolsky passed away under very tragic circumstances. You will always be with us Nick and we will always think of you. Please read Nick Podolsky´s obituary here. http://salmonjunkies.com/articles/nick-podolsky-a-legend-and-a-good-friend-has-passed-away/
Our season started back in May when we took a short trip to Umba to organize our three 2013 programs; Umba, Grand Varzuga and a pilot program at Kola River. Within days of our arrival in Russia the weather went from normal spring temperatures to an ‘almost tropical’ 25-30 degrees C. Most of the rivers were already running low and, without significant rainfall over the next few weeks, this season looked like it could go down as one of the driest and toughest for many years.
We arrived to Grand Varzuga together with Our two Swedish guides on 20th May. From the helicopter we could see that the mighty Varzuga River was about 3 – 4 feet below its normal seasonal level. Unless something happened it would only be a matter of a week or so, before much of the river would ‘disappear’. Luckily for us the first two weeks at Grand Varzuga turned out well and we managed to land around 400 salmon. The last two weeks were an even bigger challenge, with a lot of tough hiking to reach the ‘hot’ pools and fishing spots. As a result of hard work and persistence our guests managed to land 9 x 20lb fish. An exceptional record that proved what we already knew – the biggest Varzuga salmon were heading to our part of the river! In total we landed 510 fish – How on earth you get that kind of fishing under such difficult conditions? …We certainly don’t know.
We want to publicly thank our two Swedish guides, Mark Leander and Cristofer Nilldoff, for their extraordinarily hard work and professionalism during our four weeks at Grand Varzuga. To all our guests, you did a fantastic job considering the tough conditions! We would also like to give special mention to Benjamin Fletcher who took a staggering 36 salmon during his first trip. Well done! Another hardcore angler, Peter Kremsner, achieved 30 salmon during his week.
The Kola River was our pilot project this year. The river has been poorly managed for many years, but is well known for its big salmon during the month of June. The Kola was also suffering from the tough weather conditions. In spite of that we landed 15 salmon in the 20-26 lbs range and 14 between 15 and 19 lb during our two-week trip. Rolf Beriat, who caught a 29lb fresh whopper at Umba last year, landed two 24 pounders during his stay at Kola this year. Sadly, we have decided NOT to continue with Kola River trips in the future. This was a tough decision, but necessary if we are not to jeopardize our long-standing trusted friendships.
Three amazing weeks in June at Umba
When the 2013 fishing season started on the Kola Peninsula the water level was low and the air temperature higher than normal. By June the water temperature was already at 15 degrees C. Umba River’s legendary chief guide, Nick Podolski, feared that this would put a damper on June fishing. Fortunately for us the midsummer welcomed a perfect mix of rain, wind and sun over a large catchment area. Along with a couple of minor sea-level rises and some periodic cool weather, 22 June saw the exact same flow and temperature as three weeks before. This was probably one of the main reasons that fish numbers were constantly high, providing our guests with the best fishing in recent years. The lower Umba from Junction Pool to Doctor’s Pool could be fished anywhere from both boat and shore. The Krivets was also readily available and the water level was still high in individual pools. The Spring ascent culminated in a first week of 60 salmon for 3 rods. Thomas Tallskog caught his first salmon after six years of unsuccessful attempts in Norway and Sweden. He ended up being top rod with 17 salmon up to 20 lbs.In the second week our 8 guests caught a combined total of 75 salmon. Austrian, Peter Kremsner, had fished Grand Varzuga together with David Stocker week before, became top rod with 20 salmon, 3 of which were over 20 lbs.
Peter was partnered with David Stocker during the second week and they landed a staggering 6 x 20 pounders between them. Paul Walther from USA was on his second visit to the Umba and landed 12 beautiful salmon. The five other guests were a team of Belgian fishing friends. Rudy Ceuppens landed 14 salmon, while his brother, Robert, caught a 20 pounder in Junction Pool. Francis Wanten, a total beginner on arrival, landed 3 salmon and 2 fine sea trout. The last week of June had guests coming from France, Austria, Germany and Ireland. Between them they landed 70 salmon. Frenchman, Arnaud Richard, was top rod with 2 trout and 13 salmon. He had 3 over 10 lbs. and the biggest of the week a 18 lbs. His buddy, Andre Reviere, did well with 10 salmon, of which 8 were over 10 lbs and the largest at 16 lbs. Over the week the party landed 18 fish over 10 lbs. All in all we had 3 fantastic weeks at Umba with consistently high catch rates.
Soon we will return to the mighty Umba from mid-August for the Autumn season and the rise of the unique large Osanka salmon, which offers superior world-class salmon fishing until mid-October. We are looking forward to spend this fantastic last part of the season with you! Stay tuned soon for our upcoming fishing reports.
All the best
Steffen and Kåre