Steffen Juhl – Salmon Junkies
1. Prepare meticulously. First and foremost too many lack sufficient casting abilities. That means they have to spend a large part of the trip and fishing learning proper casting skills, and that is a waste. It is too expensive to be a beginner on Kola! Enrol in a casting course through your tackle shop, a national fly fishing association or privately, if you feel uncertain about your casting abilities.
2. Listen to the guides. A lot of guys think they know everything about salmon fishing when they come to Russia. Perhaps they have a lot of experience from Norway or Scotland, but that does not equal knowledge on how to fish on Kola. Your Russian guides may not speak ‘Queens English’ and perhaps do not express themselves very strongly, but listen to what they say. They practically live by the river for the entire fishing season, and that naturally endows them with great knowledge.
3. Do not cast too far. I get 80 % of my fish within 20 meters. With a shooting head, polyleader and monofilament tip that is approximately 4-5 meters of shooting line outside the top ring in a stretched cast. More is unnecessary – even a disadvantage as it becomes more difficult to stretch the line and leader completely. And that is much more important than long casts.
When the water temperature surpasses 8-9 degrees Celsius you can NEVER fish the fly too fast. Cast across the current to give the fly more speed.
4. Do not go to Kola with newly purchased equipment. You should know your fishing gear before you go up there. It is no good standing on the banks of the Ponoi with 500 kilometres to the nearest town discovering that the lines don’t match the rod etc. Lines should be prepared, adapted and tested with the rod.
5. Lower your expectations. For most people a trip to Kola is tough on the budget. Therefore a lot of people set their expectations for catch numbers proportionally high – until they become too high. Expect and appreciate 20 salmon in a week, if you are going to Ponoi for example. It is rather pointless having saved up money over a long period, finally getting there, catch 25 salmon – which is virtually impossible in other places – and then be disappointed, because you feel, you should have caught 70. In total there are perhaps 1-4 weeks per year, where catch numbers reach the incredible levels we all dream about.
5 tips for your salmon fishing trip
Kaare Lundquist – Salmon Junkies
1. Salmon fishing and weather conditions are inextricably interlinked. The number of salmon you can expect to catch is directly connected to the weather conditions during the time you are fishing. At far northern latitudes the weather changes quickly and unpredictably.
2. Use a 12′6 – 13 feet double-handed rod in normal conditions. A light single-handed 5 or 6 weight rod is worthwhile bringing along for fishing riffling hitch and dries, if conditions are warm and sunny.
3. Cast at an angle of 90° across the river. Strip the fly towards you to give it more speed. Fish the fly right in towards your side of the bank, and strip it there to. That often pays off.
4. Move a lot, 3 to 4 steps between each cast. You don’t have to cast very far – it is much more important to give the fly speed.
5. The weather conditions dictate the choice of fly. Kaare fishes a lot with size 6 weighted Beis flies (Mörrum pattern). Flies with black and blue seem to work well, when the weather is dark and gloomy. Otherwise yellow and orange is a good choice for tea-coloured water like the Ponoi. Black Sheep is also a good all-round fly that works well. Generally most people use flies that are too big. Try smaller sizes. A floating or intermediate line is normally adequate – however a sinking line is always good to have nearby.
5 tips for your salmon fishing trip
Dana Sturn, Speycasting instructor, www.speypages.com
1. Avoid unrealistic expectations. You are dealing with sea-run fish and that kind of fishing can never be 100 % sure. I have learnt this the hard way as a steelhead fisherman.
2. Be patient on your trip in Russia. Things move slowly, sometimes very slowly. Do not expect the same pace as in Western Europe or the US, when you have to go through airports, customs, buy tickets etc. Show respect instead of getting angry.
3. Put your knowledge aside and listen. Trust what the guides tell you concerning lines, flies and so on. Ponoi is in many ways a ‘different’ river for most people. It is very wide, quite shallow, slow flowing in places, the water temperature fluctuates a lot – often, quickly and within a broad temperature range – the water level is to a very large degree subject to weather conditions far away on the tundra interior.
4. The choice of flies is also very special in many ways. The salmon do not seem very critical towards colours. The ruling opinion is: black flies for overcast weather, and light so-called fine weather flies (Green Highlander etc.) for sunny weather. Size and movement is more important, and this is dictated by the water temperature. Cold water calls for large flies and slower movement. Warm water means small flies and faster movement.
5. Use quality equipment and tackle, always bring backup gear with you. If something can go wrong with your gear, it will on a trip like this. There is no backup in the wilderness. Bring three rods and two reels with extra spools, various line types and polyleaders as well as small and large flies