I have physically spent nearly half of my time on the Kola salmon rivers during the last twenty years, and even at home I don’t think there has been a single day without dreaming about Kola. I have managed several camps on some of the finest salmon rivers on the peninsula and sparkling memories are abundant, though I must admit that my personal adventure did cost me some of my hairs on my head. Being a camp manager is not always a dance on dorsal fins – but looking back all the highlights are jumping out like vivid images; big autumn fish from Umba, June giants of northern streams like Kharlovka, Rynda or Yokanga. Salmon bonanzas in Varzuga. Or the rush of a riffling dry fly being chased by several Ponoi salmon on the same swing across a pool – oh yes – there have been some dazzling years and tons of glorious memories. BUT – For me Umba is “the Jewel of the Crown”. Umba has so many unique advantages, which in my opinion makes it the obvious choice for the dedicated salmon angler looking for high quality accommodation and fishing. And last but not least – at very fair prices.
The Umba season starts right after the ice melts in late May and continues into October. During this period there are five different runs of salmon creating a nearly continuous run of fish entering the river.
Chances of big fish – and large numbers
Every week during the season there are opportunities for catching really big Umba salmon – and thus not only great numbers of smaller salmon.
Safe water conditions
As the Umba watershed is vast and consists of several large lakes and water-absorbing bogs, the water levels are consistent. Low water levels are never a problem on the Umba River.
A well-established and safe program
The Umba program does not helicopter transport – our modern busses are never “fogged in” – and this also keeps prices down.
Having been at most of the Kola lodges I have to say there is a very special feeling and atmosphere at the Umba lodge. A summer evening on the lodge veranda overlooking Home Pool – often with jumping salmon in sight – creates lifelong memories. Or the stories told after fishing on dark autumn nights in front of the big cosy fireplace that just add to the outstanding experience. All this combined with great food and friendly service makes this one of the nicest lodges anywhere.
As the Umba program does not rely on expensive helicopter transport, Salmon Junkies is able to offer very moderate prices compared with other program in Russia.
Of course there is much more to tell about the Umba River. For example that the Krivetz beat is one of the most classic, but also challenging flywaters I ever have fished. In addition to Krivetz you will have access to all the famous classic Umba pools like, Rat’s Pool, Brad’s Pool, Lohkinka, The Bar, Home Pool and Doctor’s Pool, and all the other smaller or bigger pools. And all pools are within a short distance of the outstanding Umba lodge.
But no matter what river you fish always keep in mind: “You can’t catch them all. Just minimize the losses and believe in your destiny. Some salmon are just poorly hooked – and no praises, money, wisdom or power will change that”.
The month of June
Our June fishing is normally restricted to the lower parts of our beats. The high water levels make most of the Krivetz next to impossible to fish under normal June conditions. Even so this month is regarded as one of the most productive on the river.
The large overwintering fall salmon, so unique for the Umba River, wake up from the winter’s “hibernation” and start to join the fresh run salmon on their way towards the spawning grounds. Not to be confused with kelts (returning salmon that have spawned). These magnificent deep and hard fighting salmon are still in their silvery livery. The Vyala River tributary, entering the main river at the neck of Home Pool, has a run of early salmon. It seams like these fish stay in the Home Pool before running the Vyala River. This shoal of fish also halts the salmon running the main river.
The month of July
During the first two weeks of July most of the Krivetz section begins to fish well, however there can still be inaccessible pools in Krivetz only reachable by boat.
During the last two weeks in July water levels normally drop to make fishing in the entire Krivetz section possible. The summer run fills the pools with sea-liced fish in sizes from 6 lbs to + 20 lbs. Water temperatures can become quite high and light tackle with floating lines and fast swinging flies are often most productive.
The month of August
August on the Umba is a transition month. The weather is gradually getting cooler, as well as the water. The fishing in Krivetz is at its optimum with pools virtually full of fish from the summer run, as well as the last autumn run. Usually the first of the fall-run salmon enter the river during the last two weeks of August. These salmon are big, bright and extremely aggressive. This is truly Umba fishing at its best, using small, fast swung flies and light tackle. The take from one of these fish will feel like an explosion “all the way into your backing”…
The months of September and October
The late season on Umba is the time, when the biggest salmon run up our beats. This unique and late run consists of extremely deep and powerful salmon “designed” by mother nature to spend a full year in the river before spawning the following year.
From the lodge you can watch fresh salmon entering Home Pool every day, jumping and challenging swung flies. This time of the year most people would normally be fishing with sinking lines and big flies, but we do best with small flies in sizes 6 – 8 fished on intermediate or floating lines. Although the days are shorter and the weather is harsher, the autumn fishing in Umba is unparalleled. No river on the Kola can boost the same numbers of real big salmon like Umba in the autumn.
Best regards / Steffen Juhl