After we released Lars Terkildsen fantastic Kola River report in our previous newsletter, Kola veteran Bernard Lunel has been so kind to send us this great report which is worth a newsletter. We leave the pen for Bernard Lunell, and we hope you will enjoy Bernard Lunel´s “Kola River – Where Dreams Come True”…Thank you Bernard!
Kola River – Where Dreams Come True!
“For many years now I have been thinking of fishing the Kola River. I had my doubts, having heard some poor reports such as “the scenery is a mess”… “plenty of poachers”… “guides not very professional.” I had, however, also heard many positive points about the food and the Lodge, and, most importantly, fantastic stories of ‘Big Fish’. This was music to my ears and all the motivation I needed to go and find one myself.
We arrived at the camp on Saturday later afternoon to a very warm and friendly welcome from the staff. The Lodge was outstanding, perfect in fact, with large cabins and private bathrooms. The food was very good. The scenery of the river is, well, what it is. Unfortunately the railway follows the river bank and trains pass by 3 or 4 times per day. But we were not there to see trains; we were there for the ‘Big Fish’.
Wow. Let’s go to the river’
Before dinner on the first evening I took a look at the catch book from the previous week and saw that 180 fish had been caught by 14 anglers. 60 fish were between 20 and 30 lbs, and 10 between 30 and 40. One fish was a ‘40 pounder’ and the smallest was just a ‘baby’ at 10 pounds! ‘Wow. Let’s go to the river’ I thought in excitement.
The weather was very cold with strong Patagonian-style winds and lots of rain. The river kept rising day after day and the fishing was very hard. Despite the conditions the river itself was a pleasant surprise. Many of the pools are simply fantastic. Monica Pool for example was like a dream; so long that I would have been happy to fish it all week. It had a small island in the middle that was perfect for a rest after a good fight.
Where else could you find so many ‘Big Fish’?
Throughout the week I met some poachers. One time I was fishing with my partner at the end of the day on the lower part of the Kitsa, just below the bridge. There are 3 nice pools at that point. A poacher was spinning in the middle pool but left immediately as we arrived. Our guide suggested to my partner that he fish this pool, but he preferred to fish the bridge pool. So I decided to take his place and fish where our “Russian friend” had been spinning. At the second cast I landed an amazingly fresh 18 pounder. Some 20 minutes later in the same pool, I lost a very nice fish just at the net. My guide estimated it at around 20/22 lbs. A little local knowledge goes a long way! So yes, there were a few poachers are on the river. From the bank you can see many good pools, and, in my opinion, the river were fished 20 out of every 24 hours. But, even with the poachers, the Salmon were there and of course the ‘Big Fish’. Now with the new protection plan and ” New Sheriff in Town”, poaching will hopefully come to an end, I cant wait to see the results. In the 4 weeks from the start of the season in the last week of May, the river produced 4 fish from 40 to 44 lbs. That’s one per week! Where else on earth could you find so many ‘Big Fish’?
Anyone has a chance of catching the ‘big one’
With a bit of luck anyone has a chance of catching the ‘big one’ like I did. I was fishing from the rubber boat at Junction Pool when a large fish hit my fly. In less than 2 minutes he was swimming in the middle of the rapids, which was just long enough for the guide to get me to the bank. It was a long run, a very long run, of about 150 meters before the fish reached the next serious pool. My reel was half empty and I was dancing with the fish from the bank. There were large boulders and trees everywhere, but the fish stayed on the line. After a fight of about 50 minutes I landed it with my guide Alex. A cracking fresh fish complete with sea lice, it weighed in at 20 Kg/44 lbs and 120 cm long! After the 27 lbs on the Umba, and the 36 lbs on the Yokanga, this was a new personal best. Heaven; I was in Heaven.
That night we opened the bottle of Champagne I always travel with. Cheers and thank you ‘Big Fish’; you have become my best ever souvenir.
You know what? I will return next year. I am sure there is a 50 pounder waiting in that river. And, if the luck and the fish do not join me at the 2013 “Rendezvous”, I will return again and again.
Catch records on Kola river:
Hereby the catch records on Kola river when I was fishing there
Week from 16 to 22 June (That was the week where I got the 44 Lbs) 75 fish was caught this week, 18 salmon was between 20 Lbs and 44 Lbs
1- 44 Lbs
The week before June 8 to 15 June. Total catch of the week 180 Salmon
54 salmon between 20 Lbs and 30 Lbs
It was more or less the same average results in 2008 and 2009. Together with Mark O´Hagan we caught the biggest fish on the lower Kitsa, the fish were weighted at 28 Lbs
If you want to follow Bernard Lunel´s footprint for some BIG chromes, we still have a few rods left in June. Get in touch if you are interested or have any questions. (email@example.com)
All the best,
Steffen & Kåre