So another season has passed. Reports from Canada, Iceland, Norway and Scotland tell us that 2014 was both difficult and challenging. Yet for us Junkies the Kola has once again proved to be one of the most reliable destinations to fish for Atlantic Salmon. With the passing of our 2014 season on Grand Varzuga and Umba, Salmon Junkies can now sit back and celebrate the many wonderful memories and new friendships made out there. That said, we had our tough weeks too when we was forced to look ‘outside the box’ in order to get the pulls. Like so many things in life, the margins can get smaller when things start to get tough, and salmon fishing is no exception at times.
Never Give Up and Enjoy the Game:
An experienced Salmon angler once said “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. In a split second success can change to failure and the duel is finished. No matter how much time and effort you have spent, in search for a taking salmon, the game can finish just as soon as it started – You need to learn in order to accept, and then – start from scratch. Salmon fishing is a mental game, where you can move from seventh heaven to the valley of despair in a flash. The experienced salmon angler tries to enjoy the whole game in solid peace – at least in public.”
One of the best examples of that has to be our long-time friend Kai Welle from Germany. This season Kai manage to land ten Salmon between 4 and 10lb, six between 14 and 18, and two between 22 and 24lb. His concept; ‘Believe in what you are doing. Cover the water hard, don’t give up a river just because it let you down the first or perhaps the second time, in other words, get to know the river, never give up and keep pushing’. And so he did and hit the Jackpot this year in Umba and we have seen this numerous of times among our returning guest.
In spite of a very late and cold spring our Grand Varzuga program was a great success as always. During our test week, the third in May, we were hit by one of the highest floods in many years and it provided some extremely difficult conditions for the heroes that ventured out to fish. During the last week of May the river began to drop quickly and we started to catch a good number of fresh salmon. Our June weeks produced the usual ‘insane’ high numbers, and, when we pulled out of the camp in mid-June, there was a huge fresh fish presence throughout our outstanding 35 km Grand Varzuga territory. We could have continued for a couple more weeks, but all good things must come to an end. In total our last three Grand Varzuga weeks produced just under 800 Salmon between 30 rods.
Umba – Spring:
As usual our beloved Umba River blessed us with some outstanding fishing. As the season started in late May we were hit by a cold spring with heavy snowmelt off the Kirovsk Mountains providing some extreme conditions and very cold water temperatures. The first two weeks of the season were difficult with more kelts than usual and less fresh fish. Of course there were still some highlights, especially for our Danish Jesper Ravn. Jesper had an unforgettable day during the first week of June at Krivetz when, in two successive casts, he pulled whoppers of 20 and 23lbs out of Island Pool. During our third week on the Umba we saw unusually high water levels, although the water temperature rose rapidly to 15 degrees Celsius. Steven Casey from Ireland caught fresh fish of 19 and 20 lbs and Mark Kumlin from Finland landed a cracking 22 pounder and lost another monster. Our ‘top rod’ was Umba veteran Tor Helenius from Sweden with fish of 20 and 22 lbs, and a total of 11 salmon. Unfortunately another 4 or 5 fish over 20 lbs were lost during the last week of the spring season.
Our first autumn week on the Umba came in the middle of August and produced an incredible number of salmon for the lucky guys who were there. The ‘top rod’ went to Dane Søren Gottfredsen who manage to land 28 salmon during his week, with a biggest of twenty plus pounds. And then there is our first time fly fisherman, Dane Peder Kjær, who managed to land a staggering 21 Salmon in the same week. Go Peder! We had our ups and downs during what is normally a very productive September week, but still managed to average 6 – 8 salmon per rod. Moving into October month we saw more fresh salmon pushing in on a rising river; a river that was on the low side again for the second year in a row, in spite of the huge water reservoirs in the Umba backcountry.
Salmon between 35Lb and 39Lb
There are so many great stories this year and it is not possible to list them all, but here are a few. Pär Hagquist had a blast catching both a 28 and 31 pounder super chromes during his week. In total Pär managed to get 16 Salmon under the belt with several between 15 – 19lb. Again we had the pleasure to host Umba veteran Illtyd Grifftth from Wales. Illtyd managed to nail 4 twenty pounders, plus a good catch of salmon between 15 – 19lb. Jean and Benjamin from France proved their skills once again by pulling out 3 twenty pounders plus their usual bunch of reasonable sized fish. I could go on with other great stories from this season, not to forget all those about the ‘big ones’ that got away, but I’d better leave that for another day.
Our biggest caught Umba salmon this season was
92 Salmon between 15Lb to 19Lb.
41 Salmon between 20Lb and 24Lb.
2 Salmon between 25Lb and 29 Lb.
1 Salmon between 30Lb and 34Lb
1 Salmon between 35Lb and 39Lb
A Special Thank you:
In closing, Salmon Junkies would like to thank all of our 2014 guests, for helping us protect the Grand Varzuga and the Umba River. Remember ‘a river without friends is an unprotected river’. Fishing for these magnificent salmon is not only sport and relaxation; it also strongly influences environmental conservation efforts and helps us ensure the richness and wonder for the next generation. For our staff, we can only express our deepest gratitude. Salmon Junkies are exceptionally proud of you and what you deliver for all of our guests. Special thanks, as always, goes to Orla Bertram Nielsen, our Umba Camp Manager, who always makes sure that everything is under control when we are not in camp. Also a big thanks to our two Grand Varzuga fishing guides, Mark Leander and Andreas Andersson, for their outstanding reliability, strength and fishing knowledge throughout the entire season. A special thanks to Anne Mette for holding the fort while we are away in wonderland.
We also want to thank our dear friends at Varzuga Kolkhoz together with the Murmansk office staff. Without their great help and support, our experience would not be what it is.
As the long dark and cold winter has arrived in NW part of Artic Russian, Salmon Junkies would like to express our humble gratitude to the finest Atlantic salmon rivers in the world, without which none of this would be possible. For us here at Salmon Junkies protecting these wild rivers drives us with a passion. We simply can´t wait to return to this addictive and fascinating part of the world together with our friends and Salmon Junkies from all over the world.
Should you wish to join us in 2015, please do no not hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as most bookings are done before Christmas. As always returning rods from last have first right of refusal.
All the best and have a great Christmas,
Steffen & Kåre