Chris Young

Kamchatka Northern Rivers Wilderness Float

August 2014


Trip was great…fishing was sick.  Worst half day last week was better than the best half day I have ever had in the states.  Fish are big strong and have never seen a fly or fisherman.  I had fish take flies that were lying at my feet while I was talking to the guide and even had a fish that I netted and let off immediately try to hit my fly again.  Could have fished streamers all day long and probably would have caught more and bigger fish…but the mousing was just too much fun.  Every day between 11am and 2pm, the mouse bite was outrageous.  Fish alternated between crushing mouse fly on surface and gently trying to pull the ‘mouse” under by the tail.  After a day or so of experimentation, really only fished one mouse pattern (Mr. Hanky) and a handful of streamers (b/w dali lama and a purple steelhead fly).


Was common to catch fish after hooking and missing  them 2, 3, 4 even up to 6 times.  They were simply relentless.  Caught mostly rainbows…average size around 18inches.  Honestly caught more fish 20+ inches than I did under 16.  Think the biggest one I caught was around 26 inches….but they were super fat…looked like pellet pigs.  Gilled two of them…sliced open their stomach…both had 3 rodents each in their belly.  The last rainbow I caught on the trip (on a Mr. Hanky), regurgitated a mouse all over my waders when I was removing the hook. 


Also caught plenty of char (which we cooked up and/or ate the caviar), kundza (a char with bright white spots) and pink salmon.  Guys I was with caught a couple silvers too.   

Helicopter rides were completely harrowing.  First flight was canceled due to fog, so had to take a 9hr bus ride on a dirt road to a second heliport.  First time I saw the pilots on our bus, I thought they were soccer hooligans (t-shirts, sneakers and windbreakers).  Very mountainous flights.  Getting gear on and off flights was loosely organized chaos. 


Float was awesome.  Was a stream I had never heard of and had allegedly been floated only 3 other times, ever.  We had 6 days of bluebird skies.  Floated around 20kilometers a day.  Entire river was wadable.  Well over 100fish per boat per day.  Justin Witt was one of the guides along with a Russian named Alexi (he is the “present for bear” guy from the movie Eastern Rises).  Alexi was a trip and had pretty amazing English for someone that learned entirely by guiding English-speaking fisherman.   He had never seen the movie, so one night we screened it for him and his colleagues on my ipad.    Not surprisingly, the Russian way of doing things is much different than the US way.  There was a second guide (Zeyna) that was more of a hunting guide or river guide than a fishing one.  The extent of his English appears to be: “fish,” “streamer,” “mouse,” “oh sh*t” and “no understand”.  Also had a koriak (sp?) (Russian indigenous) camp helper that would set up the kitchens, cut firewood and build homemade wader stands and a Russian woman that was the camp cook.  Food was…..Russian…but she made enough different dishes for every meal to keep us well fed. Ate some awesome food and some not so awesome food (the not so awesome usually involved ground fish or mayonnaise – or both).  But, she was told it was my birthday ab halfway thru the float and still managed to pull together a birthday cake on the fly, which was pretty impressive. 


Saw a lot of fresh bear tracks, but only two  bears the entire week (although one was ab 100 yards from our camp and huge).  We had a bear dog that ran around the camp and along the banks while we fished.  Some Russian breed that is related to a husky.  Super sweet dog around humans, but would flip out when he saw a bear or other furry animal.  And the bears, which have never seen a human or dog, were terrified of them.  These float groups usually have two dogs, but they lost one of their other dogs on an earlier float.  Guides all carried guns, although they only used them to shoot ducks along the float (Russians were confused when Justin shot several ducks out of the air…they prefer to blast them when they’re sitting on a log  – “why do you shoot when flying?  Much harder”).


All and all, a pretty great experience. 



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