September 9, 2014
From Russia With Love

My friends, it will be hard to compress the experiences of these last two months in Kamchatka into a single blog post.  One post is what I have time to give it though, so I will try.  General description up here and then a long series of photos with comments and descriptions interspersed.  Hope you enjoy!  Kamchatka, is an amazing place. I’ve been all the way around the globe once already and have seen quite a few places in the process; hell, I’ve actually guided in every hemisphere on Earth already this calendar year – but nothing that I’ve ever seen before quite compares to Kamchatka in terms of difficult to access totally inhospitable yet strikingly beautiful terrain.  I mean, it’s out there.  And if it weren’t for those awesome Russian MI8 helicopters we wouldn’t have access to it at all.  Those of you familiar with this blog from years ago know full well that I am no stranger to walking the Earth.  When I started it back in 2007 I was embarking on a six month walk up the Andes all the way from Cape Horn to the top of Patagonia.  But I am here to tell you right now and in no uncertain terms that such a trip would simply be impossible in Kamchatka.  The terrain is just too demanding.  Hikers used to an average speed of three or so miles an hour would see that average cut to one mile an hour if they were lucky on the tundra, and likely end up falling in a hole they couldn’t climb out of in the process.  Hell, tanks have trouble crossing this terrain.  What this means though is that floating the country’s rivers in a raft is all that much more fun, because there’s never, ever going to be a single other soul around.  And this works out well for us flyfishermen anyway because as Rat said to Mole in Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the Willows so many years ago “there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”  So mess about in them we did, floating all kinds of rivers through that amazing country including some which had never even seen an oar or a fly in their lives.  And the fish were there.  Rainbows, Dolly’s, Cherry Salmon, Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon, Kundzha - you name it, they were there; they were plentiful; and they were hungry.  Then to make it all the more amazing – they were hungriest for mice.  Lots of fly fisherman back in the states have a mouse pattern or two in their boxes, and a couple of times a season they even consider for a second tying it on, then usually decide not to.  It just seems like such a stretch; is this really going to work?  In Kamchatka the answer is yes.  A short summer season coupled with a lot of very tall grass makes the mouse a fish’s favored and most sought after food.  Not that there’s any scarcity.  The first rainbow I gutted up there had a dozen of them already in his belly!  One way or another, as I said above, the stories are too many and too diverse to go into all of them in this paragraph, so if you feel like it, scroll down through the photos and take a look at the country yourself.

The reason we went - Oncorhynchus mykissHow we went - MI8 Helicopter Where we went - a sinuous and fish filled Kamchatka River What it generally looked like when we got there What we generally did when we got there And an indication of what the fish had been doing before we did My boat for the season, the Myrtle II  What we had to watch out for while we were fishing - Big. Beautiful. Kamchatka. Bears.  Coffee in Kamchatka is all that much better for its scarcity And the char make great filets and caviar  My good friend Jordan, on the one day we had this year to explore out on our own, to the headwaters of the Sedanka system, and a new lake off a side branch of the stream  Then more helicopters...  more rivers, more clients, more fishing, and more explorations.  The minimalist's Kamchatka fishing kit - water purifier, rod, gun, and ammo belt  A Kundzha, or "white spotted char" Asian coast specific member of the char family My team Koriak people inhabited Kamchatka before the Russians knew it was there And today they make some very beautiful artwork with wood  Our wonderful dog, Hann - may he rest in peace Petrified wood from over 66 million years ago, and other neat little details...  Flies we liked  Breakfasts we liked  Cooked by our wonderful Chef Nadya, the butterfly lover  Parallel Russian style green wood fire architecture - long burn, much smoke, dry waders  The dawn The day  The afternoon And the night...

Now everybody send me an email and tell me all about your lives - I've been in the bush for the last two months!  Also, anybody interested in going and seeing this incredible place for themselves, give me a call or drop me a line and lets head up there together next year.