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RUSSIA, KOLA PENINSULA, YOKANGA, JULY 2013

Stefan and Alex from AOS Sport Fishing in Graz have brought me on the Yokanga trip. The Yokanga was last year on my wish list – and so it was easy to convince me.

The Yokanga River is located on the Kola Peninsula, south of the Rynda; I fished in prime-time three weeks earlier. I believe that the Yokanga has a stronger salmon rise, and is also much larger.

The group consists of 11 Austrians and one from Munich, I like it. The last spring on Kola was extremely hot, and the tons of snow from the winter have melted quickly. At the prime fishing time in June on the Yokanga, it had up to 30 degrees outside and 19 degrees water temperature. A reason why catches were relatively low. And there were not the really big ones either. Before our trip, it started to cool off, and we can expect great summer fishing despite low water level. 13 – 14 degrees water temperature looks promising.

The Haider brothers and colleagues from the East travel from Vienna. Helmut Alleze, the one from Munich, and I take the flight from Munich to Moscow. We all meet at the airport and pass some time till departure to Murmansk with a good meal.

Finally in the evening the small aeroplane from Aeroflot continues to Murmansk.

ARRIVAL IN MURMANSK AND ONWARD FLIGHT TO THE LODGE

We stay there one night, in the morning, a taxi takes us to the airport, where the travel organisation welcomes us and in 20 minutes a bus takes us to the helicopter departure place.

We travelled one hour in a huge helicopter up to the Lodge – an absolute adventure, and right at the beginning of this journey.

FLIGHT TO THE LODGE AND ARRIVAL

We received a warm welcome at the Lodge. I was exceptionally happy with it as well as with the food. I have a single room; the rooms are conveniently furnished and very comfortable.

13.07.2013: ARRIVAL DAY

After a lunch and a briefing we walk to Home pool. I have five bites but no catch. Darn it, this annoys me, when I cannot score one out of five bites. Slowly it appears to me, on the day of arrival it seems to be always difficult for me. I am thinking of a start on the Rynda. On the opposite side of the river Alex and Stefan are fishing and catch well. On the first evening, nine grilse and six salmon are caught.

14.07.2013: FISHING DAY 1 - NORTH CAMP

Klaus Dirnberger is with me in the team. Also, this is only Klaus’s second time at Atlantic salmon fishing, as me. Before that, he was in Canada, I on the Rynda. We get along together very well straight away and we fly with the helicopter to “North camp”, fully motivated. Getting on and off the helicopter is really adventurous. “The North Camp” is a section of the river, several kilometres long, and is an absolute top place for salmon fishing.

I catch four salmon weighing 8, 9, 10 and 16 pounds. Already Klaus hooks a great salmon after a few minutes but he loses it in the end. The salmon is several times before the landing net, with a little more skill the guide, in my opinion, should be able to net the fish. A 20-plus fish! Klaus loses several more fish on the day but then he catches a super 21 pound salmon. In the evening after dinner, I see what’s happening at the Home pool and I catch then 2 grilse and a small salmon. A great day!

15.07.2013: FISHING DAY 2 - BOUCHERS

Currently Bouchers is the best pool, and still we are not happy. I can't explain it: we can only land a grilse. All the other teams that come after us to Bouchers get super salmon there. Because the expectations at Bouchers are so high, we remain at the main pool until after lunch. But that changed nothing of the matter, we are wasting time. Finally we go further downstream.

On the whole, this is not my day: I catch the first fish at 3 p.m.. My day result: two grilse. Klaus catches three grilse and a nice salmon with 10 pounds. Let's see what tomorrow brings!

16.07.2013: FISHING DAY 3 – HOMEPOOL AND LILYOK

Today Lilyok and Homepool are on. In the morning, I catch three salmon at Lilyok, then four more at the top at Homepool and in the evening two more at Homepool. Unfortunately, all of them are 12 pound grilse except for a salmon.

Klaus has taken it on the day not so good: he lands a grilse, nothing else. Luck is on my side: After the Lilyok nothing works anymore, in the late afternoon I walk upstream. There I find a place where I have hit after hit and catch four salmon.

17.07.2013: FISHING DAY 4 – CROWS NEST

Today Crows Nest is on, just a beat downstream after Lilyok. Initially, it is rather boring; it’s not until the end when it gets more interesting. I lose a salmon and catch one with 17 pounds. Also, Klaus is not empty.

The lower pools are open at the beginning of the season; later on, there is no fishing at all there, due to any fresh salmon coming in. Nevertheless very productive areas appear below. I regret the fact that we have spent too much time at the top. In the evening, I lose another salmon at Lilyok.

18.07.2013: FISHING DAY 5 - CLIFF

I really like it at the Cliff. Above the Startpool I fish from the boat, I don’t get anything out of the two bites. It annoys me, because I may have set the hook too early. The bites coming at the end of an already stretched line; such bites are always difficult to score. Then I catch another salmon up there with eight pounds. // Klaus loses a strong salmon at the Startpool.

Further downstream, in the next section, at a point where the Yokanga splits, I catch two salmon before the crossing in fast water. A 19 pound (light coloured) and one with 14 pounds. A real fight, because both fish shoot into the fast water and swim downstream. I chase him for at least 100 metres. In the evening on Lilyok, I don’t have any more bites. Klaus begins the day catching three grilse and a super 15 pounder. A very good day for both of us!

19.07.2013: FISHING DAY 6 – SEVEN ISLAND

It is already the last day, what a pity! Many would like to stay longer … Klaus and I fish the section Seven Island. This pool the day before was not good: Klaus has read yesterday, that only one or two fish were caught. Klaus catches two grilse and I catch a 14 pounder.

At dinner, there’s final words by Roddy from Fly fish Yokanga. All have experienced a great fishing week and are happy. We all had lots of fun, and there was absolutely no stress, just a great group.

There are medals for Ian Eckersley, for catching a super 31 pounder, the biggest fish of the week. Diane O'Neil has caught the second biggest salmon, a 27 pounder. From the AOS group, Claude Celotto had a 27 pounder and Wolfgang Mörtl a 25 pounder.

BEST FISH OF THE WEEK

THE CATCH OF THE WEEK

ALL IMAGES FROM THIS JOURNEY