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RUSSIA, KOLA PENINSULA: RYNDA & ZOLOTAYA, JUNE 2013

Atlantic salmon fishing in Russia is the superlative! The Kola Peninsula has the best rivers: Yokanga, Rynda, Kola, Varzuga, Varzina and Kharlovka, to name just a few. The prime time to go, two to three weeks in June, has become very expensive. Because of that, the expectations are very high.

On Friday at 10:25 a.m., I travel from Innsbruck via Frankfurt to Helsinki, where I arrive at 5 p.m. At the airport I meet Bernd and Peter from Germany. I already know Bernd from a two-hand course last year. We spend a nice evening together in an excellent fish restaurant on the harbor. This is the second time on the Yokanga for both of them.

After a night at the Hilton at the airport, I fly in an hour on Saturday morning to Murmansk. Clearance takes an eternity. We continue with a military helicopter directly to the Lodge. The flight is an experience, the width of the tundra and the many rivers and lakes! At the Rynda Lodge, we are greeted with our national flags – a great idea.

In total, there are 12 rods at the Rynda Lodge: five Americans (Yvon, Kurt, Bruce, David N. & David E.), two Englishmen (David J. and Mark), and a Swiss (Hugo), two Russians (Vladimir & Anton) and I, an Austrian. The newcomers are briefed and we get information about the river and the daily routine.

ARRIVAL DAY: 22.06.2013

In the evening, there is still three hours to fish. In strong winds and in bright sunshine I try my luck at the Norway pool, but I get no bite. But the first impressions made up for that – impressive, how this huge river has led its way through the tundra. // There were only two salmon caught by all participants on the day of arrival.

May I introduce to you: my guide Petja and my fishing partner for the week, Hugo Baumann from St. Gallen in Switzerland with guide Sascha. // The Lodge is located 600 kilometres above the Arctic Circle, so it is light around the clock. At midnight, I photograph the Homepool with the waterfall.

The Lodge and the food are excellent and deserve five stars. The quality of the cuisine is really at its finest, the chef is a master. I have never eaten so well at a fishing lodge. We are housed in a small log cabin with a bedroom, desk and bathroom.

FISHING DAY 1, 23.06.2013

I fish Down Under, Eagle's Nest, Horseshoe and Picnic Island, but cannot hook a fish. Two, three attacks on my Sunray hitch, and that was it. Hugo has more luck this day. He fishes mainly the pools of Rebecca, Rubert and Prunella and catches three salmon.

In the evening I am disappointed, I really expected a lot more. On the dinner table, it turns out that I was not alone with my zero result: only five or six of my colleagues have caught fish. From 10 p.m. til midnight I go once again to the Homepool. Good decision: I catch three salmon with 15, 18 and 20 pounds and lose a play after ten minutes. Relieved and happy, the first day is over. // I catch a 20 pounder on hitsch, the fish is once already in the tailout, at the end of the rapids. I don’t know how I once again wound it up – you need always luck.

FISHING DAY 2, 24.06.2013

For this day we are booked in at Homepool. I go first thing in the morning with the inflatable boat to the other shore, and there I hook a super fish, unfortunately after three minutes, I lose the play. After ten minutes, I then catch a 15 pound and a further 13 pound fish at Upper Home pool. Hugo remains on the shore side of the lodge, there he catches a fish and loses another.

After lunch at Homepool we move to Rocks Island, where I catch a grilse and a 14 pounder. I am very satisfied with four salmon. In the evening l try again at Homepool, but nothing more happens .

Petja, my guide, then goes swimming involuntarily; this is the second time this day. But the weather is beautiful, and he takes it quite calmly.

FISHING DAY 3, 25.06.2013

Like every day, we are flown to our pools with the helicopter. We have some parts of the pools for us alone, over several kilometres of river, with enough space.

We fish at the Power Pool, some small areas below, then the Round pool, the 2nd Waterfall. At the end, Hugo fishes Nikolai and Deep Run and I Red cliff. Hugo has a coloured salmon with 19 pounds at Smart Dog below the power pool and a 15 pounder at the deep run. I catch a 12 pound at Red Cliff pool, and I lose a big one at the Round pool.

After dinner, I go fishing until midnight and catch a 6 pound salmon at Dancing Platform and another 10 pound one at Rocks Island. So that is the end of another great day with three salmon for me and also for Hugo.

The sea crab meal is the culinary highlight this evening. The crabs are flown in fresh from the Barents Sea and are wonderfully prepared, a real treat.

My neighbours at the table this evening are Vladimir Rybalchenko Junior and Anton, the two are businessmen from St. Petersburg. Vladimir and his father run the lodge; they spend this week with us.

FISHING DAY 4, 26.06.2013

Today I begin at Reindeer pool, where I hook no salmon except some brook trouts. Hugo is at the Swan Lake pools and the inlet.

I have no success in the morning, also not at the 2nd waterfall, where on the whole, I was not happy. The pool itself is impressive and very deep, but the water has backwashes everywhere and is turning. The contact with the fly isn't really possible. However, large salmon are caught here every year.

Hugo catches another one at Swan Lake, and in the afternoon I land a 17 pounder at the Rynda Canyon Outlet.

In the evening at Rocks Island I catch a salmon and lose three.

FISHING DAY 5, 27.06.2013

In the morning, I start at the home pool on the other side. Hugo has the same idea, I let him go first. We go to race pool, beyond the home pool – and there I experience my great moment. Within one and a half hours I catch four salmon, including a male with 22 pounds, and lose yet another.

In the afternoon, I catch another 14 pounder at Rocky Island and another fish at the Bouchers Place. At the end of this pool, I hook a real trophy, which spooled over 100 metres off my line. After several jumps and another long escape I am caught on a rock with my line and have to cut off.

Once again, I go for my evening session to the Race pool and find another one on hitch. Seven salmon in a single day – great! The day for Hugo was just as good: he caught five salmon.

The weather is so beautiful like the previous days. It is 30 degrees, the sun burns the whole day into the water, and its temperature rises to 18 degrees. Not ideal conditions for salmon fishing – for us, an exceptional day! Hugo and I assume that it must have been a good day, but this was not the case. 15 salmon in total are caught, and Hugo and I, 12 pieces! The double Switzerland – Austria is indeed good in the race….

FISHING DAY 6, 28.06.2013

On the last day, we are flown to the Zolotaya River, a beautiful river, which is located 12 km as the crow flies from the Rynda and is about as half as large.

At Peters Pocket, I catch a 12 pounder. Several small pockets bring nothing to me. Before the Zolotaya pool, at Pool Jeremy, I hook a trophy, which I unfortunately lose after two or three minutes. Hugo catches a salmon at the Russian pool.

For lunch, we meet with Hugo and Sascha at Zolotaya Camp, where we eat together. Afterwards I go downstream. I leave out the well-known Russian pool; Hugo is once again there after eating. The pools downstream are rather mediocre because of the low water level and the weak flow. // This day is the best day of fishing for the lodge as a whole. There was little sun at the Rynda today, the water and outside air temperature cooled down. 24 salmon are caught. Kurt catches the biggest fish of the week with 25 pounds.

DEPARTURE - RESULTS OF THE WEEK!

This week on the Rynda on 12 rods, 95 salmon were caught. The weather was less than optimal: it was warm and sunny, and the temperature rose to 17 degrees. The heaviest fish was 25 pounds. My personal result is a 22 pound salmon and 20 fish, together with Hugo’s 20 salmon, we had the best rods.

Apart from fishing, I felt very comfortable in the pleasant group. We all got along very well together and enjoyed the excellent food. It looks as if some of them will come back.

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