RussiaRussia is probably the most unexplored piece of ground left on this planet. It's got some of the best fisheries going for Atlantic Salmon, rainbow trout and Pacific Salmon. Lesser know species are sea run taimen, Amur pike and Siberian taimen. We know alot about Russia as we've spent over a decade fishing and guiding there. If there is one reason to head to Russia, it's the Ponoi River. It's hands down the best Atlantic Salmon fishery on earth. So here we go, our Russia overview:
We might as well start with the best there is...anywhere on earth. If you love Atlantic Salmon, then why on earth wouldn't the Ponoi be your first choice? It's a small fish river. Yeah...right. It's got 100,000 fish that average 10-15lbs up to 20lbs and roughly 120 miles of fishable water. Top that stat. Pretty please. We know. We were among the first Western guides to fish there. It's a place that never disappoints. The fish are so aggressive that it's not at all unusual to have a fish run 45 feet, boiling successively on a dry or to have multiple fish rise on a cast. We've seen fifty fish days, Atlantics fly out of the water several feet with a fly. It's unbelievable and we've fished most of the Northern Rivers on the Kola before they were developed. Varzina, Varzuga, Karlofka, Drasdofka etc.. If you hear someone bad mouth the Ponoi, it's because they are mildly deranged. I've heard people say, I didn't really like the fishing on the Ponoi because I don't enjoy boat fishing. That's friggin' hillarious. Here's an idea....get out of the boat and wade. Each and every beat on the Ponoi has miles of great wading. The reason the guides keep you in a boat is they can catch more fish. Why? Because it's more efficient. And they are all about numbers. That's the only thing we'd like to see changed. Since when is landing a dozen Atlantics in a day on bombers not enough. The outfitting, guides, staff, food etc are world class. If we don't get an invite one of these days, we'll be doing a late night float to get another dose. Because, well, once you have seen the Ponoi you just have to go back for the fishing...not to mention all of our old Russian friends. If we do get caught, we'll be able to get to the bottom of this Snowden affair so stay tuned.
Roughly the size of California and just as complex in terms of river systems etc.. We've spent a pile of time chasing steelhead and rainbow trout here and it's a must do. Unbelievably pretty and rugged--worth the days of travel to get there if you have time--and some of the best rainbow trout fishing left on earth. Alaska is still better for huge rainbows(though the Zhupanova was probably the best trophy rainbow fishery that ever existed), but Kamchatka has amazing trout fishing with not a soul around. There are several outfitters we'd recommend on this front. As for the steelhead, they are an amazing specimen in Kamchatka. The average fish we saw was 15 pounds plus, but the rivers themselves left a lot to be desired. Think long tundra bends without an ounce of structure unless a grass clump is considered that. Where it sounds exciting, and we didn't see this, is when runs of fish are so large you see them coming across bars or squirting away from jet boat wakes. It does happen and we'd love to see it, but have a hard time leaving Skeena country to fish for steelhead on the flats of Kamchatka. Go for the rainbows and the country for sure though, but call us first as when it comes to terrible outfitting Kamchatka has plenty to avoid.