Varzina River August 2009
- Created: Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:23
- Last Updated: Saturday, 02 February 2013 18:26
- Written by Rikard Dahl
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Varzina River 2009 18/8-28/8
Finally it was time! After more than a year of waiting we where on our way to Arlanda airport for the first transfer step. It would be the first step in a long chain to get to the Varzina River Trout Camp on the Russian Tundra. The Varzina river trout fishing is regarded by some as one of the eight miracles of fishing in the world.
After having met up with all eight of the participants from Sweden (including the two elmerfishing members Rikard and Magnus) we checked our luggage and boarded the flight to Oslo. From Oslo we took a flight to Kirkenes in northern Norway. The relief when all our bags and rods arrived on the belt was tangible (anyone seen Sällskapsresan 1?).
Our Russian driver, Alexander, was already waiting with a comfy buss from the mid 80:s that had a stiff rear axel. From there it was a short drive to the border to Russia where we showed our passports the first two times before we could drive on. Next stop would be Murmansk. On the way there we passed two military checkpoints with barbed fences, dogs and Kalashnikovs where we once again had to show our passports. The roads in Russia is not that bad and we only had minor kidney injuries before reaching our hotel in Murmansk four hours later. I must say that our driver was incredible at spotting the potholes and probably saved us all from internal bleedings.The helicopter that would take us out into the wilderness was booked for the day after so we did what any sane fishing tourist in Murmansk does, we went bowling...
After a night in a surprisingly high standard room, although my room was smelling like a smoke room on a Cuban Cigar factory, we boarded a new bus that would take us the last 3,5 hours to the helicopter pad. Our driver this time was the spitting image of the actor Jack Black, without deeper understanding in hygiene. With the hangover we had from bowling, lets just say we had our windows open for the drive.The big Russian MI-8 helicopter was waiting for us at the helicopter pad near the town of Lovozero when we arrived. These things are BIG, we easily stuffed around 20 people and ton of luggage and supplies in that thing without problem. At this time we also met the two Finish guys that would accompany us for the stay, Jarno and Jermu.
We quickly named them Jarmo&Jarmo to keep things simple. The flight time was around 50 minutes to our destination, time used to build up the fishing frenzy to breakingpoint.On arriving we where met by the staff in the camp who helped us carry our luggage to the tents we where assigned. The tents where very nice, with a cast-iron heater in each for those cold nights and real beds to sleep in. We where introduced to the guide/camp manager Alexei and the interpreter Arthur both from Belarus.
Without exagerating it took most of us about a nanosecond to change into our waders and head for the river that flows a speycast from the camp.
A normal day in Varzina Trout camp:
- 08:40 - Drag yourself out of bed for breakfast.
- 09:00 - Eat a huge breakfast and discuss last nights fishing and flychoice
- 09:15 - Gear up and head upstreams
- 09:45 - Reach the first of the upper pools and start fishing
- 11:33 - Miss a HUGE trout that attacked your streamer
- 13:00 - Lunch at Enezero inflow (7 km upstream)
- 17:00 - Return to camp
- 17:10 - Watch when Magnus is trying to drink the Finish guys under the table (been at it since 14:00)
- 18:30 - Finish guys are getting drunk and so is Magnus. Have some beers/wine/whiskey and just socialize.
- 19:00 - Few casts in homepool
- 19:30 - Shower and maybe a Sauna - Feeling like a million bucks
- 20:00 - Eat an excellent three course dinner, discussing todays fishing, comparing photos and discussing flies.
- 20:30 - Watch the Finish guys head out for nightfishing looking almost sober again. Say goodnight to Magnus who is staggering for bed wasted.
- 20:45 - Head out for evening fishing 3 km upstreems
- 23:30 - Caddis hatching and sun goes down
- 01:30 - Go to bed stepping over Magnus, who is sleeping on the floor with his legs in the bed, when going into the tent.
- 04:30 - Get up for a short visit to Homepool as the sun rises, trying not to think about how tired you are
- 05:30 - Back to bed
- 08:40 - Drag yourself out of bed for breakfast
Regarding the trout fishing. It seemed to be either very small nymphs and pupa's or extremely large black streamers that worked best our week. We though we hade big flies with us but soon understood that with big flies here we are talking 10-15++ cm Pike fly sized streamers. If you are lucky enough to fish when there are lemmings about you can have spectacuular fishing on mouse imitations.
Tippets from 0.28-0,35 is recommended, mostly due to all the sharp rocks in the river that clever trout take advantage of. Even though the fishing here is amazing for Trout it is far from easy to catch them. You have to work really hard and be prepared for walking around 15-21 km in rough terrain per day to reach all the pools. Water temperature, weather and water level all affect the fishing. We had fantastic weather (around 20 degrees and sun) for most of the week and about a meeter below normal water level which translated into difficult fishing during the day. Somedays the trout also where really careful when striking our streamers, just nibbling at the end, and we missed ALOT of fish due to this.
Salmon fishing is done using normal salmon flies and tippets starting from 0.43 and upwards. Salmon weighing more than 10kg are regularly cought in the some of the pools where you fish for trout. We didnt catch any salmon our week and only saw a few jumping.
Char is everywhere and can according to stories we heard be a real pain in the ass when using dry flies earlier in the season. You simply cant reach the trout you are trying to catch with your fly. A Char will take your fly before it reaches the area where the trout is standing. The guide seemed to hate Char passionately and tried to avoid areas where they where frequent as the plague. As an example Magnus caught some Char on a muddler minnow and suddenly the guide wades out and cuts his line and ties on a streamer with the word "Char" and shaking his head with a dissapointed expression on his face. Char is not counted for statistics on the camp, but I estimate we caught around 100-150 Char in our week, without trying.
The camp consists of a bunch of cabin like tents and a couple of wooden houses. The wooden houses are used by the staff and contains the canteen and kitechen. The tents contain 2-3 beds. The camp is equipped with running water for showers and a sauna that can be used 2 times per week. If you let the staff know 30 minutes in advance they will heat the water so that you can have a hot shower. There is also a diesel generator that is used a few hours a day so that you can charge your batteries for you camera and read in the tent. You can buy beer and spirits at not to steep prices in the canteen. All in all the camp has everything you need for a luxuary stay. Compared to tenting normally for 10 days with smelly snoring friends, eating freeze dried food and bathing in 4 degree water its just paradise.
To summarize our stay in the Varzina Trout Camp. We had a great time and the fishing, people, service and nature was just top notch. We will definately return if given the opportunity!
BIG thank you to:
- The staff at the lodge, you made our stay a very pleasant one
- Our Finish fishing pro's Jarmo&Jarmo (Jarno and Jermu) for sharing their fishing tricks
- Our Russian drivers for getting us there and home in one piece
- Alexei for the spa treatment
- Fishing North for arranging the trip
And of course thanks to our fellow travelers from Sweden for a great time!
- Tomas aka "Sluggern"
- Tomas aka "The Badger"
/Rikard Dahl and Magnus Mattisson, www.elmerfishing.com