Anna and Andrew Gill recently returned from a wonderful fly…
Paul Procter has just returned from a remarkable trip to the remote Varzina River Trout camp on the Kola Peninsula in search of prehistoric brown trout. His report on this remarkable fishery is a must read for any avid brown trout anglers …………
It’s not everyday you find yourself in a Russian Mi-8 helicopter as it shudders its way across the vast tundra inside the Russian Arctic circle. Yet, following a chat with Mat McHugh of Fly Odyssey this is exactly where three intrepid UK anglers found themselves on a balmy August afternoon. Best of all, Richard Tong, jon Pepper and myself were in good company as a group of veteran Swedish and Finnish anglers accompanied us. That most of them were returning to this far flung corner was testament to these frigid waters of the north.
One of the Swedes gesticulating out of the window indicated our long journey to the mighty Varzina river was about to conclude. Having touched down and with engines cut, the constant throb of our helicopter finally gave way to the murmur of the wilds. In such remote surrounding the wind dominates, only to be interrupted every so often by the distant call of a red throated divers, or ptarmigan.
We’d be briefed this was wild, savage environment where nature has the final word and I’m glad to say, it delivered in every way. Consisting of tented accommodation, on the face of it the trout camp looks basic. Yet, for those who covet huge trout in a true wilderness this is absolute heaven. Besides with three square meals a day bordering on 3 star cuisine, warm water and a comfy bed, what more does the adventurous angler want?
Ultimately fed by lake Enozero the Varzina is a fast flowing, powerful river. Its rocky substrate makes for tricky wading though that itself is a godsend as this allows trout plenty of hiding places so angling pressure is never an issue here. Its very width too, means ample water remains untouched and out of reach from swinging flies. Allowed to feed undisturbed then the trout here grow extremely large and rarely hold a PhD when it comes to fly patterns!
Situated in the Arctic Circle on the the Kola Peninsula’s northeast coast, 24 hours daylight exists during summer. Even in August there’s only a brief period of gloaming that spans all of two hours. This is enough though to stir trout that now move into shallow areas in search of emerging caddis. And whilst the night fishing is considered a major event by many this action tends to be short lived.
For me, some of the best dry fly fishing occurred through the afternoon and into early evening, especially when blessed with a light breeze. Granted, caddis weren’t peeling off in droves now, but sufficient numbers emerged to get some monstrous trout looking up. Such sparse hatches rarely allow trout to become too selective and whilst the bulk of fish were clearly targeting emerging caddis, not one of them refused an elk hair pattern presented dry!
As for the fish themselves, you’d be hard pushed to find a finer example of Salmo trutta! Heavily spotted with hefty shoulders they’re prehistoric appearance makes them highly prized amongst wild trout enthusiasts. They’re no slouch when it comes to doing battle either and rank as some of the hardest fighting fish you can expect to find the World over.
More so then ever then it seemed a week’s exploring this exciting wilderness vanished in the blink of an eye and with the whole group gelling together well there were sad faces all round come departure dates. It’s hope though we’ll be back next year and forewarned about fly selection, we’ll be armed to the teeth with killing imitations!
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