Friday, 5 July 2019

2019 Season Review

Sadly, the Yokanga 2019 season has already come to a close.

We did not have the bigger numbers that we sometimes get on the Yokanga but the three-week season will go down in the record books as having one of the highest percentages of big fish that we have ever had. In the first two weeks the average weight was over 20lbs. The quality of the fish was undeniably excellent.

Another quality salmon from the Yokanga
The weather was unusually cold for the most part and unusually wet too. Just as water levels were getting to an ideal fishing height for the beats, rain each week pushed the height back up again. Looking for a needle in a haystack was the expression used by many of our regulars!  

A rare sunny day at Crows Nest pickup point
Despite less than ideal conditions, a total of 41 fisherman landed the following large salmon over the three weeks:

50 salmon of 20-29lbs
17 salmon of 30-39lbs
1 salmon of 43lbs

Matt H with a 32lber from Home Pool one evening
Barely an evening went by without someone being given a grey 30lb Yokanga cap and there were many delighted guests who landed their largest salmon ever. Congratulations to Colin J who landed his personal best which was a monster 43lb fish measuring 46.5 inches by 26.5 inches.

30lb and 40lb caps at the end of Week 2
As many will have heard, there was a tragic accident in the second week when head guide, Red Sergei, drowned in a boating accident. With 25 years’ experience on the river and a favourite guide among fishermen, he will be much missed. Our thoughts are very much with his family. Following the accident, the police have opened an investigation and have effectively closed the season prematurely after just three weeks.

Red Sergei will be much missed
Farewell to the 2019 season
We will much look forward to being back there again next season. If you are considering fishing the Yokanga in 2020, please do register your interest now. 

Henry Mountain and Peter Rippin

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Week 22-29 June

Date: 22-29 June

Air Temp: 2C-15C
Water Temp: 9C-11C
Water height: -2cm to +38cm to +18cm
Number of rods: 15
Number of fish caught: 80
Biggest fish: 37lbs Matt Harris
No 30lbs+: 4
No 20-29lbs: 18
No 8-19lbs: 55
Grilse: 3


During the latter part of the week the weather was summery for the very first time this season. Air temperatures started at a cool 6C first thing but then rose well into double figures when the sun came out. Winds were normal and changing from upstream to downstream and there were a few extended sunny spells.

Blue sky day on Yokanga
Manager’s Comments:

On Wednesday, fishing partners Robert B and Ian R had an excellent start with a 25lber and 27lber respectively when fishing Island.  The 27lber was Ian’s personal best but just shy of the critical 30lbs for a Yokanga 30lb cap. Next time Ian!

Reindeer at 7 Islands
Paddy F was fishing the Hourglass on Crow’s Nest and hooked into a significant salmon which turned out to be a quality 32lb cock fish. As a result, there is now one less grey Yokanga 30lb cap in the storeroom!

Matt H found one of the very first grilse of the season but then hooked into something larger just as I had joined him at Heron Point in the Home Pool for lunch. It proved to be a lovely 21lb hen fish.

Bill and Matt in the Home Pool
I spent a day with Gerald K up at 7 Islands on Thursday and he caught a fresh 18lber in the very bottom of the left hand draw. The fish was determined to try and take Gerald down into the pool below but somehow, he managed to keep it from disappearing downstream and it was netted at the bottom of the island. Patrick M landed his personal best salmon, a 22lber from the Home Pool the same day and then equalled it the following day at Crow's Nest.

Patrick at Crow's Nest
Island continued to produce on Thursday with Jack M landing three fish up to 19lbs. In addition, he had a very exciting encounter with another salmon. Jack elected to cast a short line in order to get a better swing over fish lying closer to the shoreline. Bill Drury was there to witness things but something huge followed the fly as they both saw the large amount of water displaced as the fish took a look. Having given the fish a minute or so to return to its lie, Jack cast again and this time the fish both followed the fly and this time actually took. Line streaked off the reel but somehow the line jammed on the reel and despite Jack trying to follow and Bill pulling at the reel, sadly the hook was pulled loose. While it is a disappointment to lose what was clearly a very large fish, it is encounters like this that keep us coming back.

A smiling Jack M
Friday, the last day of the fishing week, was one of the more clement days of the season with initial cloud cover turning to warm sunshine. William M started the day with a 20lber from Poachers and Colin R-W with a near identical 22lber and then later an 11lber from Beach. Many thanks to both of them for collecting scale samples for me!

Ringed plover
Martin V had his best day of the week and racked up four fish for the day with a remarkably honest 19.5lber. Perhaps one of the rarest specimens on the whole of the Kola Peninsula!

Beer o'clock after fishing 
The finally tally of 80 fish is the best week of the season so far. The quality of salmon remains extremely high and the condition of the fish is nothing short of excellent. The 10-12lbers are so deep and fat. Clearly they are finding some extremely good food at sea! They are also great fun when hooked and fizz around the pool jumping in an attempt to shake the hook.

Matt H with a 32lber from Home Pool this week
It is interesting to note that we have caught relatively few sea liced salmon so far this season, perhaps in part due to the cooler water temperatures combined with the higher water levels than we might normally expect at this time of the year. There were several salmon caught with long tailed sea lice on the very last day of the week and this coincided with water temperatures rising to 11C. It would appear that everything has been moving through the system more slowly than usual.

Henry Mountain

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

37lb Salmon to Start the Week

Date: 22-25 June

Air Temp: 2C-10C
Water Temp: 9C-8C
Water height: -2cm to +35cm
Number of rods: 15
Number of fish caught: 39
Biggest fish: 37lbs Matt Harris
No 30lbs+: 3
No 20-29lbs: 9
No 8-19lbs: 27
Grilse: 0


The cold weather clung on for the first couple of days with Tuesday being the first warm day at 10C. Winds have been changing from upstream to downstream if not by the day then by the hour. Heavy rain on Saturday night pushed the river up for Monday morning but the clarity has remained good.

Late night view from Yokanga Lodge
Manager’s Comments:

Saturday evening and Sunday put 19 fish in the record book which was a very encouraging start to the week.

Paddy Feakins landed a 15lber in the Pump but his fishing partner, Alistair T, landed a 22lber in Pump and a 22.5lber from Heron Point. Other 20lbers on Sunday were also landed by Robert B at Beach and Colin R-W at Crow’s Nest. Colin followed his 20lber with an 18lber shortly after.

Colin with one of his two
The star fish of the day was landed by well-known fishing photographer Matt Harris. He was nearing the end of the day coming down the Pots and got into what was clearly a large salmon. For those that know the Pots, there are a lot of boulders and a series of white-water sections. The fish dragged him downstream through rocks and fast water but finally in the last bay before the cliff area just upstream of the lodge he landed a huge 37lb cock fish. Matt has visited the Yokanga every year for 18 years and this was his personal best. His previous biggest of 35lbs was also landed on the Yokanga but 18 years ago!

Matt and guide Eduard with the 37lber
Monday dawned with the river up over 35cm but full marks to the team who set off full of hope for the day. It was a day to celebrate for Martin V with both his birthday and a hard fighting 26lber from the left bank of the Hourglass, one of the first we have had so far this season from there.

A Happy Birthday for Martin V

Happy Birthday to you!
Bill B had an 18lber from Lower Norcamp. His brother Robert B hooked a fish in the left draw of Sand Island and which took him down the rapid. The fish was out of the water eight times, once just before they about to net it. It turned out to be a magnificent 31lber. This monster salmon was celebrated at the end of dinner in Yokanga style with a shot of vodka, a well-deserved grey 30lb cap and the now traditional blast of the Queen hit ‘We are the Champions’. Given the regularity with which I have been handing out the caps I have found myself humming it most days on the river!

Young Vova with Robert B's fish
Phil T took a brace of fish for the day. A 19lber and 12lber from Lower Norcamp. It would appear that we are beginning to see some of the main run. Just as I was heading towards bed there was one final highlight to Monday’s activities. One returning fisherman was coming up the hill shortly before midnight and it became clear that there was need for a weighing scale as someone had hooked and landed a large fish by the blue container in Home Pool. It transpired that it was Matt H and this time it was a hard fighting 32lber adding to the tally of 30lbers landed in our Home Pool this season. Speaking to Matt afterwards he described it as one of the best fights he had ever had with a salmon. When he first made contact with the fish it appeared to not know it was hooked and carried on running upstream porpoising as it went! There are no major obstacles in Home Pool if you hook a good fish there so he was able to sit back and enjoy playing it while it gave him a good run for his money.

Ian R got off to the flying start on Tuesday when he hooked and successfully landed a salmon within a few casts when fishing his line out first thing in the morning.

Ian R keeping the insects at bay
Patrick M also had a great day with a 20lber from Lower Norcamp and then finished with a 22lber from Poachers.
Patrick M with one of his 20lbers
Relative to what the season’s weather has been so far, it has warmed considerably over the last day and the forecast is for it to remain that way. The riverbank is beginning to bloom and there are now definite signs of summer. Walking from the lodge to Crow’s Nest I stumbled upon two wagtail nests for example.

Wagtail nest under a rock overhang
While on the subject of wildlife there was a bear sighting on the opposite bank at Beach this week and Alistair and Paddy watched it for an hour while it fed on the new growth. Bill and myself also saw evidence of the bear on the far bank of Crow’s Nest as the photo below shows. It was still warm!

Bears do indeed s**t in the woods
With the unhelpful rise of water most people are fishing a heavier sink tip at the moment. 15 foot of type 3 seems to be a popular choice combined with a tube. The water is now dropping back so we will soon be back to 5-10 foot tips and doubles hopefully. As if ever the case, the fly you have on and have confidence in seems to be the one that works rather than any particular pattern!

Every salmon is a great reward on Yokanga
It is hard to draw conclusions given that we are looking for a needle in a haystack in the high water. Certainly we are not catching huge numbers of fish but the quality remains excellent and when you see how fat these salmon are. Each and every salmon is hard won and so rewarding when you land them.

Henry Mountain