Saturday, 8 July 2017

Lyliok Grand Slam

DATE: 7th July 2017

Air Temp: 14’C
Water Temp: 14’C
Water Height: +.6m
Number of Rods: 16
Number of fish Caught: 19 
Biggest fish: 22lbs Gordon Armstrong 
No 30+:
No 20-29lbs: 4
No 8-19lbs: 14
Grilse: 1
Foggy morning, turning in to low cloud, a very strong upstream wind and slight drizzle.
Managers Comments: 
What a day to end the week on, a serious high. It sure has been a tough one this week but we have managed to pull it out the bag on the last day. 
We didn't get off to a great start this morning with heavy fog sitting in the Yokanga valley meaning the chopper was out of action. The team set off into the wind rain and fog on foot. 

John arrived at Beach this morning and reported a sight to remember… He was fishing down through the pool when he started to see a few fish move in the tail, as he made it closer it became obvious that it was a streak of running fish. Perhaps a pod moving through. John reckoned that almost every fish was at the 20lbs mark and over. He did manage to just reach into the pod, with what he said was, the complete limit of his cast. Sure enough he hooked into a goody. Sadly the fish took off zooming up stream and his line creating a huge D in the current and after a couple tarpon like leaps the fish fell loose. A sad end to the story but never the less an incredible sight to see a fresh pod of 20lbs Atlantic salmon coursing through the pool you're fishing.  

Our hero of the day was Gordon, he sett off on his mission down the river with his fishing partner Keith this morning. Soon after arriving in Lyliok he had, “the Lyliok grand slam”. One fish from right bank of the pool, He then hopped in the boat, immediately getting a second from the middle of the pool. Then decided to try left bank, again, shortly into a fish. After fishing all three spots with success he thought perhaps right bank in the tail below Lyliok stream was worth a go… Number four was netted swiftly and thus lies the tail of the Lyliok grand slam! A fish from every corner. A super morning for Gordon landing four fresh fish in the the pool. But his streak had not run out, they then moved down after lunch and he managed another four fish! leaving him with a total of 8 for the day between 22lbs and 13lbs. Gordon told me this evening that he didn't fish a stretch of water without having a few pulls and hooking one. He was unstoppable!

Gordon with one of his many!

Charles our ozzie team player got of to a flying start this morning in pump with a lovely long tailed sea licer at 14lbs. His partner Alistair also managed a couple of good fish in pump. 

Another fresh fish!
This fishing is certinly going in the direction we want it to, more fish turning up every day. 19 today is a serious jump forward and very encouraging. Especially as it was the bottom beats that produced the most. It certainly feels like things are about to start happening. Fingers crossed this is us getting going. 

Well done the team for an excellent day.

Toby Burrell

Friday, 7 July 2017


DATE: 6th July 2017

Air Temp: 14’C
Water Temp: 14’C
Water Height: +.6m
Number of Rods: 16
Number of fish Caught: 12
Biggest fish: 28 1/2 lbs Arkady
No 30+:
No 20-29lbs: 4
No 8-19lbs: 6
Grilse: 2
Cloudy day, soft upstream breeze.
Managers Comments: 
I think I'm finally safe to say that this is the first day of the season so far where  every single boat/pair has come back with a fish. Todays increase in numbers is much more promising and perhaps finally the start of some fish!
Fish on Keith!
Geoff and Andy B had a great day down in crows nest this afternoon, three fish between them, a 22lbs, 18lbs & 16lbs. All three fish extremely fresh, as are all at the moment, and in fantastic condition. Geoff said one of his fish literally took as he dropped the fly in the water, nothing better than fresh aggressive atlantic salmon!  
Trout for lunch

Alistair had a lovely 22lbs out of left bank boulder alley, which I believe is the first fish this season from boulder alley. He hooked his fish a long way out in the faster water, the fish immediately zoomed towards the bank, practically beaching itself, then appeared to have come off. As Alistair was reeling the line in, it tightened up again and off she went! After another scrap the fish was safely landed. 

Arkady was the hero of the day with his 28lber, a true monster and a fish of a life time. He hooked the fish in Upper Norcamp in the first main draw, a dreamy glide to fish, even better when it produces a 28lbs fish! 
Vova weighing a fish
Today stats where much more like the Yokanga we know, but perhaps not quite up to what we would want it. It does certainly feel like, every day a slightly larger push of fish squeezes on up. It also feels odd that they aren't piling on up, but all we can do is wait and hope that main run is close behind this head of fish. 

Toby Burrell

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Four seasons

DATE: 5th July 2017

Air Temp: 12’C - 16’C
Water Temp: 14’C
Water Height: +.7m
Number of Rods: 16
Number of fish Caught: 5
Biggest fish: 17lbs x 2 by Charles Barrett & Andy Britton
No 30+: 0 
No 20-29lbs: 0
No 8-19lbs: 5
Grilse: 0

A cloudless morning which quickly turned into a very cold, cloudy day with a strong upstream wind.

Managers Comments:
Today was a very odd day in terms of conditions. The Kola is certainly a place where four seasons can happen in one day. When we headed out onto the river this morning it was a windless morning with not a cloud in sight and warm rays pumping down on our backs - T-shirt weather! By midday, vast black clouds rolled in on top of us bringing a vicious upstream wind which you could really feel right through to the core. 

Charles with a silver bar

This morning, almost first thing, Charles B managed a quick hook up with a fine fish in Beach. Charles is using a relatively small rod and relishes the challenge of Yokanga fish on the 12ft Sage. This particular 17lber put up a cracking fight, taking him on a few good runs around Beach (a giant pool). The fish was as fresh as could be, blinding silver flanks and a green back. An epic fish by all accounts.

 Charles with a fish on

Andy B had an active morning hooking two fish in Pump and Lyliok, one weighing in at 14lbs and the other at 17lbs, again both very fresh indeed and good quality. Andy’s fishing partner Geoff reported back with numerous good long pulls from Lyliok but sadly couldn't manage to get any to stick.

Andy releasing the beast

We now have an unusual combination of high, warm water in the river. Often in early season we have very high water but 99% of the time the high water is very cold which makes the fish stick to the banks and keeps them fairly channeled, which makes them easy to get at. Then, in theory, the river drops off as it warms up leaving a smaller, warm river. Today we have an extremely large river, with pretty warm water, meaning the fish have absolutely no reason to run up the side channels of the river and are perfectly able to cruise through the middle, or wherever they like. This just adds to the dispersion of fish meaning they are harder to come by. As you know, the Yokanga is a vast old river and in this scenario makes your size 5 cascade feel rather like a needle in a haystack. 

It has not been easy going for the team but they really have stuck at it well, as this water drops off we should start to see a serious increase in catch rates and hopefully a lot more fishing coming through. Gremihka had another good day today with over 10 fish between the 7 rods. Also rumours that they are hooking a lot of big fish but unable to land them in this raging torrent (even more so than here at Gremhika). The fish are obviously stacking up down there and hopefully a slight drop in water might push them on up. 

Toby Burrell

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A Promising Day

DATE: 4th July 2017

Air Temp: 26’C - 30’C

Water Temp: 13’C - 16’C
Water Height: +.8m
Number of Rods: 16
Number of fish Caught: 5
Biggest fish: 23lbs John Shaw
No 30+: 0 
No 20-29lbs: 4
No 8-19lbs: 1
Grilse: 0
Another very bright day, very little wind and very little cloud cover. Extremely hot!
Managers Comments: 
A much more promising day on the river the today, the guests game back reporting plenty of action and signs of fish head and tailing. 

Simon with a 20lber 

Interestingly everyone seemed to have all their action in the first hour or so of the morning, in fact, Gordon, John, Brendan, Pat & Simon all hooked fish immediately after arriving at the pool. I think that, perhaps with the low morning sun the fish were keen and active. By lunch temperatures had reached 30’C clouds had burnt off and the wind had dropped, perhaps putting the fish down again. 
Today was extremely promising in that the fish were all of decent size. Bar the one 10lber from John (still a fantastic fish), every other fish hooked or landed was over 20lbs… Phenomenal for a days salmon fishing, but I do think that this means we have got the start of the run coming into the river, as typically on the Yokanga, bigger fish come as the forefront of the run. This is a relief as I was slightly worried we weren't going to get that main head of the big fish run. But it would seem it has begun. Gremikha again had a good day.
Gordon was fishing in beach yesterday morning, early on he managed to hook up with what was clearly a good fish. The fish did three/four 100m runs in to the backing and spent quite a lot of time on the opposite bank to Gordon. Most of you will know that in this height of water in Beach, that is an extremely long way away. Eventually Gordon managed to get the fish under control on his bank. The fish jumped and they got a good look at it. The heartbreaking end to the story is that the fish managed to shake the hook inches from the net as it did one last roll. Gordon's guide who has seen many enormous fish and had several good views of this one said, “this is 20kg fish”. Gordon is an exceptional and very experienced angler himself, and has outrageous numbers of big fish to his name already, but did say nothing could quite compare to this fight. A sad ending to an exciting story. Nevertheless, as Gordon said, he had a good fight and really all he was missing was an exact weight and the photo.
Brendan with his PB 22lbs
John S, also sadly had an early hook up with a decent fish. In fact first cast of the morning on Heron Rock provided the hook up. Sadly this was another escaper, fortunately John managed a 23lber in Lyliok shortly after. 
All in all, a much more promising day, signs of fish arriving. We lost a fair few fish today and had plenty more pulls and tugs. Lets hope we can lose this heat and get some cloud cover for the rest of the week.

Toby Burrell

Monday, 3 July 2017

30lb Start

Date: Afternoon 1 July and 2 July

Air Temp: 16C
Water Temp: 10C
Water Height: 1.1m
Number of Rods: 16
Number of fish Caught: 12
Biggest fish: 30lbs Keith Webster
No 30+: 1
No 20-29lbs: 1
No 8-19lbs: 9
Grilse: 1
Sea Trout: 0

Weather: Cloudless skies, soft downstream wind.

Managers Comments: On Saturday morning I left the Varzuga River. Spring there in the south Kola had just seemed to burst through the tundra in time for our departure at the season’s end. It was interesting taking the chopper north across the peninsula, more and more snow lying the further north we got. Coming from the south kola, the north feels a little like I've gone back three weeks in time. It’s difficult to believe the amount of snow still left on the tundra bearing in mind it’s July!

Guests and guides ready for the week
Arrival on the Yokanga was as exciting as ever. I do love the atmosphere here. It really is fantastic, especially when getting off the helicopter for the first time and stepping out to that breath-taking view up to Boulder Ally and down to the famous Lyliok.

The Friday evenings fishing is always a good one to go out and get familiar with the river again, see the height and perhaps get back in the swing of the cast. Any fish is an added bonus and one of our guests managed this.

Keith had an evening of epic proportions. He firstly went on a good hike up to Lake and was almost immediately into a lovely fresh 15lber. Fishing on down with no success Keith came back for a cold beer and redeployed down to Home Pool, again rather quickly hooking up. Andy B was there to watch the show and reports that for the first ten minutes Keith thought it could well be a rock, then decided it was perhaps a small kelt. Then I think the fish finally realised what was going on, kicked into gear and took off down towards Lyliok. It was at that point it all clicked, not a rock and certainly not a kelt. A short while later after a good battle Andy safely, and expertly I might add, netted Keith’s 30lber! Congrats Keith, an epic start to the season and a fish of a lifetime.

Keith's 30lber
30lber ready for release
Today was the first official start to the week, it was a very bright hot day, which admittedly is rather nice to have after the brutal spring we've been having so far. The fishing wasn't bad at all in comparison to the previous week. We are certainly heading in the right direction and reports of moving fish in Lyliok and in other slow water patches around the river. We may well begin to start fishing a little further up river soon if the river keeps dropping at this rate.
Toby Burrell 

Rod in ice in July

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Week 24 June-1 July

Date: 24 June-1 July

Air Temp: 3C to 14C
Water Temp: 5C to 7C
Water height: 1.6m to 1.4m
Number of rods: 11
Number fish caught: 33
Biggest fish: 26lbs Geoff Barber
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 6
No 8-19: 27
Grilse: 0

Weather: A tough start to the week with cold weather and strong winds but finishing on a fantastic clear day with not a breath of wind. 


Manager's comments: Given the time of the year it was a disappointing score but this is an extraordinary season. It has been widely reported in the Murmansk press that it is a once in a hundred year late spring and certainly none of the most experienced guides have ever seen such a late year or indeed a winter with such a lot of snow. The combination of the two factors together has not favoured the lodge which fishes the middle river. The difference in seasons is clearly illustrated below.
 Pinro Pool, Lyliok River, 30 June 2017

Pinro Pool, Lyliok River, 27 June 2016
There were a couple of very notable fish landed. Alexey P landed a terrific fresh fish of 24.5lbs up at Poachers having walked all the way up there on the worst weather day of the week. Yokanga veteran, Geoff B, landed the biggest of the week, a lovely looking cock fish of 26lbs. We may take fish such as these as normal for Yokanga but it is worth remembering that these would be fish of a lifetime anywhere else.

Alexey's 24.5lb fish
Fresh cock fish
One of the great attractions of a week at Yokanga lodge is the diverse profile of guests, all of whom share the same Atlantic salmon addiction. We had visitors from England, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, USA and also Russia this week and as ever there were plenty of fishing tales to tell and much laughter around the bar. There were some amusing, and occasionally late nights, perhaps fuelled by a drink or two.
Good team spirit back at the lodge
Despite continued high water, and on occasion some brutal fishing conditions with the mid-week storm, the team persevered all week and did well to land the fish they did. All were hard fought for. I would like to thank the team, many who come every year, for remaining positive throughout and for their understanding that not every week in every season can be a record breaker. As ever, fishing can be remarkably unjust and there were one or two extremely competent fishermen who were simply unlucky. A bumper week is surely around the corner for them on another occasion.

Lyliok now producing fish

While the majority of snow has gone and what remains is now melting very quickly, it certainly looks like things are running a month late as things have not even greened up as yet. The biggest and freshest fish were caught in the latter part of the week and I am confident that we will see the run arrive imminently. Logically there should be a backlog of fish from the last month ready to push through the middle river as conditions are right for them. Those who are looking forward to a visit to Yokanga in the remainder of the season should be excited about what is to come!

Plenty of fish like this to come

I said goodbye to the river on Saturday for another year and leave the lodge management and blog in Toby Burrell’s capable hands for the rest of the season. Good luck and tight lines to all.

Henry Mountain
Blog correspondent hard at work