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

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Week 15-22 June

Date: 15-22 June

Air Temp: 6-10C
Water height: +20cm to -5cm
Number of rods: 12
Number of fish caught: 60
Biggest fish: 43lbs Colin J
No: 40lbs+: 1
No 30-39lbs: 8
No 20-29lbs: 17
No 8-19lbs: 34
Grilse: 0


The weather remained cool the entire week. Winds were changeable but predominantly upstream and at times pretty strong. Days were mostly overcast with the last day being the only entirely sunny day.

A sunny day at last
Manager’s Comments:

Scores were evenly spread through the two halves of the week. The outstanding feature of the week was the continued high percentage of large fish that the team landed. 43% of salmon were in excess of 20lbs.

It was a week of multiple personal bests. In fact seven guests caught their largest salmon ever. And these were experienced fisherman!

The stock of 30lb caps is now running low!
On Wednesday Pete W landed a cracking 36lber from Crows Nest. He then bettered that at the end of the following day with a 38lber. Sadly no photo of Pete with this one as yet as we are trying to figure how to get the images from an old Sony camera with an unusual size memory card and seemingly unique cable connection!

Young Vova with Pete's 38lber
John H and Steve T had an excellent day on Thursday when they caught five between them. One of them, caught by John from Home Pool opposite the blue container, was a super fresh 27lber. Steve’s two for the day weighed 24lbs and 22lbs.

27lber from Home Pool for John H
Mark E also collected a coveted Yokanga 30lb cap when a 33lber from the tail of Island made it into the net.
A 33lber for Mark E at the tail of Island
Also collecting a grey cap was Marc C who caught his personal best, a 32lber from the Pots. Marc’s fish for the week averaged a staggering 25lbs!

A 32lb cock fish for Marc C
Ivan K had a terrific finish to his week with a 36lber, also his largest ever. The stock of 30lb caps has been heavily depleted during the course of this week!

A 36lb personal best for Ivan K
It is impossible to put into words what it is like to feel a take, knowing that there is a strong likelihood that it is a significant fish on the end. A few people have reported very aggressive takes on the surface but there again some of the takes have been delicate, perhaps due to the still cool water temperature.

The largest of the Yokanga salmon landed this week have given people a tremendous battle, taking anything from 20 minutes to an hour to subdue. Having said that, there have been occasions where the salmon have won… Colin J lost a big one in Lyliok after 20 minutes when the hook straightened out and Valery N had a large one on for 15 minutes on the last day before it came adrift.

Lower Norcamp
The team have been using a range of tips and a wide variety of flies so there is no magic setup. Colin J has been using an intermediate and sparsely dressed double all week and that has worked well and John H has similarly been on a 5 ft fast sink tip and smallish double and that seems to have done the job too. Others have been using tubes which appear to have worked equally well.

These will do the job
The week has flown by and it seems like only a moment ago that, gathered around the bar one evening, we tweaked the Yokanga cocktail to create the Denkanga. You might think that you are drinking your five a day but beware…

On the right: Den creator of the Denkanga cocktail
The forthcoming week looks like it will remain cold for at least a few more days and possibly further but there is some rain due so I suspect that we may have a rise of water at some stage. I would hate to try and predict what happen this week but fingers crossed there will be more of the quality salmon that we have experience so far.

Gremikha Camp, Lower Yokanga

The 8 rods at the lower camp finished with 54 although we think a handful of fish caught in the evening were missing in the record book. The largest of the week was 35lbs.

Encouragingly one of the fishermen saw about 50 salmon move between 1pm-4pm on the last afternoon in Golden Pool. A good sign we hope of running fish on their way upriver.

Henry Mountain

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

40% of salmon over 20lbs

Date: 15-18 June

Air Temp: 6C
Water Temp: 8C
Water height: +20cm to +5cm
Number of rods: 12
Number of fish caught: 30
Biggest fish: 43lbs Colin J
No: 40lbs+: 1
No 30-39lbs: 3
No 20-29lbs: 8
No 8-19lbs: 18
Grilse: 0


It has been stable but cool weather for the first three days. Winds have been strong at times, mostly upstream. There has been cloud cover for the most part, so that element at least has been ideal for fishing.

Manager’s Comments:

The team arrived at the lodge in good time on Saturday and after a late lunch/early dinner it was off to the river for most of our new guests. The first evening is unguided and is always a bit of a bonus to check that the kit is working and to get back into the casting rhythm. However, when everyone returned after fishing there was an air of excitement back at the bar…

Playing a fish above Boulder Alley
Alexey S kicked off the day with a 26lber from Home Pool but better was to come for the team. Colin J started off with a 20lber from Pump, one of his favourite spots. He then dropped down into the Home Pool where myself and Bill Drury were keeping an eye on others. Colin felt that he did not need to fish so deep (he had only been on an S1 S2 anyway) but took the trouble of walking all the way back up the hill to get his other reel with a float/hover/intermediate. Most of us would just have battled on and unhooked the occasional bit of snagged weed!

Alexey S with his 30lber from Lyliok
Having resumed fishing, with the same size 9 double, he swiftly hooked a second fish which unfortunately came off. Undeterred he carried on and hooked a third fish, this time a short distance after Heron Point. Sadly, I had headed down to Lyliok to see what was going on there, but Bill Drury was with Colin and from the beginning they were both aware that it was a good fish. That could mean anything from the mid-twenties upwards on the Yokanga and you never quite dare to dream.

Given the water height these salmon have some significant current to play with and it was after a 45-minute battle that the fish was in the net. Bill had serious trouble getting it into one of the big nets! It was huge and measured a whopping 46.5 inches in length by 26.5 inches in the girth. By far the largest of the season and 43lbs. A fish of this size is next to impossible to hold so the photo simply does not do it justice. However, look closely and you will see the girth of this magnificent salmon. You will also see the surprise on Colin’s face at what had just happened! On releasing this fish of a lifetime, with one flick of its tail it unleashed a wave over Colin and was gone.

46.5 inches by 26.5 inches and 43lbs
Sunday saw a total of nine fish landed, notably a 25lber for Marc C from Sand Island and then a 26lber for Phil W from Lake upstream of Boulder Alley.

Phil W with a deep Yokanga 26lber
Monday was the day of the 30lbers with two landed. A 30lb fish for Alexey S from Lyliok. Then long time Yokanga fisherman Rob G landed a 22lber from Island followed by a 30.5lb salmon, his personal best.

Rob G with a fresh 22lber
A personal best at 30.5lbs for Rob G
A further seven salmon were landed Tuesday. Notably John H caught a 31lber first thing in the morning at the first pool on Lower Norcamp. Then Valery N landed a remarkably honest 29lber at & Islands.

John H adding to his tally of Yokanga 30lbers
With 40% of fish being over 20lbs, it would appear that the main run is still to come. Perhaps the unseasonably cold weather and resulting cold water is delaying them. It will be interesting to see what the coming days bring. Rob G had a run down Lyliok after dinner, saw a fish move when he was just starting, and then promptly landed two salmon of 17lbs and 15lbs. An encouraging sign we hope.

Henry Mountain
Some impressive weights from the first day and a half

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Week 8-15 June

Date: 8-15 June

Air Temp: -1C to 30C
Water Temp: 11.5C to 6C
Water height: +5cm to -3cm to +40cm
Number of rods: 14
Number of fish caught: 42
Biggest fish: 35lbs Andy E
No 30lb+: 5
No 20-29lbs: 15
No 8-19lbs: 22
Grilse: 0


Yes we are on the Kola Peninsula but still it has been a wildly changing weather week! After the high of 30C and then the dramatic drop down to 0C it has still remained cold for the latter part of the week with air temperatures struggling to get much above 5C in the morning and then only rising a touch later in the day when the sun has put in a brief appearance.

Manager’s Comments:

The combination of rain earlier in the week and melting snow from Tuesday meant the river rose significantly for Wednesday which combined with very high winds made the fishing tricky. Conditions improved for the last two days of the week and this was reflected in the scores.

David M landed his personal best, a mint 33lber fishing at Boris’ Rock in Home Pool. The same day, Sam A had a successful evening on the right bank of Lyliok and landed a 19lber and 18lber.

David M and his 33lber from Boris' rock
Carl A also joined the 33lb club with a large cock fish which interestingly was also hooked close to Boris’ Rock. That is now the third 33lber taken from the middle of our Home Pool. They are definitely not the same fish but keep them coming!

Carl A joins the 33lber club
Markku L had a 28lb hen fish on Thursday from Golden Reach. The fight took some 35 minutes with the fish using the current to its advantage. In fact it took so long that Markku was obliged to hand the rod to the guide for a short time while he answered the call of nature before resuming the battle!

On the last day, having already landed a 22lber from Lower Norcamp, Erkki K landed a 31lber from Poachers. Shortly afterwards he then landed a third fish for his day, an 11lber. What a great way to finish. His 31lber brought the weekly tally of 30lbers to five.

Lyliok looking good
The water is relatively high and we finished the week with 7C water temperature. People have been using the full range of sinking tips and flies but there is no single winning formula. Medium sized snaeldas have been used a fair amount so feature heavily in the fishing record but salmon have also been taken on medium sized and sparsely dressed doubles. The water clarity remains excellent despite the rise in level by the way. There have been a number of reports of fantastically aggressive takes with large salmon attacking the fly on the surface which suggests that there is no particular need to go dredging!

Weather and water conditions have been far from ideal this week so congratulations to the team for sticking at it all week. All of the rods have fished this week before and appreciate that it is spring fishing where you fish hard for a smaller number of fish but are likely to encounter a quality salmon when you connect. With nearly 50% of the catch being over 20lbs this was certainly the situation this week. With everyone knowing each other there was plenty of banter around the dining room table and it felt very much a team effort on the river.

Different water colour from the Lyliok tributary
Given the very high percentage of larger fish, it is clear that the main run is still to come. The weather seems set to stay cool for the next week which will hopefully mean they will move through the system slowly so that we can have a good go at them.

Peter Rippin and Henry Mountain

Gremikha Camp, Lower Yokanga

We have received the following from James B, one of our Gremikha regulars.

Greg on the first evening
Gremikha Camp caught a total of 26 fish with Greg getting at least two over 30lbs and Tony one over 30lbs and 4 over 20lbs. Tony was top rod with 8 salmon, his best week ever at Gremikha.

Greg with another over 30lbs
 The fishing was very tough, with one day ending with the camp an inch or two under snow! By all accounts, the fish are yet to turn up in numbers, but those that were found, were on the large side. In particular for Greg on the first night, whose 110cm x 65cm fish, gave him an exhilarating fight.