Northern Rivers Wilderness Floats
Truly the Adventure of a Lifetime
“Kamchatka”… Just the word brings to mind images of boundless unexplored wilderness, and virgin rivers teeming with fish. Completely off-limits to westerners until 1992, the entire land-mass still only has one hundred and eighty miles of paved road, despite being roughly the size of the entire state of California. And with more than one thousand rivers of over ten miles in length spanning the peninsula, Kamchatka is a literal maze of salmonid filled watersheds, only about three percent of which have yet been explored! And that's where you come in. The Fly Shop has done a ton of exploration since the peninsula opened up, and with our Wilderness Float Trip programs, we float the best of what we've found plus a bit more new water every year. For an idea of what all of this is actually like, take a look at the trailer for Eastern Rises, a documentary film produced by Felt Soul Media in collaboration with our outfitter:
Also check out this podcast from The Itinerant Angler chronicling Hemispheres Unlimited owner Justin Witt's 2014 season guiding this program in Kamchatka, then strap on your adventure gear, and get signed on for a trip into the last best trout wilderness on Earth.
Over one third of the world’s wild Pacific salmon spawn in Kamchatka's rivers, and right behind them are the rainbows – lots, and lots of rainbows. Our access for the wilderness river floats is via MI8 helicopters, which carry us, our watercraft, and all of the gear we need for a six day, six night float trip down watersheds teaming with fish. Not only the rainbows, but also sea-run dolly varden and kunzha, plus both coho and chum salmon all swim these waters in incredible numbers.
This is not Alaska; there are no float planes, no lodges, and no other anglers. The rivers we fish on these float trips get fished a maximum of once a year, period. Some of them in fact (if you elect an exploratory mission), have never been fished before.
And another big difference between Alaska and Kamchatka is that here we have absolutely no need of nymph rigs or egg patterns, ever, at all. Most days we exclusively fish dry flies, with mouse patterns (yes, seriously) being the most common go-to flies in the arsenal that work pretty much anytime, anywhere.
When we're not fishing dries we throw streamers, which would also work anytime but in most anglers' opinions are not as much fun as the dries. Honestly, there is almost no way to describe what it is like to fish mouse patterns to outsized rainbows all day long, in a place where the frequency of their vicious surface attacks soon make it feel more normal to have a fish on the line than to retrieve a cast that managed to sneak by them without a hit.
Single handed rods should be between five and seven weights, nine to nine and a half feet long. Our wilderness float rivers for the most part are not wide enough to warrant the use of switch or spey rods, although these can certainly be used if it is a matter of client preference.
We recommend bringing at least two rods to insure against breakage, and at least two reels, one with a floating line and one with a sink tip. Reels should have good quality drag systems, and a fresh layer of backing beneath the line. Kamchatka rainbows are strong!
What they are not, however, is leader shy. Seven and a half foot leaders with 0x or 1x tippet are as light as we fish with the mice and streamers, and 3x would be the lightest we would go even with the smaller dries.
Get in touch with a Hemispheres Unlimited trip planner today to receive comprehensive lists of the recommended rods, flies, and sundries you'll need for this trip, and to get started on putting together your Kamchatka Wilderness Float adventure of a lifetime!
Kamchatka Wilderness Floats are the most rustic, adventurous trips in our catalog. We've made them as comfortable as they can be by outfitting the expeditions with hi-tech 4-season mountaineering tents, good air mattresses, a solid menu of decent food, and specialized cooking and camp equipment; and we've made them as safe as they can be with well stocked first aid kits, GPS mapping, handheld radios and satellite telephones. They are still wilderness floats though; and in this case, that isn't simply marketing speak. Once the helicopter drops you off and flies away, it will sink in pretty quickly just how far "out there" you really are. But then, that's sort of the whole point! And it is the reason that the fishing here is still what it is today.
Nights are spent in riverside campsites which are chosen each day by our advance team, the chef and helper who have gone ahead of the fishing boats after lunch to select a new spot and get everything set up for dinner. Guests pitch their own tents upon arrival, and inflate their air mattresses, then can either fish nearby or sit down in a comfy chair next to the fire and relax with a beer while their fish fighting arms rest up and gain power for the following day. Toilets are the woods themselves, preferably just a little ways out from camp, and the sink/shower/bathtub is the river. Much of each summer the weather is actually quite beautiful, but sometimes of course it also rains, so good rain gear and a waterproof bag for your clothing and personal items is a must.
Get in touch with a Hemispheres Unlimited trip planner today to receive comprehensive lists of the recommended clothing, gear, and sundries you'll need for this trip, and to get started on putting together your Kamchatka Wilderness Float adventure of a lifetime!
Food on our Wilderness Float trips is both good and plentiful, with the camp cook utilizing the same fresh, diverse ingredients that our permanent camp kitchens on the other rivers use. And of course the staff does all of the cooking, serving, and clean up for our guests, who need only sit back and enjoy the meal, and the view.
Coffee, juice and tea are ready by seven each morning, with breakfasts consisting of a variety of hot or cold cereals, pancakes, eggs and other sundries served by eight.
Lunch is served stream side mid-day, and generally consists of a different hot soup each time plus sandwiches, sushi, or other such accompaniment.
Dinner is planned for eight in the evening, and includes a variety of local dishes and old American favorites throughout the week.
*Filtered water is provided throughout the trip, as are soft drinks. Beer and Vodka are available for sale, but wines and or other liquors must be brought from the United States.
Our Kamchatka Wilderness Float Trips operate weekly throughout the season.
Friday - travel from home to Anchorage, Alaska:
Most of our guests coming from the continental United States get to Kamchatka through Anchorage, Alaska, which generally requires flying in one day early and spending the night prior to leaving the United States. Other options include routing through either Moscow or Seoul. If you are traveling via Moscow or Seoul, you will most likely be departing on this same day as well (though some Seoul itineraries may require a Thursday departure).
Saturday - depart Anchorage on Yakutia Air:
Departure on Yakutia Air is early in the morning. Check in usually opens around 5:30 a.m. (two hours before departure) and it is advised you arrive around this time. The flight lasts about 4.5 hours, and crosses the International Dateline. Thus, you arrive to Kamchatka on Sunday morning.
Sunday: Morning arrival to Petropavlovsk, transfer to camp:
Arrival from Anchorage is 8:00 a.m. Arrival from Moscow is 9:30 am. Arrival from Seoul is 11:15 am. After passing through customs and immigration, fishermen collect luggage and are greeted by the ground staff from our Russian partners for Northern Wilderness Floats, usually Anatoly Turushev or another member of the Turushev family. Once all of the guests heading to both Sedanka and the Wilderness Floats are through customs, the ground transfer people will help you load your gear onto the bus waiting outside the small terminal. At this point they will ask to see your Russian Immigration card (provided on the flight over) to register you with the government (mandatory for all visitors). This will only take a moment. The first few hours in Kamchatka are almost always an exercise in patience. Keep in mind that this is Russia, and communication from the helicopter companies is often lackluster at best. And trust that the outfitters want you to get into camp as much as you want to be there, and they are often at the whim of the helicopter companies. Mornings in Petropavlovsk are also frequently foggy, and the helicopters cannot fly until the fog clears. If the weather is clear in the morning, you will head straight to the heliport. If it is foggy but the forecast is for the weather to clear, the ground crew will find a way to kill some time while waiting for weather clearance from the helicopter companies. They may take you to a nearby store, partly to pass the time and partly so you can purchase souvenirs or booze/wine/snacks for your week in camp. They may also take you to the nearby Old Castle Restaurant, which has very good food (and local draft beer). Lunch and/or drinks at the restaurant are not included in the package price, but typically range from $20-$30. They do not accept US dollars, but one of the Kamchatka staff will be on hand to help trade dollars for Rubles. Once the pilots are cleared to fly, you will load your bags onto the Mi8 helicopter and lift off. Sometimes head sets are provided, but it is recommended that you bring some earplugs for the noise of the rotors. The flight will take you over countless rivers and streams, and past several volcanoes. From Petropavlovsk, the helicopter will travel north up the central Kamchatka Valley for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, before stopping to refuel either in Esso or Anavgai. Esso is a small town built around a series of hot springs; Anavgai is a tiny outpost in a small valley nestled in a mountain pass. Either location provides a 15 minute window to stretch your legs, go to the bathroom (you will want to find a bush on the edge of the heliport, as the outhouse is pretty nasty), take some pictures, then re-board the helicopter for the next leg of the flight. From either Esso or Anavgai, you should expect about 45-50 minutes more flight time before landing. Sometimes the helicopter will drop the Sedanka group off at Camp 1 first before continuing on to drop the Float group off on their wilderness river; other times the wilderness float group will be the first to set foot next to the river. Either way, keep an eye on all of your personal bags to make sure they stay with you, and don't inadvertently end up with the wrong group. Upon landing, the crew and guides will unload the helicopter, and as soon as the MI8 takes off the crew will begin setting up camp while you can rig up your gear, don your waders, and start fishing! You've got an awesome week ahead of you at this point, and in all likelihood by the time Saturday rolls around you'll have forgotten all about the rigors of what it took to get here.
Saturday: Returning home:
On the final morning, guests have time to dry clothes and waders, re-pack their bags, and prepare for the trip home. The guides and camp staff will break down camp and deflate the rafts to be ready for the helicopter, but if you want to fish this last day there is almost always time in the morning for several more hours of fishing around camp. The head guide will also come around at this time to collect any gratuities you may wish to leave for the guides and staff for the week. The helicopter will most likely arrive sometime between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm (depending on weather clearance), and will transfer you back to Petropavlovsk in time to catch the 8 p.m. flight back to Anchorage. If the weather is bad in Petropavlovsk, the outfitter will arrange to have a bus meet you in Esso to drive back to the airport in time to make your flight home. Again, the outfitter will do everything they can to both maximize your time in camp fishing, and make your connecting flights home. If you return to Yelisovo early in the day, Anatoly or another ground representative will meet you and either arrange a short tour or find a decent place to wait, such as the Old Castle Restaurant. If there is time, the bus can also take the group to a nearby store for souvenir shopping. Anatoly will get everyone the departure paperwork at this time, which you will need to present along with your passport and visa at immigration before boarding the flight home. The flight to Anchorage lasts about 4.5 hours. Although you depart Russia on Saturday evening, you also cross the dateline again, thereby arriving in Alaska at 5:55 a.m… also on Saturday morning!. Customs and immigration in Anchorage is very quick and easy, and you'll have the whole day to connect back home, or to other fishing in Alaska. If you are traveling home via Moscow or Seoul, you will have to arrange an overnight in Yelisovo (we can help coordinate this) to catch the morning departure the following day.
Always remember, our services are provided absolutely free; booking a trip through Hemispheres Unlimited WILL NEVER COST YOU A SINGLE PENNY MORE than booking it directly with the lodge or outfitter, but does reap the benefits of our extensive experience with that destination, as well as our ongoing support services available to you at any time prior to, during, or even after your trip. The rates indicated are based on the 2015 rates, and are subject to change for 2016. Final dates and rates for 2016 are finalized in the fall.
6 night Wilderness Float Trips: $7,395 per person
Additional per person costs associated with the trip:
- Airfare from home to Anchorage
- Hotel in Anchorage at beginning of trip
- Airfare from Anchorage to Kamchatka
- Fishing license - ($100/wk/person)
- Russian entry visa
- Trip insurance (optional)
Get in touch with a Hemispheres Unlimited trip planner today, and get started on putting together your own Kamchatka Wilderness Float trip adventure of a lifetime!