"The three greatest gamefish in the world are tarpon, bonefish, and Atlantic Salmon, but I'll take the Atlantic salmon over all of them." - Ted Williams, "The Splendid Splinter"
The thrill we get from a screaming reel and a jumping fish is primal, and an anthropologist could probably trace it all back to one fish, the Atlantic salmon. The species is both the foundation and nexus of the modern sport of flyfishing. The very name, Salmo salar, translates from the Latin to "leaper", and trying one's skill and luck against the salmon has been considered the sport of kings by Europeans since the first one picked up a stick, hung some silk off its end and tied chicken feather to bone or steel.
The Kola Peninsula was the first great angling discovery to come out of a newly-opened Russia in the early '90s, and the fish stories and catch numbers that circled back to hard-core salmon anglers at that time bordered on unbelievable.
Two decades later, the fishing is as good as ever. It's the last place Atlantic salmon exist in their historically prodigious numbers, and as such it has moved into first place in the hearts, minds, and plans of the international crowd of sea-run obsessed anglers. The camps, guides, aviation and infrastructure, meanwhile, have kept pace with the emergence of modern Russia and achieved a level of sophistication befitting the fish.
Modern transportation and geo-political shifts have combined to make it a relatively close playground for sea-run thrill seekers. Jet direct travel and polar routing has put these Russian river targets no further distant from our east coast than Alaska, and closer to Los Angeles than Patagonia. It's close and, for a change, the fishing is exactly what it used to be.
"Atlantics hold in smooth-surfaced water just like steelhead do back home. They pluck a sunk or dry fly swung on a tight line with the same electricity as a steelhead, and when hooked they live up to the reputation they've earned and have had for centuries. Russian Atlantic salmon fishing is an experience incorporating every skill in thge arsenal common to dedicated steelhead fisherman, and it attracts the same king of guy. The Kola appeals to passionate anglers cut from a different bolt of cloth, who measure the success of a day ont he water with a very distinct scale having more to do with style and ethics than with anything else. After decades spent challenging myself with king salmon, big trout, and sea run rainbows, my first trip to the Kola was an epiphany. I didn't know it, but I'd been fishing for Atlantic salmon my whole life."
- Ryan Peterson - The Fly Shop Travel Sales Specialist
The Ponoi River, simply put, is the most sought after Atlantic salmon experience in the North Atlantic basin. The Ponoi is the top-rated choice of veteran anglers...
The Varzuga lays a mighty claim to historical catch rates of 30+ fish per rod per week. It is an intimate river setting boasting predictable results.