Monday – 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. You arrive to Kamchatka on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday: 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 Savan and Ichanga ground staff, usually Martha Madsen (American living in Kamchatka who runs a guest house in Yelisovo) and/or a Russian named Vadim Polshin. Once all of the guests heading to Ichanga and Savan are through customs, Martha and Vadim will transport you and your luggage to Martha’s guesthouse, where she will ask for your passports to make copies to fill out the paperwork that will be required for departure from Russia at the end of your trip.
The first few hours in Kamchatka are always an exercise in patience. Understand that this is Russia, and communication from the helicopter companies is often lackluster at best. Keep in mind that the outfitters want you to get into camp as much as you do, and they are often at the whim of the helicopter companies. The helicopter companies don’t get paid unless they fly, so their priority, too, is to get you into camp…safely. Mornings in Petropavlovsk are 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 not, you will have the option to relax at Martha’s guest house, or walk to the nearby Old Castle Restaurant, which has very good food (and local draught beer, Kamchatksi #1). 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 they do usually accept credit cards, or Martha and Vadim can exchange dollars for Rubles.
As soon as the fog lifts and the pilots give weather clearance, everyone will board the bus for the 30 minute drive to the heliport on the outskirts of Yelisovo. Once there, you will load your bags onto the Mi8 helicopter and lift off for BaseCamp. The helicopter flight from Yelisovo lasts for about 50 minutes, and is often one of many highlights from the trip. Sometimes head sets are provided, but this is Russia and you never know so 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.
Upon arrival at Base Camp – a hunting lodge nestled in a clearing a short stroll from the lower Savan River – guests will disembark the helicopter and unload all of their gear. Be sure to collect all of your bags and keep an eye on them, as the helicopter will quickly be reloaded with the equipment, gear, food, and your luggage heading to the main Savan float. You will then, along with the guides and staff, re-board the helicopter to head into camp, a short, 10 minute flight upriver to the first camp on the Savan float.
As soon as you land and unload the helicopter, the crew will begin setting up camp while you can rig up your gear, don your waders, and start fishing! We recommend a mouse pattern to start with, but on both Ichanga and Savan almost anything works, including mice, streamers, and dry flies.
5 full fishing days:
Wilderness expeditions at Savan are based around a loose daily schedule of breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by camp breakdown and on the river by 9 a.m. The angling days are long, while the weather can range from warm and comfortable to cold and wet (be prepared for either eventuality!). The Savan is shallow all the way across, with numerous braids and channels. Sections of the river are quite broad, while the river remains shallow and you can wade across it most places. While the fish will hold along the edges, in side channels, and around boulders and logjams, they are also often found in the middle of the river in shallow buckets and depressions created by spawning salmon. Even amongst spawning salmon, you do not need to fish beads or egg patterns! Mice will almost always be the best producer for big rainbows, while streamers and sometimes dry flies will also produce trout, char, and sometimes salmon as well. Fish everything, and you will be surprised at how many giant rainbows you will find, sometimes in just a few inches of water. Where there are no trout, there are usually schools of hundreds of dolly varden char from 14-26 inches.
Lunch will be packed with you by the guides, or served shore-side by the camp staff each day. A cook and camp assistant travel in a separate raft and do the large majority of “camp work.” Each pair of anglers are responsible for maintaining their own tent and inflatable sleeping mattresses. All camp equipment – except your sleeping bag - is provided as part of the trip.
• You must bring a sleeping bag.
Each week will start the same, flying via helicopter to the upper reaches of the Savan to start floating and fishing your way along this spectacular river. Guides and anglers will continue fishing downstream every day, adjusting their pace based on the fishing action. If you are hooking fish on every cast, you can slow down and fish at your leisure hooking these super-aggressive, heavy shouldered trout that the Savan has become famous for; if you aren’t finding fish right away, simply step up the pace and fish faster until your mouse or streamer starts getting clobbered. Depending on the fishing, some groups may still stay on the floating section of river the full week, while others may get to the BaseCamp lodge a day or two early. From BaseCamp, we’ll use the inflatable jet-boats to continue accessing the water below the lodge, motoring back up to the comforts of the BaseCamp each evening including comfortable beds and a hot shower.
We’ve learned over the past few seasons that the powerful rainbow trout of the Savan move quite a bit. By increasing the amount of flexibility each week, the guides can better cater each week to the fishing and where they’re finding the fish. Too, the Savan is an incredibly dynamic river; as you work downstream it often feels like a totally different river, between the pocket water of the uppermost sections, the broad shallow riffles and countless braided channels in the middle sections, and the ever-changing nature of the river below the lodge from big boulder gardens to narrow intimate, brush-lined channels.
BaseCamp is a comfortable building with beds for up to 11 people, plus (more important at the end of the week), a spacious bathroom with flush toilet and a hot shower. Dinner is usually late the last night, and a special affair with both groups regaling each other with stories, toasts, and fishing yarns from their wilderness adventures.
Monday: Returning home
After a leisurely breakfast in the morning, guests have time to dry clothes and waders, re-pack their bags, and prepare for the trip home. The helicopter will arrive sometime between 11:00 am and 4:00 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 you return to Yelisovo early in the day, Vadim will meet you again and transfer you to Martha’s guest house to wait. There is a very good restaurant (Old Castle Restaurant) a 5 minute walk from Martha’s. If there is time, the bus can also take the group to a nearby store for souvenir shopping. Martha will get everyone the departure paperwork at this time, which you will need to present along with your passport and visa at immigrations before boarding the flight home.
The flight lasts about 4.5 hours. Although you depart Russia on Monday evening, you also cross the dateline again, thereby arriving in Alaska at 5:55 a.m…on Monday morning! Customs and immigrations 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.