We first heard rumors about the Savan from some of our Russian friends in Petropavlovsk, who had heard it was loaded with big trout.
Savan Base Camp is our newest discovery on the Savan River system. For the last 3 years we have been floating the Savan and the Ichanga rivers, finishing our trips at the comfortable base camp. The fishing has been consistently amazing all the way to the takeout, leaving us to wonder what was downstream from the Base Camp. What kind of river monsters lay undisturbed in the lowest reaches of the Savan? This last season we set off to find out, bringing in Jet boats to explore down river and return every night to the comforts of the permanent Base Camp. It could not have been better.
Every year we learn more and discover new secrets on our "NEW" river, the Savan, and this year, by adding the jet boat base camp, we were able to expand our reach to it's maximum potential on this unbelievable system. Add to that the comfort of staying in the "lodge" all week, with flush toilets and hot showers, and you have Russian trout fishings version of luxury.
IN 2012, WE BEGAN our initial explorations of the river system with two separate week-long wilderness floats scouting out two different sections of the river. What we discovered was a place of awe-inspiring beauty and an incredible diversity of life, both in the water and along its pristine shores. The Savan River system has proven in a short period of time that it is a major contender among Kamchatka's great trout river's, with trout averaging 22-26 inches and several fish up to 30 inches hooked each season. At the Savan Base Camp, inflatable Jet Boats are used to access the lower rivers beats, allowing us to cover an amazing amount of excellent water below the Lodge. We still have not explored it all! Wading is relatively easy to moderate for most anglers, but slightly more technical than the upper river. The lower river is bigger water, like in most rivers, and can be deeper and faster in some spots. We tend to fish the softer water, as this is where the fish hide, but we still need to wade over to them, on occasion. There are many stretches of braided water, making the lower Savan feel much smaller than it actually is a lot of the time. Vast rolling mountains and volcanoes flank the broad valley as the river courses it's way through the wild terrain.
The lower river we cover is over 15 miles of pristine, untouched water. If you counted every channel of every braid separately, it would have to be way over 60 miles of water, far more than we were able to explore in 2 weeks of fishing with 4 anglers a week. The diversity in this section was also amazing. Different than the upper river, the Lower Savan had big broad runs as well as hundreds of smaller side channels, providing an unbelievably healthy trout habitat, with unique water around every bend. We were ecstatic about the outcome of this first exploratory season, finding a larger average size fish than we had anticipated and plenty of them.
A huge part of the diet of the Savan river rainbow trout is eating mice. This is some of the most exciting trout fishing you will ever experience. Fishing with a mouse fly, you get the visual aspect of the surface strike, like in dry fly fishing, and the tight line grab of swinging, giving you the best of both worlds. When conditions change or the mouse bite dies a little, we can cast streamers, swinging across the current, to produce an aggressive take. As a spring creek system, there can also be ideal conditions for aquatic insect hatches. Though dry fly opportunities aren't common-place, they do happen throughout the season. The season at Savan Base Camp begins in the middle of July, and runs through August. A variety of salmon runs enter the river throughout the season, including king, chum, sockeye, and silver salmon.
Our Savan River Base Camp is set up exactly like a stationery "lodge". Everyone will get a double occupancy room in the spacious "Basecamp Lodge". The lodge has 5 bedrooms and everyone shares an indoor hot shower and flush toilet. We are only taking 4 person groups at the Savan Basecamp in 2015, to insure we are not crowded in the lodge or on the water. A cook and camp assistant are ever present at Base Camp, preparing hearty meals based on local Russian fare. Anglers are responsible only for opening a beer at the end of a long day of fishing, and the guys will even do that for you, if you ask nicely. Comfortable beds with mattresses are provided, with a comforter and pillow, but we suggest you you do bring your own sleeping bag and towel. For convenience of communication on the river and for a safety line to the outside world, Savan Base Camp is equipped with first aid kits, GPS, handheld radios, and a satellite telephone.
These expeditions are organized to be flexible based on the conditions, the group, and the nature of the fishing. This is the beauty of a jet boat camp, being able to be flexible and go to where we think it will be best. There are several sections of braided river where we may spend multiple days exploring the many channels. Other sections may be fished quickly, covering the water, looking for the types of water that consistently hold the Savan's massive resident rainbows. The jet boats are used exclusively for transportation, with all of the fishing being done on foot, wading.
Getting There: upon arrival in Petropavlovsk, you will be transferred to the heliport, about 15 minutes away from the international airport. The Mi8 helicopter flight into the river takes a little over 45 minutes. Anglers quickly unload, unpack, gear up, and start fishing. The Savan River is conveniently located in the southern part of the Kamchatka peninsula, and boasts some of the best weather in the region.
Reservations & Rates
Package Cost: The cost of the week-long Savan Base Camp package is $6850 per person
• Kamchatka, more than any destination in the world, attracts adventurous single anglers. There is no surcharge to come alone. What's more, many people opt for multiple-week trips, combining either multiple weeks on the Savan system, or including other rivers elsewhere in Kamchatka.
Inclusions: Included in your angling package at the Sedanka Float is all ground and air transportation once in Kamchatka and all food, accommodation and guides.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your angling package at
Savan Base Camp are airfare and travel expenses from your home to Kamchatka, Russian visitor's visa, fishing gear, flies, fishing license, medical evacuation insurance (required), and alcohol.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
Seasons at Savan River Base Camp
The Savan River is in the southern part of the Kamchatka Peninsula, and boasts some of the best weather in the region.
JULY is the warmest month of the year in Kamchatka and typically has the most reliable weather, with daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Rain and 50 degree days, however, can happen any time of the year. The Savan is a spring fed system, and as such it remains crystal clear regardless of the weather. Heavy rains can bring the river up, but it usually remains clear.
Mouse and streamer fishing is consistent on the Savan every day of the season. We see sporadic hatches throughout the season, too, including golden stoneflies, little yellow stones, green drakes, and blue-winged olive mayflies. We don't see many fish rising to emerging insects, yet anglers who tie on a classic dry fly can have good success sometimes.
By the middle of July the first of the Savan's salmon begin to arrive, both king salmon and chums, and on even years pink salmon as well. Some of the bigger trout in the Savan follow these fish upstream from the larger Opala River, along with tens of thousands of dolly varden char ranging from 16 inches to
nearly 10 pounds! Too, the salmon push the trout out of some of the shallow flats and into the myriad side channels, creating excellent opportunities for mousing up really big rainbows in really small water. Anglers who have fished in Alaska are constantly amazed to see the biomass of salmon spawning in the Savan, with the trout remaining active on surface oriented mouse patterns, virtually ignoring the "egg drop" that Alaska rainbows focus on so intently. It's one of the things we love about the Russian Far East: you NEVER need to fish a plastic bead or an indicator!
August is the middle/end of the season here. A second run of Chum salmon start coming upriver, and the rainbows are spread throughout the nearly 100 kilometers of the Savan system. With the cooler nights the bugs start to disappear, yet daytime temperatures in this southern part of the peninsula remain comfortable most days with average daytime highs in the low 60s. Storms can happen anytime bringing cold, wet, and rain, though the river generally remains clear and fishes well regardless of the conditions.
Getting To Savan Base Camp
Starting in 2012, getting to Kamchatka is a snap. With Yakutia Airline's convenient weekly service between Anchorage, Alaska and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka, Russia's most pristine, bountiful trout streams are just a few hours from breakfast in the United States.
Friday: Travel from home to Anchorage
The day before departure to Kamchatka, you'll need to arrive in Anchorage, AK and overnight.
Saturday: Depart Anchorage on Yakutia Air
Departure on Yakutia Air is early in the morning. Check in usually opens around 5:30 a.m. and it is advised you arrive then, two hours before flight time. Other passengers on this flight often consist of volcanologists, rafters, hunters, miners and others who travel with a lot of oversized equipment. The check-in procedure can take some time. Better to be there as early as possible. The flight lasts about 4.5 hours, and crosses the International Dateline. You arrive to Kamchatka on Sunday morning.
Sunday Morning: Arrival to Petropavlovsk, transfer to camp
Arrival is at 9:00 a.m. After passing through customs and immigration, fishermen collect luggage and are greeted by the Savan ground staff. Once everyone is through customs, you will be transported along with 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).
As soon as the fog lifts and the pilots give weather clearance, everyone will board the van 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: Basecamp is 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 the other groups luggage heading to the main Savan float. You will then, along with the guides and staff, move into your room at the Base Camp Lodge. The other group will reload the helicopter for a short flight upriver to the first camp on the Savan float.
Sunday: 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 15 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 Saturday evening, you also cross the dateline again, thereby arriving in Alaska at 5:55 a.m...on Saturday 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.
Lodging at Savan Base Camp
Kamchatka is notoriously rustic and adventurous, but the Base Camp is one of the most comfortable accommodations on any trout stream in Russia.
The Lodge is spacious and warm and all guests share a double occupancy room, each with their own comfortable bed and plenty of space for everyones gear. There is a large cozy dining and relaxing room, with couches to enjoy some relaxation time out of the mosquitoes. A shower with instant hot water and a flush toilet and a sink for brushing teeth round out the luxaries of the Base Camp lodge, making you have to splash cold water on your face to remember you are in the middle of the remote Russian bush. For convenience of communication on the river, and for a safety line to the outside world, the Base Camp is outfitted with first aid kits, GPS, handheld radios and a satellite telephone.
Each morning the two jet boats boats head down stream and methodically work the river, increasing further down from the Base Camp. Guides will communicate and pay close attention to insure no one is "double fishing" any one section. Each day after the fishing you will run back to camp in the jet boat. The next day you will run the boats down and pick up exactly where you left off, making sure to cover as much water as possible. The cook will fill you up with a hearty breakfast at Base Camp and send you to the boats with a
packed lunch to eat on the water. Dinner will be getting prepared when you return from a long day of fishing and be ready as soon as you have time to clean up and relax over a refrigerated beer.
The food at the Savan base Camp is very tasty and plentiful, with the cook having all the benefits of a full service, permanent kitchen. Russian meals are typically a combination of fresh-made soups and salads, fresh-caught fish, and your basic Russian meat and potatoes and pasta meals, such as stroganoff, stew, etc.
Beer and Vodka can be pre-ordered and provided at the Base Camp, while other or special libations need to be brought from the United States or purchased at Duty Free in Anchorage.
This is the most hard-core trout fishing trip most people will ever sign up for, but the Base Camp is one of the few programs in Kamchatka that you do not necessarily need dry bag luggage. All of your gear will be in the safety and shelter of the Lodge and never loaded in the boat like most other program. Comfortable light weight roller duffles are perfect here.
Fishing Day at Savan Base Camp
The fishing days on the Savan are long and packed full with beautiful scenery, wildlife, and aggressive takes from some of the heaviest rainbows in the Russian Far East.
ALL KAMCHATKA PROGRAMS employ a guide rotation system, so each group of two anglers spends 3 days with each guide. Staff consists of Dima, the head guide and another jet boat experienced Russian guide. Our head guide is a very talented professional, with years of Russian camp management experience. Dima has significant on-water talents, as well as being an enthusiastic representative of Kamchatka.
Our Russian guides come from varied backgrounds, usually associated with biology, wildlife management, hunting, trapping or commercial fishing. Fly fishing being a relatively new sport to Russia, our guides come equipped with varying levels of pure fly fishing knowledge. Some are exceptional, having been with us for 10 or more years. Others have been brought on board for their skills as woodsmen and watermen, whose technical abilities are still evolving, but who are in rhythm with the lives and habitat of rainbow trout.
Every staff member works to see the smile on your face when you hook up.
Wilderness expeditions by jet boat at the Savan Base Camp are based around a loose daily schedule of breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by gearing up and in the jets 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 lower Savan is very diverse with sections that are shallow all the way across, other sections with numerous braids and channels and some stretches that are big and fast. Some sections of the river are quite broad, while the river remains shallow and you can wade across it some 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, or river hydrolics. 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.
All camp equipment except your sleeping bag is provided as part of the trip.
At the end of the last full day of fishing, the other float group will row the last few miles of the Savan down to Base Camp, where they will join you and share the lodge the last night. The other group will greatly appreciate
the luxary you have been enjoying all week. Plan to give them some priority that evening, especially with the shower, they will need it! 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 separate wilderness adventures.
There are 3 fishing methods used throughout the Sedanka River drainage:
The topwater phenomenon of larger-than-normal trout attacking mice on the surface is what really sets Kamchatka angling apart from anywhere else in the world. Real mice slip and fall into the river from overhanging limbs and grass and then swim like a cork at a down-and-across angle. As they swim, they throw small V-wake contrails off their back end which the trout key to. Anglers replicate this action by plopping their flies against the opposite bank and skittering them across the river, on tension and under control. What follows has got to be the most exciting thing in freshwater fly fishing. Since a live mouse in the stomach of a rainbow trout can do some damage, they tend to take the fly with a ferocious, bone-crushing chomp with the intention of killing the mouse before they swallow it. This behavior is obviously on the surface, totally visible to the angler. The skill comes in controlling your nerves to NOT set the hook when the fish merely swirls behind it - sometime 2, 3, 4 or more times - before actually committing.
Salmon smolt and other juvenile fish make up a significant portion of Kamchatka trout and chars' diets. Clousers, woolly buggers, string leeches, baitfish and sculpin patterns all work very well on the Savan throughout the season. Small fish elicit a chase response from their predators, so often it is best to give the fly a little movement as it swings through the water column. And like with the mouse, it's best to learn to identify likely structure in the river (tree roots, riffle-pools, rocks, undercut banks, etc.) that offer rest areas for the fish adjacent to heavier currents where they can surprise-attack their food.
Traditional dry fly fishing is admittedly yet to be fully explored on the Savan system. It's a spring creek and we see a variety of insects including stoneflies, mayflies, and caddis hatching throughout the season. The mouse-fishing is so good that most anglers stick with that or throw big streamers, but the few anglers who have explored casting traditional floating flies have all done well, including large attractors, small Parachute Adams, and just about anything in between. These fish are aggressive, and seem eager to sample just about anything that might be food.
Making Reservations to Savan Base Camp
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.