The Savan BaseCamp Lodge is a remote wilderness outpost. It’s not fancy, but it is very comfortable, functional, and a perfect home base for each week’s explorations, limited to a maximum of 4 anglers per week. The cooks prepare hearty meals based on local Russian fare and some more familiar western tastes. Comfortable beds with mattresses and linens are provided, with a comforter and pillow. And of course there’s a flush toilet and hot shower! While it’s not the Ritz, it provides a super option for those anglers wanting a remote wilderness experience, without the added rigors of a camping trip.
At the Savan BaseCamp, inflatable jet boats are used to access the lower river beats, allowing us to cover an amazing amount of excellent water below the lodge. Wading is relatively moderate for most anglers, though slightly more technical than the upper river as the lower river can be deeper and faster in some spots. There are many stretches of braided channels, making the lower Savan feel much smaller than it actually is.
The lower river we cover is over 15 miles of pristine, untouched water, down to the river’s confluence with the larger Opala River. The diversity in this section of river is amazing, featuring everything from broad runs to small intimate side channels, and unique water around every bend. With all the different braids and channels, it’s nearly impossible to fish the full stretch in a week’s time.
The fishing on these lower sections of the Savan is similar to what we see in the upper river, with an average-sized rainbow typically in the 22-25 inch range. Bigger fish up to 30 inches are hooked and landed most weeks, while smaller trout and char can often be found slurping dry flies.
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the week-long Savan River package is $6,850.00 USD 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.
Included in your angling package at the Savan BaseCamp Lodge is all ground and air transportation once in Kamchatka and all food, accommodation and guides once in camp.
Not included in your angling package at Savan BaseCamp Lodge are airfare and travel expenses from your home to Kamchatka, Russian visitor's visa, fishing gear, flies, fishing license, medical evacuation insurance (required), and extra alcohol outside of general lodge offerings.
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.
• Travel Insurance Information
Seasons at Savan River BaseCamp
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 will remain 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 usually have good success anyway.
By the middle of July the first of the Savan's salmon begin to arrive, both king salmon and chums, and on some 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 of the season. 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 remains clear and fishes well regardless of the conditions.
SEPTEMBER is fall in Kamchatka. It can start to get chilly, in the 50-degree range. Sunny weather (which remains quite common) makes for beautiful fishing days, but brings with it frosty nights. There are less insects on the river (both the biting kind and those the trout like to eat), while mouse and streamer fishing remains consistently great for big rainbow trout and dolly varden char.
Getting to Savan River BaseCamp
There are a few different ways to get to Kamchatka, depending on the season.
Direct Flights Via Alaska:
For a few weeks each summer, there is a weekly direct flight from Anchorage, Alaska to Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka.
Via Moscow or Seoul: There is a daily flight from Moscow that arrives at 10:00 am to Petropavlovsk, as well as a daily flight from Vladivostok (via Seoul) that arrives at 8:40 am. It may be possible to arrive the same day of your scheduled departure to the river, AS LONG AS YOU ARRIVE NO LATER THAN 10:00 AM.
However, we strongly recommend arriving a day early. This allows a chance to acclimate to the time change, so you’re not a vegetable when you arrive to the river. It also allows for any possible lost luggage or airline delays. If you miss the helicopter departure into camp, you will either miss your entire week of fishing or have to charter a very expensive extra helicopter flight into camp!
If you do plan on arriving a day early (recommended), please let us know as soon as you make your flight reservations so that we can work with our local partners in Kamchatka to arrange overnight lodging for you.
For overnights in Petropavlovsk, guests will typically be housed at one of Martha Madsen’s cozy guest houses in Yelizovo, or the Art Hotel near the airport. Nightly lodging fees (not included in your fishing package), range from $60-$100; guests are typically accommodated in double occupancy, but pending availability single rooms can sometimes be arranged by special request. The Fly Shop will make the reservations for you, and you will be able to settle up upon arrival.
Transfer to Camp:
All guests heading the Savan, Ichanga, or Southern Wilderness Floats will be met in the morning by Martha or Vadim at your place of lodging (they will communicate with you the night before), or at the airport if you are arriving that morning. They 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). 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 Yelizovo. Once there, you will load your bags onto the Mi8 helicopter and lift off for BaseCamp. The helicopter flight from Yelizovo lasts for about 50 minutes, and is often one of the many highlights from the trip. Sometimes headsets 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. As soon as you land and unload the helicopter, you’ll be able to settle into your room, get your gear organized and rigged up, and usually have time to head out for a few hours of fishing before dinner.
5.5 Full Fishing Days:
Wilderness expeditions at Savan are based around a loose daily schedule of breakfast at 8 a.m., 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!).
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 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 arrive sometime between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm (depending on weather clearance), and will transfer you back to Petropavlovsk.
You will typically need to overnight in Yelizovo, unless departing on the weekly flight to Anchorage, as most of the departing flights through Moscow or Vladivostok/Seoul take off in the morning. There are some afternoon departures, but due to the un-predictable timing of the helicopter flights out of camp, the outfitters cannot guarantee they can get you back to town in time to catch those afternoon flights. The Fly Shop will help make these arrangements for you (not included in the package price), and you can settle up prior to departure at the hotel.
Vadim will meet you again and transfer you to the airport. If there is time, the bus can also take the group to a nearby store for souvenir shopping. Vadim will get everyone the departure paperwork at this time, which you will need to present along with your passport and visa at immigrations when departing Russia.
Lodging at Savan River BaseCamp
Savan BaseCamp is a wilderness outpost. It’s not fancy, but comfortable, functional, and a perfect home base to complete a week’s adventures. The lodge is quite spacious and warm, featuring 5 bedrooms and a total of 11 single beds. Comfortable beds with mattresses are provided with blankets, sheets, and pillows. There’s a heated “mud room” for drying waders each evening, a large great room with dining table, couches, and chairs, and a full kitchen for the cook to put out delicious fare each day.
There’s even Satellite WiFi for those who need to stay in touch with the outside world (low bandwidth, so no large downloads please!).
While it’s not the Ritz, it provides a super option for those anglers wanting a remote wilderness experience, without the added rigors of a camping trip.
Fishing at Savan River BaseCamp
Wilderness expeditions on the Savan are based around a loose daily schedule of breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by organizing your gear, getting in the Jetboat, 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!). 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.
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
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.
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 its way through the wild terrain.
Lunch will be packed with you by the guides and prepared streamside. A variety of meats, cheeses and other snacks are usually available, as well as hot soups and fresh cooked Dolly when possible.
There are 3 fishing methods used throughout the Savan 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.
The Savan is 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.
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.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• Guests at Savan BaseCamp enjoy the comforts of a cozy wilderness lodge, including real beds, flush toilets, and hot showers. There is no better way to finish off a fish-filled day than a warm, dry place to hang your waders, accompanied by tasty Russian food and stories shared either around a campfire or in the comfort of a dry, bug-free lodge.
• The lower sections of the Savan River are incredibly diverse and dynamic, featuring everything from broad boulder-filled runs to small intimate side channels. There is unique water around every bend, which keeps each day’s fishing interesting and exhilarating as you never know what to expect as you work your way downstream.
• Some of the biggest, most powerful rainbows that we see every summer come out of this stretch of the lower Savan River. We do sometimes see longer fish on other rivers, but nowhere in Kamchatka do we see heavier, stronger fish. Get ready to test your mettle against these bruisers!
• These are large, predatory fish that feed almost exclusively on large baitfish and mice. You won’t need to fish an indicator or nymph here, throw some meat in there and hold on tight!