The Northern Wilderness Floats in Kamchatka are easily the least-fished rivers in the world! We have a series of six different streams in this region, each one fished only once, at most twice a year. This ensures that every fish in the river has probably never seen an artificial fly, let alone been hooked. It is the most wild fly fishing experience on the planet!
We first began exploring a series of rivers in the far northern region of the Kamchatka Pensinula in the late 1990s. The river systems culminate in the massive Tigil River, and feature a handful of tributaries, both large and small, including the now-famous Sedanka Spring Creek, Turuscheva, and several different forks of the Pirozhnikova. In 2016 we discovered another brand new river, the Perevalovaya. These upper headwater streams bubble up from the toe of an ancient lava flow on Kamchatka’s northwestern taiga plains. These are THE most remote rivers in Kamchatka, and probably the entire world.
It is one of the most biologically diverse drainages on the peninsula, with all 6 species of Pacific salmon (including Cherry Salmon only found in the Far East), rainbow trout, resident kundzha, and sea-run dolly varden, both of the latter being species of char. This spring creek ecosystem is particularly rich with insect, mouse, and salmon biomass that feed an exceptionally dense population of 16-27 inch native rainbow trout. Sedanka was the first of these rivers discovered by The Fly Shop’s owner, Mike Michalak, in 1998 and has proved to be a fly fishing destination of incomparable beauty and excitement. As a bonus to the incredible fishing, these rivers do not “blow out” except in the absolute worst extended rain storm conditions, owing to the spring-fed origins and expansive lava rock in the drainage. These rivers are extremely stable.
In addition to the Sedanka, we continue to explore a series of other rivers in this drainage – and even different forks and branches of the Sedanka – each season through our northern river wilderness floats.
Reservations & Rates
The cost of the week-long Wilderness Float package is $7,395.00 USD per person (6 nights / 5 days) or $11,995.00 USD per person (Wilderness Float/Sedanka special itinerary - 12 nights/11 days)
• 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. In this scenario, the Wilderness Float Trips can easily be combined with the Sedanka Spring Creek Camps at significant savings.
Included in your angling package at the Wilderness Floats are all ground and air transportation once in Kamchatka and all food, accommodation and guides.
Not included in your angling package at Wilderness Floats 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.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Kamchatka Wilderness Floats
We tend to schedule Exploratory Expeditions during the most weather and water-stable weeks of late July through early September.
We monitor river conditions throughout the season and maintain the flexibility to take advantage of localized weather. Though the terrain,
topography and hydrology can be different from river to river, by and large the fishing methods and climactic conditions are uniform across the peninsula.
The warmest month of the year in Kamchatka with day time temperatures usually between 60 and 80 degrees. As such, this is the peak dry fly fishing time with often heavy the mayfly and caddis hatches. It's a sight to behold to float silently around a bend and be confronted with 50 trout noses puncturing the smooth surface of the river in elegant head-dorsal-tail rises. Trout feed exclusively on bugs, mice and salmon smolt, and representative fly patterns all work well. Present as always are also kundzha (white spotted) char. Being the warmest month, July is also mosquito season. Most people find the trade-off worth it for the surface fishing opportunities, but if you have a low mosquito tolerance level, consider a trip later in the season.
The middle of the season. The salmon enter the river and the full cycle of life is laid out in full magnificence. Rainbows are targeted with mouse and streamer flies, and dry fly fishing is often found in the evenings. Some river systems may hold runs of silver (coho) or other salmon, and most have solid runs ofdolly varden. By the middle of the month, biting insects are gone completely.
September: Fall in Kamchatka. It can be chilly, in the 50-degree range. And with sunny weather can come frosty nights. It is also the most photogenic time of year to be amid the sub-arctic taiga and tundra foliage as it turns to blazing yellows, reds and oranges with a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. Trout are easily taken with surface skaters like mouse and floating baitfish patterns. Salmon are in full spawn in late August and September. Literally millions of fish bring the river completely alive. It is an overpowering sensory experience to see an ecosystem so healthy and pristine. Important to note also is that trout in Kamchatka do not get "tunnel vision" for salmon eggs as they do in Alaska, so no need for egg patterns, beads, split shot and strike indicators. Mice, streamers, dry flies and a floating line is usually all you need.
Getting to Kamchatka Wilderness Floats
Sunday - travel from home to Anchorage, Alaska:
The day before departure to Kamchatka, you'll need to arrive in Anchorage, AK and overnight. We'll help with some additional information on lodging options and eateries in Anchorage.
Other options for travel to Kamchatka 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 (some itineraries may have am earlier departure).
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. We often recommend guests traveling via Moscow or Seoul plan on arriving to Petropavlovsk a day early to allow for potential travel delays.
After passing through customs and immigration, fishermen collect luggage and are greeted by the ground staff from our partners on the Sedanka Spring Creek and Northern Wilderness Floats, usually Anatoly Turushev or another member of the Turushev family. Once all of the guests heading to 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.
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. If you have not sent the $100 Fishing License fee or a scanned copy of your passport to The Fly Shop® in advance of the trip, they will also request these items upon arrival.
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. Everyone's priority is to get you into camp safely, and as quickly as possible given the weather conditions.
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 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 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 one of the Kamchatka Trophy Hunts 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 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. From Yelisovo, 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 vale 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 Mi-8 takes off the crew will begin setting up camp while you can rig up your gear, don your waders, and start fishing!
5 full fishing days:
Wilderness expeditions 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!). Each day is spent floating and fishing (two anglers and one guide per raft), stopping for lunch and eventually setting up a new camp each evening around 7 p.m. Every hour of the day will be an adventure! The after-angling campfire sessions always include traditional Russian toasts to the successes and most dramatic moments of the 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 your own sleeping bag.
Fishing on the Northern Wilderness Floats is a combination of mouse and streamer fishing, with the occasional rising fish on a classic dry fly. The rivers fished include a tributary of the Sedanka (called "Turusheva" or "Rassoshina"), three different forks of the Pirozhnikova, the lower Sedanka down to the Tigil, or the Kalgauch. Each river is rotated throughout the season and rested at least two or three weeks so that every river is floated at most two or three times in a season, guaranteeing a true, un-impacted wilderness experience. The chances are better than good that every fish you cast to has either never seen a fly before, or maybe seen one... once... and probably forgotten about it by now.
MOnday: 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 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 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.
Lodging at Kamchatka Wilderness Floats
Kamchatka Wilderness Floats are the most rustic, adventurous trips on the peninsula…maybe the world.
That being said, we've controlled all the factors that are controllable by outfitting the expeditions with hi-tech 4-season mountaineering tents and specialized cooking and camp equipment in use on professional river trips
in the Rockies and Andes. For convenience of communication on the river, and for a safety line to the outside world, each expedition is further outfitted with first aid kits, GPS, handheld radios and a satellite telephone.
Each morning the three fishing boats head down stream and spread out to avoid "double fishing" any one section. Meanwhile the cook and camp assistant break down the camp and float on ahead of the fishing boats. Toward evening the forward boat selects a camp site and begins erecting camp. Anglers are responsible for setting up their tent and sleeping arrangements (two people per tent.)
Staff does all the cooking, cleaning, etc., while you fish until dinner or crack a cold beer by the fire.
Food on our Wilderness Floats is typically very good and plentiful, with the cook utilizing the same fresh, diverse ingredients that our permanent camp kitchens use.
Beer and Vodka are available for sale, but other or special libations need to be brought from the United States.
This is the most hard-core trout fishing trip most people will ever sign up for, but there are no objective whitewater hazards. The most uncomfortable situations encountered on these trips is rain, so it is imperative that all your luggage be made of completely waterproof material.
Fishing at Kamchatka Wilderness Floats
Wilderness Floats are based around a schedule of floating and fishing each day and establishing a new tent camp each evening.
We've found that the ideal distance to explore in 6 days is between 30 and 40 miles. This offers lots and lots of fishing time and leaves no section of the river untested or under explored. With long daylight hours
there is plenty of flexibility pre-built into the trip. Flexibility is the key to success when stepping into the unknown.
After a midday arrival by helicopter to the put-in spot, you will be able to instantly gear up and fish by foot on the immediately adjacent river. As you do, guides and staff inflate the rafts and orgainize camp gear. Depending on your arrival time, you may float and fish for a few hours before setting up camp, or you may establish camp at the Helicopter LZ.
• Coffee & Tea at 7:00 am
• Breakfast at 8:00 am
• On the water by 9:00 am
• Lunch on the river midday
• Establish new river camp and dinner at 8:00 pm
• Cocktails, campfire and fish stories close out the day. Or, for midnight-sun junkies, the river is always within casting distance from the fire pit. In addition to 6 anglers, other Expedition members consist of 1 Professional Western Guide, 2 Russian guides, a cook and a camp assistant. Our staff is specifically selected for these intense trips for their expedition expertise, and personal interest in walking on the wild side. The same crew has been working together on our Exploratories for many years. They have it dialed.
There are three fishing methods that you're likely to employ when probing virgin water:
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 flyfishing. 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.
Traditional floating line and size #10-18 gray bodied caddis and mayfly imitations are used with staggering success on the Sedanka, especially in July, less so in August, and again quite successfully in September. The fish tend not to be picky on the specific pattern. However, with so much food floating past their feeding lies, it is sometimes critical to deliver a reasonably accurate and truly dead drifted presentation. If the fly floats within an inch or so of the trout's nose the chances of it rising are very good.
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 Sedanka 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?
• For those anglers with adventure in their souls, look no further than the Northern Wilderness Floats in Kamchatka. These are the most off-the-grid, remote, trout streams in the world. Period.
• We use a series of small tributary streams and spring creeks, rotating each so that no stream is floated or fished more than once or twice a year. These are the most unpressured, wild trout streams in the world, and a rare opportunity to experience fish behavior in a place where every fish will likely move to your fly...because they’ve never been hooked before.
• The super-remote rivers in northern Kamchatka offer the most consistent mouse fishing in the world. Many of our guests fish nothing but a mouse all week!
• These rivers have an almost unbelievably high population of trout. Every riffle, boulder, pool, logjam, and bend in the river is likely loaded with rainbow trout, looking to attack skated mouse pattern or streamer. It’s a safe bet you’ll catch more fish on an average day on these rivers than many of us catch in a week on our favorite trout stream at home.