- The Fishing
- Sample Itinerary
- When to Go
Words simply cannot describe the world-class trout fishing, the adventure, or cultural education experienced on a trip to the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia. You have to see it to believe it. It is impossible to describe the feeling of excitement when the engines are lit on the Russian made Mi-8 helicopter bound for one of the most remote and seldom fished trout streams on the planet. It is an emotion not felt with any other exotic angling adventure - a fresh curiosity about a destination this remote and pristine.
A True Wilderness Adventure
The Kamchatka Peninsula is without question one of the most special wildernesses remaining on the planet. Kamchatka is a true peninsula approximately the same size as California with only 375,000 residents (less than one person per square kilometer). There is no development, no roads, no logging, no pollution, no poaching, and certainly zero fishing pressure. In many ways the Kamchatka Peninsula is very similar to Alaska, only without the crowds or the development. It is a place of breathtaking beauty and unique wildlife, mixing striking scenery of mountains, tundra, forests and rugged coastline. Russia's largest volcano belt made up of twenty-nine active craters stretches along its shore, many of which are seen and heard from each of the rivers fished.
It is hard to imagine a more idyllic and untouched venue. Big and beautiful rainbow trout are the target species, however prolific numbers of Pacific salmon are found in all the rivers we represent (1/3rd of the world’s Pacific Salmon return to spawn in Kamchatka). Later in the season anglers also encounter loads of dolly varden and Khundza (an Asian char that eats everything and often busts the 40” mark!).
Trophy Rainbows & Real Solitude
In addition to annual exploratory trips to new and unknown venues, Tailwaters represents diverse fishing programs in two separate regions of Kamchatka. Whether it is high volume dry fly and mouse fishing on a perfect Spring Creek, or swinging flies on a larger freestone for enormous JUMBO sized Rainbows in the 30+ inch range --- Kamchatka offers a setting, accommodation type, and style of fishing for every type of angler. Less than forty anglers a year fish our rivers for a short eight week season. In a shrinking world where human footprints mark the riverbanks almost everywhere, Kamchatka offers the refreshing feeling of a fishery has simple been left alone.
Having spent a number of weeks fishing and exploring many of Kamchatka’s river systems over the last several years, we must say there is simply no better all around rainbow trout fishing destination to be found. Sure you can catch trout just as big in Alaska, however the sum of all the parts are what make Kamchatka so special. The historical and political significance of this formerly Soviet naval hotbed is a perspective jolt for even the most adventurous traveler.
Organized, Safe and Experienced…
Our Russian Outfitters have been rock solid for over ten years, and deliver a safe and organized program in one of the world’s most remote and beautiful wildernesses. Tailwaters has been involved with the fishing programs in Kamchatka since 2003, and understand the ins and outs of traveling, exploring, and fishing this rainbow trout fantasyland.
Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company operates four different programs on three unique drainages on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The programs we represent are listed as follows:
Zhupanova River Float Trip
Zendzur Lodge - Lower Zhupanova River
Sedanka Spring Creek Float Trip
Wilderness Float / Exploratory Trips (2 Week Options)
Each of Kamchatka’s rivers shares many similarities and differences; allowing us to match up your expectations, preferences, and angling style with the correct fishery. Some of the trips are float trips where anglers visit multiple camps, while some are jet boat camps where anglers spend the week in the same camp but cover miles of water using powerboats. Some rivers are giant freestones that are home to the biggest trout on the globe, some are smaller spring creeks that are more conducive to dry fly fishing for larger numbers. Each program only accommodates four - six anglers, which makes for a very intimate and private group setting. There is no doubt that this is a hard-core fishing trip, however the fishing schedule is actually quite civilized. Camps are very comfortable, there are no early morning wake up calls, and everyone enjoys a made to order breakfast and hot coffee before the day begins.
Based upon our personal experience exploring and fishing Kamchatka since 2003, we strongly feel that the quality of the rainbow trout fishing in Kamchatka is unsurpassed anywhere on the planet. Only forty-five anglers fish each program we represent during the short 6-8 week season. This proves that each stretch of river is well rested arrive and the fish are very eager and cooperative. There is no other place on the planet where fly-rodders can expect to find such high numbers of quality, large, uneducated trout. Equally as unique is the bizarre fact that the trout in most fisheries of Kamchatka would rather eat a dry fly or a mouse pattern than they would a salmon egg pattern; despite the presence of enormous runs of all five species of pacific salmon. This is very refreshing to those who have fished Alaska and were disappointed with nymphing, swinging flies, or drifting an egg pattern as a mandatory technique in order to have success.
Although trophy trout are the targeted species, in addition to an abundance of arctic grayling every river hosts huge runs of anadromous fishes such as all five species of salmon, char, dolly varden, steelhead, and khundza (an eastern Pacific species of char found only in Kamchatka) as well. Depending upon what time of the season you elect to visit Kamchatka, these species can all be taken in abundance on dry flies, mice, and streamer patterns. It is also important to mention that on every trip, jet boats and rafts are used exclusively for transportation - nearly all of the fishing in done wading very user-friendly terrain.
It is often said that Kamchatka is Alaska one hundred years ago. Kamchatka is the last known place on the planet where you can find pure strain populations of several previously unidentified rainbow trout subspecies that have not suffered from the influence of man. Unlike the rest of the trout’s kingdom, there have been no hatchery fish introduced and very little poaching or pollution has had an effect on the trout populations. As a result Kamchatka provides a pristine environment for western anglers to catch huge fish that have never seen a fly, and is an ideal laboratory for scientists to learn about a species in its original condition and habitat. The average fish caught each season on some rivers has exceeded twenty-five inches, while other drainages consistently yield forty-fifty fish a day (or even more) in the 18-27 inch range - the majority of which are taken on mouse patterns and high floating dry flies. In all honesty, there really seems to be no small fish! But perhaps the most appealing aspect to a trip in Kamchatka is the solitude, remoteness and exclusively of this wonderful fishery. It is a special feeling to haul in a monster rainbow on a size #10 caddis pattern, all the while knowing that there is not another human (much less another angler) within a hundred miles!
The following is a list and description of the three tenured river camps as well as our exploratory trips Tailwaters is currently booking in our Kamchatka program. Again, each program is differing in the style of fishing, character, accommodation, size and average numbers of fish typically taken, and helicopter flight distance from Petropavlovsk. Choosing the "right" river for you is not often an easy task, so please let us know how we can describe each fishery in detail to best match you preferences and expectations.
All of our programs operate on a Friday - Friday fishing schedule with seven full days of fishing.
Zhupanova River Float Trip
The Zhupanova is perhaps the most beautiful and scenic river in Kamchatka. Its close proximity to Petropavlovsk (one hour by helicopter) and its huge Rainbows make it perhaps the most popular river on the peninsula. The average trout living in the Zhupanova is a solid twenty-five inches! Later in the season around the first week of August, huge white spotted char known as Khundza arrive which average around twenty-seven inches and some of these veracious critters easily bust thirty-five inches and are a rod breaking fight on a seven weight. Of course there is also enormous runs of all five species of salmon (particularly the silver or Coho), however most anglers soon discover that they are in search of the huge rainbows and do not pay any attention to the salmon. Also found in excessive numbers are aggressive dolly varden that are easy to catch, make for good photos, and will grab a mouse or flesh fly with abandon.
The Zhupanova is a river for those angers that are willing to trade in large numbers of fish and dry flies, for sheer size. Because this river is enormous freestone and the fish are huge, six and seven weight rods are mandatory (spey and switch rods are popular as well) and conditions often dictate exclusively fishing streamers and sinking lines. If you are a dry fly purist and need twenty-five fish days to make you happy, the Zhupanova is not for you. However, the majority of the season anglers do have excellent success skating large dry flies (steelhead style) and mouse patterns as well. The Zhupanova may be the best river on the planet to have a shot at a real trophy wild trout in a traditional, easily wadeable, freestone setting.
Our Zhupanova Float trip takes six guests a week. Anglers float between six pre-established camps over nearly thirty miles of river. Similar to all of the trout programs we represent, all of the fishing is done wading. The large inflatable rafts used carry two anglers and a guide per boat, and are purely for transportation between fishing spots and camps. Huge cottonwood, birch, and aspen trees, snowcapped mountains, and volcanoes line the river - not to mention the occasional brown bear doing a little fishing of his own.
Zendzur Lodge - Lower Zhupanova River
Zendzur Lodge on the lower Zhupanova River sits in the shadow of a snow-capped volcano, and is surrounded by a thick forest wilderness. Anglers at Zendzur utilize "Alaskan-style" jet-boats to access 25 miles of classic freestone riffles and runs. They average 24 - 26 inches and reach a JumBOW maximum somewhere in the 33-35 inch range. Like the rest of Kamchatkan trout, they regularly crush skated mouse patterns, swung streamers on sink-tip lines, and on occasion traditional Western dry flies.
The river also has similar runs of huge Asiatic white-spotted char - or "kundzha” (25-40 inches long) as well as Dolly Varden and Silver Salmon starting in early August. Zendzur Lodge itself is a beautiful, traditional Russian wilderness outpost, hidden on the edge of a birch and cottonwood forest. Staffed with a combination of talented American and Russian professionals, lodge amenities are surprisingly deluxe, given the remote nature of the operation. They include double and triple rooms, each with a private bathroom, shower and sitting room. One of the highlights of Zendzur is the fabulous on-site natural hot-springs, enclosed in a banya house, just down from the Lodge on the riverbank. The style and quality of fishing accommodations at Zendzur Lodge is, by quite a wide margin the best in Kamchatka. Plush accommodations combined with the trophy size of Zendzur trout, world-record kundzha char, and the variety of gamefish available, makes Zendzur Lodge one of Kamchatka’s most unique programs available.
The Sedanka Spring Creek Float Trip
The Sedanka is a classic Spring Creek and is without doubt Kamchatka's best dry fly river. If you are interested in fishing mouse patterns and dry flies, this is the river for you. The Sedanka is a perfect mixture of the Henry's Fork and the Madison classic spring creek slicks separated by a series of riffles and braided sections. The average depth of the stream is roughly to your knees, making the entire river easily wadeable and easy to fish.
Typically, anglers find themselves fishing a mouse pattern to eager fish all morning and switching to a dry fly after lunch once you started seeing rising fish. Despite the presence of a huge sockeye run in the Sedanka, anglers can expect to take high numbers of trout on very basic, high floating dry flies every day under normal conditions. The average trout on the Sedanka is a solid twenty inches, with several fish in the 25-26 inch range taken weekly or even daily as well. Again, 100% of the fishing is done wading the shallow pools and riffles on the Sedanka. Anglers float between two fixed camps wading various stretches of river along the way.
The facilities on the Sedanka are the most developed and comfortable camps on our northern rivers. Spacious yurt tents, heated showers and dressing rooms, log cabin dining facilities, flushing toilets, and of course around the clock electricity provide all the creature comforts for the more high maintenance angler.
If you are a dry fly fishing purist, I would look no further than the Sedanka. The Sedanka is also the most user friendly of all the rivers in Kamchatka, very easy wading and casting, extremely comfortable camps, a less intensive float schedule, and typically yields the highest numbers of trout taken relative to the other rivers. The Sedanka is also our recommendation for those anglers who are a bit worried about their physical conditioning and don't want to work too hard. However, the more physically fit anglers will find the Sedanka a dry fly and mousing dream. Miles and miles of river remain untouched each week, and you can feel free to hike, explore, and fish as much water as you would like.
Wilderness Floats / Exploratory Trips for 2013
We are organizing a handful of exploratory trips for the 2013 season (exact schedule and details to be determined). These trips are a bit more rustic in nature than our established programs, however offer the most adventurous anglers with the opportunity to actually pioneer new rivers and streams. Every year new rivers are being “discovered” yielding phenomenal stories of even bigger fish and better fishing.
Our exploratory adventures this season will likely take place in the northern region of Kamchatka on tributaries of the Sedanka and Pirozhnikova River systems. - and can be coupled together with Sedanka on a 2-week trip.
Although simple, there really is no serious roughing it aspect to the facilities. Each individual camp varies from the next, however are all semi-permanent structures set up preceding the season. You will be extremely surprised at the quality and comfort level of the accommodations. Each camp also runs full time electricity off of diesel burning generators, and all of the facilities in camp are heated with wood burning stoves. Sleeping quarters accommodate two anglers each, and consist of double walled sleeping huts or birch wood cabins appointed with comfortable framed cots, electric outlets, a plenty of room to store gear. The mess building is also heated with a full table setting for a very civilized and comfortable meal. Every camp has a separate heated showering facility complete with hot water and flushing toilets. A drying facility for waders and wet clothing is also a part of every camp - a warm and welcome place to slip on dry waders on a chilly morning. Common areas are paved with wooden planked walkways making barefoot walking comfortable. Each sleeping quarters is also connected by a riverstone or wooden pathway to the main fire pit.
Of course if you are at the Zendzur Lodge, you return each day from the river to a welcoming framed lodge and all the creature comforts of home. The facility has double and triple occupancy rooms with private bathrooms and the amenities you expect from a wilderness fishing lodge… The highlight of any trip to Zendzur is the natural hot springs and banya to soak in and warm up after a day on the river.
Russians in general are not known for their culinary expertise; however the food and drink on the float are good/decent considering the remoteness. Lunches are usually sandwiches with lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses, and breads. Dinners are always warm and fresh with lots of soups, noodles, pork, salmon, caviar, vegetables, fresh fruit, good coffee, fresh Russian beer and lots of vodka. Some of the happiest times are had with the Russian staff around the campfire sharing stories and passing the bottle.
Again, the camp schedule is very laid back and civilized. Your camp woodsman arrives in your tent or cabin early in the morning to light the fire in your stove and deliver coffee. Once everyone starts moving, anglers converge on the main dining facility for breakfast. Lunch is taken on the river and there is always time for a shower and a cocktail before dinner.
We prefer to stress that although the accommodations have been labeled as “camping” , know that give the remoteness, the facilities are as comfortable as you can imagine. If you are reluctant to book a trip to Kamchatka for fear of being uncomfortable in camp, or are curious whether your spouse would enjoy the experience, we would love to go into more detail discussing the accommodations. Once managed with the right expectations, the most high maintenance people should be comfortable and happy in camp.
EXPERIENCE KAMCHATKA AGAIN FROM NORTH AMERICA! We now have round-trip air service to Petropovlovsk, Kamchatka via Anchorage, Alaska. See Sample Itinerary for Details.
Zhupanova & Sedanka Programs Itinerary (1 Week Trips)
Travel commercially from home city to Anchorage. Overnight in Anchorage at one of our recommended hotels.
Depart Anchorage (ANC) on Yakutia Air Flight #2510 @ 7:30AM
(Cross the International Dateline)
Arrive Petropavlovsk (PKC) @ 8:00AM
Anglers arrive into "P.K", and are taken immediately to the heli-port for the helicopter transfer to camp #1 on the Zhupanova Float, Zendur Lodge, or head north to the village of Esso for heli connection to camp #1 on the Sedanka.
Upon arrival at camp, anglers will have a half day of fishing time permitting.
SATURDAY - WEDNESDAY
Five full days of guided fishing.
Following a proper half day of fishing, anglers are returned via helicopter to Petropavlovsk to make the international connection back to the USA.
Depart Petropavlovsk (PKC) on Yakutia Air Flight #2509 @ 9:30PM
(Regain Day Crossing International Dateline)
Arrive Anchorage @ 5:55AM (Same Day)
Make connection onward to home.
(Inquire about 2-Week Itinerary Options with Sedanka and Wilderness Float Trips)
Seasonality / When to Go
We are running weeklong and two week trips from July 12 – September 13, 2013. The weeklong trips are based on a door to door Wednesday - Thursday schedule with five full days of fishing and one half day on arrival day. Two week trips will be available on Sedanka and Northern Exploratory trips and are 13 Night / 12 Days of fishing.
There is no "best" time to visit Kamchatka. Because so much is still being learned about all these fisheries, we have not yet discovered any rhyme or reason to when certain rivers fish best. A few of the rivers we represent were only fished for the first time last year, there is simply not enough experience to evaluate any trends in the quality of the fishing.
When salmon arrive later in the season, a trout's behavior is altered somewhat, however this does not adversely affect the overall fishing quality. Fish hold in different runs and the guides may mix up the areas fished to accommodate the evolution of the river once the salmon show up. This should not be a consideration when planning a trip because the numbers of fish taken remains fairly consistent no matter the time of year.
The weather in late June and mid-July, and again in September is typically a little cooler than in late July and August. Guests who fish early and late season should expect lows in the mid thirties with the occasional frost, and highs in the sixties - seventies in a typical week. Later July and August has a little warmer and drier conditions as well, however any type of weather can occur on any given week.
Although weather is extremely variable and always changing, in general the summer climate in Kamchatka is less harsh than what is typically found in Alaska and in more northerly climates. On any given week anglers should expect to fish in a tee shirt one day, and be piling on the layers and rain jacket the following. No-see-ums, white socks, and Mosquitoes are found in greater numbers during July and August, and are usually completely gone by September.
Sedanka Spring Creek Floats: $7695 Per Peron
Zhupanova Float and Zendzur Lodge Programs: $6695 Per Person
2-Week Sedanka / Exploratory Trips:$9950 Per Person
All lodge/camp accommodations; Daily guided fishing (2 anglers per guide); Meals; Airport reception & transfers in Kamchatka; Helicopter flights
What's Not Included
Airfare to Anchorage, Alaska; Hotel Accommodations in Anchorage; Fishing License ($100 USD); Alcoholic beverages; Use of fishing equipment and flies; Gratuities (8-10% of trip cost); Use of satellite phone; Misc Travel expenses
Additional Travel Expenses – Approximately $2500 US ***
Other expenses involved include the following and are subject to change:
- Russian Visa
- Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
- Roundtrip Airfare to/from Petropavlovsk, Russia and Anchorage
- Trip Cancellation / Interruption Insurance (Recommended)
*We will provide all Kamchatka participants with detailed information on how to obtain the aforementioned travel requisites upon booking.
Terms & Conditions
Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides, outfitters and lodges which it represents. A non-refundable 50% deposit is required at the time of booking to hold all reservations in Kamchatka. Final balance is due May 1, 2013.
Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgment that registrant has read and accepts the cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses.
Consider Travel Insurance!
Given the inherent strict refund policies associated with nearly all fishing packages, we cannot stress the importance of obtaining travel insurance to protect your investment. Travelers can obtain coverage for pre-existing health problems (related to yourself, your family, business partners, or your traveling partners), emergency evacuation, lost baggage, delay, life insurance packages; even “no questions asked” or “for work reasons” coverage.
We will provide you with more detailed information about travel insurance from our sponsored provider, Travel Guard, when you book a trip with Tailwaters Travel. We can conveniently process a very comprehensive insurance policy for you in-house after asking a few simple questions.
Call today to protect your investment: (888) 824-5420
Please review our Policies & Cancellations section.
Kamchatka itself is also of interest. Its natural wonders are at least as diverse and breathtaking as those found in Alaska, maybe more so. The famous Valley of the Geysers, Nalichevsky National Park, Timonovskye Hot Springs, Avacha Bay, and Kurilskoe Lake Brown Bear Preserve are easily accessible day-trips, based out of Petropavlovsk.
A Word About Helicopters:
The helicopters used to access the remote wilderness of Kamchatka are known as the Russian made Mi-8. Although cosmetically these choppers can use some work, they are actually very solid aircraft with flawless maintenance records. They are used by over fifty United Nations countries worldwide, and have proven themselves with millions of hours flown in both military and civilian usage.
The Mi-8 is to Kamchatka what the floatplane is to Alaska. There are over eight hundred on the peninsula performing numerous tasks including hauling Americans and their gear to the most remote corners of Kamchatka. Nearly all of our clients commented on how smooth, powerful, and stable these workhorses feel while in flight. With two jet engines and an 18,000-pound payload, the Mi-8 rarely operates at half its capacity. The Russians are extremely cautious about flying in poor weather, and unlike an airplane if you run into poor visibility, the pilots can simply turn around.
Russian and American Staff:
We have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the staff in Russia. There are dozens of service-oriented personnel who ensure that these trips function as planned, and that anglers are happy and comfortable. From the moment you arrive in Petropavlovsk you are met by competent English speaking escorts who transport anglers to the heli-port for the flight to the river. Each program consists of the following staff: American head guide, Russian guides, cook, and two "woodsman". These "woodsman" are there to ensure that fires are always lit, the generators are running, the shower is always warm, and that guests are comfortable. The Russian guides are intimately familiar with the rivers fished, and do an excellent job of finding fish, reading water, assisting with casting instruction, rigging equipment, etc.
The Russians are also extremely safe, friendly, and knowledgeable, in addition to excellent guides. Fishing and socializing with the Russians is a very interesting experience and one of the most memorable aspects of the entire trip. They are a delight to talk with, are great hosts, and are very forthcoming with tales of their life in the former Soviet Union, Russia, and in Kamchatka. The Russian staff is well educated, well traveled, and add a wonderful uniqueness to the adventure.
Each program also has an American representative who acts as your liaison and head guide. Every program has a staff that has been well trained in providing the creature comforts and quality service that we Americans expect.
It is also important to note that every camp has a host of dogs on camp known as Laicas. These ancestors to the American Husky are used to scare away bears and make nice companions.