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We received this important note from Salmon Junkies ( about the fishing on the Kola Peninsula of Russia this spring. Stay tuned for updates as the season progresses.

“The spring/summer season on the Kola Peninsula will probably go down in statistical records as one of the driest and hottest in 20 years. An early spring with a very modest amount of rain in May and June had most of the river’s catchment areas dwindle to almost nothing. The big northern rivers were all affected, without exception, by extremely low water levels, which had a negative effect on the fishing right from the season’s start. On some northern rivers, catches were down 30 to 50 percent compared to a normal year. The two large water systems—Ponoi and Umba—fared much better through the dry month of June due to their enormous watersheds, which always ensure a stable flow of water. In June, the weekly average in Ponoi was 20 to 25 salmon. That was 10 to 15 percent lower than normal.

“One of the most positive trends was the very good fishing we came upon when we started fishing the Umba River the beginning of June. Increased and efficient control in Umba has—as we anticipated—really begun to pay off. Due to the early spring, all pools in Krivetz were fishable, which of course produced many fine salmon. We landed several 20-plus pounders, as well as a very good number of 14 to 18 pounders daily in Krivetz on floating or sink-tip lines. Late June proved to be much harder as dry, sunny, and very windy weather settled on the Kola Peninsula.

“The Varzuga, which runs parallel to Umba on the southern part of the Kola Peninsula, produced very good fishing, as usual, with almost ‘hysterical’ daily catch figures until mid-June. Then this river was also hit by the drought and soaring temperatures. Due to its very early run of salmon, the Varzuga was not generally affected in the same manner as other Kola rivers.

This river’s prime time was already over when tropical temperatures and drought hit northwest Russia. “The 2011 season is far from over as this is written. Luckily, we have
ahead of us a wonderful autumn season on the Umba. This time of the year has always had its steady and loyal band of salmon junkies, and for good reason: holding a fresh, 20-plus pound sealiced salmon in your hands is one of the peak experiences of a salmon angler.

Our new Umba conservation plan has again placed Umba on the world map of salmon angling. Umba River is one of those places, we like to say, where you may lose your soul forever, but you may also find it there. Stay tuned to for news and weekly reports in August, September, and October.”

Postcript: Kola outfitters and returning clients are urged to check in with reports. Write and copy Paul Marriner at [email protected].

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