For live and premium content, sign up for our email newsletter and we'll send reports directly to your inbox
Subscriber Roger Mills has weighed in with a report on a float trip to the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia last August that inspired him to file a report that may get you to thinking in a new way about the pros and cons of taking your wife along on your next trip anywhere in the world. His trip to the Zhupanova River was handled for him and his wife by The Fly Shop (www.theflyshop.com). And, yes, it produced some very nice rainbows (the largest was 28 inches, he says), but it also produced some other very nice things, as witness the following:
“In late August of 2013, my wife and I took a 5½-day float trip down Kamchatka’s Zhupanova River with three guides (Justin Miller of the Fly Shop and two excellent Russians), an incredible cook, and four other anglers. The questions we have heard from fellow anglers, friends, and neighbors since then are pretty consistent. First, ‘Kamchatka! Where’s that?’ followed by ‘Your wife went?’ Well, if you fly-fish much away from home, you probably know where Kamchatka is. It is a long, narrow, feather-shaped peninsula in far-eastern Russia that points southward toward Japan, about 2,000 miles west of Anchorage. As part of the so-called ‘Rim of Fire’ around the Pacific, it is home to 29 active volcanoes, spectacular rivers, incredible wildlife, and very few people. The salmon runs there are huge, but it was the chance to tie into some of the near-incredible native rainbows of the Zhupanova that drew us there. By near-incredible, I mean wild, native fish that are big, strong, hungry, and acrobatic. All considered, I think Kamchatka should be at or very near the top of the list of places every traveling angler really must visit at some point.
“Yes, my wife went with me to Kamchatka, and maybe yours should go with you, too. Here are the reasons I took my wife. First, she’s a good fly fisherperson. When we got married, I asked her if she liked to fish, and she said, ‘yes.’ What she meant at that point was that she liked to sit on a dock, drink coffee, and talk with her sister while they fed worms to immature smallmouth bass. Fortunately, after our marriage, we joined an active and friendly fly fishing club with lots of outdoor couples. Over the years, she developed into a very respectable fly caster. At this point, we have fished together from Alaska to Belize to Chile. On any given day, the smart money will be on her to land both the first and the biggest fish.
“The second reason I took her along is she’s a good photographer. This may not initially strike you as a good reason to include a spouse; however, when you arrive home with a complete photo narrative of your trip, you will understand. You can scroll through her pictures of the planes and helicopters you flew, of the drab Russian cityscapes and the magnificent Russian landscapes—you know, all those details that guys never even notice, much less record. The result is you will have far more than grip-and-grin ‘fishporn’ in your files; you will have a visual record that will trigger fond memories of great trips for many years to come.
“The third reason I took her along is she loves wildlife, and on a Kamchatka trip, you will see wildlife. Guaranteed. Especially bears. Having a fishing companion who notices mama bear teaching a salmon-catching lesson to three young clubs, and has the sense to stop fishing and watch will make you realize that the rainbows can wait while you watch something most of the rest of the world can’t even imagine.
“The fourth reason I took her along is she doesn’t snore. Make no mistake: that is important on a float trip like the one we made down the Zhupanova because it involves living and sleeping in tight quarters with your fishing partner for a demanding week. The huts are dry and warm, but not roomy. Then there is the matter of the camp bear dogs waking you up once or twice a night as they do their job and annoy any night visitors. During those wake-ups, you could do a lot worse than have a familiar roommate. And ask yourself this: If you take a spill on the rocks, is your fishing buddy going to help you the next morning when you can’t bend over far enough to lace your wading boots? Indeed, there are some real advantages to bunking with your forbetter- or-for-worse partner.
“Finally, inviting my wife to come along with me to Kamchatka has given us the chance to share an experience of a lifetime. Travel to Kamchatka nowadays, although certainly easier than it used to be, still comes closer to being an expedition than a fishing trip. If you are attentive, the trip will give you new perspectives on geology, geography, people, and politics, as well as fishing. Watching a rainbow explode from the water after you drop a mouse close to the bank will, for sure, redefine dry fly fishing for you when it happens. Why not have someone with you who will be around to talk with you about that experience afterward