Ouzel Expeditions was the first western company to offer trips to Kamchatka. We were invited over by the Russian government in charge of tourism of Kamchatka in 1991, to help establish remote fishing tourism. The Kamchatka Peninsula may be one of the most remote places on earth. There are less than 300 miles of road, mostly unpaved. All travel is done by helicopter or ex-military transport vehicles. There are 26 active volcanoes, half the world’s population of Stellar Sea Eagles, and the largest poplulation of brown bears on earth. The capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, popularly known as Petro, is the largest city, with a population of 180,000. This city has an international airport, and will be where we start our trip.
An exciting thing about fishing in Kamchatka is that we use MI-8 helicopters to fly in and out. These helicopters can fit 14 people, all the rafts and equipment, and literally a ton of food. They can land just about anywhere. This opens up the option to fish downstream as far as we choose each trip. If we hit great holes up high, and don’t travel very far, that’s fine. If we decide to put on the miles, looking for that certain fish, we can do that too! We fly into the river the first day we arrive in Kamchatka, and you can immediately drop a line in to fish!
Fish Species in Kamchatka
Kamchatka is considered to produce a quarter of the wild salmon globally, and has the greatest diversity of the species in the world. When Vitus Bering explored the area, he also cataloged the species, and those names remain today as their scientific names. Rainbow trout follow the salmon, and with the abundance of food, their average sizes are larger than what we have seen anywhere else. A unique species to the region is the Khundza, or Kunja, (Salvelinus leucomaenis). It is part of the Salmonidae family, and is considered an East Asian Whitespotted Char. To the left, is an excellent photo of a Khundza caught on the Zhupanova River.
Float Fishing from a Raft
We spend between 8 and 10 days floating fishing in human powered rafts down the river. We select our rivers based on the best fishing, and avoid lodges and jet boats. We prefer 16 foot rafts powered by guides on oars compared to jet boats because it doesn’t frighten off the trout, and dramatically lowers our impact on the river. It’s nice listening to nature, not motors.
Expert Guides, Chefs, and translators
We move our camps down river each day, not missing any fishing holes. The guide to fisherman ratio is 2:1, making for lots of room to fish from the raft, with frequent opportunities to wade. We bring along a translator and chef on each trip, as well. There are American fishing guides along with our Russian local guides on every trip. We have worked with the same guiding family in Russia for the last 28 years.
Our riverside camps have fishing just feet from your tent. A typical day on the river is coffee, tea, and breakfast at 7am. We launch down the river by 10 am. A hot lunch stop complete with a campfire, tables and chairs, and occasionally a dining tent or fly if there is weather will be set up. Then back to floating and fishing. After a full day of fishing, we arrive at camp. Our expert guides build deluxe camps, complete with a huge kitchen/dining tent, hot showers, campfires every night, and private tents with the thickest camp mattresses on the market. While you relax at the campfire, or watch the sunset while fishing the last hour of daylight, our chefs are busy in the kitchen preparing a gourmet dinner of local cuisine.
The legendary Zhupanova could quite possibly be the best trout fishing in the world. In 70 miles, this major tributary flows through rolling hills, with venting volcanoes in the backdrop. This river can host up to 10,000 rainbows that average 24 inches with plenty of opportunities for larger fish.
Named for the volcano nearby. We start out in the high country with more than 35 miles of river to float and the opportunity to stop at both hot and cold mineral springs. The river flows in and out of an extinct volcano caldera that is quite unique. Think Jurassic park! This entrance and exit causes short class III rapids making for a great fishing holes at the bottom.
Exploratory River Trips
Our Exploratory trips travel north, and vary to where the fishing is best. We work closely with our Russian partner company to chose these new rivers. We are not lodge based, so we are able to go where the fishing is the best! Due to the remoteness, we recommend extra days of travel in your itinerary for more days of fishing on the river.