I read this book - an account of American angler / writer who travelled Russia in the 90's. The author encounters as many dark sides of Russia - poaching, corruption, exploitation of natural resources - as positive side of Russia and its people. As I attempt to make my way in his footsteps 25years later, I found many things remained unchanged - and left unattended.

I certainly enjoy travelling in Russia, and fishing is a great reason and motivation for it. But I must warn you visiting remote part of Russia sometimes forces you to see some undesirable side of us humans - though that also is part of the whole experience I guess.



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Knowing some key words will help you, to the point of finding tours or lodges of interest. But then, you have to inquire and do so in Russian. Of course you can try writing in English, but more often than not, no reply will come. Even those international lodges that have English website often do not answer queries unless written in Russian.

Any effort to learn Russian will pay its dividends, from the preparation stage through to the execution, including the communication by the river bank.
Fishing related websites

Flyfishing Russia
A website of famous Russian flyfisher/writer (Eng & Rus)

Fishing Travel Center
Fishing tours at reasonable prices iRusj

Roxtons

Popular British salmon tour operator (Eng)

Kola Travel
Local tour agent, based in Murmansk (Eng)

Key words

Qqp|{p iFishingj
~p| iFlyfishingj
Apxp iLodgej
sytiGuidej
| iSalmonj
{}wp iTroutj
s|u iCharj
pyiGreyling)
{piPikej
{~iPerch)

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Fishing

After this much effort in preparing the trip, you would want to see the rivers and lakes teeming with hungry fish. But the truth is, fishing is not that easy even in a very remote places.

Russians are way behind the westerners when it comes to sportsfishing ethics, and happy to deplete any water near and a far. Media, especially flyfishing publications are trying to educate anglers but the learning curve is not impressive, especially in the mindset of the countryside folks.
In this IT age, quick web surfing will direct you to fishing sites in no time. No problem till there.

But the fact is, the information you can access in English is limited. And surfing in English will inevitably leads you to ''foreigners' deals'' which are twice or thrice more expensive than the ones for locals. You could be magnanimously accept such, understanding the different wage levels in the equation, but no wilderness tour is cheap even by the Russian pricing scheme. I for one, prefer investing some effort in language, so as to enjoy the deals at fair price.
Getting around

Russia for an obvious reason has one of the world's most extensive network of domestic flights and trains. And in most places there are no special restrictions for foreigners. Even renting a car is becoming a straightforward business nowadays (except military controlled area, northern part of Kola peninsula unfortunately is)

Even in remote places where no public transport exists, there often are private drivers who are willing to taxi you from a place to another. And the cost is very reasonable, say, 50euro for 100km. Most lodge / tour operator will be able to arrange one for you.
Getting there

For nationals of most western countries, the fist step is to get you a visa. It used to be a painfully laborious and costly exercise once, but nowadays it has become fairly easy. Most travel agents and fishing lodge will be able to issue you a 'letter of invitation' for a small cost (usually 20-30euro), with that you can apply for a tourist visa at your nearby consulate.

The flights to Russia are surprisingly cheap. Flight from Brussels will typically cost you 200euros return, and I presume similar cost from London, Frankfurt, etc.
From late March to April, snow starts to melt, making the streets of Moscow a big dirty mess. We normally have to wait till mid May when, all of a sudden, summer arrives. All the buds of leaves will pop over night, to capture every bit of sunlight and warmth the short Russian summer may bring.

From mid May to early September is the best time to visit Moscow, and many other Russian cities for that matter.
Planning

There are abundant tour guides and literatures to help your planning. But if you wish to go on a customized, hopefully inexpensive tour, you must teach yourself some basic Russians - as English is not widely understood even in cities, much less by the rivers!!

Russian indeed is a super complex language, those Cyrillic letters to begin with. But the truth is, if you really face them one intensive evening, you start recognizing the letters and street signs. Basic travel phrase can be mastered with a few months' effort, too.
Russia physically is the biggest nation on earth. It once ruled, and still leads a group of countries called CIS (similar to EU in the west), captured in the map above.

Climate

Its climate is harsh, consists of short summer and very long winter. In Moscow, first snow falls in October if not in end September already. The daylights becomes shorter and shorter, with most days covered in dark clouds anyway. The temperature hits its bottom around -30 degrees in January and February. By then, clear blue sky start to show, though by no means signaling an arrival of the spring yet.
One of the elements that make Russia exotic is its national religion - Russian orthodox. It has a distinctly different air of its own, which commands fair influence in the way Russian cities look, and the way Russian people live.

During Soviet era, religions were illegal and persecuted. Now as they resume and regain cultural freedom, churches are rebuilt, and religious faith are making strong come back. The harsh reality of capitalist economy maybe driving people seeking solace and peace.
Russia was the core dynamo of Soviet Union, the first communism nation in the history. Much of their 20th century was spent behind the veil of distinct ideology, till 1991 when the great experiment came to an abrupt end.

From the aftermath Russia rose quickly - thanks to the surging price of natural resources of which the country has in abundance. The change was fast, dangerously so at times, and in many ways we are still observing the transformation as we speak.
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