So we ended up teasing lucky pikes and perches that somehow escaped the
annual genocide. Fishingwise it was a lot less than what we hoped to be
Russians are great outdoorsmen, they drive into rugged wilderness in trucks,
boats or even choppers - nothing against that. But the whole thing comes
down to the lack of conservation mind. Many of them simply take advantage
of the nature as if inexhaustible gift.
As we glided on, Alexey proudly explained to us he had caught a 3kg pike
over that bend, 5kg trophy in that pool, etc. I didn't have to ask but
I did, only to receive the obvious answer 'Well? I ate it''. He advised
us that we should have come earlier in May or June right after the ice
break. That's when the folks go for killing - in the word's truest meaning.
In a stretch with rocky riffle, we stopped the raft and tried flyfishing.
There were quite a few reactions to my dry flies, but again only small
greylings in the 10-15cm class showed up.
While I was shaking head, Alexey was delighted, saying Greyling was a delicacy.
He made a cord out of some grass, to keep poor little baby greylings like
a necklace. After killing 5 or 6 poor little fish I suggested he had had
Working surface lures on the grassy edges, we received some heart stopping
strikes. Here in the moving water fish seemed more active than in the lake,
offering enough actions to keep us entertained.
But they were generally small, average length being 50cm, only up to around
70cm. Considering the remoteness of the location and lack of access except
by a boat, the size fell short of our expectation.
But the rafting trip in the Karelian forest was still enjoyable as a family
trip - in a pristine environment that are not available in Moscow - thanks
particularly to the simple fact that even Alexey did his job.
Leytna was a small stream with a width of the 10-15meters. At places the
current ran fast over shallow gravels, while at other places slowly gliding
in deep gutters.
Alternating fishing rod for paddle every now and then, it was an enjoyable
ride, thanks to the fact even Alexey did his job.
Alexey suggested to start the day trolling big swim bait. In mid August
the water is warm. Rather than hitting the shallow edges, it was effective
to troll in the deeper water - was his diagnosis. Surely not my cup of
tea but I followed his advice as a token of respect.
Half an hour passed without a single bite. Then another half an hour. .
. Trolling became not just boring but painful.
Second day fishing. For a change of air we arranged a rafting trip to a
small river nearby - Leytna. We were to raft down the length of some 30kms
spending a night camping along the way.
A ride in a UAZ 4x4 was a special treat to give it a true Russian outdoor
Such is often the case in Russia - a complete lack of professionalism.
A sad legacy of Soviet era perhaps. Some of those so called ''guide'' are
little more than a boatman.
We went back to the lodge not impressed at all. I must admit that I was
not in a mood to smile back at the death mask of a trophy pike on the wall.
The best I could think of was a family trip to Karelia, in the north western
part of Russia. It is easily accessible from Moscow - one comfortable night
in a sleeper train carried us to Petrozavotsk on the shore of lake Onega.
Our guide was again Alexey. His love of fishing was obvious, in that he
began flicking his spinning rod even as the rest of us prepare to launch
the raft carrying stuff from the van.
''Stop it Alexey'' I said to him, only to hear a question back 'Why?'.
That was the very limit of my tolerance so I shouted back out loud ''Alexey,
this is not your vacation but ours. This is your job as a professional
guide. Stop fishing. Pack up your tackle. No, don't put it in the boat,
leave it in the truck. Now!!''
Finally making out what it's about, he chucked away his toys and we started
our trip - as a guide and a family of paying guests.
So I had to persuade him to change the menu to casting. There are weedy
edges at places, which shouts ''pike here''.
As I started covering them I noticed something I did not expect. Alexey
began casting lures over and beyond my fly casting reach. He did catch
two modest pikes - only after tangling with our lines more than once.
To make things worse, winds began picking up shortly past noon. He was
quick to call it a day, adding that fish were not biting anyway. He was
kind enough to offer us his two dead pikes drying at his feet as a compensation,
which we cordially declined.
After sleeping a night in Petrozavotsk, we hopped on to a train again to
continue our way farther north.
Half a day later we arrived in Veromosk,, and traveled by car to lake Shuezero,
where we planned 4 days of fishing stay. The lodge on the lake was well appointed, complete with its own chapel even.
Petrozavotsk is a stepping off point for Kizi island, some 70kms far and
reachable by speedboat.
Kizi is a popular tourist destination famous for its traditional churches
and pastoral landscape. Among them, the most picturesque is Preopragenskaya
cathedral, built without a single nail back in 1714 and is considered as
one of the world's mystery and art of carpentry.
Summer in Russia is very short. As soon as the few precious balmy days
of July are over you smell that subtle yet unmistakable scent of Autumn.
Contrary to the expectation of many including myself, there are not a lot
of flyfishing options in this part of Russia. Many of the salmon rivers
up north have peaked out by now, and in the lowland the water tends to
be too warm for trout. Unless you venture far out to Siberia or Kamchatka,
August is a rather less interesting month.
Karelia in Aug '16 - 1
Having slept well, we went out for fishing in a boat, with a local guide
Shuezero lake is about 10kms long, 4-5kms wide, with many small islands
Kareria is a region that makes border with Finland. Due to its relative
ease of access, many people from Moscow and St. Petersburg spend their
summer holidays here - in the land of thousand lakes and sprawling forest.