Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trip to the Yudoma & Urak Rivers near Okhotsk (Lena R. drainage) - Part 1

Yudoma River is situated in the north of the Khabarovsk region, at the border with Sakha-Yakutia Republik.  The stream is over 800 km long; it begins from the glaciers of the highest area of the Suntar Khayata mountain ridge.  We had come to Okhotsk by 3.5 hour domestic flight (AN-24 plane) from Khabarovsk.  The idea was to float & fish the rivers of both the north & south slopes of the Arctic-Pacific divide.  The first leg of the route was 1.5 hour MI-8 helicopter fligh from Okhotsk.

Out of the chopper you see mostly mountains.  This territory is almost uninhabited by humans.  The highest point of the Suntar-Khayata Ridge is Mus-Khaya mtn (2995 m).  This is one of glaciated areas of the Russian Far East.  Image - Arka River, trobutary to the Okhota R. 

Helicopter is leaving, and the group stays with a pile of equipment at vast gravel bar of the Yudona River.

The broad valley of the Yudoma River has numerous lakes - they number 5,000! 
Most of them were never fished. 

Far from the river the larch forest looks "oppressed" due to the wet soil, permafrost, and harsh climate.

The water of the Yudoma was a little milky because of the runoff from the glaciers.

"The Yudoma Gates" is the most spectacular area of the whole river

We were moving downstream with 2 rubber rafts. 
In most places the river is not complicated and could be rated 2. 
There is only one area with serious falls (see Part 2).

On the second morning I had managed to land a little Siberian taimen. 
The fish had bitted a large "articulated" streamer. 

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The first of my wobbler-flies was Wiggle Bug; this was a gift from one of my friends from USA.  He had told me that this "fly" is used for bass.  I wanted to make some similar flies, but it was hard to find hard enough foam for the body.  I had to invent something different for the blade.   

It came out that the most convenient material for the blades comes from clear plastic syringes.  It is necessary to choose plastic which is soft and not brittle.  Out of this plastic it is possible to cut the necessary blade shape with scissors.  The hook comes through a hole in the middle of a blade.  The next step is to fasten the narrow "tail" of the blade to the hook shank with thread and glue. 

During the winter I had tied very many wobbler-flies of different size, shape and color.  Most of them had a back made of foam.  All flies of this type should be fine-tuned in the water.  During retrieve a good fly will wiggle with its back up; it should not rotate. 

Nagaevo Bay of the Sea of Okhotsk near the city of Magadan.  The first fish caught in the sea was a big sculpin. 

Marine sculpine had grabbed the fly near the bottom

In the Amur River I was catching different fish: mandarin bass, ...

... Amur catfish, ...

... and skygazer (so called Korean tarpon). 

Pink salmon were biting small, bright patterns of the fly. 

Armenia, wild brown trout from the Arpa River (drainage of the Caspian Sea)

Blunt-nose lenok is biting the 6 cm long Wiggle Bug on a heavy #2 hook

100 cm long Siberian taimen from the Uchur River (Lena R. drainage) was caught...

... with the same fly.

1, 2 - trout; 3, 5, 6 - different "warmwater" fish; 4 - pink salmon; 7 - Amur pike. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Trip to the Bichi River, Udyl Lake, Amur River - Part 3 (Amur R.)

Lone young swan on the Bystraya channel on the way south from the Udyl Lake ourlet

Moving along the braided and twisted channels, I am nearing the Amur River upstream from the the town of Bogorodskoe. Huge bird-of-prey, Steller's sea-eagle, was the first who saw me coming to the main channel of a river, which is 3 km wide in this area. 

On a sand bar I have found a scull of something what should have been as big as a crocodile.  Kaluga sturgeon Huso dauricus is still common in the lower Amur, regardless to strong poaching for its caviar & meat. 

I have crossed the main river early in the morning.  I was feeling a lot like in the sea on a calm day - wide expance of water, big ships...

On a sand bar at the head of one of the islands I have spotted "double hunt".   A big school of  10-15 cm long Amur ide was feeding on some tiny fish.   Several tens of some bigger fish were preying upon ide. 

I have started to cast a streamer and lost it very soon - the line was bitten off.  After shifting to steell tippet I have started catching Amur pikes.  This was a strange habitat for any other pike - flat sand bar with 70 cm of water plus current.  For this species, Esox reicherti, it is a typical feeding area.    

Along the next island something different was feeding on the surface.  Thousands of big fish were "eating water".  These were silver carps (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix).  It is typical plancton feeder, which is catching ist food by filtering the water.  In out area it is considered "non-for-sports" fish; it is caught with only nets.  In in this place the fish were definitely trying to get as much surface film as possible - there were lots of tiny bugs in it.  I have decided to try catching one of these strange fish with a fly.  For hours I was moving through the schools of feeding carps, casting tiny dry flies on front of opening mouths.  If they are swallowing dead insects, sooner or later they should get my imitation instead...

In 2 hours I had a gentle pull (the fly was soaken wet and sinking) and hooked something very strong and fast

  The first silver carp in my life!  This 3 kg specimen was landed with a #16 dry fly.   It took me over 10 minutes to land it with 7 weight.

The last camp at the Amur River.  Tomorrow I will come to Bogorodskoe and take 14 hour red-eye bus ride to Khabarovsk.