Gremikha, Lower Yokanga, Russia
The Yokanga is situated inside the Arctic Circle at about 67.5 degrees north latitude. The river flows into the Barents Sea and is on the north eastern end of the Kola Peninsula some 280km from Murmansk. The Yokanga itself is over 200km long and has a drainage basin of over 6,000 square kilometres.
The waters of the Yokanga are home to some of the largest Atlantic salmon on the Kola Peninsula and provide a challenging environment in which to fish. We see well over 100 salmon over the magic 20lb mark landed every season with the record year producing over 250 salmon of this size to less than 100 rods. Among these figures are a good number of 30+lb fish and numerous fishermen have landed their largest Atlantic salmon on the Yokanga. The river provides a real chance of big salmon in a true wilderness environment yet with all creature comforts a fisherman may require.
The impressive waters of the Yokanga cascade through a boulder-strewn course, creating some of the most diverse and varied fly fishing water imaginable. Guests fishing the Gremikha water fish the lowest 9km of the Yokanga starting below the Yokanga Lake and down to the tidal water. Much of the water is rapids although there are some excellent holding pools as well. In addition to the classic pools, and depending on water height, there are small bays, points or large rocks where fish rest before heading on upstream.
The Gremikha fishing is exclusive to just six rods with two rods sharing a beat and guide. Guests stay at Yokanga Lodge and are flown to the lower Yokanga every day using an EC-125 Eurocopter. The helicopter stays with guests for the duration of the fishing session and is used to fly between beats and to avoid some of the rugged terrain between pools. There are boats to cross the river and for people to fish from enabling rods to fish water that would otherwise be impossible to cover from the bank or by wading. Fishing hours can be adjusted to suit the best tide times for fishing the lower Yokanga so increasing your chances.
Gremikha offers the opportunity to hook one of the Yokanga’s biggest Atlantic salmon when they are at their freshest out of the sea. It is an incredibly exciting place to fish and there is always the expectation of a fish of 20lbs or more and an excellent chance of hooking a salmon in excess of 30lbs or even bigger. Salmon over the magic 40lb mark have been caught on the Gremikha water but landing a big fish in the lower river is the real challenge.
Alexey Strulistov, a passionate salmon fisherman, took over as owner of the Yokanga in the autumn of 2019. Since then he has invested heavily in the lodge infrastructure and operational equipment and has introduced an important 15 man anti-poaching patrol to ensure the security of the salmon.
The lodge, where Gremikha fishermen stay, is set high on a bluff overlooking several miles of the Yokanga itself. It is a Canadian-built log cabin that was imported and constructed on the riverbank in 1998. In the summer of 2021, the lodge underwent a significant refurbishment covering every possible aspect. This included everything from replaced electrics, improved insulation, brand new bedding and furniture in bedrooms and all communal areas.
Gremikha guests have their own single room with an ensuite bathroom with underfloor heating and a generous supply of hot water to the power shower. There is no doubt that accommodation on the Yokanga is the most comfortable salmon fishing lodge on the Kola Peninsula.