Yokanga Lodge, Spring and Summer, 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.
Guests at Yokanga Lodge may fish over 55km of the Yokanga. The impressive waters of the Yokanga cascade through a boulder-strewn course, creating some of the most diverse and varied fly fishing water imaginable. There are the rippled glides of pools like Lyliok and the deep and rushing draws of Upper Norcamp as well as pocket water on the edge of fast water.
There are two distinct programmes at Yokanga Lodge. There are the spring and summer weeks of June and July and the autumn fishing weeks in August and September where logistics have been reviewed in order to keep the rod costs as affordable as possible.
The spring and summer fishing at Yokanga Lodge in June and July will be for 16 rods. The fishing beats are accessed by helicopter on most days. Once fishing on your beat, the guide has a boat which is used for crossing pools and making speedy progress through the lake sections. Two rods share a guide and one rod at a time can fish from the boat to cover lies that simply could not be covered from the shore.
Challenging is an ample description for fishing the Yokanga. Deep wading is difficult so in most scenarios fishing is either from the boat or paddling down the edge of the bank. The nature of the river and complexity of the water definitely favours the confident caster and knowledgeable salmon fisher who can read water.
Challenging though it may be, fishermen aged over 80 have successfully fished the Yokanga. Taking it slowly and not wading out of your comfort zone combined with the usual helping of perseverance required in salmon fishing is a good recipe for success. The Yokanga salmon are also notoriously aggressive and will often move several yards to take your fly.
The lodge 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.
The lodge can comfortably accommodate up to 16 people in a combination of double and single rooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom with a generous supply of hot water to the power shower.
The open plan upstairs sitting room and dining room are where tales are told of encounters with leviathans from the day’s adventures. There are facilities for you to make tea and coffee at any time of the day or night and there is a bar for you to help yourself to drinks.
A well-stocked fly-tying bench completes the upstairs living area together with cable TV for the unlikely event of wanting to keep in touch with the real world.
Home Pool is but a short walk away as are the popular pools of Boulder Alley and Lyliok which has seen many a big fish battle over the years.
Photo credits: Matt Harris www.mattharrisflyfishing.com, Fly Fishing Nation, Roxtons staff