The Umba 2016: Charlie White reflects on our first season

By Charlie White

The Umba 2016: Charlie White reflects on our first season

It was with a degree of excitement, trepidation and intrigue that we approached our first season on the Umba...

I had visited the lodge many times on my way down to the Varzuga and in May this year Bill Drury and I had an extended time on the river to speak to the guides, have a look at all of the pools and get to know the lodge staff. However, the hard truth is that until you actually have clients fishing the river and sleeping in the beds, it is hard to know what to expect.

First the good news – it really is the loveliest river to fish. The upper river, Krivetz, takes a long walk to get to but it is hugely worth it. Very few places retain such a feeling of remoteness and calm whilst offering the chance of a really decent fish.

The lower river feels as if you are somewhere different altogether. It is less intimate and some pools are best fished from the boat but there is some fantastic fly water and the variety of the river makes for a fascinating week.

Umba Newsreports New

The guides are excellent and it was clear after fishing with them for a while that they knew the river intimately and had all netted some seriously big fish from pretty much every pool we went to.

The lodge is superb with several well-travelled rods commenting that they had been served the best food that they had ever had on the Kola.

But to the fishing…  It was OK but no more than that is the reality. We had high water the whole season (apparently the highest for the past 21 years), and this meant that whatever fish were there were hugely spread out and we had a tough time fishing the pools that the guides wanted to. 

It is also pertinent to point out that 2016 was not a great season anywhere on the Kola (or elsewhere), and to judge the river on one year would be an unfair thing to do.

I had hoped for between 80 to 100 fish per week for the 10 rods but it ended up averaging just over 40 fish per week with no one week being much better than the other.

We did land some cracking fish and Heinz Pape’s gleaming 28lber on practically the last day of the season was probably the pick but we had plenty of other fish over 20lbs and a lot in the teens.

There was essentially zero poaching which was perhaps our biggest fear and it was very evident that our Russian partners had taken our requests very seriously and that in itself felt like a massive step forward for the river.

Next year we will be making some changes that should make a big difference to the programme. We will only fish 8 rods per week instead of 10 which will ensure all rods have 3 days on Krivetz and 3 days on the lower river to give a fairer rotation and also to ensure single rooms for everyone in the lodge.

We are also changing the travel logistics which will make the programme far less tiring and more workable for everyone.

It is clear that this is not a rival to the Yokanga for really big fish or the Varzuga for serious of numbers of fish but for a combination of the two at an excellent price, the Umba is an excellent option.

We look forward to 2017 when hopefully the river conditions will be kinder and salmon runs across Russia and elsewhere are as strong as we would normally expect.

Thanks to a very high repeat rate we only have a few rods for next year and if you would like to know more then please do not hesitate to contact me on


La Villa Maria Behety 4-11 January 2019 Week report

By Umbraco.Core.Models.Membership.User

Fishing has improved this week with floating lines beginning to be effective. The team of 6 rods had a great week with a lot of laughs amongst great fishing. They landed 85 fresh fish with 16 fish over 15 pounds for an average weight of 10.1 pounds. The middle and lower river have fished best...

Read more

Greenland – a trip report by Charlie White

By Umbraco.Core.Models.Membership.User

Arctic char fishing in Greenland has been on my radar for a long time but for various reasons I have never actually taken the plunge. That all changed last year when, on the way to host a group on the East Ranga in Iceland, I spoke to Valgerdur Arnardottir (Arni Baldursson’s daughter) who had just come back from Greenland and was utterly raving about it.

Read more

Yokanga Season Report 2018

By Umbraco.Core.Models.Membership.User

The 2018 season has seen the Yokanga perform at its very best. The spring melt arrived at exactly the normal time and with snow levels within normal parameters, the season panned out precisely as it should.

Read more

Subscribe to RSS

ATOL Protected

Many of the flights and flight inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all products, holidays and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL certificate, then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to:

ABTOT provides protection for your non-flight packages as set out in our booking conditions