Umba Trip Report
Call me fickle but I have found a new favourite river and it's also knocked my favourite river on the Kola peninsula off the top spot too.
We arrived down the dusty dirt track at around midnight. Three boats launched from what seemed like an island and we were greeted by 4 friendly guides. As we crossed away from the lights of the village the northen lights appeared overhead. Whilst bitterly cold it was a wonderful way to be greeted.
Once inside the lodge we all warmed up and we had a bite to eat and set to excitedly quizzing Mr Drury about what had been happening on the river. The out going team had caught 40 salmon with a mixture of fresh and coloured fish being caught. The lower river seemed to be the likely place for a fresh fall run salmon whilst Krevets was not yet seeing many fresh ones. Everyone wisely set to bed ready for a big first day, well except me...
The next day we saw the clients off to the river and had a tour round the lodge and surrounding woodland and pools. The lodge feels like it is on an island but in fact the river just meanders round the front and then the back of the lodge. What was staggering was the number of pinks still about with a few still alive. We watched as Heinz P landed a fresh fish in the home pool. The water was high but not so much so that there was not a good number of spots to successfully swing a fly.
At supper that night there were tales of the upper river and the tricky wading. Because Gilbert was not heading up on the Sunday Bill, Lucy and I were to make a day of it with Bill kindly carrying our lunch. Egor told us to be ready by 9am and once again I forgot to have an early night.
When I'd been told about the rapid at the bottom of Krevets I'd not really been able to imagine the change in the river. A wide powerful rapid spilling into a more lake like pool from beneath a narrow and angry bend of the river roaring and churning. The rapid is long too. We set off up stream and it seemed like a mile before the roaring started to subside. At current height the first pool would ordinarily be office but we fished the upper office into an area of slacker water. Lucy was up first and enjoyed the expert guidance of Bill and the sure footed steady wading support from me. Nothing doing but a lovely speed of water. I'm a little sad I did not get a chance to hit it again on our return journey as I think it would have been holding a fish or two.
The talk at the lodge was of tricky wading and difficult access but I was surprised to find neither of these claims rang true. The wading can be slippery in places and a wading stick is essential but the paths were impressively clear and most pools have a lunch spot and comfortable access to the water.
I fished down through the glassy glide at the top of long pool and landed a nice hen fish before we made our way to Golden and the top of the beat. Here we had lunch and admired the view as the river expands out into a huge lake at the same time creating a lovely draw with perfect water speed for a fly to belly into. Lucy fished below the picnic spot and landed an aggressive old cock fish where the water drops off into a deep seam and flows almost at right angles across the river.
At this point we had only about an hour till our taxi boat was to collect us from beside the rapid so we set off for home. In total I would guess we each fished for about an hour so a fish each is a jolly good effort. The highlight of this wild river trip for me was the autumn colours and the feeling of true wilderness. Every now and then along the trail we'd see traces of bears who had been feasting on the abundant pink salmon and autumn berries.
Back at the lodge as the rest of the team arrived home a beautiful sunset was forming and Eskild had landed a nice fresh fish from Doctor's pool. Heinz P had managed 2 fish from Krevets also including one fresh. After another delicious supper we all went out to see a really active display of the northen lights.
It was a heavy heart I left that place. Possibly the most extreme travel schedule for a weekend's fishing but my goodness it was worth it. Bill looks after the lodge and team with great skill and the food and guiding is first class. The lodge is warm and cosy with images of big fish won. The rooms are wonderfully comfortable and have doors to the outside meaning you can keep your waders beside your room. The river is pristine, wild and beautiful.
I'm sure the next river I visit will soon have me as excited but for sheer value for money this program cannot be beaten. I'm a total convert, I just need to work a way to justify returning next autumn, but maybe more than a weekend next time.
The West Ranga is the most prolific river in Iceland – sounds straightforward when you read it but it is when conditions are at their toughest that this fact really comes into its own.