Tuesday, 2 August
Today 25 km, Total 3722 km
Today started like the previous two mornings, for us some cloud but not much, cloud over the mountains, breakfast, pack, 9:00 call, hopeful for the afternoon, go fishing.
As we headed down to the boats the call rang out “we’re killing dollys boys”, we were out of meat. More specific instructions came shortly, we were only to take dolly vardon 20 to 24 inch long, as they were the best eating, they had to be female, as that would get us camp caviar, each boat was to keep 4 to 6 fish, as that would be enough for all of us. So we headed down stream with a remit to catch dinner.
Since this conversation and the day that followed, I have though lots on the implications of this conversation. In most places in the world if the cook gave such specific instructions as to what we were to catch to eat we would just have laughed and kept any good eating fish that we caught, here it simply did not occur to us that we would not catch the requirements. This absolute belief, in many ways shows how unspoilt and healthy this fishery is.
Slava does not believe in outboard motor covers, but catching fish is important.
To a man the guides on the Sedanka were brilliant.
We arrived at a new fishing spot down stream of the camp, within 10 min, I had two of the required fish landed and on a stringer at the boat. During the morning the fish came thick and fast, Rainbow, Dolly and Kundzha. For once my fighting arm was as tired as my casting arm!! by the time we headed back up-stream for lunch I had landed 45, 20 inch plus fish.
Dollys for Dinner,
Cleaning and filleting the dollys after lunch.
We had a hearty lunch of left overs soup/stew and magically the cook had made a spicy cheesy tomato dip, yummy.
Lunch. cheesy tomato dip and soup
After lunch there was still no word on the flight so I headed to one of the nearby tributaries with my light gear, I worked up the stream with a parachute adams and back down with a black muddler. The creek its self was slow with only a couple of takes of the adams, I suspect that was because there were spawning salmon everywhere and the fish were concentrating on eggs, no doubt any of the egg patterns or flesh streamers would have been deadly but I wanted to avoid the salmon and dolly vardon. The way back down was the same story however as soon as I got the back to the channel of the main river I started to catch arctic char, every second or third cast I managed to land one. I landed 12 of about 10 inches in the short walk back to the camp, they were suckers for the black muddler.
I returned to the news that the “bird is in the air” for a 4:00 PM ish pickup. We had an early dinner of fried dolly vardon, it could not be faulted, it was as good as you would expect from the best and freshest fish that could be found. After dinner we completed our final packing and moved our bags (and rafts and assorted gear that the guides needed to move back to the upper Sedanka camp) to the landing area.
Loading the Helicopter on the Lower Sedanka
In due course the helicopter arrived and loading commenced, it was all very scientific, first gear for the wilderness float, second stuff for the upper camp, just throw it in. during this time there was considerable chatter with the guides, and I was getting a strong sence of deja-vu of the movie Borat and the scene that he introduces his sister! I was told several times “it is good, we have Best Pilot in whole of Kamchatka”. The gear and passengers were loaded in the to helicopter in a fast and efficient manner, then we took off.
I am not sure if I rate him as the “Best Pilot in whole of Kamchatka”, the trip to the upper camp was to say the least FAST, there was no unnecessary distance traveled or height gained. He simply took off, pointed the helicopter at the upper camp and accelerated, the entire flight took less than 5 minutes (see map for embedded footage) and we were low enough that at times the rotor wash was clearly visible on the ground. Thankfully we didn’t have any nervous flyers in the group or I am sure that they would have never got back on the helicopter for the second leg.
Once we landed at the Sedanka upper camp the Sedanka rafts and other equipment was unloaded and we said our goodbyes to Gene (who was joining his correct fishing group), Brodie and Slava. We re-boarded the helicopter and made the short hop to the first campsite on the Turushever. We were unloaded with our gear, the supplies for the week, Sasha and his gun (this was required as it just would not be doing to have a group of seven tourists eaten by a local bear). The helicopter left to collect the other fishermen and guides.
Since in terms of setting up the camp there was nothing to do, so we did what all sensible people do, have a beer, it was a warm beer but it was still good.
Waiting for the helicopter to return, Camp 1 on the Turushever
About an hour later the Helicopter returned, we were all told to sit/squat down beside the luggage, what I wasn’t expecting was the helicopter to also land beside the luggage. I hadn’t been under the rotor wash of a large helicopter before, it was incredible, and a bit scary as the “Best Pilot in whole of Kamchatka” landed the helicopter no more than 5m from me. The wilderness crew set about unloading the tents, rafts, cooking gear, chain saws, and miscellaneous equipment required for the wilderness float, we said hello to the fishermen that had been on the previous weeks wilderness float and briefly exchanged some stories of our weeks.
Soon the helicopter was unloaded, the other fishermen re-boarded the helicopter and we said good-by to Sasha as he was returning to the Sedanka. As soon as the helicopter had left we made our introductions to the wilderness crew, 3 guides, cook, camp hand, two dogs and a cat. We set to work setting up the camp, we (the fishermen) did not end up doing much, the crew were so practiced at it they could set up 5 tents in the time it took us to do 1.
Here I must give a plug for the crew, part of the pre trip briefing was that we were expected to set up our own tents every evening. The lead guide Nico, told us that the crew would do that for us as it was their job to make us comfortable and we should use the time to fish or just enjoy being there. A big thumbs up to those guys.
Camp Caviar, best eaten with brown bread and butter washed down with vodka
Once the camp was setup we had our second dinner, thankfully it was light, it included camp caviar which is best eaten on brown bread and butter with the obligatory Vodka. After dinner it was to bed for a well-earned sleep.