Kola river - why its worth a trip to this legendary river and test your limits. Big fish in Russia

Updated: Dec 4, 2020


Over the last couple of years, many anglers interest in fishing on the Kola river, which is located near the city of Murmansk. River Kola and Kitsa got their reputation for big salmon. There are benefits to be found in a relatively convenient location of the rivers, near the airport. This greatly simplifies the journey to the river and back. There are also disadvantages. These include extremely high fishing pressure, which is associated with close proximity to the big city. You can also note the extremely irregular runs of salmon and unpredictable fishing results. But the chance to catch a very large salmon is surely worth a try.


Situation changed


In the wake of new salmon fishing season, it will be useful to discuss the new rules for fishing on the Kola River. As you know, the Kola river is under the control of the state organization Murmansk Ryb Vody (fish waters), which has allocated 3 parts on the Kola and Kitsa rivers for sport fishing. The lower and middle sections, located in the lower part of the river, not far from the confluence with the sea, are called Molochny and Shongui. These 2 parts are open to all anglers, spinning and fly fishing are allowed here, C&R and C & Kill licenses can be purchased. Therefore, the 1st and 2nd parts are in demand among the local population. The number of fishermen here is practically unlimited, since the licenses are in the public domain.



Atlantic salmon fishing in the Kola-3 section and the Kitsa River is organized differently. In 2019, in order to preserve the population of Atlantic salmon of the Kola River due to the 2015-2018 fish disease in the Kola rivers and its tributary, the Kitsa River, salmon fishing is carried out only on the basis of the "catch and release" principle and only by fly fishing. Based on the ongoing monitoring and recommendations of scientific organizations, the fishing load was determined and the maximum number of fishermen per day was established at the Kola-3 part and at each of its pools. Fishing for salmon is carried out on a "catch and release" principle and is conducted on 12-hour fishing licenses. Days and hours are indicated to allow salmon to reach their spawning grounds, and fishing is suspended during these hours. Licenses are issued upon preliminary requests from legal entities, taking into account on how many licenses sold already. That is, the number of licenses is limited by the number of pools and the established number of anglers in each of them. At the same time, security for compliance with the new rules for fishing salmon in the Kola-3 section and on the Kitsa River has been strengthened.

The total length of the Kola - 3 part is 36 km. It is divided into 7 pools. I will try to give a brief summary of each pool.


Zone 1 – РУЗ (Net)

Zone 1 is 2 km long. Limited to 2 anglers only on the pool at a time. An interesting part of this stretch is a counting net in the lagoon between the two main rapids upstream and downstream. The advantage of the pool is that quite a few fish stop between the rapids to rest.


Zone 2 - Monika


This stretch is 4.5km long and has a unique pool called Monika. This pool is very comfortable for fishing, anglers can position themselves on the island and cover the whole pool. One of the most productive pools on the river Kola. Limited to 4 rods at a time


Zone 3 – Loparskaya


This zone is 3.6km long and limited to 4 rods at a time. Considered as one of the best stretches of the river featuring many famous holding pool of Kola river.

Zone 4 - Home pool

This stretch is limited to 4 rods. Famous junction pool and aquarium found here on the junction with Kitsa river. You can fish the junction from both banks using boat to cross the river.


Zone 5 - Bear pool

Nice tiny part of 2km long and limited to 2 rods. Some great turns and corners to fish


Zone 6 – Murda

2km of calm waters for 2 rods at a time. Few nice pools around


Zone 7 – Taybola Rapids

2.3km stretch for 4 rods limited. Fast moving water, stones and rapids. Biggest fish are here already in early June. When water level goes down in mid to end June majority of fish move up here from the lower zones.


Zone 8 – Lower Kitsa river


Lower Kitsa stretch of 2.5km and limited to 2 rods at a time. Kitsa river is main tributary of Kola river confluence with which creates a famous pool Junction. Fish enter Kitsa in June and early July. Big Kola salmon which stood in the lower Kola pools slowly making its way through the Kitsa rapids and spread along the river to the zone 9 - upper Kitsa. If you hook a big Kola salmon in Kitsa rapids you are guaranteed to have a fight of a lifetime :)


Zone 9 - Upper Kitsa

This stretch is relatively new for our organization. Its 12km long and limited to 4 rods. This place is difficult to access because the practically no roads. Places of interest for fishing start 5 km above the road bridge on the road to Murmansk. Delivery to the pools is planned by boats with jet engines, the journey time will be aprox 15 minutes. This zone has great prospects, it is more convenient for fishing in high water than pools on the Kola River. There are many places where salmon stop for a long time, this is an area where fish await spawning.


Few word about new rules and changes


Thus, the area allocated for salmon fly fishing has increased significantly. The number of anglers has been reduced, relatively large pools are available only to 2-4 anglers at a time. The pressure on the salmon population has been reduced vastly. The duration of licenses has been changed from 24 hours to 12. A license is issued to the angler for 12 hours and only for 1 zone. The rotation of anglers in each of the pools can be made twice a day.

Therefore, we are required to prepare in advance and carefully plan the trip. First of all we need to reserve and pay the licenses. Second, the correct rotation of anglers with changing pools is necessary. We will take into account the wishes of the anglers, but not all pools may be free each day. We hope that the rotation twice a day will give everyone the opportunity to visit the best pools. Mutual understanding between us and the anglers is important here, and of course, among the anglers themselves in the group.


We hope that the Kitsa River will prove to be a very interesting addition to the Kola River. In any case, anglers will be able to choose the most convenient and suitable option for themselves, with a combination of the Kola-3 pools and the Kitsa river.


Karavella hotel


We have established a new accommodation for our anglers. In recent years, we have received a number of comments about the quality of accommodation and food at Wet Kitsa lodge. In 2020, we signed an agreement for the accommodation of our guests at the Karavella Hotel, located right at the junction of the Kola and Kitsa rivers. Double and single rooms with all shower and WC, professional kitchen and restaurant. We hope that the level of accommodation and food at the hotel will satisfy our guests.




Why Kola river if there are many other rivers on Kola Peninsula?


Here is another interesting option for fishing on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The only airport here - is the airport of Murmansk . Almost every angler who comes here from Europe or America is forced to spend a day or two or even three days to wait for helicopter or other transport to get to the river. Many anglers believe that it makes no sense to spend these days in the hotel, if you can spend that time fishing. Some fishermen think that 6 days fishing on other rivers are not enough for a long travel and they can happily spend few day on Kola and Kitsa. So we want to offer you the option , which includes one, two or three full fishing days . The organization of this option does not differ from the standard version. You will be met at the airport, taken to the hotel , settled . Will be taken in the morning on the river. Guide will work with you , at your disposal - car and boat . You will be provided with food and other services, which are inherent in the standard program of 7 \ 6 days. Price is determined by the number of fishing days and the number of nights at the hotel. I hope for many anglers this option looks interesting.


For many years the river gives us opportunity to catch a very large Atlantic salmon. We must realize that, contrary to foolish advertising is not easy to catch a big Kola salmon. You'll need all your skills and the help of the guide.





Season and fishing technics on Kola river


Salmon season begins in May. This period is characterized by high water levels in rivers, cold water and big fish. With the increase of water temperature to 6-8 C salmon becomes active and reacts to our flies. Therefore, for many anglers last week of May - first June weeks are the best start to the season.


The problem is that spring on Kola Peninsula comes every year differently. Therefore, the situation on the river almost never repeated. Keep in mind that the simplest combination of temperature and water level is complicated because we have to take into account a host of other factors. One of the most important is the dynamics of these factors. For example, the high temperature of 18-20 degrees is not a threat to the activity of the fish. But if the temperature is increased in a few days, then it will lead to a significant decrease in activity due to the rapid change. This is the case in the spring, a sharp change in transparency, water level and temperature decreases fish activity. A very important factor is the state of the rivers in the winter. The transition from winter to spring is often strongly influenced on spring fishing. The rapid melting of snow and ice leads to a very intense lifting and movement of water and ice.

For these reasons, the behavior of salmon in the new season may significantly differ from the picture that we remember from last year. The fish can be different in temperament, others position in the river, and a completely different reaction to our flies. Therefore, our last year's technique, fly, which we had placed so much hope, work is not as good as last year. Every year we have to try to understand what has changed in the river, what factors were decisive for the behavior of salmon. Then we have a chance to choose the right tactics for fishing, identify promising places to find the best equipment and gear.



The main problem that we face in Spring - is a high water level. In a large volume of water is difficult to navigate and find parking salmon. The river changes its nature, salmon chooses way to go up the river and places to stay that are not obvious to us. Most often we have to use tackles that can bring our fly closer to the bottom. Here are four options to consider:


1. Use a heavy line (leader) and a heavy fly

2. Use only heavy line

3. Use a heavy fly on a floating line

4. Use special technique of presentation that allow you to bring your fly down


The correct choice between these options or the right combination determines the success of catching a Kola salmon. Given my own experience, I would suggest using a normal fly on a sinking line for use in such areas of the river where we don’t know exactly where the salmons are. In this case, we have to present the fly over a wide area. This option is suitable for fishing on the wider stretches of the river, it allows you to quickly test a large area. Sometimes we find a good place where we often have a bite one after another. High water levels cause accumulation of fish in a certain places that are hard to identify for us. But in the summer, we often find those places - for example - a few individual stones that served as a hiding place for salmon in the spring. If we know in advance about the existence of such anomalies at the bottom, we can greatly narrow down your search and do not waste time fishing in unpromising places of the river. This is the right place to apply the floating line and heavy flies. Floating line facilitates casting and management of the fly, and weight allows it to drop down towards the bottom. In this situation, we do not need to cover a large area, we can focus on fishing in a particular location. If we can apply the casting upstream or casting slack line, we will be able to drop the fly to the desired location. Mending of the line is very useful to achieve the same goal. If you use the upstream mending - fly reduces the speed downstream and add opportunity to dive deeper. If we do mending downstream, we make fly to move across with increasing speed. Mending downstream can help when covering a large area as we spoke before about it.



Kola river considered as relatively difficult river for fly fishing. It is quite large, especially at the beginning of the season when the water rise after with melting snow. The river bed is also quite varied. Along with large stretches there are a number of stretches with fast current. The bottom of the river is lined with large boulders which often form a big difference in the depths. That is, the river is complicated enough for fly fishing, you need to know exactly where to enter the river, and where it is not worth your time.

Common fishing tactic on Kola is spending fairly long time fishing the same pool or the same stretch, as changing of position takes a lot of time. In case of the good number of salmon that tactic is justified.


But abnormally hot weather in late May and early June may lead to sluggish movement of sea salmon in the river and to a drop in activity of the fish that were already in the river. Need to take into account the possibility of a cyclic change in the number of salmon that is extremely uneven in the river over the years.

The first reaction to the changed conditions of fishermen was an attempt to quickly change the fishing spots. It's a natural reaction to the absence of signs of salmon in the river, on the lack of response of salmon to the fly. Unfortunately, this tactic of change places has led to erratic and uncontrollable movements of fishermen on the river. As a result, some areas fished 4-5 times during the day, other parts of the river have been used occasionally.


These features of the season led to the need to change tactics of fishing. Unfortunately, many anglers are not able to adapt to the new situation on the river. This applies to all three components of a successful salmon fishing.



First of all it concerned about search for salmon spots, identifying the most promising places for fishing. I have already mentioned that the search for salmon is a chaotic change of stretches and pools on the river with huge losses of time by moving by boats or cars, occupating new positions and preparing tackles. Changes in water level of the river resulted in that it was difficult to determine the exact fishing spot at that moment. It was therefore totally unjustified tactics fishing a long time in one place, at one position. A better tactic was searching salmon in the entire area available for fishing. To do this it was necessary to quickly process all the territory from the beginning of a promising perspective place to its end. In the absence of active fish, the remaining time to focus on the most interesting and challenging points of this section of the river. If it was not possible to detect salmon after repeating the search of the area, than it was necessary to change the section of the river, or take a different position, for example, fishing from the other side of the river. In this case, new points and salmon spots become available.


The changing water levels and fish activity from May to July has led to considerable difficulties in finding promising fishing places. Therefore, requirements for a good fly presentation could be high. I found it strange that a significant part of fishermen refused to change anything in the fishing technique, even after several days without result. With rare exceptions, most of the anglers tried to just throw the line as far as possible. In this case, the basic technique is to Spey cast or its variants at a rather large angle to the river. This technique results in a high rate of lateral movement of the fly. This technique is justified during high water level and good activity of salmon. Thus, it is possible to test a large area and to find an active fish. But the technique is very sensitive at low water levels and low activity of the fish. If there are technical problems on the cast and incorrect positions of the angler, this technique does not bring results. Casting a transverse direction leads to unnecessarily rapid movement of flies after the line. If you add an error in the casting itself, the flow of water straightens the line and leader along the arc, and the fly is developing an incredible speed. After casting about 20 meters across and downstream, fly passes about 30 meters in 5-6 seconds that are required for our line to strengthen directly below us down the river. As a result of such casting, the fly moves diagonally at 2-3-4 meters per second.



First, this fly can not be interesting for salmon. Second, the fly very quickly leaves the perspective area and move close to the bank. If you have taken the right attitude and perspective place is right downstream from you in the river, then this technique may produce a result. After all, at the end of the presentation fly still stops and working in a good area. But if you stay near the bank and your spot in down there in middle of the river, the flow will take your fly and quickly bring it to the shore. You're just wasting your time. There are two ways to improve the situation. It is best to use both these methods. First, take the position as close as possible to the center and closer to the salmon spot in the river. Second, apply mending upstream. This way you can slow down the drift of your fly and keep it a bit longer in the good spot. In the end, the current will straighten the tackle and the fly will begin to work, still not coming out of a promising area.


Unfortunately, the desire to throw the fly as far as possible dominates over all other technical solutions. Related to this is another mistake. To raise the line from water and throw away the fly is not easy for all anglers. Even experienced anglers often use the technique of several false casts. But we must remember that in areas with a flat and smooth water, salmon stops responding to the fly even after one struck of line over the water. The chances of catching the salmon sharply reduced if the angler is not changing the position before the next cast. And if the casting technique is not perfect, the chances are minimal.

If we do not know the exact location of salmon in the Kola River, there is a high risk to scare them with incorrect casts or even miss it locating spot. It is therefore very important to have an accurate idea of ​​where and at what trajectory the fly was moving. If you are able to exactly replicate the previous cast, you will be able to make a correct idea of ​​what territory covers your fly. If you conduct a search of salmon, it is important to investigate every time a new territory. You can take a new step, you can change the direction or distance of casting. The new territory - a new chance to find location of salmon.




If you have the ability to increase the pace of fishing, then you'll increase your chances of catching fish. The cycle of preparation for the cast, correction of line and position of the fly, its effective and ineffective drift, preparations for a new cast all these factors take time. Usually, depending on the situation on the river when fishing with a two-handed rod such cycle takes 12 to 16 seconds. At this time, efficient operation of flies can range from 2-3 seconds to 8-10 seconds. This time depends on the nature of the portion of the river, the flow rate, for example, and the position of the angler. But first of all it depends on your experience and ability to work the rod and line. We must also remember some of the tactical aspects. For example, sometimes more beneficial will be elementary casts over the head with a close range than trying to fish at long range using Spey casting and its variants. If you add the all aspects of fishing, with a choice of position, direction, and casting distance, technical capabilities to make a cast, there will be a huge difference in the effectiveness of the two anglers fishing two different ways. It speaks primarily about the readiness of various fishermen to adapt to irregular and difficult fishing conditions on the Kola River.


Do not be surprised if I do not mention the name of efficient and effective flies for Kola river. If you decide to change something after a few hours without result, believe me, it is wise to change something in my paragraphs which have been outlined above.


Perhaps all this seems too complicated, but these tactical and technical problems we are trying to solve for each fishing trip.





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