Varzuga's tributary Kitsa is among best places on south of Kola Peninsula, here's why...
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
If you look at the map of the Kola Peninsula, you will see many salmon rivers. From my early ages, i was mostly interested in the White Sea rivers or south coast of Kola Peninsula. On the map, you can easily find big famous rivers such as Umba and Varzuga. You will also find little-known rivers that were not involved in big business.
Each time, when we take off in helicopter from the village of Umba, we fly over Varzuga and see numerous bends and turns of the Kitsa River, rocks and rifts of Chavanga and a gorgeous estuary on Strelna. All these rivers are unique and do not look like one another. They have one thing in common - a good salmon population and a rather long fishing season. The view from the helicopter window, the perspective of an unfamiliar rivers always whet your appetite. Therefore, among many anglers, mixed trip fishing programs are very popular. Indeed, we propose to use every interesting river that comes our way for fishing.
The first interesting river on the way to Chavanga is legendary river Varzuga and its tributary Kitsa river. This is not the Kitsa, which we wrote about in the previous Blog article, this is a river that flows into the Varzuga 4 km upstream from Varzuga estuary. The Kitsa is a medium-sized river, although it is not always correct to talk about its size, much in the perception of the river depends on the water level. Sometimes there is a lot of water, sometimes not enough. Even a large Varzuga is knee-deep in most place during low water levels. Usually the average size of the river means comfortable fly fishing during the high season: May-June and September-October. The peak of the salmon run from the sea into the river falls at this period.
The salmon population of the Kitsa does not differ from the one of the Varzuga River. Same weight, size and behavior. Average weight 2.5 - 3 kg, large individuals reach 90 cm in length and 8 kg in weight. Larger fish are not often seen. The salmon move into the river after the end of the ice drift and ends its run either at the end of November or even December.
That is, the fishing season can be divided into 3 parts:
Spring season : May and June, we mostly catch autumn fish (overwintered in a river or estuary) and fresh fish (good size fish running from the sea).
Summer season: July-August, famous for intense grills run from the sea.
Autumn season: September-October, one of the best times to be on White sea
rivers, normally you get to catch fish from Spring and Summer season plus fresh Autumn fish of incredible conditions start to run into rivers from the sea.
According to ichthyologists, 70% of the whole population of Atlantic salmon in White sea rivers enter the river in Autumn.
River Kitsa was always appreciated by anglers for a long time. Back in the 80s, a comfortable camp was built on the river bank just 5 km upstream from the junction with Varzuga. After renovation and reconstruction, the camp answers all needs of a modern salmon angler . Separate wooden cabins with double accommodation providing for a total of 8 rods including separate dining hall and sauna. Strict Catch & Release on whole Kitsa river. The area is protected by the state inspection and a private security company from the village of Varzuga.
The location of the Kitsa camp was well chosen, home pool and pools just around the corner are considered one of the best of the whole stretch. You can move easily along the river by foot or with guides on motor boats depending on personal preferences and water level. In general, the most interesting section of the river for Atlantic salmon fishing is about 10 km, but this zone can be significantly increased due to the upper section of the river. This makes it possible to find interesting fishing beats higher up the river even during extremely low water levels. I mention this because the most interesting season in Autumn here is during the relatively low water level in the river. This sometimes causes discomfort for anglers who are used tofishing salmon in high spring water. Paradoxically, large rivers such as the Varzuga can be more severely affected during dry periods than medium-sized rivers. In any case, finding a suitable pool on Kitza is not difficult even during the minimum water level. There are truly plenty of fishing neat all along the river. For anglers who prefer high water and powerful tackle, it is better to choose the spring season, May-June. For lovers of more delicate fishing, it is recommended to visit in Autumn.
There are several options for a nice fishing trip, including fishing on the Kitsa River.
The first: full week on the river, including 6 days of fishing.
The second: a mixed week, which includes 3 days on the Kitsa River and 3 days on the Chavanga River.
The third: a mixed trip that includes a full week on the Chavanga River and 3 days on the Kitsa River. Making it a total of 9 days fishing.
In practice, the organization of such trips looks like:
Meeting at the airport or hotel in Murmansk and delivery by mini-bus to the village of Umba (3.5 hours). Here, further transport depends on the option of the program. This is either a helicopter flight (20 min to Kitsa or 45 min to Chavanga) or delivery by off-road vehicle (2.5 hours to Kitsa) and a short motor boat drive.
Most of the time we use helicon to drop guests on Kitsa and followed by Chavanga and the same way back. After 3 days of fishing we exchange clients between the rivers by off road truck along the White sea coast.
Both Chavanga and Kitsa are little gems of White sea coast of Kola Peninsula. They are very similar in size and character and provide a great experience for all salmon anglers from around the world.
Atlantic salmon fishing season on the Kitsa River starts in May and ends in October. Which week will be the best is always hard to say. In my opinion, a lot depends on the personal preferences of the angler. As a rule, anglers in northern Europe choose the beginning of the season, weeks in May and June. This is largely due to their traditions of spring fishing in high water.
The high water level determines the choice of tackle, fishing techniques and the choice of flies.
Rods: DH # 8-9 12.5 - 14 feet (Those are my recommendations but of course you can go lighter or heavier if you want).
Lines: Scandi or Spey lines are good.
Flies: Cascade, German snaelda, Willie gun, Monkeys, Ally shrimp, Sun ray shadow.
Combination of black, orange and yellow works well.
In Spring time (May-early June) even distant pools can be easily reached by motor (jet) boats. Wintering (holding) pools 4-5 km above the camp, where fish that entered the river last autumn and winter, gather, are especially interesting and productive. Large numbers of salmon moving up into the river from the estuary. Therefore, May and June are really good times for fishing.
The second part of the season attracts all lovers of fresh sea - run fish. In autumn (September-October), autumn migrants enter the river from the sea. Salmon in small groups constantly pass by the camp and climb up the river. Most often, their appearance is associated with the next high tide. Although the estuary of the Varzuga and Kitsa rivers is so vast that it can serve as a reservoir.
At this time, on almost every stretch of the river, on every pool, you can catch resident and fresh Atlantic salmon. During Autumn low water, we can easily move along the river and fish in every available pool as river is fairly shallow to wade everywhere.
We recommend using more delicate tackles at this time of the season. At the same time the chance to catch a large fish weighing 6-8 kg is quite high, so you need to prepare carefully for fishing. Fighting large autumn fish in shallow water looks very different than in Spring. We often loose the largest fish (at least, that is how we see them before they say goodbye to us :). Therefore, we still prefer using fluorocarbon of 0.31-0.33 mm even for small autumn flies. We usually use floating lines and it is better to choose a correct leader according to the water level and the place of fishing. But the choice of flies is quite difficult. Firstly, the river contains salmon of different ages, resident individuals and sea fish. Secondly, Autumn is spawning period and also significant fluctuations in temperature, water level and transparency affect the behavior of salmon. And this makes us constantly look for working options.
You can always hook fish with the popular provocateurs like Cascade and Sun ray shadow, and experiment with their options if necessary.
See our Late Fall Salmon Fishing articles for more details.