Kamchatka Peninsula is located on the far eastern side of Russia. It lies between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. Kamchatka opened up to Western travelers in 1992, and is known as the mother of all wilderness fly fishing regions. The Zhupanova River is the legendary flagship river of Kamchatka, and put the region on the angling map. During a week on the Zhupanova, about 80-percent of anglers land the largest rainbow of their lives.
Fly fishing the Zhupanova
The Zhupanova River has trophy rainbow trout fishing like nowhere else on earth and is a lost world of surreal beauty.
You'll float a 48-mile section of the Upper Zhupanova. You'll target large rainbows averaging 24-28", with some up to exceed 35". On this stretch of the Zhupanova, rainbows crush skated mouse patterns and swung streamers on skin-tip lines.
The Zhupanova is a challenging fishery where anglers pursue large rainbows. Anglers should NOT expect obscene numbers of rainbows each day. If you're looking for a fishing trip for numbers, you'll want to look at some of our Alaska packages,
such as Aniak River Lodge.
Group size: Each expedition is limited to six anglers.
Guides: This program employs a guide rotation system, so each group of two anglers spends two days with each guide. The staff consists of one Western Guide and two seasoned Russian guides.
Two anglers per raft and guide. You’ll move between camps via inflatable Mnev or Achilles rafts. The rafts are used solely for transportation, with all fishing done wading on foot.
Zhupanova River Float Seasons:
The Zhupanova float season runs from mid-July through September.
July: This is the warmest month of the year in Kamchatka and typically has the most reliable weather, with daytime temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. There are no salmon in the river at this time, but sea-run dolly varden do show up toward the end of the month. By the last week of July/early August, the famous "Super Kundzha," a sea-run char species found only in the Zhupanova River, begin to pour in from the sea.
August: Chum and sockeye salmon enter the river. Rainbows are targeted with mouse and streamer flies throughout the month. The first two weeks of August, too, are the peak time to intercept the sea-run "super kundzha."
September: Fall begins in Kamchatka. It can be chilly, in the 50-degree range. Sunny weather makes for beautiful fishing days but brings with it frosty nights. It is also the most photogenic time of year to be amid the sub-arctic taiga and tundra foliage as it turns to blazing yellows, reds, and oranges with a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. Trout are taken with surface skaters and with "big nasty" leech and baitfish patterns. The latter fished on a sink-tip line, become more important as water temperatures drop.
From early-August through October: The rare super kundzha char migrate up the river from the Bering Sea. Kundzha grows up to 20 pounds, aggressively take flies, and put up a mighty battle on single and two-handed fly rods. Dollies are also present, averaging 12-18", and readily take dry flies.
Zhupanova River Camps:
There are six permanent-structure camps on the Zhupanova Float Trip that are spread 6-8 river miles apart from one another. Each camp is identical in infrastructure.
Two anglers share a small wooden cabin or a high-tech, weatherproof, double-walled cabin-style tent, similar to the WeatherPort tents used in many Alaskan camps. Each cabin has wood floors,
a wood stove for heat (usually only needed in the fall), bed frames and mattresses. You must bring a sleeping bag for this trip. There are two, clean flush-toilet outhouses per camp, as well as multiple hot water shower facilities.
The Kamchatka-experience is much more rustic than, say, an Alaska fly-out lodge. The focus is on the fishing, yet the accommodations are comfortable.
Communications: Each expedition is outfitted with first aid kits, GPS, handheld radios, and a satellite telephone. The phone is only intended for staff and guides to use in case of an emergency. Should you need to call out for emergency reasons, please let the head guide know, and he will arrange for you to use the Sat-Phone at a rate of $3.00 per minute.
Sample Fishing Day:
7:00 a.m. Tea and coffee.
8:00 a.m. Leisurely breakfast.
9:00 a.m. On the water - Each two anglers are assigned a guide and a 1-2 mile beat of the river.
2:00 p.m. All three rafts meet for lunch: The cook has floated ahead of you in the morning and prepared lunch on a gravel bar.
6:00 to 7 p.m. Back to camp for drinks and a soak in the hot springs.
8:00 p.m. Dinner, then cocktails, campfire, and fish stories close out the day. For midnight-sun junkies, most of the camps have high quality home water a stone's throw from the fire pit.
You’ll arrive in Anchorage and stay overnight at a nearby hotel, (not included in the package).
The next morning, you’ll board Yakutia Air for a four-hour flight to Petropavlovsk.
For overnights in Petropavlovsk, guests will typically be housed at one of Martha Madsen’s cozy guest houses in Yelisovo, or the Art Hotel near the airport, $60 to $100.00 per night and not included in the package.
On Tuesday morning, you'll take a 30 to 50-minute flight in a Russian MI-8 helicopter. The helicopter usually lands first at Zendzur Lodge to drop off anglers who'll be staying at the Lodge, then continues upriver (another 25 to 30-minute flight) to Camp One on the Zhupanova Float.
Note: The outfitter recommends arriving a day earlier in Petropavlovsk, so you can rest up for a full day before the start of your fishing trip, and not feel wiped out for your first day on the river.
Zhupanova Camp Meals
A cook and camp assistant travels with the group, preparing hearty and tasty meals. Breakfast feature items such as fried eggs, bacon, pancakes, oatmeal (or “Kasha,” a classic Russian warm cereal). Lunches served streamside consist of fresh meats, cheeses, bread, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Fresh-caught char or salmon may also be served. Dinners usually start with a delicious Russian soup like borsh and ukra or salad, followed by the main course that includes either meat-and-potatoes or fish and pasta. Beer is provided with dinner. Additional beer and vodka available for sale.
2019 USD Rates:
Zhupanova River Float:
6-nights and 5-days guided fishing
$6,995.00 per person
Zhupanova River Float and
Zendzur Lodge Combo:
13-nights and 12-days guided fishing
$11,995.00 per person
All ground and air transportation once in Kamchatka, all food at the camp, accommodations, and guides.
Packages do not include:
Airfare and travel expenses from your home to Kamchatka, hotel stay and meals in Anchorage (approx. $200.00), sleeping bag, Russian Visitor's Visa, fishing gear, flies, fishing license (approx. $100.00 per week/p.p.), gratuities, medical evacuation insurance (required), alcohol, and anything not mentioned under inclusions.
Sample 5-day itinerary
• Sunday: Travel to Anchorage, overnight stay.
• Monday: Depart from Anchorage at about 7:30 a.m.
• Tuesday: Four-hour flight to Kamchatka. Helicopter flight to Camp One. After you're settled into your cabins, the guides will give a brief orientation. If you'd like to get in some fishing before dinner, there is some excellent water right in front of camp.
• Wednesday - Sunday:
Guided fishing from approx. 9 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
• Monday: Depart midday. Flight departs from PKC in the evening. Arrive at the airport in Anchorage in the a.m. Spend time in Alaska, or continue home.