Monday 3 April 2017

Salmon fishing, Varzuga river

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Vasil Bykau 

Several years ago we used the free time available for a salmon trip to Varzuga river. What has come of it -look here! I thank John for these wonderful photos !!

Yes - it was fun just to be there!!

 A little better view of the church
 After dinner, we would retreat to the banya, a type of steam bath - Fiodr has lit the fire, and its heating up
 After taking his daughter across for school, Fiodr comes back to take us upriver as far the shallow water will allow
 And a boat ride back to Varzuga village

 And the church in Kozumen was getting a facelift, too
Varzuga river
 Another fishing camp
 At the end of every day of fishing, Fiodr's dog, Jackson (named after Michael you-know-who), would meet us at the beach. The town was full of big, sturdy and very friendly dogs
 But the dry summer and Fall seems to have set the foliage on fire
 Close-up of ground lichen that covered the florest floor in places
 David is going to try the other side of the river...
 David's last fish
 Day 3 - David and I hiked back into the illegal honey hole alone; John casting as taught by Vasyl
 Didn't find out how old this house is, but no matter how worn, they all seemed occupied
 End of the day
 Except for a couple fishing camps for town residents, once you leave town, there is nothing but forest along the river
 First stop in Kozumen - Vasyl wanted to buy some vodka and orange juice; which we later drank Russian style - on a side street, from the bottle, under Vasyl's tutelage. It didn't take long.
 Fish (almost) Gone!
 Fish On!

 From the bedroom window - the town gets its electricity from a local diesel-powered generator (which had quit running the night we arrived)
 Heading home. 3 hours (in that van parked across the river) to the paved road, then 6 more hours in a more comfortable van to Murmansk
 heading upriver
 Here's the town fishing camp - apparently when the fish are really running, people from town come out here and stay till they've caught their catch
 Home sweet home
 Lichen as far as you can see
 Looking upriver toward our fishing grounds
 Main Street, Kozumen, Russia

 A Kozumen house - yes, still occupied. That bump-out in front, on the left side  - an indoor pit toilet

 Mike and Scott, and Fiodr at the helm (most of the men in the village wore cammo as everyday clothing)
 No luck here...
 Not sure what kind of berries these were
 off to slay some fish
 Oh yeah - dry or scorched . Either way - back in business
 One iconostasis inside the church
 Our daily lunch spread  tea or coffee, bread, lunchmeat and cheese
 Scott got his shirt and coat sleeves wet - so the fire was a handy drier; Vasyl heated water for tea or coffee at lunch
 Scott wanted a grilled cheese sandwich
 See you   Fiodr....
 So we headed further upstream to a place Vasyl said was the best spot on the river - just a few more km's
 Some types of lichen in this area also grows on slower humans
 Sometimes they have to be relit - this is how we do it in Russia
 That's better!
 The berries were thick in places
 The best firewood stacking job I've ever seen; that's a new building on the church's compound in the background.
 The Bro's enjoy a fire and cigar after lunch
 The Fall colors were at their best that week
 The first fish!!!
 The fishing wasn't so good, but the scenery was great
 The fly fisherman's view... gotta love those waders
 The little boat is a local taxi service - including taking kids across the river for school every week day

 The locals said they could not recall a drier summer and Fall, nor could they recall lower river levels
 The low water meant that the salmon were held up out in the White Sea, and not coming upriver as they normally would this time of year
 The market - everything from Varzuga coffee mugs to fresh meat and Snickers; note the only car on this side of the river in the garage. It ran merchandise from the boat to the store
 The only vehicular commuter on our side of the river... he would park his bike on the beach each morning, and take his boat to the other side
 The Port of Murmansk, which is fed by the Kola River. Murmansk was a very nice city with a bit of a European feel and look.
 The Varzuga shore at Kozumen had a large number of derelict boats.  Russians tend to be very superstitious, and they believe that it is bad luck to burn or otherwise destroy an old boat
 The Varzuge River just above the mouth
 The view from our bedroom window
 There was a nice herd of wild horses in Kozumen - who were happy to receive a scratch between the ears when offered; to survive the winters here, these guys must be really tough
 There was one other fishing party staying in town, but they seemed to be Russians; apparently no Americans stay in town like we did
 This is it - the   stretch of river where the only fish were caught
 This place was also quite scenic
 This water is really shallow...
 To find some fish, we hiked into the 'sweet spot'
 Uh oh - someone slipped into deep water and got rolled by the current; fortunately Scott had decided to tend the fire instead of fish, and volunteered to dry David's wet sweats
 Vasyl and John - taking a break by the fire (I got cold from standing in the river for a couple hours).
 Vasyl, our guide, and David lead the way
 Waiting for his fare...
 we all caught a good number of small grayling
 We walked by this house on our walk from water to home
yes - it was fun just to be there!!


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