Zendzur Lodge, Zhupanova River, Kamchatka
Exceptionally large rainbow trout in Russia
Zendzur Lodge sits on a shoulder of the lower Zhupanova River amid a thick forest of Kamchatka stone birch, in the shadow of snow-capped Karimsky volcano. Exceptionally large rainbow trout, untamed wilderness, and deluxe accommodations define this sensational fly fishing safari.
Trophy rainbow trout on fly
Anglers at Zendzur target an ancient, trophy-sized strain of rainbow trout that average 24 – 26 inches and reach a jumbo maximum in the 33 – 35 inch range. Like all Kamchatkan trout, they regularly crush skated mouse patterns, swung streamers on sink-tip lines, and, occasionally in July, traditional dry flies. From late July through August, huge Asiatic kundzha char also pour into the river from the North Pacific. In other rivers of Kamchatka these fish are small and river-resident, but the sea-run “Super Kundzha” of the Zupanova are remarkable game fish that can reach a yard in length.
They take flies well and put up a strong, charging battle. Sea-running Dolly Varden char are available all season and average 12 – 18 inches, run in massive schools, and readily take dry flies. As a bonus, anglers in late August and September will have the opportunity to catch chrome-bright silver salmon.
Every morning, each two anglers head out with their guide in powerful “Alaskan-style” jet-boats, accessing over 20 miles of classic big-river freestone riffles and runs. They cast to holding or free-rising rainbows, many of which will be among the largest they have ever taken. For those that haven’t had enough after a full day, there is a great home pool in front of the lodge.
“I was totally blown away by the standard of accommodation in the middle of no where. The boats were great, guides delightful and the fish played the game.” C.T., UK
Best fishing accommodation in Kamchatka
Zendzur Lodge itself is a beautiful, traditional Russian wilderness outpost, staffed with a combination of talented American and Russian professionals. Lodge amenities are surprisingly deluxe given the remote nature of the operation and include double accommodation suites and cabins, each with private bath and sitting rooms. One of the highlights of Zendzur is the fabulous on-site natural hot-springs, enclosed in a banya cabin just down from the lodge on the riverbank.
The style and quality of fishing accommodations at Zendzur Lodge is, by quite a wide margin, the best in Kamchatka. This, combined with gigantic trout, world-record kundzha char, prolific salmon runs and abundant wildlife, makes Zendzur Lodge an experience of a lifetime. Each week-long stay is limited to a maximum of 6 anglers.
The food at Zendzur Lodge is excellent. Guests enjoy regional cuisine, and more familiar fare. Expect savory dishes of seafood, fresh fish and meats, Kamchatka dacha-grown vegetables, and home-baked breads, pastries and snacks. When salmon and Dolly Varden are in season, hot delicious shore lunches are served daily on the river, guaranteed to leave you refreshed and ready for a fish-filled afternoon.
It doesn’t get much more remote than this
Zendzur Lodge sits on a shoulder of the lower Zhupanova River amid a thick forest of Kamchatka stone birch, in the shadow of snow-capped Karymsky volcano.
Kamchatka is without exaggeration one of the most spectacular regions in Russia. It occupies an area of 470,000 sq. km, which equals the size of France, Belgium and Luxembourg combined, and separates the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. Don’t confuse Kamchatka with Siberia; this name is used for the peninsula itself and the closest part of the continent, including Karaginsky Island and the Komandorsky Archipelago. The mountain ridges – Sredinny, Valaginsky, Ganalsky and Kumroch – stretch from the north to the south give the peninsula the shape of a giant fish. There are more than 160 volcanoes on the peninsula (29 of them are active) due to the fact that it lies on the Great Pacific “ring of fire”. Volcanoes and volcanic peaks, cyclones and underground heat created here a mixture of twenty climate zones and a great variety of flora and fauna.
The Cossack, Vladimir Atlasov, apparently “discovered” Kamchatka in 1697. He built two forts on the Kamchatka River, which became Russian trading camps. The native Koryak, Itelmen, Chukchi and Evens tribes were beaten down by these traders, and their population greatly diminished. Out of the few that remain, the Chukchi live in the northeast, Evens are in the central part of the peninsula and the Koryaks live on the west coast. They still live by traditional reindeer herding and sea fishing, which provide both food and clothing, and still preserve their culture and traditional lifestyles.
The famous marine explorer Vitus Y.Bering discovered it in 1740, when he chose the Avacha Bay as a base for sailing across the Pacific Ocean to the shores of future Russian America. From that time, Petropavlovsk was the main base for all subsequent round-the-world expeditions. The ships of Captain James Cook, La Perouse, I.F.Krusenstern, Captain Clark and other expeditions all visited Kamchatka.
Until the late 19th century, when the Imperial lands in Alaska were sold, Kamchatka was considered to be the least hospitable place in the Russian Empire. Nobody bothered visiting the region as it took six months to get there – only to face vast wilderness and a diminishing supply of fur. Around 1920, it nearly ended up in American hands. Washington Baker wanted to buy the province and was offered a 60-year concession by Lenin, but they couldn’t agree on a deal.
Until 1990, no foreigners or non resident Russians were allowed to visit. In 1991, the Russian Federation was established as an independent republic and Kamchatka was opened for visiting by foreign guests.
The main settlement of the peninsula and the capital of Kamchatka Region is the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. The city is located on the southeastern shore of the Kamchatka Peninsula. Petropavlovsk’s streets wind around green volcanic hills where city residents still pick berries and mushrooms. Covered with white snow, the peaks of Koryaksky, Avachinsky and Kozelsky volcanoes rise over them. And there are eternal moorage ribbons going along the Avacha Bay.
“I was totally blown away by the standard or accommodation in the middle of no where. The boats were great, guides delightful and the fish played the game.” C.T – UK