Russia Fishing: The Complete Guide Part II

Aug 1, 2022 | 9 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 9 minutes

As we’ve seen in Part I of our “Fishing in Russia” series, the fishing potential of the biggest country in the world is limitless. Now that you know what species you could be targeting, it’s time to learn more about the best ways to catch them.

A view of Moyka River and Saint Isaac Cathedral in Saint Petersburg

Then, all you have to do is pick where you’d like to go, which is no small feat in itself. But don’t worry, we’ve got some suggestions for that as well, so keep reading!

Types of Fishing in Russia

Fishing in Russia is organized differently than in other countries, mostly because charter fishing, as we know it in the US, doesn’t exist here. If you want to book a fishing trip, you’ll need to find an outfitter that can take you out. Some guides offer full day trips, but that’s more of an exception than the norm.

What you’ll mostly find on offer is a variety of multi-day expeditions that are perfect for more adventurous anglers. Let’s take a look at what you can try out while on the abundant Russian waters.

Multi-day Expeditions with Outfitters

The main reason why it’s hard to find day charters in Russia is that the best fishing spots are remote. And when we say remote, we’re talking hundreds of miles away from any city, or even town.

A view of a lonely boat on calm water with mountains in the background

Depending on where you’re coming from, you might need to travel by plane (and/or bus) and then by car to get to your fishing lodge. Russian outfitters who organize angling expeditions are usually seasoned local experts who know their “neck of the woods” extremely well. They’ll do their best to customize the packages to your preferences.

Often on these trips, you’ll spend days fishing in the wilderness, trying out different techniques. You’ll have access to the intact rivers and streams, with crystal clear waters and big and hungry fish.

Whether you’ll be fishing from shore or from a boat depends on your location and targeted species. The beauty of multi-day adventures is the flexibility and the ability to explore various waterways in one go. And when you’re not fishing, you’ll admire awe-inspiring nature and picturesque views in the fresh air.

All this makes these multi-day expeditions the perfect choice for anglers wanting to test their limits and do something they’ve never done before.

Fly Fishing

This is one of the favorite techniques of passionate Russian fishermen. Guided fly fishing trips have only become available in the last couple of decades. Whether it’s Trout, Salmon, or Taimen, you’ve got a place where you can cast your line.

A fly angler wading in a river

The news of the country’s superb fly fishery traveled quickly. It wasn’t long before anglers from all over the world started coming. These days, you can find a good number of outfitters offering all-inclusive fly fishing packages for avid fishers. While these expeditions are fun and educational, they can also be quite expensive.

Some of the most popular spots for fly fishing trips are the Kola Peninsula, as well as some parts of Kamchatka. Dry fly fishing, as well as mouse fishing, are by far the most used and productive setups.

When it comes to Kamchatka, the most productive spots are quite often very remote. You usually have to travel by all-terrain vehicles and helicopters. US anglers love coming to Kamchatka because it’s only a 4-hour flight from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk and its first-rate fisheries.

Ice Fishing

You’ll hardly find more passionate ice fishermen than the Russians. Not only do they use every chance to hit the ice, but they can also be very competitive about it. If a local invites you to an ice fishing trip, definitely accept it, but expect trash talk among fellow anglers. But hey, it’s a unique way to get immersed in the culture!

Jokes aside, ice fishing is a big deal in Russia, just like in Canada and the Northern US. The season usually starts in November and can last up to April, depending on the location.

A dedicated ice fisherman drilling a hole at sunrise

In the middle of the winter, even the rivers in the biggest cities like Saint Petersburg and Moscow are completely frozen for months. On the weekends, you can see early-bird anglers dotted all over the river, patiently waiting for their fish.

Depending on where you drill your hole, you can hook anything from Perch and Bream to Pike and Asp. Ice fishing on the Moscow River is one of the most popular pastimes of Muscovites, and they don’t use any fancy equipment either. Just a chair, some basic gear, valenki (felt boots), and some vodka to stave off the cold.

If you decide to give ice fishing a try, make sure to head out with someone who knows the ice very well. The best bite is available towards the beginning of spring, when the ice is thinnest, which makes the fishing very risky. Remember to stay safe and, of course, have fun.

Top Fishing Spots in Russia

It would take several lifetimes to explore the immense fishing potential that Russia boasts. There’s a bit of everything here, from arctic temperatures in the north to subtropical zones around the Black Sea.

This diversity in climate means diverse fishing, which is why fishing is such an integral part of the Russian culture. Let’s take a walk through some of the best and most famous fishing spots in the country.

Kola Peninsula

Kola is one of Russia’s fishing epicenters, despite its remote location and unpredictable weather. With over 80 rivers to explore, the peninsula is a dream-come-true destination for anglers of all levels. Still, what’s earned Kola its stellar reputation is the huge number of Atlantic Salmon that venture into its waterways every year.

An aerial view of Kola Peninsula

It’s not just about the number of the Salmon, or their impressive size, but also the fact that you have to go deep into the wilderness to get a piece of this action. Salmon usually come to the Kola waters during mid-May, but their timing changes depending on the weather. This is the spring run and it lasts until the end of June. The fall run begins at the very end of August, and finishes either in late September or early October.

Bear in mind that different rivers have slightly different seasonalities, so consult with your guide before you book your trip. Some rivers on the peninsula are known for trophy catches (we’re talking 50+ pounds), while others have bigger numbers of smaller Salmon. It’s up to you to decide what’s your priority.

Some of the most revered rivers are Litza, Kharlovka, Strelna, Zolotaya, and Chavanga Rivers.

However, Salmon is just a part of the equation here. Anglers also visit for sea-run Trout, Arctic Grayling, Brown Trout, Whitefish, and Cod, among many others. Whether it’s fly fishing or spinning, Kola doesn’t disappoint.

Volga River

An aerial view of Volga River and surrounding woods

The longest river in Europe also happens to be one of the top fishing spots in Russia. Seeing that it connects a good number of big cities in the country (including Moscow), it’s hardly a surprise that so many Russians love casting their lines here.

Whether it’s ice fishing or traditional casting, the Volga, and especially its lower section and river’s delta, is famous for its great action and big catches year-round. Locals claim that, in spring, you can practically catch fish with your bare hands. The best time to hit the water is usually mid-March until May, but you can hook something good all year.

Catfish and Carp are the most common targets, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Zander jigging is also very popular in spring, while you can do some trolling for it in the summer. You could also easily land Northern Pike, Asp, Bass, and various Roach species.

The Volga offers over 2,000 miles of water to explore, and fishing here will likely change your life forever.

Lake Baikal

A stunning photo of Lake Baikal's waters with rocky shores

There are many reasons to visit the biggest and oldest lake on the planet, and fishing is definitely one of them. Lake Baikal is known as the inland sea and it’s home to hundreds of fish species, most of which are available for fishing.

The best time to visit the lake and enjoy all its splendor is in the middle of the summer, in July and August. When you’re not fishing, you can enjoy the majestic views, swim, and see freshwater seals that hang out here.

These waters are some of the cleanest in the world and are the playground of both White and Black Grayling. Freshwater Cod, Perch, Arctic Cisco, and Northern Pike are also very common, but most anglers come here to catch Omul Whitefish and Baikal Oilfish. Baikal is the only place in the world where you can target these two species, so if you’re looking for a unique trophy, you’ve come to the right place.

Kamchatka Peninsula

A smiling fisher holding a big Salmon on Kamchatka

When someone mentions Kamchatka to fishermen, chances are their first thought will be Salmon! And they would be right. This is one of the few places in Russia where you can target all five species of Pacific Salmon, as well as Steelhead.

The best time to go fishing in Kamchatka is usually in July and August when both Steelhead and Salmon make their way to the rivers. Fly fishermen in particular love coming here, because the fish are big and feisty, which makes them a bigger challenge.

Another species that’s worth your attention is the White Spotted Char (Kundzha), which only exists on the peninsula. Usually, people come here to catch the Steelhead or Salmon of their life, but Char is also a welcome sight. You can find them in most local rivers, and when you get one on the line, expect a good battle.

Depending on whether you’re targeting Steelhead or Salmon, you’ll go to different rivers to find them. If you want a combo fishery, there are also plenty of spots to choose from. Some of the best destinations include the Icha, Ozernaya, Sedanka, and Zhupanova Rivers.

Sakhalin Island

A photo of Pink Salmon congregating in the Sakhalin waters

Here we are, at the easternmost spot of Russia, and the fishing is still nothing short of exceptional. Sakhalin Island sports excellent fishing in a milder sea climate, which makes things easier for traveling anglers. There are theories that the main reason why humans came here thousands of years ago was the incredible amount of fish in the island’s waters!

In Sakhalin’s numerous rivers and lagoons, you can go after a range of species throughout the year. Fishing is available all year, but different species are on the cards.

Char, Amur Pike, and the mighty Taimen Trout are all there for the taking in winter and spring. Salmon (Coho, Pink, Sockeye, Chum) make their appearance in May and usually stick around until October. You can catch them both in the sea and in the rivers.

To get the best bite, you need to change locations often throughout the season, because your prey will be doing the same. In the winter, you can target Taimen, Northern Pike, and even Flounder.

Taimen and Salmon are by far the most sought-after species, and anglers come from all over the country to get a taste of the fishing action. If you’re looking for something more exotic, then you can go crabbing in late fall.

Fishing Regulations and Licenses

One of the trickier things to figure out when you’re preparing for your trip to Russia are the fishing regulations and licenses. Because the country is so big, every area has its own rules and, often, every body of water is regulated differently. This is another reason why having a fishing guide is invaluable – they’ll keep you in the loop.

A boat with two anglers on the water during the sunset

Fishing licenses are sometimes included in the price of the trip, sometimes you have to get them on your own, and sometimes you don’t need them at all. As you can see, nothing is black and white and everything requires further explanation or research. The prices of the licenses also vary depending on the species you plan to target, and are usually paid per day.

If you’d like to take some of your catch home, it’s possible to do so. Just check the details with local authorities.

One thing that you’ll surely need is good health and life insurance. When you’re traveling to the outskirts of civilization, you want to cover your bases in case you need medical help. Most outfitters are very serious about this policy and will insist you get insurance before you visit. Whether it’s a twisted ankle or a close meeting with wolverines (which is a type of weasel, not a Marvel character – we checked!), you want to be safe. And have fun, of course!

Fishing in Russia – Your Next Great Adventure

A stunning view of Altai area with mountains, water and sky on the photo

When it comes to the Russian fishing scene, one sentence comes to mind: “So many things to do, so little time!” This incomprehensibly big country has countless awesome fisheries and can give you just as many angling adventures. Whether you’re a fly fisherman, an enthusiastic beginner, or a bold travel angler, Russia will have something for your particular appetite. Let your unforgettable Eurasian fishing adventure begin!

What is your favorite fishing destination in Russia? Do you have any inside information to share? Where would you like to go next? Let us know in the comments.

Comments (2)

Gary Crooks

Sep 29, 2020

Interested in good trout, sea trout and salmon fly fishing

I’ve been twice to Iceland, looking similar experiences.

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    Oct 2, 2020

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for reading!

    Russia does have some amazing fly fishing spots, though nothing beats the uniqueness of Iceland’s landscapes. The Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East with its runs of trophy Rainbow Trout and Pacific Salmon is a popular fly fishing destination. Since you’re looking for an Icelandic feel to your fishing trip, Zhupanova River could just be the place for you.

    If Atlantic Salmon is on your mind, you should explore the Murmansk Region. Here, you can take your pick between productive Salmon rivers just above the Arctic Circle. Ponoi, Rynda, and Kharlovka Rivers are famous for their fantastic spring Salmon runs (April–May).

    Two important things to keep in mind while planning your fishing trip to Russia: COVID-19 restrictions and the necessity of a fishing guide.

    Russia is currently closed for travel and there are no signs that it’s going to re-open anytime soon. Before you go, make sure to triple-check your travel arrangements and whether it’s possible to enter the country. Also, the best fly fishing spots are deep in the wilderness, which is why having a fishing guide is an absolute must. There are fishing lodges that specialize in organizing multiday trips to the best destinations, with accommodation, gear, and guide services included, so we’d suggest you check it out and find a service that works for you.

    Hope this helps.

    Best of luck and tight lines!

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