By Camille Egdorf | Airflo Pro Staff
Kamchatka has been a place I’ve dreamt of for years, and, it felt like a million miles away. A place too distant and inaccessible for me to even hope to see, let alone fish. I remember sitting on my couch watching Eastern Rises and thinking how cool it’d be to experience such an untouched and wild place. But, I had a big dilemma, I was a college student, all my money had been swallowed up by tuition and had absolutely no idea how I would get there. Little did I know, a year later I would be standing in the middle of the esteemed Zhupanova River, in Eastern Kamchatka, fighting a fish I would never forget.
It was the half way point of my second week in Kamchatka, I was doing a visitation for Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures to a couple new lodges we would begin working with in 2016. We stopped our raft to fish a short run known for harboring large trout. Going with my instincts, I picked up my 8wt Echo 3S rigged with a floating line and Mr. Hankey mouse. No matter where I am, I always fish a mouse through a run first before swinging through with a streamer. Basic rule of thumb, especially if you’ve spent some time in Alaska. I picked my way through the large boulders towards the center of the river, then turned my attention towards the bank. Low branches hung over the calm water, with small weed beds dotting the bottom. It looked as if it were only 2 feet deep, making the possibility of a trout living there seem relatively low, or so I thought. I made one long cast about 50 feet, landing the fly at the edge of a bush with a small eddy swirling behind it. I made two small strips, barely enough to make a wake and what happened next was the laziest eat I’ve ever seen.
The only thing visible as the fake rodent disappeared was the tip of a nose. As always, my heart skipped a couple beats and the instinct to automatically raise my rod pulled at me like a semi-truck. Remembering how good I was at setting too soon, I withheld the strong urge to set the hook and waited a split second longer before I stuck it with a massive strip-set. I immediately thought it was small dollie since the eat was so pitiful, however, once the hook was set, things got wild. In a matter of seconds the fish was 30 yards up and across the river from me, tearing my line through the water like a saltwater fish. “Holy shit, this is a bigger fish!” I yelled to myself and whoever else was watching. 10 long, stressful and tense minutes later, Christiaan scooped the beast into his net and seriously, what a relief it was! I literally cursed as if I cursed all my life. “Look at that f**king fish! Its f**king huge!” And on and on. My poor grandmother’s ears would have bled if she had heard the things that came out of my mouth. Truthfully, I think fishing and cursing go hand in hand. I never curse at home but when I go fishing, gosh, I’m a professional at it and I don’t even notice until it’s coming out of my mouth. The Russian culture frowns upon women cursing so I was lucky to have a guide who was South African!
Regardless of my fowl mouth, I, along with everyone else involved was on cloud nine and could care less about my four letter words. Shoot, they were cursing right along with me! I had just caught my unicorn and was beyond proud, thankful and blessed to say I had done so. The emotions of catching a lifetime fish are indescribable and words will never be able to portray the moment. Kamchatka is everything and more I’d hoped it’d be and I’m already counting down the days until my return.