Russia’s Ponoi River, 130 miles east of Murmansk, has become the hottest salmon fishing destination in the world these days. Greater numbers of fisherman still head off to Alaska and Norway but the place everyone wants to go is Ponoi. It’s just that it’s not that easy to get to.
15 years ago, it was impossible. During the Cold War, the Kola Peninsula was off limits even to most Russians. Today, most of its 40,000 square miles of wilderness has been opened up, much to the delight of fisherman who salivate over the Ponoi’s annual salmon run of between 30,000 and 60,000 fish.
The lucky few who are able to dip their lures into the river’s running waters, fly in via Russian MI-8 military helicopter to the remote Ryabaga camp-a semi-luxury base camp operated by Shackleton International-and pay about $10,000 for the week-long privilege (this does not include airfare to Murmansk).