Interview with Rene Limeres: On Kamchatka, Writing and Fishing

Kamchatka tops list of world’s best trout fishing destination.
Fly Fisherman Magazine.

The natural and cultural wonders of Kamchatka are just a short 4.5-hour flight from Anchorage, Alaska on Yakutia Airlines. Kamchatka is Russia’s ultimate adventure travel destination – to fish, climb volcanoes, soak in hot springs, or visit world-renowned Geyser Valley. We are interviewing Alaskan Rene Limeres of Ultimate Rivers, a longtime wilderness fly fishing guide, photographer and outdoors writer, to discuss his passion for Kamchatka and his recent book Kamchatka Fly Fishing & Visitors Guide.

Photo of Rene Limeres, a longtime wilderness fly fishing guide, photographer and outdoors writer.

Q: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. When and how did you discover your passion for Kamchatka?

I followed my longtime passion for fly fishing and started guiding folks on remote, multiday fly-out float fishing expeditions on the rivers of southwest Alaska years ago. By luck and through my connections in the business, I was able to participate in some of the earliest joint sportfishing ventures in the newly opened lands of the Russian Far East, back in the late 1980s. I made my first visit to Kamchatka in the early 1990s and was greatly impressed with the quality of the fishing over there, easily recognizing its world class potential.

Q: What’s the biggest positive change you’ve noticed in Kamchatka in the last 10 years?

The biggest positive change I’ve noticed in Kamchatka over the last ten years is the widespread growth of local businesses and infrastructure for international tourism, along with a recognition of and development of an initial management ethic to preserve the quality of the pristine experiences that Kamchatka has to offer.

Q: For those who have never been to Kamchatka, what are the top 3 reasons to go in the summer?

For anyone who has yet to travel there, I would say without hesitation to visit it next summer for its beautiful wild country with all its spectacular features- active volcanoes, geysers and hot springs, abundant wildlife and phenomenal trout and salmon fishing, and it’s wonderful, hospitable people and interesting and exotic culture, both the Russian and Native.

Photo: Mutnovsky Volcano Crater, Courtesy of Rene Limeres

Q: What is your personal favorite place or activity on Kamchatka and why?

Well, of course, as a rafting/flyfishing guide, I am naturally very sweet on the rivers over there, with my favorites being the Zhupanova, Opala and Pymta rivers in the southern part of the peninsula and some of the more remote streams along the west-central coast. But I also absolutely love visiting the villages for a taste of Russian rural life, places like Esso, that give a perspective on a totally different way of living e than what most Americans have been programmed to believe is possible. I also have a thing for climbing volcanoes and dipping in hot springs and try to visit as many new ones as I can every time I go over.

Float fishing the Pytma River in southerm Kamchatka. Photo Courtesy: Rene Limeres

Q: What is the best piece of travel advice you can give to Americans who come to Kamchatka and/or other regions in the Russian Far East for adventure travel?

Most Americans carry deeply-rooted expectations of what to expect in the way of accommodations and services, based on what they are used to back home. It’s important to understand that as a frontier destination in a totally foreign culture, things are done differently and move at a different pace than in the U.S. It’s all part of the adventure and folks need to be able to rock and roll with whatever unfolds during their itinerary in Russia.

Q: You recently finished your book Kamchatka Fly Fishing & Visitors Guide. What inspired you to undertake this project?

I have always had a mind to write of everything I have experienced and learned about flyfishing a region as undeveloped as Kamchatka, given the amount of time and sacrifices I have made to be over there. I put in lots of summers on the rivers of Alaska and created Alaska Fishing: The Ultimate Angler’s Guide, a fairly comprehensive and very well received reference, so I thought it might be useful for would-be fly anglers and other visitors to write a handy guide for trip planning. I should mention, of course, that I had tremendous support and enthusiasm for the project from my cohorts in Kamchatka, Galina Volgina of The Climb and many, many other fine people so deserving of the rewards of increased world recognition of Kamchatka.

 

Q: What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Well, writing books, guidebooks specifically, has its own rewards. You’re creating something useful that helps others. Not just the tourists, of course, but also the many locals who benefit from increased tourism. That’s a tremendous reward for me, as I love the people of Kamchatka and want to help them any way I can. You’re also increasing knowledge and awareness of a unique and fragile resource that needs protection, and that’s very worthwhile also. The money thing is very minor, as anyone who writes will tell you. Very few authors make a decent living by just writing books.

Q: You have traveled the world fly fishing. What is unique about the waters in Kamchatka?

Kamchatka as a fly fishing destination has many truly unique qualities. Foremost of course is the pristine and unspoiled quality of the fishing. Most of the rivers are truly wild, with abundant populations of salmon, trout and charr that have received comparatively little fishing pressure. The conditions over there are superb, with thousands of miles of shallow, clear, fish-filled waters, perfect for wading and casting. Abundant insect life augments the food chain for the resident fish species, so they are not as dependent on the salmon runs, like they are in Alaska. The surrounding countryside is, of course, scenically spectacular, equal to the best of the 49th state or New Zealand or Patagonia. And then there are the other unique features, the many live volcanoes and hot springs, abundant wildlife and great people and interesting culture. All in all a pretty amazing and wondrous vacation destination.

Q: Do you have a favorite fish species to target there?

I am so partial to rainbow trout, having a lifelong love affair with the species. There is no other freshwater fish that can compare, as far as I am concerned. They’re beautiful to watch- no other stream fish is prettier or more graceful- and I just love the way they whack a lure, fly or bait, like they’re pissed off or something. And of course, they fight like holy hell when they are hooked. What other fish holds its freedom so dear? My favorite are the young rainbows in the 16-20 inch range, they’re full of spunk and jump repeatedly, sometimes ten or more times when hooked. I just can’t imagine a more alluring or sporting freshwater gamefish.

River Camp. Photo Courtesy: Rene Limeres

Q: Do you have any general advice for fly fishers who travel to Kamchatka?

Just come prepared with all the recommended personal gear and fishing equipment, as there will be few if any opportunities to supply your needs over there. Don’t worry about your lack of technical skills if you are a beginner, as Kamchatka is very kind to inexperienced anglers, and most folks do very well with the fishing. Trust your guide and do everything he/she instructs and you will have a blast over there and catch more and bigger fish than you will in a lifetime of fishing back home.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you in 2018 and beyond?

God willing I want to keep exploring new rivers and learning more about Kamchatka (and Alaska) and making new friends and helping people in my work as a guide and writer. It has been an interesting and exciting ride so far and I don’t want it to end. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and for the many kind folks who have helped me get to where I am today.

Published on Dec 12, 2017

 

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Adventures in The Russian Far East: Interview with Vadim Mamontov, Director & Founder of RussiaDiscovery Travel Company

Alaskan’s Adventures in Kamchatka: Interview with Scott McMurren

How Was Your Trip to Kamchatka? Traveler Janet Read Answers Our Questions

Interview with Michael Schneider, Adventurer & Founder of 56th Parallel

Questions with Martha Madsen: Adventure Travel Specialist on Kamchatka, Russia

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