Our friend Mike Powell just returned from Kangia River Camp, Greenland and dropped us this trip report. Thank you Mike, we really appreciate it!
Shortly after arriving at Kangia River Lodge, we unpacked our bags for our first day of char fishing and our guide remarked, “Wow, pink waders? We’ve had several women here, but none with pink waders! Let’s see if they scare away the fish.” His dry sense of humor regarding our daughter’s new Caddis pink waders raised the stakes. Could she catch her share of monster char while wearing fuchsia waders? Well, apparently Greenland char are truly colorblind. Not only do they not care about wader color, they also seemed to be largely indifferent about fly color and type, floating or submerged. Our green and black colored #4 sinking flies seemed to do best, but by day two we were throwing everything in the fly box at them, with great success. How is this possible?
It’s entirely likely there are several factors that make this char fishery one of the best in the world: i) the fishable river is only 4 miles long, where a large waterfall prevents fish from swimming upstream further; the fish numbers below the waterfall were spectacular, ii) Kangia River is about as remote a place as you’ll find, made even more remote by the 8 miles or so of hiking daily that is needed to fish it. Simply put, there is zero fishing pressure on the Kangia River, iii) although the oceans surrounding Greenland are teaming with fish, including arctic char, most of Greenland’s rivers are glacial in nature, and too murky for flyfishing. The Kangia has only a tint of afternoon glacial runoff, and is mostly clear and char friendly.
Regarding the hiking, we were quite surprised at how much we enjoyed the daily trek from the Lodge to the fishing grounds and back (Normally, anything between me and the fish is an unacceptable hurdle to be minimized). That said, the scenery of the Kangia River valley was nothing short of jaw dropping; glacial smooth basalt peaks, teaming with tundra berries and wildlife. And no bears to worry about! We dressed lightly for the initial 40 minute hike from the Lodge to the ‘change tent’, where we donned our waders and warmer clothes for the day. We only had light rain one day, and no mosquitos during our August week. At the end of the day, usually around 5 PM or so, we changed back into hiking wear, and trekked back to the Lodge where cold beer and appetizers awaited us.
The food was basic; some meals such as the lamb stew were wonderful, but the breakfasts could have used more variation (I love bacon and eggs, but by day 6 we were longing for something else!). If there was any criticism, it’s to up their food game a bit. That said, we were in the middle of nowhere, and everything was powered off of a small generator, so it should all be kept in perspective. By the way, char sashimi is absolutely terrific. And aluminum foil wrapped fish cooked over an open fire on the river bank for lunch, was also something to behold and the best tasting fish of my life.
But we weren’t there for gourmet food reasons, we were there to catch fish. On this trip, we caught more fish, and bigger fish, than I ever expected. Arctic char don’t really fight like a rainbow, but several of these monsters took us well into our backing. Most days I caught more than 50 fish, and half of them or more were 3-5 lbs, topping out around 7-9 lbs for the larger ones. I did hook a true behemoth, estimated 15+ lbs, but it laughed at me as it jumped 5 ft into the air and spit the hook. If it took us more than 4-5 casts to hook our next fish, then we moved a hundred feet up or down the river to correct the problem. And if you are wondering, yes, my daughter outfished me every day, pink waders and all.