No Vladimir Putin, no collusion, no gangsters… but there was Vodka!
A few years back, I spent a year living in Siberia, and had a chance to head out to a town called Tinda. Much to my surprise, a couple of the locals had fly fishing on the menu.
Mention the word “Siberia” and most people think of a bleak, frozen tundra stretching for hundreds of miles. Well, this is more or less true in the winter; however, in the summer, much of Siberia is bursting with green, and with temperatures in the eighties and nineties. This was a bit of a surprise to me and I had failed to bring shorts.
Living in the city of Chita, I had an opportunity to visit the forest town of Tinda. It is located about a day east of Lake Baikal and was built in the 1950s, acting as a lumber town. The communist government haphazardly relocated a hundred thousand people, and there they remain today. The area around Tinda is very mountainous and very beautiful. As the winter snows melt, rivers, lakes and creeks spring into life.
While in Tinda, I was invited to go fly-fishing with, Nikoli and Oleg – the children of the people with whom I was staying. I was not sure what to expect, except for a lot of strange looks and a lot of laughs; because they spoke zero English, and I was fluent in Russian at about a kindergarten level. Off we went, strolling to the local hot spot for fishing.
After a 45-minute walk, we came upon a slow-moving creek that looked like one you would find in Wyoming. Trees bent across the creek, and over us, casting shadows across the water. Shallow pools of water formed along the bank and I could’ve sworn I saw more than a few of our slippery friends.
As every person knows, a first timer at anything will always have success. The boys illustrated they had fished this spot hundreds of times, but obviously it was my first. By all that is good in the universe, I should’ve caught 20 while they caught nothing; however, evil had the day. I caught nothing, nada, zippo. Nikoli and Oleg, on the other hand, were getting fisherman’s elbow from all their activity.
Although they caught a lot of fish, I can’t tell you what they were. Not only because of the language barrier was too much, but the fish looked strange to my eyes. The fish were six to ten inches long and appeared to be related to Mackinaws; but the vodka celebration made this pure speculation. So, we just celebrated the same, drinking and being merry.
At the end of the night, we did have quite the fish fry. Although they were weird looking, they tasted outstanding – or it could have just been the Russian Vodka.
Chef Bobby is a Chef and Cookbook Author. He loves to share his knowledge of cooking and handling of fish with our community.