The Kamchatka Peninsula was once a playground for the rich, accessible only to those with deep pockets willing to work their way through Russia’s permitting system. It has been described as what Alaska looked like 75 years ago, making areas of South America like Patagonia appear urban by comparison. All the while giant steelhead have been coursing through its riverine systems, safe, ironically, behind the Iron Curtain.

Much of that has changed in recent years. Permits to enter the former U.S.S.R. are easier—easier, not easy—to come by, and fishing is being used as a tool to promote the natural resource, if not for pure recreation. It’s still a long way from being an open fishery, but things are moving in the right direction biologically and recreationally.