2018 ASR Salmon Season Summary

Posted on 20/09/2018

The 2018 has been fascinating with weeks that reminded us both of how special these remarkable rivers can be, but also of how finely balanced nature can be, when the heatwave that swept Europe also visited the Arctic tundra in July. In addition, the vagaries of our unique location also meant that we were briefly but once more reminded that the remote and controlled zone in which our rivers flow has the occasional frustration to go hand in hand with the many advantages that it gives us.

Normal Spring conditions to start 2018

Unlike the unprecedented high and cold water conditions of 2017, the current year’s season was much closer to average in terms of the start of June. By contrast with the prior year, a lighter snow blanket was well into its thaw by the start of the season and the ice had gone by the time the camps opened. The runs of all ASR systems quickly showed signs of the promise of a really strong season. The encouraging start in the first two weeks of June built through the latter part of the month when a sustained strong run of spring fish ran hard into the system. Those old hands in both camps who have seen many an ASR season, unanimously felt that this was one of the best spring runs for many seasons.

Frustratingly, it also co-incided with a decision by the Russian authorities to restrict access to the controlled military zone for two weeks at the end of the month. The location of camps in this controlled zone provides the very substantial benefit that the catchment and rivers are free of many of the man-made problems that have often afflicted salmon runs in other parts of the world. However, it has, very occasionally, meant that these restrictions on access that benefit us most of the time, can have a drawback. This year was such a season when the military exercises at the end of June and again in September, meant that we had to disappoint a number of our guests who were unable to fish their week as planned. Whilst saddened and frustrated to have to disappoint old friends in this way, it did offer the opportunity to provide unusual access to these special rivers to a new generation of prospective young salmon fishers from Russia during the second half of June.

Father son casting lessons

8years old twins Senya and Masha fighting together with a salmon at Rynda Homepool

With the caveat of the old saying, “lies, damned lies and statistics”, we have attempted to conservatively estimate for the limited fishing activity of these weeks and the inexperienced nature of the youngsters who were able to take up the opportunity. Having done so, we think it is fair to say that the runs during these weeks were some of the strongest in seasons and that, fishing, without the impact of the military restrictions, would have seen weeks that were some 50% better than the 5 year averages in the case of Kharlovka and some 80%+ higher in the case of Rynda – sparkling fishing indeed! This, on top of what were some of the best weeks of the season in any event. This wonderful spell continued into early July when the regular guests of both camps could return to enjoy what was some great fishing with excellent catches.

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Of course, with salmon fishing nothing is ever straightforward and when the heatwave that had Europe wilting in July, also made its way up to the Arctic during the three weeks to the end of July, the impact on fishing was dramatic. With water temperatures climbing inexorably higher and peaking at a punishing 21-22 C, the fishing became very challenging with the many fish in the system struggling to come to a fly and skillful and persistent guests having to work especially hard for their fish. That this tough period of July was wholly related to the conditions was borne out by the fact that as soon as the water temperature dropped sharply back to low teens in early August, catches doubled.

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Overall then, the picture at the end of the season is one that gives us great encouragement. Some of the strongest runs in quite a number of seasons, a sparkling late June/early July period which repaid the faith of our June regulars who had endured the unprecedented difficult conditions of June in 2017, offset somewhat by the frustrations of both the July heatwave and the late impact of the military restrictions that curtailed some of the best weeks of the season. Most satisfying of all has been the continued support and company of you, our guests. With each week bringing old and new friends together, amongst both guests and members of camp, we feel fortunate to be custodians of some of the most exciting Atlantic salmon fishing that is to be found anywhere.

We will be sending out ASR fishing invitations for 2019 by 26 Sept. If you do not receive an invitation and would like to do so then please send an email request to maria@kharlovka.com

We are looking forward to fishing with you all again next season on the ASR!

Best wishes,
Vladimir, Justin and the ASR team