2019 ASR Salmon Season Summary
While some fortunate fishing friends timed everything just right – 2019 will be remembered by many as the season that most of us missed!
We approached the 2019 season with great optimism and, with a lighter snow blanket over last winter and a thaw well advanced, all the ice was already through the system by the time the camps were scheduled to open. Unfortunately, in what proved to be the forerunner of a complicated season, we had to delay the opening of camps by two weeks as a result of a late notice military restriction which affected all the camps on the Northern Kola. Once we did get underway on 8th June, we had a promising start, with runs on all ASR systems showing early signs of a strong season. The 39 salmon of over 20lbs released on the first week give an indication of the possibilities that were in prospect for the season. Unfortunately, this proved to be a fleeting confirmation of our optimism as there followed a series of late notice restrictions that would last into late July and cause immeasurable frustration to guests and ourselves. While smaller groups of regular Russian guests were assembled to fish the prime Kharlovka weeks, there were multiple other weeks of the season when the salmon and unfortunately the staff were rested.
Although conditions started off similar to the previous season, the early warm spell this spring would turn out to include some of the warmest days of the entire season, as the winds abruptly shifted back to the north with the arrival of our first guests. Despite the record heat wave that would eventually settle in over much of Europe and other northern regions for extended periods of the summer – the conditions on the far northern coast of the Kola Peninsula remained on the cool – breezy and moist side for vast majority of this short arctic fishing season. In fact, air temps were rarely up into the double digits until the last week of June which resulted in fresh water temps that were remained in the single digits across the water shed throughout much of the season. The Kharlovka river had a mean water temperature for the season of 9.13C. As for the Northern river levels – following a normal spring thaw, the rivers flowed above normal throughout the summer weeks well into September – with a mean water level of 26.5cm vs. an extreme low mean for last season of 1.5cm.
When the rivers were fished, the results were impressive. Those fortunate Russian guests that were permitted into camp and the Western guests who were able to fish the limited weeks that were free of restrictions, saw some excellent fishing. To illustrate, Week 27 from 27th July – 3rd August – which was fortunately open to international guests and coincided with the mid summer spate, saw a total catch for the week of 513 salmon (yes, that’s not a typo!) between the Kharlovka and Rynda camps – with 7 salmon over 30 pounds including a 42.5 pounder. A week earlier, one lucky Russian who fished the Rynda single handedly went on to release 112 salmon on the week. The 3 Rivers week of the season which was open to Western guests during middle August, produced 230 salmon. Not only were the runs strong this season but the size of the salmon was also impressive with nearly twice as many 25 to 30+ pounders landed than last year – inspiring stats indeed!
Vladimir Jr. with a solid 36.3 pounder from the Litza Tent pool
We think it is fair to say that the runs continue to strengthen and that, fishing, without the impact of the military restrictions, would have seen weeks that were again this season significantly better than the 5 year averages. Despite the restricted military permissions that led to only half the 14 regularly scheduled weeks being fished, and with less than half the normal number of regular scheduled guests – the total number of salmon caught on the ASR this season was only 22% less than the 5 year average. Looked at another way, had we enjoyed a normal season with all guests able to fish as planned, the catch for the season would easily have exceeded these averages.
For as much as the fishing has confirmed these rivers as unique in the quality they offer, we remain very conscious of the frustrations encountered viz the restrictions and the short notice of these this year. We can only apologise again for the disappointment caused by the cancellations this season and we know that for many of you, as for us, the opportunity to visit each season is not only a chance to experience our wonderful fishing but also the joy of meeting again with old friends amongst both guests and staff in camp. From the outset of the issues this year, it has been our highest priority to seek a more stable and predictable environment so that we and our guests can operate next season with confidence. Multiple efforts are underway to address this. The long support and encouragement of so many ASR guests has been deeply appreciated and we assure you that we remain fully engaged at all possible levels to seek to ensure that we can return once again to an uninterrupted programme and avoid further disappointment to you, our valued guests.
ASR fishing invitations for 2020 will be sent out tomorrow 26th September. Please send an email to Maria@kharlovka.com if you are interested in joining and do not receive an invitation from us soon.
We are looking forward to fishing with you on the Northern Rivers next season!
Vladimir and the ASR team