Following the exceptionally cold winter across much of Europe and the UK, we wanted to send you all an early spring update to let you know how the upcoming season is beginning to take shape. The recent end of the long polar nights heralded the first opportunity to make a significant visit out to the camps to take stock of things.
In contrast to the unprecedented 80 year high snow pack from last year, so far the conditions this winter on the far north coast have been closer to “normal” with a snow pack of 110cm on the camps as of middle March. Looking back at the snow measurements for the last 10 years on the ASR website, the camps currently have about 14% more snow than average. This compares to last season at this time when they were already reporting levels closer to 50% above average.
Nevertheless, the uncertain element remains how much fresh snow will arrive in these last days of March and April and here there are certainly precedents for sizeable late falls, most recently just last year when we received almost 33% of the peak snow blanket during March, April and May. As is often the case, by March the snow depth can remain broadly the same but the water in the snow blanket continues to creep up as fresh falls simply compact the snow. Presently, there is still snow falling across the Kola and the forecast is for more over the coming days.
Reviewing the catch records for the last 5 years – while the record high water last season led to an icy cold start to the season, the later July weeks more than made up for the slow start, producing several all time record weeks. To further illustrate the difficulty in drawing early conclusions, last year’s near record overall total compares with the 2015 season which received the lowest winter snow pack but went on to benefit from the consistent weather conditions during the season which were mostly mild and cloudy and produced the highest overall ASR catch results over the last five seasons.
What we can say is that the present build up in snow levels is probably helpful for those fishing in July, in that it offers the prospect of good water levels being maintained into that part of the season. However, the June picture is rather more dependent upon how the thaw proceeds – will it be delayed and slow as in 2018 or steady and starting in mid May as would be more normal? This will dictate the conditions for the early part of the season and, as such, it’s probably another 4 weeks before we can take a more conclusive view of how the early season conditions might be shaping up. However, with that “health warning”, at this point it looks like 2018 may be closer to the average than last season offering a more balanced spread of conditions through the season. Stay tuned to the ASR website for more snow/water updates over the coming weeks.
On the administrative side, the charter flight schedule between Helsinki and Murmansk operated by Finnair has now been confirmed for the 2018 ASR season. The itinerary remains the same as previous years, so you will need to arrive in Helsinki on the Friday before fishing and depart Helsinki on the following Saturday after 4pm. Check out the Travel section of the ASR website for flight times and more info.
This seasons guests will have recently received their official booking letters and invitations. In light of the recent diplomatic issues and with Russia hosting the World Cup this summer, we’d encourage you not to delay with getting your visas in place. British guests should expect significant delays to processing visas at present which will most likely continue for a while. The standard 5 day service is now expected to take between 5 and 20 business days. The fast track process which is considerably more expensive is no longer 1 day turnaround but is up to 5 business days. Please also note that the Visa Processing Centres (certainly in the UK) observe the Russian public holidays as well as the local ones. To that end, do not forget that the Travel section also contains detailed notes to assist in completion of the visa application process.
Similarly, as you start to think of any kit that needs replacing before your visit, don’t hesitate to get in contact with our colleagues at Farlows and Sportfish in the UK, (Tele. 0207 484 1000 www.farlows.co.uk) or, if you are travelling from elsewhere and plan on investing in a particular rod or reel for your ASR visit this season, we can endeavor to have it supplied to you straight into camp ready for your arrival by Farlows Rynda or Kharlovka. In addition, the ASR in association with Farlows Travel will be in attendance at the upcoming EWF fishing show in Munich on 14-15 April. This season we are forming an exclusive partnership with Mako reels which will be available upon request going forward.
Finally, whilst there are very few rods remaining available for the season, the inevitable unforeseen circumstances mean that several openings have arisen. If you have either not yet fixed your own plans for the season or feel tempted to visit us for an extra week in 2018, do get in touch with us before these last few spaces get snapped up.
Won’t be long now until the ice breaks.
Best wishes and Happy Easter from the ASR team,
Justin and Vladimir