Kharlovka Fishing Reports 2002
A Magnificent Season Draws to a Close
This extraordinary season on the ‘Three Rivers’ draws to a close this week so that the excitement of our continued success is tinged with sadness. The trees are taking on a burnished gold as the tundra introduces swaths of purple and splashes of red. Mushrooms and blueberries abound. It is already dark at 9:00 PM. The ‘Northern Lights’ are starting to play their magic. The swans and geese are flying south and we must go with them for the same reason. But we will leave behind a large dedicated team of river watchers who will guard our precious salmon on the spawning beds day and night until the ice freezes over the fertilised eggs and we are assured of ever growing abundance and pleasure.
Since closing the Kharlovka Lodge on 24th August we have been fishing all of the “Three Rivers” from Rynda Lodge with small parties of friends catching about 100 fish a week of which a fair proportion have been fresh run MSW “Osenka” salmon. The average weight of salmon over 10 lbs has been 15.2 lbs. We have taken another five great fish so that our total for the season is 49 over 30 lbs of which 5 have been over 40 lbs with the best at 46.5 lbs. There are three days to go!
Amazing things have happened. Yesterday we realised four people had all caught their record salmon in the same day with fish up to 27 lbs. Hakaan Mathiesen took a 36 lbs sea liced “Osenka” salmon from Litza Upper Tent Pool having just played and lost another of similar size. Tom Christensen had a mature cock fish of the same size in the same pool. (Both these fish can be viewed above but don’t forget to double click to enlarge.) On Monday of this week Tom Sanderson hooked a monster on Rynda in Flekke Pool which he lost two and half hours later in Sunray having taken him through Prunella, Rupert and Rebecca. And finally a special moment in the life of Alec Sim who, at the age of 15 on his first night at Rynda, landed an 8 lbs sea run Arctic Char in Home Pool which by all accounts is a record in these parts.
Orri Vigfusson of the NASF, who are sponsoring our radio telemetry project, has been a guest this week and he too has caught his best ever fish after a lifetime of fishing and studying environmental impact on salmon rivers. He confirms that to his knowledge we are the only fishery in the world that has the power and determination to protect the inland salmon environment as nature intended. Having studied our activities and records he told us “It is more than likely you will exceed a catch and release total of over 5000 fish in the coming years with fluctuations in between.” Certainly we will continue to do everything possible to make this happen. But quite frankly this year’s total of about 3400 is enough for “gentleman” or women. Think about it – This season the average has been nearly 40 fish per day! Two thirds of these fish have been over 10 lbs and one third over 15 lbs.
Closing Week Report: Sat 24th August 2002
by Gordon Sim
The season drew to a conclusion today at Kharlovka Camp with 85 salmon in the book between 6 rods. One has to remark that today was lightly fished due in part to some type of Farewell Party at Eastern Litza.
Well known party animal Steve Peterson seems to have steered otherwise dedicated fisherman away from certain sport along other paths…aided and abetted by Mark Roberts although Freddie Beggs says he tried to stop them ! All others are blameless unless new evidence becomes available. William Olson will be interviewed when he recovers the power of speech. Danny North asked that he not be mentioned and David Irvin wasn’t there…
Despite the above the sport has been excellent and lifetime best fish were landed by Steve Peterson [38lbs], Danny North [34lbs], Freddie Beggs [32lbs] and Mark Roberts [28lbs]. David Irvin landed a fish of 33lbs and William Olson hooked but did not land a leviathan. Brown trout up to 13lbs were also landed by salmon anglers during the week on Upper Kharlovka.
At the conclusion of an excellent season on these amazing rivers I have to report 1587 Atlantic Salmon in the book including the following fish exceeding 30lbs in weight.
1. 31st May 2002 30lbs Jamie McCaig Island
2. 3rd June 2002 39lbs Michael Jansson Barrel
3. 4th June 2002 30lbs David Irvin Barrel
4. 7th June 2002 30lbs Michael Jannson Home
5. 9th June 2002 35lbs Mike Fletcher Lower Tent
6. 9th June2002 33lbs Niclas Ahlberg Home
7. 10th June 2002 33lbs Julian Sterck Waterfall
8. 21st June 2002 30lbs Jeremy Mogford Home
9. 26th June 2002 32lbs Simon Bladon Upper Dream
10. 28th June 2002 30lbs Rupert Dewey Island
11. 28th June2002 30lbs Yasuji Sugai Island
12.28th June 2002 32lbs William Midwood Classics
13. 1st July 2002 43lbs Niall Ballantyne Secret Pocket
14. 8th July 2002 34lbs DickResnick Snowbank
15. 11th July2002 42lbs Dick Resnick Flat Stone
16. 12th July 2002 30lbs Jim Adams Barrel
17. 16th July 2002 33lbs Guy Dunning Tent
18. 16th July 2002 32lbs James Chataway Snowbank
19. 17th July2002 32lbs Ivan Page-Ratcliffe Waterfall Tail
20.18th July 2002 35lbs Martin Malmsten RedCliff
21. 22nd July 2002 46.5lbs Adrian Latimer Flat Stone
22.22nd July 2002 35lbs Gordon Sim Waterfall
23. 23rd July 2002 31lbs Gordon Sim Waterfall
24. 31st July 2002 42lbs Justin McCarthy ThirdWaterfall
25. 1st August 2002 33lbs Volodya Kulagin Home
26. 3rd August 2002 36lbs Finbar O’Donovan Home
27. 6thAugust 2002 32lbs Graham Heptonstall Rugged Rock
28. 7th August 2002 32lbs Tim Hardy Upper Tent
29. 11th August 2002 44lbs TerryMcDermott Tent
30. 14th August 2002 36lbs Jamie MacGregor Red Cliff
31. 15th August 2002 30lbs Jock Campbell Jocks Run
32. 16th August 2002 38lbs Richard Johnson Peters Run
33. 18th August 2002 38lbs StevePeterson Jocks Run
34. 18th August 2002 33lbs David Irvin Lower Dream
35.19th August 2002 34lbs Danny North Secret Pool
36. 23rd August 2002 32lbs Freddie Beggs Home Pool
These wonderful specimens of Salmo Salar are the result of unstinting efforts by Kharlovka Company in co-operation with Murmanrybvod and PINRO in preserving and protecting a Russian National asset. We acknowledge the great work on the high seas by champions of the salmon like Orri Vigfusson and Bill Taylor of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund and Atlantic Salmon Federation respectively; they are all assured of our continued appreciation and unqualified support.
At the conclusion of this great season at “The Camp of Camps” I wish to thank the wonderful camp staff,pilots, engineers, mechanics, scientists,fishery protection inspector and guiding team at Kharlovka ably led by our Operations Director Mr Volodya Kulagin also the tremendous Vasily, Denies and Sasha at Eastern Litza and Vasili our lead guide on the Trout Programme. Camp managers Niall and Justin who caught bigger fish than me and Headquarters in Rynda and Murmansk for unfailing support and guidance throughout the season.
If you were fortunate enough to be here this year “you know” and if you weren’t you may wish you did…
Until the ice breaks !
Kharlovka/Eastern Litza Mid-week Report: Wed 21st August 2002
by Gordon Sim
As the season draws to a conclusion at Kharlovka camp 6 fly fishermen are embarked on a serious attempt to challenge this seasons record 46.5lbs fish fish. Closest to the target so far as been the writer who adeptedly lost a 40+ at “Jocks Run”, Third Waterfall after he was foolish enough to deploy with trout kit in the area. Eye witnesses still recite with glee the pathetic combination of running/swimming that took palce as he attempted to maintain contact with a very angry “crocodile” before being spooled and snapped in a very unseemly manner!
Despite some cold and windy conditions catchs are holding up and our usual facility of providing lifetimes best salmon is still being availed off. Steve Peterson and Danny North of Sportfish both showed they can fish as well as cast by respectively returning fish of 38 pounds[ Jocks Run - Kharlovka] and 34 pounds [ Secret Pool- Eastern Litza]. Regular Kharlovka rod David Irvin also bested his record with a 33 pounder from Lower Dream on Eastern Litza. Freddie Beggs found time to interrupt his story telling and landed a beautiful fresh 26 pounds ‘Osenka’ at Rock Pool, Kharlovka. At the half way stage we have 62 fish in the book and a sign of a break in the weather with blue skies now occasionally showing through the cloud cover.
Our explorations of Upper Kharlovka are showing extra promise with significant numbers of fish between Niku Creek and Semeon Lake some 40+ km from the sea. An exploratory team had six salmon one day and 10 brown trout from 6 to 13 pounds. On encountering a particularly trouty spot one rod changed his salmon cast to a 6 pound trout tippet and streamer fly. He promptly hooked a monster “trout” which turned into a 14 pound salmon. Immediately grasping the significance of the situation he changed back to a 15 pounds leader and an Allys Shrimp, his next fish was a 7 pound brown trout that fought like a tiger!
Variety is the spice of life on the Three Rivers…
End of Week Report Sat 17th August 2002
by Gordon Sim
We concluded a fine week of back-end fishing on the Kharlovka and Eastern Litza with 131 salmon for 10 rods. This included 4 serious fish weighing 44lbs [ Terry McDermott, Tent Pool, Eastern Litza], 38lbs [ Richard Johnson, Peters Run, Eastern Litza], 36lbs [ Jamie MacGregor, Red Cliff, Eastern Litza] and 30lbs [ Jock Campbell, Third Waterfall, Kharlovka]. 22 fish exceeded 20lbs in weight and 42 fish were fresh. Tellingly 7 of the party landed their largest Atlantic salmon and for certain everyone hooked one. Autumn run “Osenka” salmon began to enter the river during the week and provided some excellent sport. Tom Stoneback and Bob Mead found a pod of fish holding in Peters Run on the Litza succesfully landing pristine fish of 28,27 and 22lbs in less than an hour. These fish are deep shouldered, green backed and silver sided with a beautiful lilac sheen, by common consensus they are the most beautiful fish anyone has seen. Another 14 Osenka were caught during the week including fish of 26lbs and 22lbs from Kharlovka Falls.
Our exploratory fishing on upper Kharlovka continued with excellent results. National Park and Third waterfall both produced substantial numbers of fish. Very few if any salmon rivers can be as unexplored as the Upper Kharlovka and along with our scientific teams we are continuing to pinpoint new areas. One pool 2km below Third waterfall and never before fished produced 6 fish in an hour to Jamie MacGregor and Jock Campbell. The Names Committee are considering a request from Jock Campbell that his 30 pounder caught here merits the pool being named after him…”Jocks Run” has been proposed as a possibility as mention of the name Campbell may infuriate future visitors from the Clan MacDonald !
A wonderful aspect of the fishing on the Upper River is the size of the brown trout in the area and it is worth mentioning again fish of 12, 9 and 8 pounds along with at least a dozen exceeding 5 pounds. All these fish give a very strong account of themselves on salmon gear never mind if specifically sought. Skated tube flies sometimes produce explosive rises anda number of rods fighting “salmon” have been very surprised to draw a big golden and black spotted beauty over the rim of the net.
The team were a wonderful social bunch mixing well and making particularly good use of the sauna over the course of the week. The tundra is now taking on a wonderful variety of Autumn colours and our berry crop is in full abundance. The keen eyed naturalist could spot Fishermen grazing on blue berries, crowberries and cloud berries at numerous locations` along the banks of the Kharlovka last week.
With over 1500 fish in the book and clear signs of large fresh Autumn fish we are now settling down to round of the season in fine style. The large “crocodiles” are always present and a little bit of luck next week may see a few more enter the catch record. …
Sea Trout on the Eastern Litza Sat 17th August 2002
by Gordon Sim
One of the great fascinations about the rivers and territory controlled by Kharlovka Company is the sheer volume yet to be explored. Until this year we knew about the excellent salmon fishing below both waterfalls on Kharlovka and Litza and also the incredible brown trout fishing in the higher reaches of each system. An area that has remained completely untouched was our sea trout potential on Kharlovka and Eastern Litza. We particularly knew that Litza offered outstanding opportunities as sea trout up to and over 20 pounds have been taken in the river by salmon anglers.
We had some anecdotal evidence from our scientists that the narrow Litza estuary offered excellent potential particularly during the falling tide. Such a background found me standing with some trepidation on a falling tide armed with a 6wt outfit and a selection of sea trout flies. The water certainly looked fishy with the river current pushing hard as the tide steadily dropped and various rocks and runs began to take shape. I selected a streamer fly size 8 long shank and began to search out the water. I immediately rolled, hooked and lost a nice fish that definitely had more than a hint of gold in its make-up. My next fish hit with a thump very close to the bank and headed off on a long run. I again saw a big flash of gold as the fish thrashed on top of the water and began to dog it out some 50 metres away. I was pleasantly surprised to beach a brown trout a little over 6 pounds several minutes later. I had now learned another interesting aspect of the fishery, the fact that big brownies also frequent the estuary as the tide drops hunting amongst the seaweed for small fish and other rich pickings.
After the big brownie I began to doubt that true sea trout frequented the estuary and that our scientists must have meant estuarine brown trout. My reverie was disturbed by a three pound silver torpedo that abruptedly hammered the streamer, after several tricky moments I was delighted to draw my first Litza sea trout onto the shingle. Words cannot do justice to the make-up of this fish, chrome bright, perfectly proportioned, big shouldered and carrying a fighters weight. I sat for several long moments of contemplation after the fish had powered away on release. This was a sea trout from distantly remembered childhood, the type of fish I used to see on Ailort, Inver and Ewe before fish farms wrought destruction and degraded habitat. Something that was lost had been found again… here in the Barents Sea the great marine trout still foraged and hunted.
It is almost anti-climatic to say that I caught 13 more sea trout between 2-7 pounds; it was all about the first sea trout and a promise fulfilled. This is not Argentina and never will be…these are native fish in an environment for which nature designed them and my goodness they offer 2-3 hours sport on a dropping tide. There is also a wonderful hint of romance in finding something that was gone but not forgotten
Kharlovka/Eastern Litza Mid-week report : Tue 13th August 2002
by Gordon Sim
We have now entered our second week of Back-end fishing hosting 10 experienced, Irish, Scottish and US rods.
As of Tuesday Dinnertime we had 62 salmon in the book for three days fishing and some incredible behind the scenes stories. Terry McDermott landed a salmon of 44lbs on a single-handed rod in front of an appreciative Vasily at Tent Pool Eastern Litza. The fish took a skated Sunray Shadow leaving no doubt about it’s size or intention from the word go… Brian Shaw was desperately unfortunate to lose a fish of similar size on Tuesday after it straightened the hooks during a twenty-minute fight punctuated with several momentous leaps. Brian still maintains despite the loss that this was a lifetime’s experience.
Our development of Upper Kharlovka has continued apace with the added benefit of some fairly serious brown trout in the area. Tom Stoneback and Bob Mead found trout of 12lbs, 9lbs, 8lbs and 7 lbs amongst three salmon averaging 18lbs at National Park. I question if there is anywhere else in the salmon world where such a combination of sport can be found on the same flies and in the same pools. Another clear feature of the Upper Kharlovka is the general large size of salmon encountered by the rods. During the week Third Waterfall and National Park have produced nothing under 15lbs allowing us to draw the conclusion that our spring run in June penetrates furthest into the system. Scientific data gathered by our tracking team supports this assertion; indeed one fish was noted 70km from the sea.
A run of Osenka [Autumn] salmon has started to appear on the Litza. These fish are utterly pristine lilac and silver specimens, covered in sea lice. They are designed by nature to spend an entire year in freshwater including a winter under the ice! On successive days we caught 12 Osenka from Eastern Litza . These manifestations of salmon perfection weighed between 10 and 28lbs and introduce wonderful variety to our crocodile hunts.
We look forward with confidence to a strong finish in an excellent season.
End of Week Report Sat 10th August 2002
by Gordon Sim
A good humored team of 9 rods arrived at Kharlovka on Saturday and quickly made the camp their own. Both staff and fellow guests have been on the receiving end of a number of ‘high jinks’ and the spirit in camp was none the worse for it. Despite the fact that the majority of rods had limited experience they fished hard and were duly rewarded. With tough climatic conditions including driving rain and high winds the majority caught their largest ever Atlantic salmon. These included a 36 pounder to Finbar O’Dononovan, 32 pounders to Tim Hardy and Graham Heptonstall and a 22lbs fish to 15 year old Howard Knowles. In a total catch of 75 salmon 32 were fresh including one of the 32 pounds fish.
The Kharlovka rose 7cms after heavy rain but has now settled again and conditions are favourable going forward. We are now awaiting the first of the Osenka Autumn run and also the stirring of urges in resident fish heightening aggresion and priming a few of our huge “crocodiles” for the attack. Small flies were still in favour during the start of the week although larger flies are now beginning to attract some Shark attacks ! We opened National Park and Third Waterfall for fishing and along with the salmon some beautiful brown trout up to 6 pounds were landed. During a visit to Eastern Litza Graham Heptonstall played a submarine for over 40 minutes before it won the battle. By common consensus the fish was one for the wall and easily in the forties…
The sea trout fishing in the estuary of the Eastern Litza has been extremely rewarding with one rod catching 15 between 2-6lbs. These trout are absolutely prime silver specimens with shoulders like prop forwards and on a 6 wt outfit are equal to anything that swims in fighting prowess… We now have 1388 fish in the Kharlovka Book and look forward to substanially more entries before we close camp at the months end.
Salmon on the rocks Tue 30th July 2002
by Justin McCarthy
My morning began like most others here in Russia, not having a clue where my fishing rod would lead me next. While pondering a second coffee, Volodia, the operations manager for the Kharlovka company, suggested that we spend the day exploring the upper river. Moments later we were packed up, boarding the helicopter and off on another adventure.
Our first stop was 10 miles up river to a place called Kharlovka National Park. As Sasha, our helicopter pilot was negotiating his touchdown along the bank, I saw a large fish show up river. My confidence doubled at this that moment. It was like landing in a dream. The idea was to spread out and cover the water, to see what we could find. Volodia was keen on the trout fishing. Without hesitation he rigged up a single handed rod with a long leader, a Maddam X dry fly and started off towards a nice piece of flat water in the middle of the pool. My style is to fish it all, quickly and efficiently, so I walked 10 minutes up river to the top of the beat with my spey rod. One of my favourite things in life is to fish down a quality stretch of water for the first time. To pick one’s way through the pockets imagining where I would be if I were a salmon. I was approaching such a place. A long flat run where the water speeds up before eventually bending off a red wall at the tail. I said to myself, this looks like the perfect place to hitch a small fly. I was right. First good cast across the run and I was into a salmon. I jumped down off the rocks and began to persuade it towards the bank. After quickly relasing the beautiful 10lb hen fish, I climbed back onto my perch and began casting into the same area. Now there seemed to be two different fish chasing my small waking fly. The salmon continued to touch and play with the hitched fly every other cast for the next 15 minutes. Eventually I pulled in the line and took the hitch off. Within seconds my #12 green butt was back in the water and 11lb salmon took it swinging across the current. The fish jumped several times but was unable to throw the fly. After beaching the salmon and snapping a quick photo I decided to continue on downstram to see what the tail of the pool had to offer.
Stepping carefully from stone to stone I noticed a good fish that jumped twice in the rapids below me. As I rounded the corner I was amazed to see Volodia was hooked into it with his single handed rod. I immediately ran to assist my friend. He said, “So Justin, what do you think of our Park”‘ Out of breath and speechless, I just nodded my head up and down. Volodia plays his fish hard, as you do if you’ve landed thousands of them. Within 10 minutes I was cradling a 21 pounder in my hands. I wasn’t surprised when he informed me that he had landed two brown trout of 4 pound and a 15lb salmon while I was upstream. I remember thinking how lucky we were to be here. Helicoptering into a National Park 250 miles north of the Artic Circle to explore one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world. We had found a late summer oasis hidden amongst the vast tundra.
Even though I was just getting started, Volodia decided it was time to move on. He wanted to have a look at the third waterfall some 20 miles further up river. We were soon landing again along the river and decided it would be best to eat our lunch beside the falls so we could watch the salmon jumping. Volodia was slicing up various meats, cheese, and vegetables while I sat and gazed into the pool. It seemed like every minute a different fish would leap out, giving its best effort to overcome the barrier. I saw several giants jump only to come crashing back down off the rocks. Nobody said a word, we simply ate our lunch and pondered the amazing struggle a salmon goes through to reach the top and reproduce.
The falls were split in two parts by a massive boulder in the middle. The right side of the falls poured into the pool creating a strong back eddy. It appeared to be the perfect place to sink a large black fly. There were so many fish jumping I finally couldn’t take it any more and stuffed the last of my sandwich in the mouth. Again Volodia chose to search the glides downstream for large trout with his Maddam X. I hurried upstream, crossed the river and eventually ended up on top of the boulder between the falls. Knowing I would be fishing deep with a weighted fly I wisely switched my nylon to 30 pound test, picked out a large black francis copper tube and lobbed it into the back eddy. The fly and line were quickly swallowed up by the currents and drawn below the falls. It wasn’t long before the line went taught and I was hooked up. Seconds later a small salmon leaped in the air and bounced off the rocks on the far side of the pool. While struggling to regain control of my fish I discovered a narrow gap carved into the massive rock by previous spring flows which allowed me to climb down and release my 13 pound salmon. Without hesitation I was back up on top trying it again. This time as my fly hit the water an even smaller salmon attacked it on the surface. I had no trouble hauling this one in with my 30 pound nylon. After seeing so many large fish jump during lunch I was still unsatisfied and decided to return to the top of the big rock.
I attempted many casts before finding the right current to take my fly down below the falls. Once I was sure it was well down I briefly paused and then began to lift the line slowly from the depths. I felt a strong jerk and quickly lifted. My rod bounced up and down. It was obvous this time that somthing much larger had taken the fly. For the next 30 minutes the fish just swam deep around the pool. I was lifting with all my might but was unable to raise it to the surface. After what seemed like an eternity the current assisted my fish to the top and I was able to see it for the first time. This was the one I had been waiting for my whole life – a true gaint. Seeing the fish only made my heart race faster and my arms began to shake. At the time it was difficult to tell who was playing whom. The fish nearly left the pool on several occassions but always managed to stop at the last moment. Eventually I could see the fish was tiring. I again climbed down into the gap. At this point it was hard to tell how long we had been fighting each other but now the enormous salmon was on the surface. It was impossible to move it without breaking my rod. I decided to grab the line and continue the battle with my hands. My 15′ spey rod was now wedged behind me in the gap. The line went back and forth in my hands until finally with the aid of a small wave and my right boot I managed to slide the giant onto a ledge below. As the fish now rested on its side I straddled it with my boots paying special attention to keep his head pointed towards the gap in the rocks. We sat there and stared at each other for several moments. What an impressive sight. The salmon had eyes larger than mine. It was a cock fish that had been in the river for some time but how big was it’ It was impossible to tell for I hadn’t enough space on the rock to lift it and I had never seen a salmon so large. I quickly grabbed my rod and laided it beside the fish. Next, I ripped off a peice of blue tape which joined the rod farrels together and stuck it to the rod. After acquiring an accurate measurement I decided it was time to get this wonderful creature back in the water. Before I returned him to the water I repositioned one of the hooks very shallow to the side of his mouth and cut the nylon with about a meter of slack. Using the line and one leg I craddled him in the water along the side of the rocks. I held him as long as I could then released the fly and watched him decend back down into depths from which he came.
Feeling extremely satisfied I reeled up the line, jumped off my rock and began walking back downstream. I soon found Volodia sitting beside the pool with his Maddam X in his hand. I asked him what he was doing and he simply said “watching and waiting”. I then asked how was the fishing and he told me he’d had five with the biggest being 5lbs. How did you do at the waterfall’ He could tell by the look in my eye I was dying to tell him. I asked him if he had a tape measure on him and he replied not here but let me see how big. Pointing to the blue tape on my rod he said congratulations I believe you caught a forty pounder! With that he could tell that I was exhausted and it was time to head back for the lodge.
When the helicopter landed back at camp I went straight for the tape measure. We measured the section of rod and figured it to be 122cm long. By the charts, a fresh fish of this length would be between 45-48 pounds, however since it had been in the river for more than a month we estimated to be around 42-43lbs. Today was absolutely one of the greatest adventures I’d ever been on!
End of Week Report Sat 27th July 2002
by Gordon Sim
We were delighted to host the “Hooked oh Fishing” Team from Discovery Channel during the week. Kharlovka Companys commitment to the programme meant that the rivers were lightly fished by 4 rods. Despite this we achieved the very healthy total of 92 fish with every rod achieving a personal best Atlantic salmon over 20lbs in weight.
Adrian Latimer had an epic battle outlined elsewhere with the new Three Rivers record salmon of 46.lbs. We had two other fish of 35 and 31lbs both caught on the stonefly nymph, the grilse run remained moderate with a key feature being the presence of fresh run hen salmon between 11 and 24lbs the so called “Ilyanka” run that precedes the “Osenka” Autumn run.
The use of the dead drifted stonefly nymph on our waterfall and canyon water attracted much attention during the week and was very successful on both Kharlovka and Rynda. This method is not new and is used successfully by steelhead anglers. In essence a heavily weighted stonefly nymph is presented on a long leader in deep water. It is essential that the angler keeps in contact with the fly and this involves adept hand lining as the fly is swept past in the current. Takes are usually extremely positive with the line drawing taut and a simple lift resulting in a hook-up. The nymph does not work on every occasion but when they are “on” it can be deadly particularly if bright sunshine has restricted other approaches. A remarkable aspect of this fishing method is the amount of large fish caught with two thirties and half a dozen 20 fish succumbing during the week and also the significant proportion of female fish that take the nymph, outnumbering males 5 to 1 !
The camp management had a significant portion of time taken up working on the television programme and thankfully these efforts were rewarded by enough material to make at least two excellent films on salmon and trout fishing. The heroic efforts of the assistant camp manager, helicopter crews and the Operations Director have not gone unnoticed in this field and Paul Young and his team were absolutely delighted with everything around them. The team was a real pleasure to host, indeed they wish to return simply as fishing guests and one can expect no higher endorsement than this.
On the nature front the Reindeer have split into numerous smaller groups and are now to be found everywhere, all the mammals are rearing young and two delightful fox cubs were spotted at Litza playing in the sun. Sea Eagles are common this year and as we explored up-river we were rewarded with numerous sightings including some amazing aerial routines as Jaegers harried spiralling eagles. The tundra is now beginning to flower and we expectantly await the fantastic display of colours that will result.
Salmon are now well dispersed throughout Kharlovka and reconnaissance visits to Kharlovka National Park and the upper river showed many fish in residence, we look forward to thoroughly exploring this new water during August.
Adrian Latimers own account of the big fish capture … Mon 22nd July 2002
by Adrian Latimer
The Flat Stone Grilse
I was sitting on the bank minding my own business when Valentin, our guide, shouted over from the other side that it was an easy wade out to the huge flat stone and that I should have a cast. Having spent the last hour struggling around the devilish deep boulders on the East Litza, [skating in chest waders] I was a bit dubious and fairly wet, but what the hell….
The rock is the perfect casting platform, flat topped, not too high, giving an easy throw to the enticing stream that bubbles idly by. My reverie was stopped when a bow wave of white water flung spray into the air and a hastened heart beat after my reel ran. Fish On ! It felt light, no doubt one of the fresh fish that were coming up. No panic.
Suddenly, a few yards above my wee grilse an absolute monster launched itself, missile-like into the air. It was huge and I mean HUGE. My concentration faltered I had never seen such a fish. From across the river Valentin screamed “It’s 40lbs”! Michael my fishing partner yelled “Is it still on’” I shook myself back into sense and announced I was only hooked into a small grilse and that it had all gone slack anyway. Off, I had been too busy watching that damned monster.
I reeled in the slack to re-cast. The line went tight. My lucky day, or my right move’ In a frightening flash of burnished reality one enormous cock fish smashed all our illusions. Clean into the air-it was over 40lbs and it was hooked. I was alone in mid-river on top of a rock, attached by the feeblest of size 12 Green Highlanders to the dream of a lifetime.
Valentin jumped into the rubber dinghy, surfed across stream and was at my side in an instant. Valentin said he knew the fish as his guest had caught one of 42lbs from this lie two weeks ago. 15 foot rod, 22lb nylon, small hook. The fish did precisely what it liked. Valentin urged me to keep the pressure on not letting the fish reach slack water or rest in the current. Wary of the small hook size, I cranked up the drag, leaned back and pulled, backs, shoulders, thighs- I bent into that fish with all I could.
He swan round, slashed and thrashed on the surface and everytime we got him into view he simply kicked that huge tail and disappeared off with majestic ease. We had no hope. Valentin kept encouraging me, my back ached, the fish still cruised around with alarming awesome nonchalance.
Valentin told me to start working his head. Every direction he moved I swung the rod over and pulled as hard as I dare, endlessly trying to heave that huge jaw off balance. For a second he rolled, great white belly semaphoring a flash of hope, but no surrender. He sounded and quietly headed off. As the fish tired he became even heavier, even more difficult to pull back to the rock.
Valentin moved down onto the convenient “landing ledge” by the water and readied the net. I waited my chance. As usual the fish came by the rock on his circuit. Time and time again, but now I heaved…Up,up and towards Valentin. For an instant just a glimpse, that huge body faltered. The fish lost balance. With one last despearte heave I dragged him within range. One chance, just one chance.
Valentin was deadly accurate. The mighty head slid into the net and with a huge lunge and scoop he dragged the thrashing beast towards us. He was wrong it was not his old friend the 42 pounds fish. No this one was even bigger, 120 cms long and 65cms girth… 46.5lbs in weight and quite the most stupendous fish I have ever seen. When fresh in June this magnificent salmon must have been precious close to the magical 50….
Kharlovka End of Week Report Sat 20th July 2002
by Gordon Sim
I left our small group of 4 happy rods at Murmansk this morning reflecting on a week that saw us bring 178 fish to the net and all team members catching a fish over 30lbs. Big Fish Honours were distributed as follows:-
James Chataway 32lbs from Snowbank, East Litza. Guy Dunning 33lbs from Tent Pool, East Litza. Ivan Page-Ratcliffe 32lbs from Falls Pool, Kharlovka and Martin Malmsten 35lbs from Red Cliff on East Litza.
We ended on a high note when I took Guy and James nymphing on Kharlovka Waterfall yesterday afternoon in the bright sunshine. Our dead drifted stonefly nymphs brought us 9 fish including 7 between 20 and 28 pounds in weight. This tactic can be deadly in conditions that defeat other methods and made sure that we ended on a high note to say the very least. I personally lost rather a large fish described by moderately reliable witnesses as bigger than anything on the wall, but then again that is always the case with fish that elude capture, suffice to say it was big enough to justify the expletives from the gallery when it leaped and threw the hook !
The Kharlovka and Eastern Litza again fished exceptionally well and rewarded the determined efforts of the crew. These rivers at present are not fish a cast situations but honest 5-10 fish per rod days with enough action and loss to make one feel that a decent days fishing has resulted. These are true flyfishers rivers and fact that huge salmon are available adds a certain amount of frisson to the situation. No true salmon angler can approach a pool such as Flatstone on Litza without a querulous tremor of what might be…
Our little team did us proud this week with a catch that would make a good season for many a beat of a prestigious river. The indomitable spirit that defines our rods on the Northern Rivers was well to the fore. I know the team will always keep a special thought for Valentines spirited rock hopping as another big one headed out of the Falls [Where is that camera James'], or big Alex and his wry smile as he examined the straightened hooks of yet another itsy bitsy Swedish fly that wasn’t quite up to the job in hand !
The weather outlook remains very favourable with cloud and rain showers interspersed with brighter warmer conditions. We have a steady run-off in the systems with water stabilising around 13 degrees. The grilse run is now underway in earnest with dozens of these bright fish entering on every tide. One however must be careful not to make assumptions and a sparklingly iridescent hen fish of 24lbs yesterday reminded us of the calibre of fish still moving into the rivers.
Kharlovka Midweek Report Wed 17th July 2002
by Gordon Sim
Due to circumstances beyond the control of Kharlovka Company only 4 rods are fishing the rivers this week supplemented from time to time by 2 rods from our sister camp at Rynda.
These 4 fly fishers Messrs Dunning, Chataway, Page-Ratcliffe and Malmsten have realised they are the luckiest salmon anglers alive with miles of river available and a fantastic concentration of fish to cast over.
At this half weekly point the team already have 100 fish in the book giving us a total of 1050 for the season to date. Again behind the figures are some great stories, Ivan Page-Ratcliffe 70 years of age and on his own admission not the most nimble of anglers winkled 9 fish out of Waterfall on Monday. Assisted by the redoubtable Alex he deftly skated tubes towards the tail of the pool hitting fresh fish of 15,14,15,16,19,22,18,13 and 13lbs in succession. Anybody with an affinity to this wonderful sport of ours realises that this is as good as it gets and I anticipate more than a few of my deskbound readership groaning in envy at the mere thought.
I took a wander to Home Pool last evening and arrived just after Martin Malmsten had been almost spooled [fly line and backing stripped] by a huge fish that had walloped his tube fly at the head of the pool and shook the hook at the tail. While Martin gathered his thoughts I took the opportunity of showing James Chataway how to ‘Bomb’ Home Pool. I cast out and glibly began to outline the technique when a 25lbs fish inhaled the bomber at our feet and just as quickly came off, I roll cast out again and immediately moved 2 fish. On the principle of leaving while the going is good I handed the open mouthed James the rod and authoratively announced, ‘You get the drift’ and walked back to my hut not daring to look behind!
We may have a small team but they are a great bunch and brilliant company we have adopted the maxim of the Special Forces in travelling light and hitting hard. Yesterday on Eastern Litza both James and Guy landed the fish of a lifetime weighing 32 and 33 pounds respectively and both young as they are had the same comment, they wished their fathers had been here to see it!
The weather has remained consistently cloudy this week and temperatures are stable with no extremes. The water level is holding up well around 23cm on the gauge.
Our tagged fish are now running the Falls with 4 fish over in the last two days and more to follow. We are continuing to monitor movements carefully and I will update the profile as the season progresses.
The tundra is now in flower and both myself and Martin Malmstem found ourselves standing 800 feet above dream pool on Eastern Litza yesterday watching a pair of Gyr Falcons riding the thermals and agreeing that maybe we had actually arrived at our rightful place in life.
End of week report Fri 12th July 2002
by Gordon Sim
Rods fishing Kharlovka and Eastern Litza ended their week with the super total of 232 salmon. Behind this bald figure lies some wonderful fishing stories including the capture of a 42lbs salmon at Flatstone and some of the most intense sport witnessed on these rivers for many years. Apart from the big one 27 salmon exceeded 20 pounds and 2 breached the magic 30 weighing 32 and 34 pounds respectively. 137 fish this season have exceeded 20 pounds and we have had 14 serious fish over 30lbs with two monsters over 40lbs. The careful stewardship of the owner and partnership work with our Russian colleagues has been well rewarded and we look forward to the future with real confidence.
A popular misconception exists that after June the Barents Sea rivers cease to fish and fresh fish no longer enter the rivers. In reality fresh fish enter these rivers on every day of the season and particularly in July a strong run of summer salmon and grilse replace the large spring salmon of June. The net result is that as the rivers run down to summer level they transform from technically demanding big fish, big river environments to the most perfect Dee sized salmon rivers imaginable. Think Findhorn and lower beat 6 of the Helmsdale and Scottish salmon fishing as it should be… large stocks of grilse and salmon intermingle in every pool and the deft angler skating tubes and swinging size 10 and 12 flies is assured scintillating action. Ask two of our rods fishing this week who in 2 hours on Kharlovka Falls landed 14 fish averaging 18 pounds or another rod who estimated moving 40 fish one afternoon to skated tubes as he fished through the streams and pockets above Guys pool. As all true fly fisherman know fishing is the sum of its parts and the excitement contained in these knocks, bumps and nearly ons is the very essence of our sport. Young Jonathan Joys is an advocate of this after a fish estimated at 15 kilos plus decided that Guys Pool was a preferable place to fight the hook despite the fact that it was hooked in Waterfall Tail! In spite of our joint best efforts to wade and run simultaneously the fish succeeded in stripping 200m of backing and snapping a 25lbs leader, never mind Jonathan there is always next time !
The rewards are also significant as Dick Resnick discovered during an afternoon on Flatsone on the Eastern Litza, his size 12 Green Highlander was circumscribing a slow arc across the pool and Dick was regaling Jim Adams on the opposite bank with his witty repartee when a salmon engulfed his fly with a take described by eye witnesses as a small dog landing in the water ! During the epic battle that followed the small hook should have worked free or the 12lbs leader should have snapped, it should have been a story of big fish lost and the sweet pain of righteous defeat, but today the fortunes of battle favoured Dick and Valentine the guide was able to measure, weigh and release a formidable male salmon of 42lbs measuring 116.5cms long and 60cms girth. Truly the fish of a lifetime doubly enhanced by the experience of being caught on a small fly as it should be in the magisterial surroundings of Eastern Litza.
Our electronoic tagging programme on multi-sea winter fish has been completed and fascinating facts are beginning to emerge during follow up research. The old story of big fish powering through the system to the headwaters beyond our reach cannot be sustained in fact. The majority of fish have stayed in the lower river pools close to their capture. Moving up and downriver seemingly at random, ‘visiting friends’ as one guide succinctly put it! This week we re-captured Julia and Emma, tagged fish 25 and 1 respectively. Both fish fought hard and guides reported no apparent ill effects from their previous experiences.
Over the next 2 weeks we expect major numbers of fish to run the Falls and when we are satisfied that a significant stock is in the upper river we will open the wonderful Kharlovka Park for fishing.
Conditions on river were favourable during the week with temperatures and water height well within acceptable boundaries. Frequent and heavy rain showers ensured that run-off is moderate and cloud cover fairly consistent. Fish are well spread out in the systems with Lower Kharlovka still holding significant numbers. Rods on Friday were delighted to battle fresh fish of 20,24,29 and 30lbs amongst the grilse in Julians, Rock and Barrel pools and experience the essence of summer fishing on the Northern Rivers.
Mid week report Tue 9th July 2002
by Gordon Sim
Taking over in mid-season is never easy to do particularly when the previous incumbent has done you the disrespect of catching a 45 pound salmon just prior to leaving !!! Thank you Niall and best wishes from everyone in-camp with your forthcoming wedding.
The only saving grace on these magnificent rivers is the fact that such a fish is not unobtainable. In fact one of the guests has just reported spotting a salmon in Home Pool ‘At least four feet long’ and was supported by his guide in this statement. Although his words were ‘Bolshoi Sumga’ translated as Big Salmon…
We were delighted to welcome 11 rods to camp on Saturday and it never ceases to amaze how a disparate team of Americans, Scots and English have wielded themselves so quickly into a formidable fishing machine. Litza and Kharlovka have continued to fish strongly, I have just completed the book for today and have to report 125 salmon caught for two and a half days fishing ie 50 fish per day. Jim Resnick takes the honours for the largest with a 34 pounds fresh fish from Snowbank on Litza. Day after day continual runs of fresh fish are moving in with the tides now supplemented with some absolutely super charged grilse. Twice this week hooked grilse have cartwheeled onto the bank in the midst of battle and breathless anglers have shook their head at the power of these fish. The ratio of salmon to grilse is around three to one in the favour of salmon at present and this adds to the magnificent doubt as to quite what has taken hold of the fly. We still have many large fresh fish on the move and lucky rods have taken 7 fish between 20 and 30lbs with many more in the high teens. A great aspect of the fish at this stage in the season is the fact that they are attracted to surface presentations and visual action to bombers and hitched tubes has been superlative. One has to look in askance however at some of the killing patterns in the book with both the Bristly Highlander and Naked Sheila making an appearance this week courtesy of Susan Mills!
Weather conditions for the week started of extremely warmly with 24 degrees on the thermometer and water peaking at 19 degrees. Like everything in the Arctic this changed pretty rapidly with air and water both touching 14 degrees today. None of this seems to have made the slightest difference to the fish and they have remained sporting and active no matter the conditions.
Our happy and sociable camp have reported a number of sightings for the nature book this week and amongst observations have been a bear, sea eagles, Arctic Jaegers and thousands of migrating reindeer particularly on the Upper Litza where the herds are enormous. As usual for Litza visitors Vasiliy has laid on his now famous Reindeer Shish Kebabs to general all round acclaim and all guests look forward to lunch at Litza Tent Camp with our Master Chef.
We now have super stocks of fish in the rivers and are looking forward to some excellent top water sport over the remainder of July and August. Should any one require more detailed information about the rivers or future availability please e-mail me and I will be delighted to update you from location.
End of week report Sat 6th July 2002
by Niall Balantyne
We reached a magical final tally of 225 this week. Not since the early nineties has Kharlovka and Litza produced anywhere near these figures. The stringent poaching control programme run in the Autumn to protect the spawning fish has undoubtedly been a huge success coupled with the day to day monitoring of both rivers throughout the season. We now have a population free zone due to the absence of any military personnel this year and in the future. Now that we have total control this should ensure fabulous fishing for seasons to come. The encouraging fact is that we are now landing a vastly improved proportion of fish in the 15 – 25lb category and every week fish between 30 and 40lbs are caught.
Two years ago there were maybe only two to three over 30lbs landed and that was in the first two weeks of the season. Now that most of the fish have run to the top of the river, the Waterfall and Guys pool are dream places to draw for the day. A number of rods reached double figures or close this week. Their catches would be too numerous to mention here, but one stood out in the form of Bill Hicks. I remember he had the day of his life two years ago on the Waterfall, but exceeded this by far on Friday afternoon. He caught 10 fish of which four were over 20lbs and included three at 26, 28 and 29lbs.
Eastern Litza was not to be outdone as it fished consistently well all week with great numbers landed still be crocodiles to be caught there as, unlike Kharlovka, the falls are impassable to all the fish.
The weather remained hot for the rest of the week with temperatures hitting 25 degrees regularly during the day and not much lower at night. As a result the water rose to 15 degrees making dry flies an exciting option to fishing just under the surface. A welcome breeze helped to make conditions slightly more pleasant although we had to cope with the odd gale! The mosquitoes hated it so there were no complaints! A decent cloud cover prevented too much sunshine. The trusty Green Highlander remained the killer all week.
43 Pounder Thu 4th July 2002
by Niall Balantyne
Summer has definitely arrived! The trees have finally seen a decent spell of sunshine and they are now in full leaf. Constant rain and drizzle has been replaced with warm winds and cloudless skies with daytime temperatures sometimes in the mid twenties. The water temperature has steadily risen since last Friday to a now perfect 14 degrees and the water height on both Kharlovka and Eastern Litza has remained almost static for the past few days. There have been several occasions this season where I have reported the loss of big fish after titanic battles sometimes lasting over an hour. These fish have been sighted and estimated at between 40 and 50 pounds. Unfortunately a huge amount of luck is required to land them and until Monday that luck has never been with us.
Fantastic news. A fat fresh 118.5cms cock fish was caught below the Flatstone pool in a small pocket. The fact that the camp manager was at the other end of the rod means that if a larger one is not caught, the guests have promised I will be swimming in Homepool on Friday night! Some of my peers felt the fish should have been recorded at 47/48 lbs against our record of 44 lbs. However,without being able to weigh it and as camp manager, the fish has been recorded at 43 lbs.
The fishing has remained excellent with 101 caught so far for the three days. The Waterfall and Guys pool have yielded the bulk of the fish so far with huge amounts showing almost constantly. Litza does not provide the same quantity, but certainly the size of fish landed is consistenly high with 43,28,26 and 25 pounders caught so far. Even though the bulk of the rods are now upstream, Rock pool at the lower end of Kharlovka is still producing big fish. Justin McCarthy lost a 35lb fish at his feet there after half an hour, while upstream Martin Stansfeld lost a fish over 30lbs in the waterfall. A fish of over 40lbs now seems to be resident in the Lower Canyon, but so far hasn’t been tempted to take anything. The Green Highlander has been the most popular pattern by far, but the hitched tube creating a wake on the surface, has provided the visual excitement as well as producing great results.
Mid week report Wed 3rd July 2002
by Niall Balantyne
I was walking down the right side of Litza 100 yards below flat stone. I stopped next to a “three cast pocket” in very fast water. Only 5 yards of line. It took at my feet and I had no idea how big it was. I took off 150 yars of line down the rapids and went straight through Secret pool in the corner. When finally catching up with it I was almost at the waterfall above Upper Dream. I played it for the next 20 minutes in the fast water and managed to beach it just before the waterfall. I measured it twice at exactly 118.5cm and managed to take one photograph with my foot in it for size comparison. Any more photos were impossible as I couldn’t hold the fish. I also tried to take scale samples with a knife for Dima, but that also proved impossible as I needed two hands around the tail to hold it. While I held it with one hand it had a burst of energy and escaped! The fish was quite fresh. Silver, but no sealice. Extremely deep, which I hope you will see in the photo. Probably only in the rivr a week to 10 days. We arrived at the weight due to the fact that a fresh fish of 118.5cm should be 44.5lbs according to the weight table. Some of the fish we have caught so far have been 100cm and been weighed at 26,27 and 28lbs. Martin Stansfeld thinks I’m crazy not putting the weight at 47,48lbs but I would not want to hold the Kharlovka record for a landed fish in these circumstances.
End of week report Mon 1st July 2002
by Niall Balantyne
We have just concluded one of the best weeks fishing on the Kharlovka for many years, landing a total of exactly 200 fish! Despite the very cold conditions for most of the week the fishing was excellent. Until Thursday the air temperature rarely rose above 5 degrees and the water temperature slowly dropped to 8 degrees. Friday brought a daytime temperature of about 17 degrees and as a result the water temperature rose to nearly 10 degrees. Hopefully this marks a transition from Spring to Summer and we will be using full floating lines next week. The strong northerly breeze finally died out on Friday to be replaced with a warm southerly. Water levels remained constant for most of the week but started dropping on Thursday after the constant drizzle subsided. Despite this the height is still well above last year and should remain for a good while yet.
The large fish seemed to elude us for the first three days until Simon Bladon caught a 32 pounder from Upper Dream pool on Litza just the day after William Midwood lost one of a similar size from the same spot! William, on his return to Litza, on Friday landed another 32 pounder this time from Classic pool near the sea. On Thursday, Rupert Dewey unfortunately lost a fish of approximately 45lbs on Litza waterfalls after an hour long battle in which it jumped four times, but proved just too big to get anywhere near the bank to land. He didn’t need to wait too long for a smile to return when on Friday, he and Yasuji Sugai landed twin fish of 30lbs within an hour of each other at the Island pool on Khalovka. Both fish had just come in with the high tide and were covered in sea lice. Normally these large fish are expected to arrive on the first week of the season, but this is now the end of the fourth week and it is fantastic to see they are still running. On Friday night our total was 199, so it wasn’t going to be too strenuous to hit the 200 mark. Or so we thought! It took 6 rods, after dinner, until two O’clock the next morning to catch a 7 pound fish! Thankyou William.
After predicting we would be using floating lines all week, how wrong could I get’ Just about all the fish were caught on sink tip lines, using fairly large tube flies (2 – 3 inch). The Green Highlander and Templedog were most popular and John Garnett’s Snelder which never left his rod all week!
Midweek report Thu 27th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
We’ve experienced some very settled weather so far. Unfortunately it’s not the kind of settled weather that’s desired. Normally at this time of year we would expect it to be fairly warm during the day and have a water temperature of around 12 – 14 degrees. However, the last three days, the air temperature has rarely risen above 5 degrees and the water temperature is around 8 degrees. A cold northerly wind and almost constant drizzle has not made for pleasant fishing conditions for this weeks 12 rods. Due to the rain though the water level remains pleasingly high.
Despite these conditions, we have reached a remarkable half way total of 110 fish. Huge numbers of salmon are now running directly to the top of both rivers making the head of Kharlovka especially a real hot spot. The majority of fish are being caught in Waterfall and Guys Pool, most of which are covered in sea lice. Home Pool as usual is also providing excellent sport. There is a far greater number of fish being caught on Kharlovka although Litza is now having great daily returns. As has happened in past years, Litza still seems to have the bigger fish. Although nothing has been caught so far approaching 30lbs there has been a fair proportion in the high teens and early twenties, and I know that we have lost certainly at least two fish which have been well in their 30′s. If the catch rate remains we could be on for a near record week.
Last week I suggested we would be on small flies and floating lines, but no sooner had we got there, due to the recent weather we have returned to sinking lines and large flies. This weeks’ top three have been the Templedog, the Snelder and the Yellow and Black.
End of week report Mon 24th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
Just as the weather seemed to be getting warmer and more settled we were greeted by a fierce thunder storm and gale force winds on Wednesday night and most of Thursday. This of course made fishing pretty impossible for a few hours – the water level rose approximately 30cm on both rivers providing a welcome reserve for the coming weeks. The air and water temperature has remained pretty constant at about 10 degrees, apart from Friday when we had a very hot afernoon. The cooler weather is helping to keep the fishing fantastic and free of mosquitoes.
Eastern Litza is now fishing extremely well with large runs of salmon now entering the river. On Wednesday Bryan Sohl and Kenny Morrish had a superb day with six fish between them up to 23lbs. However, they did seem to loose a couple of very large fish (in fact Bryan’s fish was so large it swam off with not only his fly but his rod as well). As a result of this experience he went for a very cold and long swim! We hope to find the rod and fish once the water drops.
Due to the horrendous weather on Thursday, we struggled everywhere apart from Kharlovka waterfall, and once things settled down Friday’s fishing was incredible. Guys Pool and Waterfall at Kharlovka produced 20 fish for the day but Home Pool once again was the hot spot with Jeremy Mogford landing a 30lbs sea-liced fish from the fast water.
We’re fishing much nearer the surface now with the heavy sunk lines now redundant. Floating lines can be used almost everywhere now and we are even down to size 6 flies. Once again the fish don’t seem to be terribly fussy but yellow and black proved to be the most effective colours.
We finished with a brilliant total of 134 from only seven rods.
Mid week report Wed 19th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
At the halfway stage of this week summer has arrived. We reached a daytime temperature of 22 degrees this afternoon with a warm southerly wind. In general things have warmed up significantly and are no longer experiencing cold northerly winds. The sun has been burning brightly which has in turn raised the river temperature from 10 to nearly 13 degrees, but thankfully not affected the fishing. Water levels on Eastern Litza and Kharlovka remain higher than this stage of the season last year and there are still large snowbanks spread throughout the tundra which should ensure a certain reservoir of water over the next couple of weeks. Floating lines are almost in operation due to the temperature rise and one or two fish have been hooked on a dry fly in the past two days. By the end of the week we will probably have dispensed of sinking lines if the warmth remains. Cetainly the size of fly has reduced dramatically although the fish are not too fussy about a particular pattern. A new fly called the Tundra and Lightning has been popular though! 59 fish have been caught so far which is brilliant considering the bright sunshine. We are catching more and more in the 10 – 15lb category as the summer run reaches its peak, but there seems to be a much larger run of fish this year. Kharlovka is full of fish and Litza being just a little later, seems to have started its run today. The largest so far has been 25lbs caught in the Rock pool at Kharlovka by Bryan Sohl which was covered in sea lice and seemed to be as wide as it was long. This was his biggest Atlantic salmon which surpassed his previous record set the night before of 23lbs in Homepool!
End of week report Mon 17th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
Our second week of the season has just drawn to a close with an incredible total of 123 fish at an average of 16lbs! This easily eclipsed last years figure in the corresponding week of 101 which at the time was also remarkable. Over the past three seasons the number of large fish entering the rivers is definitely increasing pushing the average weight higher. On Wednesday Rob Chislett broke yet another personal record when he ran 200 yards downstream to land a 27 pounder from Litza Falls. Rob Layton went one pound better the next day also at the Falls, while his fishing partner, Pat Ruane unfortunately lost one of the monsters along with some of his sinking lines around one of the many boulders strewn around the pool. Julian Sterck never loses his ability to attract big fish when he caught a sea-liced 27 pounder from Homepool which was among 7 fish he and Mike Fletcher caught on Thursday. Mikael Frodin starred on Friday when he landed 7 fish to his own rod up to 21lbs caught on his way down from Lower Canyon to Homepool.
Eastern Litza has certainly quietened down after the great day on Sunday, but can only improve from now on, whilst Kharlovka is consistently producing fantastic fishing from the Falls to the sea. The water levels are slowly dropping as normal, but still a perfect height, while the temperature has risen during the week and stands at around 10 degrees. The latter half of the week saw mainly bright sunshine which didn’t seem to affect the fishing, but a bitter upstream wind certainly affected most peoples casting. Air temperature varied at between 4 to 16 degees during the day. We are still fishing with sinking lines and quite large flies although slow sink to intermediate was adequate for a few pools due to the river flow slowing significantly over the past two days. I think it won’t be long before floating lines will be used especially as we are due some hot weather next week.
End of week report Thu 13th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
Kharlovka and Eastern Litza have now sprung into action. Almost overnight large runs of Salmon have been entering both rivers and as a consequence this weeks full compliment of 12 rods have all tasted success. On Sunday Eastern Litza rods had a memorable day. Father and son team, Simon and Rob Chislett spent most of the day fishing at Tentpool and landed 5 fish up to 19lbs. After losing a huge fish estimated at over 35lbs in Spawning pool, Mike Fletcher landed one exactly that weight in lower Tentpool and Julian Sterck followed 10 minutes later catching one of 28lbs from the same spot. Julian hadn’t finished though. On his visit to Kharlovka waterfalls the next day he landed one of 33lbs which was covered in sealice. Niclas Ahlberg took another massive fish out of Homepool which means we have now caught a total of 7 fish over the 30lb mark in under 2 weeks fishing. Mikael Frodin has proved that Litza has fish throughout its entire system by catching 5 from Litza waterfalls on Monday. He had to work hard for it though as an 850 grain shooting head had to be used to prise them off the bottom. As you can see we are still using fairly heavy sunk lines with large flies. The fly pattern doesn’t seem to matter too much at the moment, but Phatagorva and Templedog are the favorites. We have had some fairly decent weather this week so far, with the midday air temperature at about 10 degrees and the water at a perfect 8 degrees. There is an ongoing battle with an upstream wind, but it hasn’t got the ferocity of last week. The water levels on both rivers are settling down due to the lessening snowmelt, but perfect fishing height right down to the sea pools. We have a fantastic total of 68 for the first 3 days with hopefully more of the same to come.
Mid week report Mon 10th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
Michael Jansson catches a 39 pounder! What a fantastic start to the season! More about that and other notable catches later. We were met by a predictably chilly Kharlovka on our arrival on Saturday, but the water looked in great shape due to a large amount of snowmelt at the end of last week. The first three days gave us a mixture of snow flurries, rain and the odd ray of sunshine all accompanied by a bitter upstream breeze. Air temperature has not risen much above 5 degrees and on occasions been close to freezing. The water temperature has stayed fairly constant also at around 5 degrees with the water level remaining at over its highest level last year. Apparently there are still huge banks of snow 60km upstream and a number of fully frozen lakes which should ensure a healthy supply of water for rods arriving over the next few weeks.
The fishing has been concentrated on the lower part of Kharlovka as the run of salmon has just begun. The Island, Julians, Rock Pool and Barrel have yielded most fish so far although today the first fish have been taken in Home pool. This could mean we are fishing the upper part of Kharlovka by early next week. Eastern Litza tends to be slightly later although fresh fish have been sighted today and may add significantly to the catch statistics before the end of the week.
An advanced party fished during the latter part of last week landing three fish between 26 and 30 lbs so there was no need to motivate this weeks rods to brave the cold. Sunday started off well when we landed 4 fish for the day. Monday produced a stunning fish for Michael Jansson. A bar of silver covered in sea lice weighing 39 lbs.There is every possibility that we could hook another of these monsters as similar sized fish have been seen entering the river. David Irvin had an extremely energetic start to the morning on Tuesday as he hooked a fish in the Barrel pool and landed it half an hour later in Julians run. Only a sprint of about 2 km! It was worth it as it weighed 30lbs. So far this week we have had 26 fish around half have been in the high teens and several just under 30lbs. This is just the advanced run with the full spring run due to hit us any day now!
End of week report Thu 6th June 2002
by Niall Balantyne
The first week of the season has just drawn to a close and our final tally reached 36 fish for what has been an extremely testing, but rewarding time for our 5 rods. Michael Jansson again starred when he caught a 30lb fish in Homepool closely followed the next day by David Irvin (25 and 28 lbs) and Eddie Bulley (25lbs) also from Homepool, cementing Kharlovka’s reputation as having one of the best Atlantic Salmon pools in the world. We have also been fishing Eastern Litza regularly and although a 20 pounder was taken from Tentpool on Friday, Kharlovka’s neighbour has yet to wake up. I’m sure next week will produce a different story.
The weather has certainly taken a turn for the better. Air temperature has risen to about 10 degrees accompanied by spells of bright sunshine followed by cloud. Thankfully the bitter upstream wind has gone for now and been replaced by calmer conditions. Water temperature is now hovering at a perfect 7 degrees and the water level on both rivers has dropped roughly 10 – 12 cm, but still at a very fishy height, ensuring that the upper parts of the rivers will now be opening to rods any day now.