Kharlovka Fishing Reports 2004
Kharlovka Late Summer Review. Saturday, 14-Aug-04
At last – the long Arctic heat wave has finally broken up. While ‘norm’ is a word that really has no relevance at these latitudes, on most years the Russian north coast receives +/- 20 days of high summer. This season however, after an unusually mild winter to start with, the high pressure settled in early and then didn’t go give up until some 6.5 weeks later. For days on end the sun beat down on our consistently warm rivers. This simply forced us all to work a bit harder including early morning assaults, mid afternoon naps followed by many a night flight after dinner. With out question the home pool has come in very handy of late. Despite the many challenges team Kharlovka has faced this summer, overall it has still been an excellent season. While every guest that was lucky enough to fish with us enviably had plenty of unforgettable moments, it is customary for us to highlight a few of the exceptional stories that have stood out from the rest.
It’s 1:00am on your first dream trip to northern Russia, while far from dark, the blazing sun has finally set. Of course you’re still out fishing! Big cast, mend, step – step. Anticipation had been building for months as young Brett, a 30 year old journalist on a mission, along with big Dima approached the promising glide at tail of the home pool. The fly came around again – nothing. They took a few more steps down, and then another long spey cast off his left shoulder. This time his small Willy Gunn stopped as it swung into the shallows. Dima, his new Russian friend for life, was amazed to see Brett next lifting his rod as if to pull his fly free from some submerged rock. Dima shouted ‘Nyet!’ Then the line drew tight and the rock started to swim away. He held on tight as his long awaited trophy slowly slipped out the back of the run and down the rapids below. Without reason the heavy salmon fortunately stopped some 100 meters down. Brett then began to go to work dragging his prize back up into the pool. For 20 minutes no one said a word. Next, with the 19 stone Dima in position like a heron with a long net, the leader cleared the water, a smile appeared on Brett’s face and then suddenly there was a violent boil as the mighty salmon took off again towards the back of the pool. With an audience now forming, Brett unconfidently murmured ‘backing’ as he was again palming the reel for dear life. Twenty more minutes elapsed. Equally tired from the battle, both the fish and Brett were now staggering around in the slack water. The great salmon made one last valiant attempt to decapitate Dima with the leader before finally swimming directly into his waiting net. There were cheers from both banks, cameras began to flash, as Brett glared down nodding with satisfaction at his new silvery personal best weighing in at the impressive 20 pound mark. He declared all the preparation and thousand of casts to be well worth this brief moment of perfection. I should mention that now hooked on Russian for life, Brett sold his scooter to finally make it here.
Youth springs eternal! It gave us great pleasure to welcome the first group of young anglers in our ASR youth program to the Kharlovka camp. Our new friends all displayed great desire submitting outstanding letters of intent in hopes of finding their way onto the legendary Northern Rivers of the Kola Peninsula. Unfortunately the young team was handicapped from the start by the late summer sun and the relentless high pressure. Nevertheless they never gave in, fishing astonishing hours each day. It was the best attempt all year to wear out the unbreakable will of our Russian guides. This was truly a group of fly fishing addicts. It can also be said that the symptoms appear to be universal and like most addictions, if you would have never tried it you would never have become ‘hooked’. They’ll be back.
Special mention also goes out to our long time friends John and Philip who dream all year of coming here to fish with us on the ‘Kharloshka.’ While it may be sometimes difficult to figure out which pool they’re referring to, this team had no trouble once in the water. John has been writing fishing articles for the past 30 years. Luckily for all of us that in addition to his fishing permit, John also depends greatly on his poetic license which was pulled out on a nightly basis entertaining the entire group with his lifetime of water-side stories. John wasn’t all talk however, for after and epic wade with Big Alex – ? of the way across the Litza river to the Red Cliff pool, ol’ John, armed with his patented ‘long headed hitched muddlers’, was pulling in one more fresh 20 pounder to add to his lengthy memoirs. All the while his partner Philip was chipping away at the fringes. In the end, where in addition to hooking a fish every night after dinner in the home pool, Philip alone managed to accumulate more than twice his share of the total catch. Great week for a couple of good friends! Every now and again a couple of naturals fly into camp, proceed to drink all the beer and then somehow manage to catch most of the fish. It we be remembered as ‘bomber week’ here on the Kharlovka, as our new Canadian friends Chris and Brian showed us all how it was done. Their routine was to take a minimum of 6 salmon during the day and then follow it up with about twice that many cold Russian lagers in the evening. During their recent assault on our rivers they took a staggering 35% of the total catch including several fish up to 20 pounds. The amazing thing was that every one of them was tempted on their assortment of deer hair bombers. One evening they had 6 after dinner of the left bank of home pool without even putting on waders. Oh yeh – they also fished all week with single handed rods!
We called it ‘Good Friday’ where after a week dominated by bright sun and high pressure, the clouds finally moved in giving us all a chance on the last day. It fact it turned out to be one of the best days of the summer with the team landing 40 salmon. Highlights included Stephan and Trevor’s 6 fresh mid sized salmon taken on hitched bombers and highlanders out of the back of Guy’s pool. Valentine later commented that suddenly the pool was stuffed with taking fish. Meanwhile Matt and Sebastian were over hammering the Eastern Litza each taking 5 fresh mid sized fish to their rod. Not to be outdone, Big Alex helped Woody find his ‘happy birthday’ 20 pounder on his last dance in the tail of the Kharlovka falls. And last but certainly not least, congratulations to our most senior member with 76 years who flew out on a special mission after dinner on the last night to catch himself a 22 pounder. His guide Volodya told us upon returning after mid night that they had also lost another battle with something much bigger. Tired but not beaten Ted said ‘How can you ever give up when your in a place like this!’
There is something very admirable about a father – son team in search of silver on their first trip of a lifetime to Russia’s extreme northern Kola. While the standards are unquestionably high for all our guests, we take extra special care of family. Just ask Adrian and young Will (17) who liked to conclude each night with ‘This was the best day of my life.’ These two were such a hit that Peter decided to give them an 80km personal tour of the upper Kharlovka drainage. Six stops later including bear tracks and reindeer at Nicu, cloud berries and big trout at the third waterfall, lunch on Peter’s Island, and finally a salmon at the Kharlovka National Park – the young lad was then invited into the co-pilots seat of the small MI-2 helicopter as Sasha escorted us back to camp only meters above the river. After dinner, Peter said, ‘Right, you’ve camped on the Litza, fished the whole Kharlovka – Now you’ve got 15 minutes to pack your bags. You’re coming back with me to finish your week on the Rynda!’ By the end, they could barely speak. All I got in the airport was firm hand shakes and a lot of head nodding in disbelief. The trip was described as a silent statement to his boy – See what you get if you work hard. This is what’s it’s all about.
While it may be admirable for a father to bring his son salmon fishing in Russia, it moves to fanatical when the whole family shows up. Last week team Kharlovka was on their best behaviour as we welcomed Colin, Rosie, Lizzy (19) and Eddie (17) to the line-up. Before the beats were drawn you could sense a fiery family competition was brewing. Big Alex and Kolya were assigned to keep the Peace and guide them through their week. Thankfully in the end it was a tie and all had had a tremendous time. Edward seemed to have a knack for landing 15 pounders – Rosie definitely had the touch with the bombers taking several nice fish including her personal best of 22 pounds – Colin, who was not to be outdone, also had his personal best of 24 on the last day and was high rod for the family including 5 one session off the upper Litza – and finally there was Lizzy, who fished very consistently all week. This young lady who is aspiring to be one the United Kingdom’s only river keepers also gets the award for being by far the most well behaved guest we’ve had all season.
Every once in a while it happens – a factor in the fishing equation that nobody can really explain. Now well known around camp as the ‘Anders Factor’ as twice a season this young Swede shows up to give the Kharlovka fish records a serious boost. While everyone tends to arrive to Russia as if it were another planet – in an elevated state of euphoria, Anders has another speed altogether. Within hours of jumping off the helicopter the first afternoon he was hovering them out of the home pool. He landed 8 fish up to 22 pounds in his first three hours! In typical Anders style, with a decent start under his wading belt, he then decided to sleep in the next day. After missing lunch as well, he set off late afternoon for the lower Kharlovka with a couple of Mars bars. Not surprisingly he returned having landed 6 more salmon including a story of a fresh 7th that was estimated to be in the mid 20′s which broke him off due to a backing back-lash deep into his reel. There is never a dull moment with Anders around, as you can imagine he went on to account for one-third of the total catch. Special mention – condolences go out to his relaxed friend Charlie, who after a second year together, now reveres the young Swede as some sort of fishing god. We asked Charlie if he was ever invited to lead down the pool? He said laughing ‘Hell no!’ and then in the same breath ‘That’s o.k. I just do what Anders tells me – he’s in charge.’
Over the last week the barometer and temperature have dropped right down. Light drizzle and fog now occupy the northern skies. Our rivers are presently flowing at a cool 12.5 degrees and beginning to slowly rise a centimetre or two a day up to the present mark of 8cm on the home pool gauge. Our guests are starting to have increasing success on both small and large flies. We are quickly approaching that time of the year when almost everything in the box becomes attractive to the aggressive fall salmon.
Pleased to announce that autumn has finally begun to descend upon the Kola Peninsula. As we quickly move towards the fall equinox losing 8 minutes of light every 24 hours, the dark nights are creeping up fast and soon the polar days will be a thing of the past. Life in the Arctic Circle has a lot to do with transitions. Change can be very quick here, sometimes almost before your eyes. With fall now clearly in the air, one can’t help but marvel at all the unique sights and sounds of this vast remote wilderness. As one fly’s back to camp under the evening sun, the tundra appears an endless strawberry patch. Due to the cool northern breezes, Birch tree leaves now shake a green highlander yellow. Amazing how the small things here can mean so much!
Kharlovka Mid Season Report – 24-Jul-04
Life above the Arctic Circle is an unpredictable, ever changing saga. A big part of the enjoyment is in the expectations and suspense of never knowing what’s going to happen next. Following a hard unpredictable spring where our rods faced a 50% chance of helicopter grounding fog, over the last several weeks the northern Kola Peninsula has found itself firmly in the grips of High Summer! Living here in the extreme north, one quickly learns that you can never count on the weather. Like the Mistral of France, the Fohn and Sirocco of Africa, or the Santa Ana’s of California – Arctic Russia also occasionally suffers from the hot southern winds. Recent air temps have fluxuated between 15 and 25 degrees affecting the rivers which have lagged closely behind at 16 to 23 degrees C. In addition to the seasonal breezes, clear blue skies, soaring temperatures and frequent, late afternoon, violent thunder storms in the upper drainages – all have added up to made the going especially challenging this summer.
While the numbers this season have been interesting, they don’t however tell the full story. When your dealing with big – multi sea winter salmon, tuff days can be expected – not exactly welcomed, but part of the culture. Many may say that you must have loads of patience to be a salmon fisherman though, up here on these northern rivers, we believe it’s really all about anticipation. The thrill of seeing the big boil, feeling the line pull out of your hands, and experiencing the seriousness of a monster salmon as it makes its first run – all equates to a powerfully addictive drug. This is the real buzz that keeps this camp going! Needless to say, our guests have had to work extra hard this summer still, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, team Kharlovka always come through with the highlights!
I must say, it was a true pleasure to have the legendary Golden Bear and his three sons – Steve, Mike and Gary stalking the banks of our northern rivers as this sporting family left their birdies and eagles behind for a first taste of Russian silver. While this team arrived to camp ranked high as single handed rod casting pro’s, they soon found out that our big league rivers demanded the much more efficient doublehanders. Not surprisingly though, they were quick learners as one by one, all three of Jack’s sons eventually came out under par, each landing 20+ pounders. While Jack skilfully bagged more than his share of the catch last week his big chance managed to snap him before escaping out the back of the Red Cliff pool. Jack has never been much for quitting however, on one of the last days while fishing late after dinner in the home pool with his guide Big Alex, one of his spey casts was blown off course resulting in Jack’s fly becoming lodged into the skin above his glasses. Alex immediately reached over and jerked it out on the first try and then calmly said, “Jack, were done.” While fun was definitely had by all, in the end, it was the Monroe Killer that had caught the Bear!
One of our more prolific teams in recent days was without question Big Phil from Yorkshire who along with Ian, his long time mate from Wales and Kola veteran, together with the hard work of their guide Young Vasilli, accounted for nearly a quarter of the total catch. Upon returning from their Litza adventure having landed 8 good sized salmon including a couple in the mid 20′s, Phil who had just scored his new personal best, sat us down and told us seriously that he wanted to buy the Middle Litza beat! After eventually laughing this proposal off they were back in the lodge the next day with new tales, and photos to go with them, of more serious salmon they had located along the lower Kharlovka including Phil’s big fish of the week which weighed in at the impressive 30 pound mark.
Special mention also goes out to Jamie who on his first day slipped while walking along the rocks on the upper Khalovka unfortunately resulting in a compound fracture to one of his right middle fingers. Within an hour he was touching down at the Rynda camp for a brief visit with Yuri our qualified company doctor. After having his finger stabilized and receiving some comforting local anaesthesia, he was again in the air and on his way to the Murmansk hospital. Once there Jamie was in and out in no time and keen to return when the dreaded fog moved in blanketing the entire northern coast thus grounding all air traffic. After a well deserved rest at the famous Meridian Hotel in downtown Murmansk, they were eventually off again flying east towards our camps. Forty-five minutes later, bad weather was again upon them forcing the helicopter to land for the night at the Rynda camp. The following day after all the rods had been deployed to their regular beats, Kola Light sympathetically said, “Here take my rod and come with me.” With lookouts stationed on the hills, our new friend Jamie was allowed a 30 minute poaching session at the Rynda home pool. While complete use of his right hand would have been nice, his new brace didn’t stop him from quickly hooking up and eventually netting a welcomed midsize salmon which happened to be covered in sea lice. Later that evening there was a window in the weather allowing for Jamie’s return home the Kharlovka camp. In the end, our new friend had gone full circle successfully landing multiple salmon that week in three of our Northern Rivers. Our hats off to Jamie who definitely had that never give up attitude that our challenging rivers so much demand.
Top honours have also been awarded recently to our father-son team of James and Harry. This time however, it was beauty before age as 21 year old Harry took full advantage of his father gracious offer going on a streak of shattering his old personal bests. First it was a 14 pounder, then 16, and then two days later he was landing his first fish of a lifetime weighing in at 25 pounds. Harry wasn’t afraid to try anything, as he took his great fish using a big ugly black – bead headed stone fly wisely sunk deep in the Kharlovka falls pool. Every night we were all lucky enough to get two separate accounts of young Harry’s successes as James, the father, always managed to arrive first back to our pre-dinner party. After an admirable bragging session, he liked to conclude with “Look, here comes the young lad now!”
Then there was the story of Juan from Columbia, who upon arrival the first day limped into his suite and sat me down for a quick brief of his current situation. Juan told me directly that his knee had been recently sprained, his doctors had strongly suggested that he not come and that he would need extra special attention over the next few days. After a lengthy planning session with our young Russian star Andre, we agreed Juan would be personally escorted by boat through of our challenging waters. We are happy to report that our new South American friend left very happy, where besides taking multiple salmon to his rod, also managed to enjoy nearly every inch of both our demanding rivers.
One morning I had the pleasure of spending the whole day up at the Kharlovka Falls with our very goods friends Nico and Sue. After slipping away for a moment to take some video of the salmon leaping the falls, I soon decided to return downstream to see how everyone was getting on. As I approached the small creek some 300 yards above Guy’s pool, I heard what could only be described as a ‘wild ban chi screech’ from downriver. Within minutes I had made it down to the bluff overlooking the pool only to find that Sue had disappeared from her designated spot on the left bank. At the same time Alex was sprinting up the far bank towards the boat. Hoping for the best, we arrived down into the upper canyon simultaneously, proud to find Sue hooked up with a serious fish that had just shot the falls. While it’s nearly impossible to get wet with Big Alex at your side, Sue wasn’t far off as it was all she could do to simply control her rod. The tension grew; no one spoke a word for some 20 minutes while she pulled on her silver prise. Finally, as the fish hit the net, Sue’s arms shot up in victory. With Alex weighing in her impressive last salmon of the trip at 23 pounds, Clever Sue smiled at me holding up her ‘Argentine double fly rig.’ Turns out, she had remembered this ‘dirty little trick’ whilst fishing together for the first time some 8 years ago.
And then there was Dick and Jim, seasoned veterans, who just finished their fifth week with us in the past two years. Both retired PhD’s, they are no strangers to setting the curve, especially when it comes to salmon fishing. While there is never any shortage of stories for these two, one hot afternoon on the Middle Litza definitely stood out from the rest where under the skilful aid of Valentine the trio managed to land 5 mid sized salmon off the challenging beat including a pair of 16 pounders for Dick off the right bank of the ledge pool. Later that evening, after a peaceful river side meal along the banks of the Litza tent camp, Jim sealed the deal by sneaking away for a final bout with one last serious fish that Valentine eventually weighed in at 24 pounds. If there was a fly fishing hall of fame, these two would have been admitted long ago!
When the going gets tuff – the tuff have a party! Last Wednesday Peter came to visit us for ‘crab night here on the Russian Riviera’, where along with many bottles of cold white wine, lemons, mayo, and plenty of butter, two huge buckets of fresh Northern Atlantic Spider Crab suddenly appeared. About an hour later, after properly messing up the outside patio area, it was inside for a second course of fresh, lightly baked salmon steaks and, of course, more chilled white wine! As one of our guests proclaimed, ‘If you can’t beat em – join em!’
Never mind the weather, every once in a while a couple of true pros show up for their chance at the big time. It quickly became known around camp as the ‘Scottish factor’ as brothers David and Michael wrecked serious havoc up and down our rivers. Towards the end of their trip they came back one evening with tales of 6 great salmon off the impressive Litza Falls beat including a brace of 21 pounders. Then that same night after dinner and coffees they again showed us all how it was done by pulling in another 5 nice fish from the Kharlovka home pool. The next morning while waiting for the heavy fog to clear they located 3 more sea liced beauties off the lower river before being airlifted out for an afternoon on the middle Litza resulting in another 4 salmon for this deadly team. Not finished yet, the brothers not surprisingly found 2 final fish out of the home pool on their last night after dinner, one of them still had the marks where the sea lice had just fallen off weighing in at impressive 20 pounds. In their final 48 hours the young Scots had landed 16 fish and combined for a staggering 30% of the total group catch.
I would also like to give special mention to our Irish friends who are making a tradition out of being the wildest group of the season here on the Kharlovka camp. Rain or shine this crew fished hard and was never late for the party. On the last night after taking the $%£* out each other for hours, one of the rowdy bunch suddenly crashed through his chair. As if rehearsed and in perfect unison the whole group instantly sang out – Who ate all the pies – Who ate all the pies! Several of the staff and I will now be singing their Irish rhymes to ourselves for many weeks to come. Despite the staggering amount of alcohol that was consumed, team Ireland not only managed to make every helicopter in the morning but also added their share of the catch. I have a feeling that these guys have a good time no matter where they go!
Besides this season’s crazy weather, the other big topic around the lodge last week was about all the ‘close calls’ and near misses. With reasonable stocks of salmon being reported in nearly all the pools, many of the fish have simply been coming short. In addition to moving high numbers of fish to the surface for looks at the fly, anglers were also reporting many tales of good sized salmon that were briefly hooked only to pull free moments later. Nico told us one evening that for one hour while fishing in the Upper Canyon that he had salmon up on his hitched muddler on nearly every cast. Conditions and close calls don’t tell the whole story last week for as one of our guest put it – ‘these were some of the best – worst days I’ve ever had!
On the technical side of things, the recent heat wave coupled with our rising river has obviously made the fishing a bit more challenging of late. While our anglers have been experimenting with every trick in the book, our guests have had the majority of their success fishing floating lines with small flies and tubes as well as hitched patterns on the surface. It appears that I may have to put that order in for a Willie Gunn and Green Highlander stamp after all as without question they have been the top patterns recorded in the Kharlovka fish book this season. Assorted muddlers, bombers, green and red butts, as well as cascades have also produced their share of the action. And then, as some of our team finds out every week, when all else fails you always have a chance fishing deep and black in the back of the pool.
Another important factor in our summer equation is that for nearly two weeks now the Kharlovka has been rising an average of 3cm a day bringing the mighty river back up the to spring like flows of 48cm on the home pool gauge. As a result, many of the warm stagnate pools and lochs that line the water shed have recently flooded back into the system turning the water a heavy peaty colour. Surprisingly, while the Eastern Litza has experienced similar challenging conditions, it somehow missed most of the afternoon downpours to the south, as our sister river has only risen slightly over the same time period.
On normal years approx 60% of the strongest Kharlovka salmon would have now negotiated the first waterfall however, this season, while there was a brief window a couple of weeks ago that allowed a small percentage of the stock to get over, the recent heavy rains have brought the river way up above the 15cm mark on the home pool gauge to nearly 50cm turning the obstacle once again into hydraulic barrier. For many days large salmon tried in vain to out run the rising river, ignoring our flies and resting for their next opportunity to leap into the upper drainage. As the waters continue to rise, it now appears that the salmon, mostly females, are beginning to take up new positions down stream. With so many salmon being trapped in the lower river we anxiously await the shorter days and cooler temperatures of the not so far off, Arctic autumn.
On the nature front, as the Kola Peninsula moves deeper into summer, the reindeer herds have now arrived to the north coast in great numbers. For weeks now, 1000′s of them have been poised atop the tallest rocky point above the Litza tent camp as to receive the most of our north coastal breezes. One morning, as we approached low in the helicopter, our guests spotted a good sized brown bear which was very sensibly sitting on one of the last remaining snow patches overlooking the massive herd. Receiving twice the sunlight as the rest of the southern world, the tundra is now in full summer foliage. A spectrum of flowers and tall green grass now blanket the lush valleys. Migratory geese, terns, and waders have recently laid claim to the Arctic’s numerous lochs and streams.
As I sign off tonight, the air temps have suddenly dropped down into the low single digits. With a thick wall of fog moving our way it appears that change is yet again in the air and that High Summer might soon be a thing of the past. When you have 50+ pounders swimming around in your rivers you can’t help but be optimistic on every cast.
The Kharlovka Report – Week 26, Saturday, June 26th 2004
Here in the Arctic, without the dark of night, it’s really only the conditions and the different classes of fisherman that break up the weeks, for no two days ever seem to be the same. While settled weather is not what you expect when you come to the Northern Kola peninsula, last week was without question our most challenging thus far this season. Despite the longest days of the year, with the passing of the summer solstice, our rods endured a variety of extreme conditions. It all started last Saturday in Murmansk as our 14 guests representing the 7 countries of England, Norway, Czech Republic, Croatia, Ireland, Canada, and the United States boarded our MI-8 helicopter under partly cloudy skies and temps in the high 20′s. Our international team of rods arrived to the camp only minutes before the conditions started to turn on us.
My father always use to tell me when I was a young lad that ‘a true fisherman fishes in all weather.’ Air temps varied most of the week between 6 and 12 degrees C, only for us to wake up one morning with a home pool temp of 25 degrees C. By midweek our rods were battling winds gusting to 70 km/hr which were followed by heavy rains that drove the rivers up 11cm overnight. Water temps ranged from 9 to 14 degrees. Unfortunately, in addition to keeping most of our guests in the lodge after hours, the unsettled weather also caused us four days of morning fog delays with our Litza flights. Considering the significant challenges last week our team did well to bring in 118 salmon.
To hook up with, eventually out manuver and then finally to photograph and release one of these magnificent creatures can only be described as pure extascy. It is the reason, anglers form around the world, travel 1000′s of miles to this unforgiving remote wilderness only to wade the cold rivers and battle the elements hoping for their moment of glory. Last week that moment was at hand for all our guests however, as usual several truly special sessions stood out from the rest.
Last week Joe and Bob left the bulls and bears of Wall Street behind in search of Russian silver! It didn’t take long before they had found what they were looking for. Early in the week with the aid of young Vasilli, it was Joe that struck first hauling in a 26 pounder out of the Kharlovka Falls. The next day this team set off for a Litza camp over. When they got back two days later both Rob and Joe as well as Vasilli all had that now famous 1000 yard stare. I met them half way down the duck boards and instantly all three started talking to me at once trying to explain their great adventure. I had to tell them to slow down, one at a time, and that cursing wasn’t allowed. It turned out that Bob, with a 50+ km/hr wind at his back, was casting 45 meters of line off the top of the rocks overlooking the Lower Tent pool. The fly had no sooner touched the water when ‘Jaws 1′ smashed it on the surface. Before Bob knew what hit him this monster was already 200+ meters away and Vasilli was yelling “Run!” They never really had a chance for less than a minute later this great fish snapped his 22 pound test more than 350 meters away. They all three estimate this salmon to have been between 40-50 pounds! Next it was Joe’s turn in Upper Tent pool with ‘Jaw 2′ as his silver chance, estimated at 30+ pounds, did the same thing ripping off 50+ meters of backing in seconds before again snapping the line. That day ‘Wall Street Joe’ picked up a good sized, rounded stone from along the river. He said that he was going to bring it back as a paper weight for his corporate desk and that whenever the “$%&£ hits the fan he would look at it and dream about his first taste of Russia.” Next season I expect to see these two back only next time they won’t be laughing when I tell everyone that we recommend 30-50 pound test on these early weeks.
There are always a few in the group who just can’t get enough and never seem to want to go to bed. Known as the Brazil of Europe for their beautiful ladies as well as the copious amounts of beer they consume, our Czech and Croatian friends definitely led the after hours charge last week back at the lodge. Vladimir, a Kharlovka veteran and leader of this energetic group popped up one morning after only 2 hours of rest ready for battle on his favourite river in the world. That afternoon he came back from the lower Litza no worse for wear with stories of the 4 nice salmon he landed including a 26 pounder out of the 100% zone in the back draw of the Litza snowbank pool. Two days later he did the same thing again only this time he was pulling in a serious one meter long salmon from the Rock pool weighing in at an impressive 30 pounds. I must say, our spirited friends had that never give up attitude.
Are most senior members last week showed us all why experience counts as they paced themselves through our challenging waters having consistently landed several nice salmon nearly everyday. On our one warm morning of the week this team timed it perfect on their session to the Litza Falls. As if he were positioning his pawns in a game of chess, Big Alex carried Robert out and placed him on the large stone on the left bank. Noting the high temps and barometer they wisely chose to fish the surface by hitching their flies. What followed was a day of tremendous sport as Robert, who I should mention was in a coma only a year ago, tempted some 15 fresh salmon to surface with his hitched offering. He later reported that they were jumping over his fly, bumping it with their noses, as well as swirling violently beneath it however, in the end where besides losing several out the back of the rapids, Robert succeed in putting two mid sized salmon into the net. It must be noted that Alex really had his hands full that morning where besides making sure that one of these large salmon didn’t pull Robert straight off the rock, he also had to attend to the action on the far bank including David’s epic battle with his 26 pounder. Great team work!
Special mention also goes out this week to our new Norwegian friends who are going back with a few tales of their own. By late last week after the storms had cleared out and the warm air returned, Bjorn and Oystein decided to make a full day of it up at the Kharlovka Falls and then fish their way back to camp for a late dinner. This turned out to be a wise decision, for the two mountain goats returned back to camp 5 minutes before we were to shut the generator off. They were looking for a drink, a bit of food, and someone to tell their 12 fish stories to. Bjorn very impressively landed the two biggest salmon of the session weighing in at 25 and 29 pounds, which were caught by the way on the first fly he had ever tied the night before. It was his new friend Oystein however that took the prise for the best story of the day. It seems that he had been fishing deep in the tail of Guys pool when something very serious grabbed hold. After several minutes of trying to pull the strong fish up into the pool, it finally decided it had had enough and blasted down the rapids into the Upper canyon. It had shot the falls and ripped off some 200+ meters of backing before the force became too great, breaking his line at the backing. Devastated and now short one new fly line, he continued on fishing down the left bank of Guys pool. Thirty minutes later they see a monster salmon jumping about curiously down in the middle of the Upper Canyon. They quickly hurried down for a closer inspection and found the fly line floating in a back eddy. Upon tying the line back on to the spool, Oystein began to reel and incredibly the great salmon was still on. As he began to apply pressure again his 35 pound test instantly snapped. With unfinished business I guess we’ll see our Norwegian friends back again soon.
Not surprisingly camp managers have their moments as well. My came midweek where after a thorough quality control check of the facilities at our Litza tent camp, in other words – hot cup of coffee, a reindeer sandwich and a peaceful siesta, I was awoken by the pilots who informed me that there was a bolshaya reeba (big fish) showing in the tent pool and that I had 10 minutes to catch it before we had to take off. Funny that because while relaxing in the tent, listening to the sound of the rapids close by, I swear I was dreaming of a big fish running up the river. Anyway, without hesitation I lept into the river and blasted out a few impressive left handed single speys for the gathering crowd. On my fifth last cast, using the same florscent yellow and green tube that I’ve had on for the last two weeks, my 35 pound test suddenly went taught deep in the back of the pool. I look back to see four Russians with their lower lips out nodding their heads up and down. Seconds later we were all admiring my 25 pound bar of silver. That night on the flight home we exchanged a Russian pilot’s jacket for the promise of group spey casting lessons in the home pool.
As for the technical side of things; The rivers have been dropping at the rate of approximately 2cm a day until our mid week storms brought the level back up to 47 cm on the home pool gauge. While snow patches still dot the tundra they are clearly melting fast. Water temps have slowly crept up as well to the present mark of 11.5 degrees. As the rivers begin to take their summer shape we are finally seeing the onset of the floating lines. Depending greatly upon the conditions, our guests last week had luck using a variety of techniques ranging from heavy lines and tubes to intermediates and aluminium’s, to hitched flies and bombers on the surface. With warmer conditions forcasted for next week we can’t help but be optimistic for what lies ahead. Even though the rods swear to be trying different patterns, the top flies again last week were Willie Gunns, Green Highlanders, and mid sized Sun Ray Shadows.
Nothing great ever comes easy – Congratulation again to you all!
The Kharlovka Report – Week 25, June 19th 2004
Spring fishing on these Northern Russian Rivers – You simply gotta love it! When the conditions get tough and unpredictable then is the time to prove oneself as a serious angler. It all comes down to confidence and how bad you really want it. Our rivers provide a silver opportunity to try and find something truly awesome but remember nobody said it was going to be easy!
As our Skyways jet hit the tarmac last weekend, our latest team of international rods were greeted by false hopes of early summer like conditions. It turned out though that Mother Nature had tricked us again – she can be very cruel sometimes, especially here in the Arctic. Team Kharlovka arrived to camp under stable sunny skies with warm temps of around 20 degrees C. Sunday morning started out much the same with the warm temps bringing the rivers up above the 10 degree mark. Then that afternoon everything started to change, barometer dropped, winds switched to the north and the temps fell back into the single digits. Unfortunately this would be the trend for the rest of the week as conditions never quite recovered. Despite the challenging spring weather and the fact that the air was almost never warmer than the cooling waters, Team Kharlovka managed to battle their way through again landing a remarkable 116 salmon for the week.
While it is true that there has been plenty of gloomy weather about in recent days, we had more than our share of bright moments as well;
Nearly every week it happens, where no sooner than welcoming you to camp and finishing my manager’s briefing someone runs straight down to home pool and is instantly into a fish. This week was no different where before I was properly introduced to everyone, Philip had landed his new personal best with a 20 pound hen fish he caught on his deadly Pot Bellied Pig pattern. Philip took an instant liking to his guide Vasilli when upon hooking this great fish Vasilli reached over and immediately cranked the drag to full. You might remember this Kharlovka camp rule from last season – Never give them backing!
Monday afternoon Simon, Jeremy, and the two Davids met up for lunch on the small grassy island overlooking Guy’s pool when Peter dropped in for a surprise visit with his long time friends. After many laughs, a hot bowl of soup and a chocolate bar, Peter was rightly invited in for a few last casts. Wisely he decided to go in approx. 10 meters below the big stone towards the tail of the pool. Several single speys later his patented Laerdal Sun Ray Shadow was coming to the bank firmly attached to a fresh 18 pounder which was covered in sea lice. Inspired, our guests carried on for the remainder of the afternoon landing 6 more salmon on the day, four of them averaging 20+ pounds. By Monday evening it seemed that most of team Kharlovka had worked out the kinks and were now in the groove as more than half the team had already landed a 20+ pound salmon.
On the first evening after eventually gathering everyone’s attention, I asked how many were hoping to overnight this week on the Eastern Litza, not surprisingly everyone’s hand instantly shot up. Andrew and Philip drew the first of the long straws. The next morning they were helicoptered off for their Litza experience which proved to be tremendous sport where besides losing multiple large fish that were simply coming short to the fly, the duo were successful in netting 5 nice sea liced salmon averaging 17 pounds. The fact is that every group we sent to the Litza last week came back with at least one 20 pounder from this special river. While it’s fair to say that all the groups thoroughly enjoyed themselves it was our Swedish friends Harald and Olle who took greatest advantage of their tundra experience landing 8 salmon between them including a bright fresh 26 pounder each in the tent pool area.
Not to be outdone, the Kharlovka also gave it up last week. Just ask Robin, who arrived here after many hard years of fishing his local Irish waters back home hoping to beat his previous personal best of a mere 13 pounds. After telling him that we have grilse that big he said that he wasn’t greedy and that a 20 pounder would do nicely. A day or so later he returned from the lower Kharlovka wind burned and stuttering gibberish. Using incomplete sentences he did his best to tell the story of his 32 pound sea liced fish of a lifetime which was taken from the lower beats on Julian’s pool. It seems that the great salmon took off well more than a 100 meters of backing and that he had to keep looking down to see if he was going to run out of line. He proclaimed with a hard Irish accent that, “I had the drag on full but I really needed a lot moore!” One hour later this team struck again in Julian’s pool when Robin’s mate Joe was pulling his own 20 pounder from the run as the pair finished the day shattering their old long standing personal bests.
And then there was David, there is always one in the group. David has to be the veteran of all Kharlovka veterans. Even David himself thought he had seen it all after 12 seasons on these Northern Rivers. That was until this week however, when he managed to find new personal bests on both of our great rivers. His first surprise came midweek on the Litza as his guide Big Alex netted a cracking fresh 28 pounder from the lower tent pool. Then on his last day he did it again in Guy’s pool on the upper Kharlovka with what turned out to be the fish of the week weighting in at a very impressive 34 pounds.
Special mention also goes out this week to Andrew who after 25 years of salmon fishing also broke his personal best twice in one day. Andrew’s record breaking session came mid week while fishing deep at the tail of Kharlovka falls where under less than ideal conditions he managed to dig out two great fish of 20 and 26 pounds. I should also mention that he had one more 24 pounder for the road on the last evening.
Congratulations again to you all!
On the technical side of things, water levels are currently dropping about 2 cm a day with a present measurement of 43cm on the home pool gauge. The rivers are reading in at 9 degrees C. While it won’t be long now before were fishing the surface, our last guests had success using heavy sink tips on the upper beats and lighter sink tips and intermediates further down. The top flies for the group were without question 2-3 inch Willie Gunns and Green Highlanders
In addition to all the big fish tales last week the other big buzz around the Kharlovka dinning room was focused our new long awaited “Green Baize Door”. This is certainly no ordinary door. Where from the Duke’s estate, to the finest refurbishing shop in Oxfordshire, through the amazed and now wealthier customs officials in the Murmansk airport, with its 405 shiny brass buttons and authentic submarine porthole window, along with the fact that Big Vasili had to mount 50 – three inch screws to the now almost permanent swivel mechanism. This appears to be just the statement our redesigned dinning room was missing.
The Kharlovka Report – Week 24, June 12th 2004
To be a successful spring fisherman requires a certain mentality coupled with a high degree of optimism. One must enjoy wading the cold waters as well as methodically casting the long lines across the pool, all the while never losing hope that it might just be the next cast that finds – ‘that fish of a lifetime.’ Joining us this week for their opportunity on these great Northern Rivers were 11 dedicated fishermen representing the countries of Sweden, Scotland, England and Russia.
As we all know, Mother Nature can be full of surprises and this week was certainly no exception. Air temperatures hovered for the first part of the week just above the freezing mark only to eventually shoot up into the teen’s and even 20′s by week’s end. Due to all the melting snow, water temps. have been slow to follow suit as they gradually crept up from 3 degrees to the present mark of 6. After the heavy wet snowstorm to begin with, water levels abruptly rose 13cm to a measurement of 61cm on the home pool gauge where it has remained constant ever since.
And I thought the last group had some challenging conditions. The first few days of this week made the last look like a Russian summer holiday where, due to a massive snowstorm and very strong winds, the air space across the northern Kola was temporarily shut down both Sunday and Monday. Nevertheless by Tuesday the conditions had dramatically improved and not surprisingly, so too had the fishing. While nearly every evening last week, both fisherman and guides, were returning from the lower rivers with daily reports of small shoals of salmon coming in on the falling tide. The fact is that the run is just beginning to come in. We believe the majority of the fish last week were slowly moving in and out of the estuary while obviously some had been moving straight through only to disappear beneath the heavy flows upstream. Despite the slow-cold start, the team has done very well again, as everyone in the party managed to take multiple fish this week. The total catch for Team Kharlovka was a respectable 59 salmon.
While there were far too many highlights this week to mention them all, several truly specials moments stood out from the rest;
Early spring fishing on the Northern Rivers is normally concentrated to the lower beats. This, however, was not the case last week where no sooner than arriving from Murmansk, Mike a Swedish fishing legend said “Please take me to the Falls pool!” He set off with a serious look in his eye, 700 grains of lead, and a box full of Norweigian Bathagorvas tubes. Two and a half hours later he returned smiling with long tailed sea lice stuck all over his hat proving, along with his fresh 18 pounder, that some of the fish were now running straight through. Three days later after the snowstorm cleared out he did the same thing on the Litza Falls pool with another sea liced 18 pounder! This guy found the fish no matter where he went. I should mention that Mike landed 20 percent of the total catch last week. If there was such a thing as the fly fishing Olympics I have a feeling that the Swedes would be very difficult to beat.
Another curious story developed last week involving the long time Kola veterans Alan and Ed. You can never be sure what these two will pull next out of their bag of tricks. Late one afternoon under the watchful eye of big Alex, Alan was fishing his way down the Rock pool when his sunk line came into contact with something. Thinking he had just picked up some weed or a small stick, he brought the line in for a closer inspection. He was amazed to find his fly connected to a well dressed 2 inch Jock Scott tube. Alan considered this to be an omen from above and immediately changed over to his new found tube. Several casts later, Alex was netting a 27 pound sea liced beauty that had just run in on the tide.
The next day Alan tried his luck again on the Litza Snowbank pool where within a few casts his new tube was hooked up again with another sea liced salmon of 15 pounds. After releasing the fish he noticed his new lucky Jock Scott was starting to fall apart so he proceeded to super glue the wing back on. Alan soon found out that they call it Super glue for a reason when after his repair job he noticed the wing was now angled at 90 degrees to the tube, stiff as a rock and now also firmly stuck to his rod! After prying it free he decided to give the mangled tube a few last casts. Nobody could believe it when moments later he was pulling another great fish from the river of 22 pounds. That night he brought what was left of his magic tube back to the lodge. Its turns out that Jamie, one of the Scots, had lost the tube fishing the Rock pool earlier in the week. This tube has now been retired and was noted several times in the fishing book as the renamed – Jamie Scot.
While Ranger’s fans might not have had much to cheer about at home this season, Team Scotland managed to put in an impressive showing this week at the Kharlovka camp. We now call him ‘One-cast Jock’ and for good reason! Three times last week, Valentine his Russian guide, skilfully chose exactly the right spot for Jock to lay his line on the water. It all began on the first day in Snowbank pool on the E. Litza where ‘One cast Jock’ threw his Black Temple Dog straight into the mouth of a waiting fresh 30 pound salmon, measuring in at 108 X 57cm.
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of walking down the Kharlovka with my new video camera. After a slow, sunny day I arrived down to the lowest beats to watch Jock and Jamie again work their magic on the last few casts of the day in Julian’s pool. It was near tail of the run that ‘One cast’ struck again! After a solid pull Valentine wisely grabbed Jock’s line, quickly changed his nylon and then exchanged his black fly for the much brighter yellow and green highlander. Valentine then glanced back at me and winked. I immediately started to roll the film. To everyone’s surprise except Jock and Valentine, the already agitated fish instantly attacked the fly. What followed could only be described as pure chaos as the great salmon ripped off some 50+ meters of backing rendering the brake on the reel useless. It was all ‘One cast’ could do to simply hold onto the rod while Valentine took over on the reel. Shouting and screaming, Jock instructed Val, “Reel – o.k. now stop – REEL!” As all of us had our hands full, Jamie came running down the bank to help us with the net. The next thing we knew the angry fish made another dash only this time it went directly threw the legs of the waiting nets man flipping him belly up into the water. Fortunately, Dima our camp scientist had been walking the river that day with me. After first pulling the now soaked Jamie from the water, Dima skilfully grabbed the net and ended this epic battle. Unfortunately, the fish had taken the fly very deep making him an instant candidate for next weeks gravel axe. Nevertheless Team Scotland had done it again and somehow I managed to get every minute of it on film! We should also mention that ‘One cast Jock’ is our most senior member with 75 years of experience under his wading belt.
Special mention also goes out this week to Yuri, our good Russian friend, who has been tying special flies and dreaming all winter about sipping Vodka along the banks of the Litza river tent camp. The fact that the temperatures are still dropping to around zero at night was of no concern to the hardy Russian. We are happy to say that Yuri’s hard work and dedication paid off as he was successful in tempting a 22 pound hen salmon off the lower beats on his own hand tied ‘Green Northerner’.
As you arrive to the Russia Arctic, days are replaced with white nights and time begins to slow down, quickly becoming irrelevant. With most of the snow now melted on the Southern Kola, reindeer with their still white winter coats are beginning to show up on the north coast in larger numbers. Birch trees are now in full bud and it’s obvious that with a few more days of warm weather we will soon begin to see the first leaves. Green grass shoots have shot up almost over night. As the rivers continue to warm, you can almost smell the optimism in the air. As one of our guests put it to me at the end of the week – “It appears that spring has just sprung.”
The Kharlovka Report – Week 23, June 5th 2004
As the first salmon of the 2004 season power their way into the lower reaches of the Kharlovka and Eastern Litza they will be entering for the first time into the new Atlantic Salmon Reserve. This exciting new development brings us one giant step closer to securing the success of this magnificent resource.
To fish for Atlantic salmon is to accept a difficult challenge. To do it in early spring conditions this far north is another story all together. Long rods with heavy lines and large flies, swift chilly rivers and unpredictable weather – So why do anglers get so passionate about the beginning of the run? The answer is big and silver!
There is something very special about being the first anglers of the year to cast a large fly across the bottom pools of these great Northern Kola Rivers. Let’s face it, we all dream of the big fresh salmon taking us in the strong currents. We also know that the biggest ones tend to come in early. It stands to reason then why spring fishing in the Arctic attracts the true fanatics.
Joining us on our opening week were 6 serious Swedes who were paired up with 5 tough British Rods. This cultural mix of talent turned out to be a tremendous learning experience for all as the various fishing techniques were shared on a nightly basis amongst new friends.
Springtime on the Kharlovka means you have a good chance of sampling the weather conditions of all four seasons any hour of the day. One minute it’s sunny and then moment’s later heavy snow and blustery northern winds are funnelling up the rivers. Due to a mild winter which yielded approximately 25 percent less snow pack, we began the first week of the season 11cm lower than the first week last year with a mark of 76cm on the home pool gauge. We started out fishing the fast cold rivers with heavy sinking tip lines and very large flies. The patterns of choice were 4-6 inch Sun Ray variants. For the first several days the rods fished through cold conditions with temperatures ranging between -2 to 7 degrees C. By the end of the week the Kharlovka had dropped 25cms. and air temperatures had warmed up to about the 10 degree mark. The Kharlovka started out at 2.5 degrees C and finished the week at 4.5 deg. C. By Friday many of us were on intermediates with short sink tips along with much smaller flies of 1 to 3 inches.
Not surprisingly Martin who is a company commander in the Swedish infantry and no stranger to these Northern Rivers showed us all on the first day that the big silver ones had arrived. Forced to tell the story countless times that night in the lodge, he stated that his sea liced 25 pounder took his favourite florescent green and yellow tube exactly where he expected it to, in the heart of the Island pool on the outgoing tide. “Precisely as I had predicted.”
You see it almost every week here, that now famous 1000 yard stare. This time it was Richard’s turn as he returned to camp one day noticeably dazed and confused. Although he had defiantly replayed the battle in his mind numerous times, when he arrived back to the lodge that evening all he managed to studder to us was that his drag was on full and that he saw it on the surface 150+ meters away as it broke his 30 pound test nylon. “What did I do wrong?” he cried. The next morning at breakfast he was still shaking his head in disbelief.
And then there was Anders. Besides being the camp comedian and sleeping in until the helicopter starts in the morning, this young Swede can fish! You might recall him from last year’s reports, as he comes to fish the Northern Rivers for three weeks every season. In typical Anders style, on one of the worst weather days I’ve seen on the Kola, he wisely decided to have a lie-in until nearly 4:00pm. Anders eventually woke up rested, hungry as well as inspired so after a quick bowl of Russian soup we helicoptered him down for a few last casts on the right bank of the Julian’s Pool. Within moments, casting his Swedish shooting system across the river he pulled out two fresh salmon of just under 20 pounds.
Special mention should also be given this week to our camp guru Per who besides seeing to all the final details on the new Kharlovka suites also managed to find time to sneak off close to camp landing his share of the fresh run salmon.
While the Litza is still flowing very heavy as well as several degrees colder than the Kharlovka, our sister river still provided excellent action this week. Along with multiple fresh salmon in the 20 pound class, numerous bright healthy Osenkas (autumn salmon) were taken off the lower beats. On the last morning, Tomas and Martin decided to brake rank heading upriver. Their hard work paid off as 5 more Osenkas were taken from the legendary Flat Stone Pool, the largest weighing in at 24 pounds. Tomas said, “If I would have lost this great fish I would have sworn it to be at least 35 pounds!” It is very difficult to the untrained eye to tell the difference between these Osenkas and the fresh run fish. Several have had to be identified by Dima, our Russian camp scientist using scale samples.
Despite the challenging spring conditions, we had a very good opening week with a total catch of 42 fresh salmon. In addition we are delighted by the ever increasing number of kelts caught each season. This proves that the ASR River Protection Program is extremely beneficial to the numbers and health of our salmon stocks. While it is clear that small shoals of fish have begun to enter the system, we are patiently awaiting warmer temperatures which should drive in the numbers. With the weather improving we are optimistic for next week.
On Wednesday, the remote nature of this pristine northern coastline was uncovered as a couple of truly rare wildlife sightings were reported. The first occurred on the lower Kharlovka where just after lunch along the rocky cliff above Julian’s pool, Simon and David noticed two ravens attacking a sea eagle. Determined, the ravens eventually succeeded in driving the larger eagle to the rocks below when out of nowhere appeared a waiting wolverine which quickly devoured his gift from above. That same afternoon while flying back under the low clouds from the Litza a large grey wolf was spotted sizing up a startled group of reindeer.
Due to warm spells in early May the birch trees are already in bud. Still almost completely white, Ptarmigan and large arctic hares are easily spotted as they dash between the remaining snow banks. As the rivers slowly drop and the tundra transforms, with the wildlife returning it is clearly apparent that ‘the cycle’ has begun again.
Local Interest – Thursday, 3rd June 2004
Peter visited Murmansk today for an official meeting with Yuriy Yevdokimov, the Governor of the Murmansk & Kola Region. He returned really pleased about the Governor’s keen interest in and knowledge of our operations. It is clear we are considered the leading tourist activity in the area and have the total support of this Administration. The Governor was particularly interested in the Atlantic Salmon Reserve concept and the ASR Youth Program for young Russians to learn not just fly fishing for salmon but the culture the British introduced to Norway.
The Kharlovka Report – 15th May 2004
We are busy in the camps getting things ready for you. Justin McCarthy will be the Fishing Manager at Kharlovka. Many of you will be delighted to hear “Big” Alex Seliverstov has been appointed Head Guide but he will continue to guide every day.
We have been through a rather mild patch with temperatures up to 10C. However the weather has settled down again to a range of 5C to -2C and is forecast to remain so through to Opening Day on 29th May. This is just what we want. There is not a lot of snow about the camp areas but sufficient up stream for great fishing if the salmon run oblige as usual. The main channel opened last week and the river is already fishable. Once again it looks as if we have got it right. There has been a seasonal shift forward by up to two weeks and we hope this pattern will continue. Opening Day in 2005 will be 28th May.
We continue to worry about Gyrodactilus and we ask you to take preventative measures this season. Everyone will be required to disinfect their waders in camp before going to the river. Please read short leaflet “KEEP FISH DISEASE OUT” (pdf file 700k) and take appropriate action before you arrive in camp. Obviously we will seek assurance from those of you coming from “Countries recording the parasite”.
Just Six Weeks To Go – April 2004
We have really enjoyed the 2003 Booking Season chatting to so many old friends and welcoming new guests to the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. We will entertain nearly 400 of you for salmon fishing at Kharlovka & Rynda. and, in addition, another 120 or so trout fishing. We hope you will all be pleased by the improvements to our facilities and the expanded the helicopter service at Kharlovka as discussed in February-2004 below. In addition there will be 120 or so rods fishing for our famed Wild Brown Trout. The float trips are an exciting innovation enabling us to patrol the upper reaches of the river and so protect the salmon through out the river systems.
Last week we had another meeting with our Russian colleagues this time in St Petersburg. What a wonderful city! Sadly there was no time for L’Ermitage just hard work to make sure everything will be OK for the season and fun at being together. Depending on the weather the men will start moving into the camps in the near future so that everything is checked over and running smoothly for 29th May. The The snow bank is about 20% down on the average of the seven winters since the beginning of our operations. Actually this does not tell us that much. Now it is all down to the temperature controlling how the water is released and what the fish want to do about it. Fingers crossed!
The exciting news is the ASR Youth Program. We have been receiving the most interesting and charming letters from young people down to as young as 13 years of age. We are delighted to discover so many youngsters with real interest and concern for the environment. It is an absolute delight to read about “my first salmon” and, of course, this brings back to mind the joy of one’s own. They all see in the program “the chance of a lifetime” and we now feel a great sense of responsibility towards them. This year there will be 30 rods averaging 25 years of age. Generally speaking the eldest will go to Kharlovka and the youngest to Rynda. We must all give them the benefit of our experience and are sure you join us in wishing them great happiness and “Tight Lines”.
Apart from sorting out your visas and travel arrangements our minds our now focused on the 2005 season. If you are interested in visiting for the first time you need to ask us to put your name down early. This is easily done by clicking on APPLY TO FISH IN THE ASR. We welcome enquiries from all countries and all walks of life. For those of you who have not been for some time we would be delighted to hear from you again. There have been many changes since you were last with us not the least of which is the creation of the Atlantic Salmon Reserve and all it stands for. The Atlantic Salmon Federation have just published an interesting article about the ASR in 2004 edition .
“FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE!” – February 2004
Every year, at about this time, the UK and Russian management of the Kharlovka Company meet up for 7/10 days in either country to discuss every detail of the plans for your fishing holiday. This year it was Murmansk. It was a momentous series of occasions for the Atlantic Salmon Reserve.
We were met with a triumphant Russian team. They had just been given the Annual Award for “Best Business in 2003″. It took the form of a presentation by Governor Yuri Evdokimov to our General Director, Victor Koretsky, in a ceremony at the “Mansion” as you see in the photograph above. In addition he was pleased to convey a citation to the writer commending our record of investment, employment, charitable donations and environmental protection.
As a result of the increase in the number of rod this season we have been able to implement plans to improve your holiday experience in the ASR. For example we are now able to deploy no less that four helicopters – a MI-8 & MI-2 in both Kharlovka & Rynda camps. The means we can take 6/8 rods to Litza according to seasonal fish activity. By using an MI-2 exclusively at Kharlovka we substantial reduce the inconvenience of fog. We can now easily zip up the river to follow the salmon after they have taken the First Waterfall. On the Lower Kharlovka in the Spring we will deploy two jet powered boats liaising with the guides by VHF radio and can fish through to the Sea Pool at the Military Camp we now own. And not to forget your creature comforts! We are halfway through the construction of 14 beautiful en suite cabins that will be finished this season. When you arrive you will find expanded and improved facilities in the “club” and dining area. We could go on!
Last seasons rods will recall that we worked with PINRO on a radio tagging project on the Kharlovka & Litza. Using the average of five internationally accepted mathematical models the scientists now believe that there are about twice as many salmon running the Kharlovka & Litza as against what they thought there were when we started in 1998. This news has given us enormous encouragement to continue with our conservation programs. Of course it explains why the catch results have increased year by year. We will monitoring the Kharlovka & Litza next season and also start work on the Rynda & Zolotaya.
A good amount of snow fell whilst we were in Murmansk and we anticipate an average amount by the time fishing starts on 29th May 2004. All of us at the Atlantic Salmon Reserve send you our best wishes great happiness through your fishing next season.
New Year – 2004
The highlight of the post fishing season for us has been the announcement of the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. It has received the most encouraging endorsements and praise from environmentalists all over the world. It has been a long and expensive haul to free our vast territory from the damaging effects of man on the inland lifecycle of the Atlantic Salmon. The benefits are showing up more and more as the seasons go by. With the new trout expeditions described below we are now able to extend our river protection program over all salmon spawning areas. With your help, support and financial contribution we now have a happy and successful fishery and can afford to maintain the highest environmental standards. Plans are afoot to make sure this continues in perpetuity. You might like to read more about this under Atlantic Salmon Reserve
We have been rewarded with a wonderful booking season. In 2004 nearly 400 guests will visit the “Three Rivers” to fish for salmon over seventeen weeks.
With Orri Vigfuson of the NASF we announce a super opportunity for young first time visitors to the Kola. This season at Rynda we have set aside a number of rods for 18 to 25 year old’s at a price calculated by his or her age times $100. Therefore an 18 year old may come at $1800 ex Murmansk. The opportunity is also available for a 15-17 year old coming with an older sponsor. We have promised Orri we will consider making more places available in 2005 and may extend the program to Kharlovka.
We are delighted at the world wide enthusiasm for our Scandinavian type wilderness experience “Trout Expeditions” under Trout Fishing. Next season we will be operating a ten weeks of camp outs or float trips in the upper reaches of each of the “Three Rivers. These are guided fishing holidays for wild brown trout and char through late June & July and include some exciting salmon fishing in the Autumn. It is all small parties of only 4/5 anglers will have the exclusive use of up to 40 kilometres of a given river. Each holiday is planned in detail according to the desires and experience of the party. Out of a total of 30 sorties only 5 are unaccounted for so we will entertain up to 150 guests in this way.
On New Years day the snow depth was 51 cms and the stored water in the snow blanket was 117 mm. This is about 75% of the average of the last eight years. What counts is what happens in January, February and March so keep your eye on Rynda Snowfall . As we write to you now it is merrily snowing and forecasted to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. Trust in God and keep your dry!
We are most grateful for the numerous kind messages and letters of thanks and support. Many of you write about your experiences with us in the most beautiful way. It might be nice to publish some these for the pleasure of the “club” in general. In addition to the weekly Camp Manager’s Report we are thinking of providing a section in the website for Guest Stories subject to their permission. If the spirit moves you to write to us in the future you might like to bear this in mind.
With only four and a half months to go all of us at the Atlantic Salmon Reserve wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful experience on the “Three Rivers”.