Kharlovka Fishing Week 22 – 2013
It all began this season with an exciting seven hour flight north in (one of our two) upgraded bright yellow helicopters from St. Petersburg beyond to Russia’s endless forests, across the White Sea and over the Arctic tundra. During our interesting journey we observed moose, beluga whales, several reindeer of course, along with some impressively large flocks geese that (like the Big salmon!) were all making our ways north to enjoy the fruits of the far north. Executing our final approach down the mighty spring river, our veteran pilot Andre and I finally touched down into the Kharlovka camp last Saturday just in time to start our Big salmon season ahead.
With above average snow and ice packs recorded this season on the northern Kola Peninsula, we were surprised to see how quickly spring had caught up until we were less than 100km from the north coast of the Barents Sea. Although the northern winter seemed to go on forever this year – spring has apparently come hard and fast again to the Kola this season.
The local guides reported that the temperatures have been well above average on the north coast since early April with daytime temps ranging from 10 to 20+ degrees – and not ever falling below 0 during the short white nights. Although there are still good amounts of snow and ice remaining 20km upstream (the upper Kharlovka was still frozen on our flight in) – there is less than normal levels of snow remaining near camp and along the coast due to the increased influence of gulf stream.
This season the Kharlovka ice broke up and the river began to slowly rise on the 13th of May. Last Saturday the 25th of May – the Kharlovka water temp was already 4.5 degrees C with a high water level of 93cm on the home pool scale. To give you some idea, last year we started the season on 1st of June with virtually no snow and ice remaining with a river temp of 8.5 C and a very low water river level of 33cm on the home pool scale. This was the primary reason why we decided to gamble with the spring conditions this season and open the Kharlovka camp one week earlier than normal.
Thankfully, as our first seven guests will surely attest, we all made the right decision as the conditions were perfect all week resulting in a current Friday river temp of 9.2 C and river levels that have slowly dropped down to 65cm on the home pool scale. Providing we don’t have another extended heat wave in June, water levels should remain healthy well into the season.
Although we started off our first week of the season with some very optimistic temperatures, the large swollen rivers provided many meters of large silver kelts for the first couple of days. However, by Tuesday the rivers had dropped down to a more manageable level of 75cm on the home pool scale helping us to locate a few nice bright silver autumn run osenkas of 14 pounds putting big smiles on Ahti and Jarki’s sunburn faces.
On the cloudy Wednesday morning around 11 o’clock the radio started to crackle with news downstream from Sasha about Nick’s first bright fresh 25 pound springer of the season landed on the right bank of Julian’s pool. Later that evening Valentine, holding his big fish net like an air guitar, moonwalked by playing a tune about our Spanish friend Luis who manage to stop a 30 pound Litza train (in the Military Pool) from returning back to sea!
Following a bit of celebration the night before, Thursday morning brought out the polarised glasses and creams with bright sunny skies and temperatures of 25 degrees C. Within a few hours the boys had obviously recovered as Ahti found another 14 pounder while his friend Jarki was busy pulling in a brace of 12 and 28 pounders from the Litza. Luck seemed to have nothing to do with Irish Paul’s decision to head down to the Island pool to catch the end of the rising tide. An hour or so later they noticed several sea lice that had just dropped off his lovely 18 pound hen as Paul lifted her up gently for the photograph.
Unfortunately, we woke up to sunny skies and 25 degrees C again on Friday. With the water temps warming over the day up into the low teens, the salmon seemed to be running through the lower beats. Errki made a good call flying up river to locate his bright fresh 18 pounder out the Upper Canyon pool. Volodya followed up later that afternoon with a nice 17 pounder from the home pool. However it was Nick who would have the final say, crawling down to the home pool in the wee hours of the morning to sneak out a 104cm – 29.5 pound memory for the road on his floating line and skated Sunray Shadow – hasta la vista!
Considering this was only the last week of May and all the beautiful weather we enjoyed – our seven friends from Finland, England, Ireland, and Spain were very pleased to land 12 good sized salmon on the week. In addition, they are also all wishing they could stick around for another week to see what will probably happen next! That is with the exception of Paul, who wisely booked his back to back holiday on the mighty Kharlovka a long time ago.
Were are pleased to report that all our same veteran guides and staff will be back again for what is sure to be another exciting season on the Northern Rivers.
Stay tuned for some big results next week!