Rynda Fishing Reports 2004
The Best At Last: Saturday, 18-Sep-04
It all started to come right in the penultimate week. For the last ten days it has rained on and off and the morning air temperatures fluctuated between 3C & 8C. The river rose steadily by one foot and the water temperature fell below 10C finishing at 5C. Just as predicted the salmon became active and we had fabulous fishing through the length of the river. Nine of us took an average of 15 salmon each with several beautiful silver “Osenka’s” covered in sea lice.
It was the perfect way to end the season. The incomparable Nat arrived in his usual state of enthusiasm accompanied by Nancy & Robert together with a party of his chums Bill, Roland, Mikael and Hakan to join up with Roland and our very own Per. It was a splendid combination of people, a fine mixture of age and experience. The tundra was showing off its finest fall colour with leaves of burnished gold and red all around. We fished as the spirit moved us changing partners, times and beats at will. It was a relaxed approach to fishing with good humour abounding late into the night. Life at Rynda was at its best.
Every “Osenka” is special but some more so than others. One morning one of us woke up with the conviction there was a fine silver fish waiting for a Laerdal Sunray Shadow in Peter’s Run right in the tail on the eighth strip. Sasha obliged with the helicopter and Vassili got him into position on that precarious perch in the middle of the river. Sure enough on the eighth strip the fish took with panache. Blinded by the low sun and buffeted by high winds he just held on and prayed whilst the fish did a mystery tour around the rocks for about 10 minutes but then foolishly it settled back in to the middle of the pool. The chance to get ashore was quickly taken at which point off went the fish down the rapids. On at least ten occasions the fish escaped the net but it was finally landed just above Sea Pool 500 yards and 30 minutes later. It was a bar of silver covered in sea lice and it only weighed 16 lbs but let’s just say it was, for the fisherman, his best of the season despite many bigger fish. It is all about time, place and state of mind isn’t it? Only 51 weeks to go!
Rynda – Thursday, 26-Aug-04
Billy is a gamekeeper wise in the way of the wild. He is the salt of the earth, the personification of the country man. The guests love to be with him because he knows a thing or two about how to catch fish in difficult conditions and, with his natural charm, he likes to help others do the same. Asked about fishing at this time he will say in a broad Devon accent, “Ah, Ah. (Pause). The point about August fishing is that you know the fish are there, and if you they are there you can catch them”.
Billy where are you? The last two weeks have been tough going. The fish are here all right. They are jumping all over the place. There are quite a few fresh grilse and some big fresh Osenka’s.
On the Kharlovka yesterday Osenka’s were seen in Island, Julian’s, Rock, Home and Lower Canyon. But they do not want to take. What is going on? It is really quite strange. Last week on Rynda the St Andrews flag flew proudly as we entered Jamie and Peter A’s week with a serious team of old Rynda types who know that every cast at this time of year is an intellectual exercise. We would normally expect 125- 150 fish to the net both here and at Kharlovka and yet we only landed 71 fish at Rynda and 69 at Kharlovka at last week. This week we may not even do that at Rynda. Those of us who live here through the summer are disappointed but we are deeply impressed by the ability of our guests to have a good time.
After much discussion between guests and guides together with the usual wisdom we have come to rely on from Dima (Scientist) we think the explanation is as follows: The low snow bank that has brought about a generally low water season was followed by a seasonal water temperature high of 23C some two weeks earlier than usual. This created an over abundance of algae that started to die off two weeks ago as the water temperature fell towards 10C. Meanwhile persistent light rain raised the rivers 3/4 inches and the water is slightly turbid with dead algae containing ammonia. In short it is possible the water and the fish are a little sick and all will be well when the rivers have had a chance to clean themselves. We shall see! One of the guests remarked in good humour that this was the best excuse he had ever heard. In the ensuing banter it was pointed out that in salmon fishing proprietors offer possible explanations for “unknown unknowns” as opposed to “known unknowns” or “known knowns” in the words of the illustrious US Minister of Defence. A magnificent sport wrapped in mystery that cannot be taken for granted.
Kate (13) is here with her brother Toby (16) together with her Father Sandy and Mother Caroline. She is the grand daughter of dearly departed Mike S. On her first evening she was taken by helicopter up to Swan Lake and cast a small Red Francis into the glide. There was a gentle tug and then low and behold an enormous “beautifully ugly” hen fish leapt out of the water. Caught between terror and exhilaration she fought that fish for 30 minutes with a constant stream of fatherly advice and excitement. It was duly landed and weighed in at 25 lbs. The fish was found to be tagged so of course we looked up the records to see the circumstances of its original capture. It was caught by Julian F. on 27th June in Eagle’s Nest and weighed 26 lbs. Julian is the Godson of Mike S. Somebody is watching over us!
But that is not all. The young are triumphant. What has happened to age and treachery? Robert is 18 and calmly went out to Red Cliff Pockets on his first night to take his first salmon on a Sunray Shadow at 8 lbs and finished his week with a personal best of 16 lbs in the Canyon. Despite the very difficult conditions Will (20), Toby (16) & Freddie (15) all took some nice fish up to 15 lbs.
Rynda – Tuesday, 17th August 2004
The Rynda records are kept in the beautiful book, designed and made for us by “guru” is Per. It is covered in reindeer hide that is soft to the touch. It signifies our respect for the quarry and records moments of human achievement and joy. Each page has twenty five rows ending in “Comments” and every year our guests will make about two thousand entries. Every page makes fascinating reading, however one page recorded last week will stand out in the history of Rynda as being rather special because of three entries over two days as follows:
- 9th Aug, Sheena, 5 lbs, Sea Lice, Tolstoi Pool, Temple Dog, “First salmon ever!”
- 10th Aug, Nina, 5 lbs, Fresh, Rock Island, Green Butt, “My first salmon!!!”
- 10th Aug, Dale, 12lbs, Fresh, Horseshoe, Willie Gunn, “My first Atlantic Salmon”
And casting back to the week before let us not forget:
- 1st Aug, Toby, 7lbs, Norway Pool, N0.18 Blue Charm, “My first salmon with thanks”
- 2nd Aug, Rhodri, 19lbs, Rupert Pool, Green Highlander, “First salmon on the fly”
All of us can remember our first salmon as being one of the special moments in our lives. It makes one feel good to have had something to do with making this possible for five people in two weeks and all within three days of their arrival. We still talk about Mark who three years ago at this time of year arrived to catch his first salmon of 11 lbs within two hours and then went on to take the Rynda record by landing a 37 lbs salmon in Peter’s Pocket after a re-attached line and a one and a half hour battle. The story is in the archives somewhere below if you want to read it.
Last week we were again charmed by three more ASR Youth: Sheena (23), Xan (26) and Jim (30) and we were pleased to welcome two new Father & Son pairs: Rupert & James and David & Iain. All the staff have fond memories of a certain week about this time last season so they were delighted to welcome back four of the original “gang” – Jonathan, Duncan, Toby & Mark. They were so “good” this time around that they had us all a little worried. We got through the week without anything unusual replacing the British flag and the “cellar” is now heavily over stocked. It all goes to show that it must have been Rupert (with that Wade) who led the party astray last season. However we will never be able to prove this because next week he is bringing his delightful new wife, Victoria, with him and we are anticipating yet another reformed character. By the way Angus has just had a baby girl (meaning Laura – he was just in the way), and Henry is getting married to a South American beauty called Angeles.
We were surprised the fishing was tough going last week the heat wave ended on Saturday with an AM temperature of 21C and dropped to 8/10C for the rest of the week. The AM water temperature fell from 18.9C to 13.3C. Maybe it was just all too sudden and severe. In any event everyone worked hard according to their level of skill and we landed 75 fish. May be we set our sights to high for this time of the year but it was 140 in 2003 and 128 in 2002. As always the spirit of Rynda prevailed and it was another wonderful week.
The tundra is producing magnificent swathes of red and the duck boards have their tell tale signs of blue bird droppings from the berries. There are the first signs of yellow in the birch trees and the darkness is descending so that it is already difficult to tie on a fly after midnight. We have had a little rain but not enough to shift the river that is at all time low. The Russians are worried about the mushroom crop that has already been burnt by heat and simply must have rain before the first frost that could happen any night. But it always rains now – At least it always has! It all goes to remind one how nature is in charge here.
Rynda – Sunday, 8th August 2004
A wonderful party of nine young men came here last week. Their average age was 25. The two youngest Toby (22) and Will (17) arrived “virgins” as Daunty so elegantly put it and the remainder had some experience of landing salmon relative to their age and opportunity. By Sunday Toby with 7 lbs on a No.18 Blue Charm in Norway Pool and Will with 11.5 lbs at Tent Pool on a Willie Gunn were no longer virgins after Daunty’s extravagant tuition on the art of Spey casting and the finer things in life. Meanwhile the rest of the group, plunged (some literally) into their fishing with delightful enthusiasm and a huge determination to make this “chance in a lifetime” one of the best weeks of their lives. By Wednesday one young man was heard to say, “Well – I have beaten my personal best four times today” to which another replied “I’ve caught more fish today than in the last twelve years.”
They came from all walks of life. Will returns to Radley School with a few tales to tell and Toby, having graduated as a Surveyor, to begin his career. David is an Engineer, Michael a Gillie, Lawrence & Robert B. both IT Managers, Rhodri an Environmental Officer and Robert M. a Fisheries Inspection Officer. They brought together a splendid array of personality and charm bonding together in the true spirit of the sport of fly fishing. Here is the official “Rogues Gallery”, you can see the principle “rogue” in the back row third from the left. The Rynda staff simply adored their appreciative and polite behaviour but Camp Rule No.2 was under threat from every direction. Fortunately Camp Rule No.1 was taken more seriously. Once again we mixed them with a few traditional Rynda types. Will’s Father, Adrian along with three new friends from Germany – Eger, Juergen and his son Sven and once again the generations blended into the perfect house party atmosphere.
At dinner on the last night the group thought they had landed 95 fish and they became desperate for their century. Actually they had forgotten two fish at Zolotaya but nothing was said as we sent them off into the night. The conditions were almost impossible with the water at 19.8C and the sun shining brightly low over the North Pole. In due course they trickled in exhausted and ready for bed. At breakfast the next morning only three fish were reported. Nine anxious faces appeared ready to dash down to the Tail of Home Pool. To amused relief we then told them that they had their century and so we managed to bundle them into the helicopter for home but it was a “Near run thing”.
Over the years living amongst weekly changing kindred spirits you find yourself dwelling more and more on the psychology and social aspects of fishing. Some of the weeks can reach incredible heights of happiness and joy like this one and more and more “Life at Rynda” becomes detached from fishing conditions. This week would have been all doom and gloom five years ago. Just as we thought everything would come right for these young people a last (hopefully) desperate Arctic heat wave set in sending the water temperature rising to a ridiculous height as the river started to disappear before our eyes. It is all about attitude and atmosphere between staff and guests in a very special setting. Everyone wanted it to be the best week ever and it was. Young Will said to his Father, “You know I cannot imagine I would get more pleasure from catching more fish than I have this week because I had to work hard for my first few salmon. I will remember each occasion”. Adrian just gazed at his son with glowing pride as we enjoyed his thoughts. One of us wishes his own Father could witness the best thing his Son has ever done here. The ASR Youth Program is a delightful success. Dreams are coming true all around!
Rynda – Monday, 2nd August 2004
Last week, with a delightful party of British friends, we quietly beat our record for this time of year with 142 salmon. About half were fresh and seven were over 20 lbs with the best at 23 lbs. In these figures we have do admit to a little help from Gordon with his skating and muddling techniques developed after a lifetime of poaching low water in the Celtic fringes. Nevertheless the tally for the “guests” alone was 11.6 fish/rod. At last we had conditions more favourable to late summer fishing with a steadily falling river and water temperature averages of 15.3C – AM & 17.2C – PM with only intermittent sunshine. Zolotaya is getting a little low because the rains were far to the south but still managed to yield 21 fish with all the fun and pleasure that goes with camping out at the “Zolotaya Hilton”.
So what is it all about this season? To some extent we have been affected by a poor fish run but nothing like the reports we have been getting from other rivers in Scandinavia and on the Kola. For the first three weeks we were well up and, provided the temperature stays within normal range, we will have a good autumn. Never mind low water at Rynda! It has only been the normally reliable weeks starting 26th June to 24th July where the catch has been disappointing because they were hit by an unusual combination of adverse factors. Nevertheless an average of over 11 fish per rod was maintained.
It is interesting to relate all this to the Atlantic Salmon Reserve (ASR) river protection program. The increase in fish caught in the spring was largely due to the increase in the number of “Osenka’s”. This is a direct result of the anti-poaching program in August & September of each year and, of course, means that in the long term we will have much better end of season fresh fish runs. Also consider the remarkable increase in “kelts” landed. This reached an absurd comparison between the Kharlovka and the Kola rivers during their respective opening weeks this season. In one day at Kharlovka 12 rods took 139 “kelts” as against the Kola with 20 rods taking only 3 in one week. It suggests that over 90% of the Kola fish are poached off the spawning beds.
As to the main runs of fish you have to consider our smolts leave the river after 4 to 7 years with an average of 5 years. Since serious commercial poaching was eliminated in 2000 it means the first effects should be more one sea winter fish (grilse) starting to return in 2005 followed by greater numbers in each year thereafter reaching a peak in 2007. Meanwhile the 2SW & 3SW should follow respectively one and three years later. The next five years will be very exciting particularly from 2007 on when we hope there will be a greater proportion of SW salmon in increasing numbers and size. We will be affected like other rivers by what goes on at sea but we stand a better chance of more fish returning due to the unique ASR program. It will not be until 2010 after spending about one million dollars over 10 years that we will know what total inland protection can accomplish. You are all taking part in a great experiment.
Last week we had the first and eldest batch of young people in the ASR Youth Program to Kharlovka. Brett, David, Phil, Michael & Stuart joined five old friends and this made for a splendid mix of generations. The strange conditions this season meant that most of the Kharlovka fish were trapped in the waterfall area with no interest in flies or fisherman so conditions were tough and, frankly, Litza did not come to the rescue as might have been expected. Whilst “Age and treachery will always beat youth and inexperience” we all want to congratulate our first young people for their skill, fortitude and good sportsmanship. You were a delight to entertain and the writer will do his best to confound your worst fear and find a way to have you back. As for the “Magnificent Five”, Philip, John, Gilbert & the two David’s you are welcome any time as it will always be a pleasure to see you again
There have been funny going on behind the lodge this week. It all started when four rather nice sea worn posts were installed and then it became noticeable that certain members of staff were behaving in a rather oriental manner with Russian exchanges ending in Ahh So. As the week wore on it became clear through the telescope at the house a major unauthorised construction was taking place but still nothing was reported to “Senior Officers” and it was felt best to keep out of the way. Finally, for all the world to see, here is the “Chinoise Barbeque”. It tells you what you need to know about the feelings of the staff this year.
Rynda – Monday, 26th July 2004
You can start out doing something for fun that becomes informative entertainment for others. If repeated often enough it can attract a following and then it becomes a pleasant responsibility. We have been here before I know, but to abandon you for just about a month needs a comment or two.
But first let me scotch (excuse the pun) the rumour that someone celebrated ten years of abstinence and the anniversary of the landing of our record fish with the biggest ever “binge”. The danger period was passed with suitable aplomb only to succumb to a really very nasty bout of bronchitis that without dear Doc Yuri might have finished up in Murmansk as pneumonia. In any event “Yours Truly has been out of sorts for several weeks and the flow of news has been sadly interrupted because, amidst all this, the “military” decided to remind us that what we think of as our “paradise” is their “restricted area” subject to certain rules and regulations that they and we have rather forgotten these last 15 years or so. This resulted in the complete disruption of communications across our lodges and to our server, and to a certain extent our fishing schedules. Now all appears to be in order with nice new “certified” communications equipment operating at one third of the speed so please, please send all large email attachments to Hugh.
As to the fishing the weather has made it a real roller coaster this season. With a good fish run and much warmer water than usual we had excellent spring fishing. We were up 26% on last season by 26th June. With a low “snow bank” we knew it would be a low water July but this did not worry us because Rynda thrives on such conditions and simply becomes that more interesting provided the water temperature is not excessively high. At the beginning of July the morning water temperature shot up to 16.2C and it continued to rise steadily peaking with an evening temperature of 23.5C at the end of the second week. Imagine the shock to the salmon after struggling to get here in sea temperatures of 3/5C. It has been difficult for those of you who have been able to fish these last four weeks but nevertheless a remarkable average of 11 fish per rod was achieved. As Lawrence said to Don, “Tell me of another river that could produce so many fish in these bright hot conditions?” Through out this period the atmosphere amongst staff and guests, the state of happiness and contentment in every week, has never been better. On cue Graham has it all summed in one of his little ditties:
Your faithful Rynda fan club
watch daily for some clues
of what’s going on in paradise
and waiting for some news.
We’ve heard you had a heat wave
and the fishing has been poor
and, like me, you’ve had bronchitis
which is a frightful bore.
But you don’t need fish or water
for your Rynda camp to thrive
it is just the fun of being there
and the joy of being alive!
So get back on the Internet
and bring us up to date
then perhaps we’ll do a rain dance
to conjure up a spate!
Well now let me tell you something rather weird. This kind and clever message was received on 20th July when, to our surprise and relief, the water level began to rise. It was quite mysterious because there was no rain near the coast. The river has risen by 25 cms (10″) in the last week and thankfully colder weather seems to have set in so we are back to about 15C in the river. We are catching fish in numbers again and all of us here are grateful for your ‘rain dance’. If you keep this up we may well have a good second half.
A special thanks to the many of you who have written letters of enquiry and concern. Here is a little story that you might enjoy:
After one or two successful sorties the early runs on the Zolotaya seemed to have come to a temporary end on Sunday. Put another way there had been two blank days, an unheard of event, and it was agreed to hand the river over to Yours Truly until the salmon where seen to oblige again. As there had been no intervening tide since the lasts guests I decided to go and find the fish at the top. Sasha Pilot, Vassili and Sasha Maintenance Engineer and I landed at Peter’s Pool at 15:00 and I took up station on the starting stone at the head of the pool. On the third cast a large fish came up and, with a flash of silver, took a No.4 Green Highlander down into the depths. Following steady movement down the run we all witnessed that wonderful spectacle of a serious fresh salmon leaping out of the water in a bid for freedom. Just as everything seemed to be under control, the fish raced straight at me producing slack line that the wind then wound around the tip of the rod so that I had to dangle it in desperation before thankfully regaining contact. Then suddenly the fish run straight past my perch in a mad dash for the lake and, despite all the drag I dared apply, it made it to the little pool we fish just as you come down to the water from the helicopter landing spot which was exactly where Sasha Engineer was standing. Can you imagine his surprise when at his feet this splendid fish went into a sequence of three great leaps and lurches before finally ejecting the fly.
After we all settled down from the wonder of it all, as is my custom, I put on a Laerdal Sunray Shadow and started skating over the same place. Again, on the third cast, a solid take and sounding but this time it seemed I had on a slow moving rock. I had nothing to do other than hang on whilst this “rock” quietly cruised the pool moving slowly into the centre of the bay when there was an explosion of water and out came a huge fish that disappeared with a dangerous drunken lurch. Now the Zolotaya record was set two years earlier with a 26 lbs fresh fish caught in the Russian Pool with Mike S. on his last fishing trip. We stayed out the whole night and took 18 salmon between us. Anyway I knew at a glance I was doing battle with potential a new record resulting in a second adrenalin surge within 15 minutes and a state of excitement not known to many. Whilst the cameras rolled I knew heaven on earth as the fish tired himself out charging around the bay under the site of the Peregrine’s eyrie. Of course this was his undoing because the Bogdon had him tired out in fairly short order and he came to Vassili’s net in about 20 minutes. This cock fish measured exactly 103 cms weighed 28 lbs after the net. He must have come in three weeks earlier and had probably seen my fly several times during the period. I would have happily traded a weeks fishing for this experience. It was absolute joy and happiness to be with my Russian friends and share such extraordinary exhilaration and triumph. To put this experience into perspective consider this: The Water Flow of the Kharlovka is measured by the scientists at 32.5 m3/sec., the Rynda 18.5 & the Yokanga 71.1. The Zolotaya is a mere 3.9 m3/sec. Everything is relative including happiness.
Rynda – Monday, 28th June 2004
Last week we had a great time entertaining friends of Bill and Charles from the USA along with John and Tom. For the second season running the party was a great success made especially so this year by Allen’s delightful wife Suzi proving the Rynda maxim that a beautiful sporting lady brings out the best in the men. The atmosphere at the lodge was excellent though out the week with everyone enjoying each other and their fishing.
The week started with a Water Temperature of 8C and finished at 11.2C with the Water Level falling from 2.6m to 1.8m and everything augured well. We caught 117 fish as against 107 last year and the water, being a good bit lower, made the fishing more interesting. Sadly the average size was well down so that there were fewer of those exciting tales important to a great fishing week. The best fish of the week was 23 lbs taken by Bill followed by Jesse, John & Yvon at 22 lbs each. Compare this with the current week where at the end of our second full day the best four have been 36, 28, 28 & 26 lbs. We have never known the moving average weight to go into reverse before at this time of year, it did not happen at Kharlovka and we are sure it is not a reliable pattern but it does goes to show that nothing is certain in salmon fishing. Better luck next time!
Sasha took us down to the old village and we collected an abundance of crabs making for a fine feast last Wednesday. A highlight of the week was the Gaines Trout & Char Expedition with Charles Desmond and Temple. We took them on an irregular route to the Secret Char Lake and then launched them off in a flotilla of Abel inflatable boats. On arrival the lake was alive with rises but unfortunately the fish went off shortly after our arrival but not before Desmond landed a 3.5 lbs Char. We then set off down the Rynda and a good time was had by all catching trout up to 4 lbs in some numbers. The word “heaven” occurred several times in the conversations and I will leave it to Charles to tell you more.
Rynda – Wednesday, 23-Jun-04
By the end of the third week in June the Spring Fishing has more or less come to an end so let’s take stock. Nine rods have landed 83 salmon with an average weight of 14.8 lbs with the best three at 30, 29 & 28 lbs. You might think a fish and a half a day was fair enough for the first two weeks of the season. Certainly the Rynda Spring fisherman thought it was great. Much of the credit goes to “Last Cast” Steve followed closely by High Tech Way. Being from Seatle they know a thing or two about hardy fishing for “a bite a day”. They showed themselves to be highly skilled sportsman.
I had the pleasure of watching “Last Cast” from the bluff over Zolotaya Sea Pool (of Intelligent Mouse Fame) casting into gin clear water in bright sunshine and I can say it was the finest casting performance I have ever seen here. Together we opened Zolotaya with the first four sea liced salmon and enjoyed a special sense of happiness peculiar to kindred spirits in a perfect place.
We were fortunate last week to have Per with us for another week and, as luck would have it, he was in full artistic mode for Nigel on his first visit. After a few days Nigel realised that Per’s little fish drawings are located slightly off true after dinner. Nigel went on to land the most fish for the day last Thursday. Meanwhile Tony fished with his usual skill and set about pioneering the upper reaches “just to be in wonderful places again”. It is an approach beyond fish count that all of us who love Rynda really appreciate. We were pleased to have Roy for his first Spring fishing visit. He managed to get through the whole week without falling in and we all enjoyed having a bash with the staff to celebrate his birthday on Friday evening.
Of course we have been down to Rynda “Old” Village. Taisa and Nikolai are in fine form and rather proud of an ancient photograph they have found taken from the pier on the left bank of the river. You can see the Nikitin House on the left and recognise the school. But look at magnificent church between the two. Apparently there were 600 people in this community before the Soviets came.
I am a little late this week so, without spoiling next weeks report, here are the vital details. The weather has been all over the place culminating in a one day heat wave yesterday, Tuesday, followed by rain all night. So we have seen from 5C to 20C air temperatures in the space of 36 hours. The water is 10.2C this morning, Wednesday, and the river is rising so things look set to improve. We will be fishing the whole river next week. The fishing has been variable but there are plenty of salmon about and they can be seen moving through the system with fish being caught up to Power Pool so far. The prospects for next week are good.
Rynda – Saturday, 12-Jun-04
Opening Week on the Rynda was very special this year. We entertained a few skilled fishermen united in friendship through “Life at Rynda” meeting up to face extremely variable weather conditions in pursuit of a few beautiful big strong silver fresh salmon that may or may not slip into the river system. Sometimes alone or in two’s and three’s and then, if the fishermen are lucky, building into small pods. It is back to my point about “struggle” and “effort”. Good Spring anglers actually relish facing down the elements and the low odds of a fish because their sense of achievement following the hooking of a fish is that much greater. They don’t think in numbers but in great events which, being few in number, can be remembered and replayed all their lives. They accept extreme variation in conditions from one year to another. Of course they all want the big one but it is how and where it was caught in what conditions and whether the fish put up a fight and they seem to get just as excited if the fish wins the contest.
Three days of snow and sleet with frequent strong near horizontal winds of up to 25m/s and often no flying with the water temperature down to 3.3C then, followed by four days of fine weather, up to 7.5C. The team fished with great enthusiasm all through the week and, to sum it up, we had damn good fun and will all meet up again next year.
And here is the news you have been waiting for. It was the best opening week catch we have ever had. The largest three fish weighed 30, 29 & 28lbs. The team as a whole averaged seven fish each and the average weight was just over 16 lbs. The river is in fantastic shape with plenty of kelts and “Osenkas” to prove it.
“Last cast” Steve merrily walked down to the Sea Pool in a blizzard early in the week. He was rewarded with his first fish, a 30 pounder, that took him on a tour of the estuary. Fortunately “High Tech” Way was with him and a picture is recorded here. We were all very pleased for him because he got the prize for endurance along with Martin who, as a Swedish Military Officer trained to take his bath in a hole in the ice, landed a good share of the fish. A day later “Last Cast” was at it again in Sea Pool and landed another great fish this time weighing in at 29 lbs. Meanwhile Per had been ferreting around looking for new spots to do justice to his map making skills. He found one with a 25lbs fresh salmon on the left bank of Ten Islands at the top of the stretch where we park the dinghy after crossing. We have called it Poachers because that his where dearly departed Sergei “Poacher” used to set his nets for the Osenka’s in the Autumn whilst hiding on the main island.
One evening the team decided to party so I popped down to Home Pool at about midnight with my new man, Vasili, telling him not to bother to dress for fishing. Just one step in from the wading start and after four strips of line something touched Per’s beautifully “corrupted” Sunray Shadow. I tried again. Suddenly a fish moved into the shallows to take the fly and I thought it was a kelt. What followed were some of the most exciting moments in a privileged fishing life. Vasili tried to help but, without waders, he soon became crippled by the cold water. Somehow I managed to get down to Lower Home Pool loosing the wading stick on the way. The fish held solid in the fast water and I went through that agony of wondering whether it was a rock or a fish for about 10 minutes. Then something extraordinary happened.
The rock/fish decided to head up river through five foot waves to settle down in Home Pool. The line was pointing at Rock Island but the fish was clearly in Home Pool. By this time the whole camp was cheering from the bank and my mouth was absolutely dry. Meanwhile I did not know that Kola Lite and Vasili were desperately getting into their waders and eventually the “cavalry” arrived as you see in the sequence of pictures care of “High Tech”. He only ways 28 lbs but as I say it is the quality of the event.
The season is now well on the way. We are seeing salmon entering Home Pool and will now start going over Rynda House Falls. Just relax and get here safely and we will all have a wonderful time.
Rynda – Saturday, 5-Jun-04
Happy days are here again! There will just be five out this our opening week. All hardy types led by our very own guru, Per. Martin is back as usual and promptly took a 15 lbs Osenka as per this photograph on arrival and then released a 24 lbs fresh fish at Vadim’s that escaped the camera. Meanwhile Justin took a 15 lb Osenka above the falls. Captain Will, who is over on a one month familiarity course after a stint in the office, has gone off to the Croy with Per tonight for his initiation. Meanwhile Way is back again with his friend Steve, having hauled three special doughnut dinghy’s all the way from Seattle, and they are merrily working the home beat. I suspect dinner will be late tonight.
Yours truly ventured out a couple of times earlier in the week a can report a 16 lbs Osenka with a much better “one that got away”. Kola Lite and I had taken Vassili, my new man, down to Per’s place to put a buoy in on the left hand side above the draw in really fast water. Anyway, that done, out goes the Sunray Shadow and bang. For about 10 minutes this fish held firm in various places just a metre or two above the outlets either side of Lonely Island. “Pump” said Kola. “I am pumping” I replied in frustration. And then we saw it its tail – Clearly 25 lbs plus and silver. That did it. “Damn it, you take the rod” I said and thrust it in his unwilling arms, “Bring in the first big fresh salmon of the season”. After another 10 minutes he got it above the big point rock at the left outlet draw but sadly it continued on behind those other rocks and the line snapped. We toyed with the idea of making it to the left bank and running him down to the 10 Islands but it would have been a little dangerous in the high water at the time. All great fun. There will be another.
It is an extraordinary season. Nikolai Nikitin told me he saw seals on 2nd May when the water temperature went up and a number of large fish entered the river. Then all went quite and the water went down to 1.3C on 20th May with a height of 6.2 on the level. Today it reads 2.8 and the water is 4.7C. Hopefully there will be some exciting action this week.
Do read the Kharlovka report on “Latest News” to learn how a Wolverine can catch an Eagle and the visit of a Wolf. Here different birds arrive daily and yesterday the first reindeer herd of about 50 trooped by to say the house.
I did enjoy my meeting with Governor. He is a man of serious authority and a very successful and enlightened politician into his second term. He gave me an hour after spending most of the day welcoming the new Northern Fleet Commander, Mikhail Abromov. He was thoroughly charming and very well informed. He was very encouraging about our operations and gave me much confidence for the future. As mentioned in the “other place” he seemed quite excited about the Atlantic Salmon Reserve and the ASR Youth Program and gave it all his official blessing. His name for the ASR is “Home for Salmon”. He is going to try and arrange for the Northern Fleet to supply a boat so that we can get rid of the potential oil pollution at Kharlovka estuary.
Rynda – Friday, 28-May-04
After political and weather delays Sasha finally brought me to Rynda on Friday 28-May-04 to great joy and celebration all round. The camp and facilities are in good order and the staff are delighted about the start of a new season. The water is at medium height for this time of the year with the ice already gone. There is more snow than I expected. The water is 2.6 degrees C and the air is about the same. It is forecast to warm up in the next week and I feel confident we will take the first fresh fish within the next 7 days when the water reaches 4C.
I have been over to Kharlovka and everything is ready for the first guests tomorrow. There temperature is 3C and I am hoping the first guests, who arrive tomorrow, will get off to a good start. The Lodge refurbishments are excellent providing more luxury and space. The cabins are the best I have seen anywhere in the world except the VIP cabins at Rynda of course.
You will be pleased to hear that our Governor, Yuriy Yevdokimov, is taking a keen interest in our “sport fishing tourism” and personally telephoned Viktor Koretsky to give the go ahead for the first guests to arrive tomorrow. Today Victor arranged for me to meet with Marina Kovtun, who is responsible for the development of tourism in the Kola, as a prelude to meeting with the Governor later in the season. She was most encouraging about all that we are doing under our Atlantic Salmon Reserve initiative. I am delighted to tell you that upon arrival in camp I was greeted with the news that I am invited to meet with the Governor next Thursday.
I find a little struggle and effort is almost an appropriate perquisite to have the privilege of enjoying this extraordinary place and the wonderful Russian people who look after it and us. It is my sixth year and I hope it will bring you, as I am sure it will for me, even more happiness than in the past – Such is the way of things here. I will go down to dinner with my Russian family in a minute and I know they will expect me to open a crate containing a beautiful model of a silver 42 lbs salmon. And I will have to retell the story of the great event and I will have to try to control my emotions because I will be thinking that it was taken on the 9th anniversary of the end of my greatest struggle in life.
March – 2004
There is a lot going on at the moment. You may have read about the “Best Business Award” for the Kola Region if not take a look at Latest News. In addition the Governor sent me a presentation letter of commendation saying all sorts of nice things about our business, environmental and charitable activities. It is all very important for our future up there. I spent seven days ensconced in the Presidential Suite at the top of the Meridian looking down on “Lowry” figures crossing the square and dodging the tractor dozers in minus 30C whilst the snow whirled around them. Every day Victor, Volodya, Kola Lite & Nina met me there to go over every detail for next season. We had great fun working together in an “imperial” setting.
All the staff we all know and like will return for next season. We are most fortunate to have “Doc Yura” with us. He had me fixed up with a small problem at Murmansk hospital where he is obviously an important figure. He will come with me to Kharlovka on Thursdays in future where there will be a “surgery” for any little problems in the other place. Nina and Kola have found, in the English Language department of the University, a delightful young Russian called Vassili, to be my PA/Guide for next season. We will have an MI-8 and an MI-2 in camp all through the season with Sasha and the usual MI-8 crew. We will fly in a couple of Kharlovka old cabins to house the extra staff. We are “tarting” up the dining room at Kharlovka – I thought some of you might be amused get a preview of their “Green Baize Door” below courtesy of Blenheim. I don’t feel we are “posh” enough for one at Rynda.
I mentioned in an earlier report we were going to do something for youth. Well we have and it is one of the most successful and enjoyable things I have done yet. You really must read about it on ASR Youth Program. It will probably be too late for this year by the time you read this but please think about encouraging boys and girls to think about applying for the 2005 season. Also, if some of you would like to bring a youngster of say between 15 and 21 to double up I would be happy to discuss this but of course it would only work by advance agreement between pairs of rods. I think it is so sad that after about 21 years of age they are rarely available to have a fun holiday with their parents. I believe they should experience from us at an early age what they can later enjoy in their own right if they make a contribution to society. I will stop here and give you some more of Hakan Stendlund’s splendid photographs. Just click to enlarge.
NEW YEAR – 2004
It is a wonderful thing to run a fishery in a far off wild place where 75% of the guests return. “It is a far far better thing that I do than I have ever done”. I hope one day each week will become self perpetuating as indeed already can be said for half the weeks. The camp is full bar a few slots in the Autumn which are being sorted out as I write. As the years go by more and more of us come to Rynda knowing the way of life suits so that disappointments which can damage a week get rarer. This progression has taught me to enjoy other people in a way I never thought possible. Thank you for so many lovely letters over the last few months. The pleasure most of you seem to derive from Rynda is extraordinarily rewarding.
Whilst it is not really interesting to take people who are on the commercial circuit I am sure you will all agree we need to bring in more younger people to keep us on our toes. I ask you to help me in this for the future. Orri has been worried for some time that not enough young people are coming into salmon fishing. Anyway we are liasing with him on a youth program for the Autumn weeks and we must think on together about the so called “prime” weeks that are essential to the finances.
Last year was a difficult season for me what with re-building Kharlovka and other problems. I am really trying to say sorry to those who enjoy the nonsense I write on these pages. To be frank I did not fully appreciate the importance of this until I let some of you down last season. I will try and be a bit more regular next time around.
I have written some general news under News if you want to do some catching up.
Meanwhile take care and have a Happy New Year from me and the English and Russian team. If any of you would like to come to lunch at Eynsham Mill and see our charming set up Hugh has created do give me a call.