Dear Friends and Guests,
Needless to say, it has been quite a year and we hope that all of you and yours have remained healthy, safe, and sane. The ASR has been missing our overseas fishing friends. With the recent news that the Russian Federation has begun re-opening its borders and is resuming international travel with a select number of countries, including the United Kingdom, we wanted to give you an update on how the season has unfolded thus far as well as how the prospects are looking going forward.
Water flowing through the birch on the Kharlovka Home pool
This last winter saw record snow and ice packs that were followed by some of the highest recorded spring river levels since the ASR was established – reaching 1.8m on the Kharlovka river scale. The Kharlovka home pool picnic area was flooded and the rising river blew out half the staircase (and walk bridge) that led down to the river from the lodge. Early spring levels on the Rynda reached the sauna.
High spring flows on the lower Rynda
However, unlike the previous high water season back in 2017, this year the more prolonged thaw in June meant that the unprecedented flows turned out to be short lived with the rivers receding a meter and a half and waters warming to 13C by the end of the month. The warm dry conditions continued into July with water temps rising to 20C for a couple days of high summer before dropping back down to a current temp of 14C. In comparison to last season, the rivers started off in the spring 1.4m (78%) lower yet were flowing 45cm higher with cooler water temps of 8C at this same time last year.
In spite of the annual variation in conditions (with seemingly greater fluctuation from one year to the next) as well as the lighter than normal fishing effort resulting from the international and domestic Russian travel restrictions, there has been some excellent fishing. There have been 49 determined and fortunate Russian fishing guests that made it into camp so far this season. With small groups spread through the first 10 weeks of the season on both the Kharlovka and Rynda camps, our Russian guests managed to land a total of 745 salmon thus far which works out to an average of 15.2 fish per angler. There were seven guests fishing on Kharlovka and Litza rivers during the first week of July who had an exciting week releasing 210 salmon. Even in the lower water of Week 30, on the Rynda four guests landed 81 salmon during an exceptionally bright week with temps in excess of 30 degrees.
Vladimir Jr. with a 28 pounder from the Litza Tent pool
Happily, with international travel into Russia now possible again and with Russian visa centres having reopened in London and Edinburgh, UK nationals are now once again able to obtain tourist visas for visiting Russia. On the back of this recent news, we are pleased to report the arrival of our first foreign fishers of the season consisting of a small team of 2 Scots and 2 Englishmen who arrived to the Kharlovka camp on the 8th August. Having fast tracked visas, arranged flights, and tested recently negative for COVID, clearly nothing was going to stop this veteran team from returning to camp this season. Despite the tricky low water conditions, the lads had a thrilling memorable week with the rivers to themselves landing a total of 96 salmon.
At this point, the situation viz travel possibilities continues to vary country by country. However, with the opening up of the Russian border and the welcome and highly successful return to camp of this first party of Western friends, we are greatly encouraged that we will be able to see more familiar faces back into camp before the season is out. The autumn Three Rivers program remains fully booked through the remainder of this season ending 20 September and includes a good number of guests from other European countries who continue to wait and hope the Russian border opens for them in time for their week.
Although, the Three Rivers program is fully booked (subject to the travel requirements of individual countries) – there are still a limited number of rods available for this autumn (late Sept-middle Oct) on the southern Strelna river. Many of you will already be aware that this system was acquired over the last year by the ASR. Now, after a program of work to bring guests a new camp and the fishing program up to the standards of our other operations, it is coming on stream in time to take guests for its strong autumn run of Osenkas.
The Strelna is listed as the 5th largest river on the Kola with a newly built lodge on the estuary of the White Sea along with prolific fishing including the above mentioned fresh run of autumn Osenka. It should be noted that majority of this run will stack up in the lower estuary pools through the autumn and winter months resulting in another prime time spring season starting early next May. Discussions are already under way to extend the ASR’s conservation program to the south coast of the Kola. We anticipate that the smaller camp of maximum 8 rods will quickly become a sought after option for regular parties but if you would like to explore a new option whilst there are some initial openings this year – press here to learn more about the Strelna fishing program.
The Strelna River flows into the White Sea.
The season on the ASR will conclude this season on the 20th September while the prime autumn season on the southern Strelna river finalises on the last week of October.
As fishermen we are instinctive optimists. Whilst enduring with you the frustrations and disappointments of recent months, ASR staff will continue to look forward to fishing with our foreign fishing friends and guests who were unable to visit the camps this season and have already rolled their bookings over to 2021. We are confident that the significant work with the authorities of the last 12 months to eliminate the unscheduled late changes encountered in the 2019 season will continue to bear fruit. Whilst none of us can yet be certain of when the old “normal” will again be possible, much has been learned this year and it seems likely that by Spring 2021 the world will be much more adept at managing the complications thrown at us this season. We are therefore looking forward with renewed confidence and anticipation to welcoming you back in 2021. In the meantime, we have been taking the opportunity to work hard behind the scenes to create a new ASR website which will be pushing to go live online before the end the season. Crucially, the ASR will be sending out fishing invitations for the 2021 season by the end of September and we look forward to talking with you to fulfil your plans to return to us in the near future.
With best wishes from the ASR team!