Atlantic Salmon Reserve Update: 2
Justin McCarthy reports back from the Kharlovka river on the ASR where conditions changed markedly for the second week – but the salmon kept coming!
Following an opening week with mostly sunny skies and pleasant temps, last week the Arctic winds shifted, drawing in cooler air and foggy conditions from the north. While the skies in Murmansk were clear for our departure, we had to return to the big city on the first evening to wait for the visibility to improve along the remote north coast. All rested up and ready to go our friends arrived safe and sound to the Kharlovka camp the following afternoon.
It takes a lot to feed a monster. After rising to near record levels the Kharlovka and Litza rivers finally started dropping just prior to the arrival of our latest group of guests. Topping out at enormous height of about 1.50M, the rivers then started to recede by approximately 10cm a day through Wednesday when the pace slowed to just 4cm for the last three days of the week. By Friday the rivers were showing a reading of 77cm on the Home Pool scale which is nearly the same height that we started catching the first fresh salmon last year during the final days of May.
Despite the improving conditions with the water temps rising up over the week to an encouraging 9.4C, the majority of the fishing continued to be concentrated on the lower beats of the rivers. In fact the rivers were still so high that the boys did not even consider going above the Kharlovka Home Pool until the final day when the ‘super Fin’ Antti pulled a 22 pounder out of the Upper Canyon followed by a 19 – and a cracking 33 pounder from the Golden Pool. Not surprisingly, Antti will be back again with us for round II later this summer!
It should also be noted that besides our good friends Sugai and Paul who were veterans to the Northern Rivers and the fresh early conditions, the remainder of the group had either moved their normal week forward chasing the early spring conditions of previous years or, in the case of our new Finnish friends, were joining us for the very first time. While everyone landed their share of the silver, it was reported that Sugai didn’t have time to get his massive camera out of the bag before his big 28 pound salmon danced its way back to freedom. Meanwhile Paul was most pleased with his brace of 21 and 25 pounders.
And while there is certainly a steep learning curve when fishing for the big one in extreme conditions, our team of 12 rods battled hard with their sinking lines and large flies, successfully landing several nice salmon each for a total of 50 salmon over the slightly shorter week.
Our two Finnish gentlemen Markku and Staffan were all smiles and red faces every night after the sauna, landing a dozen salmon up to 25 pounds by the middle of the week before they started to explore the heavier waters upstream with tales of large salmon coming half way up through the thick flows at the Kharlovka Falls before disappearing back down into the depths.
As there is more to fishing than fishing, we enjoyed an exciting week bonding together that included Vladimir showing up on the second to last day just in time to invite everyone down to the bank of the Home Pool for a group picnic to be shared amongst good friends with hot salmon soup, tasty hors d’oeuvres and chilled white wine.
Although it rained through the final night and even snowed a bit in the morning lifting the rivers up another 3cm, the salmon are rolling in and we remain spirited and optimist for every day to come.
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