Last Saturday the boys were welcomed back to the Kharlovka camp under mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures.
Then, following a beautiful Father’s day Sunday, dark clouds began to reappear on the horizon and the weather took a drastic turn for the worse. For the next five days the team was seriously challenged by cold air temps ranging from 1 to a maximum of 7 degrees, steady winds from the north along with persistent rain that at times turned into large slushy snowflakes. In fact, it was nearly impossible to cast a line with the pounding rain and winds gusting to more than 50km/hr.
As a result, the river levels were slowly on the rise lifting a couple centimetres a day to a final reading of 70cm on the home pool scale. To make matters even trickier, chilly air temps remained cooler than the water for most of the week as the water temps dropped from an encouraging 10C down to 6C. These are nearly the same fresh spring conditions we started with a month earlier back in May of last year however the air temps were at least 20C higher.
The exciting news was that along with all the fresh weather, good numbers of large salmon were also making their way into the system.
After concentrating our time for the first two weeks of the season down in the softer water on the lower beats of the rivers last week, before the storm hit, our good friend Simon decided to go upstream with me to open the mighty Kharlovka Falls. Using heavy sinking tips and big bright flies it wasn’t long before our lines began to go taut over and over again. By lunch we had landed six, including a couple of 20 pounders before we decided to work our way down through Upper Canyon landing another brace before the weather began to shift and we legged it back to camp. Simon went on to catch several more 20lb plus fish during the week.
Two days later, under near freezing conditions, it was Hamish and Michael’s turn in the bucket up at the Falls, sharing six more nice salmon. Then, after slipping on some extra layers and stocking up with a few more large flies from our tundra shop, they were off to the lower Kharlovka for a couple more good fish before Hamish lost a big one. Towards the end of the week, H and M returned back from the Litza soaking wet with more stories that included photos of Michael’s new P.B. – a 30 pounder!
The tricky conditions didn’t seem to affect Johannes either returning back from his first night on the Litza opening up the middle beats with 20, 25 and 30 pounders. Including a couple more small ones in the middle teens, Johannes capped his week off with a 116cm 36 pound Osenka that must have been nearly 40 pounds when it entered into the Litza last fall.
Joining us here on the Kharlovka for the first time, our good friend Helmut who fished with us earlier this year in Cosmoledo and will be staying on here at the Kharlovka for round II again next week, also deserves speical mention for landing eight salmon that included breaking his personal best with a 23 pounder. Vladimir and his son Vladimir and the rest of our Russian friends also landed their share of the silver last week that included multiple solid fish in the 20 pound class.
The numbers really didn’t tell half of the story last week. Considering the nasty, cold, wet conditions and the World Cup factor that combined to keep several closer to the lodge than the river, the team battled hard to land 98 salmon for the week. Along with three great salmon over 30lb there were also 25 over 20lb.
Although the boys haven’t had it easy lately, we continue to be encouraged by the good numbers of large salmon so far this season and, despite the weatherman’s predictions for more cold blustery conditions, we are looking forward to another week in paradise.
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