Kharlovka Web Report for the week ending Friday, June 10th 2010
by Justin McCarthy
Where the tundra meets the sea above the Arctic Circle, you simply cannot do anything about the pace of the season - especially attempt to predict it. Stubborn winter-like conditions seemed reluctant to give up their grip last week along the far northern coast of the Kola Peninsula. Considering we finished up our opening week of the season with a very promising water temperature of 6.9C, you can just imagine our frustration at the half way mark of the second when we pulled the thermometer out of the Kharlovka Home pool with a meager reading of only 4.2C. While cold drizzly rains along with intermittent flurries of snow are not all that uncommon up here - any time of the year, it was the non-stop freezing winds from the north that took the greatest toll. Besides wrecking havoc with our Spey casting, the storm-like conditions led to big waves at sea, producing large amounts of suspended silt along the coast, which no doubt had an affect on the momentum of our long awaited spring salmon run.
However, singing and joking into the wee hours of the morning without a care in the world, not one of them would have preferred to be anywhere else. Thankfully come Wednesday morning, the conditions tilted back towards our favour as the guests enjoyed a most welcomed bright calm day with temperatures in the mid teens. Before we could get the boys deployed that morning we were already receiving news from our security guards stationed in the estuaries that good numbers of salmon were spotted coming through on the early morning tide. Throughout the day, pods of fresh fish were reported running straight through the pools of the lower Kharlovka. Thankfully the team managed to pick a few of them off as they splashed their way by - nearly doubling our overall catch for the week on that one memorable warm-sunny day. Although it blew another gale, rained and spat a few flakes for us again on Thursday, Mother Nature showed pity on their final day leaving them all with envious thoughts of the hundreds of large silver salmon that were obviously now coming in. On the final day, the team put more into the net by lunch then we had caught during the first three character-building days combined.
Last week's highlights must include my plump 96cm 22-pounder which was the first fresh salmon of the season taken from the reliable Home Pool. David managed to do Scotland proud pulling in a Kharlovka brace of 23 and 22 pounders with his optimistic Baxter's Babe. Besides landing a couple of fine 22.5 and 23 pounders on his Bertie Dastard, Deeside Ken (who is turning the big 50 this week) went 30 minutes with a silver monster on the lower Kharlovka that he estimated to be between 17 and 18 kilos after seeing it on the surface for the third time. Unfortunately, this great one will have to live on as a birthday memory as the large salmon managed to pull the fly loose after an unforgettable 250 meter run.
Big Reid deserves an honourable mention for leading his group through the storm as well as for the five nice salmon he found messing one afternoon down in the Kharlovka sea pools. It just wouldn't be right to leave out James either who celebrated his birthday here this week as well with a couple of satisfying 19 and 22 pounders for the road on the final day. And let's not forget about our good friend Anders and his 25-pounder from the Long pool.
However, it was most certainly Big Fish Jim who took the silver prize. Entertaining us all after dinner one evening, BFJ was drug down the far bank of the Home pool some 200 meters to the island just above the rapids before finally hoisting up his 109cm - 34 pounder like he had just won the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire lodge (including his proud father) who were all admiring the action from the opposite bank
Considering that our last group of guests experienced trickier conditions than the first, it was probably understandable why they went on to celebrate their successes well into every night - eventually totaling up 47 spring salmon on the week.
Despite the long polar days, the tundra has been in a sort of suspended animation for the last two weeks with nearly all of the growth appearing during the precious few mild days. The birch buds, which looked poised to burst open on the opening day of the season, are only slightly more advanced now heading into our third week. The little brown birds are only just returning from their sudden retreat to the more sheltered south. Thankfully the rivers are currently flowing warmer than the Gulf Stream influence of the Barents Sea. Recording a late afternoon river temperature of 7.8C on the final Friday (currently several degrees warmer than the sea) with a perfect Kharlovka River height of 38cm on the Home pool scale - We can all sense that the big silver run is just around the corner.Previous week next week
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