Three Rivers – Week 35 -22-29 August
Eastern Litza Waterfall
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The Kharlovka, Litza & Rynda - Statistics for the week:
By the end of the summer months the catch returns for the season were up 10% on the previous season, doubly impressive given that 2014 had been an exceptionally good year. This despite what might have been considered an alarmingly low amount of snowfall over the winter months and the consequent threat of low-water. As it transpired fishing conditions were favourable throughout almost every week of the season with the rivers receiving a steady top up from rainfall.
Over the two-week summer break in advance of the Three Rivers there had been a refreshing rise in levels that had pushed the river height up to a satisfying 5 cm on the Kharlovka gauge. The water temperature was however quite a few C warmer than what would be optimal to bring on the run of Osenka’s. (See footnote). None of the above was going to dent the enthusiasm of the assembled team, of whom 12 of the 16 were either Three Rivers veterans or who had fished on the Atlantic Salmon Reserve at other times during previous seasons.
Three Rivers Water Conditions for Week 35:
The above table provides a ‘conditions’ reference point for this and the past seasons although trying to draw conclusions as to comparative success rates probably needs the help of Stephen Hawkins!!
There are a good number of reasons why people come to fish at the Atlantic Salmon Reserve and to catch fish (hopefully with a chance of a monster along the way) is of course part of the equation. The tally of huge fish this week was a mere two! Catastrophic failure?? Judging by the celebrations that took place pretty much each and every night I can safely rule that out.
All had memorable days for different reasons however three sessions were particularly noteworthy. On Sunday Krister, who received his 10-year Veteran ring had an outstanding session on the upper Litza Beat with a 18 & 5lb salmon from Secret Pool, 20 & 11lb salmon from Flat Stone and a 26lb salmon from Litza Falls. The 26lb salmon took a jerked Yellow & Black Chernobyl Ant tubefly which he had requested and I had tied up specifically for trip. This unconventional fly resulted in an explosive take and an equally aggressive fight despite the pool having been covered by several conventional offerings.
There were plenty of very big fish sightings, a proportion of which resulted in lost big fish stories throughout the week. Earlier that day I watched a colossal fish take Krister’s fly whilst standing on the Flatstone and leap clear of the water before snapping his line. From our collective of four sets of experienced eyes watching I think we all agreed that it was none other than a very highly coveted ASR gold ring fish (a salmon of over 35lbs from the Kharlovka or Litza).
Second mention of the week goes to Gary who had taken a one-year sabbatical after catching a 30lb salmon on his first Three Rivers trip in 2013. The ASR rivers are not the Ponoi or Varzuga. Anglers do not return with numbers of salmon that will make you gasp. Each and every fish is earned but the rewards if you get a ‘big un’ will serve you a lifetime’s worth of memories.
For that Tuesday Gary and his partner Roy had had an uneventful trip down from Litza Tent camp to Snowbank, the final pool before the heli-pickup. Luckily they had arrived at Snowbank with plenty of time to spare. A very large fish showed itself in the tail of the smooth water and Gary cleverly pulled out a large 1 inch copper Red Francis, certainly a bigger fly than was being fished throughout most of the week. As the fly swung over the lie the line went tight and his heart jumped only for a grilse to leap at the end of the line. To say he shook the fish off is no understatement…big fish is after all why bleak days can be accepted with dignity. On his next cast the line tightened again and he leant into a large fish that took an incredible forty minutes to land. You can say what you want about coloured fish but if you get an angry one that wants to play be prepared and I can assure you that Gary is no slouch when it comes to playing fish!
Gary rightly takes credit for the biggest fish of the week however the final and highest accolade goes to Graeme. Fishing the middle Rynda from Power Pool down he had taken just one fish at Power Pool alongside an otherwise quiet day, until again the final pool of the day, Deep Run. Using the ever-reliable Cascade, particularly effective over the autumn part of the season, he landed a 28lb Salmon from a pool that in the current height of water most would question where then name Deep Run came from! The Rynda produces its share of big fish but the benchmark Gold Ring fish on the Rynda is set at 27lbs+. Graeme congratulations for joining a very very exclusive club!
A shift in weather conditions towards the later half of the week may have accounted for the numbers of fish being caught tailing off over the last few days. A small rise of water and cooler river temperatures would have certainly helped bring in a few more fresh fish including the Osenka’s. Fly patterns that worked tended to revolve around the autumnal yellow, orange, reds and blacks. Hitched flies such as the ever-dependable Golden Killer were not as effective and of note catches on Sunray Shadows were almost entirely absent from the record book, a fly that can account for 50% of the fish on certain weeks. By contrast the Green Bomber, normally a summer fly was very effective at getting fish to take or at least show.
It remains as important as ever to adapt to the conditions over the week and from river to river as well as from season to season. Possibly stating the obvious but by way of warning if you arrive with a fixed mind-set on what should or should not work, even when based on past experiences you may find yourself facing a diminished scorecard at the end of the week. The ever-dependable guides will however be quick to pass around the knowledge on what should or should not work.
Bears...did anyone mention the bears. Normally sightings are confined to once or twice a season. This year has however been different…they have been very evident both from the helicopter and whilst on the bank. It goes without saying that caution should be applied and all the guides have both flares and rockets to ward off any that look like they are being overly friendly. That said I had the pleasure of sharing the right bank of Litza Dream Pool with one who was far far more interested in munching berries and other more nutritious things that my bony frame…despite Kolia recommendation to put some ketchup on my head…although that may have been a reference to my cap! Credits to Chris & Ben for the wildlife photography, bears, Ptarmigan and Reindeer!
The Bear & I at Middle Dream -------------------------------------------------- My berry munching fishing companion in close up
There are so many attributes of the ASR camps that make them special and the number of returning rods is testament to all those elements. For my part, regardless of how many times I have fished the Atlantic Salmon Reserve Rivers and an on-going quest for my elusive 30lber, it is the quite exceptional surroundings that never ceases to impress. Rugged mountainous wilderness in all its majesty. This in turn dictates the character of the rivers and the pools with all their boulders, rapids, waterfalls and gorges and are what makes each and every fish caught special, challenging and most importantly memorable. I hope you will enjoy the scenic pictures as much as those of the fish!!
Osenka (winter run) Salmon: As salmon fisherman most of us will acknowledge and understand quite how amazing a fish the Atlantic Salmon is. Without drawing derogatory parallels with Pacific Salmon to achieve what it does; return to the rivers, spawn and then return to sea 6-8 months later is a biological marvel. An Osenka enters the rivers at the very back-end (august/September) and is instantly recognisable as being very fat…carrying maybe 30% more reserves than a typical Atlantic Salmon. They will then spend an incredible 18 months in the river (2 winters under the ice) before returning to the sea. Naturally they hold off entering the rivers in any numbers until optimal water conditions which does typically require a rise of water in the rivers. Be fortunate enough to catch one and they are a prize to behold!!
My best Osenka of 26lbs from a previous season. Water-conditions will dictate when they enter the river but get one on the line and they are 'almost' untameable!
publication date: September 2015 by WhereWiseMenFish.com
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