The Kharlovka & Litza Rivers must be considered to be in the absolute premier league of Atlantic Salmon fishing rivers. They are superbly remote, totally unspoilt by any form of human intervention, managed with the efficiency of a German car manufacturer and, most importantly, filled with solid runs of breath-catchingly big Salmon. Quite rightly, a week on these rivers sits at the pinnacle of the fishing calendar for those in search of a truly remarkable fishing experience.
The more formidable of the two rivers, the mighty Kharlovka is the base from which guests deploy to fish both the Eastern Litza and the Kharlovka. During the early and middle season the fishing is confined below the main natural barrier, the Kharlovka Falls, a depository for huge fish until the water level drops allowing the salmon to run the upper reaches of the river. Running down stream via a sequence of seductive pools the river emerges from a canyon before curling its way to the legendary Kharlovka home pool and the extremely comfortable Kharlovka camp. During the early season the home pool is the second great depository of fish and with almost 400m of double bank fishing is capable of fielding almost the entire camp on a post-supper fishing spree! The lower section of the Kharlovka opens out in the final race to the sea. Any angler encountering a Kharlovka leviathan in this area needs to be well prepared. A large Salmon hooked here is likely simply to turn tail and head for the sea, leaving a spooled and breathless angler in its wake.
The first encounter an angler will have with a Litza Salmon is in the aptly named Military Pool, so called as it look onto a disused Russian military base. Strewn with huge boulders, which characterize the length and breadth of the Litza, it is this sort of makeup that may provide an explanation to the size and power of the Litza Salmon. With just 9kms of Salmon water between the impassable Litza Falls and the sea and with no typical gravel-bottomed spawning grounds it is theorized that the big broad tails that are typical of Litza Salmon, hold the genetic recipe to their success, a prerequisite attribute to gouge out a spawning bed amidst the stones. Whatever the reason may be, the average size of Litza Salmon is without question.
The river is as scenic as it is majestic. The Litza cuts a deep ravine sided channel through the tundra, really only opening out briefly in the lower 1/3 of the river before dropping back into a final white-water gorge, Military Pool and the open sea. For many anglers a highlight of the week is the Litza Tent camp where all guests will have the opportunity to spend one or two nights, in comfort, on the river. Deprived of just a few creature comforts afforded by the main Kharlovka camp it compensates by putting anglers a casts distance away from a pool that will hold a 40lb+ salmon at almost any time of the year. (A 47.5 lb Salmon was caught less than 100 yards from the sleeping tents!!)
No Atlantic Salmon fishing season is ever the same and each and every week can and will produce not only its own challenges but also the incredible high’s that drive people to this salmon fishing mecca. The seasonal guide below provides an indication of what you might expect throughout a typical season.
Early - Mid June - The rivers will typically be high, powerful and cold. Fishermen coming at this time need to be suitably prepared to deal with the conditions, but the rewards are substantial. The average size will be close to 20lbs and the fresh run Salmon as powerful as they are silver. This is a time of year when there can be absolutely no compromises in the strength and quality of your fishing gear or equipment.
Mid June- Early July – As the water levels start to drop and the temperature rises the Salmon will fill the entire length of the river systems below the two waterfalls. This is the prime of the season and can produce some absolutely exceptional fishing. The Salmon will be in the rivers in solid numbers, most will be chrome silver in colour and the taking conditions at an optimum. It is the prime of the season and places are highly sought after.
Mid July - Early August – The rivers will now be dropping away to summer levels and with it comes a change of tactics. This is quite possibly the most exciting period of the season as the fish will start to shy away from conventionally fished flies and instead turn their full attention to hitched, skated or bombed flies. Expect to see huge Salmon charging down a hitched size 12 or 14 fly or have a Bomber skated on the surface savagely attacked time and time again. The hooking rates may go down but adrenaline pumping surface action will be at a peak.
Mid August - September – Although the rivers can be low, cooling rains are typically on the forecast. This is the time when the big cock Salmon start to become territorial and aggressive. Once hooked the Salmon are more likely to stay within the confines of the pool, as opposed to hurtling straight back to sea and it is no coincidence that the highest proportion of really big fish are landed during this period. As the season draws to a close the mystical Osenka Salmon make their appearance. Equipped for a full year in the river and weighing 15-25lbs Osenkas are a force to be reckoned with.
Kharlovka Camp has turned from a remote outpost into a small but extremely well functioning hamlet. All guests are accommodated in individual wooden cabins with full en-suite facilities and interconnected with the main lodge by an intricate network of walkways. The food is of the highest standard and the bankside lunches are simply unparalleled. All wines and alcoholic drink are inclusive, laundry miraculously returns pressed and folded within 36hrs and there is a huge array of fishing gear should you need to borrow anything.
To call it anything other than a tent camp would be wrong; however you can expect to stay in considerable comfort with good food, hot showers, large thermally lined tents and most importantly immediate access to some of the best ‘big-fish’ water anywhere. It is not a pre-requisite to overnight at the Litza, although in reality most eagerly take up the opportunity. Its position within five minutes walk of four of the best pools on the river, providing guests with the option to exploit the 24hrs of light, make it an opportunity not to be missed.
The Fishing Guides
The Russian guides are, alongside the quality of the Salmon fishing considered one of the greatest assets within the ASR. Hugely knowledgeable and experienced (most have well over a decade of experience on the rivers), capable of speaking conversational English, and with an uncanny ability to take you to parts of the river that are technically unreachable they will ensure every opportunity is exploited. You will not find a more professional or dedicated team anywhere.
Although much loved, the old Russian MI2 helicopters have been replaced with the sleek Ferrari-like Eurocopter. Modern, fuel efficient, reliable, quiet, fast, twice as manouevarable and operable in much more adverse conditions they are a superb upgrade, not just by way of an advantage to those with creaky joints but it also allows for added flexibility in the schedule and greater options for exploration. On the river, access is by a network of reindeer trails with dinghies strategically positioned at safe crossing points where required.
To help encourage and make the ASR more accessible to the younger generation an ongoing youth programme will be in operation during certain weeks of the season. The prices will be reduced by 10% for the under 30’s and 20% for the under 25’s. Please enquire for details on the specific weeks under offer.
Guests should fly from their home country to Helsinki, arriving the Friday prior to your fishing week. From Helsinki there is a central charter flight that transports almost all the anglers fishing the Kola Peninsula to Murmansk and back. Most anglers choose to overnight at the airport Hilton Helsinki on the way out, a very convenient short walk from the main airport terminal. On the return leg, on arrival in Helsinki at approx 1pm it should be possible to fly directly back to most destinations in Europe without need for an overnight stop.
On arrival into Murmansk, having cleared customs, you will be met by the support team who will ensure your bags are labelled and assigned to your camp. Once all guests have arrived a 5 min bus journey followed by a 1 1/2 hr helicopter journey to the lodge.
Overnight Helsinki (Hilton Airport Hotel)
Early AM charter Helsinki-Murmansk
Helicopter transfer to Kharlovka Camp
6 Full days guided fishing
Rotating daily on 6 separate beats split between Kharlovka & Litza
Helicopter transfer to Murmansk
Charter Flight Murmansk-Helsinki
The season runs from June-Sept
The rate varies throughout the season. Please enquire for rates.
- Full board accommodation in individual en-suite cabins.
- Shared fishing guide.
- All transportation on arrival at Murmansk airport.
- All alcoholic drinks.
- Comprehensive pool of loan fishing equipment available on request.
A charter flight service is available from Helksinki. With the exception of items bought form the well stocked Farlows Camp Shop the only additional cost should be the guide and camp tips set at $600.
13Atlantic Salmon Reserve Fishing Videos
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