Global warming was not invited to the Rynda this week - although conditions on arrival in Murmansk suggested a very different story. Despite the Kola Peninsula having one of the coldest winters in recent times a prolonged spell of Mediterranean weather in April had unquestionably heralded the early arrival of Spring and warm sunshine was definitely the order of the day as the first guests stepped off the ASR Stockholm-Murmansk charter flight. (Murmansk benefits from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream however as one travels eastwards towards the Northern Rivers this effect diminishes). As our initial week of intrepid guests peered anxiously out of the helicopter on the journey to Rynda the scenery that unfolded was that of patchy snow with just the remnants of ice on the bigger lakes.
At 76cm on the gauge the River was high but not unreasonably so for early June and the water temperature steady at 4 C. Within an hour of arrival the 4 teams had deployed to the various sections of the lower river and an hour later Richard had banked the first fresh sea-liced fish of the season, a fantastic 16lb silver salmon to lift aspirations and herald in the start of the run.
As is often the way the weather on the Kola this week had different plans for our fishers than the hoped for warm sunny spring days. The first three days saw a fairly sustained period of cold weather that did not break until Wednesday when we received some much needed warm sun, bright skies and the sort of magical soft evening light that encourages guests to fish into the wee hours. Unfortunately this was not enough to add any significant boost to the water temperature but never the less fish started to show in increasing numbers throughout the system.
Whether rain or shine it did not stop some suitably fanatical determination from our team of 'head bangers' as Simon, the most capped member of the Rynda team, refers to our merry band of Kola Spring Fishers. There were some notable successes and epic battles. The Icelandic team consisting of veteran Kharlovka fisher Hilli led the way with a stunning 28lb sea-liced fish from Sea Pool on Monday followed by the loss of a similar sized fish the following day. Hilli and his fishing partner Oskar armed primarily with a selection of 1 inch 'German Flag' Snaelda Krinkle flies (Yellow/ Orange/Black) showed the rest of us how it was done notching up both fresh and over-wintered Osenka Salmon on most days. Oskar even managed to rewrite the rulebook on salmon behaviour catching an over-wintered 10lb Osenka salmon from Rock Island, that he carefully released, only for him to re-catch it on the very next cast!! This must have been either one very hungry, determined or downright curious fish.
Timo and Michael were unquestionably the two most determined team members of the week. Timo tallied up two creatively caught fish from a previously unknown and unfished spot in Sea Pool. Although the first was a delightfully fresh 20lber the second from his new spot was 16lbs, just missing the benchmark 20lb size to be considered eligible for a ‘pool’ naming. Another even more monstrous fish escaped after a tense battle. The fish was hooked below Rock Island at Per’s place in what was then fast water and proceeded to embark on a searing run which was only just held on the lip of the rapids with the drag having been applied 'full force' before the hook hold finally gave out.
By the end of the week the river had dropped 18cm and most of the lower section of the river below Home pool now fishes very nicely. Fish, which initially were only being seen in Sea pool, were by Friday showing in almost all the areas of the lower river up to and including the Home Pool. The winter-parched appearance of the Tundra has definitely picked up a green tinge and the birch trees are well on the way to full leaf. Reindeer have been spotted above Home Pool and although the bankside Mink have not worked out the regular lunch spots yet they are evident and inquisitive. The final tally for our small team of early season openers was 22 fresh salmon landed and a bountiful supply of very good lodge humour and high spirits, including a suitably impressive guitar and solo sing along by Rick and Chris…..with more than a few anecdotes about Kelts!
Camp Manager -Justin Maxwell Stuart
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