Managing expectations for most guests coming to fish Kharlovka and Litza is an almost impossible task. Tales of epic battles fought, both won and lost, permeate every week of the season and it is with those thoughts and aspirations that our mixed team from Norway, Russia, Denmark, Scotland and 'Yorkshire' arrived this week. The exceptionally low-water conditions of the previous week came to an abrupt end with a jump in the water height that had reached a low of -17 cm to a very reasonable +5cm. Despite this the water temperature at the outset of the week was a worryingly warm 17.4C.
This week consisted of both a tundra walking week for the Norwegian party and a limited helicopter week for the rest. As such the two teams deployed to the Litza and the Kharlovka camps for 3 days each. Warm, almost tropical winds, on the first evening suggested a return to the conditions of mid-summer however by the following morning this had changed and four days of decidedly cold and unpleasant wet weather set in with some very strong winds to challenge even the most determined casting. Over the course of the week the river rose to a high of +12 cm and then fell back to +8 cm whilst the water temperature dropped from 17.4 C to 6.0 C. Such seismic changes resulted in a tough initial three days however it did nothing to dampen the spirits (or the thirst) of the assembled parties.
The first mention in dispatches must go to Vladimir, the 12 year old son of Boris, who ended up wearing a Willie Gunn double (hitched) in his eyebrow (no fault of his own)! The doctor was dispatched by MI8 from Kharlovka to Litza tent camp to perform the delicate removal without a flinch from young Vladimir. His suffering was to be rewarded with his first ever 6lb salmon from Flat Stone. Boris understandably delighted went on to show Vladimir what could be done with experience and skill with a further 4 salmon that day including a 20lber. Jan from Denmark armed with his single-handed rod and a hitched single secured a 2nd 20lber from Flat Stone.
Johnny, a veteran of 9 Tundra trout weeks, who had previously declared salmon fishing 'to be boring' had been won over to the 'salmon-side' on a Rynda trip in 2009. He returned determined to win over some more converts with a team of high-spirited Norwegians and it was not long before they were all getting their hands wet with equal gusto. Rune picked up a personal best 20lb fish from Tail of Canyon whilst Christian, who he had invited to join him for the week and who had never salmon fished before caught his first ever, a 10lb fish from Home Pool at 11 pm the following evening. By the mid-week changeover day, despite the tough conditions the satisfied battle hardened smiles told a story beyond what was reflected in the catch returns for the book. (It should be noted for the records that although Johnny may still be a trout fisherman at heart he happily declared by weeks end to be a 'firm believer in the delights of the ASR 'Salmon'.
The limited helicopter teams set about the entire Atlantic Salmon Reserve with significant vigour. Two raiding parties were dispatched to Rynda to see what was happening on Thursday and Friday. Of note Nick found action in beautiful Prunella Pool with 3 fish including a 16 and an 18, lost a good fish below Eagles Nest and raised others on a sunray shadow. Meanwhile Yan continued to work away with his riffling hitch and picked up another two salmon on his walk down from Reindeer Rapids to Rupert.
Whilst this was going on Vladimir and Boris trekked the length of the Little Kharlovka in search of Trout. Although maybe not as cold as on some days Boris did take the opportunity to go for a quick inadvertent swim! They also treated the team to some delicious freshly caught Sea Trout sashimi caught the previous day below Kharlovka Sea Pool….despite receiving a facial sand blasting whipped up from the beach by some punishing Northern winds blowing in from the sea.
As is often the case the fortunes really started to turn as the week drew to a close. Philip who notched up his 9th visit to the ASR lost a good fish in Golden Pool before going on to Home Pool and catching 4 salmon in quick succession, all on a Green Butt whilst his partners Jan and Nick watched on with growing degrees of envy! Almost as quickly as Philips run of luck ceased Nicks started catching a further 4 fish, all to a Green Butt and all on Home Pool left bank. Jan who had now seen 8 fish landed opposite him had to wait an agonising 4 hours before his turn came and secured the final fish of the week at the tail of Home Pool.
Given some tricky conditions and a voracious appetite for Vodka which included more than a couple of war wounds the team tallied a very respectable mixed bag of Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon from the combined beauties of Kharlovka, Little Kharlovka, Rynda and Litza. It would have been hard to find a better team to deal with the conditions and totally in keeping with the adventurous spirit of the tundra adventure weeks. Thank you all for your very entertaining company.
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