If there is one thing that all fishermen have in common, it must be our infatuation for the really big fish. And as the great Northern Rivers have become a Mecca for giant multiple sea winter salmon, last week they traveled in from around the globe to live out their fishy fantasies here on the mighty Kharlovka. Representing the countries of Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Norway, Switzerland, and the Russian Federation they all marched straight down the duck boards and united together around the fireplace in the lodge. For the first several minutes there was a noticeable silence as they sat there with their beers in their hands starring up in awe at the large salmon carvings on the wall. It was obvious why they had come and within moments they were suited up in all the latest gear – ready for battle!
Thankfully there will be no need to go on about the crazy weather again this week as the far north coast seems to have settled into a wonderfully cool autumn pattern. Periods of light rain and drizzle were followed on by moments of sunlight highlighting the spectacular colours of the northern tundra. Frosty mornings quickly melted away as mild southern breezes lifted the afternoon temperatures to above 10 degrees C. Although the river temperatures have been on the chilly side for this time of the year, the near perfect conditions led to some fantastic results.
The question last week was whether to break down all the big fish news by the different countries or by the variety of rivers that they found them in? As usual the twins, Thomas and Anders from Denmark, who were returning to the ASR on their seventh and eighth visit, set a blistering early pace with their measly single-handed rods. It was a glorious Sunday to remember for Anders after going 30 minutes with his 9-foot rod to eventually land his P.B. 32 pounder out of the Secret pool. Upon kissing that one good bye, he flicked his Brown Fly back into the pool and was straight into another 18 pounder. Wading places that most of us would not dare, the twins combined for a cool dozen Litza salmon during their first three days. While both of twins would surely be picked for an Olympic team, it was Anders that ended up doing the most damage. Along with another nine salmon here and there on the Kharlovka and Rynda rivers, he proved to be quite the photographer as well – going onto to land – photograph – and release a big fresh 21 pound Osenka – All by himself!
Young James did Northern Ireland proud through the Tent pool area of the middle Litza starting off with a 12-pound sea liced Osenka. He followed that bright moment up the with another 12, a lovely 16, and finally a pleasing 21 pound P.B. that made it all worthwhile before being hauled off to the Kharlovka and Rynda rivers to try it all over again. Things just continued to get better and better for good old James where on the Thursday he had some serious fun pulling in three more beauties including the fish of a lifetime and new P.B. 33 pounder. O yes, on the final afternoon James had another 26 pounder for the road!
And lets not forget about Arnt, Trond and Ole, a couple of impressive Vikings and some of Norway’s strongest men. While big Arnt (who is the number one ranked arm wrestler in the country (4th in Europe) with the thickest wrists that any of us had ever seen) is still learning about the finer points of flyfishing – it was big Trond (who had previously rowed for Norway) that ended up breaking his P.B with a couple of 23 and 27 pounders. His other big buddy Ole (who was another one that you would have wanted on your side in a bar fight) also went on to win his P.B. battle with another 27 pounder! Skol!!
Meanwhile back on the mighty Kharlovka it was Tony who was breaking records for England with his 20-pound salmon out of the Lower Canyon. Also batting for England, was James the veteran who landed three the first day up to 20 pounds and then another five salmon the next day on the upper Kharlovka that ranged to his new P.B of 30 pounds. Upon returning to camp that evening James wanted to borrow the sat phone to call up his fishing mates and remind them how stupid they were for not joining him! Thankfully he returned from the Litza absolutely speechless after landing a huge 105cm bright fresh Osenka that was estimated to be between 25 and 30 pounds!!
And what about Spain? Following on from Luis’s successes the week before who landed a brace of 20’s along a third dark monster of 28 pounds, our new amigo Juan managed to top this stunt with a “muy grande” 36 pounder which he caught on his big clever stone fly nymph out of the Kharlovka Golden pool.
It has simply been a big fish bonanza around here lately! Now that the smoke has cleared and we’ve totaled up all the damage, the team managed to combine for a very satisfying 106 salmon on the week – in addition there were another 15 great salmon over 20 pounds and four more that were larger than 30 along with 12 personal bests that shattered here again last week. However, while the large salmon continue to add up in the Kharlovka book, it is seriously hard to beat the magic of the late autumn tundra. This is the season of colours, from all those golden-yellows and stunning reds, to our crocodile salmon browns and those bright-silver Osenka blues - throw in some the freshest air on the planet and the spirit of autumn comes alive.
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