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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just returned from a week of fishing on the north coast of the Kola and I thought the board might be interested in a report. It’s truly a premier spey casting destination. The Kharlovka Company has a 50 year lease on 2 million acres of the Kola that has 3 (4? 5?) of the finest Atlantic salmon rivers anywhere. Unlike any of the other Russian rivers, the company has complete control of their watersheds, from source to the sea. They employ a stringent and elaborate anti-poaching system. Through their management and control parr count (and consequently mature salmon returns) have increased dramatically.

While there are rivers on the Kola where anglers might expect to catch a greater quantity of fish, there’s nowhere where they can catch larger fish, day in and day out. While I personally didn’t land any of the truly large fish, on just one day I landed fish of 24, 22, 20, 13 and 6 lbs. And I lost two others, one very large. 10 of us landed 131 fish for the week, 22 of which were over 20 lbs, several over 30 and one fish of 44 lbs (this one on a size 10 skated fly). There were also a number of monsters that were hooked and lost. Resident brown trout (not sea trout) were caught one day of 9 and 12 lbs.

My party was stationed in the Kharlovka camp. We fished the Kharlovka and East Litza primarily, with another day visiting the Rynda camp to fish a couple of hours on the Rynda and the little gem Zolotaya. The rivers are positively gorgeous.

This is exquisite (and challenging) fishing. The wading (and some of the hiking) can be adventurous. Anglers are helicoptered to their fishing destinations every day. Accommodations, staff and guides are truly first class — as is the passion and respect for the resource.

Can’t wait to go back.
 

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Junkyard Spey
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Kola Report

wrke, Thanks for the report of your trip. It sounds like you had a great time and very interesting fishing!
 

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Yes great report, now I can dream more vividly of what those atlantic salmon rivers are like. As soon as I have three sons through college they will be on my to do list.

Will you have any pictures posted for us ?

Hal
 

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Very nice, what fly patterns were successful ?

Better move up my plans for the trip to Russia before something internationally happens and we can not go any more.

Hal
 

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Looks like a double, but the pattern I cannot make out.

Is it a local russian pattern you can divulge ?

Hal
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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[3]AWESOME[/3]

[1]A dream trip, for sure.[/1]
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
PM
Here's a pic of the small unnamed fly, 14 double. Other good flies were various waking flies, hairy marys, green highlanders, small black flies with red, temple dogs, sunray shadows. Almost all doubles. Many small flies (10, etc).
Bill
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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Wrke

What wonderful reading your report is! For me that has had the challenging oppertunity to help develop these rivers since 1998, positive responses like yours is the best credit we can get. This past season feels like a milestone. Finally all hard work is starting to give the type of results we hardly dared dream of in the beginning. I am so happy that you had a cracking week!! Big fish on tiny flies certainly adds a salty taste to the fights..... (Your fly looks like a crossbread between an Allie's and Currie's shrimp)

Many times over this season it has been proven that hardcore Steelheaders are tailor made for our environment and that they easily adapt to Atlantics.

In early June Way Yin fished with us. He cracked the code soon enough and caught a bunch of trophy sized fish. We spend great time together. (As a trade secret I can reveal that Way showed far more interest in my 35’ heads than what you may have thought…)

Later that month we had a group from California up that fished their brains out. One chap, aside from catching several 25 – 35 pound seabright beauties, also lost his rod when attempting to outrun a seabound monster. Unlike most of us he decided not to throw the towel in. The brave man dove straight into a class III rapid and swam for his life to rescue the rod. Eventually he got it back and swam with the fish down the rapid. Only when the boulders had kicked his ass into hamburger did he decide that enough was enough. That is what I call determination!!

I could list more - like a Canadian dentist friend who pushed past 40 pounds on the Litza while sticking to his single hander.

And now your group!! I am looking forward to hear more about how you got along on the upper river. It is a dream come through - finally all those miles are being cracked open. I'm certain that Gordon, who became a valueable addition to our group this past winter, agrees in my urge to try and entice more rods from across "the big pool" to come over. You really do well!!

I am returning north the week after next for the closure of this season. Then the leaves are falling and the arctic winter will be just around the corner. It will be fine to meet all Russian friends that make this heaven possible and, given time, to give the fish a last workout. My task will be to help decide where the first of the new Kharlovka houses that I recently designed, shall be situated. Not even the other side of the Pearly Gate you get anything for nothing…..

When back I will force my rods into the closet after along season and try to become a more consistent penpal. I miss you all far more than what my correspondence indicates.

Tight lines,

Per

PS. As several of you have asked: the fish below was caught in early June 2002 on the Rynda and weighted in at 31 pounds, being 107 cm long. It was my season's first. It took an overall 7" long chartreuse/lime tube tied on a 2" copper tube fished slow off a Sink II 45' #12 Airflo Shooting head. DS
 

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Bill,

Thanks, nice picture, interesting that the small flies do the trick, but such is the puzzle in fishing for andramous salmon and steelhead across the globe. Presume you did not have to dredge the bottom for them and they were coming up.

What were the water and air temp range you were fishing in ?

This sounds like the dream salmon fishing trip serious fly anglers should consider. It would be for me. Think I will go to bed now and dream about it.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Best

Hal

P.S. I guess I should consider cashing in my United FF miles through their Star Alliance with Lufthansa to get there ?
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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Back from Russia

Hello everyone!

I just got back home from the Kharlovka and the Rynda rivers' camps. It was a great last week up there with all the leaves turning color, the tundra showing distinct patches of deep red where the the "grouse berry" are growing. The weather swang from rain to sun in minutes - fall is on.
With the rain the rivers had risen about a foot from the summer low and the fish traffic picked up accordingly. Huge colored cocks moved into thin tailwater and were starting to get really aggressive. At the Fan Pool on the Rynda I had a huge fish follow the Sunray Shadow like a partially submerged sub - only to get attacked by a similary large male - both forgot all about my fly while making the water explode.....
At the head of Kharlovka Home Pool competition was less - there a 25 pound male grabbed my fly without being harassed by others!! His first run took me well into the gelspun (that we just discussed in another thread) and I was certain to be on for the magical 40 pound limit I yet have to reach. No no!

The elusive Osenkas - the late running "winter fish" that not will spawn until next fall after having "hibernated" under the ice, were running in healthy numbers. I had luck on the Rynda Home Pool and intercepted three in a brief spell. One of 14 and one of 21 pound was landed - perfect sealiced bars of silver in a shape that not even the beefiest of springers can boast of.

My week was little about actual fishing though. On Kharlovka where we will start building new guest cabins next year, I had busy times staking those out while finetuning my designs. Hopefully a nice Russian style village cluster of houses will start to meet next years clients, from early July on. It is wonderful to do designs for Russia as old fashioned craftsmen still are active - masters of planes, saws and axes rather than of electrical tools. Noting beats the etstethical qualities of a carefully handplaned wooden surface.....!

Another project is to map the upper reaches of the Kharlovka. As Bill told in his opening thread these now are getting firmly established as what might be the last remaining piece of serious big salmon water to get explored. I now have flown and documented all + 30 miles of river and fished several reaches. Some tail waters just are stuffed with huge salmon - we had them to over 30 pounds even on our quick dropdowns. Amazing stuff that will make the winter appear painfully long...
Due to the 2002 radiotelemetry study, sponsored by NASF, we now have a good grip of were the hot spaces are. Orri Vigfusson, the key person in NASF, fished with us and expressively said that our rivers are unique in the sense that they, aside from the size and numbers of fish, are protected from human impact throughout their entire watersheds.

Here it might be worthwhile to mention, in defense for catch&release, that of 30 fly caught and radio tagged salmon 30 have survived and some even have been recaught and still swim on. One only can assume that these have gone through more stress when attaching senders and taking all biological datas out, than what those go through that we simply release after the landing....... Good stuff!!

In short - I had a busy and absolutly wonderful week.

Per

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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Per -

I am captivated by your report. You are "living the life" my friend.

Juro
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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Juro,

Thanks for your comment - being a true European Lutheran I am brought up to feel guilty whenever things go too well. Right now I feel really crappy!!

Joke aside: There are people quite close that would prefer if I settled for a peaceful and well payed job rather than fishing my brains out in remote places - I kid you not!!

Per
 

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Kola accommodation query

Per, it is sometimes said that the one major drawback with the Kola is the standard of accommodation (and plumbing in particular). While the fishing is certainly world-class, the other amenities apparently are, or were, not - one reported comment (not sure which river, or when he visited) was along the lines of 'wonderful fishing, but you certainly wouldn't want to take your wife there'!

Presumably this will not be the case with your new camp - 19th century woodworking skills are all very well, but there are areas where the 21st century does make for a more pleasant stay! And, without asking you to badmouth your competitors, do you also have any views on any of the other lodges/camps on other rivers in the peninsula? Any information you can offer on this aspect of your or other operations would be interesting.
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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Dear Gardener,

There is no real reason to worry on this part. The week I just enjoyed was shared with a wonderful mixed party of three married British couples and their sons/friends. Several are working in the City - some of them are now being enroute to their houses on the French Riviera.

They did not complain - the new houses are sporting en suite bathrooms with Scandinavian fittings. As so many other groups, they secured spots for next year already before leaving the camp.

I rather enjoyed the old days when a roll of good toilet paper came just after rods and reels on the packing list...

As for the other camps I am not too sure - but when seeing their prices and knowing the number of returning rods I am quite sure that one can enjoy a good cr-p there too!!

All the best,

Per

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I know what you mean about too posh, Per. One of the most important things about our recreation is the sense of being in touch with nature - increasingly hard to find these days, especially on these crowded islands where I live. Someone recently mentioned a beat on the Spey where the fishing huts are carpeted, so you have to take your waders off to have lunch (which I believe is served by a butler!). Not my idea of what it's all about.

Nevertheless, when I win the National Lottery and make that Kola trip it's nice to know that the discomfort won't be TOO acute. There are some parts of 'being in touch with nature' that I'm still happy to leave to the bears!
 

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Hooked on Salmon
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The 2002 season

Dear all,

I just got the overall figures from the "Three Rivers". It has been even better than I thought:

"In 2002 Kharlovka and Eastern Litza, along with their sister river Rynda, report a total tally of over 3400 salmon. Two thirds of these fish have been over 10 lbs and one third over 15 lbs. The average weight of salmon over 10 lbs has been 15.2 lbs. No less than 50 were over 30 lbs of which 5 have been over 40 lbs with the best at 46.5 lbs."

I can't help myself from posting it. There has been so much hard work to get here, with anti-poaching programs, better logistics and and increasing knowledge on how to fish the rivers to their best. I am proud to be small part of it. I really am!!

"Tight lines"

Per
 
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