Kharlovka 2017


Well, what a trip it was!

It transpired that most of the fly tying effort was completely wasted, as all the fish wanted was my Kharlovka version of the Kinermony Killer - the last photo on the previous page, Willie Gunns and Franc’n Snaelda - plus a couple of the larger fish were taken on huge Samurai’s at Kharlovka falls.

I met up with Pia Maria Soininen on the Friday night in Helsinki, where we went out for dinner at a local restaurant, before an early night, with a 5:15 wake up to check in for the charter flight to Murmansk the following day.

Saturday 15th July

Check in completed, there was a delay as the plane we had boarded decided that it didn’t want to play, so we were unloaded, and loaded onto another plane, which this time decided it did want to fly.  We arrived at Murmansk one hour later than scheduled, and after a laborious passage through Russian immigration, and a quick coffee, we were all loaded onto an ancient Russian Mn8 helicopter, with the passengers along the sides, and luggage in the centre.  No seat belts, nor pre-flight briefing.  Just get on and grab a pair of ear protectors.

We landed at Kharlovka camp at about 2:30, and were greeted by the camp manager, Vladimir, and staff.  After a briefing on rules etc, and a delicious lunch, we drew lots for the beat allocations. We drew the home pool for the first afternoons fishing, with my partner for the week, Mark.  This turned out to be a great draw for us, as the lower river didn’t fish as well as the upper most of the week.  We caught only 3 salmon in the 2-3 hours we fished the pool (try saying “only 3” for an afternoon in Scotland!) of which I had one, before dinner.

The party comprised 3 Brits ( 2 returnees), 2 Austrians (both returnees), 2 Australians, a Japanese and 5 Russians, who seemed to regard vodka as the water of life, drinking it all day long, starting with breakfast when it was poured onto porridge instead of milk!  A total of 13 fishers, split into 6 pairs and a loner.  Our guide was Sasha, an experienced and fun guide who knew the river intimately well, and a real assistance to us in our endeavors for the week.

Sunday 16th July

After heavy rain in the night, the river had risen from 40cm to 42 cm, and we set off on our first trip on the Eurocopter to Kharlovka falls, where we stood on rocks to fish th
e pool below the huge falls, presently un-passable to salmon due to the river height.  I connected with 3 fish that morning, all of which contrived to fall off, even though they seemed to have been firmly hooked.  By lunchtime, I hadn’t caught a single fish, and was beginning to doubt my hooking technique, even though I was assured by Sasha that it was fine, and I wasn’t snatching at the take.  We walked about 800 yards downstream to Guy’s pool, where I fished the right hand side of the river, and mark the opposite bank.  During the afternoon I caught 6 fish from the pool of 5,6,10,11,14 & 18lbs, all as fresh as daisies and very hard fighting.  5 came to the small Willie Gunn that Sasha had given me, and the final, and largest came to my version of the Kinermony killer, now renamed the Kharlovka killer, tied with green instead of orange, and gold in place of silver.

The weather was pleasantly warm, but that had the effect of bringing the mosquitoes out, which were a real nuisance all week, even later in the week when it was much colder and windier. 

Returning to camp at about 7pm, we had beer & sushi (and maybe the odd vodka), then a quick shower and change before dinner, which was crab for starter, followed by duck with poached pears - delicious!

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