This trip to the Kola River was a case of "be careful what you wish for." For the ease of wading and casting, I was hoping for low water. Well, we got low water alright...too low! It was a mild winter and early spring in Murmansk. The vast majority of the big brutes ran at the very beginning of their season. I didn't realize that low water meant no big salmon! The temps were good, very pleasant for fishing, but a more traditional spring would have been better fishing.
We caught the tail end of a run when we first arrived, then it was almost a week of no fish and low water. The water came up a bit and we got another brief spurt of fish. On my last day, I actually saw grilse, which is totally unexpected this early on.
My final tally was 5 hooked and 3 landed...about 10, 15 and 20lbs. The large fish was the most powerful fight I have gotten from a salmon. The smallest was the weakest fight I've ever had from a searun fish! I've had a couple 'Naugy salmon who fought harder, believe it or not. I also dropped one that went about 18-20lbs. I could stop it from shaking its head and that was the end of that.
Curiously, all my fish but one took a #2 Sugerman Shrimp (double) fished on a floating line/leader. I tried plenty of other flies, but they seemed to like that one the most. I gave one to my friend Sergey who hooked five fish on it in one afternoon! The 15lb. fish took a small German Snaelda, fished on a floating line and a 5.6ips Versileader. I took that fish around 1am. He had some bistering runs, but never ran upstream or down, just perpendicular to the current several times. I've never had that happen before.
In summary, we didn't get what I think of as "Russian numbers," but it was a good trip anyhow. I fished with several terrific Russian anglers, swapped flies and made some great new friends. Also, I Ianded my largest salmon to date, despite almost losing him "Nova Scotia Style" (wink wink, Marc) and then having him almost leave the pool. All's well that ends well, however. I have some pics and videos I'll post once I do some editing and get some sleep.
I'm not looking forward to a 10 hour flight and a 3+ hour drive, but I a looking forward to being home!
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