Rus­sian roulette on the Rynda

Our in­trepid cor­re­spon­dent ven­tures to Rus­sia, where he and his guide, Genna, en­joy some of the best sal­mon fish­ing in the world and in­dulge in ‘many vodka’

Country Life Every Week - - Reel Life -

ORE line. Mend up. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait—hotspot. Now, strip­ping!’ Yes­ter­day morn­ing I was at my desk; this evening, I am run­ning a cone­head tube down the tail of the Home Pool, with Genna the Rus­sian guide at my el­bow. There is a sil­ver flare in the stream and I’m into my first ever Rynda sal­mon. ‘My friend, you are very lucky fisher,’ he de­clares. Well, just be­ing here is a stroke of good for­tune. Tide-bright, 10lb, weighed, tagged and re­leased. ‘And now,’ an­nounces Genna, ‘many vodka.’

One of the quintessen­tially wild, north­ern rivers that de­bouches into the Bar­ents Sea from the Kola penin­sula, the Rynda flows through pris­tine tun­dra—there are no roads in this neck of the woods, just rein­deer tracks and the odd dol­lop of bear scat to keep you on your toes. It’s de­li­ciously se­vere and lone­some ter­rain and some think it of­fers the finest salmonfish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the world.

Ac­cess is via a pri­vate char­ter from Helsinki to Mur­mansk. The night be­fore we flew, massed an­glers des­tined for sev­eral Kola camps swirled and chat­ted in the ho­tel like char­ac­ters from Ge­orge Earl’s Vic­to­rian can­vas Go­ing North, King’s Cross Sta­tion. From Mur­mansk, you trans­fer by huge, jud­der­ing he­li­copter across jig­sawed wet­lands still daubed with snow, un­til the Rynda camp—sited in a craggy am­phithe­atre, where a mighty wa­ter­fall en­ters a lake—ma­te­ri­alises be­neath you.

Cre­ated in 2003 by Bri­tish pi­o­neer Peter Power, the At­lantic Sal­mon Re­serve is a vast con­ser­va­tion area con­tain­ing three other prin­ci­pal rivers—the Kharlovka, the East­ern Litza and the lovely lit­tle Zolotaya. I was a guest of the present owner,

MVladimir Ry­balchenko, pres­i­dent of Far­low’s, the Pall Mall em­po­rium, and the first Rus­sian na­tional to be elected a mem­ber of our au­gust Fly Fish­ers’ Club. The camp is a model of ef­fi­ciency and com­fort. In­di­vid­ual cab­ins with proper en-suite plumb­ing, a laun­dry ser­vice, a res­i­dent doc­tor and at­ten­tive and de­light­ful staff—this would be spoil­ing on Spey­side but, here in the wilder­ness, it’s lit­tle short of a mir­a­cle.

I’m fond of find­ing fault, but, as I told my host one din­ner­time, the oper­a­tion seemed im­mac­u­late. ‘Be sure to let me know if you do think of some­thing,’ replied his in­ter­preter. Vladimir him­self is fish­ing some 25 weeks world­wide this year—fit­tingly, Ry­bal means fish­er­man in Ukrainian.

This was still early sea­son, so we tack­led up with stout gear. My Scot­tish part­ner, Ian Mitchell, and I opted for 15-foot­ers and largely stuck with float­ing lines, as the sur­face takes can be spec­tac­u­lar, even though, at about 8˚C, the wa­ter was still a bit chilly for the rif­fle­hitched fly. The Rynda isn’t quite the tro­phy-hunters’ des­ti­na­tion cer­tain other rivers have be­come (and the camp is per­haps all the more re­laxed for that) but a 30-pounder is al­ways a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity and the record sal­mon stands at 42lb.

Its 80-odd pools of­fer an im­pres­sive va­ri­ety, from gorgey runs to open flats, with lit­tle need for dis­tance cast­ing and the wad­ing is gen­er­ally man­age­able. You can ap­pre­ci­ate why

David Pro­fumo with the sal­mon he caught at Roy’s Bath

Two of the four rivers on Rus­sia’s At­lantic Sal­mon Re­serve

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.