Hooray! We are going fishing! We fly to Kola, where the magical names of the Kola, Ponoi, Ur, Varzuga rivers roll like pebbles in my mouth, and I pronounce them as if tasting. So, we are flying for salmon. Better fishing expectations can only be fishing itself! Two hours of flight, and we are in Murmansk. The north meets with cool sunny weather. We get acquainted with our escort – and on the road, across the river. In a road conversation we learn that we arrived early, the water is 6 degrees, but the course of the salmon has already begun. People began to catch, although the peak of the course happens at a water temperature of 8-12 degrees. Records have already appeared. One of the local “pros” from the beginning of the season has already taken a dozen fish. On other rivers of the peninsula, the course begins later, so the main activity is now concentrated on Kola.
During the conversations, about 40 minutes pass, and now we are overloaded into the boat and, crossing the channel, we approach the shore. “Base on the island,” Konstantin explains. Picking up bags and tubes with rods, we rise to a pretty house. Apart from it there is a plague (noticing our surprise, Konstantin, smiling, drops: “This is our bathhouse!”), A summer kitchen, a couple of hangars and a house for employees. Everything is clean, neat and, as they say, is in harmony with the landscape. Cola near the base is 70-80 meters wide. It becomes clear that on such a large river it is necessary to search for fish along the rapids and pits. Catching on the channel is like whipping the sea with spinning rods. There is a decent threshold above the camp. The flow rate is not less than 2-2.5 m per second; beyond the reach of the reach, where we want to immediately go with spinning rods. True, we do not succeed: hospitable hosts call us to the table, the main decoration of which is a huge dish of fried cod.
If someone says freshly caught cod is nothing special, don't believe it. This is an excellent, delicious dish! So gradually, with a cod and a shot glass, the hosts knocked down our first rush to run fishing. And, as it turned out, not in vain. After spending about an hour with tackles on the river bank in the hope of getting the coveted trophy, we finally decided that this was enough for the first day (or rather, night), and when we got to our beds, we fell into a blissful dream … In the morning, before breakfast, I have time spend with the spinning half an hour on the river. I drive the baits a hundred meters lower from the place where they tried to catch for the first time at night, next to the picket fence of iron pipes driven into the bottom of the river, forming the skeleton of the RUZ (fish counting unit).
During the conversation, I continue to throw 30-gram oscillators across the stream. The current is smooth, powerful, and I have to lose a lot of time to deepen the heavy lure and spend it at the bottom. After relaxing, I miss a sharp blow, knocking the coil out of my hand. Just a fraction of a second I catch the handle of the coil and at the same time lose time for hooking. It's a shame! This happens about seven meters from the coast, and I continue to whip the river with renewed energy, changing the bait, speed, rhythm and depth of the wiring. But all in vain – I missed my chance. A daily program is announced in the dining room at breakfast, but at the same time we are informed that a group of Muscovites living in tents on the island took 10 kilograms of salmon at night. On this major note, we are loaded into the boat, cross the channel, and then by bus follow the first licensed area.
And here is the village of Molochny, Rybvod's cars, where licenses are sold, a dozen cars. A short procedure for acquiring licenses, and we step along the path to the Golden Pit. Fishermen here and there on the river. Pleasantly surprised by their "weapons". Serious, modern sticks about 3 meters long and a dough of at least 30-35 grams, coils from Daiva, Shimano, Dam or from lesser-known Koreans. Even the 70-year-old veteran, perched in a small nut, has good tackle. However, the positive ends here. On the trail are kilometers of abandoned fishing line, cord, mountains of bottles and other household waste.
There are already five people at Golden. It is noteworthy that everyone catches on a wet fly, which they bury with the help of a heavy load on a leash of 35-40 centimeters in length. At the same time, yellowish-green, red flies themselves, about 5 centimeters long, are tied to a leash up to 3 meters long. It is clear that with such a flow and a stony bed, this is the most effective way to feed and hold the bait at the bottom and at the same time not to lose it on stones. We are not ready for such fishing and enthusiastically begin to drive heavy iron but pit, try turntables, wobblers. About 15 minutes pass, and on the opposite bank there appears a group of fly-fishing gear, equipped in such a way that it seems to me that I am fishing somewhere in Montana. Our Kostya, who himself catches with a two-handed 10th-class fly fishing rod, respectfully says that one of this group is the best fisherman of the city fly fishing club. We are told that 20 minutes before our arrival, salmon was caught under the “top ten”. And our group, alas, has zero result.
In futile attempts to catch salmon, the next four hours pass. There are no results not only with us, but also with the local ones. Among the approached fishermen, a group of two men and four young women stands out. I’m getting acquainted. One of the men is their "guru", he watches how the fair sex catches, occasionally gives advice, helps more than catches. We talked. Since the beginning of the season, he has already a dozen tails, says that fishing is becoming an increasingly popular hobby for young people. Among neophytes there are many women. I ask his opinion about the progress of salmon and I hear that it’s too early. He explains that in a week or two, when the water warms up, the salmon will go better. Then it will be possible to catch both on turntables and wobblers, and now the fish is near the bottom, and therefore all locals catch on a fly. Suddenly, one of the fishermen shouted: “Fish!” Everyone abruptly begins to choose gear from the water. After 7-8 minutes of struggle, the happy owner of a silver torpedo weighing under 8 pounds, putting it in a backpack, trotted off towards the point of sale of licenses for another “paper”.
Another hour passes – we still have a zero result. The "guru" comes up and reports. that he saw three salmon rising. In confirmation of the words “guru”, one of my colleagues suddenly starts to shake the tip of the rod, then a strong pull follows, the hole cuts the water. The fish that has taken calmly leaves in the direction of the stream, on the way goes behind the stone and … after a few seconds breaks the cord on the threshold stone. Amazement, delight, despair are read on the face of the fisherman, but here our attention is switched to one of the fly fishing, fishing from the other side. Biting, careful fighting, without any chance for the fish to free themselves, and another trophy on the shore. Kostya congratulates the fisherman on a mobile phone and inquires about the weight of salmon. The answer is: about 8 kilograms. Not bad at all!
On the way to the base we see a Murmansk man collecting garbage in a bag. When asked how fishing, he replies that, in his opinion, all the fish have already passed to spawning grounds. For four days of fishing, he did not take a single tail. “But,” he adds bitterly, “I take out the fourth garbage bag.” Thank you stranger! Return to the camp, lunch and an hour to check the nearby water area. Water dropped ten centimeters. The rose is already installed, but the lifting trap is still open. I am more and more convinced that we arrived ahead of time.
Having lost a couple of spinners on our “home” catch, we set off on a boat down the river to the threshold, where the Muscovites neighbors caught salmon the previous night. Oh my God! What a luxurious place! At the top of the threshold, the stream is crushed by huge stones into several parts, each of which can serve as a parking place for resting salmon. The threshold itself is 150 meters of a furious stream of white water from foam. At the exit of the throat, a chain of isolated pits and pits, separated from the main stream of wildly rushing water. If the salmon has a chance to climb this section of the river, it should go along the edges of streams and lulls, stand up and save strength before a decisive jerk through the throat of the threshold. One of us remains at the top of the threshold, while the rest descend. The water in the threshold does not make noise – it rumbles. Kostya goes down the river. Behind the exit from the threshold begins a section of rifts, a shiver and a water hustle with a length of at least a kilometer. This is an ideal place for fly fishing.
On the threshold where we are attaching, two Petersburgers are chasing a fly and a whale. We ask, like fishing, and we hear that they have nothing, but yesterday someone at this threshold took trophy salmon, and in the first section they took as many as three salmon. It is amazing how quickly rumors of fish caught spread across the river! For an hour, exchanging iron for wobblers and vice versa, we are whipping water together without any result. Sad Kostya is approaching us. He is also with zero. We are going to a small group on the shore and begin endless conversations about how it was and why it is not pecking now. Konstantin suggests that these are consequences of the 2007 poaching bacchanalia, when structural transformations in the industry practically destroyed the salmon protection system on the peninsula and allowed them to scoop up fish from the river with impunity, undermining the spawning herd of Atlantic salmon.
So during the conversation we while away the time, occasionally looking at the most stubborn of us. Pavel catches an acid yellow color on a 7-centimeter slowly sinking wobbler. Turning once again in his direction, we suddenly notice that he is somehow tightly holding a spinning rod, and we understand that something happened. At this moment, he squeezes out of himself: "I have a bite." A moment – and we rush to it. Of course, each of us is ready to give the right advice on how to get the trophy, but we have enough tact to limit ourselves to a hint not to lower the tip of the rod to the water, giving it the opportunity to extinguish the jerks and violent stretches of clipped salmon.
Under the roar of the threshold, on the banks of a beautiful river, a completely magical and surprisingly simple action takes place: a person is fighting honestly with a fish. By the way Pavel’s “Sim” works, it’s clear that he has a worthy opponent. Salmon turns out, jumps out of the water, seeks to go into the stream on the main channel, where, if this happens, it will be irretrievably lost, and then by throwing it tries to turn the side ducts into stones. The fight lasts 7 minutes. Salmon begins to take, allows you to turn yourself towards the shore, and gradually, turn after turn, Paul brings him to the shore. A few more minutes – and here he is, a moment of triumph of the fisherman. The victorious cry of Paul rushes over the river. And no matter what happened today. It seems to me that they screamed like that on the shores of Cola, both a hundred and two hundred years ago.
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