Fish Bites Man
What: The Kharlova Company has the exclusive permit for the two-million-acre Atlantic Salmon Reserve and its four north-flowing rivers, the Kharlovka, Eastern Litza, Rynda, and Zolotaya, which drain into the Barents Sea. It operates two luxury lodges and two tent camps and accommodates approximately 400 salmon and trout fishermen from May to September.
Where: The Kola Peninsula in arctic Russia forms the back end of Scandinavia just east of Finland. Off-limits to foreigners until the 1990s, it's largely roadless, and the Atlantic Salmon Reserve can only be reached via helicopter, boat, or, in winter, via snowmobile.
How: Guests meet in Finland's Helsinki-Vantaa Airport for a chartered Finnair flight to Murmansk, Russia. Flight time is about two hours. From there, a Russian-made MI-8 helicopter ferries the week's 30 guests for an hour to the Rynda and Kharlovka lodges. Guests stay in private, heated cabins, each with its own private changing deck and bathroom, including hot shower. Fishermen are divided into three-person teams—two guests and one fishing guide—and spend about ten hours a day on the river. Each morning, helicopters fly fishing teams to their "beats" or private stretch of river and return in the evening. All fishing is catch-and-release and by fly, yet fish bloodied by accident are regularly served at dinner.
Who: Kharlova draws mostly repeat guests who are lured to Russia by the abundance of large fish (and paucity of them back home). Guests regularly land salmon 30 pounds and above. Though the guests are often men, female anglers are more than welcome.
When: From May to September, Kharlova hosts 30 fishermen per week from Saturday to Saturday. The biggest salmon runs are in late June/early July, making those weeks more expensive still. At this time of year, the region also experiences 24-hour days, with the sun dipping to the horizon but never setting.
Cost: $15,000 a week per guest and up. All-inclusive.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication