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So, what’s the latest on the Atlantic salmon fishing on the Kola Peninsula of Russia? Continuing subscribers know the fishing up that way is the best in the world for Atlantic salmon, but many trips there have been marred by disputes among the operators themselves and between the operators and Russian officials. Correspondent George Gruenefeld says fighting has abated among the operators, but there are other problems. He writes: "The unusual, topsy-turvy weather experienced across North America this year appears to have made an appearance on Russia’s Kola Peninsula as well. The region was hit with one of the longest, worst winters in remembered history this year. Spring came about a month late and at this writing people in the area are apparently still wondering if summer will ever come. In consequence to these unusual conditions, virtually all of the Kola Atlantic salmon fishing operations were forced to postpone their first week or two of the season, partly because of a dearth of salmon but primarily because, in some instances, there were still ice floes on some rivers. And even when the water conditions improved, it was late June before the salmon runs arrived in fresh water.
"Overall, the fishing and the internecine fighting on the Kola can be described as lukewarm compared to the state of things last year when temperatures soared, the pools teemed with fish and tempers flared among several operators. Last year’s flashpoint, of course, was the Varzina River on the Kola’s north shore. The long festering struggle between American, Swedish and Finnish interests for control over this and neighboring rivers got completely out of hand last June 22, 1995, when the federal agency, Murmanrybvod, sent a delegation to Bill Davies’ (*) Varzina camp to confiscate equipment and permits and to padlock the camp. What upset guests in camp (other than the loss of their fishing vacations) was the appearance with the delegation of some masked, armed soldiers.
"For the sake of those who still have money tied up in Varzina trips, it is worth noting that Davies (*) has now taken Murmanrybvod to court and has secured a ruling that the confiscation of licenses and equipment was illegal. Since then, the case has been in front of a body known as the Stockholm Arbitration Institute. The final hearing of the arbitrators was held in Moscow mid-June, and a final written decision is due as this issue goes to press. Varzina camp, in the meantime, continues to stand empty through the 1996 season, with the padlocks still on its doors.
"The Kharlovka camp, to the west of Varzina, also stands empty this summer as a result of yet another dispute and, yes, Davies is one of the players in this mess as well. The details of this fight are of interest only to subscribers with money at risk for previously booked trips. Suffice it to say, a company called Flyfish in Kola (*) has come up with a plan to compensate Davies’ clients and financial backers. There is a remote possibility that the Kharlovka camp will be opened before the end of this season. Flyfish in Kola has already opened the Rynda camp, still another camp that was tied up in this fight.
"On other Kola rivers, things are relatively quiet. The Ponoi situation remains unchanged with the Ponoi River Company (*) well into its 10-year lease and running as smoothly as can be expected. And on the Varzuga, on the southeast side of the peninsula, Roxton Bailey Robinson (*) operates a total of five camps of which two are tented, including a new one for this season on the middle river.
"Though things seem to be relatively quiet this summer, things rarely progress without incident on the Kola. It seems a party of 17 anglers was confronted by customs officials earlier this season, along with representatives from Murmanrybvod, to have their luggage searched and their salmon seized. Why this happened is a mystery because all of the affected parties had only one properly processed salmon in their possession, and that is entirely legal. Stay tuned…."