I have heard from experienced fishermen about real red fish, which can be found in abundance in such places where none of the storytellers have ever gotten to.
It was called differently: brown trout, goggle-eyed trout and, finally, char. Someone told about the monstrous-sized fish in Lake Glubokoe, about the planes taking red fish out from the mysterious lakes called Blizenets. Someone told about fish called goggle-eyed trout, which was caught in Lake Lama from such depths that its eyes bulged. I heard about the remote lakes in the North, where the mysterious char was caught. I read in the newspaper about the lucky tourists who caught fabulously beautiful fish – Schrenk’s char – in the Byrranga mountains’ rivers!
Needless to say, such conversations made me feel dizzy and my pulse quickened!
Years passed, and I was convinced from personal experience that all those stories were absolutely true. According to the stories, char could be caught in Lama Lake. The first time I got to the lake with a pleasure boat. One of the crew members suggested going for char in a small boat. I didn’t believe it. I decided it was empty talk and refused. Well, such happiness could not be available just like that. Thus, I postponed my acquaintance with the wonderful fish for a year.
The next meeting with the chars was probably the most sporting and romantic in my life. We were friends with the Andrenko brothers – Volodya, Mishka and Kolya. The middle one, Mishka, worked in a geological party and often flew to the tundra. Once he said that at night he was flying to the camp and could drop us off to fish on the way. It was early July, the height of the polar day. Needless to say, after work we were at the Valek hydroport, dying of impatience. They dropped us off at about nine o’clock in the evening on the Ketay Arbo River, which flew into Lake Keta, and promised to pick us up at five in the morning so that we could get to work. The tackle I had was primitive.
At the very first turn, a char grabbed the spoon. It seemed large enough. The place was just with a smooth, calm flow, and I didn’t have to work much.
A little further there was brook about fifty meters wide. It seemed that there was no current at all. I clearly understood that there could be no char in such a place, but I threw the spinning rod, just to play with the spoon hook. It was very shallow, and you didn’t have to play, you just had to drag it so that it didn’t lie on the bottom. It remained to drag about five meters, the spoon was already visible, when suddenly a fin cut the calm surface of the water, and I saw that a char was chasing the spoon. Out of surprise, I lifted the spoon, and the char, grabbing it, flew to the shore with it. Spectacular, I tell you! The classic char attack was in front of my eyes.
That char was twice as large as the first one. Handsome! Dark green, with orange spots on the sides, fins with a white border. I picked it up, began to go around the bushes and saw a bear’s footprints on the sandbank. Quite fresh.
I went back to the camp and, unable to withstand the tide of happiness, wanting to share it with my friends, I ran my two tails along the blissfully snoring muzzles. The effect was awesome! They didn’t think there was fish at that part of the lake. Sashka grabbed the second spinning rod and began to flash in the place where the first char was caught. Volodya and I went further. The current was very strong. The spoon hook was drawn so strongly that it seemed someone was sitting on it. As soon as I thought so, I felt a powerful blow. There was the third!
I told Volodya about the bear’s footprints. Volodya, whose self-preservation instinct was very strong, assessed the situation with lightning speed and suggested returning to the camp, making a big fire, and drinking tea. His excitement disappeared somewhere, according to his calculations, there was enough fish. On the way, Sasha was taken from his post, he also caught one char.
There was really enough fish for everyone. On the way home, we passed the city hospital, where our director lay with stomachache. It was six in the morning. We shouted, woke him up. The director’s roommates quickly took out the rope, which was usually used to lift the goods prohibited for transfer to the hospital. The few passers-by at that time could get an unforgettable impression of the sight of the Arctic char from the salmon family slowly rising to the third floor of the hospital.
Read about other legends and facts about Taimyr in our Truths and myths section.
Text: Arkady Vinitsky, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko and open sources