The Silver Smelt assembles friends

The Silver Smelt festival took place for the 12th time on the ice of Sovetskaya Gavan bay.


This event actually possesses an international status and has long ago become a trademark of Sovetskaya Gavan Municipal District. It is adored by locals and visitors of Strait of Tartary coastline.

So in this year, despite bad weather forecasts and biting wind, hundreds of ice-fishing enthusiasts and their fans, of the festival’s guests rushed to the city pier to take part in a huge event called the ‘Silver Smelt’.  Its creator and permanent host is Alexander Luk’yanchuk.

29 teams were at the ceremonial parade. Most of them presented enterprises and institutions, public organizations of Sovetskaya Gavan district. Also, local ice welcomed a lot of guests including neighbors from Vanino, Nanaysky district and regional center, people from our friend Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, citizens of China and Uzbekistan who live at Sovetskaya Gavan.

This year every team make a kind of statement  for presenting itself to organizers and rivals in  a short poetic or prosaic form. The team of Raschetno-Kassovy Centr, Ltd called Center Fishimen who took part in the Silver Smelt for the 10th time celebrated this anniversary by dressing as Indians and performing an exciting dance.

The Silver Smelt has made its own traditions. One of them is that for many years the festival is opened by a ritual dance of ingenious small peoples who live at the shores of the Strait of Tartary . This year fishing luck was drawn by artists from Anyakha Khadji ethnic dance and costume band and Vyacheslav Korytov who once again tried himself as a shaman.

Participants and guests were welcomed by Sergey Lugovskoy, the chairman of Legislative Duma of Khabarovsky Krai and one of the event inspirers, Yury Bukhryakov, the head of Soveskaya Gavan municipal district, Irina Struchkova, the head of tourism and foreign relations development department of the Tourism Directorate of the Ministry of Culture, Georgy Nikonov, vice-chairman of  Sakha (Yakutia) Republic government and full-time representative of Sakha (Yakutia) Republic at the Far Eastern Federal District.

Flags of Khabarovsky Krai, Sovetskaya Gavan Municipal District, Sovetskaya Gavan city and Sakha Republic went up, and fireworks signaled the start of the Silver Smelt-2017.

The main competition lasts exactly one hour. After a signal, fishermen put their rods to ice holes and audience watched them in awe and wait: how many fishes strongly smelling with fresh cucumbers will fell on the Silver Smelt bank this year? Without any mercy to their vocal cords, in icy wind, fans supported their teams with chants, songs and dances.

When fishing competition was almost at its middle, one of the jury rose up a red flag signaling that the first fish was caught. Alexey Kononin from Young Flock team representing youth movement within the United Russia took an eelpout from the ice hole.

Several other eelpouts were on the ends of lines of participants, until, finally, silver scales of a smelt caught by Nikolay Larchenko from the MTS Bank team shined in the sun. Within last minutes, Nikolay took other five smelts from the hole. One of them became the smallest fish caught at the competition. It was only five centimeters long.

The biggest fish was caught by Dmitry Devyatky from the Black Caviar Team (NK Alliance Gavanbunker, Ltd. His eelpout was 42 centimetres long. The last fish taken within the contest time was caught by Yury Bezmutko from the Nanai Redfin team.

General result of the Silver Smelt-2017 comprises 16 fishes.

Fishermen put away rods and took ice bores to take part in a speedy ice drilling contest. The ice at the contest site was about 1 meter 20 centimeters thick, skillful fishermen passed it just in dozens of seconds. But the record, again, belongs to Nikolay Larchenko who drilled a hole in 20 seconds!

For the first time within the Silver Smelt a Fish Soup from our Smelt cooking competition was carried out.  First 10 teams who registered for participation at the 12th festival, were entitled to compete against each other at a cook battle. They had got a minimal set of products for making a fish soup, a dozen of smelts and pots. It was up to them to use their fantasy and they improved taste and brew with sometimes the most unusual ingredients. 

Also, the Silver Smelt-2017 guests were impressed by cooking talents and fantasy of those who took part at the best fish dish contest. Seascapes, mermaids, king of fishes, Indian wigwams and even a local map where “Far Eastern hectares” were marked enthralled the eyes of guests and jury who had to judge deliciousness of these cooking art objects.

Not only judges, who were to test smelt soup, but all festival guests, could try some hot broth from fish of Sovetskaya Gavan. Very attractive was smelly smoke of mobile kitchen where Svetlana Yatsenko, representing Regional Museum of Local Lore, History and Economy named after Nikolai Boshnyak, and Evgeniy Petrov from Culture and Information Center of Zavety Ilicha village were making fish soup for everybody. People even queued for wonderfully fragrant fish broth! They could also warm up with hot tea there.

Meanwhile, contesting was going on at the major festival site. The Silver Smelt Mini Miss and the Silver Smelt Miss are competitions for the youngest as well as adult of the fair sex festival participants.

There were four young beauties presenting their teams at the contest. Girls had dressed in bright costumes and each of them read a funny poem about herself. During general pass they showed their colorful outfits.

After that, not without some male help, they had to sledge faster than their rivals. Despite a very strong wind and heavy sky, audience was loudly cheering for young competitors supporting girls with applauding and friendly laughter. Note, that no one of the rivals felt out of race and all girls did well at the other stages of competition.

At the Silver Smelt Miss there were twice more rivals, i.e. eight people. All of them would be able to participate at a dress party: every one boasted an outfit that was interesting and distinctive. Of course, the main motive was a sea one, but some claimers to the beauty queen crown embodies images of an Indian princess and a gallant fisherman.

As well as young misses, adult rivals creatively showed their images too. They performed ice dancing, and songs, and small theater sketches, and even mumming. Audience particularly enjoyed a duet of a fisherman and a fish that he had caught – girls played their parts so artistically. Another participant made a dancing flashmob with viewers and contestants – this workout could not come at a better time in a wind getting fiercer.

Throwing frozen fish was another contest. With the crowd roaring girls tried to throw their sea trophy as far as possible. I would say, that the final contest was the hardest one: it was a speedy race at ‘adult’ winter sledge – a high carriage with a driving wheel, a claxon and a fake pedal. One by one, girls climbed a ‘throne’ moving at its runners, announced the start with horning, and two men, supporting a sledge from both sides helped rivals to speed up without losing balance at turns. That was the hardest competition: several times sledges almost bowled over but thanks to men’s watchfulness there were no falls!

But, finally, all competitions were carried out, football battles were over at an ice field. Teams lined up for awarding. Commemorative prizes, souvenir medals framed with dried smelt, diplomas and cakes were handed to all teams by Yury Bukhryakov, the head of Sovetskaya Gavan Municipal District, Andrey Fakiro, the Chairman of the Municipal District Deputies Assembly, and Vladimir Kondratyev, the head of the Silver Smelt festival competition jury.

The MTS Bank team consisting of Nikolai Larchenko and Olga Alexandrova was an undisputable winner of the 12th Silver Smelt thanks to 6 smelts that were caught within an hour. Also this team was awarded prizes for biodiversity of the caught fish, for the smallest fish and for the victory at the ice hole drilling competition.

Sergey Lugovskoy, the head of the Legislative Duma of Khabarovsky Krai, announced results of Fish Soup from our Smelt contest. Royal Rorquals team of IK-5 won in the nomination of the Fastest Fish Soup, Khabarovsk Sturgeons team – in the nomination of the Most Original Fish Soup,  and Pollux, Ltd – in the nomination of the Most Delicious Fish Soup. By the way, Pollux team won a mini football tournament as well.

Center Fishermen team with their cooking masterpiece of Dream Valley took the first place at fish dishes contest. Besides, RKC, Ltd team won a chanting contest. The Silver Smelt Mini Miss title was granted to Katya Terekhova, young member of the Center Fishermen team; second place was awarded to Nika Apoleeva from  Maiski Regional Power Station, the third one – to Natasha Konoplyanko from Sagdy Akku team and the forth one – to Anna Savulyak from the Black Caviar team. The Jury agreed to award The Silver Smelt-2017 Miss title to Zhanna Koneevich, another representative of the Payment Processing Center, the second place was granted to Anna Murzina (the Young Flock) and the third one went to Yana Igisheva from Royal Rorquals. Officials from the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) government awarded a real diamond as a victory prize to Zhanna Koneevich!

The Silver Smelt-2017 became history. See you on the ice of Sovetskaya Gavan next year, at the 13th Silver Smelt that we hope will be a happy one! 

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