Ponoi River Management

Let us introduce our management team
Steve Estela
CEO - Managing Director

Having first ventured to the Kola to serve as Head Guide and Ryabaga caretaker in the late 1990s, Steve Estela became Ponoi River Co. CEO at the start of 2008. Steve experienced a successful early career in Argentina with the company Nervous Waters, notably as General Manager of the renowned Kau Tapen Lodge. Over a decade-long tenure, Steve rose to hold the post of Operations Director of all properties owned by Nervous Waters. The promise of Kola salmon eventually pulled Steve back to Russia, where his experience in the destination fishing industry was put to immediate use. Steve brings a wealth of experience to the leadership of Ponoi River Co. Now a resident of Murmansk, Steve is able to provide hands-on management of operations throughout the year. Ponoi River Co. guests are treated to his personalized care, efficiency, and unparalleled attention to detail. Originally from Buenos Aires, Steve is married to Pata, who has also worked at Ryabaga. Together they are the parents of two young sons. Steve has fished all over the world, including some fantastic exploratory trips literally at the ends of the earth. He enjoys all varieties of sports, particularly running, cycling, and motor racing.

Julia Vlasova
General Director

Julia spent the majority of her youth in Murmansk, and studied foreign languages at the Murmansk State Humanities University. Upon graduation she worked as an English teacher and then as a Directors Assistant at a Russian building firm. In March 2009, the Ponoi River Company had the great fortune of hiring Julia, and she has been involved with all aspects of running PRC since then, from issuing invitations to guests, to  keeping the office up and running, to cooridinating itineraries. She now holds the position of General Director.

Joaquin Arocena
Ryabaga Camp Manager

Joaquin Arocena has served as Camp Manager since 2014. Joaquin’s guide resume is rich and varied, beginning with a multi-season stint at Nervous Waters’ Pira Lodge in northern Argentina. Building on this trout-specific experience, Joaquin branched out to the anadromous fisheries of Ponoi and Rio Grande, guiding anglers into Atlantic salmon and sea-run brown trout respectively. Beginning in 2008, Joaquin entered an exploratory period, searching out and developing new fisheries throughout Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and the Seychelles. He was a partner in the fly-fishing operation on Desroches Island Seychelles fishery, as well as Head Guide in the recently re-opened fishery of Cosmoledo Atoll (Seychelles). Joaquin is also an accomplished photographer, with work appearing in magazines such as The Flyfish Journal, Field & Stream, and the Atlantic Salmon Journal. He has also achieved the rare honor of placing photography in the New York Times.

Sasha Cheplukhov
Supply Manager

Sasha has been responsible for supplying the camps for over 10 years. A trully dedicated paerson to ensure that what ever is requested gets to camp on the next helicopter. Proud father of a boy Sasha is a 24-7 all year round memeber of the Team. His behind the scenes duties are vital to keep Ryabag running smooth.