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Kelts, Over-Wintered, and Sea-Liced

Week 3 Report

This past week once again displayed just how unique the Ponoi River is. Our guests were not limited by landing several kelts, fish that have spent more than twenty months in the river system and are working their way back to the ocean. Our guests also landed an impressive 885 fish that had entered the river in the months of August and September 2017, and are now waiting to spawn in the coming October of 2018. In a unique twist, these over-wintered fish will be joined by the five fresh, summer-run fish that rounded out this week, plus all of the summer runners that will make their way up our river over the next two months.

The conditions this past week were once again far from ideal, at least to start. Strong northern winds brought cold from the North Pole, but despite challenging weather spirits remained high. It was a wonderful group of anglers that chose this particular week to celebrate the unspoiled beauty of the Ponoi; some of the week’s guests have been returning to Ryabaga for more than twenty years! Even longstanding visitors were delighted by the many different elements of the far north that came to bear on this particular week, not the least of which was the fact that we went from winter weather to a “high summer” essentially overnight.

And so it goes that a week of contrasts comes to an end, a week wherein our long-time friend Len S., who has spent more than fifty-five weeks in Ryabaga Camp, emerged as top rod with a total of 74 fish for the week. Wonderfully, Len will be back soon to attempt a repeat performance, proving that you can never have enough of the Ryabaga Camp experience. We saw great contrast too in the angler’s techniques. Some of our anglers were hooking fish on skated flies while others were plying the depths of the Ponoi with full-sinking lines. Some even chose to fish unconventional flies, like Jon S. whose tactics have been refined over the many weeks he has spent in Ryabaga since the camp’s inception some 28 years ago. It was Jon who demonstrated the spell that the Ponoi has over him, as he swung his beloved White Muddler to great success throughout the course of the week.

It was a week of beautiful contrasts, something like a musical masterpiece where harmony, melody and rhythm keep things interesting, transporting the audience to intangible, beautiful places. To maintain the metaphor, this past week on the Ponoi was an “angling masterpiece”; varying weather, a range of techniques, and all sorts of seemingly trivial details came together to transport our guests even further into the wonder and enjoyment that is the Ponoi.

Kelts, over-wintered, and sea-liced fish all added contrast to the third week of the 2018 Ponoi salmon season, resulting in nothing short of a Symphony.

Until Next Week,

Agustin Lo Greco, Ryabaga Camp Manager

 

 

Dauntless Anglers and an Amazing Week 2

Week 2 Report 

Once again it is that time of the week when we pause for a moment to reflect on the last seven days. It seems that every time we slow down enough to look back, we arrive at a remarkable shared feeling of amazement. No better word describes the sentiment cultivated among both anglers and guides during a week of fishing the Ponoi River out of Ryabaga Camp. This feeling of amazement results not only from the sheer number of fish in the system, but also from a growing awareness of new friendships forged on the boat, around the bar, and at the dinner table. We were certainly amazed this week that despite far-from-ideal conditions our guests managed to land a total of 1021 fish! Strong northern winds that brought cold temperatures, snow, hail, and sleet were unable to sway the anglers’ determination, or perhaps stubbornness (as any non-angler might say)!

Three of our guests this week came to Ryabaga to catch their first Atlantic salmon, and, true to form, all found themselves nothing short of amazed at the end of Day 1. That day Mark P. landed his first Atlantic salmon ever and went on to land fourteen more. Tom T. landed his first Atlantic salmon as well, alongside seven others, while a young Bobby Joe T., fishing a fly rod for the first time, landed his first-ever Atlantic salmon. The rest of the group had a fantastic day too, during which over 370 fish were hooked, and 248 were landed.

Following a remarkable Day 1, the weather took a turn for the worse, and for the rest of the week numbers were to be a bit more modest. That said, at the end of the week the average catch per rod revealed that each angler had landed over forty fish, much to our collective amazement once again. John W. landed a 21 lb. brute, and two days later Yasuji S. landed a fish of similar size. John M. and Tom L. each landed a 19 lb. salmon, while Robert S. landed an 18 lb. brawler. We ended up the week with over twenty fish that eclipsed the 15 lb. mark, but of course the biggest fish were those that got away. Sometimes it seems that those lost fish are the ones that provide anglers with the best stories, which in turn are told and re-told at dinner or around the bar in the Ryabaga Big Tent.

At week’s end, with memories made, casting arms tired, and plenty of stories to tell through the coming year, the helicopter turbines roared and receded, carrying a full complement of guests back to Murmansk. Undoubtedly, all on the helicopter were already thinking about their next trip to Ryabaga Camp. We are always so pleased to know that the experience anticipated by our guests was realized, promising that both seasoned salmon anglers and first-timers alike are “hooked” on the Ryabaga Camp offering. With that we’d like to wish a fond farewell to our friends from Ireland, USA, UK, Finland, Japan, and South Africa. Until we meet again…

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

A Long Winter, and a Fantastic Week of Spring Fishing

Week 1 Report

This past week represented the culmination of three intense weeks of preparation, during which a full crew brought Ryabaga Camp back to life after a long winter’s hibernation. On May 26th the first helicopter arrived in Ryabaga with a load of keen anglers from throughout Europe. All in attendance were filled with expectation and excitement, and they landed in Ryabaga and immediately put that energy and enthusiasm to good use. Just minutes after landing in camp, Somerset F. landed the first salmon of the season. He took the fish by wading in the Ryabaga Home Pool, and thereby set a strong precedent for what was to come.

We were joined this week in Ryabaga by a group of guests from many different countries: Estonia, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and Norway. These anglers came to Ponoi from a variety of backgrounds, though all are now considered old friends. Several were in Ryabaga for the first time, and three in the group took to the Ponoi with the goal of catching a first Atlantic salmon. Much to our delight they accomplished this task quite readily, again proving the Ponoi to be the most prolific Atlantic salmon resource in the world.

Aarto E., Pierre E., and Pim C. each caught their first-ever Atlantic salmon on one of the most iconic beats on the Ponoi River, namely Tomba. The conditions were not ideal, and anglers had to withstand a steady 40 km/hr. wind throughout the day. Due to the wind we were all surprised with the final numbers for the first day, which totaled 207 fish caught. Bruno M. and Michael T. ended this first day of the 2018 season with 15 fish apiece.

On Day 2 of this first week, the wind was gone and again the final numbers were outstanding. On Day 2 of Week 1, 2018, 227 salmon were landed. Somerset F. landed a 19 lb. beauty, John H. a 17 lb. bruiser, and Roger W. finished his day having landed 20 fish. Numbers were nearly too good to be true, but on our 3rd day out the Kola Peninsula had a brief return to winter. Snow, hail, rain, and wind were back in force, making for some challenging conditions and posing a challenging mindset for guests. The Ponoi River water was also a lot darker than normal due to the strong winds on Day 1 that had stirred up the lakes that feed the main river. Numbers reflected these challenging conditions: on their 3rd day of fishing, anglers landed only 107 fish, though once again Somerset F. had the biggest fish of the day with a 15 lb. beauty. After enduring a long drive to and from the Lapinyarka beat, Patrick O. and Michael T. finished their day with 12 and 16 fish respectively. Although the “mini-winter” stayed with us until the end of the week, the river rewarded the tenacity of our guests, and those who persevered through less than ideal conditions.

On the 4th day of fishing the “mini-winter” was still with us, but our guests landed 166 fish. Dominic Q. had 15 fish by the end of the day, and George M. had the biggest fish that day with a cracking 18 lb. brute.

On Day 5 the snow and hail and cold northern winds continued to test the anglers’ will power, though the anglers proved to be up to the challenge. We finished the day with 211 fish, and Dominic Q. was once more top rod for the day with 19 fish. David F., Somerset’s father, had the biggest fish of the day, proving that a knack for salmon angling did not jump a generation in that family, for sure. The 6th and final day of fishing was again a pleasant surprise: our guests landed 180 fish and celebrated a final day in which Dominic Q. and John H. were once again tied for the daily top rod, having landed 12 fish each.

When we look at and tally the final numbers, they are nothing short of extraordinary: there were 1105 fish landed for the week, amounting to an average catch per rod of 45 fish! Week 1 of 2018 reached its end with many happy guides and anglers, and once again we marvel at the generosity of the mighty Ponoi.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

 

2018 Great kick off day!

Despite tough weather conditions our skillful guests landed an impressive 207 salmon!!!