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2021 End of Season Report: Back to What We Love, Feeling Alive Again…

End Of Season Report:

2020 was a year that many of us would like to forget. It was a year during which we all missed doing what we love with the people we most enjoy. Instead of joining friends on our favorite river, we spent the year sitting at home, dreaming about getting back to the Ponoi where we might once again feel alive.

The arrival of 2021 brought some hope. The global situation with COVID-19 has had its ups and downs, but borders started to ease, worldwide vaccination rates started to show an impact, and the prospects of a return to our beloved river began to look promising.

June brought the first guests back to Ryabaga. Spring fishing was decent… not red hot, but everyone in camp enjoyed a good number of fish and great conditions. As several nations opened travel across Russian borders, we slowly repopulated Ryabaga Camp with an international crew! With very tight protocols and safety regulations in camp (testing guests before arrival, social distancing in camp, an exceedingly high standard of hygiene, and limited exposure of staff to guests) we enjoyed a safe and trouble-free experience in Ryabaga. The midnight sun, dry-fly fishing, and a Summer Run that was strong in both numbers and size made for a very enjoyable spring.

Summer Break in Ryabaga brought more new updates. All on hand attended to the boats, engines, and Hovercrafts. Roads were improved, facilities saw several facelifts, the kitchen received upgrades, and Ryabaga enjoyed the general enhancements it deserved.

After the Break, our Fall Run weeks were thoroughly booked by loyal and longstanding guests. In addition, we were thrilled to welcome some new friends that were able to visit Ryabaga and fish the Ponoi for the very first time. As summer gave way to autumn, the Fall Run started to show signs of being a proper one. Once the first mint, sea-liced salmon were landed in the lower beats we knew the push of fresh fish had started. We had great expectations, and fortunately the run never stopped!

Every day of the fall, sea-liced fished were landed through all our beats from Tomba to Kolmak. Trophies were a matter of discussion every night at the bar, and all were impressed with the fantastic condition in which the 2021 fall-run salmon showed up! The fish were fat and square, with big, solid shoulders; beautiful, perfect, and stunning were just a few of the adjectives used to describe the daily catch. The number of fish seen and landed just kept increasing, and we knew we were witnessing a remarkable 2021 Fall Run.

Numbers don’t always tell the full story, but for those wondering what constitutes a great run, we had an average of 25-30 salmon per rod per week for the top fall weeks! Some lucky and skillful anglers had days wherein 25 were fish landed by wading the friendly banks of Ponoi… The size and volume of the Fall Run not only means we had a fantastic autumn, but it also foretells a great 2022 Spring season!

With Ryabaga nearly full, we enjoyed great company, lots of laughs, and some fantastic fishing. Ryabaga hosted guests from many countries this year, all arriving by different routes. Wonderfully, our guests were assisted by our in-person Team both in Moscow and Murmansk. Due to COVID, it was not always easy to maintain our personal contact with each guest, but once again Ponoi performed up to its standards. Looking back on 2021, we can now say we had a trouble-free season! We are thrilled to announce that we are back!

Many thanks to our loyal, longstanding guests, to friends new and old, and to all our staff, who had to learn a new way of working under new guidelines. Thanks, as always, to owner Ilya Sherbovich, the man who always knows just what to say, who supports Ponoi unconditionally through thick and thin. Thanks as well to my family for the longstanding support even in tough times; you make me stronger!

I am incredibly proud to be part of this Team. The group that makes the fishing experience possible on Ponoi is simply the best there is!

A final word of thanks to all our guests. We will see you soon on the banks of Ponoi for another great salmon angling experience!

Sincerely,

Steve Estela, AST Advisor

 

Looking Ahead at the End of the Season

Weekly Report

October 3rd - 10th, 2021

We finished our Ponoi salmon season with a delightful group of guests from Belgium, France, and Russia. It has been a pleasure to host anglers from around the world this season, and to share the experience of Ponoi and its incredible run of Atlantic salmon. Our fall-run fish have brought joy to new and experienced anglers alike over the past few weeks, and this final week afforded more of the same: happy anglers returned to the Big Tent each day to share stories of magnificent, bright salmon… all beneath a display of northern lights. This is what Ryabaga is all about!

Salmon were running strong through the last few days of fishing, signaling great things for the spring to come. These salmon that continue to pour into the river will sit under the ice till we return next year, at which time they will again take our flies. With the cold water, they will remain dime bright until summer, at which time they will begin to prepare for an autumn spawn, a year later than they arrived. It is truly an amazing life cycle to witness firsthand. To be in the presence of running fish from our arrival in August to our departure in October is a great testament to the health of the run. No doubt, fish are still pushing into the Ponoi at this very moment.

Conditions this week were a bit tougher than last week’s bluebird days, but more typical for this period in October. There was some rain and wind as the temperatures dropped and the days shortened. This did not hinder the fishing, however, as the fish of the week - a stunning 21 lb. fresh salmon - was landed on the very last day. It wasn’t just the size of fish that was remarkable this week. Looking through the fishing report showed stats such as Hugo M’s 13 bright fish day. No other river produces the same quantity and quality of bright salmon per rod, especially in October!

It has been a pleasure to open Ryabaga to the world, to welcome friends back to appreciate this amazing resource and help conserve it. It is truly the best salmon river in the world. All of us are eager for the arrival of spring so we can once more find ourselves among wild Atlantic salmon, pristine wilderness, and those who appreciate both. Until next time, tight lines and thanks for coming to experience this special place with us.

All the Best,

Max Kantor, Ryabaga Camp Manager

And They Just Keep Pouring In…

Weekly Report

September 27- October 3, 2021

Excitement was in the air this week as we welcomed a returning group of experienced salmon anglers from the UK. Only Nadim had not fished for salmon, a circumstance quickly remedied on Day 1 and reinforced by countless bright fish in the days that followed. It never takes much time on Ponoi to make a die-hard Atlantic-salmon angler. 

Fishing this autumn has been very good, with bright fish regularly taken in all beats of the river. That said, the fishing became exceptional this week. Ryabaga guides and anglers have been seeing fish pushing into the system for weeks now, but this week the weather, water temperature, conditions, and fish migration cycles came together to create something special. Good omens were apparent after the first day, when boats with both single anglers and pairs came in with tales of numerous bright salmon hooked. David F. wasted no time on the first day and locked into a fall-run fish over 10 lb. before he had even lengthened his line to cast. All in all, the week ended with an average of around 30 fish per rod, all bright and full of vigor! Weather was a consistent 8-9 degrees Celsius with very little wind, and the water temperature warmed to 6 degrees, which certainly put fish on the take.

Our guests this week employed wading to a very successful degree; several anglers hooked more than 20 fish from the shore! These numbers represented both salmon taken on the river during the day’s fishing and around the edges of the guided day in Ryabaga Home Pool, which continued to produce great fall-run action.

As far as big fish go, an impressive number of salmon over 10 lbs. were caught this week. On Day 1 alone, fifteen salmon over the 10 lb. mark were landed, and that trend continued through the week. There were some monsters landed as well, notably Jonathan’s sea-liced 20 lb. fish taken all the way at the top in the Kolmak windows. Just looking at the fishing report every day was cause enough to smile, as reports of special fish were present from top to bottom. Any cast on Ponoi can yield a trophy bright fish, and this week proved that. As we move deeper into autumn, we recognize that there is nowhere else on the planet that can deliver hundreds and hundreds of bright Atlantic salmon to a group of enthusiastic anglers. 

It has been a pleasure to open Ryabaga to international guests again, and as the season winds down with only one week left, we are looking with great anticipation towards our spring fishing. With the fast and furious fishing, we are having in Ryabaga, this last week and the spring look to be exceptional. We cannot wait to experience them with you! For current updates and photos from the river be sure to check out our social media accounts (@ponoiriverco). Until next time, tight lines, and thanks for sharing this special place with us.

All the Best,

Max Kantor 

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Running Fish and Happy Anglers

Weekly Report: September 20-26, 2021

With the fall season in full swing, we welcomed groups from the USA, the UK, and Kazakhstan to Ryabaga this week. Yet again, it was great to see so many old friends back here in camp after such a long absence, and it was a special treat to share our river with a few anglers who were making their first pilgrimage to Russia. We had a variety of conditions through the week, starting with a couple cold nights that brought the water temperature down below 5 degrees Celsius. Towards the end of the week the wind switched from north to south and the air warmed up accordingly. The fishing followed this trend and we saw good numbers of fish throughout the week, especially in the last few days. Fish were caught above and below camp, all the way up in Kolmak to down below Tomba. On the final day, many running fish were spotted and caught through the lower beats, evidence that fresh fish are still very much entering the Ponoi system.

In addition to some great fishing throughout Ryabaga waters during the day, a few anglers enjoyed some fantastic action in the Ryabaga Home Pool during the off hours. Keith fished a session every morning and evening and added over 10 fish to his total for the week. Some of these were very nice fall-run salmon of more than 15 pounds, and one beauty looked like it must have weighed in just under 20. Keith commented several times that it was truly the “best salmon pool on earth!”

There were some outstanding fish taken on the river this week. On the first day of fishing, Alexander enjoyed an immaculate fresh fish of 18 lb. with guide Ruslan in the Kolovai Beat. Day 2 brought quite a number of big fish, with Jane landing two 16 lb. beauties, and a 14 lb. fish each for both John and Paul. Hubert had a few fish in this range as well, with multiple fish over 10 lb. landed on Days 3 and 6. Jane finished the week off with one more 16 lb. and Len landed a 15 lb. sea-liced fish that he regarded as “the strongest fish he has hooked on this river.” Len has spent over 60 weeks fishing in Ryabaga, so such a qualification certainly means a lot. These deep-bodied, fall-run salmon are some of the most spectacular fish an angler can experience. Once an angler has felt the raw power of one, it is not just the fish that is hooked. It is this incredible power experienced in this remarkable place that keeps guests coming back year after year, sometimes for more than just a week!

It has been a pleasure to open Ryabaga to guests from around the world once again, and as Fall continues, the run looks only more promising. For current updates and photos from the river be sure to check out our social media accounts (@ponoiriverco). Until next time, tight lines, and thanks for sharing this special place with us.

All the Best,

 

Max Kantor

Ryabaga Camp Manager