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The Week That Changed Everything

Week 11 Report

This past Week 11 we welcomed guests back to Ryabaga following the midsummer break, and we resumed fishing full-throttle. After a month-long heat wave that affected all of Europe (including the Kola Peninsula), we returned to a river that was experiencing a record low level, particularly for the first couple of days, but continued to produce nonetheless. The fishing turned out to be outstanding! The weather definitively changed by the start of the week, with air temperatures hovering around the mid-teens, as was the water temperature.

Wonderfully we returned to a full camp, with guests from Finland, USA, Switzerland and the UK. The group managed to finish with a weekly average catch per rod of 18 fish, a wonderful result especially considering that most guests were pursuing Atlantic salmon for the very first time. Matti B., Jean-Pierre Z, Andrea Z, Lewis H., Pekka A., Petri V., Kati P. and Jari S. each came to Ryabaga hoping to catch their first Atlantic salmon, and once again the Ponoi did not disappoint.

 

The midsummer river certainly showed its gentler side this week, and even offered up one of its brawling 22 pounders. This magnificent fish went to seasoned salmon angler Keith C., much to his delight. It was a thing of beauty indeed.

It was a challenging week at points largely due to temperature and weather, but spirits remained high. As is often the case, the final number of fish caught was not the primary focal point of guests, who clearly came to see that there is something more than just catching fish that gives substance to “the Ryabaga Experience”. Indeed, though the total number of fish was never the focal point this week, there was a report of one particular fish that required some attention on Friday night. Earlier that day, Kati S. had managed to secure a beautiful 11 lb. sea-liced, fall-run chromer, the first of the season. That was the fish that changes everything, ensuring us that the Fall Run is indeed around the corner, and with it some of the best fishing of the season. Expectations are running high in Ryabaga to say the least.

And so, another week comes to an end. It remains clear to us, and to all the anglers who have come and gone, that a week in Ryabaga is one to remember, and an experience that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. Whether you are an experienced salmon angler or a first-timer, the Ponoi is a place where memories are made and dreams are made real. We are all so fortunate to experience it.

Until next week, Tight Lines!

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager 

 

Ryabaga Continues to Deliver Despite the Odds

Week 7 Report

This past week officially capped the first half of the 2018 Ponoi salmon season. As we move into the Midsummer Break it is interesting to note that though conditions were challenging through the bitter end of the first half, our steadfast guests remained resolute in their desire to make the most of the experience, and never lost hope that Atlantic salmon could and would be caught on swung flies. Despite challenging conditions, our group of 19 guests this week managed to land an impressive number fish, all of this through weather that was representative of a proper “tundra summer”. Air temperatures reached the high twenties and water temps soared to the high teens, reaching twenty on the last day of fishing. These conditions, marked as they were by very sunny days, were pleasant for anglers but presented some of the most challenging circumstances under which one might try to catch a salmon.

Ryabaga Home Pool lived up to its reputation as the most productive salmon pool in the world, producing more than 35 salmon after being fished only lightly each day under high, bright skies. Regulars on Home Pool included a group from Spain. This crew was jokingly dubbed “The River Wolves” by their fellow anglers in light of their perseverance and success. Beyond Home Pool, the fishing rewarded the faithful, and the group of 19 anglers that joined us this week reported an average catch of 22 fish per rod.

As Ryabaga says farewell to the last angling group of the Spring/Summer season, all who took part are compelled to look back at seven weeks of incredible fishing. It was certainly not always easy fishing, but is was remarkable indeed, not only for size and quantity of the fish taken, but for the quality of fish as well. It is truly stunning to think that the Ponoi is able to provide with such consistency, enabling our guests the astounding average catch per rod per week of 35 fish for the first half. And with that number in recent memory, it is again time for Ryabaga Camp to take a short break. In the coming weeks we will rest and regroup, work through some improvement projects around camp and let the promise of fresh, fall-run Ponoi salmon enter both the river and our collective dreams. These dreams will no doubt be shared by those anglers who are, like us, waiting for the second half, and the chance to do battle on the incomparable Ponoi.

Tight Lines

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

The 6th Week: A Retrospective

Week 6 Report

On Friday night, a full complement of diners sat in the Big Tent listening to Turo L. and Sylvian C., who were representing the Finnish and French groups respectively. Turo and Sylvian regaled the assembled guests with their impressions of the week and of the greater Ryabaga experience, attempting to put into words what a week on the world’s finest Atlantic-salmon river feels like. Wonderfully, a theme of quality shone through in their reflections, and not just the quality of the angling resource; both men described the quality of accommodations, quality of gastronomy, and quality of hospitality. Most noteworthy, however, was Sylvian’s recognition of the fundamental quality of the personal experience cultivated by the Ryabaga staff. It is this warm, personal touch that allows guests to feel that there is a second home for them on the remote tundra.

This past week was filled with epic stories of great catches and of course some tales of the ones that got away. Wonderfully, we all also enjoyed some lovely after-dinner “a cappella” singing by Janne L. The fishing itself was nothing to sneeze at either, though the weather was not quite ideal. This past week our group of 19 guests landed 504 fish of which 34 were fresh, summer-run fish. 28 fish of our total catch for the week were landed by Sylvian C., whose success was all the more impressive considering that he’d come to Ryabaga to catch his very first Atlantic salmon.

Ryabaga Camp and the Ponoi River once again displayed a remarkable versatility, allowing guests the range of experiences that makes a week chasing salmon with us so unforgettable. Some guests chose to fish from the boat throughout their entire stay, while others preferred to wade; some guests this week fished skated dry flies while some opted for heavy sink-tips; some guests chose eggs Benedict with coffee for breakfast while others enjoyed waffles with tea; many took advantage of countless pre-breakfast and after-dinner Home Pool sessions. The beauty of the Ponoi and of Ryabaga Camp is that both can be what you want them to be, and the quality of the experience will invariably exceed expectations. Whatever guests choose to do while visiting Ryabaga, they will benefit from what many anglers regard as the best guide team in the world, and a camp staff that is without peer among the great angling destinations of the world. In Ryabaga, we are fortunate to see our operation as a sum of remarkable parts, each of which serves to surprise and delight guests throughout the summer salmon season. With that as our standard we step into midsummer, eager to see what else the mighty Ponoi holds in store.

 

Until Then,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Ryabaga Camp: Where the 2018 FIFA World Cup is of Secondary Importance

Week 5 Report

The 5th Week of our 2018 season comes to an end with the departure of a group comprised largely of first-time salmon anglers. As we say goodbye to this group, we are fortunate to reflect on a week of fantastic yet challenging fishing that was shared with old friends, new friends, and what we have come to call “new old friends”.

Our longtime guest Orazio G. was in Ryabaga this week, accompanied by a group of his friends from the northern regions of Italy. Among them were Filippo B., Freddy B., Gianpietro S., and Fabio L., all of whom had come to Ryabaga with the hope of catching their first Atlantic salmon. Wonderfully, the Ponoi performed as we’ve come to expect, and all of these anglers managed a to land a salmon (and then some) on their very first day out on our beloved river. It was something of an unusual week due to the fact that the stories around the dinner table gravitated as much towards salmon angling as they did towards football (or soccer, for those Ponoi friends from across the pond). Needless to say, there was much to talk about both on and off the water.

Early in the week it seemed that summer had finally settled over our piece of tundra for good. We started the week with air temperatures in the low twenties, and strong warm winds from the south. On the third day out, however, guides and anglers where greeted by some of the most challenging conditions for the Atlantic-salmon fly angler: due to strong south winds over the shallow headwater lakes of the Ponoi, a pulse of off-color water had moved downstream, rendering clarity and underwater visibility close to nil. Nevertheless, everybody kept right on fishing, and despite sub-optimal conditions our anglers continued to land fish. On day 5 the strong winds had shifted to come out of the north, bringing with them rain and a strong reminder that summer in the Arctic Circle offer up any range of weather conditions. By week’s end the temperature had dropped considerably, and anglers were reaching for extra layers even as they continued finding fish. In fact, these lower-than-normal air temperatures kept the water temps ideal, allowing anglers to land a total of 478 fish this week, 22 of them being fresh summer-run chromers. Once again we witnessed nothing but generosity from our river.

There were two 19 lb. beauties taken this week by Orazio G. and David C., a couple of 17’s too, several 16’s and 15’s, and countless fish taken on dry flies. Generosity indeed… and we couldn’t be any more grateful to be here, experiencing a river and a fishery in its prime.

Already 5 weeks of the 2018 season have passed, and the Ryabaga guides have helped anglers land more than 4300 fish! These numbers, and all of the people who have played a role in making them a reality, are nothing short of spectacular. We would like to thank all of the guests that have joined us in Ryabaga thus far. It has been a pleasure to share so many memorable days in this fantastic place. We are grateful too for the days still to come, and for the salmon that the river continues to promise. Until next week, thank you all, and tight lines.

Cheers,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager