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Ponoi Fall Run series rods

In 2016, we realized a long-held dream of creating the perfect fly rod for fishing Ponoi waters. As of now, Ponoi Fall Run Series rods have been successfully tested not only on Ponoi but on such legendary waters as Norway's Alta, Argentina's Rio Grande, and the Taimen rivers of far eastern Russia. The rods were widely praised by all who fished them, and are sure to be treasured.

The development of the Ponoi Fall Run Series began with a comparative test of twenty-seven different models of double-handed spey rod. The test sample was cast and fished extensively by the entire Ponoi Guide Team, as well as a varied group of expert casters and anglers. Building on the findings, we custom designed the Ponoi Fall Run Series alongside Guideline head rod designer Leif Stavmo. The result is a responsive, crisp, and easy-casting rod that was custom-designed from tip to butt for the Ponoi angler. Every facet of this rod, from cork to reel seat, blank color, guide placement, rod sock, and even tube, were crafted and assembled to help ensure that your fishing experience is incomparable.

Ponoi Anniversary reel

In celebration of several institutional milestones, the Ponoi River Company introduces a limited run of exceptional fly reels, designed and fabricated with the input of PRC guides to meet the unique demands of Ponoi anglers.  PRC ownership enlisted VR Design to produce a limited run of 50 titanium reels commemorating PRC’s 25th year in existence, and Ilya Sherbovich’s 10th year as owner of the Company.  The reels, which boast an unparalleled degree of fit, finish, and technical refinement, ideally fit 220 m of 30 lb. Dacron backing and a 9/10 wt. modern spey or double-handed line.  These unique pieces of collectible tackle are positioned to offer exacting performance and absolute pride of ownership.

End of Season report by Steve Estela PRC CEO

May found the Arctic Circle enjoying a warm and early spring. The first advance group of staff in Ryabaga was delighted by fair weather conditions which made the prep of the camp an easier-than-normal task. Long sunny days with temperatures in the mid-teens leant to the excitement in camp, as there was high anticipation for the good things to come.

The fishing kicked off in high gear, as salmon of substantial size and number were taken in the first days, predicting a great spring. Nearly all of these early fish were in cracking condition, silver and strong as ever. In recent years the annual Fall Run has been arriving later, as proven by the condition in which we encounter fish in the first weeks of spring fishing. It is becoming clear that long after camp closes in fall and the river freezes over, hundreds of fresh fish keep entering the Ponoi system.

Busy weeks sped by, filled with familiar faces, and many longstanding Ponoi regulars in Camp. Catches seemed to improve daily, with several weeks boasting catch totals in excess of 1200 fish!

Everything turned green earlier than usual this season, and the Summer Run did not disappoint. A very solid batch of fresh fish started running up the Ponoi around June 20th and continued well into late July. This made for the best Summer Run we have seen in many years, and all beats enjoyed great fishing, marked by the strong fights and acrobatics of these bright, fresh fish.

Summer was upon us nearly at once, and with it came the flowers, the mushrooms, and the bugs! The midsummer fishing continued strong, wrapping up at the break with an average of 31 fish per rod through the first seven weeks of the season.

Summer Break in Ryabaga is both a time of rest and some very hard work. It is the time when we take care of improvements and upgrades on facilities and equipment. A host of projects were spearheaded and executed by our skillful team of mechanics. We operate on the assumption that there is always room for improvement, and each season we are proud to delight our guests with a host of new and refined amenities. In 2016 we saw a completely new boat dock, a stunning new Guest House sauna, a gym facility extension, 2 new toilets for the big tent, 2 new boat storage facilities, 4 new boats, and general upgrades on buildings, camp facilities and roads. Needless to say by late summer we were operating at the highest level, celebrating anglers in the finest remote fishing camp in the world.

August arrived, and so did the fall-run salmon, making for the most celebrated fishing of the season. Weather in the second half started out somewhat unstable; windy days were not unusual and rain was present every other day. These conditions made the river level fluctuate, and we experienced high water for most of the fall. The fresh fish started running on time but in clear schools, making the fishing during the first weeks of August a bit spotty. As days went by, the river started to fill with bright fish, and in short order we were able to find solid fishing throughout all of the beats.

Again in later fall rain turned the river off-color and strong winds made fishing somewhat challenging. The fish, however, remained in superb condition, silver and strong in good numbers and the best average weight we have seen in years: 18-, 19-, and 20+ pound salmon were landed regularly, and a beauty of 28 pounds will be remembered as the king of the fall. The fishing ended strong, and the final week of the 2016 season saw nice catches through the very last day.

Overall it has been a great season, not only with regard to the fishing, but with respect to friendship, camaraderie, and the support for our longstanding guests. It is this support that allows us to continue to enjoy and protect this remarkable and unique resource that is the Ponoi.

Both in Ryabaga and in the Murmansk office, Ponoi River Company staff has done an outstanding job. My biggest regards and thanks go out to this team, as great things can only be achieved by great people, and PRC has compiled the best. I would of course like to thank the Frontiers Staff in the US and UK for all of the help and cooperation.

Special thanks to Ilya Sherbovich, our Commander in Chief, who is always ready to help and advise.

Finally, to my family: Pata, Santi and Simon, your love and support is my daily motivation.

With 2016 complete, our expectations turn to 2017. The river is resting and our minds and hearts are already working on next season, which will no doubt be beyond compare.

Big thanks to everyone. See you soon on the banks of Ponoi!

Steve Estela

Ponoi RIver Co.




And The Season Comes to a Close

Our 18th and final week of the 2016 Ponoi salmon season just ended, leaving behind a great number of stories, memories of days on the Kola Peninsula, and of course a glowing record of many remarkable fish.

Howling winds two Fridays past left us with off-color waters at the start of Week 18 which, when combined with cold temperatures, made for some very challenging conditions. Fortunately, the water began to clear by mid-week, and the fishing picked up in response.

Though the weather remains particularly mild for this time of year, the water temperatures have dropped to between 4 and 5 degrees. As a consequence, the salmon have begun holding in slow, deep water, and anglers were forced to go after them with big, bright tubes on full-sinking lines. These aggressive tactics required that flies continuously stripped to entice fish from their lies.

Hundreds of bright fish were landed this week including several sea-liced salmon, ensuring that fish were still entering the Ponoi system until the season’s very end. Most likely they will keep doing so in until the deepening cold slows their metabolic rates, forcing them into a holding pattern until next spring.

Two big parties joined us this week: the Lebrette-Camozzi team made the trek from France alongside a group of eight anglers from the UK hosted by our friend Jim Curry. We also had some representatives from Mother Russia who took river lunches as seriously as the fishing itself, if not more!

The angling group was rounded out by the Senior brothers and Fritz who also hailed from the US. Though the first couple days offered conditions that were far from ideal, spirits on the water were always high, and the mood in the Big Tent was nothing short of amazing; the post-dinner bar was frequented by guides and guests alike. It was truly a pleasure to end our season surrounded by such fun people.

After the week’s 22 guests left Ryabaga, camp winterization began in force, and boats commenced to be removed from the water. By 4 PM a second helicopter had taken 20 of the Ryabaga staff members back to Murmansk, leaving camp far quieter than it has been in weeks. Over the next few days, the remainder of the team will work on getting Ryabaga ready for the cold, dark Arctic winter. Before we know it, early spring will beckon us back for yet another fishing season, revealing whatever treasures remain beneath the winter’s ice.

In all, the 2016 season has contributed wonderfully to the rich history of Atlantic salmon angling out of Ponoi’s Ryabaga Camp. Though innumerable changes and improvements have taken place over the past 25 years of operation, we can safely say that the drive and raw passion of the Ponoi founders remains intact, represented in the culture of Ryabaga and its staff. All who work on Ponoi are incredibly proud of this heritage, and all relish the chance to keep the Ponoi experience incomparable, as it has always been.

Until Next Season!

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team