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.
Agustin C. Lo Greco
Ryabaga Camp Manager