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All news for: Week 1

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

Week 1 Report: Off to a Great Start!

Each year, opening week of the Ponoi salmon season represents the end of a long period away. Winter can be a challenge for salmon anglers; when freezing weather takes hold of the Kola Peninsula, guests and staff are forced to wait and hope, eagerly anticipating the arrival of May and the opportunity to lay a line on the incomparable Ponoi once more. The build-up to Week 1 of the season is significant: there is much to do within a short window to put Ryabaga Camp in peak working order for guest arrival, and there is significant energy allotted to assessing fishing conditions of the river post ice-out. The arrival of guests represents the height of anticipation, and the opportunity to set a tone for all that follows in a given season.

Spring descended upon Ryabaga in good order this year and saw the ice push out in a timely manner as proper May weather arrived. Camp Staff and Mechanics took advantage of the seasonable temperatures to equip camp for guests, while the Ryabaga Guide Team assembled under Max Mamaev to assess flows and flies and fishable beats, and to see how the Ponoi’s salmon had fared under the ice. All looked and felt positive with the arrival of guests, and anglers took to the water with the highest hopes of success. The Ponoi did not disappoint. This past Week 1 proved out what we all had anticipated, namely that the Ponoi was in fine form. There were several remarkable catches, and the majority of the over-wintered salmon landed were heavy and bright, and willing to take flies. The inaugural group of the 2019 season saw an average catch per rod of 39 salmon, with several unusually large fish for this time of year. Battles were fought and won throughout Ryabaga waters this week, and most beats fished well.  Needless to say both guests and staff alike were thrilled to be back on the river and experiencing the glory of the Ponoi once more.

Weather posed some challenges this week, as early-season fishing in the Arctic can be chilly. The river was a bit higher than optimal, with temperatures in the 6 - 8 degrees C. range, which necessitated aggressive tactics. Anglers turned to heavy tips and bright flies to turn salmon but takes were aggressive and all fish fought well. The Ryabaga Guide Team put many years of collective wisdom together to employ working tactics, and their cunning on the river was rewarded.

The group of Week 1 guests that kicked off the season represented a blend of Ponoi veterans and first-timers. As is so often the case, however, by week’s end Ryabaga was alive with new friendships and fish tales. Guests hailed from the Netherlands and the UK, with a special group from Estonia arriving Tuesday to finish out the last half week of fishing. It was a pleasure to see the Big Tent alive again with reports of fine salmon and epic battles, and long evenings around the dinner table and bar capped exciting days on the water. All in all, it was a tremendous way to start the season.

As we look forward to Week 2, we are seeing the river drop a bit and take on even better shape. Warmer weather is likely to come, and Week 2 anglers will fill the entire camp, much to our delight. It is wonderful to be back in the rhythm of salmon season on Ponoi, joining happy guests and staff who are similarly eager to see what each day has to offer. It is clear thus far that dreams are coming true and memories are being made. Here’s to a great Week 1, and the promise of more great things to come.


Agustin 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!!!

The Most Challenging Week in the Last Century!

Having delayed Ryabaga’s opening for a week due to ice and weather, all in Camp were more than ready to welcome the first group of 2017 anglers this past week. Guides and guests were all anxious to get on the water to celebrate the new season, and to see what the river had to offer. Here on the Kola, this 2017 spring has been known as the “Latest Spring in the Last Century”, and Ponoi fishing was to be equally slow to start. Though water levels were reasonable at the start of Week 1, air temperatures hovered in the low teens throughout, reaching 2-3 C at night and dipping below zero on several occasions. Cold air did nothing to help the 2 degree water temperature. Nonetheless, guides and guests took to the water day after day, undaunted by the conditions, and driven to find some salmon. Tuesday saw the thermometer reach 15C, and with this added warmth we hoped to see a pickup in water temperature and fishing. Instead, the river rose about 1 meter, making conditions even tougher for our anglers. In times of cold and rising water, Ponoi guides have to shift tactics to tease out sluggish salmon. This week, sinking lines and bright, colorful tubes were the weapons that helped fool quiet fish. This first week has produced a 1000+ fish average over the last 5-year period, and it is statistically one of the two best weeks of every season. Unfortunately, this year fell far short of average, and showed us one of the toughest weeks on record. By week’s end some nice fish started to take in Ryabaga waters, and we look forward to a second week that shows us more normal conditions, both weather and fishing-wise. We want to sincerely thank the brave group of guests that joined us this week. Despite challenging conditions, all of our guests were very understanding, and never gave up hope or optimism. The guides also worked as hard as ever, and with their help anglers managed to land almost 100 fish, each of which was treasured. Much to our delight, good news came on Sunday the 11th. Following the first day’s fishing of Week 2, 100+ fished had been landed! After a tough, slow start to 2017, the Ponoi is looking like it will once again grace us with its bounty. On that note, we welcome the 2017 salmon season, and look forward to more great things in the near future!