All news for: Week 11

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

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 

 

A Finnish Beginning to the Fall

Week 11 Report

After a 3-week midsummer break, we returned this week to welcome the first days of August and the second half of the 2017 Ponoi salmon season in Ryabaga Camp. As is often the case through this midsummer period, the Ryabaga staff went in several different directions: some members of the crew took vacations, some launched an exploratory expedition to the distant Yakutia, and some remained in camp to undertake both maintenance projects and upgrades.

Though Ryabaga and the PRC waters are inhabited for only a portion of the year, extreme winter weather across the Kola and an ongoing commitment to improvement compel us to refine and upgrade facilities each year. These midsummer projects have become something of a tradition, and this year saw some wonderful improvements. Among them were the new river tents at Tomba and Lapynarka, a new mechanics shop with storage space, and a beautiful new staff banya. Additionally, our crew was able to grade the road to the moorage and reinforce it with with steel plates, so there will be no more bumpy morning rides to the boats!

In keeping with what we saw at the end of spring, summer remained quite mild across the Kola. Frequent rains kept the Ponoi at a good fishing level, and as the temperatures barely passed the 20˚C mark we returned to camp to find a cool yet somewhat dirty river. The fish remained in very good shape, and, to our delight, in a “taking” mood.

On the first day of fishing this past week a few bright fish were landed, proving that the last salmon of the summer run had continued up the Ponoi during the break. Though the longevity of the summer run was noteworthy, following Day 1 we nonetheless felt a bit disappointed that we would have to wait a bit longer for the sought-after fall runners. That said, on our first day of fishing 20 rods landed 70 fish.

The slightly off-color water kept Ryabaga guides reliant on big, bright Max tubes at first, though smaller tubes and some small traditional patterns were used with good success. Anglers fished intermediate tips almost exclusively.

There was a unique circumstance that Ponoi anglers encountered this week in the form of a strong run of Humpback (Pink) salmon. Humpies, which were introduced to the region in the mid-1950s by the Soviet government, now spawn in the salmon rivers of the Kola Peninsula and Scandinavia (and even northern Scotland). This year the Ponoi witnessed a major run of these non-native Pacific salmon, with fish occurring in the river in unprecedented numbers. We can only speculate about the cause of this strange phenomenon, but we trust that the population will go back to its normal level in future seasons. We will know for certain in 2019, when the 2-year cycle brings the Humpies back again. Though they can be quite aggressive in finding their spawning grounds, the Humpies will be long dead by the time the native Atlantic salmon spawn in fall. Unlike our Atlantic salmon, the Humpy juveniles will hatch in March and will almost immediately run downstream to the saltwater. Conversely, Salmo salar hold for two to six years in the fresh water before descending to the sea. Despite this minimal overlap in spawning cycle, we don’t fear that there should be any interference between this comparatively significant run of Pacific salmon and our native fish, as the two species have coexisted for more than 60 years. In light of the unexpected abundance, guides, staff and guests have been feasting on Humpback salmon eggs!

This week we enjoyed the return of Erkki Moisander and his full party of Finnish guests. Ryabaga was again running at full capacity, and bubbling with enthusiasm. Even though there were several first-timers in the group, the party managed to land 350 salmon including a nice 20 lb. fish by Ahti. Without a doubt, however, the high point of the week was the first Fall-run salmon of the season, taken by Juha and vigorously celebrated by all in camp. That inaugural fall runner was only a grilse, however, and Juha was far more excited about the 19 lb. colored cock fish he landed just a few minutes later.

 

Needless to say, it is a pleasure to be back in camp. With the arrival of fall-run fish, we cannot wait to see what the second half has in store. This has been a unique season on all fronts, as marked by the late spring, the fine midsummer river condition, and this remarkable arrival of humpback salmon. It may well be that the late season 2017 will bring more unprecedented things to Ponoi anglers.

More to come…

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

Fall run is here!!!

The Fall Run is Officially Here! After several weeks of rest, Ryabaga welcomed guests last Saturday to celebrate the beginning of the most special event of the season: The Fall run. This late summer even represents our primary run of fish, and it hosts from 60% to 80% of the potentially 60,000 fish that enter our system. These fish arrive in Ryabaga waters ready to spend up to 20 months in the Ponoi before returning to the White Sea, and they are, upon arrival, at their most fit. It is for this reason that fall-run fish are so sought after by anglers. This massive run of fish starts in early August, and salmon continue running or staging in the estuary even after our season closes in early October.

Fall-run fish are the reason we are here, and this explains the degree of anticipation we feel upon going to the river for the first outing of the season’s second half. As guides return from the river to fill out the fishing reports, there are only eyes for one column on the form, namely the number of bright fish landed. On day 1 it was wonderful o see that 4 chromers had been landed in Tomba beat, proving that indeed the fall-run had arrived!

We returned from break to find a river with fairly high flow, and rain continued to be pretty consistent through the first fishing days, especially on Tuesday. Water levels rose one meter in less than 48 hours, adding some color to the river. In order to maximize our chances for bright fish, we made use of our hovercraft to reach the lower beats of Lapynyarka and Hard Curve in comfort. By the end of the week, fresh fish had been landed in beats nearer the camp, so it is expected that within the next week the upper beats will start producing bright fish as well.

It’s no news that fresh fish are not terribly shy, so big bright tube flies fished on fast swings, as well as stripped flies on sink-tip lines, were the most popular combinations throughout the week. This will most likely hold true until water temperatures drop enough to make some sections more suitable for full sinking lines.

This week we had four couples in camp, a few old friends as well as some Ryabaga first-timers who we look forward to meeting again. Jamie B. from the US landed his first Atlantic salmon on the week’s first fishing day, and went on to take what turned out to be one of the best fish of the week on the last fishing day. Gennady Z. from Moscow, who came to camp with his wife, was our most prolific angler this week, while Richard J. had a most memorable day on Tomba, landing 13-, 12-, and 11-pound fresh fish.

With another fully booked camp for the upcoming week, we are looking forward to seeing what more the Ponoi has to offer. It is a pleasure once again to welcome these fall-run fish, and to experience the finest Atlantic salmon fishing in the world!

Until Next Week,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

Summer Break!

Ryabaga camp gets a face lift and all facilities get upgraded to welcome the second half of the season, lots of projects underway!