A Great Four Days
Our twelfth week of the season started out in the most unusual way, as at the end of the previous week a major readiness rehearsal was initiated by the government, involving all military forces in the Barents and White Seas. This unexpected and completely unprecedented event brought about the closing of all air-space for several days throughout a good portion of the Kola Peninsula. Unfortunately, due to these impositions, our group of arriving guests had to stay in Murmansk until the ban was lifted.
The Ryabaga Camp Staff, the Murmansk Office Team, and of course our group of unlucky guests waited on hold for the imminent opening of air-space. It was a period of waiting, but all pitched in to make the most of a challenging experience. The Murmansk Team took the opportunity to share their fair city with guests, visiting the Arctic Museum, taking a city tour with an English-speaking guide, and visiting the Lenin Icebreaker, which remains the biggest in the world. While in Murmansk our guests enjoyed lovely lunches and a fine dinner, all the while awaiting the return of good news. That news did not come until Monday evening, when the Mi-8 was finally allowed to leave Murmansk.
Once in Camp, spirits were high, and both guests and staff did their best to leave the days of uncertainty behind. Schedules were modified to afford guests two additional fishing hours each day, in order that all eked the most out of the remaining days. Delays were forgotten when we celebrated the 1st Atlantic salmon catch for our 20 anglers.
Conditions until mid-week remained steady, with a rather high river and water that remained quite a bit warmer than expected for this time of the year. The beginning of fall was definitely felt on Tuesday evening when some major weather and strong rains pounded Ryabaga through the night. After this rain, the river rose yet another meter, and it was time for our Guides to re-assess their tactics once more.
As days passed, the presence of fall-run fish increased throughout Ponoi waters, both jumping in the river and tugging at the end of our guest’s lines. As expected for this time of the year, the lower beats proved to be fruitful, and we made good use of the hovercraft to fish the farther Lapybarka and Hard Curve sections.
We hosted a group of wonderful and patient anglers in camp this week. Apart from the group of Russian regulars, it was the first Ponoi experience for almost all the US and UK guests. In fact, this was the first Atlantic salmon experience for many, and though conditions and the unexpected events at the beginning of the week were a drawback, we are confident that all in Ryabaga were thrilled by the Camp and the River. The guests vowed to return in coming seasons to seek their revenge!
We did celebrate some noteworthy catches this week. Ardie struggled to get her first salmon, but went straight to the big leagues by catching a 17 lb. cock fish and a stunning 15 lb. chromer. Malcom landed the first big fall-run fish of the season on Tuesday, John got an impressive fresh fish of 17 lb., and Pavel had his grand finale with a massive 20 lb. overwintered fish on Friday afternoon.
The first appearance of Aurora Borealis, the golden leaves of autumn, and increasingly cool weather, remind us that we are approaching the most sought-after part of the season. With this week’s group having arrived excited and without delay, we look forward for the next few days, as we know the best is yet to come.
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team