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All news for: Week 13

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

Part of Something Special

Week 13 Report

On Friday night, after the catch for the week and the closing speech had been presented, guest Bob P. kindly shared a few thoughts with all present in the Big Tent. To paraphrase his sentiments: “…if you could hold the world in your hands and so doing see the extent of nature’s wonders, you could only ask yourself why we as a species aren’t doing all we can to protect them.”

We live in times that are overwhelmed by fabricated science that seems to tell us that everything is OK, that we can keep doing things as we have in the past with no negative consequence. Spending a week in the Russian wilderness and enjoying the bounty of one of the increasingly rare, unspoiled places makes you realize that we have to do our best to help nature return to its proper balance.

Ponoi’s Ryabaga Camp exemplifies the way that men and nature can live in harmony. The Ponoi is the largest and longest river on the Kola Peninsula, and it flows uninterrupted and unsullied towards the White Sea. It is a river that has been a safe haven for one of the biggest runs of Atlantic salmon on the planet. When one comes to visit Ryabaga, that person becomes part of something that is greater than just catching fish. Each guest in Ryabaga Camp contributes to the effort of keeping this river, these fish, and this entire ecosystem safe for the generations to come.

This week Ryabaga was home to a group of anglers comprised mostly of “first-timers” to the Ponoi experience. Those who started as strangers, however, are all now part of Ryabaga’s history, and of Ryabaga’s mission to serve and protect nature.

The “catching” was not easy this week, but the sight of bright fish showing in great numbers was the daily norm. The river was low to begin the week and it kept on dropping. With that drop, the water also warmed up, and by week’s end it reached 18ºc. Sunny, warm conditions made it harder to find taking fish, but the fishing experience was nevertheless great.

We welcomed a group of anglers this week that had traveled great distances to experience Atlantic-salmon fishing at its finest. Our anglers hailed from Spain, Australia, the UK, Dubai, and Russia. Though some of these guests have been fishing for salmon for a long time, one angler was here to catch his first-ever Atlantic salmon. We are happy to say that it took Paul M. just minutes to land his first salmon, and it was a pleasure to see him do so in our water! It was similarly a pleasure to see so many young anglers in camp, with a few in their twenties and two 18-year-old guests who took to the water like seasoned veterans. Wonderfully, 23% of the fish taken this week were bright, fall-run fish. John L. landed the biggest of the week at 19 lb. We can certainly say after a week like this that the Ponoi remains as healthy as ever, and that all of the fresh fish pushing into the system are a promise of what’s to come. Excitement in Ryabaga grows ever stronger as we look forward to some cooler nights, some rain in the forecast, and the impending appearance of the Northern Lights.

We thank all of our guests for being part of the Ryabaga experience; without you, the future would be a lot more bleak.

Until We Meet Again,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

The Yin & Yang of Salmon Fishing

Week 13 Report

There are many ways to put it: “you can’t have one without the other” or “nature will always find a way to balance things out”. Regardless of your philosophy, one has to acknowledge the realities of a situation as they are presented. This past week was a fine example of how, in salmon fishing, there is always a Yin and a Yang: no matter how tough the conditions, a river such as ours will eventually show its best side.

The week started out with a river that was flowing at a markedly low level. The water continued to drop over the ensuing four days, but despite the drop we nonetheless started to see good numbers of fresh fish pushing up into the river. About then a storm front moved in, bringing with it an 18-inch rise in water level overnight. Though the rise was just what we had been hoping for, it also produced off-colored water, due in large part to the strong winds that had stirred up the headwater lakes that feed PRC waters. It seemed that Mother Nature was offering us both the good and the “not so good”, reminding all in camp that you can’t have one without the other. Luckily, the last day of fishing was to be the best of the week, and all were pleased to end their time in Ryabaga on a high note.

A group of 18 anglers joined us in camp this week. Of that number some were new to Atlantic-salmon fishing, while some brought with them a wealth of angling experience. All set out from camp each day with high hopes, and despite the conditions, all returned each day with smiles. This past week a group of people from Denmark, the UK, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, the US, and Ireland came together to experience the uniqueness of Ponoi. It was the fishing, of course, that drew all to the far North, but it was the chess games, the poker games, and Friday’s party in the Big Tent that gave lasting substance to the memories of a week on Ponoi. Although the group experienced some of the most challenging conditions Ryabaga has ever seen, no one went home empty handed, and each guest was able to feel the strength and will of a respectable number of Ponoi salmon. Willy U., Kyle S., and Oxana D. each caught their first Atlantic salmon fishing with us this week, and each vowed that if they have another chance to make it to Ryabaga, there will be no second thoughts. I am quite sure that we will see these new friends again!

As we look forward to the advancing fall, we continue to celebrate, and anticipate, the memories that are made here on Ponoi. Even on the tough weeks, there is a certain magic that resides here, making the Ponoi River and Ryabaga Camp truly incomparable. We are excited to share that magic with you in the coming days and weeks, as the weather turns towards winter, and the Fall Run presses on.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Old Friends and New

Week 13 Report

The slow arrival of spring coupled with a mild summer this year led us to believe that an early fall was surely on its way. In turn, all in camp have been eagerly anticipating the early arrival of the Fall Run, which always brings with it some of the biggest fish of the year. Mother Nature had other plans, however, and in late August we experienced the last flourish of summer weather. This past week, most fishing days ranged from 15 to 20˚C, resulting in unseasonably warm water; consequently, the majority of the fall-run salmon have decided to wait a bit longer before entering the Ponoi.

Fortunately, on Tuesday a front arrived, bringing with it some serious rain and a drop in temperature. As soon as the water temperature dipped a bit, salmon catches increased, as the first big batch bright, fall-run salmon pushed up the Ponoi. These conditions were not to last however, and on the last morning of the week a southerly breeze coupled with an unseasonably warm day as the river rose quickly and became off-color. The increased level bodes well for the weeks to come, as more water will likely encourage more bright fish to enter the river, but nonetheless it made the week-end fishing quite challenging.

Fishing strategies varied through the week as the conditions changed. Those specifically targeting fresh fish opted primarily for big and bright Max tubes, while anglers who were willing to prospect through sections where bright fish were not present in considerable number tended toward lighter rigs for the overwintered salmon.

Though some amazing catches were managed this week, it was the crew of guests in camp that made this week quite special. It was a tremendous pleasure to welcome Tim Rajeff and Katherine Hart back to Ponoi. Tim and Katherine were the very first managers of Ryabaga Camp back in the early 90’s, and together they laid the foundation upon which Ryabaga, and its culture of innovation and hospitality, have been built. Tim and Katherine are not only world-class anglers, they are also incredibly warm and genuine people, and it was a pleasure to see them re-living their glory with old friends Boris, Genia, and Max. We were also honored to host Leif Stavmo this week. Leif is not only the head designer of Sweden’s Guideline rods, but he is also, like Tim, a former world-champion fly caster. Together, they put on an improvised casting clinic at Home Pool for guests and guides alike. It was a tremendous experience to see two legends sharing their styles, techniques, and of course their vast knowledge.

Evenings in the Big Tent were especially amusing this week, and Ryabaga was filled with warmth and laughter. All had the pleasure of welcoming some first-time visitors to the Ponoi, and some first-time Atlantic salmon anglers as well. The Alba group and friends from Argentina, Yuri from Russia, and Ashwin from the US all joined in the revelry and some fine fishing. It was also a pleasure to welcome back some longstanding visitors like Timo, Jon Shakour, and Joe Lamb, as well as Dorothy and Lyn. The evenings were made even more entertaining by Leif, who delighted us with his guitar and the vocal accompaniment of several staff.

All in all, despite some erratic conditions it was hugely rewarding to see such a good feeling among guests and staff this week. As is so often the case, the finest memories were those of the people who lit up the camp with their joy, kindness, and enthusiasm. We hope to see all back on Ponoi in the seasons to come!


Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team


Good Things on the Horizon

To recap, we finished our twelfth week in Camp with a river that was returning to normal shape after several days of considerable rain, but last Saturday a deluge hit Ryabaga waters hard once again, and similarly impacted most of the rivers of the Kola Peninsula. Suddenly, the already high (but dropping) Ponoi rose slightly more than 1 meter in 24 hours. It fast became necessary for the Guide Team to adjust to the sudden spring-level conditions. Though the water color was not entirely off, high water was washing the banks rather frequently, and it was indeed a challenge at to negotiate the ample floating debris and agitated sediment. This condition notably reduced the amount of productive water available to Ryabaga anglers.

After two days of continuous rise, the Ponoi started to settle by Thursday, and catches began to improve in turn as the days went by. By Friday, with a river in reasonable condition, we ended our week on a high note with 70 fish landed, 40% of which were bright, fall-run fish. Some of those fish were long-tail, sea-liced salmon, indicating a promising start for the coming week.

Our high expectations were confirmed on Saturday when PRC owner Ilya Sherbovich, who visited briefly for a couple of days in Camp, had a memorable fishing session in which he landed 5 fish over 10 pounds including a 19 lb. and a 20 lb. fall-runner.

Our longtime friend Erkki Moissander from Finland joined us once again this past week with a group of 13 Finnish guests. Some of these guests arrived in Ryabaga for the first time, though a good number of them have become Ryabaga regulars, including Ari, Penti, and Tom. All were glad to return to their home on Ponoi.

Another longtime Ryabaga angler, Orazio from Italy, came as usual with friend Steffano, but also hosted his partners Jarle from Flyfish Europe and K.C. Walsh, owner of Simms Fishing Products. K.C. was kind to entertain all in camp with a presentation about Simms and it’s story, and the associated details of K.C.’s vision, and the success he has achieved by transforming a small, regional company into the global leader in in the fly-fishing garment industry. Needless to say, K.C. was nothing short of inspiring.

The upcoming 14th week promises increasingly welcome conditions, and with the fall-run fish moving in number we can expect a great week to come. As usual, we expect only the best from this remarkable fishery, and the remainder of the 2016 season.

Until Next Week,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team