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