Ponoi Friends & Family Week
Week 14 Report
This past week was not only the 14th week of the 2017 Ponoi salmon season, it was also the annual Ponoi Friends & Family Week in Ryabaga. It was, once again, an unforgettable experience for all involved; with almost 30 guests in camp and friends spilling over into the Guest House, Ryabaga was humming with life.
PRC owner Ilya Sherbovich and his wife Tanya welcomed friends and family into camp, and led guests through a wonderful, and quite special, schedule of events. Before each dinner, prizes for biggest Atlantic salmon and top rod were awarded, alongside special mentions of the accomplishments of the 10 anglers under the age of 14 fishing in camp.
Friends & Family Week started off with Monday’s first round of the customary poker tournament, in which 23 guests and staff faced off across the card table. The field was reduced to a final pool of 8 players on Tuesday, and two finalists remained standing on Thursday. To the surprise (somewhat) and delight of all spectators, the tournament champion was young Kostya Sherbovich, who shared the top honors with Peter Fedorov.
Wednesday was party time, and the Big Tent was re-purposed into a colorful and vibrant dance floor. On Thursday evening, all were privy to the first showing of Northern Lights this season, and on Friday night we capped the week with a fireworks display. What a special week in camp!
As wonderful as the social evenings were, the fishing days were equally filled with memorable events. Great catches marked every fishing session, and we saw all of the youngsters becoming better anglers as the days went by. The tenacity of the young anglers was especially impressive on the rougher weather days: it was incredibly inspiring to see them making cast after cast into the cold wet wind, standing with joy and enthusiasm against the weather.
Old Ponoi friends Sir Edward Dashwood and Boris Levyant were in camp this week, along with their (respective) grown children Bertie and Polina, who each caught their first Atlantic salmon. Not to be outdone, a first salmon was also achieved by Lena Vill. Sabrina and Dino Dodig caught good numbers of fish and amazed everybody with their casting skills, while Somerset and Wyatt Fell, who are very experienced anglers despite their age, both achieved personal bests with an 18.5 and 16 lb. bright fish respectively. Father David Fell was quite proud.
Humberto Montoya was a pleasure to have on the water and in camp, and he was thrilled to catch not only several noteworthy salmon but also a good pike. Longstanding Ponoi friends Len Smith, Mariusz Wroblewski, Sergey Pavlov, Markku Lampu, and Stefan Simberg, made the most of time on and off the water to celebrate great fishing and lasting friendships. All told, it was a pleasure to be part of this week’s events, and to know that this amazing experience will be imprinted on the memories of everyone in attendance.
With more than 15 guides and the aid of the hovercraft, we were able to fish the entire 80 km of available Ponoi water through the course of the week. The stock of fresh fish grew as the days passed, and the catches followed suit. Though the water still seems a bit too warm for the fresh salmon to hold in one place as much as we’d like, many good fish were landed daily. Moreover, after Wednesday’s rain, impressive numbers of fresh osenkas were spotted running on the lower beats. It was a frustrating yet spectacular scene to see dozens, if not hundreds, of fish running up the river completely ignorant of both flies and boats.
Conditions started to change quite dramatically on Friday afternoon when a serious rain hit the entire Ponoi basin. The already saturated tundra will not absorb more water, which means that the river level will increase considerably over the next few days. Needless to say, water levels will present anglers with some challenges through the beginning of the coming week.
Nonetheless, the weather looks quite good for the coming days, and the Ponoi should return to a more normal level quite quickly as the excess water drains to the North Sea. As that happens, we expect the full impact of the Fall Run, and incredible fishing as the end of the 2017 draws closer.
More to come…
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team