Fall Run in Great Shape!
Week 15 Report
The beginning of the 15th week of the 2017 Ponoi salmon season arrived with somewhat lowered expectations. A major rain had soaked the entire Kola and the immense Ponoi basin for about 24 hours on the previous Friday and Saturday, and in response the river level increased through the early part of the week. As the saturated tundra flushed its excess water into the drainages, Ponoi anglers were met with high, roiled, and cloudy water on Sunday morning.
These circumstances required Ponoi guides to adjust to unfavorable conditions. Fishing was concentrated in the slower sections and the water close to the banks, where anglers employed big flies and sinking lines. In conditions that would render salmon angling almost impossible in most fisheries, our team managed to land 20 fish.
Unlike flow increases attributable to snowmelt, those caused by rainfall tend to allow the Ponoi to return to normal level quite quickly. Such was the case this week, as the water receded in short order and the fishing responded almost immediately. To our delight, it continued to improve each day. On Wednesday, after the first frosty nights of the fall, a total of 93 salmon including 37 bright fish were landed.
Fish quality was outstanding, and all fresh salmon were in spectacular shape. The characteristically deep-shouldered fall-run fish appear particularly broad and well-fed this season, and guides were surprised this week to note that almost every fish was heavier than normal for its length. These larger-than-average fish gave our anglers some epic battles. Moreover, several fish in the 19-21 lb. range were taken, and 20% of the total fish landed tipped the scales at more than 10 lb.
The wind picked up again through the last couple fishing days this week, but the salmon continued to perform in good fashion. Long-tailed, sea-liced fish were landed every day, and it was evident that fall-run salmon were gaining greater presence by the hour.
As we edge deeper into the Arctic autumn, not only does the fishing improve, but some of the year’s most majestic natural sights return. All in camp rejoiced in the spectacle of the Northern Lights, the foggy mornings on Home Pool, and of course the glint and sparkle of incomparable Ponoi fall-runners.
It was another very busy week in Ryabaga, with a full camp and representatives from the US, UK, France, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Poland and Spain. We welcomed several staffers from Flyfish Nation, who were at work producing a video in association with Patagonia. We also gladly welcomed the return of celebrated photographer Isaías Miciu from Argentina, who delighted all in camp with Friday evening’s presentation of his week’s work.
An especially noteworthy visitor in Ryabaga was two-term US Secretary of State James Baker III, who landed his first Atlantic salmon this week. Mr. Baker’s warm presence was especially appreciated and we all felt grateful for his presence in camp.
Among the great catches witnessed this week, we are eager to celebrate Eliot, who had a couple of truly magical days on the river. Not only did Eliot improve his personal daily record, but he also landed a 21 lb. fresh fish as well as a 17 lb. belter on a bamboo rod to complete this IGFA Royal Salmon slam on bamboo!! Congratulations to Eliot once again!
The wind started to hit quite hard following Thursday’s afternoon session, so we might expect some rather off-color water for the beginning of the coming week. Apart from that, water levels and the number of fish already in the system lead us to believe that more great fishing lies ahead on the Incomparable Ponoi. We look forward to keeping you updated.
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team