The Incomparable ‘Ponoi River Club’ Week
At one point during the past week, I overheard a conversation between one of our female staff members and a guest. The guest had asked what the Ponoi River Club Week feels like for the staff and guides in Ryabaga. The answer was brilliantly simple and accurate: “For us, this week is always like celebrating the New Year!”
We at PRC welcome every week of the season with the passion and dedication that sets the Ponoi experience apart, but a unique tone of expectation accompanies this one special week each year. Thursday’s party is of course a pinnacle of the season, and it would be inaccurate to say that this night of revelry is not among the most anticipated event of the year.
This past week there were many good reasons to celebrate. We finally welcomed some respite from the frequent rains we have been having of late. Ten days of clearing water and dropping water levels allowed the Ponoi to come back into fine shape, and the fishing responded in kind. The 14 rods in camp landed 278 fish this week, of which over 80% were bright, fall-run salmon. The river also performed well in terms of fish quality, with 10% of the fish caught tipping the scales over 15 lbs., and more than 100 fish landing above the 10 lb. mark.
With the exception of a very windy Sunday, conditions were quite good, and mild winds were the present throughout the week. We saw our preferred steady overcast which kept temperatures low but also consistent; our nights remained just a few degrees cooler than the days. As a consequence, water temperature remained stable, hovering between 7 and 8º C all week.
As we saw in the preceding week, the slower, deeper sections of the river were the most productive, especially for bigger fish. In these sections, full-sinking lines with medium to big tubes were the most successful rigs, fished more effectively on a stripped swing. I will say, though, that after many of the extended lunches, there were some pretty awkward casts being thrown!!
As for life in camp, every evening the Big Tent was filled with laughter as Syndicate Chairman Jeremy Block would present the daily results, noting the biggest winners (and losers) of the day. To punctuate this daily announcement, Jeremy has acquired a huge array of wigs, masks, hats and other unique props. Each season the collection improves markedly, as do Jeremy’s performance skills.
The beloved Thursday Night Party reached new levels this season. For some time, it has been the custom of Ryabaga staff to impress guests by manufacturing a splendid array of full costumes for the party. This year, however, to everybody’s amusement, the guests followed suit, regaling all present with some amazing outfits. Something tells me it won’t be the last time that Thursday night reverts into a full-fledged costume party. Based on what we saw this year, 2017 should be something special indeed.
We approach the 17th week of the season with a river in great condition, and the highest of hopes for a great end to the 2016 Ponoi salmon season. It is always wonderful to finish strong, with Ponoi and Ponoi anglers performing at their best. More to come on that note…
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team