The Ponoi River Club
Week 17 Report
In the third week of September, Ryabaga Camp annually welcomes the return of “The Ponoi River Club”, a syndicate of longstanding friends and their guests. Our Big Tent gets dressed for the occasion with an array of flags to signify the homeland of both the guests and staff members in attendance. This year, we hung the flags of Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ireland, UK, USA, Argentina, and Russia as we welcomed Week 17 in Ryabaga.
The Ponoi River Club has been convening for this week in Ryabaga for over two decades, and the week typically coincides with some fine fishing. This week’s party of fishermen was comprised of anglers ranging in age from twenty-something to eighty-something, and while some are new to the sport, others have been catching Atlantic salmon for decades. This year there were three anglers in camp for the Ponoi River Club Week who had come to catch their first Atlantic salmon, and we were more than happy to help them try.
This year, the group was met upon arrival with what would be the start of a powerful fall storm system. Rain and strong, northerly winds brought cold polar air to the region, and those factors would prove impactful to the week’s fishing. On that first day of fishing, however, no change was yet visible in water level or temperature, despite the fact that rain and wind were rather persistent. Fishing was good, and 75% of fish landed were bright, fall-run salmon. All looked quite promising…
On Monday, after a night of heavy rain and winds, we woke to see a river that had changed dramatically: the water level had risen 14 inches and was still rising and carrying a lot of sediment. The rain persisted and would do so for 3 days, accompanied by 50 km/hr. sustained winds and increasingly off-color water. Air temperatures plummeted from 14 to 3 degrees, and water temperatures slipped from 13 to 6. The fish became incredibly hard to find.
Though these extreme conditions could easily have quelled the morale of the group, we were pleased that our guests never forget that their main objectives were to have a great time among friends, to enjoy the process of trying to catch some fish, and to do it all with a smile, and an eye toward the bright side of things. The weather and river conditions on Ponoi this week were the toughest anyone in camp can remember. The Ponoi River Club had to face very challenging fishing, and yet nonetheless the week proved to be a great deal of fun. All laughed and joked, enjoyed luxurious river lunches, and took part in the annual costume party, during which staff and guests sit side-by-side to share a dinner, and to perform each represented country’s National Anthem. These pieces of the week will live on as great memories of another fine week.
Ironically, much of what we love about fishing are those elements we cannot control. Seeking wild fish in a wild and rugged environment presents us with countless challenges, and countless opportunities to celebrate the unpredictable. Sometimes, these circumstances allow us to test our persistence and our mettle as anglers. By this week’s end, it was clear that the mettle of each of our guests was not only intact but impressively strong. Certainly, some lovely fish were taken this week, but it is that mettle that will keep our guests coming back, recognizing that despite occasional adversity on the water, the greater experience in Ryabaga will always shine through. Ultimately, there’s some pride to be found in having participated in what will be known in Ponoi River Club circles as “THE TOUGHEST WEEK EVER”.
Until Next Week, Tight Lines.
Agustin C. Lo Greco
Ryabaga Camp Manager