All news for: Week 18

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

A Special Time of Year

Week 18 Report

As Autumn comes to an end on the Kola Peninsula, the weather and the trees let us know that winter is not far off. In Ryabaga the days are growing shorter, the nights are growing colder, and the birch trees are dropping their many golden leaves into the river. Flocks of trumpeter swans and geese are flying south, and the permanent residents of the region are preparing for the long Russian winter to come.

This past week, the Ponoi came into fine shape as increasingly stable and seasonally typical conditions made the salmon a good deal more active, and the Fall Run reached a pinnacle. The group of anglers that visited Ryabaga this week hailed from the UK, USA, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Russia, and Zimbabwe, and gladly they had a chance to experience a typical fall week of fishing on the Ponoi. Fresh, sea-liced Osenkas were caught in number from Tomba up to Purnache, much to the delight of guides and anglers alike.

This week fishing was impacted by the fact that the Purnache River, Ponoi’s largest tributary, was 1ºc warmer than the main river. This temperature differential kept most of the fish from running past the mouth of the Purnache. The beat rotation was adjusted to ensure that all anglers had the best opportunities to catch fresh fish throughout the week. Though the water was warmer below the Purnache mouth it remained around 4ºc, which is colder than usual for this time of the season. For this reason most of the fish were taken on the edges, up against the banks, and in shallow areas around gravel bars in rather slow water. The takes tended to be soft and slow, but once the connection was established it was off to the races.

Michael G. and his guide Max Kantor managed to hook a great fish that took them on a memorable 400-yard ride downstream, forcing them to lift anchor and give chase. Finally, after a stunning performance by fish, angler, and guide team, the salmon was netted. It proved to be a gorgeous fish that tipped the scale at the 21 lb. mark. Yuri B. and his guide Nick Sigov also hooked an unbelievably broad-shoulder Osenka, and once again there was nothing to do but give chase and hope that the fish would stop before getting into the next whitewater section. The fish was initially hooked at the top of Falls Creek gravel bar, and the duo netted this beauty just below the mouth of the Falls Creek. This long, exciting ride ended with a 20 lb. fresh sea-liced fish in the net.

There were many battles this week in which the fish proved to be victorious. Paul C. hooked a fish that never stopped running, and when the backing was almost gone and the pressure on the reel drag was at a maximum, matters became dire. Despite that the boat moved downstream in an attempt to keep up with this fish, the hook at length came detached and the connection was lost. It is often surprising this time of year to note how remarkably powerful a 14 or 15 lb. fish can prove to be. The Osenkas have a power to weight ratio like no other salmon, and each time the line goes tight the angler has to be ready for an incredible battle.

By the time the week came to an end, Ryabaga anglers had landed an average of 15 fish per rod, 83% being bright fish, and 54% being multiple sea-winter fish. It was truly a fantastic week, and with two more weeks ahead of us in the season the fishing just keeps getting better. It is an exciting time in Ryabaga, not only because we are looking forward to what lies in store for the coming weeks, but also because this final push of large fish foreshadows what we might see in the river next spring. It is a pleasure to see the river in spectacular shape, and a joy to see the Fall Run at its finest.

On behalf of all the Ryabaga team, farewell and see you soon.

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

And So Goes September

Week 18 Report: And So Goes September

In many ways it is a challenge to describe just how special this past week in Ryabaga was. After all, only a precious few know the magic of the Fall Run in late September, when the tundra is fast tumbling towards winter. By the last week in September the Ponoi has taken on a unique quality: a dark and frigid season looms ever closer, but the salmon continue to arrive, often in great numbers both in size and in quantity.

We welcomed a group of 21 anglers in Ryabaga this past week, most of whom have visited the river this same week historically. Of particular note was Len S., who was with us for the 59th time!! We welcomed new friends too, and folks like Chris F. saw what Ryabaga, and salmon fishing in general, has to offer for the very first time. Chris succeeded in catching his first Atlantic salmon with us, and then many, many more, much to the delight of all. It was Jane S.’ last week of her typical three week stay in camp. Jane, and so many others, illustrate the point that when considering Ryabaga and fishing the Ponoi, it is impossible to get enough. This place, and this experience, have a certain magnetism…

The week was special for many reasons, but we will try to focus on the fishing, which was once again incredible: of the 250 fish landed this past week 77 broke the 10 lb. mark, 35 broke the 15 lb. mark, and we had 6 fish that tipped the scales past the 20 lb. mark!! And all this despite some chilly fall weather that caused ice build up on rods. The bigger fish were all fresh, dime-bright Osenkas (Russian for “Fall Run Salmon”). Even for those who have spent a few weeks fishing for salmon each season over a period of many years, nothing can compare to the potential of Fall fishing on the Ponoi. Stephen C., who has fished many of the hallowed “big fish” salmon rivers around the world, caught his biggest salmon ever this past week. Stephen’s fish was a lovely 21 lb. bright salmon in perfect condition, though he also landed a 17 lb. and a 14 lb. fish during his stay. Len S. landed a 19 lb. beauty on the first day fishing, as it did James E. Also on that day, Achile C. landed his own 21 lb. and Michael G. landed a magnificent 20 lb. sea-liced brute. Gert B. had a good start too, landing a 17 lb. Osenka, all on the very first day of the week! The second day was a bit slower, but the big salmon were still very much in a taking mood; on this day Stephen landed his 21 lb. chrome, his dad David C. landed a 16 lb., and Rupert D. landed another 16 lb.

Our French friends did not lag behind: Jean-Pierre C. and Jean-Pierre L. had a 15 lb. each. On the third day out the numbers picked up again, and Jean-Pierre C. landed a 20 lb. brawler. Richard White landed a 17 lb., and James E. and Michael G. took a 16 lb. each on Day 4. On the fifth day of fishing the biggest fish taken were three 17 lb. caught by James E., Rupert D, and David N. The last day of fishing this week let anglers finish on a high note: three 16 lb. fish by Achile C., Stewart L., and Rupert D., two 17 lb. fish by Len S. and Peter R., and one incredible fish by Gert B. who caught his first ever Atlantic salmon last season while fishing with us. Gert’s fish last year was a 19 lb. fresh fish, and this year he managed to raise the bar even higher by landing a 20 lb. Osenka, his last fish for the week. And the biggest fish of the week was John C.’s glorious 22 lb. All in all, a great week with an average of 12 fish per rod, 80% of which were bright.

It was another exceptional week on the Ponoi. Every night around the bar there were endless stories shared among friends, rounding out great days on the river. Though all of our anglers enjoyed catching a few, it’s the shared experience that becomes all the more significant in a place like Ryabaga. Here, our anglers find a home and a family, if even only here just for a week. To this fine family we bid a farewell; you’ll always be welcomed in Ryabaga, your Russian home.

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Ponoi on Fire – Record Week at Ryabaga!

Week 18 Report

This past week, an idyllic coincidence of fishing conditions came together on Ponoi, resulting in a week for the record books. Water temperature, clarity, and flow coincided with amazing weather and a staggering influx of bright fish, and in response Ryabaga anglers experienced historic catches of salmon, and fresh fall-runners in particular. The Arctic tundra was especially gorgeous this week, and all in camp were amazed by the impressive fall colors that shone on the riverbanks. There were moments when the golden reflection of the changing leaves made the river look as if it were ablaze, and we were all thrilled to note that that from an angling standpoint, the Ponoi was indeed on fire.

The week’s fishing began just minutes after the helicopter touched down, as a component of the week’s angling group found the call of Ponoi salmon impossible to ignore. Ryabaga Home Pool didn’t disappoint, and offered up some of its silver within minutes of the first cast.

Throughout this season we have anticipated a significant fall run, and as the Autumn has progressed we’ve seen indications of a truly historic return. Nonetheless, we were overwhelmed this week by the sheer number of fresh, sea-liced fish that were in evidence from the very first day of fishing. On that Sunday, a remarkable 117 salmon were landed, 96 of which were bright, fall-run fish… and that was the slowest day of the week! By Friday a new historic record for Week 18 had been achieved, with a final tally of 888 salmon landed, of which 786 were bright.

Such a prolific week of fishing allowed for many noteworthy catches: John from the UK landed the biggest fish of the week, namely a 23-pound beauty from Tomba. Our longtime guest Wolfgang landed 3 fish over 20 pounds, while Jane had a memorable pair of days with fish over 20 pounds and an unbelievable Wednesday when she landed 26 salmon. What’s more, on Friday, after feeling quite fortunate with the week’s catch, Chris decided to try his luck with the dry fly, and it was not long before he teased a 15-pounder from the depths. Chris’s feat was quite impressive, considering that the water temperature hovered right around 7 degrees.

With the exception of Chris’s prize, the majority of fish were taken using Skagit heads with 15 ft. fast-sinking tips, or full-sinking heads paired with the usual big and bright Max tubes.

If the weather and conditions remain stable, the current volume of fall-run fish leads us to anticipate a very strong spring showing for the 2018 season, as there should be a remarkable number of fish on the river. This prospect bodes well for Ryabaga guests specifically, but it is also comforting news for the Atlantic salmon fishing community on the whole. In times when excessive commercial fishing pressure, widespread netting, fish farming, and poaching are threatening Atlantic salmon stocks globally, it is a comfort to hear that Ponoi is witnessing a run as strong as this one. Protecting this sanctuary for future generations is the main mission of PRC, and with the support of our faithful guests we are ecstatic about what the future holds.

Fortunately for us, there is still one more week of fishing to go, though sadly it will be the last of the season. The weather seems to be holding well, and the fish just keep on coming, so we are expecting another sensational week on the Incomparable Ponoi. And as we continue to see, our river is truly beyond compare.

Until Next Week, 

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

And The Season Comes to a Close

Our 18th and final week of the 2016 Ponoi salmon season just ended, leaving behind a great number of stories, memories of days on the Kola Peninsula, and of course a glowing record of many remarkable fish.

Howling winds two Fridays past left us with off-color waters at the start of Week 18 which, when combined with cold temperatures, made for some very challenging conditions. Fortunately, the water began to clear by mid-week, and the fishing picked up in response.

Though the weather remains particularly mild for this time of year, the water temperatures have dropped to between 4 and 5 degrees. As a consequence, the salmon have begun holding in slow, deep water, and anglers were forced to go after them with big, bright tubes on full-sinking lines. These aggressive tactics required that flies continuously stripped to entice fish from their lies.

Hundreds of bright fish were landed this week including several sea-liced salmon, ensuring that fish were still entering the Ponoi system until the season’s very end. Most likely they will keep doing so in until the deepening cold slows their metabolic rates, forcing them into a holding pattern until next spring.

Two big parties joined us this week: the Lebrette-Camozzi team made the trek from France alongside a group of eight anglers from the UK hosted by our friend Jim Curry. We also had some representatives from Mother Russia who took river lunches as seriously as the fishing itself, if not more!

The angling group was rounded out by the Senior brothers and Fritz who also hailed from the US. Though the first couple days offered conditions that were far from ideal, spirits on the water were always high, and the mood in the Big Tent was nothing short of amazing; the post-dinner bar was frequented by guides and guests alike. It was truly a pleasure to end our season surrounded by such fun people.

After the week’s 22 guests left Ryabaga, camp winterization began in force, and boats commenced to be removed from the water. By 4 PM a second helicopter had taken 20 of the Ryabaga staff members back to Murmansk, leaving camp far quieter than it has been in weeks. Over the next few days, the remainder of the team will work on getting Ryabaga ready for the cold, dark Arctic winter. Before we know it, early spring will beckon us back for yet another fishing season, revealing whatever treasures remain beneath the winter’s ice.

In all, the 2016 season has contributed wonderfully to the rich history of Atlantic salmon angling out of Ponoi’s Ryabaga Camp. Though innumerable changes and improvements have taken place over the past 25 years of operation, we can safely say that the drive and raw passion of the Ponoi founders remains intact, represented in the culture of Ryabaga and its staff. All who work on Ponoi are incredibly proud of this heritage, and all relish the chance to keep the Ponoi experience incomparable, as it has always been.

Until Next Season!

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team