All news for: Week 3

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

You Haven’t Seen It All…

Week 3 Report

When a person has done something many, many times, it can become easy to think that there are no “firsts” left to be seen or experienced. It seems to me that when a person starts to get comfortable in this sort of thinking, life finds a way of conjuring up a “first”, just to remind us that we haven’t seen it all.

This past week, Ryabaga welcomed a group of anglers comprised mainly of “regulars”, guests who have been coming to Ryabaga since that inaugural season back in 1991. Those folks have seen and done a great deal in Ryabaga over the course of those 28 years. In those earliest seasons, everything that took place fly fishing-wise on the lower Ponoi was a first. Records were set and broken, first and biggest fish were taken in particular beats, and un-tested patterns were proven on eager Ponoi salmon. That said, after hundreds of anglers and tens of thousands of salmon, a rich history and a deep base of experience have been created. So much has transpired in Ryabaga, and our longstanding guests have spent so many days on our water, that it might seem there is nothing new to experience. We are fortunate, however, that Ponoi continues to offer up surprises, and remains a bottomless well of “firsts”, even for those longest-standing guests.

Last week’s group experienced a breadth of “firsts” in Camp. There was the first time many had seen a blanket of snow covering Ryabaga in the middle of June. There were several fish caught on techniques that had never before been employed, and instances of guests who managed to catch more big fish in a week than they ever had before. Several guests noted more fish taken on a dry fly than in any week of fishing over 28 consecutive years. It was a distinctly pleasant surprise to hear that Ryabaga affords no shortage of “firsts”, even for guests that have been visiting our Camp since its inception.

The fishing this week was not easy. Anglers had to endure relentless winds throughout the week, and conditions that not only made proper presentations difficult, but also brought dirty water into our section of the river. Spring in the Arctic Circle is not supposed to be predictable, but days that begin at 27 degrees and end at 4 are certainly not the norm. All of this said, the 2019 Spring thus far is clearly proving that no matter what nature throws our way, the Ponoi will still produce fish. Unpredictable wind, colored water, snow, and massive temperature swings made it hard to imagine that guests would end the week with twenty-seven fish in the 15 lb.+ range, and three fish that tipped the scales past the 20 lb. mark. Additionally, the week boasted a 27 fish per rod average, and the first few summer-run salmon of 2019!

I suppose it is the opportunity for “firsts” combined with the reliability of the Ryabaga Camp experience that keeps our longstanding guests returning. The river will, of course, do what it will, but in our experience the salmon will continue to oblige. What remain wholly reliable are the first-class guides, the luxurious but remote accommodations, and the remarkable dining experience. And so,we press on into Summer, grateful for the river that continues to surprise and delight us, and grateful for the guests who continue to experience the possibility of each new day on Ponoi.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Kelts, Over-Wintered, and Sea-Liced

Week 3 Report

This past week once again displayed just how unique the Ponoi River is. Our guests were not limited by landing several kelts, fish that have spent more than twenty months in the river system and are working their way back to the ocean. Our guests also landed an impressive 885 fish that had entered the river in the months of August and September 2017, and are now waiting to spawn in the coming October of 2018. In a unique twist, these over-wintered fish will be joined by the five fresh, summer-run fish that rounded out this week, plus all of the summer runners that will make their way up our river over the next two months.

The conditions this past week were once again far from ideal, at least to start. Strong northern winds brought cold from the North Pole, but despite challenging weather spirits remained high. It was a wonderful group of anglers that chose this particular week to celebrate the unspoiled beauty of the Ponoi; some of the week’s guests have been returning to Ryabaga for more than twenty years! Even longstanding visitors were delighted by the many different elements of the far north that came to bear on this particular week, not the least of which was the fact that we went from winter weather to a “high summer” essentially overnight.

And so it goes that a week of contrasts comes to an end, a week wherein our long-time friend Len S., who has now spent fifty-eightweeks in Ryabaga Camp, emerged as top rod with a total of 74 fish for the week. Wonderfully, Len will be back soon to attempt a repeat performance, proving that you can never have enough of the Ryabaga Camp experience. We saw great contrast too in the angler’s techniques. Some of our anglers were hooking fish on skated flies while others were plying the depths of the Ponoi with full-sinking lines. Some even chose to fish unconventional flies, like Jon S. whose tactics have been refined over the many weeks he has spent in Ryabaga since the camp’s inception some 28 years ago. It was Jon who demonstrated the spell that the Ponoi has over him, as he swung his beloved White Muddler to great success throughout the course of the week.

It was a week of beautiful contrasts, something like a musical masterpiece where harmony, melody and rhythm keep things interesting, transporting the audience to intangible, beautiful places. To maintain the metaphor, this past week on the Ponoi was an “angling masterpiece”; varying weather, a range of techniques, and all sorts of seemingly trivial details came together to transport our guests even further into the wonder and enjoyment that is the Ponoi.

Kelts, over-wintered, and sea-liced fish all added contrast to the third week of the 2018 Ponoi salmon season, resulting in nothing short of a Symphony.

Until Next Week,

Agustin Lo Greco, Ryabaga Camp Manager

 

 

The River is Shaping Up Beautifully

Week 4 Report

 

Though water levels remained somewhat high to start, the Ponoi witnessed a steady drop over the course of this past week, and in turn the river was able to showcase a more typical view of itself. High water forced the guide team to remain nimble, but guests were nonetheless able to access many of the traditionally favored spots, and great fishing was found throughout the 40 km of river we fished this week. Despite a powerful and cold north wind during the last two fishing days, the catch remained consistent and well above the 100 salmon/day rate, affording a total of 764 fish for the week. 

The river looked and fished more like it has during past Week 1’s, with silvering kelts still in the system and, as of last week, a majority of fish taken very close to the banks. Anglers and guides walked the boats downstream and/or waded to access these close-lying fish, especially on the lower beats where the river speeds up, and there are few places to execute the typical drops that allow both rods to fish in tandem. These conditions once again offered a significant advantage to those anglers willing to both fish from the boat as well as wade. Ross Spence, who was our top rod for the week with an outstanding catch of 72 fish, only fished from the boat on select occasions, and spent much of the week fishing hard while wading and walking the banks. Though wade fishing Ponoi can be physically demanding, there is some great sport to be had for the adventurous anglers who are willing to give it a go.

Home Pool remained unfishable for the first few days of the week, with just a small section of water slow enough to hold fish. On Wednesday, Bruce landed the first salmon of the season from Home Pool, much to everyone’s delight. We are confident that as soon as the water drops another couple feet, Home Pool will again start producing catches in line with its reputation.

Full-sinking lines were used quite extensively this week with good success, though we are seeing lighter tackle in use each day. With good water visibility and water temperatures around 9˚C, the salmon are starting to travel the extra meter up through the water column to take a big and shiny tube. We assume that for next week, sinking tips on floating lines will prove the kit of choice, and heavy lines will be reserved for especially deep runs.

A very cheerful group of regulars joined us in Ryabaga this week: the Spences, the Siewrights, P. Davidson as well as J. Mcmillan, and H. Balls remain among our most loyal guests, and its always nice to see them return.

PRC owner Ilya Sherbovich and his son Kostya joined us on several evenings in the Big Tent, and they fished the Ponoi every second day, taking the rest of the week to target trophy brown trout on surrounding waters with excellent results. Kostya managed the biggest trout of the week, which tipped the scales at around 12 pounds!

Weather for the coming week looks favorable. There are great numbers of salmon already in evidence within Ryabaga waters, and a dropping river will soon start to show its features in typical fashion, allowing guides and anglers to target the most productive sections. In the coming days we fully expect the mighty Ponoi to show its historic bounty.

Until Then,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

 

 

 

 

 

Strong Early Summer Run at Ryabaga

After a challenging Week 2, weather and general fishing conditions drastically improved over the last six days, and catches returned to the impressive numbers that we expect to see on Ponoi.

Arguably the most notable news this week was the very early and prolific arrival of summer-run salmon. Historically, the first summer-run fish are caught sometime around June 20th, but we landed our first bright salmon on this week’s first day of fishing, nearly 10 days earlier than expected. This early arrival instigated some debate regarding whether these fish were actually summer-run or late fall-run salmon that had stayed in the estuary for the first part of the spring. 2 days later, when we started to catch some sea-liced fish, that was the end of the discussion: THE SUMMER RUN WAS HERE!

Proportion and number of bright fish did improve steadily during the week, and even on the last day of fishing, with some really strong wind and a bright sun, 15% of our catches were fresh fish. By the end of the week we had landed 776 fish, 60 of which were chromers, with the majority of bright fish taken in the last 3 days.

These summer fish were not only early and numerous, they were also big! Normally the summer run tends to produce a dominant proportion of grilse, but this year proper bright salmon from 9 to 15 pounds were landed quite consistently, and we saw several bright fish pushing the 20 lb. mark. Regardless of size, these chromers were truly beautiful, and notably powerful. Fishing tactics were the usual for Ponoi at this time of year, but those anglers wanting to target bright fish were successful fishing bigger and faster water with big bright flies. Of these, most fished Max’s tubes, swung with good speed or stripped.

With 4 couples in camp, the Big Tent was lively, and a great tone was present every night. We were visited by a number of regulars: Jim and Paddy, Francois, Ray, Terry, Bob and of course Len (who was enjoying his 53rd week in camp!) have maintained their annual week at Ryabaga for over a decade; we are always very happy to welcome them back, and proud that they have chosen to join us.

There were also some first-timers here on the Ponoi this week. Keith came to camp with his wife Olga, who landed her first Atlantic salmon, and followed that up with an unforgettable Thursday when she landed 6 fish including an 18 pounder. Also enjoying his first Atlantic salmon experience was Evgeny from Russia, who proved to be a natural: he landed an 18 pounder as well, and 2 more fish over 15. Not new to Atlantic salmon but first-timers in Ryabaga were Karen and Kevin, who I’m sure will visit us again, as will Teresa and Robert who came back to Ponoi after 9 years hiatus.

In all, it was a wonderful week in every respect, showing us very good potential for the rest of the first part of the season.

Until Next Time,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team