And Then It Was Summer
Week 4 Report
On Saturday, June 16th at about 2:00 pm we once again welcomed a helicopter full of familiar faces, and a few soon-to-be “new old friends”. After sharing a round of handshakes, hugs, and smiles by the helicopter, guests settled into their cabins and rigged their tackle. Quite a few anglers were pulling on waders even before the helicopter turbines had cooled down… needless to say all of the guests were excited about their arrival in Ryabaga!
Several of the guests in camp this week have fished the Ponoi for years, and for them the prospect of the Ryabaga Home Pool marked a welcome return after a year-long wait. Other guests had arrived in camp for the very first time, and for them the river offered untold opportunity. The Ponoi did not disappoint: not long after the first angler laid out the first cast of the week, Ponoi salmon began to fulfill expectations and to reward anglers.
Following the inaugural Home Pool session on Day 1 it was time for the first dinner of the week. After briefing our guests on the fishing schedule and river conditions, the Ryabaga Guide Team began to lay out their plan of attack for the days to come. After dinner several guests just couldn’t resist the call of Ponoi salmon, and minutes after dessert there was again a contingent at Home Pool, swinging flies and catching fish. Other guests welcomed the first evening in camp as a chance to re-group, and several stayed at the bar to share stories and catch up on the past year with old friends.
Sunday arrived with lovely weather and a full day of fishing. Between 9 am and 6 pm our group of 20 anglers managed to land 167 fish! This week the tundra finally decided to let the winter weather go, and Ryabaga guests welcomed long days and a proper summer. From the start, anglers celebrated clear skies and lovely 25ºC temperatures, along with an incredible week of salmon fishing. On Friday at 5:59 PM, the guides told their anglers “last cast”, and all returned to Ryabaga to tally the numbers and recap the triumphs of the week. As the guides reported the day’s results and we finished compiling the numbers for the week, all were amazed by the outstanding result: a total of 951 fish where landed, with an average catch of 46 fish per rod! To add to the impact of these statistics, 20 of these recorded fish were fresh, chrome Summer-runners.
Once again, we remain in awe of all that the Ponoi holds. We were fortunate this week to have conditions that enabled us to celebrate the Purnache River too, much to the delight of Ross S. and John S., who took the opportunity for a full-day float trip down to Purnache-Ponoi confluence. That day, with the masterful assistance of guide Matthew Solon, the duo landed 24 fish on skated flies, surface flies, and riffle-hitched tubes. This adventure, and the highly visual fishing that accompanied it, made for a day that Ross, John, and Matthew will not soon forget
At the final dinner on Friday night, the common sentiment was “I don’t want to leave”. All were delighted by the week, and fond memories of the Ponoi and her salmon were again etched into the lives of guests and staff alike. As we welcome the true arrival of summer in the Arctic, we look forward to making more such memories in the days and weeks to come.
Until we meet again,
Agustin C. Lo Greco
Ryabaga Camp Manager