All news for: Week 15

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

Autumn Again

Week 15 Report

Every week on the Ponoi is unique, and last week was no exception. The first week of September in Ryabaga marks the seasonal turning point when autumn arrives to stay. Nights grow longer and cooler, allowing guests the chance to witness the magnificent Northern Lights. The leaves on the birch trees that cover the riverbanks turn golden, and the clusters of aspen go from the brightest gold color to hot orange and red within a week. All of these changes set the stage for something even more spectacular: the arrival of hundreds of adult Atlantic salmon making their way upriver. These fish announce their arrival with enthusiasm, showing themselves with acrobatic displays and running through Ryabaga waters with incredible speed. It is remarkable to consider that after spending up to three years in their feeding grounds around the Faroe Islands and Iceland these very fish find their way back to their natal river to fulfill their mission. More remarkable still is that some will manage to do so more than once. The gold in the bankside trees and the bright silver moving up from the ocean meet each autumn in a most singular way.

This past week, anglers bore witness to all of this wonder and experienced first-hand the joys of September fishing in Ryabaga Camp. The two anglers that came to take on Atlantic salmon for the first time accomplished their mission rather early in the week: as we always say, there will be only one “first”, and we congratulate Todd M. and Diana M. for their respective first-ever Atlantic salmon.

Even though bright fish were running in number, the unseasonably warm water temperatures kept them running at great speed, making it difficult for anglers to connect. When a pod of fish came through each window of opportunity the anglers were afforded only about 5 minutes to present a fly effectively and to entice a take. On the upside, the rapid movement of fish meant that fresh salmon were caught all the way through our waters each day. By the end of the week, 50% of the catch was comprised of bright Fall-Runners.

Seeing downstream fish jump in the distance, and then seeing those fish get steadily closer until they are jumping around you takes the heartbeat up a notch or two. Whether you manage to get a take or not is a different story, and this makes salmon fishing frustrating at times, but always exciting. The only solution this week was persistence and consistency in both the presentation and the general angling strategy. Our anglers were compelled to cover as much water as possible, and the fish did cooperate often enough. With just over half the fish that were hooked successfully landed, opportunities were naturally not all finalized as a “victory” for the angler. In many occasions, the fish won the battle, and this is the nature of angling. Regardless of the number of fish landed it was once again an exciting week shared with friends in one of the most beautiful and wild settings in the salmon-angling world.

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

Autumn Leaves

Week 15 Report

Last week’s fishing could certainly not be described as “easy”. The condition of the river was close to ideal and the weather was good, and by all indications the “catching” should have been comparatively easy. That said, though guides and anglers were seeing fresh fall-run salmon moving up the river, it seemed that the fish were not interested in stopping. There are few circumstances in salmon fishing more frustrating than seeing fish in number but finding them unwilling to take. It is these moments, though, that are occasionally rewarded with an eat, and when that eat comes the reward is all the sweeter. There is simply nothing as exciting as hooking a fresh Ponoi fall-run salmon.

The start of the week was slow, with 39 fish landed on the first day. Fortunately, the situation improved daily, and on the last day of fishing our anglers landed 63 fish. The conditions and the “taking mood” of our fish improved steadily, and our guests were excited to experience the increased opportunity to lean back against the strength of some Ponoi silver.

Once again this week we had several guests catch their first Atlantic salmon, namely as John B. and Steven H. We were also graced with the presence of several guests who have not only been fishing for Atlantic salmon for some time, but who have been doing so in Ryabaga. Indeed, there were new friendships forged and old friendships revisited, as is so often the case in our village on the tundra.

One factor to be highlighted this week was the average size of the fresh fish that were taken. James H. landed a 20 lb. chromer, as did Enric S.; both were magnificent fish. We also had several fish in the high teens, and 86% of the bright fish caught this last week were above the 10 lb. mark; these were impressive stats indeed. We are pleased to note that the Fall Run is just getting stronger, giving us more cause to for gratitude. We are grateful a tough but rewarding past week, as we continue to be grateful for what we know still lies ahead of us. We are grateful the chance to spend this time on such a magnificent river, with people who sincerely appreciate how marvelous and special the Ryabaga Camp experience is. With that are grateful for the Fall Run, which grows stronger with each passing day; it remains the strongest Fall Run of any Atlantic salmon river in the world.

With Gratitude and Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager   


Fall Run in Great Shape!

Week 15 Report

The beginning of the 15th week of the 2017 Ponoi salmon season arrived with somewhat lowered expectations. A major rain had soaked the entire Kola and the immense Ponoi basin for about 24 hours on the previous Friday and Saturday, and in response the river level increased through the early part of the week. As the saturated tundra flushed its excess water into the drainages, Ponoi anglers were met with high, roiled, and cloudy water on Sunday morning.

These circumstances required Ponoi guides to adjust to unfavorable conditions. Fishing was concentrated in the slower sections and the water close to the banks, where anglers employed big flies and sinking lines. In conditions that would render salmon angling almost impossible in most fisheries, our team managed to land 20 fish.

Unlike flow increases attributable to snowmelt, those caused by rainfall tend to allow the Ponoi to return to normal level quite quickly. Such was the case this week, as the water receded in short order and the fishing responded almost immediately. To our delight, it continued to improve each day. On Wednesday, after the first frosty nights of the fall, a total of 93 salmon including 37 bright fish were landed.

Fish quality was outstanding, and all fresh salmon were in spectacular shape. The characteristically deep-shouldered fall-run fish appear particularly broad and well-fed this season, and guides were surprised this week to note that almost every fish was heavier than normal for its length. These larger-than-average fish gave our anglers some epic battles. Moreover, several fish in the 19-21 lb. range were taken, and 20% of the total fish landed tipped the scales at more than 10 lb.

The wind picked up again through the last couple fishing days this week, but the salmon continued to perform in good fashion. Long-tailed, sea-liced fish were landed every day, and it was evident that fall-run salmon were gaining greater presence by the hour.

As we edge deeper into the Arctic autumn, not only does the fishing improve, but some of the year’s most majestic natural sights return. All in camp rejoiced in the spectacle of the Northern Lights, the foggy mornings on Home Pool, and of course the glint and sparkle of incomparable Ponoi fall-runners.

It was another very busy week in Ryabaga, with a full camp and representatives from the US, UK, France, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Poland and Spain. We welcomed several staffers from Flyfish Nation, who were at work producing a video in association with Patagonia. We also gladly welcomed the return of celebrated photographer Isaías Miciu from Argentina, who delighted all in camp with Friday evening’s presentation of his week’s work.

An especially noteworthy visitor in Ryabaga was two-term US Secretary of State James Baker III, who landed his first Atlantic salmon this week. Mr. Baker’s warm presence was especially appreciated and we all felt grateful for his presence in camp.

Among the great catches witnessed this week, we are eager to celebrate Eliot, who had a couple of truly magical days on the river. Not only did Eliot improve his personal daily record, but he also landed a 21 lb. fresh fish as well as a 17 lb. belter on a bamboo rod to complete this IGFA Royal Salmon slam on bamboo!! Congratulations to Eliot once again!

The wind started to hit quite hard following Thursday’s afternoon session, so we might expect some rather off-color water for the beginning of the coming week. Apart from that, water levels and the number of fish already in the system lead us to believe that more great fishing lies ahead on the Incomparable Ponoi. We look forward to keeping you updated.

Until Then,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

Fall Edges Closer To Winter

As Fall Edges Closer to Winter…

This season began with a very early spring, and with no trace of ice well before the season opener and the birches in full green by Week 1, we confidently assumed that our 2016 salmon season was three weeks ahead of schedule. That said, at this point in the season the lack of leaves remaining on the riverbanks feels again premature, and reminiscent of early October.

Weather of late has not been terribly harsh, and we have had significant cloud cover, which both enhances fishing and provides us some shelter from the cold arctic nights. Current water levels have not dipped much, and water temperatures remain largely around 8ºC.

We had some mid-week rains in the headwaters this past week that made water levels rise once again. Even though the resulting change in water level was not terribly significant, it was indeed unexpected, and guides were tested as fish began to move in the pulse of water. This rise must have pushed more fish into the system, as several fish with long-tailed sea lice were taken.

Salmon were caught in all of the usual holding places this week, but after the water level rose, deep and slow sections were particularly productive when fished on a fast, stripped swing. As usual, we fished big classic Max tubes nearly exclusively on fast sink tips. On occasion, and in certain spots, full sinking lines were used with good results.

The total catch for the week was 343 fish, of which 148 were fall-runners. Though there were no fish taken in the 25+ lb. category as in the previous week, there were more than 20 fish taken in the 14-20 lb. range, most of them in stunning condition.

As for the anglers in camp this week, we were happy to welcome back some of our most loyal guests. Wonderfully, several of this week’s anglers have been to Ryabaga more than 20 times! We are thankful for the return of these loyal friends, and we certainly hope to see them back next season. In addition, this was yet another international week in Ryabaga, as we had guests from the US, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland (proudly represented by the Turley’s and company). This smattering of friends contributed to a jovial atmosphere in the Big Tent and on the water as well.

Fishing conditions for the coming week seem quite good, as no major rains are in the forecast. We know from this past week that there are good numbers of fish in the river, and more still coming. If the water level trend continues, and levels remain in check, we should see the fishing transition from great to even better. We would assume nothing less for the mighty Ponoi.

Until Next Week,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team