With the passing of Week 17, the end of the 2016 Ponoi salmon season draws increasingly near. Though conditions were far from ideal through much of this past week, some fine fishing was accomplished by guests and guides alike; the week was, on the whole, quite productive. Rains early in the week were not terribly excessive, but proved far from favorable for a river that was just returning to nice shape after some earlier high water.
On Monday evening, we had our first proper freezing night of the season. It is quite remarkable that this temperature drop occurred so far into the fall, as we have often seen much cooler nights as October draws near. In previous years, fishing and operating at this point in the season was quite difficult, and maintaining an operational camp more than a week into October was unheard of. Apparently, the global weather changes are strongly evident in these northern latitudes.
By mid-week, with the vast majority of the dark fish in the river having already spawned, guests were catching primarily bright, fall-run fish. Fresh salmon comprised over 90% of the 330 fish landed for the week, much to the delight of our anglers.
Following last week’s trend, full-sinking lines were the preferred option for guides, proving more effective even than the fast sink-tips. Max tubes remained the patterns of choice, though some German Snaelda patterns as well as some other heavy, bright flies worked with equally positive results.
As for camp life, the Big Tent was as international as ever, as we had representatives from Ireland, UK, Sweden, Portugal, US, Russia, Germany, Japan and even Latvia. As usual, a good number of regular anglers visited this week. Guests such as Len, John M., Wolfgang, and Jane (who stayed in camp for her usual 3 weeks) are such longstanding Ryabaga guests that they feel much more like family.
Three of our guests, namely Dima, Edwin and Ian, landed fish over the 20 lb. mark this week. Osamu from Japan landed the very first Atlantic salmon of an extensive angling career, much to his delight. This week we also had the privilege to welcome Ian Gordon to Ryabaga. Ian, a former spey-casting world champion and part of the design team from House of Hardy, proved not only an outstanding angler but also a pleasure to have as a guest.
The northern lights finally reappeared after several weeks of covered skies, and they provided some of the most spectacular shows on record. Those who managed the necessary patience and withstood the cold will certainly treasure some unforgettable memories of the late September nights in evidence this week.
As the final days of the 2016 Ryabaga salmon season arrive, we in camp always experience an extra shot of energy. At this time of the season, though some of the team begins looking forward to return trips home and a well-deserved rest, it nonetheless always remains clear to us how much we will miss our river home. For that reason we are all gearing up for a great final week, and some fine fishing to be done before winter arrives for good.
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team