All news for: Week 17

Enjoy hearing more about what has been happening at Ponoi

The Ponoi River Club

Week 17 Report

In the third week of September, Ryabaga Camp annually welcomes the return of “The Ponoi River Club”, a syndicate of longstanding friends and their guests. Our Big Tent gets dressed for the occasion with an array of flags to signify the homeland of both the guests and staff members in attendance. This year, we hung the flags of Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ireland, UK, USA, Argentina, and Russia as we welcomed Week 17 in Ryabaga.

The Ponoi River Club has been convening for this week in Ryabaga for over two decades, and the week typically coincides with some fine fishing. This week’s party of fishermen was comprised of anglers ranging in age from twenty-something to eighty-something, and while some are new to the sport, others have been catching Atlantic salmon for decades. This year there were three anglers in camp for the Ponoi River Club Week who had come to catch their first Atlantic salmon, and we were more than happy to help them try.

This year, the group was met upon arrival with what would be the start of a powerful fall storm system. Rain and strong, northerly winds brought cold polar air to the region, and those factors would prove impactful to the week’s fishing. On that first day of fishing, however, no change was yet visible in water level or temperature, despite the fact that rain and wind were rather persistent. Fishing was good, and 75% of fish landed were bright, fall-run salmon. All looked quite promising…

On Monday, after a night of heavy rain and winds, we woke to see a river that had changed dramatically: the water level had risen 14 inches and was still rising and carrying a lot of sediment. The rain persisted and would do so for 3 days, accompanied by 50 km/hr. sustained winds and increasingly off-color water. Air temperatures plummeted from 14 to 3 degrees, and water temperatures slipped from 13 to 6. The fish became incredibly hard to find.

Though these extreme conditions could easily have quelled the morale of the group, we were pleased that our guests never forget that their main objectives were to have a great time among friends, to enjoy the process of trying to catch some fish, and to do it all with a smile, and an eye toward the bright side of things. The weather and river conditions on Ponoi this week were the toughest anyone in camp can remember. The Ponoi River Club had to face very challenging fishing, and yet nonetheless the week proved to be a great deal of fun. All laughed and joked, enjoyed luxurious river lunches, and took part in the annual costume party, during which staff and guests sit side-by-side to share a dinner, and to perform each represented country’s National Anthem. These pieces of the week will live on as great memories of another fine week.

Ironically, much of what we love about fishing are those elements we cannot control. Seeking wild fish in a wild and rugged environment presents us with countless challenges, and countless opportunities to celebrate the unpredictable. Sometimes, these circumstances allow us to test our persistence and our mettle as anglers. By this week’s end, it was clear that the mettle of each of our guests was not only intact but impressively strong. Certainly, some lovely fish were taken this week, but it is that mettle that will keep our guests coming back, recognizing that despite occasional adversity on the water, the greater experience in Ryabaga will always shine through. Ultimately, there’s some pride to be found in having participated in what will be known in Ponoi River Club circles as “THE TOUGHEST WEEK EVER”.

Until Next Week, Tight Lines.

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

The Ponoi River Club

Week 17 Report

The resounding motto for Week 17 was “Another Great Week on the Ponoi!” The Ponoi River Club once again convened last week in Ryabaga, and each night Jeremy B. shared a few words about that day’s fishing, recounting the adventures and misadventures of the day and noting the catch count and exceptional fish. At the end of Jeremy’s report, all in attendance raised a glass with the words “it was a great day on the Ponoi”.

In retrospect, the sheer catch numbers do not adequately represent what a great week it was in total. The Ponoi River Club Week always takes into account the entire experience that is Ryabaga, proving the idiom that “there’s a lot more to salmon fishing in Ryabaga than just catching salmon”. This week that greater experience included Hacker C.’s storytelling, the smell of Partagas cigars, the long lunches, Nick G. and George F.’s style of fishing to the rhythms of a very eclectic playlist, Patrick Q.’s unique (and very effective) casting style, and Paul Q.’s contagious energy. There was of course the noteworthy adventure of Mike H. and Nick H., who on their first day out decided to target sea-trout by fishing single-hand rods and skated mouse patterns. There was the annual costume gala on Thursday night, Deke W.’s 25 lb. brute, and so many other shining moments that made this week unique and special.

The fishing this week was not particularly easy; fish were moving upstream extremely quickly, only allowing a tiny window of opportunity for Ryabaga anglers to target them. Though fish were not arriving in the significant numbers that we have seen in this week historically, the scarcity did nothing to curb the enthusiasm and the enjoyment of the group. Everyone, guests and staff alike, said definitively at week’s end that “it was another great week on the Ponoi”.

We had an average catch per rod for the week of 12 salmon, with several fish in the high teens. Patrick Q. and Jack M. both had an 18 lb., George F. had a 17 lb., Deke W. had a 17 lb. and a glorious 25 lb., Nicholas H. landed a 19 lb. brute, Jeremy B., Hacker C., & Charlie M. each managed a 15 lb. Stephen M., who was fishing for salmon for the first time, caught his first salmon on the first day out, and went on to be the top rod on the last day! Needless to say, but I’ll say once again, “IT WAS ANOTHER GREAT WEEK ON THE PONOI!”

Farewell to our friends of the Ponoi River Club,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

 

The Ponoi River Club Week: Never Better!

Week 17 Report

Situated in the heart of autumn’s prime time, this week’s fishing is typically nothing short of amazing, and the 2017 Ponoi River Club Week was no exception. Despite a high river and some challenging angling conditions, the water remained quite clear, and the salmon, especially the bright ones, were keen to pursue flies. As a result, the 14 rods in camp landed almost 400 fish this week, with nearly 75% of those fish being bright fall-runners. Fish were present in number throughout PRC waters, much to the delight of anglers and guides.

The water temperature hovered between 6 and 8ËšC throughout the week, making the slower current sections the most productive. With the fish committing readily to bright flies from all depths, there was no need to employ heavy sinking lines, and floating heads with sink tips were used with great success. As the fishing was concentrated in slower water, stripping the line was mandatory, not only to make the big, bright tubes more enticing to the salmon, but also to ensure that the maximum volume of water was covered with efficiency. Though the number of fish in itself this week was remarkable, and within that number some salmon of noteworthy size were taken, what anglers will likely remember most of the 2017 Ponoi River Club Week is the outstanding time had by all… and the folks in Ryabaga this week really know how to have a good time!

From the leisurely and amusing river lunches at the hilarious evenings in the Big Tent, every moment on and off the river was full of laughter, camaraderie, and unforgettable memories. Every evening, Jeremy (the Ponoi River Club Week chairman) would announce the day’s results in a performance worthy of a stand-up comedian, and he would deliver prizes to the winners (and losers) of the day. These announcements were followed by a flurry of irreverent jokes from Hacker that would generally bring tears of laughter. On a few of the evenings we enjoyed Randolf’s songs and recitations, paired with his dry humor and witticisms. All of this revelry was of course followed by long nights at the bar or beside the fire, and several magnificent displays of Aurora Borealis, which always lends a magical touch to the season.

Thursday night of the Ponoi River Club Week is THE big event of the season. On that night, the roughly 40 staff members in camp and all guests celebrate what is arguably the most remote costume party on earth. The evening begins with a big buffet dinner, and the staff members and guests all mingle among the tables to enjoy the meal. Right after dinner, all represented nationalities regale the crowd with their nation’s anthem, employing full-voice and objectionable intonation, much to the delight of all. This festivity is capped with some serious dancing until well past midnight. It is these joyful days, right in the heart of the season’s best fishing, that make the Ponoi River Club Week among the most anticipated events of the Ryabaga season.

Looking ahead, prospects are quite promising for the incoming group. More fresh fish are still running up from the sea, and the run is appearing to have some serious strength this year. The river has been dropping continuously, allowing more features to show, and the weather seems to have settled down at last. Though there will likely be some typical cold nights and mornings, there are no big rains or heavy winds forecasted, so those guests arriving in Ryabaga next week should assume that the planets are aligning for a fantastic week of fishing.

Until Then,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team

Freezing Nights

 

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.

Until Then,

Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team