2021 End of Season Report: Back to What We Love, Feeling Alive Again…
2020 was a year that many of us would like to forget. It was a year during which we all missed doing what we love with the people we most enjoy. Instead of joining friends on our favourite river, we spent the year sitting at home, dreaming about getting back to the Ponoi where we might once again feel alive.
The arrival of 2021 brought some hope. The global situation with COVID-19 has had its ups and downs, but borders started to ease, worldwide vaccination rates started to show an impact, and the prospects of a return to our beloved river began to look promising.
June brought the first guests back to Ryabaga. Spring fishing was decent… not red hot, but everyone in camp enjoyed a good number of fish and great conditions. As several nations opened travel across Russian borders, we slowly repopulated Ryabaga Camp with an international crew! With very tight protocols and safety regulations in camp (testing guests before arrival, social distancing in camp, an exceedingly high standard of hygiene, and limited exposure of staff to guests) we enjoyed a safe and trouble-free experience in Ryabaga. The midnight sun, dry-fly fishing, and a Summer Run that was strong in both numbers and size made for a very enjoyable spring.
Summer Break in Ryabaga brought more new updates. All on hand attended to the boats, engines, and hovercrafts. Roads were improved, facilities saw several facelifts, the kitchen received upgrades, and Ryabaga enjoyed the general enhancements it deserved.
After the Break, our Fall Run weeks were thoroughly booked by loyal and longstanding guests. In addition, we were thrilled to welcome some new friends that were able to visit Ryabaga and fish the Ponoi for the very first time. As summer gave way to autumn, the Fall Run started to show signs of being a proper one. Once the first mint, sea-liced salmon were landed in the lower beats we knew the push of fresh fish had started. We had great expectations, and fortunately the run never stopped!
Every day of the fall, sea-liced fished were landed through all our beats from Tomba to Kolmak. Trophies were a matter of discussion every night at the bar, and all were impressed with the fantastic condition in which the 2021 fall-run salmon showed up! The fish were fat and square, with big, solid shoulders; beautiful, perfect, and stunning were just a few of the adjectives used to describe the daily catch. The number of fish seen and landed just kept increasing, and we knew we were witnessing a remarkable 2021 Fall Run.
Numbers don’t always tell the full story, but for those wondering what constitutes a great run, we had an average of 25-30 salmon per rod per week for the top fall weeks! Some lucky and skilful anglers had days wherein 25 were fish landed by wading the friendly banks of Ponoi… The size and volume of the Fall Run not only means we had a fantastic autumn, but it also foretells a great 2022 Spring season!
With Ryabaga nearly full, we enjoyed great company, lots of laughs, and some fantastic fishing. Ryabaga hosted guests from many countries this year, all arriving by different routes. Wonderfully, our guests were assisted by our in-person Team both in Moscow and Murmansk. Due to COVID, it was not always easy to maintain our personal contact with each guest, but once again Ponoi performed up to its standards. Looking back on 2021, we can now say we had a trouble-free season! We are thrilled to announce that we are back!
Many thanks to our loyal, longstanding guests, to friends new and old, and to all our staff, who had to learn a new way of working under new guidelines. Thanks, as always, to owner Ilya Sherbovich, the man who always knows just what to say, who supports Ponoi unconditionally through thick and thin. Thanks as well to my family for the longstanding support even in tough times; you make me stronger!
I am incredibly proud to be part of this Team. The group that makes the fishing experience possible on Ponoi is simply the best there is!
A final word of thanks to all our guests. We will see you soon on the banks of Ponoi for another great salmon angling experience!