Week 3 Report
June 18, 2017
After what was arguably the toughest week of fishing in the history of Ryabaga Camp, we entered the official third week of the 2017 season with a mix of hope and uncertainty. Though all who know Ponoi understand that the resource is incredibly resilient and the river returns to its normal glory very quickly, a late spring and similarly late ice-out had delayed the 2017 season significantly. By the end the first fishing day of Week 3 the Ponoi had amazed us once again. A swollen and very cold river produced over 100 salmon, thanks to the perseverance of optimistic anglers and undaunted guides.
With the tundra still partially frozen, weather conditions, water temperatures and visibility slowly improved through the first four fishing days of the week. A sudden warm-up on Thursday and Friday added a couple feet of water to the river level, reducing the catch a bit. That said, a slight reduction in the daily catch rate was a small price to pay to clear most of the remaining snow from the entire basin.
The final tally for the week was 627 fish. Although this figure is lower than the 25-year catch average for this week, it remains quite a showing considering the Ponoi’s initial spring condition and the current weather across the Kola Peninsula. Overall the fish quality was exceptional, with some late fall-run fish in the mix to provide anglers with hard battles. The unseasonably cold temperatures that we experienced until recently kept the overwintered salmon in great condition. We were also quite pleased this week to see that a more substantial number of bright fish than we supposed had spent the winter in the estuary, and are now moving into the Ponoi system. All of these fish provided action in a river that was still running fast and deep.
Ponoi guides explored a range of tactics this week, but many walked their boats down the banks to take advantage of the concentrations of fish near the slower shorelines. These conditions also rewarded those willing and able to wade for most of the day; consequently a few of our anglers surpassed the 40-fish mark for the week!
From a tackle standpoint the most productive rigs were full-sinking lines paired with big, bright flies. Most anglers also opted to carry a lighter setup for fishing the shallow banks. Numerous 15 to 18 pound fish were landed through this past week, but the highlight of the week was John Dale’s magical Thursday session at Hallway when the landed a 13, 16, 17, and a sturdy 23 pounder! Congratulations John!
PRC Owner Ilya Sherbovich joined us this week and joined us in welcoming three generations of Gavrilenko's (grandfather Anatoly, son Anatoly, and grandsons Sasha and little Max). Ilya, alongside his father Victor and son Kostya, shared Ryabaga’s magic with these longtime family friends. Members of these two families made some memories not only in Ponoi waters but also in other nearby Kola fisheries where trophy brown trout were the prize.
We look upon the coming week of fishing with a more clear view of what is in store, namely a river that is still high and fast and cold, but nonetheless full of fish that will become increasingly eager to take the fly as the days go by. For good reason we are very optimistic about what lies in store for the Ponoi.
Joaquin Arocena and the Ryabaga Team
Specializes in the Ponoi and Iceland fishing programs, and Elegant Journeys.
Co-Owner, Global Destination Specialist
Specializes in Atlantic salmon fishing programs and heads up Elegant Journeys.