As Autumn Approaches - Week 12 Report
It is always a bit startling to realize how quickly the seasons seem to slip by on Ponoi. Already, as we approach September, the days are growing markedly shorter, as the sun takes a shorter path across the Arctic sky. As we reflect on our 12th week of the 2017 Ponoi salmon season, the seasonality of this place and its fleeting summer bring mixed feelings. All in camp are eagerly anticipating the full impact of the Fall run, which brings with it some of the largest and strongest bright fish of the season. That said, as the mornings take on an autumn chill and the nights get noticeably darker, we all remember that our days on the incomparable Ponoi are, of course, numbered.
The weather has remained on the mild side for this time of year. It has by no means been hot, but the recent daytime air temperatures have been quite pleasant, ranging from 15 to 18˚C at the warmest part of the day. Cooler evenings have done their part to maintain water temperatures a few degrees colder than the air. We have seen no rain in more than 2 weeks, and in response the river has been slowly but continuously dropping. Though the water remains at a respectable fishing level, the dropping river is becoming harder for our guides to navigate in their jet boats.
This week’s fishing was a bit challenging, due in large part to a rather strong and steady wind that agitated the shallow lakes in the Ponoi headwaters. The resultant off-color water, particularly in combination with a bright sun, made visibility quite challenging for guides, guests, and salmon. Despite some tough conditions, notable catches were achieved by several anglers, and three of our guests, namely Betty, Patrick, and Jack, each took their first Atlantic salmon. Moreover, following a last-minute cancellation by a large corporate group, the number of anglers in camp was quite small, and guests were able to custom-select their beats, and to concentrate on specific pieces of water as desired, with little or no competition. These lucky anglers saw the Ponoi at its least trafficked, and they certainly enjoyed the exclusivity.
Jack, who thoroughly enjoyed his initiation into the brethren of Atlantic salmon anglers, was an honored guest this week. Jack is the World Record Coordinator for the IGFA. Though we were not able to get him a new entry this week, we were able to foster an ever-strengthening bond between PRC and the IGFA. With Jack’s success and evident enjoyment, we have no doubt he’ll be back.
The combination of unplanned time and unneeded personnel due to the cancellation enabled us to move forward on a few projects that we’d hoped to complete during the break - see the new river tent platforms in the photographs. It was also a bit of a respite for guides and staff, who anticipate a hard push through the end of the season. On the last two days of the week, some of our guides made a trip down to the Brevyenni waters to check the lower section for the arrival of more bright fish. A few hours after they departed we received a call from their sat-phone with good news: fall-runners were moving upstream in considerable number, and the guides were hooking them. Guide Hamish managed a particularly lovely dime-bright salmon from Brevyenni, which made us all enthusiastic about the coming days.
A call for rain in the coming week should definitely keep the fall-run salmon on the move, and we trust they will be closer to camp in greater numbers in the days to come. The heart of the Fall Run is still to come, and as water slowly clears and settles, we can’t wait to see what the big river has in store for us.
More to Come,
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.