RUSSIA – PONOI RIVER – RYABAGA CAMP – WEEK 7 REPORT July 16, 2012
It’s a Dog’s Life…
“This is the best,” exclaimed Victor R. as Lena placed a steaming plate in front of him, adorned with a succulent piece of reindeer tenderloin. Victor was born in Argentina but hails most recently from Sweden, and he has fished in fantastic locales the world over: salmon throughout Europe, sea-trout in Argentina… there is no doubt he has witnessed first-hand the finest in sport, fare, and accommodation. His opinion and discerning taste are not to be taken lightly. When Dasha topped up his glass of Tempranillo, Victor appeared even more the picture of contentment.
Michael B. too swirled his glass in a circular motion. A true wine connoisseur from New York, Michael has also fished the farthest corners of the globe. Michael’s first visit to Ponoi proved nothing short of stellar as he landed 38 salmon on his single-handed 8 wt. fly rod. When asked why he did not try the Spey technique, he simply declared, “No need… with the perfect placement of the boat by the guides, and the level of the water, I found it much easier to just carry on with what I know, rather than to struggle with something new. And you know what Matt?” he added, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I took this reference to canine development to heart through the day as I considered the recent addition of ‘Purnache’ into the Ryabaga fold. Purnache is a two-and-a-half month old Laika puppy that recently arrived in camp, immediately winning me over, much to my consternation. He was born May 3rd, and is a beautiful example of the forest dogs that have for centuries been bred by indigenous Laplanders of the Kola Peninsula. The Laika dogs are steadfast hunting and herding dogs, and nearly as emblematic of northwestern Russia as the Atlantic salmon itself. Fortunately, Maxwell Winson arrived this week on his umpteenth visit to Ryabaga, and he was quite a helpful coach in the nuances of puppy rearing. Having raised several generations of Dachsunds (latest of which is dubbed ‘Tomba’), Maxwell understands just what a little pup needs as he comes of age this summer in Ryabaga.
With a 30 fish per rod average this week, the Ponoi continues to produce plenty of summer run fish. A slight rise in water levels last Monday freshened the Ponoi just enough to peak the stats on the middle two days of the week. Salmon were taken on a wide range of flies, though line choice remained consistent, with a floating head and an intermediate tip. The skated fly did not see as much action as in previous weeks, though I think mostly due to the beauty and success of the “Maxi’s Green Highlander”, tied on a Shumakov tube. Yet again a result of the genius of our own Max Mamaev, this lovely pattern, when swung before any unsuspecting salmon, elicits a response not unlike a red cape waved in front of a bull.
In the coming week, Ryabaga will host the final 19 anglers to fish before our midsummer break. The summer run continues to flow upriver, and a strong band of silver remains untapped for the lucky anglers due in camp. At this point in the summer, guides have the river well-dialed: fly choice, depth, and boat placement have become second nature, and guides are putting guests right on top of fish. As Michael B. proved in a 9-fish session with Max, Ryabaga guides are among the best in the business, and their approach to this river is a combination of science and wizardry. With the fall run looming, and the summer run still much in evidence, no better chance for Atlantic salmon success can be found… we are much looking forward to putting our expertise to work in your favour.
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