Ponoi's Ryabaga: Summer is here!

Alexsage Orehov and his canine companions are packing up and getting ready to make the trip back to the village of Kanevka, writes Ryabaga Camp Manager Matt Breuer and his team.  This ‘changing of the guard’ in many ways formalizes the arrival of summer in Ryabaga, and the summer crew is operating at full throttle as they gear up for a great season of salmon fishing on the Ponoi. 

The news from Ryabaga is exciting, to say the least.  Extreme warm weather on the 16th and 17th of May caused massive melt on the tundra, and the staff watched nervously as the water levels near camp rose through the night.  Eventually, all on hand “wadered-up” in an effort to rescue the plethora of equipment in the Ponoi arsenal.  Once the engines were stowed and the moorage, hovercraft, sawmill, and firewood stocks barricaded in, all on hand breathed a sigh of relief.  The waters are now receding back to manageable flows, though the flood nearly reached the record levels of 2010.  Fortunately, the high water flushed out the remains of the ice, and the river is back to fishable condition.  Cool, clear nights prevail, and with the clarity of sky and water, several eager guides have taken the unique opportunity to swing flies under a midnight Arctic sun.

Underway is the refitting and tuning of all boats in the fleet.  Boris Machnev and Sergei Bistrov are leading the charge on engine tuning, testing, and mounting as the guides scrape and paint hulls, clean floors, scrub carpets, rig oars, wash coolers, etc.  All boats have been outfitted this season with electric bilge pumps, to keep matters dry and trim.  Once new transoms are designed, constructed, and welded, the brand new fleet of 1860 Lowe Roughnecks will be fitted with new 40 hp four-stroke Mercury jet units.

A few guides ducked up the Purnache last night to have a cast.  Dan Podolsky landed a fine specimen of 9 pounds to start the season off right: it is simply amazing how bright and strong the over-wintered salmon remain!  Water clarity and temperature in the main river are coming into shape, and it looks as though the first week of anglers will be met with ideal conditions.

Already our Head Chef Alex Cataldi is producing some delectable new treats: his brioche, aptly painted with an egg wash applied after the proofing, may well be my undoing.  This specialty is as fine as any Parisian baker could produce, and it is so buttery-rich that it is a decadent treat in and of itself. Tonight, the guides and mechanics will also sample a new roll with olives and capers, and I am sure they will approve.  Supply officer Sasha Cheplukhov has been put to the test as Alex has challenged him with the task of finding ever more obscure ingredients for this summer’s menu.  We may just have to import and hand-feed our own ducks for this season’s foie gras!

As Saturday approaches, the Ryabaga crew is as busy as a swarm of bees.  There are so many tasks that go into the launching of a season, and the Ryabaga team leaves nothing to chance.  When the first Mi8 of the season touches down and deposits its wealth of guests, camp and the river will be in top form.  Those lucky few that sample the Ponoi’s wares for the first week of 2012 are certain to make some salmon memories.  And we, the staff and guides of the Ponoi River Co., are all so eager to be part of it!

For further information and current availability please contact Tarquin Millington-Drake on 0845 299 6212 Ext 5 or at tmd@frontierstrvl.co.uk

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