Tuesday, 5 July 2016

2016 season review

This season was our 25th year on the Varzuga and as ever, we were hugely looking forward to it.  By early April we start to pay closer attention to the Russian weather forecasts and anxiously await news.

Yuri D
As our advance party did their final bits of shopping in Murmansk it was clear that they were experiencing far warmer conditions than they would expect and that all indications were that we would have an early ice break.

Moscoi Island out of the water by 16th May, unheard of
The ice broke on April 28th which is early but not ridiculously so but the weather either side of the ice break was incredibly hot and whilst our Russian friends welcomed the heat after their long winter, it gave us slight cause for concern.

Jonathan B will a chunky one
Sadly those concerns came home to roost.  The relatively early ice break combined with warm and low water meant that the fish decided to run fast and hard very early.  Sadly, a big proportion of the run of fish had run through our beats and were in the headwaters pretty much before we got there.

This rather sealed our fate with the first three weeks of the season being solid, if not spectacular but after that the fishing got progressively more difficult.

Fishing with old friends
It is a measure of our expectations that a final tally of 3,240 salmon over our seven week season was, at best, disappointing.   This has been the lowest scoring year of our 25 seasons on the river and a seasonal average of 17 fish per rod per week compares against our long term average of 36 fish per rod.
Jonathan makes the frame again
The season started with very hot weather and also finished the same but fortunately in between we had sufficient rain that we could boat to pretty much all of the river over the whole of the season. The exception to this was Kitza which defied all logical explanations by falling to a very low level by mid June despite having a lake at its head.  Another odd thing in a fairly odd year.

Catch and release throughout the season
We had some cracking fishing in all camps at various points during the season and as ever, the chance to spend a week in the remote wilderness with great friends, real comfort and mile after mile of epic fly water is not something that can easily be forgotten.

The happy team at Kitza
Whilst it won’t go down as a vintage season by any means it has triggered a clause in our terms and conditions for the Varzuga system that we have never seen enacted before.  We have always stated that if someone fishes hard and to the best of their ability for a full week but ends up blanking for the week then they will be offered their rod the following season for free.  Sadly, this has happened twice this year and for the first time ever we have offered two free rods for 2017.

Findlay with a lovely fish from Beach
Our commitment to the programme, the well being of our guests, to our Russian partners and to the river itself is unending and we continue to strive to make fishing the Varzuga a lifetime experience.

Low water was a feature of our early season
History shows us that a poor year is followed by a good one and we look forward to being back on the river in 2017 to start the next 25 years up there.

Happy days
Thank you to all of you who entrusted us with your Russian fishing adventure this year and we hope that we will see you next season.  Finally, a big thank you to our Russian friends and partners, without whom we could not experience this fantastic river.

Charlie White

Friday, 1 July 2016

One per day

Another scorching day and the fishing was again really slow. Gordon B got one before breakfast as per this morning's blog. However Ian B, the man with at least a fish a day, managed to land a nice Salmon on a home tied Red Ali's making a complete week of fish. A very happy man. He also managed to lose another. A fishy pair of brothers.

Winter care taker's island home

This evening we packed up our kit and the boats and tomorrow we head home on the early morning helicopter. With the searing heat and low water it has been a tough week for a few but everyone has shown stalwart determination. A solid team of dedicated fishers head home with us tomorrow for a well earned rest.

Prawn Cocktail - Classic

We also waved goodbye to Ura and Ivan (Guides) as well as Jena and Rick (Dachshund) who are paddling back down to the village with a couple of beers and a couple of the camp boats. I did ask if they might fish on the way down but Ivan just asked "where are the fish?" A sad but today valid observation.

Wild Roses still in bloom

The camp is currently extremely beautiful and full of colour. It seems a shame to be leaving but Iceland is calling and it's time to head home.

A quick tow from Vova to faster water

Jack Selby

Anyone for a swim

Yesterday was scorchio again. It did not seem to stop Paul R from a very serious day landing 3 fish and losing the same. Julian S also landed one up river. We took lunch up river and fishing had been tough but everyone was on good form. The water is skinny now and so we sent Donna by boat and waded up ourselves.

Gordon B's fish Peartiha

One of our member has had a fish every day so far and so the pressure is on today (Not mentioning any names). Gordon B had a fish this morning on a Green Highlander that was remotely guided by Terry. Last year Terry told Gordon of a rock far out on the true left channel of Generator. Gordon extended his leader and his cast and sure enough this morning it worked. Well done Terry.

This mornings fish

Yesterday Paul R also took a slight spill in the river. Not enough to fill his waders but enough to dampen his arms and front. However clearly it had the effect of gently releasing his auto inflate life jacket. About ten minutes after he'd recovered his composure it suddenly went off mid river and almost sent him back into the drink. Therefore Oli carefully rearmed it last night whilst sampling a little Malt... For quality control purposes you understand.

Post supper rearming

Another wonderful supper a la Donna

Jack Selby

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Finally a Sunset

Another day of scorching hot weather meant the previous days success was not repeated sadly. With water temperature between 18 and 19 degrees Celsius and similar air temperature the fish were avoiding too much movement in case they poached. Ian B as always started his day extremely early with a fish from the top of Generator before anyone else was even awake (possibly before some were even asleep)

Gordon B's fish from Tuesday

Paul R caught a fish from Party in the afternoon and Dominic M had a smashing take from a very silver 4lbs trout which was jolly lively? Perhaps a sea trout? So 2 Salmon for the day.

Stewart S fishes the top of Party as the sunsets

Last night it was very still but we took Dominic M and Stewart S out for a post supper hitching session. There were fish bouncing in the neck and tail of party but none wishing to take part in any boat activity. Dominic M hitched like a demon but with 10 degrees of air over 18 degree water it was easy to see why they did not play ball. But as the motto this week has been: "You never know"

Dominic M and Stewart S paln the evening attack

Lastly with all the excitement of Penry A's big fish (estimated 6-7kgs or 13.2-15.4lbs) I was unable to mention Gordon B's magnificent pike. Whilst we are all about catch and release here the Russian kitchen utterly adore a fresh caught pike. I wonder if I can get Donna to cook up the next one...

Kitchen (Russian) fish

Jack Selby