Saturday 22 May 2010

Change over day

Great to be back up here; thanks to Charlie for running things and reporting last week, you’ve got me now on the blog for a couple of weeks. The weather is better than forecast, no snow and perfect spring weather, touch of chill in the wind, but benign – at the moment!

I do enjoy the reunions at the airport hotel on the way up here. Many friends, re-united for an annual week in wilderness salmon fishing heaven. Lots of banter, stories and tall tales and real anticipation of another great week here. Despite a late night – for some – everyone was up and ready to go. We had a pretty smooth journey up here today, and were through Murmansk airport surprisingly quickly. We were all in camp in time to un-pack and have a well deserved drink before dinner.

The Middle Camp team this week are keen, very keen, we all know that; Big Misha ran a boat down here late this evening to pick up some kit. ‘Crazy fishers’ he said ‘no eat, only fishing’. I’ll get the full report tomorrow but I gather they had quite a haul this evening. (Such a pity this beat was not fished last week).

I flew over to Kitza to drop the team off there. It looked in good order, certainly not ‘high’ by the standards of the two last cold springs, and it looked about perfect for this time of year. Tom said the water temp was 7°C, he had had quite a few fish over the past few days. I’ll keep you posted on results.

A very happy Joan G and Michael Evans (trying not to get his brogues wet!)

Here at Lower Camp the team, hosted by Michael Evans, had a slightly more sybaritic approach to their arrival and enjoyed one of Jenna’s wonderful dinners. After four excellent courses I did remind them that the air temperature was falling fast and if any one did want to fish this evening it had better be soon. Very quickly Daryl E had one and lost two and Joan G got her Varzuga salmon before the air temperature really switched the river off at about 23.00.

I will post a full report on conditions tomorrow – in a nut shell, the water temp is up to 11°C but the weather is definitely cooler now. Water height is still pretty good, about what I would expect for this week.

Christopher Robinson

A change in the weather

It was bound to happen and yesterday was the day when the weather changed. We started in sunshine but it was getting colder all the time and by 7pm last night there was a real chill in the air. I am told that it is snowing in Murmansk and whilst it is not doing that here yet, I would not be surprised if we got some by the end of the day.
We have had the most amazing week and the 5 rods have finished with just over 220 fish taken in stunning sunshine so it was due a change and I will leave it to Christopher to report on how the weather fluctuates this week.

Michael H into a fish in Heli pool, still bathed in sunshine

Departing for Murmansk today

We are flying back to Murmansk this morning for the charter flight back to Helsinki and I will hopefully see all of our outcoming rods before I have to get on the plane. I will be back in the office on Monday and if you have any questions about the fishing or the programme on the Varzuga please do not hesitate to contact me.

Charlie White

Friday 21 May 2010

A trip to the village

It was a beautiful day on the river yesterday and we ended with 30 fish for the day, with at least as many lost again. Will G lost a very decent fish at Jannaways that took him 150 yards into his backing before throwing the hook and there were reports of fish leaping out of the air from all over the river.

After fishing I took Henry Giles to Varzuga village where we initially looked around the old church, which is 300 years old, before being invited to climb to the top of the bell tower to watch the daily ringing of the bells.
View of the village from the bell tower

The Varzuga church, entirely made of wood and 300 years old

Oleg ringing the bells, ear defenders might be a good idea

The weather has changed slightly and it is cooler today with quite a stiff breeze but it is not affecting anything as a couple of fish have already been caught before breakfast from the Heli pool.

I spoke to Tom at Kitza and Garth at Middle this morning and they both report their rivers to be looking in great shape. I couldn’t get a straight answer as to how many fish they have caught whilst they are meant to be setting up their camps but from the giggles and stilted pauses that came through on the radio it is clear that there are plenty of fish in the home pools....

At Kitza the water temperature is 7 degrees and it is 9 degrees at Middle which is pretty much perfect for this time of the year.

If you are coming out with us this season please remember to put your camp luggage labels on every bit of your luggage, including your rod tubes, as Murmansk can be quite a busy place and it is very helpful for us and our Russian partners to know which bag is meant to be going where when we are loading the helicopters.

Luggage labels for each camp. Please call the office if you need more

I will try and post a last minute update before I leave tomorrow morning and then the blog will be taken over by Christopher Robinson who will be out here for a fortnight after which I come out again. As ever, it will be a wrench to leave, even if it is only for two weeks.

Charlie White

Thursday 20 May 2010

Another glorious day

We woke up to much fresher temperatures and it felt as if the weather was turning but it has now burnt off and it is another superb day, it is around 18 degrees at the moment.

The building work continues and they have now finished the new veranda outside of our dining room.

New veranda at Lower Varzuga

“They” are Russian builders from Karelia, just north of St Petersburg and they are excellent carpenters and builders. With working hours of 8am to 8pm it is astonishing how much they get done.

Keith, our head mechanic , has been helping them but he has been busy preparing new engines to go up to Middle Varzuga with Garth and Donna who left after breakfast with their head guide Misha.

Keith - the man who can fix anything

After an excellent and very hot banya last night, I discovered that we had finished the day with 55 fish to the 5 rods with catches spread very evenly throughout all of the beats. I haven’t been out yet today but the radio in my office has been non-stop with the guides talking to each other comparing numbers and sizes of fish so it sounds as if this morning is being very productive.

Henry Giles with one of his fish from The Beach pool yesterday

I can see Antony B fishing Duck pool from my window and I have so far seen him land 2 fish as I have been typing this so I would imagine that lunch could be quite jolly – I had better go and put my waders on!

Charlie White

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Lunchtime update

We have just returned from lunch at Jannaways and it appears as if the whole beat is producing fish. I think we have had around 30 fish for the morning with everyone catching.

Henry Giles had 4 from Moskoi, all of which were around the 12lbs mark and his backing has had quite an outing in the past couple of hours. I spent time this morning with Alan J and Michael H and watched a fish practically spool Michael before being part of a long distance catch and release.

Pasha landing one of Michael H's at Duck pool

Pasha landing one of Alan J's from the top of Larder pool

It has been the most stunning morning and everyone is in shirtsleeves and sunglasses. We are still using sinkers but a few fish have been caught on floating lines with a heavy sink tip and tubes of around 1- 1 ½ inch have been the most successful.

Jesse stealing the glory

Garth and Donna are going up to Middle Varzuga tomorrow with two of their guides, Misha and Vova and they will be able to give me an update on water heights and temperatures from there. I wish we had had clients fishing it this week as I it would have been a bonanza. Given that no one fished it this week (the team let us down at the last minute) it is up for grabs for next year and do contact the office if you might be interested.

Less Jesse, more fish - a better picture??

I will try and post an update this evening when I have caught up with everyone but it might be later than usual as our mechanics, Keith and Dave, have lit the banya (the Russian sauna) and I am keen to go in there. It is not exactly the weather for a sauna but I can never resist it.

Charlie White

Tuesday 18 May 2010

More sun, even more fish

At the end of another hot day, the clients have just returned from the river and it is a good job we filled the fridge with cold beers as they are much in demand.

Fighting a fish at Jannaways

The end result

It has clearly been a very productive day across the whole beat with all poools producing fish and for those of you who know it, we caught fish from the Larder, Bear Island, Jannaways and the Beach. Some are still in the shower but quick chats with the guides reveal that we caught around 55-60 fish today to 5 rods. I am told that Brian finally cracked and had a cast for about an hour today, the result being 4 bright fish on the bank.

A happy Feoder - Head guide at Lower

Alan J and Michael H reported some bigger fish amongst their haul and all have said how hard the fish fought which may explain why there were as many fish lost today as there were landed.

Everyone is still using quite fast sinkers (Teeny 300) but have moved towards aluminium tubes as opposed to copper and I don't think it will be long before we start to find fish a bit higher in the water column but naturally if the weather turns a bit colder (no sign of it yet) that may slow the process down.

I spent the day talking with our Russian partner, Sviat Michaelovich, about the new building works that have been going on and below is the first picture of the new lodges he is building for us to use by next year. More on this as we know how it progresses as time can be quite elastic out here!

Charlie White

New building which is beside the heli pad

Monday 17 May 2010

Quick report before dinner

I have not managed to catch up with all of the clients yet but it looks as though we had around 35-40 fish to the 5 rods today. A great day with superb weather and very pleasant fishing conditions. I have only managed to grab Henry's camera so he is top of the bill this evening.

He is now fishing Heli pool for the last possible moment until he is called in to supper. He has had 12 fish so far today with more lost and we are all now trying to work out which is wider - the river or Henry's smile!

Henry Giles with one of his 12 (and counting) today

Another fish landed and another being released

More tomorrow but am going now as I have seen what Jenna is preparing for supper and I don't want to miss it!

Charlie White

A Trip to open up Kitza Camp

After seeing the clients off to fish (below),

we loaded the heli up in the village.

Had great views of the village and the iconic Varzuga church, to our South we could see the White Sea with a few ice bergs still visible.
The camp is clear of snow and Ura the Head Guide said that the river had broken on 8 May; the river was high but Ura reported it had now started to drop. Paula Erskine, in her third year cooking at Kitza, is joined by Tom Ledger as Manager.

The Kitza (below) seems high in the photos, however the last two years it has been higher at the start, and colder too. It was running clear with little dirt in it. Looks good.

The Varzuga dropped 4 inches last night and this morning was up to 8 degrees. It is still hot here (22 degrees at 2pm) but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the fishing. I only saw Henry Giles very briefly before he went down river for lunch but he had landed 2 fish this morning and had lost 3 more.

Charlie White

Sunday 16 May 2010

A hot day all round

We had the best possible start to the week with Antony B landing his first ever salmon which he promptly followed up with 4 more. With his friend, Will Goodenough, taking 7 for the day on what is his first visit to Russia, it was just as we had hoped the first day would be. Having Brian Fratel as their guide meant that they had a mine of information at their fingertips and they were both determined to make the most of it. I fear the celebrations may be long...

Anthony B and his first salmon

Henry Giles, of Trout and Salmon fame, landed his first Russian salmon and a very decent sea trout before rounding the day off by landing a further one out of the Heli pool just before supper. With Alan J also taking 5 cracking fish it has been a great start to the season.

Henry Giles and his second fish of the day

It is still hot and the breeze today felt almost tropical but in the past hour the wind has changed and it feels colder now. However, it is all relative and the endless thermals that I lovingly packed are still going unused.

Tom Ledger (Kitza camp manager), Paula Erskine (Kitza cook) and I are flying over to Kitza tomorrow to start the setting up of the camp for their first guests who arrive on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how the river looks over there and I will try and take a picture or two for tomorrows update.

Charlie White