Saturday, 29 May 2010

A New Week Starts

Old Kola hands know that Murmansk airport can take hours to get through. We used our new system again today had the Lower Varzuga guests here in camp by 3.50 p.m. Just four hours after the charter landed. Thank you Olga, Dima and Leonid! – your efforts were much appreciated.

Dan R with one on this evening

Thereafter routines differed somewhat – the Middle Camp rods rushed to the river and when I spoke to Donna at 8.30 she was still missing a few for dinner. It is glorious evening here at Lower, Jessie and Jenna decided that an early supper at six would be a good idea with fishing after, seldom have I seen three delicious courses go down so fast. They were on the river by 8 p.m.

I heard briefly from Pana and Kitza, enough to know that the rods were out fishing and that fish were being caught. Middle seem to have done fairly well this evening and on Lower Jessie was confident that they were all into fish. I popped down quickly to see Dan R in action in Heli Pool.

A busy day today, I’ll catch up with all the camps in the morning and give you a fuller update.

Christopher Robinson

Friday, 28 May 2010

After the gale

After the gale of the past two days the wind dropped overnight and we had a welcome calm day with high clouds, giving us much more pleasant fishing conditions. The water temperature remains steady in the 9°C to 11°C range and the level continues to fall towards ‘summer’ levels.

Over on Kitza, which is always a week or so behind Varzuga, the water level is still steady and the temperature remains 7°C. They had a better day today with 23 landed and a good number lost, Tom reckoned that the run was now really moving on up river and from this weekend they are going to push right up to the top beats while they have the water to do so. A wonderful chance for some guests to get up to areas we seldom fish.

Jessie, Lee, Steven and Pasha taking 'time out'
On Lower Varzuga we had a fairly quiet day, possibly due to last night! We did just get into double figures, the good news was that the bigger fish are still running and we had four real beauties in double figures. Floating lines are definitely in and we tried the Sunray again with some smashing surface takes.

Middle Camp picked up after a dour day yesterday and reported a respectable 74, also with a good number of bigger fish. As always detail is lacking I’m afraid as they are too busy fishing, I’ll try and sharpen them up next week.

Tomorrow I go to Murmansk to say farewell to the current teams and to see the new parties into their camps. I hope to be able to post a quick report tomorrow evening. I thought I’d finish this week with a couple of photos that show the changes over just 18 days. The new decking was finished today. More photos of the full refurbishment next week.

10 May

28 May

Christopher Robinson

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The floating line is 'in'

Another bright and windy day. Quite cool to start with, I spoke to Aaron up at Pana this morning and his air temperature was 2°C but he said it felt like -4°C in the wind. All the boats are ready to go, the camp looks spotless and he and Kate await their first guests of the season on Saturday.

Martin W with a nice one from Heli Pool

Down river here at the Lower Camp the water temperature was 8.5°C at the start of the day rising to 11°C by this evening, quite cold this evening so I expect it will drop back again. The water is dropping more slowly now, Sharks Tooth Rock appeared yesterday morning and is now about 4” out. It was a tricky day again, with pods of fish coming through fairly fast making for an element of luck in being at the right place at the right time. Kitza had 18, we had 14 and Garth at Middle reckons they had about 50 – as always some of them were still out.

Straight from the sea - Steven H at Bear Island

The rods commented on the number of plucks, pulls and gentle takes they had today. I went out late afternoon to The Wires to see how it would perform with a floating line and a Sunray, I soon got two fish that took really aggressively on the surface. I then switched to a small brass tube, fished slowly and had a dozen or so gentle bumps, two hung on for a second or two only. I’m not sure if it because of this high pressure system sitting right over us, in any case I’d rather it went away. I was really pleased that the Sunray on the surface worked well, normlly we do not go over to floating lines for another week or so. I think most in Lower camp will try floaters tomorrow.

The weather often changes with the arrival of the new groups on Saturday – guys can you bring some rain please?

Christopher Robinson

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Tough Day

A very bright sun all day and a strong, cold NE wind. If you found shelter from the gale it was quite pleasant in the sun; in the wind it was distinctly cold and the casting was quite a trial.

It was a day of patchy fishing, there were fish running through quite fast in pods and if you hit them you could make hay. We are beyond the half way point in the week and down here at Lower Camp, a number of rods just relaxed out of the wind and took a bit of time to soak up the tundra atmosphere.

David W with a fresh fish from the Lower Camp

I went up to Middle last night with our mechanic Keith to look at one of the boat engines and to deliver supplies. We saw far more fish running than we did two days ago, but the results did not reflect this. The Middle team had landed around 50 for the day, poor by their standards in this week, but they are a very experienced team and know that days like this can happen. We have to remind ourselves that 50 fish to 12 rods is not exactly bad fishing!

I missed the evening radio call as we were boating up river at the time, but I gather Kitza had another 25 or so and Lower had 18 to the six rods. More tomorrow when I hope this wind will have dropped.

Christopher Robinson

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Water levels

What should go on the blog was hot on the agenda at the Hilton Hotel in Helsinki on the way out here . Mike B thought he’d rather not know about Charlie and the banya, Simon R thought the bell ringing piece added a touch of local interest and charm. Paul C said he’d had to wait a long 51 weeks to get back here so bring on the full bloodied fishing notes and photos of salmon and bin the rest.

In celebration of Paul C catching an 8lb pike on a fly yesterday (Paul - we are here to catch salmon!) I will stick to fishy stuff today.

A warmer night, no frost and today is cloudy, mild with hint of rain in the air. Quite a stiff wind from the North East. Not the easiest of casting conditions but it feels fairly ‘fishy’. The water temp remains at 10°C with an air temp of 16°C.

The topical discussion in camp is the water height for the remainder of the season, and I know that those of you fishing in June are showing a keen interest too. Below is a rather dull photo taken at midday of the Heli Pool at the Lower camp, those who know the pool will note that Sharks Tooth Rock remains just a boil. If the water is over Sharks Tooth the river is quite big and could be termed ‘high’.

Heli Pool

I have checked the Red Book, in which Keith has recorded the daily water heights for 14 years. The height is measured from Keith’s Nail, which he drilled into a rock in 1996 and we use it as a very useful gauge. The water height drops to Keith’s Nail on average around 25/26 May - at this point the main melt flood will have gone and the water starts a steady, daily drop unless either we get rain or unless we have snow and frozen tundra left. From Keith’s Nail we would expect the water to drop an inch or two a day.

This year the water level was at Keith’s Nail on 22 May. With our reserve of snow and ice gone in this very warm and early spring the water is now dropping faster than normal, about three to four inches a day. A similar year was 2006, our last ‘low water’ year, when we hit Keith’s Nail on 16 May and had little snow reserves in the watershed.

Pana Junction yesterday

June water levels are going to be dependent on rain, if we do not get it then I suspect we will find boating tricky in some places. The bad news is that we may have to walk to some pools, the good news is that the fishing here can be excellent in low water.

The Middle score yesterday (24th) was 82, better than I anticipated and today they are reporting 82 fish again. Kitza had 24 to the six rods and Lower Camp had 26. All camps reported bigger fish today with a healthy number over 10lbs, 25% of the fish yesterday from Lower were in double figures. To put the camp scores into perspective it is worth remembering that Middle is fishing double the number of rods (12) and dare I say it, all of them have been here ‘quite a few’ years.

Daryl E and a Silver Bar from Moscoi this afternoon

Lines are still an eclectic mix from sinking to floating – while the water remains warm my advice remains ‘go for distance not depth’ in other words fish a line you can cast best with.

Christopher Robinson

Monday, 24 May 2010

Busy day

A long day today. Bizarre to be typing this from The Office, over looking the river, after midnight and the sun climbing up over the pine trees on the far bank. The builders boogie blaster now replaced by a cuckoo – both very repetitive! I’ll keep this brief and tomorrow will have a day here in Lower Camp to catch up and try and send you a bit more about the fishing and conditions.

I took the crew up to Pana today, we picked up the Russian staff on the village heli pad; great to see the same team back with Head guide Dima and wife Elisa, Misha, Sergei, and float trip expert Denis. Kate was thrilled to see them and also Little Dave, the new Pana camp dog , not to be confused with Our Dave, mechanic and guide.

Aaron, Dima,Sergei,Dave, Denis,Kate, Alisha, Leaena and Julia - and Dave the dog

The camp looked in good order, odd to see green grass this time of year. The river too looked perfect and I took a shot of Hippo Rock (below) as I know you Pana fishers want to see the water level. Dave and camp manager Aaron Ford will be busy the next few days setting up, but I have no doubt they will want to test the fishing as soon as they get time, I’ll let you know how they get on.

This evening Keith and I went up to Middle Camp to see how they were and to do some work on the boats. An easy run up there and still plenty of water, not a lot of fish showing and that was rather the feeling from the guys at Middle. A tougher day, I suspect they will be in the 70 – 80 range, they had 96 in the book yesterday. That was echoed down here at Lower where they had 21. I failed to report last night that Lawrence T landed his first salmon yesterday, he continued his success today including this good one from Bear Island (below). Kitza reported 28, again from both below and above camp.

It seemed a reasonable fishing day, a bit bright maybe, but warm and soft, a strong upstream wind made it tricky in places. I thought we would do better, but the water is still quite high and very warm at 10°C, I suspect the fish are not holding as well as they would normally this time of year when the temperatures are a good deal cooler.

Message for Sandy – Mike had a great day and got two really good fish from Party Pool this afternoon at Middle Camp. (He was in good form, really pleased with the two fish in the ‘teens, we thought this form of communication might amuse you!).

More on the fishing tomorrow.

Christopher Robinson

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Cooler, but a great start to the week

Well, you need not worry about the heat wave anymore; the weather is now much more what we’d expect and we had a touch of frost last night. Mixed sunshine and cloud this morning, with a chilly NW breeze, about 9 degrees celcius at midday, it felt a good deal colder out of the sun. A grey afternoon and then a cold, bright evening, with wonderful light from the North. Water temp is a steady 9-10 degrees on Varzuga (6 on Kitza), the level here dropped 3” last night.

Last night the Middle team were in their waders virtually before the rotors stopped turning and there was, I gather, a rush to the water. They landed 34 fresh spring salmon in their first evening! As reported earlier, we took a slightly more relaxed approach here. I asked a guest at breakfast this morning how many he’d had last night – big mistake - he had not fished and thought I was rebuking him re. the whisky consumption.

Daryl Ewer with one on, he also had ten fish today

Kitza started well with 30 for the six rods on the opening day, Lee M hit the jack pot with 11 from First Island. Tom had reported that fish were well up the river past camp and this catch was welcome news to confirm this, we can now start to explore further up river.

Middle, as always, were a bit behind on reports as half the rods were still out when we at Lower were sitting down to supper. Garth thought they would be over 90 for the day and had heard on the radio that several good fish in the teens had been landed.

At Lower we had some triumphs , notably Tom C who caught his fist salmon, and then went on to land nine more. He kindly insisted we all celebrated with a large bottle of senior malt. Thank you Tom! We ended up with 43 for the day, a good morning and slightly slower afternoon.

As to tackle – we are on the cusp - high water yet at a floating line temperature, the sinking lines are working well, those less able to cast a distance are better off on intermediates or slow sink tips, we are starting to catch them on floating lines. My advice, to all but the best casters, is ‘distance is better than depth’ in these conditions – use a line you can cover water with rather than going deep.

Sue C with fit 10lber+ from Moscoi Rapids

More tomorrow; I’ll get you that Middle result and perhaps dwell on the out look for Pana as I know a few of you are getting itchy feet.

Christopher Robinson