Saturday 5 June 2010

Saturday evening update

Blimey, where did those two weeks go? Well, if you were here, it involved just under 2,000 fish landed to 58 rods so I have a slight feeling that I may have been in the wrong place ...

It is great to be back and thanks to Christopher for running things so smoothly. After a relatively pain free journey through Murmansk (did I actually see a customs officer smile at me ..? Surely not) we got to camp by about 5:30 pm to find the river lower than when I left it but not as low as we have known it in the past on the 5th June.

A happy team at Lower this evening

It has been raining quite hard and the river rose today by a couple of inches which should freshen things up a bit and give new impetus to the runs of fish.

I hear on the radio that Barrie W has been out for about 20 minutes and landed his first fish outside of Pana camp and is now retiring to champagne cocktails - not a bad way to start the week.

Here at Lower we had an excellent early dinner and all the rods are now going to give it a try before retiring.

More tomorrow when it will be interesting to see what effect all of this rain has had in the upper reaches as it will take some time to filter its way down here.

Charlie White

Friday 4 June 2010

One of those days

Heavy rain last night, and a damp misty morning. At morning radio call Kitza confirmed that they had 40 to their seven rods yesterday. A good result.

Foggy morning - fish on

I flew up to the village to see the huge truck that arrived last night after a two day drive up from St Petersburg, laden with this years village supplies. On it I hoped were many important items amongst which were a washing machine for Leanna here at Lower Camp, and two outboard engines.

I guess I had made a bit of a fuss about getting this kit into Camp as quickly as possible - typically Michaelovitch pulled my leg and landed the helicopter not on the heli pad but right outside the modest office that over-looks the river. The good news is that the saw-dust left behind by the builders on the grass by the lodge has gone, the bad news is that most of it ended up in the office.

This was compounded by a massive stone fly hatch; they seem to love my printer and when I print a document there are a handful of stone flies ironed onto the page.

Jeff G had a tough day too, lost a good fish that darted through his guides legs at the last moment, broke his rod, and then had his zinger snap. The later a small thing I know, but really trying when a day is not going well.

On the fishing front - wish I could report more news - Tom at Kitza had set dinner back to 9 p.m. as rods were still out, I know that Oliver P had a 20lber from Beaver. It sounded like a good day over there. Pana picked up with 37, again with some big'ish fish, 7 over 12lbs and two around 15lbs. Here at Lower we had 24 to our five rods by this afternoon, several went out this evening and I hear that Didier F-M has just had his 60th salmon for the week.

No real rise in river level after the rain, it remains steady at the moment - and still a consistent 10 degrees. It looks well set for next week.

I'm off tomorrow to UK, Charlie is taking over for a couple of weeks. Leaving here is a real wrench; I'll be back on 19 June, but may not see the Russian team at Lower, some us go back a decade or more, a few of us nearly two decades .....

....Большое спасибо Лене и Мише, Федору, Паше, Леше и Сергею за поддержку обеспечения рыболовной программы. Надеюсь, что вам удалось порыбачить немного больше в этом году. Также, огромное спасибо, Владимиру, Минере и Марине. Я ценю вашу помощь. Вернусь 19-26 июня на Пундостров. Скорей всего я вас уже не увижу, поэтому мои лучшие пожелания и огромное спасибо. Жду с нетерпением следующего года – увидимся в начале мая 2011 года. Кристофер.

Christopher Robinson

Thursday 3 June 2010

Rain on the way

We seem to have settled down to pretty consistent catches – the river is remarkably steady at the moment despite three days of sun. The water level has hardly moved, nor has the temperature which remains in the 9°C – 11°C range. Kitza remains steady also, the water temperature there at 8°C for the past week or so.

We had another really bright day, a bit more wind unfortunately which troubled some fishers. Late afternoon it clouded over and this evening we have rain. The guides reckon we should get a few days of damp weather, the forecast looks this way too. None of us want too much rain, just enough to hold us up at this level for a few more weeks – asking too much I suspect!

Jessie with Jeff - trying to winkle one out of the run into Heli Pool this morning

Like yesterday the fishing was a bit patchy, good results but not always evenly spread. Pana had 21, down on yesterday which was a surprise. They fished more upstream today, and it seems the fish are still mainly below Camp. Kitza too had the same experience, Sasha’s Pool, below camp, produced really well today, and the upper beats did less well. They had between 30 – 35 for their seven rods – most still out when I spoke to them.

Brian C with one on at Moscoi

Middle camp confirmed that they had 66 yesterday (12 rods). Garth reckoned that they would be around the same today. Here on Lower we still have a couple of keen fishers out in the rain and I guess the five rods will account for around 25 – 30 for the day – very similar to yesterday. We are still seeing some excellent fish being banked. Pana again had three over 12lbs. Below is a photo of a really fit 15lber caught in Coconut Corner here at lower Camp this afternoon.

A very fit 15lber from Lower this afternoon

A consistent couple of days fishing despite the sun and wind. The rain is on its way, possibly bringing better fishing conditions, but we will miss the stunning blues of the river and the back light on the translucent green birch leaves that the sun illuminated so magnificently.

Christopher Robinson

Wednesday 2 June 2010

A bright day

A bright day but with no wind thank goodness, by this afternoon the sky was a piercing blue and the fishing conditions not at their best. I have not had any meaningful scores in yet as our guests are making the most of another warm’ish end to the day to enjoy the river in the evening light.

Tom at Kitza said that Julian P had 12 salmon, others had done less well but were still out. The same with Middle, I know of two fishers who have 25 salmon between them today, but I gather the fishing was a bit patchy and many found the afternoon lean. At Pana Aaron mentioned that they had to work hard today, they had just over 30 by 6 p.m.

Dave leading Jeff G into the Heli Pool hot spot

Here at Lower the team who came over from Kitza got off to a good start, after dinner last night Arnaud FM landed five to give us a great show of how it should be done, including two from Paris Pool right outside the lodge. The afternoon was tougher here too, with a very bright sun right into the salmons eyes, despite that I think we will be around 5 salmon per rod.

Jeff G this afternoon

The river has hardly dropped in the last 24 hours and remains at a perfect fishing height, the rain storms a few days ago seem to have kept it topped up. Despite the sun the water temperature remains a constant 10°C.

If you are coming out this Saturday – Intermediate tips on floating lines are favoured by most fishers at the moment, the full floater with a slightly heavier fly also works well. The best flies are still around 1” or more. The mosquitoes are early this year, not a nuisance at this stage but it is best to bring repellent just in case.

But it could all change so come prepared - we are a long way North, it snowed at Pana on 8 June last year!

Christopher Robinson

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Case Dismissed

The wind picked up again today, a really nasty blow from mid-morning until we came in at six; it was from the North so at least it was downstream which was a partial blessing. Very bright. Not the easiest of days, although this evening was again sublime, clear and great fishing after dinner for those with the stamina to give it a go.

Will T T 'hooked up' today at Lower Camp

I took Dave out this afternoon to guide him through the tail of Green Bank at the Lower Camp. The rule I like when I go off on adventures is floating line and skaters only (I had to break it last night with Julian P and it still haunts me!). We fished hard – nothing happened for two hours other than Dave lost a really serious fish that made a great explosion on the take. He blamed me (the guide) for the total failure; I blamed the weather. Back in camp I printed the barometric graph which showed that the pressure had been rising fast all afternoon. Case proven I thought and no blame could be attached to the guide. Jessie then appeared and he had caught five fishing down behind us using an intermediate tip and a Jessie Special cone head. Case dismissed, this guide in trouble.

Kitza Camp as we came in this evening

There was a degree of nervousness (i.e. another theory) expressed with apparent authority a week ago that the warm, high water this spring might have ‘sucked’ all the spring salmon through early. Last week’s 48 hour blip in catches merely compounded the evidence. I hope, after 19 years, that I have a fairly good eye for the river; the locals of course are much closer to it than I. The warmer weather certainly allowed the autumn fish that over-winter under the ice to move on earlier but the main run is on time with fish splashing through here continuously at the moment. Case dismissed and the run is now in full swing.

A good day on Middle I hear with over 70 or more, as usual most were still out this evening. Kitza did well, they went way up river above Goldmine to Rock Pool and Heli Island and landed 37 to their five rods.

Kitza Camp Pool at 7.30 p.m. today

Pana had 42, with three in the ‘teens’ and on Lower the party of 7 rods had 35 before moving over to Kitza this evening for their three days over there. Water levels are steady after rain storms last night, temperatures too are steady at 10°C on Varzuga and 8°C on Kitza.

Off to read my ‘How to be a Better Guide’ book.

Christopher Robinson

Monday 31 May 2010

Mixed weather, good fishing

It was indeed a late night, a well deserved party for the guests here at Lower following an electric first day. All up on time this morning, bright eyed, bushy tailed and full of enthusiasm - albeit some looked a little less bright eyed than others!

Jessie James, Lower Fishing Manger - fine guide, fisherman and musician

Light but over cast this morning, air temperature at 12°C by mid-morning. Lunch time brought driving cold rain for a couple of hours and both Middle and Lower Camps had the guests come back to have lunch inside. Again a wonderful end to the day, clear and perfect light.

The water temperature is holding steady at 10°C on Varzuga. Kitza water temperature at 8°C. The drop in water level has slowed down and it is now dropping about one inch a day. It is a perfect height for all camps from a fishing point of view; we’d like to see some rain in the next week to keep it up for boating but at the moment we are getting through well enough to all the beats.
Hugo R this morning

I thought I’d recap on last week. It started really well, but, as I commented on 27 May, we had a nasty high pressure system sitting over us for three days, a harsh, bright sun and a wicked, cold NE wind. The pressure rose steadily on Wednesday and Thursday peaking at 1016 late on Thursday evening – I’m never sure just how much barometric pressure accounts for a salmon’s mood but many believe it does. The fish were noticeably dour giving lots of knocks and soft plucks without much aggression. On Saturday and Sunday (yesterday) the pressure dropped steadily, back down to 1006 last night and the fishing was excellent.

Despite the above we had a good week with 480 to the regular team of 12 at Middle, Michael Evans’s party of eight rods had 156 salmon from Lower and Kitza Camp, while New Zealand cousins Philip and Jerry, plus David, Martin, Lee and Steven had 130 to their six rods fishing the opposite combination. A pretty good result all-round.

Briefly to today – Pana had 38 salmon, again they are getting bigger fish, seven over 12lbs and another two at 20lbs. Middle had 94 and Kitza were on 40 (not bad for 5 rods!) – the fish are well up the river at Kitza; Goldmine produced really well today for Didier and Arnaud F-M. Tom and Ura are going to take the guests even further up tomorrow.
Julian P fishing with me this evening, a glorious sky and a fish on

At Lower we had 42. Lots of experimenting going on, I took Julian P out in a boat after dinner, we could rise fish on tiny skaters and medium Sunrays, but they really only wanted to take Pot Bellied Pigs. I’ll try again tomorrow evening, hope the next run through are more discerning.

This blog seems to have caught on – I know that Sarah, wife of Keith (mechanic and mender of anything) mentioned that the blog had not been posted this evening (about 9 p.m. UK time) so she did not know how we had got on today. Sarah, I'm running late, been fish'in – sorry not to see you up here this year, here is a picture (below) of Keith doing the water height from Keith’s Nail drilled in 14 years ago.

Keith measuring the water from his nail - 14 years of daily records - not bad!

Raining hard now - more tomorrow.

Christopher Robinson

Sunday 30 May 2010

A Great Start to the Week

Seldom have I seen such enthusiasm from the fishers as last night. It is infectious; and gives all of us who work on the programme a lift. It was a classic Varzuga evening, wonderful light, calm and mild. Heaven.
At Lower Camp the seven rods had 16 salmon after dinner – the two father and son teams both returned to the lodge, quite tired after a long’ish day travelling from Helsinki, but with huge smiles, all had landed their first Varzuga salmon. Great to see them, and the rest of the team, off the mark within hours of arriving.

Robert P with a cracker from Green Bank this morning

A bit of mixed weather today – sun to start then cloudy, wind at times but not bad, foggy and chilly in the afternoon and again a magic clear light this evening.

A much better fishing day with good numbers of fresh fish running through all the beats, particularly down here at Lower. I took a boat up to Middle to see the team for dinner, silver fish jumping ahead of me all the time. The shallows now getting a bit skinny in places, Keith and Dave relieved to see me bring it back with no knocks or scrapes. Phew!

I have got back to find Julian P and Dan R organizing a celebration, they had heard on the radio that Lower had out-scored Middle today with a very respectible 52 fish to seven rods against 66 to 12 rods at Middle Camp. This could be a late night......

Adrian T T

At Middle, Stuart R started in style with his first Varzuga salmon a deep, fresh 12lber. At Lower the notable score went to Julian P who banked 18 salmon. Over on Kitza the five rods had 20, I think they broke a record with one guest losing 14! All camps are reporting some really chunky sized fish in the 10 – 12 lb range. Our Spanish guests at Pana had 32 with a good number of bigger fish, eight between 12 and 15lbs.

Will T-T, one off the tide.

Most rods are using sinking tips with largish flies of 1”+. I’m trying to convert them to more surface fishing, but it is only one day into the week and we can start experimenting once they have a few more under the belt.

Steve Hammond ( at Moscoi Rapid last week) with a good example of the really fit fish we are catching this year on Varzuga

Weather looks good for tomorrow, I'll let you know how we get on.

Christopher Robinson