Friday 25 June 2010

The last cast

We got away to a good start, Bob C had caught a salmon and lost one before breakfast on his morning outing. A warm and calm day, really bright in the afternoon again - lunch at Snake Pit was the first time we have had to under-take mosquito defences.
Post lunch
As the water drops so the higher beats and those up the Yovas Canyon are fishing better. It is glorious water to fish at this time of year, not the easiest wading, but no doubt the best looking and most interesting fishing on the river.
Ueli Z with a fish from the top beat
Simmonds fished really well again, Mark M had a 15lber out of a total of eight from that beat today. We finished the day with 23 salmon landed and closed the week content that we had fished well and enjoyed this extraordinary river.

We said goodbye to some of the staff tonight, some to return home to the village, others to fly with us tomorrow. It is always hard to leave Varzuga, and for those who are here for several months even more so.

A huge thank you to all those who have helped up here this year, and of course to those who have fished with us.

We will post a blog, early next week, with a brief synopsis of the season. In the meantime I prepare to leave the river having worked, as always on Varzuga, with a wonderful team – thank you all so much.

Christopher Robinson

Sometimes She Sleep

The early bright sky quickly clouded over during breakfast yesterday and we had perfect conditions in the morning. Bob C had again given us encouragement with two salmon before his scrambled eggs and toast and the boats roared away at 9 a.m. prompt.

Tudor lands his fifth salmon of the morning

Tudor D and Mark M led the way with eight between them from Simmonds by lunch time; Mark had lost his last Wilkinson’s Shrimp so joined the Green Highlander brigade. Tudor, I’m afraid, lowered the tone in fly selection by going the Ally Shrimp route – not pretty but I guess effective.

A bright afteroon at Middle Camp

At lunch time it looked like we were heading for our best day of the week. What happened in the afternoon is a bit of a mystery, it was very bright, but other than that the weather seemed settled. Someone had turned off a switch, and we really struggled until the sun dipped down in the evening.

The triumph of the afternoon went to Roma, now 17 and in his fourth season helping out here at Middle. He took his newly acquired fly fishing kit up to Bear and extracted a nice grilse on the fourth cast!

Roma (right) and Anton with the afternoon triumph

We finished on respectable 25 for the day. I went for a chat with Vova, “The river died on us”, I said.

A long pause. “Varzuga river never die” replied Vova, “Sometimes she sleep”.

Christopher Robinson

P.S. This season Espen Myhre at Guideline supplied us with four Guideline ACT rods with reels and the Guideline shooting head system for our clients to use. They have been a great success, easy to use and they really cover the water well – many thanks Espen!

Guideline ACT rod, ReelMaster LA and shooting head

Thursday 24 June 2010

Bigger Fish

Another windy day with a good blow downstream from the North, Bob C started us off well with two before breakfast, one a lovely fresh fish of around 10lbs. By lunch time it was clear that the pods of grilse had been joined by a run of bigger salmon, Tudor D was chuffed to have had two of 14 – 15lbs from Fortress.

Green Bank in the Yovas Cannyon at Middle camp

We ended the day here at Middle camp with 23 fish to nine rods of which nine were fresh salmon in the 8lb – 15lb bracket. There was a degree of fly experimentation throughout the day with the Green Highlander now favourite closely followed by P F-A’s Mediator. Smaller sizes being the best in the warm water which remains at 16°C.

Fishing Generator at midnight

The fishing at Pana remains consistent and they too had 23 salmon to their team of eight.

Snake Pit

Today is bright again after a cold, clear night, with a light breeze to keep any mosquitoes away. The scenery here is stunning with the translucent greens of the silver birch contrasting with the vivid blue of the water and sky. The wild flowers are at their peak and fish eagles soar overhead. Sadly it dawns on us that we only have two more days here before we return to reality - all the boats left camp promptly this morning to make the most of it.

Christopher Robinson

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Varzuga International Swimming Championships

A sunny day yesterday with a perfect downstream breeze, although too bright and not ideal conditions we all enjoyed soaking up the wonderful scenery on Mid Summers day.

Ueli Z with a nice salmon from Fortress

Bob C led the way at Middle with five fish, and again came into breakfast this morning with two on the bank and one lost from Generator - which had also fished well last night once the sun went down. Small Shrimp patterns continue to be favourite on floating lines.

Up at Pana Guy Rasch had seven out of 19 salmon landed, I hear he has been top rod two days running.

Luke C-M drying out after Duck Diving practice

With the water quite warm at 16°C and the fish holding well out in the river our fishers have been bolder at wading these last couple of weeks. Last week Charlie’s team from Belgium set some swimming records here at Middle, rumour has it they were practicing for the Synchronized Swimming competition. We are catching up, Mark M from Team Wales caught the judges eye with a 40 yard graceful back stroke down Blue Rock, Luke C-M tried Duck Diving and Piers F-A continues to impress for the ‘Wading like a Baby Giraffe’ award. The Swiss and Irish teams have been practicing in the shallow end but to date we have not seen their full potential.

This morning I found, deep in Tiffy P’s fly box, a very rare commodity – the last Wilkinson’s Shrimp on the Kola (shown below) tied for me last year by Peter Nightingale on an experimental aluminium tube.

I got some stick I must admit for Tiffy had suggested she start with this fly three days ago. A suggestion I dismissed out of hand in favour of a Dee Sheep. I am now eating very humble pie – I have been sacked as Tiffy’s guide and confined to camp, the Wilkinson Shrimp has been taken on an outing to Madonna’s. Tiffy has recruited two new guides for this mission, Anton and Dave, to land the many fish she will no doubt catch.

More tomorrow

Christopher Robinson

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Mind Games

A breezy day yesterday, enough wind to keep any mosquitoes off but not enough to trouble the casting, a good light too with a high overcast sky and sunny at times. Good weather in which to enjoy the river.

The water height is holding up well, after all our concerns in early May about ‘a low water’ year mother nature has again evened things out and we are still getting the big boat here at Middle right through to Scott’s some 10 kms above Camp. Up at Pana, Head Guide Dima, a wonderful boatman, simply said ‘many rocks’ which is code for ‘I can get down to Ponzoi but I’ll take that Beat on myself’.

Tiffy P into a good salmon at Simmons

They had 23 at Pana yesterday, the best fish a fresh 14lber caught by Charlie McV in Choppy. Here at Middle, Mark M led the way for the second day running with seven fish. His magic fly is a shrimp pattern which Ash M reliably reports to be a Wilkinson’s Shrimp. No one else has anything like it and Mark is a bit cagey about how many he has in his fly box. They would certainly command a premium if placed on the market just now.

Anton, Tiffy and Donna running lunch up river

We had reasonable numbers of fish splashing through here yesterday but finding taking fish was less easy - unless you had a Wilkinson’s Shrimp. After lunch I put a confident Dave, who knows the water well, into the tail of Snake Pit where grilse constantly showed all afternoon. I picked him up at 6 p.m. – “I’ve had my arse whipped” he said in his mid-western drawl, “those fish are playing mind games”.

Ash came back in with four fish under his belt including two in double figures – he had found an Apache Shrimp in box which seemed to work.

Bob C went out before breakfast this morning and landed three in Generator – encouraging news for those tucking into Donna’s scrambled eggs – but we are not sure what fly he was using. Rumour has it that it was a ‘shrimpy thingy’.

Bob C at Madonna's

Off to dig around in the depths of my fly box (for the umpteenth time) – I used to have a Foxford Shrimp – somewhere........

Christopher Robinson

Monday 21 June 2010

Settling In

The enthusiasm in camp is always infectious on the first day, yesterday dampened only a bit by a gale blowing directly upstream. Luckily it was a warm wind and conditions were pleasant if not blustery. The blow was sufficiently strong to make fishing Birthday and Party impossible so we concentrated up stream, particularly in the Yovas Rapids canyon where we found some shelter.

Peter and James D setting off for the first day

Mark M led the way landing five salmon for the day but losing six; lost fish seemed to be the theme and with the water temperature up to 15°C and pods of fresh grilse moving through quickly we found them nipping the fly or taking short. We ended up with tired shoulders, 17 salmon banked and as many lost. The end of the day banya was most welcome! Today we will try smaller flies and see if that helps.
Lunch at Snake Pit

On Pana Aaron reported a ‘howling wind’ which challenged most rods and they had 19 for the day. They were able to get right down to Ponzoi, at the moment all beats in both camps are fully accessible to the boats.

Piers F-A into a salmon at Beach

Today the wind has dropped, it is still from the South and gusty but a great deal easier to deal with. Some single handed rods are coming out and we might be able to try some skated flies.

Overall a good start, the first day of the week with 18 rods on the river and only one failed to make the scoreboard - not many salmon rivers I know can do that in a gale.

More tomorrow

Christopher Robinson

Sunday 20 June 2010

Back in Fishing Paradise

Two weeks back in UK just flew past and yesterday I returned to the Middle Camp with an enthusiastic and experienced party of 10 rods. The camp looks amazing, the meadow is now a blaze of blue and yellow flowers and at midnight the summer light on the river reminded us all how lucky we were to be back up here on the Varzuga.

We fished briefly last night landing a couple of salmon in Bear and one in Generator. The water height is still fine at Middle and we should be boating to all beats for the next few days.

Middle Camp last night

I dropped off the Pana team of eight, all bar one of whom know the river really well and they were soon on the river landing nine salmon last night. They may struggle to get a boat right through to the very lowest beat later this week so I hear they are going to fish down stream fairly hard for the next day or two.

The water temperature was 12°C this morning, a warmish day with a strong Southerly wind (upstream), so not the easiest wind for the first day.

A happy Tim P last week

Charlie returned home yesterday with three happy and content teams from Middle, Pana and Kitza; the guides here at Middle had thoroughly enjoyed having a mix of experienced and new rods last week and were chuffed that all six new comers to salmon fishing did so well – we hope to see you all back next year!

Christopher Robinson