Thursday 26 May 2011

Big fish, grouse and a trip to Pana

After 3 days of helping here at Lower Varzuga, it was time to take James and Kate to Pana to open up that lovely camp. It was a wet day but that did not dampen anyone’s spirits as we were all keen to see how the guides and kitchen staff had fared over the winter.

Tolly and Kate
Tolly, a man who has been at Pana for over 14 years, was there to greet us; as were a brace of heather grouse, still in their winter plumage, which flew into camp just as we arrived and promptly flew out again. The river up there is relatively low for the time of year but is in fact slightly higher than it was on this date last season. Regular rods to the camp know Hippo Rock, slightly downstream of the camp, as a reliable marker and I wandered downstream to take a quick picture of it.

Hippo Rock on a wet day
On the way to Pana, we flew directly over the Middle Varzuga beat and it is surprising that, even in that short window of being able to view them, I did not see them land a fish as they had 130 for the day. The best fish of the day was taken by Brian F - a cracking 19lbs cock fish, measured at 36 inches.

Ivan B, caught in the act of salmon smuggling
Here at Lower Varzuga there were differing approaches to the fishing. David F and Ivan B were determined to make the most of the river and were rewarded with 9 and 6 fish respectively whilst Robert H and Peter S took a rather more sybaritic approach to life. After a great morning in which Robert caught a further 3 fish, the pleasures of camp life proved to be too strong a draw and the rods were put away for the day.

Robert H with one caught in the morning
Kitza had 13 fish to their 4 guests with Joan G and Sue C scoring well in Sasha’s pool in the morning but the afternoon went very quiet and not many fish were added after lunch. The water is still cold over there – 4-5 degrees C - and it would appear as if the bulk of the fish are waiting for the warmer water to tempt them into the river system.

David F on Heli pool
I am going to dinner at Middle Varzuga tonight so I hope to be able to grab some of Hugh’s pictures to show more of that beat and some of the fish that they have been catching.

Charlie White