Saturday 2 June 2012

Back to Murmansk

As per last week, it will be a short blog today as we are just about to head off to Murmansk to say goodbye to our clients from this week and welcome our new arrivals.

It has been another excellent week with fish caught across the board.  It has been superb to see Pana improve all the time and having flown up there yesterday I was surprised by how much it has dropped which bodes well for next week. 

Hippo Rock at Pana
Kitza remains a little high but is still fishing perfectly well without quite being on the kind of form we know it can be.  I am quietly confident that the team going in there this evening will have a very good week.
Middle Varzuga has fished like a dream all week.  I keep saying it - time and skill on the water make a huge difference to the statistics across the camps and the 12 rods up there this week would stroll into any Premier League fishing team.  They have fished very hard and very well and the rewards have been immense.
Peter H with a nice fish from Upper Sviats Pool
Lower continues to fish extremely well, I was with Bruce B yesterday morning on the Wires pool and we saw masses of fish continuing to pour in.  This evening we will have the first ever Ultimate Salmon Course attendees who are going to be tutored and guided by Eoin Farigrieve and Bill Drury.  To have top class casting tuition all day from some of the very best in the business on a river that is full of fish should provide a lot of fun and really help everyone leave here a better salmon angler than they arrive.
A bear we saw from the heli yesterday
It is hard to believe that we are about to enter our fourth week of the season and as ever, it all goes too fast.
Charlie White

Friday 1 June 2012

The last day of the week comes too quickly

After a bright and sunny start yesterday, we were soon helped by perfect cloud cover and kinder fishing conditions. It was noticeable that as soon as the weather changed, our fishing fortunes improved.

I spent an excellent hour with Bill R in the Heli pool and in that time he landed 3 fish which meant that he had landed 10 fish to his rod in the day. Bill has fished pretty much everywhere and yet this was the first time he had ever landed 10 in a day and it was great to be with him for his own milestone. His fish contributed to an overall total of 54 for the day at Lower and there is no doubt that we lost as many again.

Richard P with a perfectly formed fish
The cooler weather did not deter the Kitza team going to the White Sea and after a quick dinner they took a cooler of drinks and boated the 30 minutes to the beach. They got back at some time past midnight having all enjoyed this magical spot. The Arctic Terns have started nesting down there and the clients had to be careful where they walked if they wanted to avoid being harried by these brave birds. On the fishing front, the 9 rods had 27 for the day with Harry M showing his father the way as he landed 5 fish to his rod.

Andrew WD at 39 Steps pool
The team at Pana had a slightly tougher day due to a very different weather pattern up there. A cold and strong upstream wind did not help their cause but they still landed 26 between the 6 rods. Jose F-M continues to be the star performer and had a further 10 fish to his own rod. As ever, they are landing bigger fish up there and several fish of over 15lbs were landed yesterday with the biggest being weighed at 18lbs.

Bill R landing one of his 10 for the day
At Middle there is a dawning realisation that today is the last day of what will be one of the best fishing weeks we have ever seen. We did not think that we would be able to repeat last week’s figures but we are very close to it and they landed a further 188 fish to the 12 rods yesterday. Paul C landed 30 fish to his own rod which is the first time that he has done that and the team have now sailed past 1,000 fish for the week. It is a reminder of what the river is capable and we are all sad that the week seems to be coming to an end so quickly.

"Not yet" - guide Vova waiting to land one of Rob H's fish
With one more day to go, the rods have set off this morning with great purpose and we hope that their last day is as successful as the rest of the week has been.

Charlie White

Thursday 31 May 2012

A trip to Middle

Yesterday was a very bright day which lent itself nicely to a trip to Middle Varzuga after we had finished our fishing here. It takes just under an hour by boat and during the trip we saw a breeding pair of Golden Eagles, several ravens and masses of Arctic terns dive bombing the salmon smolts that have started their migration to sea.

Rob H into a fish at Party pool
They had had another superb day with 185 fish being put in the book to the 12 rods and I got up there just as Hugh was noting down the days catches from each rod – it took some time! Paul C is leading the charge and has already had over 100 fish for the week to his rod as has David C who has been here for 17 years, this is the first time that he has landed 100 fish to his rod for a week’s fishing. They are fishing every hour that they possibly can as there is a real sense that it seems a waste not to make the most of it whilst the fishing is this good.

A greenshank at Middle
I got back to Lower at around midnight to find Richard and Henry P discussing their day and their evening catches. They had had 7 between them in the home pool after dinner which meant that we finished the day with 43 fish to the 10 rods. Peter H was the top rod throughout the day as he put his experience of the beat to good use.

Chris C releasing a fish just below the island at Middle
At Pana the fishing continues to improve and they finished with 44 fish to the 6 rods with Francisco C-S landing a really decent fish of 15lbs. Jose F-M was again the top rod with 15 for his day and it is becoming clear that they are now finding fish throughout their beat.

Kitza is fishing perfectly well but, after a wet autumn and much snow this last winter, it is remaining stubbornly high and their water temperature is not climbing as fast as we would expect. Bill D and Hywel E shrugged off such worries and landed 4 each in amongst a total of 23 that they had for the day. With another hot day today the water temperature ought to rise some more and we should see it beginning to fish as well as we know it can - and when the Kitza is right there are very few places that I would rather be.

Graham W with one from the Bearlets
We have a crystal clear morning today and we have been discussing tactics at breakfast. The consensus has been that, with the water a bit higher than average, we might need to get down to the salmon more than we have been doing so the intermediate tips and slightly heavier flies are now being broken out. Graham W had one before breakfast on this exact set up and he has set the trend for the day.

Charlie White

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Changeover at Kitza

We are often asked what the forecast is for the day but the reality is that it is almost irrelevant. As we ate a picnic lunch in bright sunshine here at Lower, Middle Varzuga was being pelted with a serious hailstorm – they are only 12 miles away and yet we saw nothing but bright skies.

Maryke preparing lunch on the river
Despite having their lunch rudely interrupted, the rods at Middle did not exactly wither and finished the day with 184 fish for the camp. Brian W had over 20 fish for his day but it was hard to pick out top scorers as they all did well. I am going up there this evening and I hope to get some of their pictures whilst looking forward to seeing how the whole river system has changed with the drop in water and the increasingly green surroundings that we now have.

Mark M on Bear Island
It was changeover day for the Lower Varzuga and Kitza rods and at 7pm we all boarded the heli and flew the short distance to Kitza. We then stayed over there for about an hour and had an impromptu drinks party as each team of rods swapped tips and stories from their respective camps. Kitza has dropped about 2 feet since Saturday but we could probably do with a bit more coming off it for it to be in perfect shape.

They had had 29 fish for their day whilst the rods here finished on 34 with Bob C finishing on a high note with 4 fish from Moscoi Rapids.

Looking upstream at Kitza last night
I was wrong about the trend at Pana as they did not double their score from the previous day but practically trebled it. 31 fish were landed to the 6 rods with Jose F-M the top rod with 11 fish whilst Luis F had the biggest fish for the day of around 18lbs. Mungo reports seeing many more fish than the day before and the run will gradually build from here.

Sergei and Feorder planning their tactics for the day
We have a bright morning and the water temperature here is around 11 degrees so the rods who have come from Kitza have been busy swapping their sink tips for intermediates and straight floaters. Henry P and Bruce B are already on the score sheet and we are looking forward to another successful day.

Charlie White

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Rising water temperatures means a switch to floating lines

It is a cliché that holds the further you go North – if you don’t like the weather then just wait for 5 minutes. After a glorious morning the skies started to cloud over and at around 4pm the heavens opened.

At Lower, a few rods started to come in slightly earlier to escape the deluge but Tudor D stuck it out and was rewarded with 6 fish from the Wires whilst losing a further 8 that he had on for several minutes. Losing fish was a feature of the day and after a quick count up before dinner, we worked out that we had lost almost exactly the same number of fish as we had landed.

Tudor D with a reward for his perserverance
Jeremy C led the way with landed fish to end up with 17 for his day and we finally tallied 44 fish to our 9 rods. William D, on his first salmon fishing trip, landed 3 fish after dinner to cap a red letter day for him.

The downpour meant that the Kitza picnic on the White Sea was postponed but that did not stop them thoroughly enjoying their day. Bruce B had a great session on Sasha's and landed 3 fish of over 10lbs in a row. Their final total of 23 was spread very evenly across the group and again, they lost as many fish as they landed. The water temperature over there is sticking stubbornly at around 6 degrees and sink tips with 1inch copper tubes are still the favoured choice

Varzuga surfing
At Middle, their extraordinary season continues with 238 fish landed to the 12 rods. Jeremy H had his best ever day landing 21 fish whilst Maurice McB also had an excellent day with 15 fish. The very experienced father and son team of David and Stephen C were on Clarks for their afternoon session and made the most of it by landing 30 fish between them in about 4 hours.

Karai who has seen it all before
At Pana, the team nearly doubled yesterday’s score and had 11 for their day. There is every chance that  this trend will continue and it was great to hear that some of the bigger fish have already got up there with Antonio B-G landing a silver 14lber along with 3 other fish.   Mungo took a rod out to the camp pool after dinner last night and hooked 3 fish within an hour so they are there and it is now a question of finding them.

Harry M before the rains came
We have an overcast and quite cold day this morning but our water temperature is now at 11 degrees and most rods are fishing with floating lines. Cascades and Flamethrowers have been popular flies in sizes 6-8 and with the bright sun yesterday we put on slightly longer leaders but in the main, being in the right place at the right time remains the most important thing.

Charlie White

Monday 28 May 2012

The British weather comes to Russia

After several days of excellent fishing weather it was inevitable that there would be some sort of change before too long. Every time I called England I was reminded that I was missing the best weather of the year but now I can say the same for here.

It was a beautiful day to be on the river but it is fair to say that the morning session was considerably more productive than the afternoon.

Hywel E with a good fish from the Wires
At Lower Varzuga we had some notable firsts with William D landing his first ever salmon in between losing a couple more whilst Harry M had his first Russian salmon. As we all met up at lunch on the river bank it was clear that everyone had had a morning to remember. The afternoon session proved tougher with a strong wind and a fiercely bright sun but with a few fish landed after dinner, we finished with 50 fish for the day to our 9 rods.

William D with his first ever salmon
At Kitza the 10 rods had a slightly slower start to their week with 21 fish being put in the book. 6 of the 10 rods have not been to Russia before and it usually takes a bit of time to get into the swing of things but Richard and Henry P made light of their Russian inexperience to finish the day with 9 between them. They are going to take a picnic down to the White Sea tonight which I know will be a huge success as it is the most magical place to spend an evening.

Harry M and his first Russian salmon
At Pana they boated quite a long way downstream but their first day was not exactly as we had hoped. They did land 6 fish but I had thought that with the rapidly dropping water, more fish would have made it up there. Given our rising temperatures and the amount of fish we have seen at Middle Varzuga it is just a question of when the main body of fish get to them.

Mark M at Bearlets
There were some early risers at Middle yesterday morning and some very late finishers as most rods carried on fishing after the guided hours had finished and several went out after dinner as well. 218 fish for their 12 rods was the final score and all of the rods proclaimed that they had never seen fishing like it. Given that they have all been here before, it is an indication of the strength of this year’s run and with the amount of fish that are showing here at Lower it is obvious that the run is still very strong.

Another very hot day beckons and all of the clients have gone out armed with floating lines, intermediate tips, size 6-8 flies and suncream.

Charlie White

Sunday 27 May 2012

New week but no change in the fishing

Changeover day is always a busy one but it was made much easier by seeing so many smiling faces –those arriving had eager grins and those departing had some wonderful memories to take home with them.

Last week was one that will live long in all of our minds and it is impossible not to be astounded by the total number of fish that Middle Varzuga produced. 1,345 salmon were landed to 12 rods which we believe makes it the highest number of fish we have had in one camp for any week we have run out here. It is important to note that many of the rods have fished the beat for several years and know exactly what to do and where to go whilst at the same time fishing very long hours. 

Nick T with a typically strong fish
It is great to see that this wonderful resource maintains its ability to surprise us and we all know how precious it is. Catch and release is mandatory and all of the guides are given strict instructions as to how to handle the fish. Employing local guides is vital to the success of our programme and whilst not all of them are experts, the way that the whole village protects the river is great to see.

A bear I saw from the heli on Friday
At Lower Varzuga, we started the week with Michael E and his team before they went over to Kitza on Tuesday evening. The 9 rods landed 261 fish for their week with many rods shattering their own personal records. Ken H, Philip V, Sue C and Eric W all had days where they caught more fish than ever before whilst JP M landed several decent fish and his 20lber will be one he remembers for a very long time.

Hippo Rock at Pana on Friday, this was invisible on Tuesday
The team who started at Kitza had a harder time of it over there as the river was very high when they arrived. However, they hit Lower Varzuga just as it was fishing perfectly and for their 6 days, the 10 rods landed 339 fish. The week finished on a high with Joe M landing 6 yesterday morning before jumping into the helicopter to go to Murmansk. Bill P had his best ever day of 22 fish whilst Greig T finished his week with over 60 salmon to his rod.

Our new team last night
This week has started in a very similar fashion with Jeremy C and Mark M landing 7 and 8 fish respectively last night from the Lower home pools. At Middle the team was straight out on to the river and they took 89 fish in the evening which was added to the 36 for the day that were landed by our client who is out here for two weeks. 124 fish before the guides turn up is not a bad start to the week. Alan S landed 9 but Rob H was the top performer with 15 out of the top of Generator.
Lower Varzuga guide, Sergei, meeting his new rods this morning
At Kitza, the team enjoyed being in camp after a long day of traveling and whilst I could not hear the name of the successful rod, I know that at least 1 fish was landed by our Spanish contingent at Pana, just outside  of the camp. We would expect them to have to boat down river a little way before finding the first fish that have managed to get up there (it is 80 miles North of us here at Lower) and to land one outside the camp on the first evening is a very encouraging sign.

It is crystal clear and very bright this morning and all of the rods have set off with high hopes that the fishing continues in this style.

Charlie White