Tuesday 7 May 2013

Welcome To Varzuga 2013

Welcome back to the Varzuga blog! Another fishing season beckons on this extraordinary river.

The great news is that we arrived yesterday to find the Varzuga at a perfect spring height. Our concern, as we rattled south from Murmansk to the village, was what damage we would find following a huge flood on 30 April.  We had been alerted that the river ice had created a massive dam below the village, the water had backed up fast and it had flooded both our Lower and Middle camps. The spring melt carries with it huge ice bergs and while water damage is bad enough, ice berg damage can be “Maybe a little bit catastrophic” as Ura over at Kitza would say.

Water flowing through Lower Camp
Eighteen houses in the village were severely damaged by ice, but miraculously both camps have escaped with only water damage. Our Russian partners have done an amazing job in sorting things out and while we have some drying out to do we will be in fine shape when the first guests arrive this Saturday.

It is standard practice to store as much of our important kit as possible above ‘flood level’ and this paid huge dividends this year. Our biggest problem has been the kit stored in the containers; they floated off their mountings, then filled with water and settled back down at crazy angles. We spent yesterday sorting out a jumble of wet, muddy equipment and jacking the containers back up to a tolerably level state.

Moving kit into camp
By the evening we called a halt and Hugh (Middle Fishing Manager for the third year) and Jamie (Lower Fishing Manager for the first time) spent a well earned hour ‘checking that the salmon are here’. They are! The water temperature is 3⁰C and the clarity clear – perfect for this time of year.

A real cracker to start the season

Today we plan to boat up to Middle Camp where Misha and his team have been repairing minor damage. We will try and get some photos for you as I know that the Middle Camp fishers will be keen to see them.

It is wonderful to be back here on this magic river and a great relief to find things less of a problem than we might have expected. Lucky? – Yes. But a massive Thank You to our Russian friends and partners who have worked around the clock to sort out two damp and muddy camps in just a few days.

More news tomorrow.

Christopher Robinson