Wednesday 3 July 2013

Yet another fantastic season

2013 will be reviewed as one of the more extraordinary years that we have spent on the river.

Every April we start to speak to our Russian partners to hear of what is happening on the river but in truth we rarely get more than being told that everything is “normal” – not this year. On May 1st we were emailed with incredible pictures, taken from a helicopter, of a huge flood and vast swathes of ice tumbling down the river. Apparently the ice had blocked the river below Lower Varzuga, to the point that the river was actually running backwards at one stage, and as a result the village and camps were being flooded. Step forward a brave man with sticks of dynamite who blasted the blockage clear and ensured that the river could run freely again.
An early season fish

This had the desired effect of preventing any more damage to the camps and village but did also have the effect “pulling the plug” on the river and from that moment on, it would be a low water year.

Low water is not a problem and in fact many of us prefer being able to see the lies more obviously and enjoy watching the river reveal its secrets. Sometimes low water can mean that we cannot boat to every pool but this is rarely a big issue.

Netting a fish at Middle
What can be an issue is low water plus high temperatures as obviously lower water is more reactive to swings in temperature than a roaring river and much more susceptible to extreme heat. From the last week of May to the end of the season, with the odd exception, we had extraordinarily high temperatures and we experienced water temperatures that were as high as 25 degrees Celcius at one stage – bizarre.

A good fish from Pana
All of which should have meant that the fishing was very difficult and that we would struggle to land fish in any kind of numbers – the Varzuga has a habit of disabusing such assumptions.

Just over 6,000 fresh salmon were landed in the 7 week season producing an average of over 30 fish per rod per week. It is difficult to comprehend numbers of fish in such abundance when compared to almost any other river in the world. It is worth bearing mind that, on very rough evidence, our rods probably lost nearly as many fish as they landed – whether that ratio was much higher this year because of shorter takes in the warmer water is hard to say but it does show the kind of action everyone experienced.

Fishing the Wires at Lower
Our camps continue to be improved and it is great to hear the comments of people new to the programme who cannot believe what we have built in the middle of nowhere and to see returning clients reactions to the rolling improvements that are made. It is our stated aim that everything else about the programme should be directly comparable to the quality of the fishing – a tough ask but one we remain committed to.

The church at midnight
As ever, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Russian partners and friends as well as our Roxtons staff on the ground – we know how lucky we are to be working on this extraordinary river and never take it for granted as it is simply not possible to replicate it anywhere else in the world.

Midnight light at Middle Varzuga
As is our policy, all of the rods who fished with us this year will be offered the first right of refusal to their rods for next season but if you would like to join us please contact me to register your interest.

Charlie White