Friday 23 May 2014

A change in the weather

After 4 days of really hot weather with a very strong sun, yesterday afternoon saw it starting to cloud over and last night was quite cold.  It is what we have been praying for as it will help hold the water in the tundra and that was evident this morning as the water has dropped 5 inches.
Jeff G with one of 11 he landed yesterday
Kitza is also dropping away quickly and whilst still not perfect, they had a much better day yesterday and landed 14.  Not as many we would necessarily expect on the 22 May but it is good to see the numbers going the right way.  They had an early supper and went down to the White Sea where they spent 2 hours watching Beluga whales playing and feeding just off shore – a great sight and we were all rather jealous of them.

Jo landing his 10th of the morning
Middle continues to fish exceptionally well and they finished with 148 in the book.  The numbers were very evenly spread across the board but Jeremy B had one of his best days with 16 to his rod.  As ever, the home pools are firing on all cylinders and Generator accounted for 41 of those fish – truly an astonishing stretch of water.

At Lower we had our best day of the season so far and landed 41 fish to our 10 rods. Jo A and Jeff G did account for a large portion of those having had a bonanza at Jannaways and they landed 18 between them in their morning session. Jo, a Norwegian who has fished pretty much all over Norway, had to take a few moments to compose himself in the evening as he took in his days fishing – “what a place” is all we could really get out of him for 30 minutes.

Paul P with one landed just after lunch
Some of the rods went to the village in the evening to look around the church and to get an impression of what it must be to live up here, especially in the winter – tough was the overriding view.

As always seems to be the case, the end of the week has raced upon us and there will be no blog tomorrow as we fly up to Murmansk and meet our new guests.  Predictions are dangerous things up here but it does look as though they will have an excellent week with the river dropping in nicely and the numbers starting to build.
Charlie White



Thursday 22 May 2014


There is a reason why we all want to catch spring fish – they fight beyond belief and everyone is a picture to look at.  Last night Paul P hooked a fish at midnight and it weighed exactly 7lbs.  Not exactly huge but as it emptied his reel of backing and showed no signs of tiring, we were not to know it was that size.  We managed to net it a full 150 yards from where he had hooked it and the assembled crowd could only watch in amazement as to how hard he had to fight to get it in.

Graham and Paul with 7lbs of silver fury
That was one of 29 we landed yesterday here at Lower with Tony S landing 5 and the aforementioned Paul landing 6.  The encouraging aspect was that we landed fish in all of the beats and there is a real sense of the river filling up with fresh run salmon.

Middle had another amazing day and finished on 141 to the 12 rods.  Martin L had 12 of those with 2 good ones well into the teens whilst Tim I had a day to dream about, he landed 21 bright silver spring salmon to his rod with 6 fish over 10lbs. 
Jo A on Heli
The water temperature is now around 7c and all of the rods reported seeing many more fish than before as they start to show themselves in the warmer water.
Kitza is dropping quickly but it is still very difficult there – my suspicion is that changeover day will herald the real change as it so often does.  Ken B persisted hard and landed 2 fish but it is not the Kitza river that we know and love at the moment. 

Paul P with one of his 6 for the day
Overnight the river has dropped 5 inches and is getting back to that tea like clarity that we would look for.  All of the snow has pretty much gone and whilst there is still plenty of water lying in the catchment area, the tundra is now doing its job of acting like a giant sponge and any water now being released is much cleaner which bodes well for the rest of the season.

Charlie White

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Pana and changeover day

Yesterday we took the team to Pana to begin opening the camp to be ready for the first guests on Saturday.  The camp looks fantastic and with new staff accommodation it means that we now have seven cabins for the eight guests, all with new showers.  It takes time to get huge amounts done up here but as ever, we have a rolling programme of improvements to keep making life in camp more comfortable.

Unsurprisingly the river there is bank high and it might take a bit of time for the main run of fish to get to the pools around camp but as head guide Dima pointed out, they have plenty of water to boat downstream and find them.
Alicia and Natasha, looking forward to seeing everyone again
We had a better day at Lower with everyone having one or two fish but Sue C and Joan G swept the honours board by landing 16 fish between them.  Sue landed a really good fish from Upper Sviats and the majority of the fish landed were certainly on the bigger size – as you would expect as this larger class of fish can run the river rather more easily.
Sue C on Upper Sviats
Middle Varzuga had an excellent day and finished with 123 to their 12 rods.  All of the rods did well and Mark J, on his first trip here, had his best day when landing 8.  Clarkes was the top producing pool with 34 taken from it over the two sessions either side of lunch.
In the evening we flew over to Kitza to do the mid-week changeover.  The river is very high and quite dirty but the rods who are now here at Lower said that it had cleared considerably over the past 3 days and hopefully it will start to clear and drop rather more quickly now that all of the snow has gone.  

David D on Jannaways
In a slightly unlikely twist, the big celebration of the day came from Kitza where Carolann M landed her first ever fish.  She is fishing with her father whose one aim of the week was to ensure that she landed at least one – he wasn’t to know that she would do so before him!  He rectified the imbalance by going straight out to Heli pool as soon as we got back from Kitza and landed a fish after about 5 minutes to ensure that honours were even.
Ken B with one from the bottom of Heli
It is another hot day but with three different people landing fish before dinner and one landed this morning, it feels as if we are getting back to where we would hope to be.

Charlie White

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Up to Middle

After a beautiful day at Lower I went up to Middle Varzuga to top up their supplies and catch up with the clients fishing from that camp.  They had had a tougher day than their first day with the river still rising and it being quite dirty but they had done pretty well in the main and landed 55 fish in total.

Stewart S was one of the lead performers and took 10 from Party Pool but at dinner we all bemoaned the absence of his long term fishing partner who has had to miss this season due to long term family commitments – Keith, we need you back!
Mark B with one from Clarkes at Middle
It normally takes 45 minutes to get to Middle from here but last night it took an hour and a quarter as the strength of the water made it difficult to make any speedy progress.  Needless to say, my return journey downstream was made in record time.
At lunchtime yesterday we had only had a couple of fish between us at Lower and it was hard work but the afternoon saw the river fine down a fair bit and the afternoon session was much better.  Ken B and Mark E found the right formula on Jannaways and landed 7 of the 12 fish they hooked.  Craig P’s customary diligence paid off and he landed 6 from Green Bank in the afternoon.  Spurred on by his success he rose at 3.30 this morning and has landed 5 fish before his long awaited breakfast.

Peter W yesterday
The river is huge but it is clearing and this morning bodes well for the final day for these rods here before we take them to Kitza this evening.
At Kitza the river is still rising and the banks are being scoured quite hard so it is tough for the fish to see the fly even when you can hold in the right zone.  After their difficult first day they had quite a major party in the evening and only 3 or 4 of them went fishing for an hour or so yesterday before calling it day.  Tom assessed the situation and decided that a big lunch down at the White Sea would be a better way of clearing the heads which was a huge success although how clear the heads were at the end of it is open to debate.

Guide Ivan with one of Joe O'D's
Successful tactics at the moment are 15ft of T-14 plus 2inch Snaelda’s and Willie Gunn’s.  The fish are here and when we can get them to see the fly we are having success - Craig’s excellent morning has put a spring in everyone’s step and today looks pretty good.

Charlie White

Monday 19 May 2014

Be careful what you wish for

After nearly three weeks of praying for warmer weather it has now come with a vengeance.  As Christopher rather predicted, having warned our rods to prepare for very cold temperatures, it is now over 20 degrees, we have bright blue skies and we have all shed any cold weather gear we may have had.

That is the good news.  The bad news is that the sudden uplift in temperatures has meant that all of the water in the tundra seems to be coming down at once.  A very rapidly rising and dirty river made life extremely difficult for us here at Lower and those at Kitza.
Eric W - successful yesterday, hoping for more today
At Middle Varzuga, above a lot of the feeder streams and smaller tributaries, the water has risen as quickly but it is not so dirty.  This meant that they had an excellent day and they finished with 102 fish landed to the 12 rods.  Peter W had 27 and somewhat unusually out-fished his fishing partner who had 22.  Tim I had a fantastic session at Pertiha landing14 salmon for the morning.

Ice on the river - note the semi-submerged bushes in the foreground
Lower was a different story and whilst Joan G managed to land 4 fish and Eric W also had 1 in the morning that was sadly our lot.  A few were lost here and there but it was pretty hard going.  The guides worked hard but not in their usual way of netting fish as they had to keep an eye out on what was being washed downstream – ice, logs and bits of debris that have accumulated on the river bank over the long winter. 
The river this morning in the same spot - all the bushes fully submerged
Kitza is rising and colouring in equal measure and they had a very tough day.  Tony S managed to save the blank by landing 1 but it was a day where we were reminded that being given what you want is not always the best case scenario.
Beanie, cook at Pana, with her onion chopping goggles
It is another stunning day today and the river has risen about 6 inches overnight but in fact it does appear to be clearing relatively quickly so with any luck, today will be a better day all round.

Charlie White

Sunday 18 May 2014

Great to be back

Friday night in Helsinki is always something that I look forward to.  Everyone is always full of excitement and catching up with so many familiar faces is a lot of fun. 

An early start on Saturday morning meant that we got to Murmansk at 11am and by 4pm everyone was in camp.  It seemed as if we waited in Murmansk for ages but a 3 hour transfer time to the helicopters was relatively rapid movement.
Craig P into the first of the season
In glorious and warm sunshine we flew over the tundra and whilst there is a lot of snow still remaining, the huge lakes that dot the landscape were beginning to thaw and it felt much more like a normal spring than perhaps it has for the past two weeks.
Arrival into camp is normally pretty full on as we all catch up and discuss the time since we last saw each other but it does not take long before all that is put to one side and the rods start to be assembled. 
A good one to kick us off
Craig P was the man to open the scoring at Lower with a chunky fish caught just in front of camp.  The hot weather of the past two days has meant that the river is rising really quite quickly and it is pretty dirty at the moment as all of the snow, ice and mud is washed into system so getting your fly down and in front of them is going to prove crucial for the next couple of days.

At Middle the team were predictably into waders as soon as the helicopter touched down and they landed 28 fish in their first foray before dinner with Peter W taking no time at all to land 5 fresh fish from Generator.
Mark and Ken offering "helpful" advice to Craig
At Kitza, Tom reports that the camp is in great shape.  Our wonderful and long serving Russian staff have done a brilliant job to get everything up and running in such a short space of time.  The radio this morning was poor but I gathered from him that, like us, the river is rising very quickly and is sediment heavy.
John M raring to go this morning
Dirty and rising the river might be but after a seemingly interminable wait, all of us are looking forward to the first full days fishing of the season and it is great to have the camps full of eager and enthusiastic clients.

Charlie White