Friday 30 May 2014

A dropping river

The Varzuga is an endlessly fascinating river and every year it can surprise you.  At Lower Varzuga the river is roughly 250 yards wide and yet yesterday it dropped 8 inches – that is a huge amount on a river this wide.  It means that across all camps, new beats are coming into action and the pools are starting to show themselves.

Joe and Lucy M on Morskoy
Such was the scene for yesterday’s fishing and seeing rods standing on Bear and Morskoy Island made us feel as if Lower is really coming to itself.   All of which led to a great day and we finished with 84 fish to the 10 rods.  Father and daughter team of Joe and Lucy M had a fabulous day landing 21 between them.  They had a memorable double hook up at Morskoy Island and had action throughout their session.  We lost a lot of fish yesterday, for whatever reason and whilst Peter H landed 12, he also lost 24 more that he had on for various lengths of time which gives you an impression of the amount of encounters we are having.
Bruce B on Larder
Perhaps the best news of the day came from Pana.  It was not a record day by any means but with the 7 rods landing 10 fish it was a really encouraging day.  They landed some of those at Ponzoi but also landed a couple in the pool beside camp which was just what we wanted to hear as it means that slowly and gradually the main run is getting to them.  On past performance we would expect the numbers to climb exponentially with every passing day.

Brendan G with another great fish from Morskoy in the afternoon
Kitza had a decent day but again it was a little odd.  They landed 20 fish which was not a bad result but we would have expected more.  4 fish were landed from Goldmine which is the first time they have landed fish that far up river and shortly we would expect the whole of the upper river to open up which is probably the most beautiful of all of the sections that we fish across our 4 camps.
Middle Varzuga has now broken through the 1,000 mark for the week.  It is easy enough to type that but it is an incredible number of fish for 12 rods over 5 days of fishing.  They landed 137 yesterday and Steven C was the top rod with 17 fish which demonstrates how evenly the catches were spread.
Joe, in the bright sunshine, on Beach
It is the last day of the week and various rods are hatching plans to miss dinner and to carry on fishing as it is really too good to waste so I suspect final numbers will be quite strong but I will report those on Sunday when I next update the blog.
Charlie White



Thursday 29 May 2014

Warming up

After a couple of really cold days the weather changed yesterday and the afternoon was glorious.  As we start to shake off the cold winter, all of the colours are beginning to come through and to see sunshine, masses of fish showing and rods up and down the beats bent into fish was to see the river at its best.

We had an excellent day at Lower and finished with 99 in the book.  By the time everyone had come in it was quite late so we didn’t know how close we were to the 100 mark – had we done so we would have delayed dinner!

Andrew W-D with a chunky fish from Morskoy
Bruce B had a fabulous day and accounted for 20 of those fish whilst Andrew W-D landed 16 to his rod.  The fish are in seriously good condition and every single one is giving a good account of itself.  John G was slightly losing track of how many fish he had caught and lost before his guide pointed out that his 6th fish jumped 6 times which gave him a point of reference.  Morskoy Island and Beach are now starting to come into their own and we are just beginning to see the first signs of Bear Island appearing.

Roma with a perfectly proportioned fish
Kitza had a strange day and they finished on 17 fish.  I am not sure why that would be the case as the run was beginning to build and build so I think we just have to put it down to one of those things and hope that today is more productive.   It has dropped another 6 inches overnight and their water temperature is 7c – sink tips and 1 inch copper tubes remain the favourite set up.
Brendan G on the Mall
At Pana the first fish of the season was landed by Jose F.   With a much warmer day yesterday and today, the water temperature will rise quite quickly which will hopefully kick start the run up there.  A difficult week by anyone’s standards but on identical dates last year, this same team had a very productive week with low water and high temperatures so, as ever, predicting what is “normal” for any week can be quite tough up here.

Not a great photo but it shows the depth of some of these fish
Middle continues its superb week although the bright sun did lead to the numbers dropping off a touch.  We didn’t feel too sorry for them though as they still put 165 in the book with David C accounting for 19 of those – the rest were very uniformly spread across the team.  East Generator and Pertiha were the most productive beats but they have still not gone much above Clarkes yet.

A very bright day has dawned here but John G-H and Brendan G have already landed 6 fish between them before breakfast so we are off to a good start.

Charlie White

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Changeover day

We had another really cold day yesterday with the odd snow flurry and a biting wind.  We all came back to camp for lunch where we enjoyed a few glasses of warmed and spiced red wine – very welcome and got the circulation going again.

Yet again, it did nothing to dampen the fishing despite the water temperature dropping to 6c.  On their last day before flying to Kitza, our 10 rods at Lower landed a further 87 for the day to put their 3 day total at 242 fish – an excellent result.  Mark M put his extensive knowledge of the beat to good use and was top rod with 21 but Tim J proved that he could pick up a thing or two quite quickly and landed 12.  Michael G had what he described as the best days fishing of his life whilst also finishing on 12.  We lost an awful lot of fish yesterday as the colder water seemed to make the salmon take quite short.
A close up of one of Brendan's fish - they are in great shape this season
In the evening we flew over to Kitza where we met a very happy team of rods.  They had added 44 to give them a half term tally of 143.  Peter H had 10 to his rod yesterday whilst Brendan G is putting in the hours and is being regularly rewarded.  The river is still quite big but is dropping by about 6 inches every day and it is becoming more and more defined as time goes on.

Rhod D on Morskoy Island, the first time it has been out of the water this year
Middle Varzuga had another stellar day and landed 237 fish to the 12 rods.  This puts them on a running total of 852 for the week; amazing stuff and they are on course to break their own record which they set in in 2012 which was an eye watering 1,377.  David C and Chris C were the top performers in a pretty high achieving team and they each landed 31 in the day.
Val J on Morskoy in the afternoon
Our team at Pana are sadly not having the fishing we would hope for them.  At the risk of bemoaning the weather at every turn, the combination of a late ice break, followed by a heat wave and then followed by a cold snap has ensured that the fish are moving up river quite slowly.  They are boating a long way downstream to try to intercept them but so far they have had no luck.  It will change and when they do hit fish they will surely hit quite a lot as the run seems very strong and they must be stacked up somewhere.
Hamish Mackie studying the Arctic Terns
I spent the morning on the coast of the White Sea with sculptor Hamish Mackie.  He is out here to study the Arctic Terns and the other Kola wildlife before collating an exhibition in 2016.  Having taken over 1,300 photos of terns yesterday, his mind is running wild with possibilities and it will be very exciting to see what he can come up with. 
Charlie White

Tuesday 27 May 2014

An extra week on Pana

Yesterday was as cold a day as we have had for a while.  A bitter and strong upstream wind made life uncomfortable and we had lunch in camp as opposed to our normal picnic on the riverbank.  It is so helpful to have Bill Drury with us here at Lower and he got around to all of the rods to teach them new casts to deal with the strong winds.  Even those who have not done it before were soon proficient in left hand up Circle C’s.

Tudor D with one of 31 he landed yesterday
All of which would normally lead to less than productive fishing – not so yesterday.  At Lower we put 106 in the book; the best day of the season and Tudor D had the day of his life landing 31 of those.  Larder and Bearlets were the most productive pools for him and it was striking that he landed all of those fish in “office hours”. 

Kitza continues to improve every day and yesterday the 10 rods had 54 fish on the bank along with numerous other encounters.  Brendan G is here for the first time but he put his extensive fishing knowledge to good use and had 9 for the day.

Hamish Mackie on the Wires yesterday afternoon
In the evening I went up to Middle and it is fair to say that I walked into a pretty happy camp.  They had had another amazing day and accounted for 258 between them.  75 of those fish were taken from Pertiha pool over the day and Brian W had 30 to his rod whilst Paul C landed 26.  None of the pools above Clarkes are really working yet which is yet another indication that the fish are being held up there before they start their major run up the river.

As a result I am afraid that Pana remains very slow but this late spring does allow us the chance to add another week of fishing at this legendary camp.

Pana is 80 miles from the White sea and it takes time for the fish to get there in big numbers – we would expect the week to average between 30-40 fish per rod but on similar dates in 2009, 8 rods averaged 63 fish per rod so it can be extremely productive in conditions such as these.

Pana camp at the junction of the Indel and Pana
We will keep the camp open this year for a fifth week, Saturday 21st to Saturday 28th June for a maximum of 8 rods – there is a minimum requirement of 5 rods for the week to run. The camp will be staffed by our own Roxtons manager and cook plus the regular Russian team. The cost is £3,800 per rod, including all drinks in camp. Flights to and from Murmansk and visa costs are not included.  
This opportunity is very much first come first served and please contact the office as soon as possible if you would like fish Pana this year.   

Rhodri D on Jannaways
Just to add to the feeling of a late spring, it is snowing here this morning and I suspect we will be having lunch back in the dining room again but if it means the same sort of numbers as we had yesterday then no one will be complaining.

Charlie White

Monday 26 May 2014

An extraordinary day at Middle Varzuga

All of the 4 camps that we run on the river are linked by HF radio, the advantage of which is that it is an open radio meaning that we can all hear one another which is useful in many different ways.  Sometimes the radio reception can be patchy and in emergencies or when we really need to clarify something, we have satellite phones.  After radio call last night I asked Terry to call me on the sat phone as I was not sure I had deciphered his numbers properly.

Valerie J with her first salmon caught on a fly
The 12 rods at Middle Varzuga landed 262 fish on top of a further 111 they’d had on their first evening – simply extraordinary fishing and figures I felt were worth double checking.  Rather inevitably, there were some huge scores to individual rods and I shall just give a few highlights; the father and son team of David and Stephen C landed 52 between them, Jeremy H, Paul C and Lawrence R all had 30 each and one regular guest landed 38 in the day.

The ever smiling Igor with one of Michael S-D's fish
That the fish are being held up at Middle is good news for them but means that the team at Pana have to wait a bit longer than normal for the run to get to them.  They will but sadly they had not by yesterday and it was a quiet day up there.  We are lucky to have our Spanish friends in camp who had a bonanza in the low water of last year and know that this can be the way it goes.
Rhodri D with one from Duck
Kitza, perhaps predictably, completely altered on changeover day and the 10 rods had a great day landing 45 fish.  With new showers fitted on Saturday and plentiful fish across the beat, it does feel like a different camp – all in the space of 2 days.   Peter H was the top rod with 10 for his day and Bruce B had a really chunky fish of around 13lbs from Deluxe.  Brendan G went out this morning and has already landed 3 from the Heli pool so their day looks set fair. 
Will D at Bearlets
At Lower we had a really good day and finished with 49 in the book.  Tudor D just outfished his son Rhodri and they had 8 and 7 fish respectively with other son Will, close behind on 5.  Michael S-D and fishing partner Bob M matched each other with 7 fish each but the day’s biggest celebration was reserved for Valerie J who landed her first salmon on a fly.  It was not exactly a small one either and the many shots of vodka that were consumed last night may explain a slightly weary start this morning.
More tomorrow when hopefully I will have some pictures of Middle Varzuga as I am planning on going up there this evening.

Charlie White

Sunday 25 May 2014

A new week

Last week can be summed up by a brilliant week at Middle, a very good final 3 days at Lower and a difficult week at Kitza.  Over 800 fish were landed to the 12 rods at Middle Varzuga with some extraordinary individual scores to the rods.   

They reported fish from pretty much all over the beat and this week looks set to continue.  The rods who are there now know the river as well as anyone and will fish it hard.  They had already landed 55 fish by 10pm last night which equated to about 5 hours of fishing so I suspect we could see some very high numbers reported from there.

Carolann M with a cracker from Jannaways
At Lower the fishing got better every day and on Friday we put 57 in the book, our best day by some margin.  Kitza improved all week and the final days tally was 24 which again was much their best day.

When we flew into Kitza last night it was noticeable how much clearer the river was and here at Lower it has dropped hugely over the past few days.  It is back to around the level at which it was before the big melt of last week and we now have all of our beats back in action. 
Anton and Tim I with one of the 85 he landed in his week
We got into camp quite late last night and everyone was pretty tired but Mark M was not to be deterred by such things and landed a fish from the Wires which was the first fish of the season from there as it has been too high to fish it until now.
Ivan and Mark B with his fetching pair of Marigolds....
It is very bright today but there is a really cold downstream wind so everyone has gone out in all of their layers.  Inevitably, everyone got into their waders as quickly as possible and it was only when the guide asked them for their licence did they realise that they had safely put it in their trouser pocket – much undressing later and the rods are now all on the river!

Charlie White