Friday 6 June 2014

Lower's last day

It seems hard to believe that only 4 weeks ago we took the sad decision to cancel the first week of the season due to a late ice break.  During those 4 weeks, the river has risen over 20ft as the snow and ice melted as a result of an extremely early heat wave and since that peak, it has dropped over 25ft – all of this on a river that is around 250-300 yards wide. 

Summer levels on the Varzuga
Whilst it is undoubtedly true that most people come here to catch more salmon than they can dream of, it is the whole experience of being in such a harsh and wild environment that tends to draw everyone back.

The team at Lower finished with a further 46 fish recorded yesterday.  Douglas B showed the younger members of the team how to do it and landed 7 whilst still finding time to allow his guide, Roma, to fish for a while who also landed one.  Jim C had 6 to his rod and in the evening Bill and Eoin took our cook, Maryke, to fish in front of camp and she landed a lovely fish from the boat.
Maryke in the midnight sun
Kitza continues apace and they added 60 to their mounting total.  They are averaging over 40 fish per rod with a day to go which is a great weeks fishing.  Malcolm K and Julian P were the top scorers with 16 and 14 fish respectively whilst Chopper Island and Goldmine were the most productive pools.

Success for Jim C on Duck
Pana is beginning to move through the gears and they had their best day of the season so far with 54 landed to the 8 rods.  As is often the case, Jack M was the top rod with 14 from Ponzoi and Lunch.  Their water is not falling as fast as it is here and boating remains very doable across the whole beat.

Middle Varzuga carries on racking up the totals and an additional 130 fish were put in the book yesterday.  This takes them to a weekly average of 65 fish per rod – exceptional fishing and Terry reported a very happy camp.

Ditch W with a chunky one from the Wires
I am returning to the UK tomorrow so this will be my last blog and Christopher Robinson will take over for the rest of the season.  Whilst always great to get home, it is a difficult place to leave and as ever, my huge thanks goes to all of our Russian friends who make this work so well and I will look forward to seeing them all in September when I return for an exploratory trip to find the Autumn run.

Charlie White

Thursday 5 June 2014

Up to Middle

Every season it seems as if we close the Lower camp too early but this year it will be especially true.  As we stood on Beach yesterday, which is at the bottom of our beat, watching fish after fish head and tail and jump clear of the water, it was clear that there are still a huge number of fresh fish coming in and to close this camp on Saturday will be a real shame.
Jim C on Wires in the morning
After fishing, I went up to Middle Varzuga to see the team there and they are making the most of this year’s very strong run.  A further 158 were added to their total which now amounts to over 650 fish to the12 rods over the past 4 days.  JP Camozzi landed 17 of those and his father, Achille, had a great fish of around 17-18lbs which was yet another one of these bigger fish that we have enjoyed seeing this season.  As ever, Clarkes has fished really well and the home pools of Generator and Bear are wonderfully reliable.

Matthew R at Middle
After a delicious dinner we boated back in the midnight sun and I arrived to find the camp pretty quiet as the previous night’s activities had eventually taken their toll.  We finished with 44 for the day with Jonathan K having a great couple of sessions and he landed 12 to his rod.  It has been great to see the improvement in everyone’s casting and fishing ability as they pick up tips from Eoin Fairgrieve and Bill Drury.  Eoin and Bill have an uncanny knack of diagnosing faults and seem to be able to put them right with just one or two small adjustments.  They are great people to have around camp and the chance to actually catch fish whilst also benefitting from expert tuition does make the week a lot of fun.
Douglas B with one from Feorder's Place
Pana had another very good day and had another 39 to the 8 rods.  Jack M was the top rod on 9 fish and they also reported losing roughly the same number again.  We have had days like this all season when fish just don’t seem to stick, you can’t win them all is probably the message.

However at Kitza, winning practically everything appeared to be the order of the day.  The 8 rods landed 92 fish between them with top scorers being Julian P, Chic McS, Robin B and Malcolm K with 18,15,11 and 11 fish respectively.   As if their day could not get any better, they then saw 3 bears just opposite camp which hung around for 10 minutes to thrill everyone and to round off a memorable day.
Martin F on Duck
Almost inevitably it is another very hot day today but just as inevitably Glynn D has landed a fish before breakfast and with a slightly steadier night behind them, all of the rods were on the river at 9, conscious that the week is going far too quickly.

Charlie White

Wednesday 4 June 2014

A trip to Kitza

It is not every day that one of our cooks celebrates their 40th birthday so yesterday saw me going over to Kitza for Kate’s big day.  To get there from Lower requires a combination of two boat trips, a walk and a 40 minute drive along the White Sea coast – it was probably one of the most beautiful journeys I have ever taken.

It was great to catch up with the team over there and a combination of wonderful fishing and practically perfect conditions led to a very happy camp.  They landed 68 fish to their 8 rods with Julian P accounting for 13 of those.  Chic McS had 11 to his rod whilst Malcolm K had a cracking fish of around 17lbs from Boggy Bank. 
Douglas B on the Wires
I got back to Lower at around 3am expecting everyone to be in bed but a few hard core souls were still putting the world to rights and this morning is a little slow in camp.  We put a further 45 fish in the book yesterday with catches evenly spread across the rods but Ditch W landed 5 fish which was comfortably his best ever day.  Tom S and Jim C hit gold at Feorder’s Place and had a very busy afternoon as did Martin F on Beach where he had 4 fish in a frantic hour. 
Joe E on the Beach
The 8 rods at Pana are making the most of the main run of fish getting to them and they landed 53 fish.  Alan M, on his first trip up here, landed a 20lber from Ponzoi which is the biggest of the season so far whilst Jack M had a great session on Ivan’s and landed 9 in just two hours.
The fishing at Middle Varzuga continues apace and 141 fish were put in the book.  Normally two or three rods do rather better than others but yesterday was  a very even day and the highest individual rod catch was 14 which demonstrates that fish are equally spread across all of the beats.
Martin F on 39 Steps
Whilst some struggled to get up this morning, Jonathan K was on the river at 7am.  3 fish before breakfast showed what was possible and on a day where we have yet more clear skies, even the most tired of rods have gone out with a determination to make the most of the river whilst it is in perfect shape.

Charlie White

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Perfect conditions

“If I don’t catch another fish all week I will still have had the best week of my life” was one comment at lunch yesterday.  When the fishing and the weather combine as they have over the past two days, all you really want it to do is to carry on without any form of change.  It is really warm, the fish are still piling in and the numbers of fish being landed are truly excellent.

At Pana, the team landed 47 with Karen R and Jack M sharing top rod honours with 9 apiece.  They had quite a few fish from Rock Face and also from Ivan’s stream so this morning we discussed the possibility of soon trying the float trip whereby two rods and their guide are dropped off high up river to fish their way back to camp with a small inflatable to do the hard work.  I suspect this will be tried in the next day or so as more and more fish get above the camp.
Mark A with one of 6 he had from Bear Corner
Kitza had another really good day with the 8 rods finishing on 56.  Julian P and Chic McS led the way with 13 and 11 respectively but perhaps the best day was had by David P and Tom, the camp manager.  They took a boat all the way up to the first lake (about 8 miles above camp) and fished their way back.  They landed a couple of fish at Rackmans but it is so beautiful up there that numbers of fish were slightly irrelevant.
Glynn D with a deep fish from Bear Island
Middle shows no sign of slowing down and another 161 have been put in the book in the past 24 hours.   Again, it was Lawrence L, Ian H and John M who were the stand out performers with 22,21 and 20 fish but James MacP was not exactly out of the running having landed 15 to his rod for the day.  They are fishing hard but when the fishing is this productive it seems only sensible to make the most of it.
Michael K on Larder in the morning
At Lower we had a great day and finished on 61 between the team.  Mark A had a purple patch and landed 6 from Bear Corner in the morning whilst Glynn D consistently picked up fish all day to finish on 9 and Jim C had 7 for his day.  A few bigger fish were amongst our tally yesterday, a theme across all of the camps.
Ditch W on the Wires in the afternoon
The water temperature is 10c this morning and although we are not quite on floating lines yet, it surely won’t be long.  In the meantime, intermediate tips, size 6 flies and longer leaders are the best combination.  Clear blues skies, a light breeze and a falling river are what greet us this morning – not exactly a bad way to start the day so we hope for more of the same.
Charlie White

Monday 2 June 2014

A great start to the week

Yesterday was one of those days you hope for.  Glorious weather, camps full of enthusiastic fishermen and serious numbers of fish being landed across all of the beats.

Here at Lower we finished on 77 fish for the day.  Martin F had his best ever day and landed 9 although cruelly lost his 10th fish after playing it for quite a long time.  Glynn D built on his 5 fish before breakfast to finish on 12 for the day and his fishing partner, the young at heart Douglas B, had 6 to his rod.  Justin Miller, visiting us from the Fly Shop in America, landed his first Atlantic salmon and went on to land 5 more.  Lunch and dinner were very noisy affairs and we carried on long into the night to celebrate such a good day.
Douglas B with a perfect example of a spring fish
Kitza has also got off to a great start and the slightly odd lull of last week appears to be over.  The 8 rods had 43 to the bank with George R landing 10 of those whilst Chis McS accounted for 9.  David P was the first to really experiment and was rewarded with a fish to a skated fly from Sasha’s. 
Almost inevitably, changeover day bought a total turn around in Pana’s fortunes and the 8 rods there had 49 salmon between them.  As the water warms up, it is now 11c, the fish will get there in bigger numbers and with the amount we have been landing down river, it won’t be too long before we would expect them to have some even better days.  They landed a lot of fish from Ponzoi but also had 8 fish from the Camp pool.
Mark A with his first fish of the week
Middle continues to be quite extraordinary.  It is slightly hard to keep up with the numbers but Terry is doing a great job in catching people as they come off the river before they invariably head out again.  Since they arrived on Saturday evening, the 12 rods have landed more than 200 fish.  John M had 28 to his rod yesterday, Lawrence L had 24 whilst fishing partners Ian H and Hugh M landed 23 and 19 respectively.  There are fish up and down the beat and they had a really good session from the top at Scotts and Pashas to show that the fish are running Yovas in numbers.
"Ditch" W with one from Morskoy Island
Glynn D has had another 2 fish before breakfast and it is yet another very bright day – that combination served us well yesterday so hopefully today will bring more of the same.
Charlie White

Sunday 1 June 2014

A new week

Last week saw some simply incredible fishing.  Flying up to Murmansk yesterday with the team from Middle was great fun as we shouted to each other over the helicopter noise about their fishing and the overall experience that they had had.

The 12 rods ended with 1,309 fish recorded in the book along with countless other battles that did not end with the fish in the net.  It was not their record total but it was extremely close and after 2012, we never really expected to get near that figure again – to do so was a real testament to the strength of the run this season.
Lucy M with a fabulous fish from Bear Island
Inevitably some personal records were broken but you did not need to be at Middle for that to be the case.  The rods at Lower and Kitza (3 days on each beat with 10 rods per beat) finished with 749 salmon on the bank with personal bests being broken every day.
Joe M with a pretty good one of his own from the Mall
Perhaps unusually in a year where we have had such a late break, the rods who started at Kitza tallied more than those who came to Lower first.  Kitza is lake fed and that colder water tends to mean that their main run is 3 to 4 days after Lower (which is why we fish Lower only in the first week of the season) but last week that was not the case.  One of those strange anomalies that simply reaffirm that strong predictions about salmon fishing are never a safe bet.
Roma in the bright sun which was a feature of part of last week
Pana steadily improved throughout the week but a final total of 23 to the 7 rods was disappointing.  Speaking to the rods at Murmansk it was clear that they had enjoyed their week but that the high water had simply made it very difficult for them to fish the beats properly and for the fish to reach them.  It has dropped markedly in the past couple of days and to prove the point, Karen R had one from Hippo Rock (just outside camp) and Dick B had 2 from Ivans last night so their week is off to a very good start.
Tom S raring to go this morning
Fog near the river caused us to be delayed in Murmansk yesterday and we did not get here until quite late so most rods had dinner and went to bed but Glynn D got up at 6am this morning and has landed 5 fish before coming in for breakfast.  It is not hard to imagine that this news meant that all of the rods were very prompt for the guides at 9am and with a bright sunny day to kick us off we are all looking forward to another excellent weeks fishing.
Charlie White