Friday 20 May 2016

Last day of the week

I am not sure how it works in a metaphysical sense but somehow the time here seems to race by and yet, it feels as if we have been here for ages.   Regardless, after a blisteringly hot week we are now into our final day and the team here are determined to make the most it.

The hot weather is beginning to affect some...
Yesterday saw a slight shift in the fortunes of the two camps that we are currently running and it was Middle Varzuga that definitely came out on top.  The 10 rods finished with 68 fish recorded and again it was Duncan and Kevin F who were leading the way – they landed 15 and 13 by the close of play which, unlike Headingly, was not ever going to be because of rain.

Again, the fish were running through the middle of the river and so those in boats or those that were comfortable wading and casting a good distance were the ones most likely to be successful.

Not the best photo but a lovely fish
Here at Lower we “picked away” to finish on 27 for the day.  Fish were landed in all of our beats but no one really had a bonanza.  The highlight of the day was undoubtedly a two to three year old bear that decided to treat us to a long viewing at lunch as it grubbed around for berries on the other side of the river.  Everyone took photos but the river there is sufficiently wide that all we can see from the millions of pictures is a brown blob that could well be a rock so they are not much good for the blog.

Jonathan B on Larder
It was yet another very hot day with an increasingly warm upstream wind and today offers more of the same.  It is amazing to consider that we have had a week where most people would tell you that the conditions were hopeless for salmon fishing and yet we have so far landed over 500 fish in 5 days of fishing.

The freshest sashimi you are likely to find - delicious last night
There will not be a blog tomorrow as we will leave here at around 7am to fly to Murmansk for the changeover and Saturday is always a busy day.  Normally the changeover day seems to herald a change in the conditions so no doubt all of next week we will be bemoaning how cold, wet and miserable the weather is, although that seems some way off at the moment.

Charlie White

Thursday 19 May 2016

Dropping water

As we contemplated another bright, cloudless day yesterday morning, thoughts turned to the river levels. The river is dropping around 6 inches per day which is a lot given its width.

Combined with a rising water temperature (it is now hovering around 10 degrees) we took off the last remaining sink tips and switched to intermediates and in some cases to straight floaters.  We are now fishing with ½ inch tubes as the norm.

Yuri D with a cracker from Moscoi
Here at Lower we have now moved the boats to their “summer mooring” which is slightly further downstream by the heli pad, to enable easier access and departure without the dreaded sound of engines clunking rocks.

None of which meant any difference to the fishing and in fact we saw more fish moving yesterday than we probably have so far this season.  They are not “gimme” fish and the longer casters are those being most rewarded.

Robin M on the jumble of rocks that is Bear Island
Yuri D definitely counts in that category and he had 12 fish for his day which was sadly his last as he had to fly back to Moscow today.  Whilst we have some lovely pictures from yesterday there were numerous other good fish landed and Peter C-G was broken on a really decent fish having played it for 20 minutes.

Those scores counted towards a total of 40 fish here at Lower and it was a happy but tired team last night.
Ken L with one from the boat
At Middle they had a better day.  54 were put in the book with the brothers Duncan and Kevin F doing the most damage.  They had a fantastic day and landed 15 and 11 fish respectively with one of Duncan’s fish being a cracking 15lber.

East Generator was the most productive pool and again, Terry reported lots of fish being seen over all of the beats.
Boats at the lunch spot
Much as I would like to report different, it is another bright day today but we had 3 early morning risers going out before breakfast and all of them have landed fish before coming into their bacon and eggs so we look set for another good day.

Charlie White

P.S. If you are flying out tomorrow, please look out for an email today from Lynsey Mair which will explain the new procedures in Murmansk – they love a new procedure..!

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Lost fish

Yesterday was yet another day of bright skies, a strong upstream wind and plenty of action across both beats.  However, between us we contrived to lose a vast amount of fish which was really the feature of the day.
Neil C on Beach
Our final total at supper was 49 fish, a good score but when one rod told me he had lost 12 fish and another remarked that he could beat that, I realised that the scores in the book might not fully reflect the action we collectively had.

Jonathan B was our star performer with 9 fish from the Mall and Bear Island but apart from that everyone chipped in fairly equally.

Feoder with one of David H's fish
At Middle, the team of 10 rods finished with 33 salmon landed.  Not bad really but there is a feeling that despite the low water and the unusually warm start to the season, the fish are running as per the calendar rather than on conditions and there probably is not quite the head of fish up there yet.

Graeme Y on Bear Island
That looks likely to change as Bill Drury decided to see what he could do with a rod in his hand and landed 5 within 40 minutes from Green Bank last night (we don’t count fish caught by staff so they are not included in the above records) which led him to declare that the run was really starting in earnest.

An impressive double rainbow over the heli last night
A big storm rolled in during supper which dumped a good amount of rain in a short space of time but that was short lived and this morning we awoke to another very sunny day.  That has not stopped Ken L going out before breakfast and landing 4 fish from the Heli pool, as well as a very good sea trout, so we hope we have started the day as we mean to go on.

Charlie White

Tuesday 17 May 2016

A busy day

Yesterday was busy day with a lot of traveling around.  After watching our rods leave for their morning session, a few of us flew to Kitza to see how the setup of that camp was progressing.  Very well was the outcome with the new dining and sitting room looking really smart and it will be a big boost to this wonderful camp.
The new lodge at Kitza
The water levels over there are holding up really well which is not unusual with the two big Kitza lakes providing a steady and reliable source.

Looking upstream at Kitza - it looks pretty much perfect
Whilst flying over there it was interesting to get an aerial view of our beat here at Lower and I am not sure that I have seen Moscoi Island so obviously out of the water by the 16th of May before.

Moscoi Island clearly visible in the bottom left of the picture
After dropping off various supplies at Kitza, our pilots announced that we were to go on a rescue mission.  It transpired that in late April, one of our Russian friends had managed to ditch a skidoo into a river which was being hidden by a snow drift.  Completely stuck they had to walk out and leave the skidoo where it was.  The tundra is a big and featureless place but after 30 minutes of flying roughly where they thought it was, we spotted it and tried to land on the boggy marsh.  After a few attempts we hovered near the skidoo, jumped out (which made us all very wet) and hauled it into the back of the helicopter.  Riding a skidoo, inside a helicopter, is not something I have done before and I was not going to miss the opportunity!

Just another day in the office
After which I went up to Middle Varzuga for dinner to find a very happy team.  It had been a slightly slower day than it had been the day before and they finished with 43 salmon to their 10 rods.  Mark G, on his first trip here, landed 9 of those and had a smile a mile wide.

Jonathan B with a lovely fish from Moscoi
Donna cooked us a delicious supper and we got back to Lower just after midnight following a stunning drive back in the bright sunshine.

Given all of that I was hardly here yesterday but gather from Bill that it was a similar story to Middle in that it was a good day but not quite as productive as before.  47 fish are recorded in the book with Graeme, Yuri and Ken being the top rods.  Peter C-G had a cracking fish of around 15lbs from Bear Corner and the lower beats are still the most productive which indicates a building run of fish which is as we would expect.
Ken L on Heli
This morning offers no change in the weather with cloudless skies and high temperatures.  We are still fishing quite heavy sink tips but if this keeps up it will not be long before we start to move up the water column and decrease the fly sizes.

Charlie White

Monday 16 May 2016

A great day

Yesterday pretty much summed up why we look forward to coming back to the Varzuga every year.

Bright skies, enthusiastic fishermen, keen guides and numerous fish.  Our first full day proved that everyone had got rid of their rustiness and people fished well from the off.

Jonathan B with one from Bear Island
Here at Lower we finished with 68 fish put in the book but I am not sure I have ever seen a day where we lost so may fish either.  These were not just knocks and bumps but fish that were fully on and then simply were not.  Proximity to the sea and fish with soft mouths will be one reason but luck will be another.
Graeme Y on Moscoi Island
Graeme Y had a fantastic day and landed 12 but Yuri D had a superb session on Moscoi and Beach in the afternoon where he grassed a further 12 fish to take his daily tally to 18.

At Middle they also had a very strong start to their week.  Duncan F and Kevin F were the first to really find the fish and they had 20 between them for their morning session on Fortress - not bad for two people who haven’t fished the river before.

The definition of happiness?
Simon R, who knows the river well, was not going to waste his first opportunity of the year to fish Clarkes and he made the most of it in taking 10 for his afternoon session.

A total of 74 fish to the 10 rods was a top result for the opening day.

A happy team at Lower last night
We are planning to fly over to Kitza this morning to take some new boats and a new generator before opening up the camp in earnest and I hope to bring you pictures of the new dining room and kitchen tomorrow.

It is really very bright this morning and beginning to warm up but we hope for more of the same on the fishing front as the water temperature is holding steady at 8 degrees and there appears to be plenty of fish around.

Charlie White

Sunday 15 May 2016

A good start

It is great to be back.  We look forward to the season starting as much as anyone else and it is always fun to kick the trip off in Helsinki with a few beers and mounting excitement.

Boarding the new Titan jet - very comfortable, quiet and fast
We got to Murmansk in blazing sunshine and with just two camps open it took very little time to get through immigration and customs.  By 3:30 we were all in camp after the long heli ride; during which we did not see much snow but did notice that most of the lakes on the tundra were still frozen.

One of the many frozen lakes we flew over yesterday
Everyone was keen to get going but with a strong upstream wind it was not the easiest of starts and for most people it was simply a chance to get on the river again and iron out any rustiness.

Ken L with his first fish of the season
Graeme Y however has clearly been practising at home as he made the whole thing look very simple. 5 fish before we sat down to dinner and 1 afterwards was a great start to his week and showed everyone the way.
Neil C, tackling up moments after the heli got to Lower
At Middle it was a similar story with the team raring to go and they landed 10 fish before Donna called them in.  Duncan F had 3 of those from Lower Generator and Simon R was up before breakfast this morning to land 1 from the same place.

The river is low for this time of the year and the water temperature is about 8 degrees so we are fishing sink tips and on occasion just intermediates with ½ inch tubes.

Mike H and Feorder, fishing together for the umpteenth time
It remains very bright this morning and I could have made a lot of money out of sun cream sales as none of us were expecting it to be this warm but there is no doubt that the levels of anticipation at breakfast demonstrated just how good it is to be back.

Charlie White