Friday 3 June 2016


How did that happen?  One minute we are greeting a new team in Murmansk and then seemingly the next, we are preparing helicopter manifests and discussing the journey home.  It may be 24 hour daylight up here but times simply races by.

The guide team and Misha, our invaluable Russian camp manager
As you might be able to tell by the fact I am not rushing too much today, our power has been restored and we are back to normal.  It is interesting how the advances we have made in the client cabins actually mean we go backwards in a crisis.  Now that we have underfloor heating, power showers, endless sockets for endless device to be recharged etc etc, our old generator, which used to function perfectly well, simply cannot cope with supplying the level of power that we now need.

Emergency rations?
Luckily the generator can keep the kitchen going although I don’t think Maryke would enjoy cooking like that every day.

To the fishing.  In my rush yesterday I gave the wrong figure for Lower and we actually caught 18 fish on Wednesday with John D landing 7 of those.  Perhaps I was typing through a crystal ball as yesterday we really did land 12 fish with Brendan G (that man again!) and Bruce B finishing as top rods.

Gnocchi with sage and bacon - a very good starter
Over at Kitza, Bob M was the top man landing 7 fish in a total of 27 for the day.  James K and Tudor D chased him up with 5 apiece and Ollie reported that they boated to Rackmans yesterday with not too much trouble so hopefully we will be able to take the boats up the whole beat for a bit longer.

Milla, our resident lemming nemesis
Pana had another solid if slightly unspectacular day.  29 fish to 7 rods is a great days fishing but I must confess to slightly higher expectations of the beat for this week given our hot weather, low water and the fact that the ice broke early.   It will be very interesting to see if some rain (where is that?) would freshen up the system and move some more fish up the river.

He clearly likes his picture being taken
At Middle the 12 rods landed 32 fish.  Jeremy H had 7 of those from Simmon’s in the morning and it is that beat, with its deep channels, that is proving the most productive.  Middle Varzuga has a very loyal following and the rods in this week have been fishing it for ages.  Historically a lot of their fish has come from out of hours fishing but this week, the home pools of Generator (arguably the most prolific pool in the world) and Bear have not really fished at all and this has made a big dent in the numbers landed.

In a low water year Glenn is kept very busy
As I say, this week has flown by with really good teams across all of the camps making the most of what have been pretty tough conditions.  Will changeover day bring new weather?  We can only hope and I will report more on Sunday as to whether that is the case.

Charlie White

Thursday 2 June 2016

A quick update

A short blog today as we are in the middle of a power cut and access to computers is not deemed vital enough!

Middle was again the top camp yesterday with 41 landed.  Chris C was the top rod but Paul C pushed him to the wire.
Brendan last night
Kitza did well with 32 fish in the book over there.  They finished their day with a trip to the White Sea which is always a fantastic experience.  Taking the boats down and having a drink or two at the “end of the world” is something that has to be experienced.

Brendan this morning
Pana had a slower day in terms of fish landed but it sounded as if there was plenty of action.  22 were recorded with plenty lost along the way but Joe M held firm to land 8 to his rod.

It was almost intolerably hot yesterday and as I walked from the bottom of our beat back to camp I reflected that it was not every day you are treated to your own personal sauna whilst walking in your waders.   12 fish was our tally for the day with Beach proving the best beat.  There are still fresh fish coming in but you have to be there to intercept them.
Yes, I have been paid handsomely to make this a Brendan day...
More tomorrow when hopefully I will not be shouted at for taking up precious generator time.

Charlie White

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Kitza changeover

Every season we have two weeks where clients spend 3 days at Lower and then 3 days at Kitza, or vice versa.  This offers a great opportunity to see two camps and two totally different rivers in the same week.
Maryke off to fetch more drinks before we got on the helicopter
Yesterday was changeover day and the format is that all of the clients have their bags packed and out on the veranda before they go fishing in the morning which allows the team here to change the sheets, towels, soaps etc for the new clients coming in that evening.  After fishing everyone stays in their waders and we have a few beers whilst the helicopter is being loaded.

Drinks before the changeover flight
Many clients say that it feels like two holidays in one week and yesterday was no exception.  The flight to Kitza is only about 5 minutes but in bright sunshine, as it was last night, it is a stunning flight as we skirt the White Sea coast before dropping down into the camp.

The new dining and sitting room at Kitza which has really enhanced the camp
The team who fished Kitza yesterday had a slightly slower day and finished on 19 between them. Andrew W-D had 5 of those but perhaps the best moment of the day was a double hook up for father and son team William and Tristan P-S, both of whom landed their fish.

Looking upstream from Kitza camp - still boating all the way to the top
The rods who fished Lower landed 10 before breaking open the beers and a small contingent decided to sacrifice their afternoon fishing for a walk to the village.  It can feel a bit of a wrench leaving the fishing as obviously that is why everyone is here but it is something that we actively encourage.  To arrive in a helicopter into an extremely comfortable camp can sometimes make it difficult to imagine just how remote we are here and how tough our local friends’ lives can be – a trip to the village puts it all into perspective.
Downstream from Kitza camp
Middle Varzuga had another great day with 65 in the book.  Catches were very evenly spread between all of the rods but Jeremy H had a cracking 16lbs fish from Scott’s to be the talk of the day. They are boating all the way up to the top of their beat but it is beyond doubt that we will need substantial rain for that to be the case for much longer during the season.

Jamie K with one he had in the morning before going up to the village
Pana had another slightly strange if productive day.  They ended up recording 32 fish between their 7 rods but as was the case the day before, nearly all of those were landed in the morning with very few in the afternoon.  At some point, the afternoon sessions will be as productive as the morning ones and we will start to see bigger numbers being recorded I am sure.

Brendan G just slightly pleased with one of 30 he landed on the Kitza in his 3 days 
My predicted (i.e. longed for) break in the weather has come to nought and it is “El Scorchio” today but Brendan and Mark have both landed a fish before breakfast to give us all a lift and our new rods were ready and waiting for the guides on the dot of 9am.

Charlie White

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Middle on top

Middle Varzuga has historically been our most productive camp and yesterday saw normal order restored.  Terry was very enthusiastic last night but as is often the case, he could not pin down final numbers as most rods were still fishing at our 7:40pm phone call.
Ginny with a good fish before she tried her new reel
This morning he has got around to them all and 67 fish were recorded for the day.  Paul C was top rod with 14 of those whilst Chris C finished on 9 to his rod.  I am not really sure why they had such a better day than the day before but it was noticeably cooler which must have helped.

The curious cub
Pana also had a good day with Bill P in particular having a great time landing 11 from a total of 42. Interestingly, Toby reported that it was the lower beats and Ponsoi especially that were the most productive and that for whatever reason; they caught very few after lunch.  Perhaps a very busy morning led to a very long lunch?

Tom M on Heli
Here at Lower it was harder and we finished the day with 10 fish to our team.   Phil B landed his first Russian salmon in the morning and went on to have 2 more in the afternoon whilst Ginny W landed fish but also lost her entire fly line from her new reel.  The first fish she hooked took her well into the backing and very soon it became horribly clear that the fly line was only partially attached to the backing and it was not long before it all came unstuck – look out Sportfish!

Picnic lunch at Jannaways
Kitza had another solid day with 38 fish recorded.  It all sounds rather even but Brendan G, who has lost all concept of needing food or sleep, managed to land 16 of those.  Tristan P-S took his tally of lifetime salmon to 4 having landed a further 3 more yesterday and it sounded like a very happy camp.

Jamie K's lucky mascot chalking up a new destination
It is cooler, more overcast and there is just a hint of some rain around so will this be the longed for break in the weather?  We hope so.

Charlie White

Monday 30 May 2016

Pana top scores

One of the most interesting debates we have had this year has been to examine what impact the early break of ice and the hot weather will have had on the run of fish.  Many people, who have fished the river for years, believe that the conditions are largely irrelevant and that the fish tend to run according to dates, whilst others believe that the salmon are pretty much in the White Sea estuary by late April/early May and then run according to weather conditions.

Ginny W yesterday. Somehow, Feoder managed to get his boat below Bear Island so not everyone had to walk
It would seem that this year at least, it is the latter view that is proving correct.   Pana camp is 80 miles north of here and historically we would expect the opening week to do well but that their catch numbers would rise every day as more and more fish reach them.  Yesterday the 7 rods landed 54 fish to be the top scoring camp.

Tudor D wading the "Molyneux Line" on Sabacci Rapids
As if to emphasise the point that the fish are really through the system, Arnaud and Didier F-M went above camp (historically we only do this half way through the second week) and had an amazing morning.  They landed 10 fish from the Ford pool and finished with 24 between them for the day.

Great news for them and just reward in some sense as they have sometimes had a tough opening week when we have had high and cold water.

  After landing 1,500 fish to his own rod from the river, you might not expect Peter to look so surprised!
Kitza also had a good day with 36 landed to the 10 rods.  Brendan G and Bruce B were top rods with 9 and 7 apiece while Tristan P-S landed his first ever salmon on a fly.  Ollie sounded pretty ropey this morning and I think that the toasts went on well into the night.

Middle did well enough but it was a tough day by their standards.  38 fish were recorded to the 12 rods but it was the father and son team of David and Stephen C who led the way by landing 14 of those whilst enjoying a salmon BBQ in the gorgeous surroundings of Royal Dee and Scott’s – it would be difficult to better that day.

Stephen C on Middle last week
Where there is a Yin there is a Yang and Pana’s gain is perhaps at our expense here at Lower.  We struggled to 13 fish between us and it was hard going in the searing and tiring heat.  We are fortunate to have many people who have seen this river in better shape before and know what it is capable of whilst understanding that we are experiencing freak conditions.

Today is bright again but it is just slightly colder and those on the river this morning saw plenty of fresh fish coming through so we hope that a new run has come in overnight.

Charlie White

Sunday 29 May 2016

All four camps open

Yesterday was full of goodbyes, hellos, laughs and questions on the week ahead.  It was fun to see everyone and the bar in the airport was positively buzzing.  The wise only have the odd beer as they know that two hours on a helicopter can be a long time but there are always a few who throw caution to the wind and their best bet is to fall asleep on the long way down.
Craig C on the Larder pool
We got to the camps around 4pm and as ever, the first thing that most people did was to check the catch records from the last week to see where they should focus their efforts.  What they saw was that fish have been caught all over the various beats and that certain individuals had done really well.

The team at lunch 
Middle finished their week on 366 fish to the 12 rods but whilst people who have not been here before will struggle to believe me, that was actually a bit disappointing in term of hard catch stats.  However, the team who were leaving all told me that whilst they had had to work hard for their fish, fishing floating lines and small flies was really enjoyable as opposed to fishing Skagits and heavy tubes regardless that in the latter type of conditions they would probably catch more fish.

Craig P with one he had on a single hander over at Kitza
Lower and Kitza finished with 174 and 323 for their respective weeks.  Respectable by any means but conditions have been against us from the start here at Lower and there is no doubt that a lot of fish have already run through.   Fresh fish are coming into the system every day but they have their heads down a bit and you simply have to put the time in to be at the right place at the right time.

Our starter last night
This is perhaps best evidenced by the start that Pana made last night.  The 7 rods up there (one sadly missing) landed 15 fish in just over an hour last night with Joe M leading the way having had 7 to his rod before he went in for a well-earned beer.  I would guess that this camp will have some fantastic fishing over the next few weeks.

The heli in bright sunshine this morning
Fish have been landed in all of the 4 camps before breakfast this morning but the various telephone calls and radio chatter was more a sports bulletin than it was a fishing report as Kitza wanted to know the cricket score whilst the Spanish guys at Pana were distraught at the penalty shoot-out results.

Lower Varzuga at 7am this morning - beautiful but where is the rain?!
Needless to say it is boiling today and the rods here at Lower are walking to their beats as it is now too low to use the boats.   Lots of sun cream, water, endless flies and a whole heap of enthusiasm have been taken onto the river so we hope for another good day.

Charlie White