Friday 2 June 2017

Supply run

A quick blog today as Friday is the day when we resupply all of the camps with provisions for next week so it will be a long day on the helicopter.

Yesterday was more of the same across the camps in terms of catches and weather.  It is still really cold and we had driving rain for most of the day.  Full credit to the team here who all put in a full shift and not one of the boats came back early.

Adrian D on Bear Corner
That was probably because they were all catching fish.  We finished with 31 fish for the day to our 8 rods.  Predictably Brendan was the top rod but he was closely followed by Bruce B and Andrew W-D who had 5 each.

At Kitza there was better news as Brad B hit the first of the pods to run the river and he landed 4 from Gold Mine – things are starting to happen there and I suspect that next week could be pretty good.

Middle continues apace and they had a further 76 fish to their 12 rods. Jeremy B landed 6 fish from Fortress including one of 16lbs whilst Brian W had 12 to his rod from Upper Fortress and Birthday.

Andrew W-D on Beach
I am off to Pana in a minute with their supplies and I understand that another fish was caught just outside of camp by one of the guides yesterday so it will be interesting to see what I find when I get up there.

There will be no blog tomorrow as we fly to Murmansk to say goodbye to these guests and welcome our new ones and I hope that on Sunday I can report some better weather – snow was not really what we wanted to wake up to this morning…

Charlie White

Thursday 1 June 2017

They’re here

Thankfully, yesterday’s confidence was not misplaced.  We had a much better day at Lower Varzuga and it is clear that the main run of fish has now started to arrive.

It was very evident that fish were running in pods and you had to be there at the right time but when you were, the action was electric.

Adrian D on Upper Sviats
This was best shown by Adrian D who had a red letter session in Upper Sviats and landed 8 fish in the afternoon.   John G had 6 for the day whilst Brendan G continues to fish all hours he can whilst also catching fish during them.

We finished on 33 for the day which is by no means a big day when it comes to Lower catches but it is a very big step in the right direction.

Paul C with a good fish from Middle
I went up to Middle Varzuga for dinner which is a journey I normally really enjoy (about 50 minutes by boat) but I have to say that it was utterly freezing last night.  There is still a lot of ice on the banks and snow on the ground so any wind has a real bite to it.

They had a very good day and landed 80 fish to the 12 rods.  Everybody had contributed equally but the interesting thing I discovered was that the home pools have not yet started producing in a major way.

The new dining room at Middle
Middle normally scores very highly thanks to these home pools and the out of hours fishing that the team do but practically all of the fish they have caught this week have been in the guided hours.  This is very encouraging for the strength of run as it implies that they have caught the first run of the bigger fish and the grilse will start to stack up from here on.

David C on Clarkes
Sadly, Kitza and Pana did not fare so well.  The cold spring has affected their catches and without reward it is increasingly difficult to motivate the team to fish hard.  Kitza finished with 4 fish and one of the guides at Pana caught a fish just outside of the camp last night so some fish have got there and we hope that today brings them better fortune.

It is another bitterly cold day but Brendan has landed 2 fish this morning from the Heli pool which got everyone going and it was a prompt start here this morning.

Charlie White

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Slowly, slowly

I hardly dare say it for fear of jumping the gun but slowly, just slowly, spring is coming and so are the fish.

Having seen very little bird life, signs of new growth or anything much in the way of warmer temperatures, yesterday felt as if we were getting somewhere.

Brendan on Heli last night
We saw the first cuckoo of the season and the birch buds are just beginning to show.  Also beginning to show are salmon.

After a tough morning here, Jamie K fished Beach in the afternoon which is our bottom beat and not only landed two fresh fish but most encouragingly saw plenty more coming into the beat.

Philip L-J at Kitza
The feeling that fish have eventually got here was backed up by the fact that before we flew to Kitza to swap parties, we had landed 6 for the day but the new team here landed 6 more after dinner in just a couple of hours, all in the home pool of Heli.

At Kitza, before we flew over to pick them up, they had 8 for their final day there – not epic but going the right way.
Kitza camp looking stunning yesterday morning - the snow has now all gone
The most curious aspect of the whole week has been Middle.  We have fished hard here at Lower and all eyes have been pealed for the first inkling of a run of fish but somehow, an awful lot have got past us without being sighted.

Their 12 rods landed 117 fresh fish yesterday.  Extraordinary really and whilst we are delighted for them, it has made all of us scratch our heads, question ourselves and endlessly theorise.

There were inevitably some high individual scores with Paul C landing 19 and David and Stephen C taking 17 from Clarkes in their morning session but by far the best fish of the day was Jeremy H landing his first fish as a grandfather - huge congratulations to all.

A fresh one from Kitza
The team at Pana went down to the junction of Varzuga and Pana but found only ice walls.  They are going to try again today as we know that the fish have got to Middle in numbers and it will only be a matter of time before they hit Pana.

It is raining hard this morning but that hasn’t stopped Brendan G going out and landing another fish before breakfast and with thoughts of spring firmly in mind we head out with high hopes.

Charlie White

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Happy Christmas!

I haven’t, yet, gone completely mad but this morning looks and feels like Christmas.  As we ate a delicious dinner last night it started to snow and someone joked that we would get 6 inches by the morning – it turns out that they were wrong, we had 7 inches of snow.

Lower Varzuga this morning
Quite extraordinary to think that it will be June tomorrow and perhaps sums up the most bizarre start to a season that any of us have seen.

The fish haven’t really kicked into gear yet and it was hard work across most of the camp yesterday.  It is possible that they are waiting for the river to warm up before leaving the White Sea but the truth is that none of us really know and we are just looking forward to the first major run of fish to hit us.

Igor with a fresh fish from Beach
At Lower, Phil B continued his run of winkling one out and Brad B joined him whereas at Kitza,
Bruce B and Phil L-J had a double hook up at First Island but apart from that it was slim pickings.

Middle, as is often the case, went against the trend and they had a great day of 61 fish.  Father and son team of David and Stephen C had 6 apiece from their session at Fortress in the afternoon and all of the other rods chipped in although Brian W and his fishing partner topped the scoring charts with 15 between them in the morning.

A winter wonderland
The fish haven’t got to Pana yet but the team up there are keen and no doubt they will head as far downstream today as they can.

There is no denying that it is beautiful here right now and it is actually very warm today so I would imagine that all of this snow will be gone by this evening but we could do with a few more fish to really get the season started in earnest.

Charlie White

Monday 29 May 2017

“Maybe tomorrow”

It seems that winter won’t let go just yet.  A really cold wind and some very heavy snow showers made fishing pretty tough and it was no surprise that a few called it off before the allotted guided time was over.

The mantra for the past three weeks has been “maybe tomorrow” as everyone here prayed for the ice to break, the river to clear, for guests to be in camp and now it seems for the main run of fish to arrive.

What we have all been waiting for
We did catch fish and at Lower Varzuga, Phil B and Will D landed 5 springers between them but it was hard going for everyone else.

At Kitza it was much the same with the metronomic Brendan G landing 3 of the 6 they had for the day.
Brothers in arms - Will and Rhod with a good fish from Jannaways
The team at Pana fished hard for the morning but with no luck chose to have an extended lunch with red wine to the fore.  The fish will reach them but we could do with the water temperatures to warm up a bit to get the whole system moving.

Care still needed when wading
At Middle Varzuga the very experienced team of 12 rods landed 37 fish for the day with one regular rod landing 14 of those.  Paul C landed a specimen springer of somewhere between 18-20lbs which put up the kind of fight you would expect from a solid bar of silver. 

Feorder and Michael G ready to go
A bear was seen on the island which is the first sighting of the season but whilst that is fun, what we all want is to see a few more fish and that the mantra can become “today”.

It is much warmer this morning and there is noticeably less ice coming down the river so things look promising.

Charlie White

Sunday 28 May 2017

The season has started

It is a fantastic feeling to be back on the Varzuga.  After the coldest spring in living memory, the river is now fully open and we have all of our four beats up and running.

Whilst I have seen the river higher for an “opening” week there is no doubt that a lot of the snow has already melted into the system and my guess is that it will consistently drop away from these levels.

The frozen Kola river yesterday
One of the unexpected benefits of the other rivers on the Kola having to cancel their opening weeks was that Murmansk airport felt like a ghost town yesterday.  38 clients went through in record time and we were all in camp by 3pm.

It is fair to say that it was pretty obvious that all of our team were keen to see new faces after weeks of confinement and our arrival had a celebratory feel to it.

Snow in camp this morning
However, winter has not let go entirely; it is still very cold and in three of our camps the first thing everyone did was to head for the fire and a cup of tea/glass of wine/whisky – pretty much in that order.

At Middle Varzuga no such indulgence was tolerated and pretty much everyone went out.  A score of 12 by supper was a good effort but I suspect the fact that the river has stopped rising this morning will have a very beneficial effect on their numbers by this evening.

A high but dropping river
It is snowing hard this morning and it was not hard to take the decision to have lunch back in camp. This normally leads to a certain amount of dissent as there is no doubt that coming back, as opposed to having lunch on the river bank, cuts into the guided fishing time but no one murmured and as everyone put on indecent amount of layers this morning I think it will be a cold bunch that we welcome back in a few hours time.

Sunset at Kitza 
Fifteen feet of T-14/17 with short leaders, heavy flies and thermals are the order of the day and although it is chilly, all of us are delighted to have the season under way.

Charlie White