Friday 9 June 2017

The last day of the season at Lower Varzuga

The season at Lower Varzuga is normally just 4 weeks long.  Most clients, when they see the lodge and set up that we have here for the first time, cannot believe that we would have such infrastructure for just 4 weeks.  This year the season has been just 2 weeks - simply crazy and only emphasises the extraordinary spring that we have had.

The river, whilst dropping, is still very high and I would reckon has about 4 weeks of decent fishing left in it but time waits for no man and leave we must.

Bill Drury with one from Upper Sviats
We landed 33 fish yesterday with Jonny C having a fantastic session on Beach with 7 fish and whilst I was in the office all I could hear were the radios going with the guides comparing scores.  Our morning was actually much more productive than our afternoon but I am not quite sure why that was.

Best pic of the season. Mum with one of four she landed from Bearlets in the morning
Middle Varzuga had a much more even day with fish across all of the beats and throughout the sessions. They finished with 79 landed, the top rods being father and son team of Michael and Colton with 9 each. Bigger fish were again very much noted and Doug U had a cracking 15lber from Picnic.

We have barely seen a summer grilse yet and it bodes well for the next few weeks.

David K-W and Eoin Fairgrieve with one from the boat
Kitza and Pana are two different stories at the moment.  They are both much narrower than the main Varzuga and essentially they remain too high for decent fishing.  All of our snow has now melted and assuming we don’t get too much rain (we very rarely do once summer comes) the two rivers will drop away quickly and reveal themselves.

William G with a fish from Lower Sviats
The run of fish we have had through Lower and Middle indicates that there probably are quite a few fish in the other two but getting to them is currently proving tricky.

Our season ends. The river is still up in the bushes but at least we have blue skies
I fly home tomorrow and Jack Selby, manager of the Kitza camp, will be taking over blog duties on Sunday.  My thanks as ever to all of our UK and Russian team who make everything work so well.  It has been a very tough start to the season, in the office and on the river, but everyone has pulled together brilliantly and I hope that the next few weeks see them get their just rewards.

Charlie White

Thursday 8 June 2017

This is more like it!

Well it seems that finally winter has relented and Spring is really here – more to the point so are the fish.

After a comparatively tough start to the week (all things being relative with this river) yesterday felt much more like a normal day on the Varzuga.

Colton C with what was almost a "normal" fish from Middle yesterday
I spent a large part of the day at Pana where the river is still really big.  For those of you who know the beat, Hippo Rock is still submerged by at least a foot and places to wade are tricky to find. However, they started to see more yesterday and had 6 on the bank – small steps but it is going the right way and it was in a way encouraging (although disappointing for them) to hear that James H-B and Jack M both lost very good fish after a decent fight.

Bertrand K with another from Middle
Very good fish was the subject of the day at Middle when I went up there to see them for dinner. After a slowish start to the week, they had a fantastic day and 113 were put in the book with some fabulous salmon in amongst them.

Ian C, who has been coming to Varzuga from the very start of our time out here, said it was by far the biggest average size of fish he had ever seen and he landed a cracking 17lbs fish from the pool named after him which was more than fitting. Doug U and Ian S landed 19 fish between them on the morning session at Peartiha and everyone had tales of 15lbs fish as well as excellent numbers to go with it.

Jonny C and Igor
At Lower Varzuga we started to see much better numbers as well.  35 fish to our 9 rods (my mother was riding shotgun on the helicopter so we cannot count her!) was a great result and just what we wanted to see.  Julian G was top rod with 10 fish and David B and David K-W landed 5 apiece from Beach and Bear Corner.

Kitza is equally going the right way.  The river, much like Pana, is still too high for this time of the year and most of the fishing is from the boat but Joe M and Bill P landed 6 each whilst Jan H, heroically fishing with a seriously painful shoulder, landed 2 from 2nd Island and their final score was 19 for the day.

Blue skies and leaping salmon - much more like it
Stewart  H and Jonny C have both been out before breakfast and landed 2 apiece whilst also losing another couple and our day looks set fair.  Closing Lower tomorrow seems almost a crime but after the coldest winter for over 100 years, the following weeks look as though they could be superb.

There are still rods available for the final week at Middle Varzuga and I would urge anyone who can fit in a last minute trip to contact the office as soon as they can as these should be epic weeks at very much shoulder season prices.

Charlie White

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Back online!

My apologies for the lack of blog yesterday.   A combination of a trip to Umba to deliver new boats and slow internet speeds meant that I ran out of time.

Back here the news is that finally, finally, we have seen the sun.  I had almost forgotten what it looked like and the whole river feels like a different place with a bit of warmth on it.

A lively fish on Bear Corner
The fish are responding in kind although it does feel as if they are making up for lost time and are running very hard.

I have just spoken to Toby at Middle who said that yesterday was the first day that they have seen lots of fish moving, jumping and generally getting on with how we would expect them to behave.

And landed...
They have landed 62 fish for the past couple of days and again they have had some really good ones.
Phillip T landed a cracking 15lbs fish from Fortress whilst Ian H landed 6 from Peartiha and lost a further 6.  Keen blog watchers will note that it is the high water pools that are still the most productive.

Here at Lower we have seen great strides in the casting of everyone and whilst 24 fish for the past couple of days is not quite as many as we would have liked, we have had great fun in getting them.
With the water now, eventually, steadily dropping, there are more and more places where we can ambush the running fish and news of fish showing at Middle is spurring everyone on to intercept more of them before they get there!

The Arctic Terns have only just started to arrive
The fish may be showing at Middle but they are not yet at Pana.  We do need to water temperatures to warm up a touch to help them make the distance faster but I am sure that any minute now they will be there.

Kitza has slightly gone in fits and starts with John E having a great session on Sasha’s with 4 fish but some of the beats being rather more stubborn. They have banked 25 fish to the 8 rods over the past two days and again, dropping water will make the whole beat more fishable.

Our first picnic lunch of the season 
It is a warm morning today and it really does make putting on the waders a much more appealing prospect than it was when looking out onto snow showers.  More tomorrow when I hope we have dropping water, increasing temperatures and rising numbers of fish.

Charlie White

Monday 5 June 2017

A tough day

Yesterday was a funny one in that we didn’t catch nearly as many fish as we were hoping but at the same time there were signs that things are beginning to happen as we would expect.

At Lower we only landed 4 fish for the day.  We lost a few others and there were various encounters but the truth is that it was a slow and yet another cold day.  Eoin Fairgrieve and Bill Drury were on the river working their magic and we saw an improvement in everyone’s casting.

Jonny C on Bear Island
It is difficult, with the high water, to get away with just overhead casting and spey casting is a new thing to many here which is as we would expect with this being the tuition week.

Pana saw the first fish of the season landed by the guests.  Just 2 but welcome signs that fish are there, particularly as the 2nd fish was landed at Rockface which is halfway up the beat.

Igor reaching for Stewart H's fish
Kitza landed 5 fish with Joe M landing 2 from Sasha’s in the morning.  Jack, the camp manager, reports that finally the river is dropping away from being bank high and there are more and more places that are easily accessible to wade.

Middle does what it always does, which is to blow everyone’s theories out of the water.  They landed 61 between the 12 rods with Hugo M and Rob McK landing 6 apiece from their session in Peartiha. Colton C managed to outfish his father by 6 to 1 which, as he is only 16, was a very good effort.

Is Spring finally coming? Birch buds just showing this morning
It is at last a bit warmer this morning although the water temperature is still only 3 degrees but Stewart H went out at 6.30 this morning and landed 1 from Heli whilst also losing 2 more which has given everyone encouragement and we hope for more of the same as the day goes on.

Charlie White

Sunday 4 June 2017

A new week but the same weather

Yesterday was a busy day at Murmansk.  Changeover day is always hectic but it is also great fun as it gives the chance to catch up with the many people who come year after year.

We were actually through the airport in record time and everyone was in camp by at least 4pm. Murmansk airport is now a pretty comfortable experience but the sheer tension and excitement levels mean that any wait feels forever.
Brendan - giving it his all as ever
Once in camp it was time to set everyone up, find out which bits of kit were required and discuss the past week’s events.

Those events were perhaps inevitably dominated by talk of Middle Varzuga where the 12 rods finished their week on 408 fish for the week.  A superb weeks fishing with some specimen fish landed.
Stewart H with his first Russian salmon last night
Lower Varzuga started to really pick up in the last few days and the team of 8 who came from Kitza landed 89 for their 3 days here which was a good effort.

At Kitza it is taking longer to get going but some fish are there and the same can be said at Pana.  It is hard work and very cold but the old adage of “you cannot catch a fish if your fly is not in the water” was never truer.
My mother meeting Feorder - I am not sure what she said but it has me worried
The new week always brings fresh enthusiasm and the team at Middle had 13 before the cold got to them last night.  At Lower, Stewart H went out almost as soon as the helicopter landed and on his second cast caught his first ever Russian salmon.  He had another one before we beckoned him into supper and we have got the week off to a good start although it is still really cold and it has snowed all night.  Surely it will warm up soon…?

Charlie White