Friday 1 June 2018

Same again

Yesterday was pretty much exactly the same as the day before although with the weather changing every five minutes, nothing feels stable or settled.

Vito with one of Alan S's fish from Middle
We had a tough day at Lower and landed 10 fish but the way those fish were spread meant that everyone felt as though as they were in with a chance.  We have a really fun team here at the moment and last night descended fairly rapidly into a vodka vortex.  Whilst everyone was physically at breakfast this morning, there was quite a lot of vacant space and today will feel like a long day.

The guides at Lower - Sergei took the photo so is missing
Kitza again was the best of the camps with 27 fish for their 9 rods.  Brad B had his best day on the river landing 8 of those from Spey Bank and Beaver Pit whilst Jamie K continued his good week by landing 5 more.

At Middle Varzuga it was more of the same with 22 fish landed.  It is a bit odd in that they are not finding nearly as many fish as we would expect but equally their numbers are not decreasing at all – you would expect one or the other.
Bob C on Heli
Jack said that they saw a lot more fish yesterday which chimed with our experience here but it does feel as if they are running very hard in this low water and they are more difficult to hook than they have been at other times of the season.

Andy P with another
Pana also surprised us in that they had 7 for the day.  Matt reported a bitterly cold day up there (it is 80 miles north of where I am sitting) and he felt that this sudden change had affected them adversely.  You would expect their number to increase every day and it will be interesting to see how they get on today.

We woke to bright skies and now it is raining – you can certainly never got bored of the weather up here! It is up to Murmansk tomorrow and so there will be no blog until Sunday when I will round up the week.

Charlie White

Thursday 31 May 2018

In haste

Apologies for a short blog but today is the first day of no boats here at Lower and whilst we have done it loads of time before and everyone knows what they are doing, being in the office whilst everyone else is putting on rucksacks and carrying bags, is not the place to be.

Fred G
Kitza had a fantastic day yesterday but it was tough elsewhere.  36 fish at Kitza was the final score with fresh fish coming in all the time and a lot of action had by everyone although Geoff F was the top rod with 9 whilst Philip B had 6 of them.

At Lower we had 7 fish but in truth the day was rather dominated by other events and we wish Hamish M well on his long journey home.

Andy P 
Middle had 20 – not good by our standards but having snow, sleet, rain, sun and hail all in the same day probably didn’t help.

Pana finished on 14 with Ponzoi the most productive pool as we would expect.

Now back to packing that drinks bag…

Charlie White

Wednesday 30 May 2018

“Little problem”

The Lower and Kitza changeover is a pretty straight forward exercise.  Everyone packs their bags in the morning so that the girls can clean the rooms for the new guests, we fish until 6pm and then we have a few drinks in our waders before getting on the helicopter and swapping over; simple stuff usually but not yesterday.
George S on Beach
An almighty and very impressive lightning storm put an end to the fishing at 5pm but it also blew the power in the village and the surrounding area.  Not a major deal although it certainly made it harder for Ceri to prepare dinner in the gloom before we could set up the generator.  The helicopter took off at 6:15 to be refuelled and we waited for it to come back and pick us up.  It was then I heard the dreaded phrase “Little Problem”
One for Keith Liddle - the old generator still works when needed!
A “Big Problem” is normally trivial stuff but “Little” indicates a degree of severity that means you should take it seriously.  It transpired that with no power, the fuel pump in the village for the helicopter wouldn’t work and therefore it was stranded until the electricity was restored which could be in any time frame from 30 minutes to 12 hours.

We decided to call it quits there and then and it was out of waders and everyone stayed in their existing camp for another night.  Fortunately, power was restored at 5am and we have just flown to Kitza to swap over this morning.
Philip B about to land one just outside of the office
We have picked up a really happy team who landed 22 yesterday with John D having a great day with 7 fish.  I did Fred G an injustice on Monday.  He has actually fished for 4 weeks in Scotland but this was the first time he has landed anything – hopefully many more to come.

Hamish M on Kitza
Middle had a very slow day – just 20 to their 12 rods.  Hard to work it out as we had a good morning at Lower followed by a very slow afternoon.  We finished with 23 here and it is not very usual for Lower to outfish Middle at this time of the year.  We are seeing pods of fish come through which provide instant action but then it goes quiet – just have to hope for more pods.

Kitza this morning
Pana landed 13 to their 7 rods with Alvaro S landing his first Russian salmon from Rockface followed by a second at Ponzoi.  Domingo P and Carlos M had a good morning on Ponzoi landing 6 between them.

We are going to be late on the river today given the changeover and I think this may be the last time we can use boats to any great extent here at Lower, despite yesterday’s rain.  It is very bright this morning but with a really cold wind and I suspect a banya may be called for tonight.

Charlie White

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Up to Middle

Wow, who pulled the plug? I went to Middle last night and I have to say that the journey up there was dicey at best.  There are some rapids above the village which always prove tricky but the ice this year appears to have moved huge amounts of rock and rubble and the whole landscape has changed, making driving the boats interesting to say the least.

Michael G on Bear Island
I got up there to find a few people still fishing which is often the case at Middle.  They had a tough day with 31 landed to their 12 rods.  Paul C and Chris C had a more “normal” afternoon, landing 4 each but it was hard work for everyone else.  As has been story all season, bigger fish were to the fore but the prolific grilse run does not seem to have come yet. 

Paul C with pretty much the first grilse we have seen at Middle
Whilst I was eating a delicious dinner thanks to Millie, I got a message from Pana - via the satellite text service we have set up – which gave great news.  Javier S caught his first Atlantic salmon whilst fishing Ponzoi with his father Jaime.  They landed 4 from there as well as the team landing a couple from the home pool and also lunch pool.  10 fish for the day is not breaking any records but the way the beat is fishing gives us great hope for the season ahead.

Jamie K - a very sunny day yesterday
Kitza was slow in that they also landed 10 fish when we would expect more.  It sounded as if Sunday night took quite a lot out of many people and I am not sure everyone felt on top form yesterday.  Having said that, after fishing they all went down to the White Sea for a barbecue on the beach which was a huge success.  There are very few places that give you “the end of the world” feeling but the beach down there is one of them.

Midnight at Lower last night
I got “home” at around midnight and quite often the camp is very quiet then – not last night.  A very good party was in full flow and whilst I valiantly tried to catch up, I was always slightly behind the curve.  That appears to have worked in my favour as I can walk and talk this morning which puts me in the minority. 

We landed 19 yesterday which was disappointing but again, we lost so many fish it was almost embarrassing.  Sandy S was the top scorer with 7 for his day.  Difficult to tell who will be top rod today – probably the one who stays awake for the longest..!

Charlie White

Monday 28 May 2018

Summer levels

I have been fortunate enough to have been coming to this river for 16 years and yet, every year it still surprises me.  We have essentially gone from some of the highest water we have ever seen to summer levels in less than two weeks.

It is difficult to explain how much it changes and the only way to really do it is by photos - even they don’t really do it justice.

Lower this morning - 2 weeks ago the water was lapping at the yellow bin
All of which is a heads up to those coming later in the season that we may not be able to access all of the beats all of the time with the boats.   I am going up to dinner to Middle Varzuga tonight as I think this could be the last day of the week that I will get up there.

The fishing yesterday was remarkably similar to last week with some individual highlights thrown in.

Shark's tooth rock. Fully under water 6 days ago, now stranded
At Kitza they landed 16 and Ollie tells me that the party over there really enjoyed their day.  No doubt bolstered by the fact that Fred G caught his first ever salmon and then went on to land another one – not a bad way to start your career with your first day on a river!

At Middle, the 12 very experienced rods recorded 37 with catches very evenly spread.  This team would expect more than that and it will be interesting to see if today is a better day given slightly kinder conditions.

Generator - falling quickly
Pana landed 9 for their day which is about what we would expect for the first day of their season given the ice break date.  They only landed fish of over 10lbs and their run will steadily build and build.

Jamie K on Bear Corner
At Lower we landed 22 with Brad B having a great afternoon on Bear Corner landing 5 of those.  The big discussion this morning amongst the guides was the route they need to take down the rapids and I have a suspicion that Glenn, our resident mechanic, may soon be rather busy dealing with rock damaged engines.

A much brighter day today and warmer conditions give hope for a better day and with water temperatures at around 12 degrees, we look set fair.

Charlie White

Sunday 27 May 2018

464 fish for the week

Last week was a lot of fun in all of the camps with many returning guests and a smattering of new clients keen to see what the Varzuga can offer.

As is often the case, the returning clients had a bit of a head start knowing the river as they do and there is no doubt that at the start of the week, all of the beats looked quite intimidating with high water.  With temperatures into the high twenties and not a drop of rain, the river has fallen hugely and whilst still wide, it now looks more than approachable.

Anders H with a good one from Bear Corner
The 12 rods at Middle finished on 229 beautifully fresh salmon for their week.  If you have not been out here I appreciate that this sounds practically easy fishing but I can assure you that this is not the case.  All of the rods worked hard for their rewards and there were some happy but very tired faces in Murmansk yesterday.
Sean O'D
The 8 rods who started at Lower and then went over to Kitza for their final 3 days landed 109 fish whilst the “opposing” team landed 128. 

Perhaps the best comment I heard yesterday was from Alex A who landed his first ever salmon and then went on to land and lose several more.  With a foreboding tone he acknowledged “I am afraid you have me hooked now”.  After several fruitless outings in Scotland, just to be in touch with fish has turned his salmon fishing world upside down – just what we hope to see.

Roddy C on Beach
After a rather disjointed journey all of the new guests were in camp in time to have a bit of fishing before dinner and several went out this morning before breakfast.  Fish were landed across all of the beats and in that I include the first fish of the season from Pana – a stunning 13lber for Hans K just outside of the lodge.  The Spanish team had a tough time last year with very high and very cold conditions and we wish them well this week as I think they could have a really good time.

Middle Varzuga in the sun yesterday
For the first time this season, it is bitterly cold this morning and I think we will be having lunch back at camp rather than our standard picnic on the bank.  With 5 fish being landed before breakfast here this morning, the guides had to make sure they were on time as everyone was pretty quick to eat and get into their waders.

Charlie White