Friday 17 May 2019

Vintage fishing

I wrote yesterday that I wanted someone to go out on Wednesday night to catch 3 fish to take Middle Varzuga over the 100 mark for the day but by yesterday evening I was trying to cajole a few people to go out to take us over the 200 mark for the day – extraordinary fishing.

Nick T
Between the two camps of Lower and Middle Varzuga, our 18 rods landed 187 fish between them during the day. 

Jonathan B on Heli at Lower Varzuga
To say that there are fish everywhere is an overstatement but when you find one fish, you find very good numbers of them.  We always advise people to fish the river very quickly and as soon as you have a touch, to back up 5 yards and fish slightly more carefully.  This approach is paying dividends as when the river is as big as this, you can fish a lot of unproductive water as it is tricky to see exactly where the fish are running and so you need to skip bits until you find some action.

Hugh L with a deep fish from Middle
At Lower our 7 rods accounted for 63 fish with Mick M the top rod with 14 of them.  Lee B, on his first salmon fishing trip landed 10 of which 8 of those came before lunch at Beach.  Robin M landed 13 across the beats and fished hard all day.

Lee B on Beach which is just beginning to show
After fishing, we arranged a trip to the village so everyone could see the church and to understand a bit more about the lives of our Russian friends.  It is quite an experience and it rounded off an great day.

Tim T wrapped up against the cold
At Middle Varzuga 124 fish were landed.  Top man was Paul O’D who put 24 in the book whilst Donald S accounted for 16.  Brian McL fished four pools during the day and had a pleasingly symmetrical 3 fish from each to give him 12 whilst he and Hugh were also visited by a bear.  After a quick snap, they allowed the bear the right of way and decided to fish somewhere else!

First one of the season
We are still fishing sink tips (Type 3 or T-11 imow variations) with mainly copper tubes of around an
inch and with a cold day ahead today I suspect it will be more of the same from us - we can only hope that the fish remain as cooperative.  There won’t be a blog tomorrow as it is changeover day but I will report back on Sunday to round up what has been an excellent week.

Charlie White

Thursday 16 May 2019

Over to Kitza

Yesterday was a busy day on and off the river.  A cold downstream wind was present all day but it was otherwise a lovely fishing day.

Here at Lower we had a very good morning with Mick M doing well again with 6 fish before lunch but the afternoon was simply bonkers.

Eskild with another beauty
Jonathan B and Neil C were on Beach and they reported hundreds and hundreds of fish pouring into the river.  Jonathan managed to land 15 of them whilst losing as many again and Neil was into fish for over 4 hours.  Beach is our bottom beat and it is good to know that the run of fish is truly building.  Our final tally was 56 fish to our 7 rods and we have a very happy team here.

Mick M with one from the boat
Sadly I missed all of it as in the morning we flew to Pana to ensure that the camp is all up together and after interminable discussions about curtains, it was back to the village to get all of the supplies for Kitza which will host our first clients on Saturday.

Loading the Kitza supplies onto the heli
The river there is pretty big although not as big as I have seen it. The guides reported that the water has fallen about 4 feet from its peak and they are very upbeat about the fishing prospects.

Looking upstream at Kitza
Middle had another superb day and the 11 rods landed 97 fish between them.  Hugh L was not only  the top rod with 15 fish for the day but also landed a cracking salmon from Clark’s.  Stuart M is not letting the fact that it is his first time on the river hinder him and landed 11 to his rod whilst Brian McL had the same tally.

Hugh with a lovely fish from Clark's
I asked Jack to find someone to go out to land the 3 fish that would have taken them to the hundred mark but he reported a team who were very happy with their lot and I think he was too busy opening bottles to go out himself.

This morning is very bright but the team demolished their bacon and eggs and are keen to get back on the river – who can blame them.

Charlie White

Wednesday 15 May 2019

A fabulous day

Yesterday was cold, wet, overcast and quite miserable – perfect in other words..

The river has started to drop and whilst it is going to be a while before we can fully fish the whole beat, just knowing that the river is going the “right way” is a relief as everyone can start to fully appreciate the fishing.
Mick M with one of 11 he had from Janaways
It made a huge difference yesterday and the fishing was quite simply superb.  Fish were being seen everywhere and action was prolific.

Eskild N at Middle
I went to Middle Varzuga for a delicious dinner and found a team of rods who could not have been happier.  Not entirely surprising as between them they had landed 106 fish during the day.

Guide Vitalie could have looked happier having netted this one...
The extraordinary thing was that everyone was talking about the numbers of fish they had lost as opposed to those landed and it was quite clear that it had been an electrifying day.

Hugh L in the rain
Nick T was the first I spoke to and he said he had spent the entire afternoon playing fish – shaking his head as if not to know what to make of it.  Over dinner, various tales were told and after tallying everything up we found that Nick T had landed 20 fish, Donald S put 17 in the book whilst Paul O’D landed 9 and lost 10 before lunch.  It is fishing as we all dream of and everyone is making the most of it.

Holly, our cook at Middle, with her first ever fish
At Lower it was a similar story and our 7 rods accounted for 46 fish. Mick M had a superb morning and landed 11 fish but the afternoon belonged to Jonathan B and Neil C who landed 15 between them at Janaways.

Sushi from the freshest fish you can find
I got back quite late and found a quiet camp as the efforts are clearly taking their toll but plenty of fish have already been landed before breakfast and the team are absolutely not going to be late to meet their guides this morning.

Charlie White

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Steady as she goes

After a few days of rising water it does now seem as if the river has peaked and is beginning to drop away.  It has been difficult to find spots to get into the beats and our rods have been fishing in some strange places to access fishable water but we are starting to get to the point where we can find stretches to fish rather than just small parts.

Tim T on Janaway's
At Middle Varzuga, the obvious high water pools such as Clark’s and Peartiha are as productive as we would hope but as yet, the home pools are proving tricky to get into as the ice walls stubbornly hang on.

Brian McL was fishing Clark’s in the morning and made the most of it as he landed 6 fish to his rod but the rest of the catches were evenly spread.  A few rods were missing in action thanks to a fairly major kitchen party the night before and it was a tired team who went to bed last night.  24 fish to those who were fishing was good going and Jack reports a revitalised team this morning who are keen to get going.

David B with one from Peartiha
Here at Lower we doubled our catches to land 14 fish for the day.  Everyone saw masses of fish but again, they are creeping up the edges and are difficult to hook.  There was a magical hour down at Beach in the afternoon where Neil C and Jonathan B hooked 10 fish between them and fish were simply everywhere.  A major pod of fish were running through and they were in the right place at the right time.

Rob W with a very precious first salmon
As ever, we want everyone to catch fish but a first ever salmon is a special moment and our vodka toast last went was raised to Rob W who landed his first and then his second fish yesterday.  If we could have bottled his delight we would all be very rich indeed.

Jack finally got his photo of the eagle
I hear reports of fish being landed before breakfast at Middle this morning so either Generator or Bear are becoming more accessible and with a gently falling river we are keen to see what the day produces.

Charlie White

Monday 13 May 2019

Big water

The first full day of the season saw a tough morning with the river still rising and the tundra streams bringing dirt and grass with them, making it tough for the fish to see our flies.

It was frustrating as we could see the salmon head and tailing through the withies but trying to catch them in the trees was not that easy!  We saw a lot of fish which kept everyone going all day and bodes well for the forthcoming season.

Gareth C with a beauty from Clark's
However, the afternoon saw a change in fortunes and we finished with 7 fish to our 7 rods here at Lower and 33 to the 11 rods at Middle Varzuga.

Paul O’D was Middle’s top rod by a distance as he landed 12 fish with Donald S and Tom A chasing him up with 5 apiece.  The best news of the day however was that Stuart M landed his first salmon on a fly and followed it with a second of over 15lbs - a very good introduction to Russian salmon fishing.

Donald S with one as fresh as they come
This morning has dawned bright and warm with air temperature of around 15 degrees and water at the 5 degree mark.

The water levels have held steady overnight and the margins seem a little clearer so we hope for a more productive day.

Lower Varzuga this morning
A quick blog today as I am shortly off to the village to meet the mayor and I don’t want to be late!

Charlie White

Sunday 12 May 2019

Off and running

I say this every year but it is great to be back.  The Varzuga is a very special place to call work and it is impossible not to get excited by the prospect of flying into camp for the first week of the season.

Arrival into Murmansk in bright sunshine
A late night in Helsinki followed by a very early start is perhaps not the best way to kick off a fishing trip but it didn’t seem to do anyone any harm and we were all present and correct for the charter yesterday morning.  We raced through Murmansk and by 2pm we were all in camp and raring to go.

First heli of the season
The weather is very mild for this time of the year (writing this just after breakfast it is 13 degrees C) and as a result the river is rising rapidly.  At Middle Varzuga there are large ice walls lining the banks of Generator and Bear pools but with this rise they should shortly be washed away and access will become easier and easier.

Snow on the tundra
At Lower Varzuga the river literally rose in front of our eyes and it has probably risen 4 or 5 feet since we got here, a vast volume of water when the river is this wide.

The water temperature is 3-4 degrees and we are fishing with heavy sink tips (T-10 to T-14) and 2 inch tubes in various shades of yellow, orange and red.

Robin M last night. Hooked about 5 feet outside of the bushes
When the river is this big, it is not so much allocating beats as it is allocating parts of the beats that will hold fish.  With a massive river in front of you it is easy to become daunted but the truth is that the fish are just creeping along the edges and long casts are a waste of time and energy.

The most important bit of news is that the fish are here.  Whilst any fishing on Saturday afternoon is a bonus and a chance to exercise shoulders, it always helps when that is accompanied by people landing fish.
Jonathan B with ice coming down behind behind him
Such was the case yesterday with Jonathan B landing two and Robin M landing the first fish of the season.  Robin went out this morning and landed another one before breakfast and so we are set fair.

After an interminable wait, the season is upon us and we look forward to bringing you more news.

Charlie White