Friday 31 May 2019

Leaving on a high

The tundra definitely does something to your body clock.  It feels like yesterday that we were flying in with our first guests of the season but the river definitely tells me that it was 3 weeks ago.  24 hour daylight accelerates everything and it never fails to amaze me how this place can change in such a short time.
Lower Varzuga three weeks ago
What has not changed is the fishing.  My telephone was ringing constantly yesterday with updates from the camp managers and it took me a bit of time to sort everything out but it was clear that it had been a very good day across the river.

The same view this morning
Pana has really started to kick in and the team up there are making the most of it.  56 fish to the 7 rods was the final result and with some cracking fish amongst them, it was a very happy sounding Matt that I spoke to on the satellite phone.

Chris C on Middle
Rock Face and White Rock are fishing very well and it was interesting to hear that they are fishing smaller flies and trying to take the fish away from the main part of the pool as soon as they hooked them – a very Icelandic way of looking after a pool and making sure you can maximise your chances.

A double hook up on the boat
At Lower we landed 27 to our 6 rods.  Wading and casting are key at this height of water and it will be fascinating to see how they get on next week.  Every year we run the Ultimate Atlantic Salmon Course where Eoin Fairgrieve and Bill Drury are on the river all day with our guests to help improve their all round skills.  There is simply nowhere else in the world where you can learn so much about salmon fishing in such a short period of time and it is always a great week – I will be sad to miss it.

Enric in the sun
I was concerned to get a message at around 3pm, from Jack at Middle, to say that they were having a “very slow day”.  I was slightly less concerned when he had counted it all up and found that they had landed 83 fish between them.   Relativity is often in short supply up here!

Kitza is simply bouncing with fish.  96 was the final tally and Hamish couldn’t really tell me which beats were the most productive – it seems to be from Sasha’s to Beaver Pit.  I am sure that Brendan G accounted for a few of those out of hours but it was nonetheless a superb day of fishing.

David M with one from the boat at Middle
I am flying home tomorrow and as a result, Jack is taking over the blog.  He has a very busy camp to manage as well as the small things that I have to do and so we will be changing the format of the reporting.  He will do a round up of this week on Sunday and the next blog after that will be on Wednesday morning.
Bill and the excellent team of guides at Lower 
As ever, it has been a privilege to be up here and it has been lovely to be part of it.  Not a record season but a really solid run of fish and it has been a lot of fun.

Charlie White

Thursday 30 May 2019


Yesterday was a very odd day weather wise and it seemed to put the fish off a bit.  It was really muggy in the morning and I was worried that, at some point, we were going to have to take rods off the river because of lightening.  
David M who is roughly 10 feet tall so this fish must be pushing 30lbs....
We saw forked lightening over the White Sea but fortunately it never got any closer.  Instead, at about 3pm the storm finally broke and it poured with rain until about midnight - all 4 camp managers reported a slow morning followed by a much more productive afternoon.

Josep - happy in the driving rain
At Pana the 7 rods had 37 fish for the day and Matt reported a very contented team who are enjoying the utter solitude that Pana offers.  With just 4 weeks in our season up there, the chance to fish Pana is quite rare and this team are loving every moment.

Middle Varzuga finished with 82 to the team but quite a few rods took either the morning or the afternoon off.  They have been fishing long sessions and it seems to have finally caught up with a few.
Nicolas EC on Beach
At Lower, our fantastic team of 6 put 18 fish in the book.  There were very few fish caught in the morning so it was good to get them all into some in the afternoon.  The switch from the intimate Kitza to the much larger Varzuga has caught a few of them out and Bill was busy dispensing advice on the river.

Alexandre G with a small but fat grilse
Kitza marches on unperturbed by weather, water height or temperature.  A further 72 were landed yesterday with our Norwegian team of Jo and Henning having a superb session on 2nd Island in the afternoon.  They lost count of the number of fish they hooked and played by but the guide confirmed that they had landed 19 between them.

Nicolas with one from the boat
It has dawned very bright this morning with a cold wind which is much more as we are used to so we hope for a return to the norm – if there is such a thing up here!

Charlie White

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Getting ahead

My apologies for no blog yesterday.   I normally spend a month up here, leaving when Lower Varzuga has finished for the season but this year, I am leaving a week early and as a result, I have been trying to set things up so that Jack does not have too much extra to do on top of being the camp manager at Middle, which in itself is a very busy job.

Paul C with a deep fish from Middle
As a result, meetings in the village and rather too much time on the helicopter meant I did not get back much before we were due to fly to Kitza for the mid-week changeover.  What a 48 hours it has been!

One of our bear dogs cooling off
The team we flew over to Kitza had a fabulous 3 days at Lower and the 10 rods finished with 319 fish.  Brendan G certainly set the pace by landing 81 of those which shows what the river can produce but not everyone would want to or be able to put in the hours that he did.  The other members of the team fished hard but relaxed equally hard and we had a lot of fun.

Jason S on Heli at Lower
At Pana things are developing just as we would hope.  They have now landed 64 fish with some really chunky fish in amongst them.  JT, who had fished all over the world and really knows his stuff, played a fish that he thought was well over 20lbs for 25 minutes yesterday only for the hook to break.  Ponzoi is their most productive beat which is as we would expect but they are beginning to see fish showing everywhere.

 A picnic in the sun 
At Middle the 12 rods have now landed 436 fish for their three days.  I went up to see them on Monday night and there was a very good atmosphere in the lodge.  One of the rods turned quiz master for the night and one of the questions was “how many fish have we, as a group of 12, landed at Middle Varzuga over the past 9 seasons?”  An answer of over 6,000 fish was pretty astonishing and gave us all cause to reflect on the superb fishing they have had over the years.

Alan S
The 6 rods we picked up at Kitza were all in great spirits and had clearly enjoyed their time in the beautiful surroundings over there.  It has now dropped to a point where all of the pools are clearly defined and it is looking stunning.  A total of 140 fish for the 3 days made for a very happy team and we look forward to seeing how they get on with us at Lower.

Lawrence R up at Middle
For those of you coming out on Saturday I would suggest that you forget all about the heavy stuff as we are now really on intermediate tips with unweighted tubes or flies around size 6-8.  The water temperature is now around 9 degrees and when the sun comes out it really does feel quite warm.  It has been a while since we had “normal” spring weather at the start of the season and it is good to see the river doing what we would expect it to.

Charlie White

Monday 27 May 2019

A rapid start

Yesterday was the first full day of the week and it has to said, that this week has continued pretty much as we finished the last but if anything, the fishing is slightly more productive.

We have so far landed over 400 fish since we got off our respective helicopters on Saturday afternoon with some remarkable catches being reported.
Guide Artyom at Middle
Here at Lower Varzuga, our 10 rods have accounted for 159 fish but it is only fair to point out that Brendan G has had 45 of those.  The man is a machine and is on the river at all hours of the day.  We managed to drag him in for supper last night but as soon as his white chocolate cheesecake had been polished off, it was waders back on…

Michael G with one of 15 he landed yesterday
Michael G and Jamie K had a day to remember by landing 35 between them in their guided sessions.  It was not long before large gin and tonics were being poured which probably accounts for me being a bit late with the blog this morning!  Our brilliant cook Claire also went out yesterday, with Bill as her guide and landed her first ever salmon – and then two more.  A great afternoon and one we celebrated.

Claire with her first ever salmon
At Kitza, our new Spanish team had 43 fish to their 6 rods.  Three of them have taken two rods each so that they can fish a private beat and have their own guide but it was Alexander G, fishing with his friend Nicolas, who landed 9 fish to make him top rod for the day.  Hamish is going to try fishing up to Chopper Island this morning as he had a quick flick up there yesterday and landed fish which is encouraging as the upper part of that beat is just beautiful.

Typical - over 400 salmon and all anyone can talk about is a pike...!
There was a very good start at Pana where the 7 rods landed 12 fish.  With the big numbers in the other camps this sounds slow but their fishing will just build and build.   This is the earliest date that the opening week will start for some time as next year is the rebasing year for all of our fishing and to land fish half way up the beat (White Rock) on the first day was very encouraging.

A happy Maurice Mc B on East Generator
Middle is fishing very well and the 12 experienced rods have so far put 188 in the book.  Chris C had 21 of those with 9 from East Generator whilst Maurice McB and Paul C had 15 apiece.  This team fishes hard and I know that on top of these figures, 28 fish were landed before breakfast this morning.  I am going up to supper there tonight and the one thing Jack has asked me to take is more score sheets as he is going through them rapidly - never a bad sign.

Charlie White

Sunday 26 May 2019

A great week

Last week offered some superb fishing across all three camps and when saying goodbye to the teams yesterday, it was clear that everyone had spent a simply awesome week in the Russian wilderness.

Carl D with a fresh one from Heli
Yes of course we come here for the fishing but the nights around the dining room tables, the food, the scenery, wildlife and camp camaraderie are as much remarked on as are the final numbers of fish that the diligent camp managers have been recording every night.

Friday night at Lower means two helicopters outside camp
The fishing itself however was something to really sit back and admire.  1,575 fish were landed during the week to 28 rods and the average per rod was amazingly consistent in all of the camps.

Tony B on Middle
All camps finished with over 50 fish per rod and it was lovely to hear the enthusiasm for the rivers and its ability to produce memorable moments.

Flying over the Levosero lakes yesterday - it is still cold
I am worried about jinxing it for future weeks but the changeover was incredibly easy and we were on our helicopters almost before the charter had taken off to fly back to Helsinki. “But I haven’t finished my first pint yet” is not something you hear very often when you make the call to move for the helicopters.

Allan W on Moscoi
That meant some eager teams hitting the rivers for an afternoon session and the rods at Middle and Lower had something like 75 fish between them whilst our Spanish team at Kitza took the opportunity to relax after a long days traveling.  We have a super keen Icelandic team at Pana and it will be fun to hear how they get on.
Dom F on Bear Island
Brendan G is arguably the keenest rod we see each season (amongst some quite stiff competition!) and was on the river here at Lower at 4am this morning.  Having landed 13 fish before breakfast, it would appear as though it was worth it.

Charlie White