Wednesday 5 June 2019

It's Wednesday and all is good

Since my last post we seem to have been bombarded with weather. We have had 2 days of heavy rain and even heavier wind. Whilst it certainly has not put off the fish it has to a degree put off the fishermen. And casting in a strong upstream wind is never easy. However we have still caught good numbers of fish in all camps and a few have caught their first Salmon on the fly.
Rob M into a lively one on Party

The rain we have had, so far, has not given us a rise in the water levels but has slowed the drop. We have been dropping around 1/2" to 1" per day. But it has been cold, the daily temperature today has spiked to a balmy 13 degrees but we have been seeing 8-10 degrees most days and cold evenings. We had some brief sun on Monday night but the team here at middle were fairly shattered so did not take advantage in the drop in wind to hit the home pools. By this time last year, in contrast, we were enjoying warm, late evenings down on party in the big boat skating flies. 
This time a pool of silver at the end of the rainbow
Each morning at least one guest will ask me what the forecast is. I dip my head and peer out of the window and say "in the short term like this". There is no telling what you will get here and whilst we are warmer today and have almost all been fishing full floating lines things at the watershed could be very different and tomorrow could be cold once more. Therefore it is essential to pack for all eventualities. Layers and sinking tips don't take up much luggage space and whilst we hope not to need them it is worth having as back up.
Matt C with another fish

The fish are certainly much more active in the surface as the day goes on and it has always been said of the Varzuga fish: "They like a faster fly". Having had several very different years both here and Kitza I have never seen this aggressive nature and it's nice to see people stripping the fly over structure, seams and rocks to receive explosive takes. Those using Spey lines are seeing similar effects from a down stream mend and a giving the fly a bit of a twitch. We are fishing mainly size 8 and 10 doubles now and a few people are considering skating flies in the surface. If you have bombers bring some. Just in case.
A deep fish from Larder for George R
Down at Lower Varzuga we have Eoin Fargrieve in partnership with Bill Drury hosting our tuition week. Out of the 7 rods fishing 5 are essentially beginners. But what a great way to learn. They have had days ranging between 37 and 52 fish which is an excellent introduction to the art of salmon fishing with a fly. Of the 5 beginners: John A, George R, Stephen C, Matt C and Mike M have all caught their first Salmon on fly. It also gives us heart that fish are still moving into the river and that can only be good as the next couple of week's clients will see fish and with luck catch them.
A rare chance to have lunch outside again
Over at Kitza they are having a ball. I know some of the team and despite the combined age of the team they know how to throw a party. This does mean there is less fishing out of hours but that is the beauty of our varied camps. There is something for everyone and at the end of the day it's as much about the people you are with and the wonderful place as it is the fish you are catching. The team of 8 rods have consistently been catching around 50 fish per day including a bumper day of 16 for David W.
Rachel M with a lovely fish from bear
Way up river on the Pana they are catching fish across all beats. Many fish being taken on the surface and skating flies already. They are averaging about 30 fish each day to the 5 rods currently with Joe M, Jack M and Iain L doing the business each day.
Domingo with a very fresh fish
Here we have seen highs of 92 fish and lows of 68 but the weather certainly had an effect on the totals. Rachel M caught a fish on Simmons (much to her surprise) and then followed it up with 3 from East Generator. Nigel L has done well with his very relaxed approach to fishing hours and time in the water. Pundostrov regulars Hugo M and Rob M have been keeping the tally on the river going and utilising the Russian Banya. The Ponzoi continues to be a favourite and home pool is also producing well.
Almost a smile from Vitale from Rachel's first fish at Simmons
The last 3 days has seen the tundra change colour, finally the new grass shoots are poking through the old grass killed off by the snow. The birch trees are now almost in full leaf and the birds are singing all hours. The Ruffs at the top of the island have done their dance and are now paired off and the wood sandpiper pairs line ever beat.
Wood Sandpiper
For those heading out my suggestion is to bring a versatile set up based on a floating line and plenty of layers. With luck we wont need them but as we know all too well things can change from hour to hour and "be prepared" is the key to comfort and success in fishing. Next update on Sunday and I look forward to seeing the incoming teams at Murmansk airport on Saturday morning. Safe travels.

Jack Selby

Sunday 2 June 2019

Sunday Round Up

Yesterday we said goodbye to a lovely team of largely regular clients and they were happy to have enjoyed the fruits of their labours on their respective camps. Now in my 4th season of taking over from Charlie on the Murmansk change over day, it was great to see all our clients smiling and telling tales of the fish they caught as they checked in. Things have become extremely smooth in respect of departure and arrivals at Murmansk and it's great that so many faces are now totally familiar.
Nice fish from the Kitza
The speed of turn round between arrival and helicopters is so quick and smooth thanks to our excellent team on the ground that it felt like a heart beat and I was in the air with the Pana and Middle teams. We dropped in at Pana and caught up with old friends briefly before heading down to middle and frankly enjoying the warmer weather and good runs of fish.
The Argentinian Connection
On friday all camps fished well ending with 179 to 7 Icelandic rods for Pana. 12 rods at Middle Varzuga managed to catch 712 fish for the week despite some limited fishing hours due to both illness and horrendous wind and rain. Lower ended up with 353 for the week and I still await the final for Kitza but I know they had excellent fishing from speaking to Jamie K and Michael G at the airport.
Wading Essential
Many people think of the Varzuga system as the place you go to dangle your string in the water and the fish evict themselves onto the bank. But what really shows is those who can wade and cast a long line when needed tend to make their own luck. I hear a lot that the river is at an in between height. Whilst this can be considered to be true to a degree there are places where fishing a short line across the close in channel pays dividends too. There are always angles that you can exploit and that really explains the truth of Russian Salmon. If you work hard and think about the way the water behaves and the salmon within you will likely catch more than you ever expected.
Earlier in the season I was chatting to Peter W who mentioned that as he was fishing he realised he was continually watching his line come round and never took enough time to look around at the bigger picture. Here we are on an island with like minded Russian people whose passion is catching fish but also they have a great passion and respect for their wilderness and the wildlife that resides here in summer. Along with the occasional bear and elk we have seen 38 species of bird from waders to terns to bullfinches.
Ringed Plover at the top of the island
Today there is a bit of a breeze blowing drifting clouds through a pretty blue and sunny sky. The water has stopped rising and the fishing last night was great with lower catching 23, Pana getting 11 and Middle 32. This morning the river was 11 degrees here and the air was the same but would not be at least 15. We are fishing intermediate tips or full float with a slow sinking poly leader. I predict that by the middle of the week we'll be fishing a skated fly on full floating. Peter Rippin from the office fished a sunray for an hour last night but with no joy. I suspect that will change rapidly in the next days.
Peter Rippin at Bear
Next blog on Wednesday.

Jack Selby