Last week, Week 7, we were joined by anglers from the USA, the UK, and France. Alan Maughan hosted three anglers from the UK. David, Duncan, and Sam all enjoyed the Atlantic salmon wilderness that is the Ponoi. Unlike any other salmon destination that the trio has fished, Ponoi exhibited the true potential of a river that has never been spoiled by development, crowds, limited access, out-of-reach exclusivity or cost, while always maintaining a notably high average catch rate per angler through the summer and into the autumn. Sloan Harris and his son Walker (17 years old), were a bit irresolute about joining the ranks of experienced fishers. Having cleverly prepared themselves for the trip by undergoing a few sessions of Spey casting instruction, they found themselves not as unprepared as they feared upon arrival in Ryabaga. Fishing through their trepidation, the father-son team nestled nicely into the joys of fly fishing under the tutelage of Ryabaga’s masterfully skilled, extremely enthusiastic, and highly articulate guide team. Steve Estela, CEO and Managing Director of Ponoi River Company arrived with his wife Pata and their two sons with the Week 7 anglers. It is always a pleasure to be joined by the Estela family for a week each season in Ryabaga. Santiago (8 years old) and Simon (6 years old) had a stab at a few salmon along the banks of Gold Beach with Steve and Pata. Exploring Ryabaga, swimming the Ponoi, and romping about in the tundra present a fantastic way to complement a fruitful upbringing. I even experienced the potency of Simon’s assorted Judo skills (not an experience I care to soon repeat).
With the initial 7 weeks of the season complete on Ponoi, Max, Lena, and the majority of the guide team, kitchen team, and camp staff have flown back to town to recharge the batteries, soak up some sunshine, and have bit of a holiday. The mechanic team and guides Anatoly, Tommy, and Daniila remain in Ryabaga, which is now undergoing a bit of renovation and re-tooling. Projects currently underway include the completion of wood floors in each of the river lunch tents, new tables, and firewood cribs. Installation of three new guest tents will give anglers the opportunity to enjoy single-occupancy accommodations. Genia Flidner has been charged with the task of building a new dining table for the great room at the Guest House. Genia is a semi-professional carpenter, and his ability to work with wood is unmatched by anyone in Ryabaga or Kola Peninsula. With a fresh coat of paint, a bit of renovation, and some small additions, Ryabaga will certainly meet and exceed the expectations of guests this coming autumn. On August 7, we will welcome to Ryabaga Erkki Moisander and a split week of Finns. A total of 38 anglers will descend upon the banks of Ponoi, truly a sight to behold. One of the lucky Finns will likely land the first autumn run salmon, as the average catch date for the first autumn run falls in the first days of August. With so much to look forward to, our daydreams remain full of hard-fighting salmon and the glorious descent of autumn over Ponoi!
Matt Breuer www.ponoiriver.com