Springer on Tour - Ponoi 2010

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Friday 27th August saw me traveling out to Helsinki again for another Russia salmon adventure. The river this time was Ponoi and the very famous Ryabaga Camp that was established by Frontiers way back in the 90's. My trip was organised through Frontiers UK office with the help of Steffen Jones. Paperwork, flight documents, visa and all the other admin stuff was fast and efficient so all I had to do was prepare myself.

2 rods, 4 reels a wallet full of various shooting heads and tips and two boxes of flies was my main armoury. I was keen to try a new pattern I devised specifically for this trip, it was named the Ponoi Gold but more of that later.

I traveled from Newcastle on the 09.15 flight to Heathrow then on to Helsinki, arriving at 17.30 local time. The journey was smooth and trouble free, I again stayed at the Hilton at the airport because it is close and very reasonably priced at £83 B&B. At reception I was told that another rod was staying in the hotel so we arranged to meet up for a chat at dinner. Martin was my dinner date and we hit it off like a house on fire, so much so we decided to fish together as everyone is paired two to a boat for the week. This turned out to be a great move as Martin and I had a scream the whole week, the banter and crack was as good as Ive ever had and he was also a very competent fisherman so we fought a very friendly and light hearted battle the whole week.

Here we all are just after touchdown at Ryabaga, being met by the very friendly guides and camp staff.



Our luggage was taken down to the camp by the guides while we descended into the camp via the 'Stairway to Heaven'





Once into the heart of the camp we collected our bags and were swiftly shown to our accomodation.



For those who didnt know, Ryabaga is a tented camp. I have to say I was a little apprehensive as to what exactly a tent would be like to live in for a week, I needn't of worried! These are heavy duty and made for the job.



Everything you could need in a room.









Even a wee chocolate on my pillow every day, shame it wasnt a bar of Dairy Milk though :D



September in Russia is like October in the UK, the weather was typical of October here and the night time temps dropped to around 3 or 4 degrees most of the time. The heavy duty sleeping bags were perfect and kept you warm enough. Every morning around 6.30am a guide would come to your tent and light the wood burner so by 7am the place was warm and toasty. Sadly for me I was usually down to the home pool long before that so had to made do with being a wee bit chilly while getting dressed. I quickly realised the way to do it was to put my long johns and fleece mid layers in the sleeping bag with me and then put them on inside the bag in the morning, this kept the chill off them and it was like being a kid all over again. Showers are in a block but very clean and comfortable, they even have cotton buds for your ears, something the Helsinki Hilton didnt :rolleyes:

After a welcome dinner and a camp briefing we were set free onto the Ryabaga home pool and my word what a pool. I was to become good friends with this stretch of water and until the last evening I never blanked whenever I fished it, sometimes getting 2 or 3 nice fish in an hour before breakfast. I am told this pool can produce over 1000 per season and it isnt that heavily fished during the day. :eek: I managed a few fish that night but to be honest I caught that many fish I am going to strugle to remember them all.

Ryabaga Home Pool



My first Ponoi salmon, not too shabby for starters.


More to follow
 

DEEROD

Member
Messages
835
Reaction score
0
Location
STRABANE N.IRELAND
Nice looking place Alan.

Glad you cleared up the chocolate on the bed photo i thought it was something else :p

looking forward to the rest

Dee
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Part 2

For those who are not keen on daily helicopter flights Ryabaga is for you. After the initial flight to the camp we used jet boats to get to the beats. The amount of water that you have between 20 rods is incredible, the guides are often quite keen to have you fishing from the boat which is fine, lots of water can be covered quickly and casting is easy. The additional height above the water even allows you to see the takes!

My fishing partner and I preferred to wade whenever we could and this wasnt a problem, the wading is by and large easy for an experienced fisherman. Sometimes we were dropped in the middle of a 150yd wide river and we stood almost back to back casting at opposite banks, this was great crack but sadly the double hook-up eluded us.



The boat was also used for lunch if the weather was good.



Each day we traveled out to our beat at around 08.45, the longest boat ride was about 45mins either up or down stream, the scenery was stunning and you could also check out the other beats on the way.



When we arrived at the camp we were told that floating lines with intermediate tips had been doing the damage, I never use intermediate tips so opted for either 10' of sink 3 tip or anywhere between 3' and 10' of sink 7. I have found from my experience that Russian salmon are far more aggressive than those we encounter at home so I fish accordingly, this means square casts and lots of stripping, a shooting head or Skagit is the only option for this style of fishing.

My first fish fell to a Green Butt Cascade which served me so well on Yokanga in July however I had tied a pattern specifically for this trip which was later to be christened the Ponoi Gold



This fly caught me 38 of my 43 salmon for the week and became quite popular in the camp, thankfully I had taken my tying gear so each evening I rattled up half a dozen after dinner.



These flies were tied on size 5 & 7 gold salars. An interesting point I noticed was how few fish I lost during the week using these hooks. I know this has gone against a lot of what has been written about salars lately but I honestly think its not the hook but more how the fish takes and what you do yourself.

The fishing reminded me of those great Autumn days you sometimes have at home with a mixed bag of fish except on steroids! By that I mean you would often get a coloured fish between silver torpedo's. The percentage of fresh run fish for the week was 65 but I didnt mind a good scrap with an old warhorse.





But of course these were the guys I went out there for.







Many of the fish I caught were sea liced and in between there were some late summer fish which had been in the river for a couple of months, these were still very fit and you only knew they were different once landed.



More to follow...
 

crispin

Active member
Banned
Messages
4,858
Reaction score
11
Location
Dublin
Alan, you've clearly got to grips with your 7D. A super set of pics! Did you shoot any video?

The Ponoi Gold looks perfect for back-end fishing here, on falling spates, which is exactly what we have across the country today :)
 

tenet

Well-known member
Messages
2,989
Reaction score
992
Location
cotswolds
Alan - Is that a tag on the salmon's dorsal in the last pic?

Superb pictures and looking forward to the rest of the odyssey.

Tenet
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Yes I shot a good amount of video which will take me a while to sort through and make something worth showing.

The tagged fish is one of around 1500 fish which are done each year. At Ryabaga there is a permanent fisheries scientist and they monitor closely the fish stock and health of the river.
 

sam7

Member
Messages
62
Reaction score
0
Location
Belfast
Cotton buds for your ears: chocolate on your pillow at night: someone to light the fire before you get up in the morning.

Carlsberg don't do salmon fishing..........:):)

Great pictures Alan - keep them coming
 

DOON ROD

New member
Banned
Messages
3,865
Reaction score
14
Location
Dalmellington
How much did all that week cost in total if you break it all into parts ?

Not including tackle obviously.................. Might fancy somethin like that myself :)
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
How much did all that week cost in total if you break it all into parts ?

Not including tackle obviously.................. Might fancy somethin like that myself :)

The price varies depending on the time of the season. The fishing is good throughout the whole season as compared to what we experience over here. The prices vary because of the type of fish you will encounter and also the fishing conditions, for example a high summer week still has an average of 20 fish per rod (a good fisherman will usually exceed the average) but you will have to deal with the mozzies which can sometimes be a pain. That said I have seen some guys hardly bothered by them. The advantage of a mid summer week is the surface sport with skated flies, bombers and hitches etc as well as 24hr daylight and a home pool that can produce over 1,000 alone per season that you can fish between 6pm and 9am. It has been known for someone to land over 20 fish in one session :eek:

Depending on late deals, block bookings or time of the season you could pay anywhere between £4,000 - £12,000, that includes everything from the UK, no hidden extras.

I will be taking at least one party possibly two out to Russia next year, one at the lower end of the price scale and one towards the higher. Drop me a PM if your interested.

What is very interesting about Ryabaga's catch returns is that they have a 17yr avarage (18 after this season) which is based on everything they have caught almost since the beginning. Now bear in mind this includes everyone who has been there, some are complete novices, some children and some who don't fish very long or hard. I personally would hope to exceed this average by around 50% and in fact I did this on this trip. My weekly average was 27 yet I landed 43, there were also one or two guys there who got a few more than me and a couple who got a few less. We had a couple of complete novices and they got around 15-20 fish each as well as the majority of the group hitting the average.
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Part 3.

One of the things that I think is really important on a trip like this is your guide. In the past I have had the same guide for the whole week, this can be good in the sense that you get to know them but the flip side is if you dont get on it can be a nightmare. Again in the past I have met guides who speak very little English so sometimes information can be a bit scarce. This was not a problem at Ryabaga, all of the Russian guides spoke very good English and around half of them were either American or Scandinavian so again communication wasnt a problem.

The guides also work on the same beat so you get a different one every day, I really liked this as you got lots of different viewpoints throughout the week as well as feeling confident when he took you to a particular spot and said 'we got 4 fish here yesterday' :)

Here are a few of the guys who made this trip so special, and productive :cool:

Head Guide - Max, 17 years experience at Ryabaga and a better guide I have yet to meet.


Daniel, keen as mustard and cool as a cucumber






Tomi with Herve's 20lber, the biggest fish of the week.


Mads with a dirty big cock :D


'Big Dan' he landed a good few fish for me, he's the man.


Pat from the States, a mature head on such young shoulders.


There were more but sadly I didnt get pictures of them all. To all of you guys, 'big respect' you helped make the trip what it was. :cool:

Here is a couple of shots of some of the sunrises I feel very privileged to have seen, you had to get up around 5.45am to see them but the bouus was you got the Home Pool to yourself and would without doubt be rewarded with a fish or two before a good hearty breakfast





My fishing partner Martin soaking up the atmosphere


Then reaping the reward for his early start


The prize, oh how I wish I could go out again next week :eek:


More to follow tomorrow evening...
 

Dabbler.07

Well-known member
Messages
1,929
Reaction score
41
Location
Co Fermanagh
This is a bit like the soaps!:D On again tomorrow night! Great stuff! See you's all tomorrow night then!

Brilliant Springer, brilliant, great pic's and thanks for taking the time!
 
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Hi
congratulations on your trip looks like you had a great time.
I'm interested to know if catching large amounts of salmon in one day affects how you relate to the sport when you return home. Is it still as special to catch one fish on a scottish river?After all the vast majority of salmon fishermen/woman will never fish over there. Does it become a numbers game in russia " they had 60 last week so we should be catching 100".
I personally can't imagine catching 10 or 20 salmon in a day after a trip of a life time and not affecting the way i perceive one special salmon after a day's fishing.
I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
Cheers
 
Last edited:

Philor

Member
Messages
394
Reaction score
2
Location
Tyne valley
Yes it does affect you! To me, it gives me more confidence the line will actually tighten. I've seen it swinging round on the Ponoi, and it tightens so I'm more confident it will at home - on the Tyne for example. And of course the best thing to soak your fly in anywhere is confidence.
You also learn more about some aspects of salmon fishing in a week than you do in a year or more here... in my opinion.
Thanks for great reports and pics Alan, absolutely super to see it all. So pleased you had such a good time.
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Hi
congratulations on your trip looks like you had a great time.
I'm interested to know if catching large amounts of salmon in one day affects how you relate to the sport when you return home. Is it still as special to catch one fish on a scottish river?After all the vast majority of salmon fishermen/woman will never fish over there. Does it become a numbers game in russia " they had 60 last week so we should be catching 100".
I personally can't imagine catching 10 or 20 salmon in a day after a trip of a life time and not affecting the way i perceive one special salmon after a day's fishing.
I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
Cheers

Thats a very good question and I have thought quite a bit about this myself since my first trip to Russia. I will answer your question in two parts.

Firstly, catching any salmon anywhere is a special occasion for me.

Only on Varzuga can anyone catch 10-20 salmon per day with any consistency and even then you will have to be a confident wader and long caster, these will be predominantly grilse in the 6-8lb range. The most I have landed in a day was 10 from both Ponoi and Yokanga and I worked very hard for them.

For example last week on Ponoi, I got up at 5.45am and fished for 1.5hrs landing 3 fish. After breakfast I fished hard all day from 9am-6pm (except for a 45min lunch) for 6 fish landed. On arrival back at camp I fished for another 1hr to land my 10th fish of the day. Although a very productive day it was hardly shelling peas, the sense of achievement however was immense. People do actually blank in Russia during a days fishing, it happened a few times during our week so you need a bit of luck as well.

I am grateful for every fish I have landed. Sometimes you can go a whole morning with not a touch then you hit a pool with a few fish in it and you land 3. It goes like that every day. I remember a few days when my fishing partner Martin seemed to always get the better of me in the morning, no matter where he was he seemed to land a fish and at lunchtime he might have 4 to my 1. This can play on your mind and make you question your tactics, I would also be lying if it also didnt make it easy for you to let your head drop. When you feel like this it is a challenge to pull yourself out of negative thinking and find that next fish. However I always seemed to manage to turn things around and more often than not we ended the day with very similar numbers. I almost enjoyed this psychological battle with myself as much as the fish I landed.

Some people certainly look at Russian fishing with an eye purely on the numbers, if that floats their boat then who am I to judge them. What floats my boat is when Ive carefully fished a pool and while reading the water I got a fish from exactly where I thought one would be. Another real buzz is the sight of one boiling at your fly but not taking it, then waiting for a while before making the same cast and seeing/feeling the take right where you expected.

There are no more fish in Russian rivers than there are in many Scottish ones, the total Ponoi run isnt as many as the Tweed for example. The Ponoi is twice as big at least yet they catch as many fish in 16 weeks than the Tweed does in 39. I believe this is because the fish are more aggressive and more willing to take the fly. I fully appreciate how lucky I have been to fish these amazing rivers and I would say that every fisherman should try to do it at least once in their lifetime if they can possibly afford it. For example I would happily forgo all of my next years salmon fishing just for another week on Ponoi.

Secondly, it makes me a little sad that these wonderful salmon rivers we have in the UK are now performing so relatively poorly in comparison. I can only imagine that 100yrs ago our rivers would have been as prolific and I can now see how some of the greats of yesteryear racked up those mind boggling numbers.

All that said I am fishing a good beat on the Tyne for the next 2 days on a falling river and my hopes of success are high and Im as excited as Ive ever been. If I get a fish a day it will again be very special :)
 

Springer

Well-known member
Messages
9,479
Reaction score
230
Yes it does affect you! To me, it gives me more confidence the line will actually tighten. I've seen it swinging round on the Ponoi, and it tightens so I'm more confident it will at home - on the Tyne for example. And of course the best thing to soak your fly in anywhere is confidence.
You also learn more about some aspects of salmon fishing in a week than you do in a year or more here... in my opinion.

I couldnt have put it better myself.

I also accept that the rivers in the UK wont produce as consistently as Russia but I will value/appreciate 3 UK fish in a day as much as 10 Russian ones.
 

tynelobster

Active member
Messages
933
Reaction score
119
Location
Banks of the Tyne
Whist trying to justify the cost of this trip of a lifetime to the Ponoi to myself last year (milestone birthday treat) I reasoned that if I wanted to really improve my fly fishing techniques for salmon I would be best spending time on a river with some fish in it. In that week I learned more than I had in the previous 6 years back home and caught more fish on the fly. Consequently I now fish with confidence, understand when my fly is fishing - and when its not, and this year have caught several times my previous best catches on the fly already. As in trout fishing previously I learned very little when not catching but a lot when I was successful - money well spent in the long run and an unforgettable week - now where's that lottery ticket?:D
 

Strathglass

Active member
Messages
4,003
Reaction score
6
Location
Glasgow
Here is a couple of shots of some of the sunrises I feel very privileged to have seen, you had to get up around 5.45am to see them but the bouus was you got the Home Pool to yourself and would without doubt be rewarded with a fish or two before a good hearty breakfast

I find it hard to understand why people would travel all that way and then lie in there beds and miss the opportunity of fishing the early morning shifts...lazy beggars but I guess good for you guys who made the effort!
 
Top