Russia - Ponoi - Week 14 Report

Every other year, PRC Owner Ilya Sherbovich and his family host a lovely group of friends and family in Ryabaga. Any week in camp is a unique experience, but this biennial Friends and Family Week has evolved to include some special traditions: The Poker Tournament, Disco Night, Live Music around the Bonfire, the Daily Awards Ceremony, and more. It is a busy week both on and off the river, with three different helicopters coming and going, two hovercrafts in operation, and an army of staff making sure everything works seamlessly. It is the busiest week of the year for sure; by Friday night of this past week, Ryabaga was home to three helicopter crews, a complete staff, and a full complement of guests that took the total count in our small tundra village to 81 people! This year’s Friends and Family Week came alive with energy and enthusiasm, and it proved to be among the most enjoyable weeks on record.

The fishing this week was challenging, but strong numbers of fresh fish were hooked daily, and the promise of more fall-runners kept spirits high. Among the guests were several anglers in-the-making, specifically three young girls under 15 years of age (one not yet 7!) who joined us to go fishing for the very first time. Sasha T., Natalia K. and Sonia S. each caught a first-ever Atlantic salmon, giving all in camp reason to celebrate. When we see these young anglers enjoying success on the water we see our angling tradition carrying on, promising that there will be anglers looking after our rivers for many years to come.

The river is in great shape. The water level is good, and it continues to cool down as we face longer nights. The Fall Run seemed to get stronger and stronger through the week, but catching fish was not easy, as the salmon were moving upriver extremely quickly. As waves of fish moved through, anglers tended to experience strong plucks at the end of the line but few solid takes. Most of the bright fish taken this week were caught in the lower beats, and once again we made use of our fleet of vehicles to make sure all anglers were given the best chance to secure a salmon.

The weather was a bit unstable at the beginning of the week, with the barometer bouncing this way and that. On the up-side, Tuesday arrived with a considerable rainfall that brought the water level up a good 10 inches. Our tactics were rather simple: anglers used large, colorful flies on floating lines with intermediate tips. These rigs were fished at a good speed, and success became a matter of covering enough water to find a willing fish, in the hopes that he might fall victim to our deceit. Anglers had plenty of opportunities, and succeeded in their attempts repeatedly, landing both overwintered and fresh, fall-runners between 4 and 20 lbs.

One of the prominent features of this week was the 2019 Ryabaga Open Poker Tournament. With over 20 players seated at the tables, the tournament developed in three stages. After the first round, 8 players moved to the second stage. After some epic hands, Matthew Solon and Edward D. moved on to the super final, and the other 6 players shared third place. In the end, Matthew’s game prevailed, and he became the champion of the 2019 Ryabaga Open Poker Tournament. I guess the luck of the Irish should never be taken lightly.

It was once again a fantastic week for all of us, and we have nothing but gratitude for Ilya and his family, and for all of our guests. It is truly a privilege to be part of such a special tradition.  

Tight Lines,

Agustin C. Lo Greco

Ryabaga Camp Manager

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