Rynda Fishing Reports 2007
Rynda diaries for the week ending Friday 14-September-07
Saturday saw the arrival of a large and diverse Celtic contingent as well as a few English in the rear! With an impressive display of Scottish ‘battle dress’ – these guys meant business, raring to go and eager for a taste of the three rivers experience. This week clan Rynda headed east joining her ‘Big brother’ under the cavernous yet cozily appointed Kharlovka lodge where guests were given a great silver opportunity to fish all three rivers.
For all you Rynda Aficionados, you’ll be glad to hear that Rynda deserves – as Justin put it succinctly- ‘a little more than half the credit’ – and quite rightly so! Rynda really showed off her true autumn colours. Take Alex and Ken for instance. On Wednesday ‘fishing from ‘the fan’ down to five pools – their combined effort resulted in both of them experiencing a red letter bonanza! Upon returning, their all too familiar ear to ear grins suggested that they’d had a great day, but not quite as unbelievable as the 11 fish that they’d battled with before lunch time! Quite an unforgettable day for both of them, that will no doubt be talked about for the rest of their lives!
Downstream the following day, while eating lunch, Paul noticed a particularly large fish moving near the tail of a surprise pocket. Sneaking from his lunch rock, Paul nonchalantly excused himself without attracting too much attention from his Guide and son Connor who appeared to be in deep conversation over either the pro’s and cons of all of the fishing gizmos and gadgets that ooze from Connor’s overflowing fishing bag or perhaps it was just about his father claiming commission from his poker winnings of the previous evening – who knows! Nonetheless, while this was all going on, Paul managed to slip away with Connor’s rod and proceeded to stalk this newly arrived behemoth. One cast is all it took and all heads turned downstream wondering how on earth Paul had suddenly transformed from eating his bowl of soup to being connected to a huge autumn salmon now hell bent on causing a ‘reel meltdown’! After several cart-wheeling jumps the line suddenly snapped back at Paul followed by several richly descriptive expletives with an Irish lilt! Sadly there appeared to have been a wind knot in the leader, or so the story goes but Connor will beg to differ as it was his rod! Another great memory nonetheless. In time, many fish will be hooked and landed, most are forgotten, but the ones that were lost will remain in our minds forever.
Overall, Rynda did exceptionally well against her big brother rivers and certainly contributed more than her fair share of silver to the booty! This past week was certainly a fitting end to a phenomenal season where silver dreams are made and many hearts are broken. Now it is time to move on and lay the rivers to rest, that is until the ice breaks in the spring and the quest for silver begins once again.
Short crisp days, cold nights and frosted walkways, the migratory wildfowl have headed to their winter feeding grounds. The myriad of warm yellows and rich oranges are soon to be replaced by the monotonous winter wonderland. The camp is buzzing with animated excitement as the staff think of their families and the prospect of going home. It has been another impressive season up here in the Russian Arctic, with an abounding collection of richly diverse and exciting stories complimented by fond memories of the contrasting stark yet richly beautiful surroundings in which they were set. All this was made possible by the special people who live and work here each year. Our wonderful Russian staff give only their best and it is both an honour and a privilege to be part of such a great team who should all be very proud of what they have achieved out here in the Atlantic Salmon Reserve. Last but not least, we must thank our great general ‘Peter – who’s unrelenting strength, unparalleled determination and incredible foresight make each year out here a reality. For this we are truly grateful and we thank him.
See you all next season!
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 07-September-2007
Beyond the great boulder in the well renowned and bounteous Norway pool – which still has the record for the largest silver fish caught throughout the ASR – the fly came to an abrupt halt. Seconds trickled by and Andrey’s excitement slowly abated as he realised that he was hooked solidly to terra-firma. Fortunately for Andrey and much to his surprise, the line slowly began to slacken as the big fish moved upstream. It was now apparent that Andrea was in for a serious tussle as this fish had not even registered that there was anything remotely worth worrying about. As a top guide and experienced fly-fisher – Andrey slowly backed up coaxing the fish to move. It was only then that this huge fish realised its predicament and livened up. After half an hour and several blistering runs downstream, the great fish was finally landed in the rapids above Peter’s pocket – a magnificent cock fish of 30 pounds and 8 oz. Andrey commented that what was most notable about this fish apart from its great size – was its physiology. It had a particularly large head with a noticeably small tale but most importantly – a colossal midsection more akin to a fish of considerably greater in length. Not long after the successful release of this great fish, Andrey wasted little time and somehow managed to repeat the whole episode all over again – landing another great fish just under 20 pounds! A formidable way to begin one’s week!
As you all know, Peter kindly donated this week to the Murmansk fly-fishing club which is run by Genna – whom many of you have had the great pleasure of fishing with whilst at Rynda.
The Murmansk Fly-fishing club – through Peter’s benefaction and its introduction into the Atlantic Salmon Reserve’s program – has increased in both prestige and popularity and as a result, has rapidly increased to over 150 members. Genna – an ardent salmon conservationist, Rynda guide and the chairman of the club, advocates that fly-fishing is only just ‘catching on’ in Russia, and that such opportunities rarely present themselves elsewhere. Furthermore, Genna asserts that people don’t realise that it isn’t just about the catching but more about sharing the experience among like-minded individuals in beautiful and pristine surroundings. For many it was just that. A complete ‘eye-opener’ to what it should be like – a pristine litter free environment where people leave only their footprints behind. Several of the club members remarked on not finding any signs of people having previously fished here before and now understand Peter’s zero tolerance approach to litter and how important this is to the foundation of the ASR. As custodian of the ASR, it is this legacy that Peter aspires will have far reaching consequences throughout the region and beyond.
As pure an ancient as the Tundra in which these magnificent rivers drain, the long awaited arrival of the mighty Osenka is now behind us. Like newly cast bars of solid silver, small shoals of these magnificent fish were scene charging their way through the lower river reaches of the Rynda throughout the week. The mood in camp fervent, with tales of who’d seen what and where and of fish hooked and lost. Although the elusive Osenka had been seen, nobody had yet managed to entice one up to the fly. At night, innovative new flies left the tying bench, the pro’s and con’s of various tactics were discussed and each new day discussed with eager anticipation. Whilst out on the river, all manner of things were tried – from lightly fished doubles near the surface to heavy tungsten cone heads ‘dredged’ through the depths. That was until mid week when Andrea – using one of his autumn specials ‘hot from the tying bench- hooked what we’d all been waiting for, a large gift of silver fresh from the Barent’s Sea. After a wrenching 15 minute tussle – having had quite enough of it’s newly acquainted fluvial environs – the silvery clad autumn giant turned and fled, rendering Andrey both mute and flyless! Andrei exclaimed that:’ the fish was simply unstoppable and there was no way I could keep up with it!’ But it doesn’t end there! Having enjoyed the best part of the fight, Andrei simply headed back up to Ten-islands, tied on another ‘Kola special’ and promptly landed a beautiful sea-liced 9 pound Osenka as though nothing had ever happened!
Friday saw rods awaken to a gloom of angry skies and gale force winds. Thermal underwear, extra fleeces and woolly hats were the order of the day. Mother Nature’s ‘little’ gesture of what in can be like whilst fishing in the far north is by no means a reflection of the pleasant days of autumn which we have enjoyed thus far. Despite this last bout of the arctic elements in ‘foul play’, nearly everyone saw some action before the last light slipped away from the western horizon, heralding the end to another great week for the Murmansk fly-fishers club but hopefully the beginning of a new era of Russian fly-fishing culture.
To crown it all off, everyone was invited to Peter’s for refreshments before dinner, whereupon Genna kindly awarded Peter an honorary membership to the club with a beautifully inscribed plaque. In a poignant speech, Genna thanked Peter for the great strides he has made through his unrelenting dedication and commitment to the long term conservation of Atlantic Salmon, and his unyielding support and philanthropy towards the club. Peter remarked that he is honoured to be a patron to the club and hopes that the club will encourage more people to take up the graceful art of fly-fishing, and thereby become more aware of the ongoing saga which is the lifecycle of this remarkable fish. By gaining the support of the regions wider community, The Murmansk Flyfishers Club ultimately aims to ensure that this wonderful natural asset thrives for future Russian generations to come. A fitting end to a great week!
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 31-August-07
We angle, sometime, not to catch fish; but because we find them in such beautiful places
And because we can’t resist the gentle tug
That is the nature of fly fishing -S.J Meyers
It is autumn a time for much thought and reflection. A time when we fish with feelings mixed with joy and sadness – soon it will be winter – but equally it is a beautiful time of reds and browns and vivid yellows. We fish, we think and we are caught in a paradox: fish jump, we focus, we cast, we change flies and covering lies and in doing so, become oblivious of all that surrounds us, and other times we are struck by our realisations……a microcosm in a seemingly infinite space contemplating the scope of life and the universe itself.
Northern lights, the first frosts, vivid colours and the rhythm of nature blend each day seamlessly into the next as another blissful arctic summer up here in the ASR draws to a close. It is not long before the Tundra will be shrouded beneath an infinitely desolate and harsh wintry landscape belying all that remains below.
This week past week saw a noticeable drop in temperatures with the water reaching a very fishy 11 degrees C. A serious deluge saw a significant rise in the water level which had just the effect we wanted. This week the fishing has been consistently exciting with our German friends passionately recalling tales of giant ‘mammas’ and screaming reels with drags cranked up to the max. Each day, more and more of these giant fish seem to reveal themselves out of ‘no where’. Yes, this is a time of year when some of our giants are landed and for those who are keen on catching a giant, then this is the time of year to do it. As autumn approaches, the water cools and the large male salmon become agitated and behave aggressively towards anything which might venture into ‘their territory’. Such a territory may consist of an entire pool or set of rapids. It must be remembered that a large cock salmon will try and spawn with as many hen salmon as physically possible. They have often been observed covering up to five different hen fish. So a large fish over 30 pounds may command a substantial piece of water. The reason these large cock fish become so aggressive is because of their younger male ‘brethren’ (parr) which – it must be noted – become ‘sexually’ active before reaching full physical maturation. As a threat, precocious parr are not taken lightly and will often be savagely attacked by the dominant male salmon in each pool. Mother Nature has of course taken this into account as this behaviour would inevitably lead to self-extermination and the non-survival of Salmo salar as a species. The truth being, that the large hook-like jaw called a kype is more akin to a shovel than a proper mouth part and as a result, very few ‘if any – parr are killed or even harmed. Nature intended parr to breed and as a result have been observed being more effective at covering redds that the adult male fish themselves. What they lack in volume of milt they make up for in quantity of numbers, thereby increasing the diversity of the progeny from each spawning redd. Well how does this all help us catch or at least hook more fish one may ask? Well any fly which resembles a small parr – be it in shape and size, or the way it is fished – will attract the attention of any large male salmon at this time of year.
Take this week for instance! Each day someone would come into the lodge with a story of how a ‘giant submarine like fish’ savagely attacked the fly! There were even reports of large fish being hooked and lost twice in quick succession! This goes to show just how aggressive male salmon can be! This behaviour usually coincides with the first significant drop in temperature but it is common throughout the most of August. There were those who were just plain lucky and who managed to land several big fish. There was ‘big fish Will’ who never seemed to fail, regaling all with the success of his mighty Red Francis! As Will succinctly put it, ‘all you have to do is tie on a big Red Francis, and the rest is easy!’ Saying this, the black and red francis duo certainly claimed their fair share of the ‘big uns’, but so did a list of the other back-end favourites including the Willie Gunn, Sunray Shadow and a number of Norwegian temple dog-style of flies tied in both red and orange.
This coming week, Peter has kindly invited the Murmansk Fly-fishers club to Rynda, whereupon there will be fly-casting tuition during the day and fly-tying demonstrations in the evening and so it looks like we’re in for a fun filled week. Considering the prevailing conditions last week – persistent rainfall and a sudden drop in water temperature – the river should begin to show its true autumn ‘colours’. Like newly cast sets of silver, the big Osenkas will charge into the system any day now things could get really exciting. Watch this space.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 24-August-07
The Life of Salar (part II)
Back from our ‘big brother’ the mighty Kharlovka, Rynda diaries continues. The arctic nights are rapidly drawing in as yet another glorious season on the Tundra draws to an end. For many of us this is a favourite time of year – blood shot skies, dark nights, blue berries, a myriad of rich autumn hues and last but not least – the arrival of the mighty Osenka.
The Osenka or autumn salmon are the last run of salmon to enter the system before the winter sets in and the rivers freeze over. Osenka have remained at sea throughout the summer months gaining extra weight and fat reserves needed to survive almost a year of fasting before eventually spawning the following autumn. Arriving literally weeks before the onset of winter and the rivers freezing over, they will lie in pockets of 4 degree water found in deeper pools. It is these same pockets of deep water that all other forms of aquatic life are sustained throughout the long cold winter period. Osenka are Salmo salar’s ‘built-in survival mechanism’. They are the backup-system if all else fails and are a great example of one of nature’s many awe inspiring phenomena. If for some reason all other salmon failed to make it back to the rivers, the Osenka would guarantee the survival of the species by remaining in the river for almost a year and then spawning the following season.
The fresh water life of a juvenile salmon is fairly well understood and was covered in part I, but where salmon go while maturing in the sea still remains somewhat a mystery. It is thought that salmon from both sides of the Atlantic feed off the southern coast of green land to in and around the Faroe Islands. It is thought that salmon from our northern rivers may not need to venture any further than the Barents Sea, however very little is known of their true migratory routes after leaving fresh water. Salmon may spend up to four years out at sea before returning to their natal rivers to spawn. A salmon returning having only spent a year at sea is know as a grilse and normally weigh between 3 and 8 pounds. Generally, grilse which enter the rivers in early summer are smaller and those which enter later in the season tend to be larger. A salmon that spends two or more winters at sea is called a multi-sea-winter-salmon, and typically weigh between 8 and 15 pounds, and three-winter salmon and repeat spawners can weigh 20 – 30 pounds or more.
Salmon identify their natal rivers through memory of the river’s characteristics and theory is that every river has a unique chemical composition based on the surrounding geology and mineral deposits. It is through this that salmon are able to navigate their way through often very large rivers systems to find the exact spawning bed in which they were spawned. Upon first entering the river, salmon are in the prime – bright bars of silver, fat and strong. As they spend more time in fresh water and as they do not feed, their weight and appearance gradually diminishes. The muscle and fat reserves are gradually transformed into either ova or milt. The male salmon develop a prominent hook called a kype which is used as a weapon against other male salmon and precocious male parr which are able to fertilize the eggs of mature female salmon. It is for this reason that large male salmon become more and more aggressive as the spawning season approaches. Fortunately for anglers – although their minds are no longer on feeding, they will by instinct occasionally take flies. Adult salmon do not feed in fresh water but have been observed rising to both terrestrials and hatching ephemerid species. It must be remembered that salmon spend at least 3 years of the life living much as trout do. Therefore the memory of this period is genetically deeply printed and so they will take flies which represent both insects and small fish. It is for this reason that they will take both nymphs and dry flies often intended for other species. It has been noted that the average salmon may ‘swallow food’ but will not gain any nourishment from it. So basically they are feeding purely by instinct and not because they are hungry and this is why flies such as bombers and riffle hitches are extremely effective. In spite of the wide range of flies that work, it is thought that the basic urge to rise derives from a salmon’s insect feeding memory of years spent in the river as a parr.
And so the cycle of Salmo salar is repeated once again and a new generation is spawned. Hopefully in time the rest of the world will begin to realize how fragile the Atlantic salmon as a species really are and perhaps there will be a day when all forms of their persecution will cease to exist, restoring rivers to the former glory of yesteryear. Well enough rambling and more about what you have all been waiting for.
On the piscatorial front, Saturday brought with it a group of fresh young faces with a few Mums and Dads to boot. Lunch on Saturday was quaffed down quicker than I can ever remember, giving a new meaning to the term ‘raring to go’! Among the rods were a few new comers to the graceful art, including sons of Kharlovka manager Volodya and son of our dear Marina who, as many of you know has been a huge help to Peter in recent years. The weather this week was just perfect with the odd bit of sunshine here and there but over-cast and fishy for the most part.
Many great evenings were spent huddled around the fly-tying vice with guide Petya giving nightly demonstrations and expert advice to our budding young fly-tiers – Bryn, James and Hugh who tied all sorts of remarkable and quite rather interesting concoctions. Willie Gunns, Munroe Killers, small bottle tubes and sunray shadows were but a few to mention among many other weird and wonderful inventions including James’s Black Magic’ and Hugh’s ‘Rynda Special’. Both patterns turned out to be hugely successful.
The first few days culminated in many great success stories with several first salmon, including a brace of fresh grilse for both Sasha and Kolya, whom neither have ever salmon fished previously. During one’s fly-fishing career many fish will be landed and quickly pervade one’s memory. However catching one’s first salmon is a day which is never forgotten and warrants considerable admiration and proper acknowledgement. Here at Rynda a first salmon is a most revered occasion and this week there was cause for much calibration on most nights and the atmosphere in camp was to say the least – rather extraordinary. Take Alistair for instance, who having unsuccessfully fished several Scottish rivers for a number of years – ended his dry spell and landed his first salmon – a beautiful 10 pound bar of silver! Well done and may it be the first of many!
Big blue skies and not a breath of wind on Tuesday turned out just perfect for Peter’s big surprise! At about midday the MI-2 swooped through each beat taking with it the young rods for their magical mystery tour of the Tundra. A few minutes later everyone was dropped off upon the cavernous ridge overlooking a sparkling golden ribbon in a barren landscape – none other than the Zolotaya. After a short lesson on geomorphology, history and salmon conservation it was down to Zolotaya camp for barbecued chickens, ice- cream and session on the famous Russian pool. One question remained! Who was going to get the first dibble? Out came a hat full of folded pieces of paper and it was young James who drew first. After thoroughly fishing the neck with a mini-black Francis, James opted to try the ‘little green machine’ – a great dry fly for this time of year. A perfect drag-free drift past the sunken boulder resulted in a vicious take and a solid hook up! The fish raced of downstream and suddenly the reel came to a halt as James discovered an ominous knot buried deep inside the reel. After a short sprint down stream and judicious rod handling, James landed his first salmon on dry fly – a great moment! While all this was happening, young Kolya’s stealthy approach paid off, adding another feisty grilse to an already impressive record of salmon caught in his first ever week’s salmon fishing.
Before the MI-2 settled down near waiting James and father Alistair, it became plainly obvious what had happened. The beaming grin and the glassy eyed expression said it all. ‘How big I asked?’ ’20 pounds, 45 minutes and on my own fly’ was the reply! To top it all off, young Hugh aged 10 also landed a great fish on his first ever ‘home tied’ special! Congratulations to you both! Both flies have been appropriately named and will no doubt be seen in the book in years to come.
This past week shot by like a flash as all good things must come to an end but there is already word of next years plans which we’re all very much looking forward to. Well done to you all and keep up the casting practice!
See you all next year!
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 10 August -2007
The Life of Salar (part I)
‘There is a lesser and greater reward in the catching of salmon;
one relates to the mastery of skill,
but the greater lies in cherishing the fish
And knowing humility in the face of its saga’
It is a notable thing how we fisherman will travel the length and breadth of the earth in search of the ultimate utopian Salmo salar experience and how richly we human beings through the centuries have marveled over this magnificent fish. Saying this, it is equally remarkable how few of us actually understand the intricate and richly diverse life cycle of the Salmo salar L – the Atlantic salmon in which we relentlessly pursue. Understanding its life cycle is not only interesting but important when considering their unpredictable and often elusive behaviour and that at the end of any given day on the river – this knowledge or lack thereof – may ultimately lead to one’s success or failure.
In the spring, when the water temperature begins to rise and the ice melts, the tiny salmon begin to hatch from the eggs which spawned by the adults in the autumn. At this early stage, salmon are known as alvins, gaining nourishment from the yolk-sac they remain immobile until they are able to wriggle free from the gravel whereupon they become fry. At this stage, the yolk-sac has been absorbed and the fry begin to feed on microscopic nutrients in the water. From egg to adult, salmon are given various names according to the different stages of their development. After they exceed an inch they become fingerlings and then at a length of about 2-3 inches they become parr. Salmon parr are recognizable by a dark back, lighter underbelly and distinct vertical parr markings along its sides – from whence its name is derived. Parr closely resemble small trout at this stage and are very similar to the North-American Brook trout. Parr exist in a perpetual state of danger and approximately 1 out of 1000 will return as adult salmon to repeat the cycle.
Parr exhibit much the same feeding habits as most juvenile salmonids (trout species), preying on small aquatic larvae, nymphs, insects and smaller fry. Their numbers are depleted by brown trout, herons, diving birds and mink. The length of time which parr spend in the fluvial environment is determined by several environmental factors. In nutrient rich rivers of southern latitudes, on average, parr will only spend 2 to 3 years in freshwater before heading out to sea. Out here on the Kola peninsula, parr spend an average of 5-6 years in fresh water. When one considers the short summers and limited feeding period, extreme winters and the nutrient impoverished rivers, it is no surprise that the process of parr maturation in these northern latitudes – on average – takes a few years longer. Surveys conducted on several British rivers have shown that salmon parr are subordinate to brown trout parr of the same age class. Therefore the life of a salmon parr is a precarious one.
Upon reaching a certain size, salmon parr move to the riffle areas where the faster broken water affords them good cover from predators both above and below. Physiologically, salmon parr have undergone certain adaptations which favour a faster flowing – more turbulent fluvial environment, typical of the faster runs and riffle areas. Brown trout on the other hand, prefer slower – deeper water with increasing age and tend to take advantage of areas with larger boulders which are typical of deeper more prominent pools. As a result, parr are generally found in shallower faster flowing water where they are less likely to be preyed upon by piscavorous species such as the brown trout and pike. The niche which salmon par have established, is the result of thousands of years of fine tuning through evolution. In an effort to ‘improve’ a particular fishery by increasing the holding capacity of certain parts of the river, the efforts of fishery managers have often had a deleterious effect upon salmon populations. In hindsight, having fished any of the northern rivers, one may remark on the prevalence of faster flowing rapids and shallow riffle areas which one must pass between the ‘fishable’ pools’ and pockets. These shallow riffle habitats – often unappealing to the fly-fisherman – are of vital importance to the long term survival of any healthy salmon river. It is in such areas that adult salmon gather in the autumn to spawn. Furthermore, such areas are intrinsically vital to the well being of any river system, providing juvenile salmon and trout with shelter and feeding areas away from larger predators. It is vital therefore, that this environment remains in tact – the way nature always intended it.
Before migrating out into the ocean, parr undergo a unique physiological change. This change is preempted by a change in hormones which produces a deposit of silvery guanine in the skin. This change will enable the juvenile salmon to adapt from its fresh water nursery habitat in the river to its new marine environment where it will grow into an adult salmon. Parr undergo ‘smoltification’ simultaneously and will migrate downstream to the estuary ‘en masse’, sometimes forming shoals several thousand strong. Shoaling is an important survival/ defence mechanism against predators. Firstly, a large shoal of silver smolts appears quite daunting to any predator and may even confuse them into thinking that the shoal is a single fish. It is far easier for a predator to pick off singles than it is to successfully choose a victim from a large shoal. Secondly and more importantly, by flooding the ‘market’, predators will gorge themselves quickly, leaving the remaining smolts unmolested on their way out to the ocean. If the smolts went out to sea in small groups over longer periods, then losses would be excessive and even detrimental to the survival of Salmo salar as a species. Once in the ocean life is even more perilous, with many more predators to deal with – both above and below. When one considers the trials and tribulations which a salmon must endure in both river and sea, it soon becomes obvious that the life of Salmo salar is an example of ‘mother nature’s’ great phenomenon’s. Next week we’ll discuss the return of Salmo salar to its fluvial environment and how feeding habits may provide some insight towards their ‘fly taking behaviour’.
As far as the weather is concerned, salmon fisherman are for the most part – a discontented bunch. When the fish are not ‘on the take’ we have 101 excuses as to why they weren’t interested. Barometric pressure, ambient air vs. water temperature, too much sun, water too high, water too low, water too coloured – the list is never ending. As most of you know by now, this season we have experienced a myriad of various weather conditions – which is not untypical for northern latitudes. We haven’t really had much of a summer, well until this past week when summer just arrived like a gift from the Sahara!
The tundra resplendent under blue skies and bright sunshine saw many reddened faces returning from the river each day. The temperatures soared threatening to break the thirty degree mark. Nevertheless, the Rynda didn’t let us down! The higher than normal water levels combined with the abnormally low water temperatures for this time of year seemed to save us and the fishing was great. Zolotaya once again kept up its momentum, with the MI-2 never failing to bring back smiling faces and lots of silver stories to the breakfast table. With the water temperature spelling surface action, once again bombers, riffle hitches and muddlers reigned supreme. Saying this, small 10′s and 12′s did equally as well, and those who worked away amongst the depths were equally rewarded too.
For Vaughn, the action seemed unrelenting and as he battled away up at Five-pools breaking his personal best several times with three great fish between 22 and 26 pounds. Up at Reindeer crossing, Martin added another legendary tale to the long list of Rynda’s leviathans hooked and lost. Fortunately Martin’s fish jumped several times before tearing off downstream into the rapids and so at least fisherman and fish came eye to eye and so all was not lost and a great memory remains. Down at Roy’s bath, Kate did well on a skated muddler – landing a beautiful 15 pounder and raising several others before the radio crackled into life. ‘Yura come queek, big feesh – 600 yards – 1 hour – get camera!!’ And so we set off downstream at a frightening pace to see what all the fuss was about. At approximately midday, Alfie hooked into fish which wasted no time cavorting about the pool and literally turned and fled downstream. Having no time to get their gear, Alfie and Genna were forced to cross over to the left bank to keep up with this fish. An hour later, Alfie not wanting to bring any ‘bad luck’ to an already precarious event, decided to summon Kate and company to collect camera gear and get the paparazzi rolling! Forty-five minutes later, Alfie’s quest for a 20 pounder came to an emotional halt as the scales tipped 30 lb 7 oz!
Thursday, was the day of the bomber and nearly everyone had some crazy surface action. Up at 3rd water fall, Alex’s green bomber produced a feisty 15 pounder which ran the gauntlet, but was fortunately for Alex came to hand not long after. An hour later, in the tail of the canyon pool, Alex’s bomber was engulfed by a serious fish which literally went ballistic ‘cart-wheeling this way and that, threatening to beach itself on the far bank! Unfortunately you can’t ‘win them all and the magnificent fish parted company leaving Alex and yours truly trembling with another tale to tell. Despite conditions being rather warm, sunny and generally quite ‘unfishy’- everyone did exceptionally well landing 19 for the day! Up at Reindeer on Friday – Kate hooked what she thought was a ‘jolly good trout’! Well this jolly good trout’ just wouldn’t come in and it soon dawned on both Kate and Kola M that this wasn’t a ‘jolly good trout’ at all! After a good half an hour tussle, Kate finally subdued her magnificent 29 lb hen fish – a personal best! Well done Kate!
Overall, in what most would describe as weather for golfers and sun seeking beach goers, this week’s rods did well regardless. With warmer temperatures and a steadily dropping river -subtlety, adaptability and ‘open mindedness will pay rich rewards. Most importantly – listen to you guide but don’t be afraid to experiment when things slow down.
Until next week.
PS As I pen these this last note, the last of the fair weather has been eclipsed by dark black clouds and the wind has reached near gale force speeds. As I say, arrive a salmon fisher for all seasons and all will be fine!
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 03-August-07
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- T.S Eliot, Four Quartets
In this rapidly moving techno-centric world of systems – structure and societal norms we move precariously closer to the monotony of the living the life of ‘the Truman show. I think perhaps those of us who like to fly fish in far flung destinations have nomadic or even pastoralistic origins. In the very real world of the sun, moon, heat and cold, we live we fish we think. Perhaps this is the most important reason we fish: to see that blood-shot sky glowing above a land transcended through time- words simply vanish when confronted with the awesome beauty of the natural world. Harry Middleton once said: ‘Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it…’ and funny enough Patrick McManus also said “Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers’ Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary!
Moving on to fur and maybe a bit of fin to end with – keeping the best till last of course! Some of you might have noticed the photograph of a mink posted a few weeks ago and so I thought it seemed fitting to at least give the little critters a mention. Despite what many are led to believe, mink are on the endangered species list! Yes, the indigenous European mink (Mustela lutreola) – a close relative of the otter – is under serious threat of being completely extirpated. Although mink in the UK are persecuted in every possible manner – at whatever cost it takes – the European mink is more in danger of hybridisation with the more dominant American mink which our dear ‘bunny/tree huggers’ so kindly released from the mink farms several decades past. Here at Rynda we have a thriving yet ecologically intrinsic population of the European variety which is noticeably smaller than its exotic American counterpart found in the UK. These small carnivores prey mainly on small rodents, birds and fish. Most of us are of the mind set that these animals are vermin in its purest form! Out on the tundra there happen to be neither pheasant poults nor any prized poultry to boot. Within the ASR, the mink lives in harmony with the rest of the Tundra fauna and it is in keeping with the ASR decree that we keep it that way, adhering to a zero-interference policy so that the ecology of the fauna and flora remain in state of natural equilibrium. Besides, surviving the winters out here is tough enough and there is only a very short ‘window’ when mink are not in a perpetual state of hibernation.
Where to start on the piscatorial front? Well that long awaited for southerly-wind arrived and thankfully reversed a rapidly approaching autumn back into summer! Temperatures shot up into the 20′s with the water following a similar trend. This week was a dry fly fisher’s paradise and anyone fishing bombers, muddlers and the riffle hitch maintained a happy smile. In fact the riffle hitch took top honours with most of fish falling to small skated muddlers, black sheep micro hitches (known to Peter as a ‘little Charlie’. Admittedly, it’s not so much the catching that counts but the fun which one has before actually hooking a salmon. Fishing the dry fly is scorned upon by many but has been rated as one of the finest methods of hooking a salmon period! In my mind one cannot derive more fun from any other method simply for the reason that it is visual. It requires patience, lateral thinking and above all – plain old persistence! I long await the day when someone makes a breakthrough on our British rivers and gives the dry fly a fair chance. It was done in 1947 on the River Dee by Lee Wulf and so there’s no reason why it can’t be done again!
By Wednesday, the water temperature rose back into the teens and the fish began to react aggressively towards anything skated or even fished ‘free-drift’. Free-drift bomber fishing has to be the ultimate form of dry-fly fishing for Atlantic salmon, with takes ranging from the most subtle trout-like sips with barely a swirl to the most violent and exciting porpoising crash attacks which cause trembling knees and a pulsating heart! Personally, I have never witnessed quite so many fish rising freely to bombers, skated muddlers and riffle hitched micro-tubes. This week can surely be described as the week that all dry fly addicts dream of – surface action utopia! Dry fly fishing can sometimes be daunting at first and one generally needs to see it done before gaining sufficient confidence to use this method. Why do salmon take dry flies can be compared to why small boys will rush across the street to kick a can and then rush back again! It must be remembered that salmon spend a large part of the life in fresh water – sometimes more then they do at sea. Therefore the surface feeding instinct is heavily imprinted in their genetic ‘makeup’. And so it shouldn’t come as any surprise, when salmon are seen joining in on a surface feeding frenzy during a heavy mayfly or caddis hatch. It must also be remembered that each salmon has a mind of its own and can be most unpredictable and contradict all that we know about them. And last but not least as a dry fly fisherman you can observe a lot by merely watching. In other words, it helps to sit and watch a pool or stretch of water before beginning to fish.
To round up this week succinctly is tough as we had a great week with many stories to add. However there were a couple of remarkable fish landed this week including two over the magic thirty mark! There was Edward who on Monday – confessed to having landed a new personal best at 10 pounds which he duly broke the following day with the fish of a life time – a sea-liced 30 pounder from the horseshoe. What’s really exciting is that this fish wasn’t only big but rather the fact that it had sea-lice all over it! Typically, these larger fish tend to enter the river earlier on in the season and so perhaps this might be the beginning of a summer run of large multi-sea winter salmon, who knows but time will tell. A 30 pounder! What more can anyone ask for in life? Needless to say what went on in the lodge that night and it wasn’t before mid-afternoon the following day that Edward got his casting ‘back on track’!! On the same pool the next day an even larger fish and another personal best were achieved as Guy landed an awesome 32 pound cock fish. According to Guy, landing this fish turned into a bit of a conundrum! Upon the first netting attempt, the powerful fish charged right through the bag of the net and tore off down stream with the net-frame hinged on the line! Much to Guy’s relief and thanks to Tom’s valiant net holding capabilities – the magnificent fish was landed without any further commotion. Not too far away across a few valleys a huge fish grabbed Freddie’s ‘free-drifted’ bomber on the Zolotaya Peter’s pool. It turned out to be the epitome of a ‘Murphy’s law’ situation. That morning, ‘yours truly’ had recommended a ‘slightly’ lighter single handed rod set-up. It just had to happen and Freddie’s first cast with a bomber was eaten by a monster! In hindsight we joked that at least I’d chosen the right fly! Those of you Zolotaya fans will be glad to hear that the little ‘Golden Stream’ has somehow managed to remain a piscatorial haven all season and only seems to improve as the weeks wear on.
As the water recedes, smaller flies, surface tactics and lateral thinking ‘caps’ become the order of the day. Oh and don’t forget your bug dope as there are still a few ‘sneaky mosquitoes about’
That’s about it for now.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended Friday 27-July-07
Piscator Non Solum Piscator
Saturday, with blue skies and sunlit splendour saw a group of ardent young rods step off the MI 8, biting at the bit and rearing to go. The mood was jubilant as acquaintances reunited ‘some old some new – reminisced of days gone by and the exciting prospects of fishing the Rynda in high water. The atmosphere this week has been next to none and the lodge has more than it’s fair share of stories to tell. By Wednesday, even Butch- the camp hound ‘being used to a rather sedentary pace of life- couldn’t take it any more and decided that braving the mosquitoes up on the hills was a safer prospect! When you have the ubiquitous Roy of the proverbial big fish pool ‘Roy’s Bath’ around- the fun and games just never end! The maxim – piscator non solum piscator – there is more to fishing than just catching fish – has never been closer to the truth!
After a quick briefing over lunch it wasn’t long before the Sasha and his MI-2 whisked everyone out for their first ‘taster’ of the week. Young Archibald had a great opening session landing his first two salmon ever! And then there was Harry who broke his personal best within a few hours of arrival – landing a great 18 pounder on Zolotaya’s Russian pool. Down on Tolstoi – a well known pool and favourite of many – Jonathan landed his best fish so far – a very respectable 24 pounder. A great fish landed on what some would like to think will in time become a well known Rynda fly. Not so long ago, perhaps three weeks past, a box full of flies was proffered before me and I was asked to choose one that I thought might do the trick. It didn’t take me long to notice an unfamiliar tying of unprecedented coloration. Anyway, it looked good and so out it went. We had already fished through home pool several times with various other patterns experiencing mixed success. On the second cast, Antony experienced one of those vicious takes when the reel just screams and the fish invariably hooks itself in the process. That was my introduction to the LG special and three weeks later I meet none other than the two Rynda veterans – namely Jonathan and Duncan who had kindly introduced Antony to this what he donned that evening as the ‘Rush’s Fancy’. Anyway we know have the true name which is the ‘Litton’s Garden Special’. I asked for a photograph for those of you ‘ever -pattern hungry revelers’ but didn’t manage to get one. Perhaps one day when it lands someone a ‘Rynda crocodile’ it might find itself in all the guides boxes on all the northern rivers and maybe then I will be allowed to satisfy your curiosity.
Throughout the week there were several ‘personal best’s’ broken and many happy faces stepping off the MI-2 each evening. This week saw some large fish landed up and down the river, including several in the 20 lb range with a 26 pounder taken in the tail of the canyon pool. According to Roy there was a larger fish also in the tail of the canyon pool which was lost not long after landing his fish. Not far from the canyon, beyond the horse shoe, Duncan hooked into a solid fish which tore upstream towards the neck of the Rebecca’s. This is precisely what one hopes for when hooking a fish in the tail of any pool for that matter. This fish suddenly changed its mind charging downstream cart wheeling violently before entering the rapids and speeding past Sunray! Another huge fish hooked and lost. Duncan was adamant that this was by far the largest fish he’s ever hooked. Large fish, once hooked and then spooked, tend to panic and flee down the closest rapids which renders them uncontrollable and often very difficult to follow when one considers the hugely uneven boulder strewn landscape. Added to which, this year’s high flow regime has seen many silver stories of large fish hooked and lost.
Further downstream near camp, team Graham have an action packed morning taking several great fish including a rather lively 15 pounder which changed the history books. Tom having fished through most of ‘The Race’ decided to have last cast above the falls before heading back for a well earned G&T. Now we all know that Salmon which have swum up or leapt up any falls are usually very reluctant to go back down. Running the falls takes up a huge amount of energy and it goes without saying why a hooked fish under most circumstances chooses not ‘shoot the falls’ so to speak. Well this fish broke all the rules and a ten year record of no hooked fish having ever turned and run over the home waterfall. Tom couldn’t believe it went his fish carried on over the falls unchecked, pausing only momentarily in one of the stepped pockets halfway down and then charged on down to home pool where exhausted fish and fisherman eventually came face to face – a remarkable feat! Tom’s story does not end at home pool and the following day after watching master caster Ed shooting tight loops from bank to bank and landing some good fish too – he still felt in with a chance. After Edward and mother Angela decided to move on to Norway pool, Tom waded out into the middle of the rapids with his new unnamed fly – tied by yours truly- to where he had seen a big moving half an hour earlier. It wasn’t long before a lively 10 pounder was released after a spirited fight in the fast water.
How many fish have been caught on last casts we’ll never know but that last cast upped Tom’s personal best to 22 pounds. With big time Jack’s 14 pound duo, Duncan’s cracking 22 pounder from the race and Angela’s sea-liced beauty below the falls, along with 26 other silver smiles, – a surely fitting end to a most memorable week.
On the technical side of things, all manner of methods were employed this week, with fish being taken on just about everything. Of the larger fish, it seems that quite a few were taken on small bottle and cone-head tubes with the Branson’s Sheep doing particularly well. Fishing the riffles and pockets, the smaller flies and hitched tubes did particularly well in places which are for the most part overlooked. With the river 20 % higher than the average height for this time of year, it is always worth paying attention to the ‘less likely’ areas, such as the pocket water in some of the larger rapids. Too many of us tend to overlook the pocket water, favouring the classic lies in the well known pools but when you consider the higher water you’ll realize that fish could be anywhere and everywhere and so leave no ‘stone unturned’! This past week was a classic example with several people capitalizing in riffle areas, with small hitched muddlers doing most of the damage. Oh and don’t forget that extra fleece or the thermals for that matter, as the month of T-shirts, bug dope and sun cream is about to leave us. With the weather behaving like a pendulum – prepare for every eventuality!
Having experienced surely one of the wettest and coldest summers on the Tundra, we predict that the higher flows and cooler water temperatures are bound to augment what has already been a phenomenal season so far. August is a month when several things happen: the bugs go dormant, the blue berries ripen and most importantly the big fish become very aggressive! Watch this space.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended 20-July-07
The Reindeer, seeking sanctuary from the swarms of vicious blood seeking diptera, have moved to the higher ground- a good indication of what we have had to endure while trying to cast delicate loops to far reaching lies. The weather, once again, has changed almost every hour of the day and most of us have never experienced anything quite like it before. On Monday, lulled by a very warm start to the day, some of us made the ‘fatal’ mistake of leaving that extra fleece or wading jacket behind. By midday cavernous grey cumulonimbus clouds loomed above a stark tundran landscape and it wasn’t long before thunder and lightening reverberated through the rock strewn valleys and for a moment I found myself back in Africa and the onset of the monsoon rains.
This week – like many others – was one of constant changes with the weather conditions swinging this way and that in any given hour of the day. There were some who welcomed the cooler northerlies as it offered a refreshing break from the unrelenting distraction of mosquito mania. Interims of calmer conditions seemed to bring the fish into a ‘taking mood’ and there were several occasions when ‘hot’ action was experienced up and down the river.
The clear, warm and bright start to Monday was a classic example – after lunch the storm clouds came rolling in and the warm weather came to a sudden halt. There never is a text book explanation describing conditions conducive to salmon ‘coming on the take’. There are certainly several theories on water temperature versus air temperature, the rising and falling barometer syndrome and several other plausible conceptions to boot. What happened on Monday was rather the complete opposite to what may be expected when the air temperature is much cooler than the water temperature. The sudden deluge on Monday afternoon had an unquestionable affect on the fishing front. Up at 3rd waterfall, what initially appeared to be a quiet and unproductive pool, suddenly ‘woke up’ and in no time fish appeared head and tailing throughout the pool. John’s Bomber was suddenly the centre of attraction and several fish rose to the fly. A quick change to a large sunray and John was in business and after a spirited attempt to leave the falls – a fresh 14 pounder was duly landed. Only moments later, Guy – well known in these parts- hooked something a little more on the lively side. Just when we thought it was ready for the net, the fish made a sudden dash and very unexpectedly departed downstream. The monotonous roar of the falls was pierced by a screaming reel losing line to a fish which showed no signs of slowing down. We all realized Guy’s predicament and so we set forth downstream at a knee trembling pace. After much ‘boulder bashing’, line lifting, shouting and a right ‘old carry on’, a fat 20 pounder was netted mid-stream not far from the fan pool. Well done team!
Unfortunately, there were others less fortunate and throughout the week a remarkable number of big fish were hooked, battled and lost. There was Mark in the neck of twin-slabs who hooked a serious fish only a rods length away. All that remains is the memory of its large spade-like tail breaking the surface as it took the small hitched tube in a spectacular rolling fashion. There were also giants lost in the tail of Norway and 10-Islands, including Chris’s fish which ran the gauntlet between Croy and Sea-pool!
Down at Power pool, Hugo hooked into what may have been a personal best, but alas this time it was not to be. After milling around the tail of the pool ‘for no apparent reason – the large fish turned and charged downstream with ‘reckless abandon’ and it was barely seconds before the knot in the backing appeared and Hugo was forced to stand his ground. For a heart-stopping moment the fish stopped and there was hope, but 250 yards downstream the leader parted and fortunately all the line was recovered by a speechless and slightly shaken Hugo. After staggering to the bank, the next several minutes were spent in silent reflection, wondering just how big that fish really might have been. We always maintain that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all! It is times like these that go on to stay with us for ever.
However, there are usually compensations in some form or other, and in this case it was thanks to a ‘killer’ fly tied by guide Sasha which the fish simply could not resist! Fortunately a quick photograph of ‘Sasha’s Secret’ was captured for the benefit of those of you in weeks to come. What is noteworthy of these flies is that they are tied small and sparsely dressed. Tied on a number 9 Partridge Salar hook, there are two versions: a darker red butt version for overcast conditions and a pale yellow and gold green butt version for brighter days. I must point out that these flies accounted for a considerable number of fish- both caught and lost, resulting in what Hugo described as his best week ever!
For the most part, small flies were most definitely the order of the week regardless of the volatile weather conditions, although a few noteworthy fish were taken in deeper pools with heavier tube flies of various weight and descriptions. So come prepared and bring a bit of everything.
All things considered, last week’s rods did remarkably well with a very respectable 164 fish. Well done to you all and we look forward to seeing you all back next year.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended 13-July-07
This season’s weather must surely go down in the books as a record for being more erratic than the wind direction that brings it. We have found very few – if any – of the weather reports to be of any real indication of what really might happen. In this part of the world we are entirely at the mercy of mother nature, which at times can be rather disconcerting, especially when one considers our daily reliance on the ever dependable MI2 and MI8. With the barometer rising and falling like a yo-yo, the mixing of warm and cool air produces hostile flying conditions. Waking up amidst a sea of fog has for the most part become common-place. One learns to be quietly amused when asked to forecast weather in the Arctic. In any given day you could wake up to a cold- gloomy start, togging up with thermals, wooly hats and gloves and at the end of the day it might be in the mid ‘twenties! Well that hasn’t really happened this week and the woolies stayed on until this morning, when at last, we were granted some relief from what can only be best described as a constant ‘metamorphosis’ of weather conditions. This week, we were either cold and misty, or cold and very misty or cold and in the clouds so to speak. Well I suppose the scene is quite obvious by now, which quite frankly hasn’t changed much since the ice broke in May – besides our very short summer three weeks ago – which lasted a mere 48 hours! On a more positive note, what is good about these prevailing conditions is that it means the river will benefit from the cooler than average temperatures and higher flows, receiving less exposure and hopefully no algae blooms in August when the river’s flow regime is usually at its lowest.
This past week ‘things’ got off to a rather late start as the inevitable happened and we were delayed by a full day. Our party of rods this week are by no means new to this part of the world, with the likes of Laurence and Elizabeth Banks – among others – who have been coming to the Kharlovka and Rynda rivers for over 15 years. And so despite the unexpected delays, there was little time wasted in getting the feel of things as one does on a new river. Monday was a good day with many fish being caught throughout the Rynda, from 10 Islands all the way to Swan Lake. Jim Farley had a particularly good day with 3 great fish including his personal best of 34 lbs from the fan pool ‘well done Jim. Tuesday saw camp shrouded in thick mist and despite limitations a very respectable 29 fish were taken from the lower beats. Of these, was Don’s impressive twenty-eight pounder from Tolstoi, taken on none other than the Ally’s Shrimp. Regardless of the geographical disposition, the Ally’s Shrimp – a relatively recent invention – seems synonymous with the pursuit of all things Salar.
Although flying is always weather permitting, fishing after dinner is rarely passed up ‘regardless of conditions. If one were to look downstream it was not uncommon to see two figures looming over rock island. This became the favourite haunt of a pair who did well, rarely returning without a tale to tell. If I recall correctly, on one particular wet and misty evening these two managed a respectable eight fish before midnight! The humble green butt taking it’s toll once again.
By midweek, the wind changed and we awoke to a very welcome southerly breeze. You give some and you lose some. Yes, there is always a trade-off of some sort. Here in the Arctic Tundra things tend to literally spring to life. Wednesday was no exception with chironimids and their larger blood sucking cousins – the notorious tundra mosquito keeping most of the camp staff indoors. Butch – Rynda’s ever vigilant bear warning system- appeared most unimpressed and was last seen on the hill overlooking camp where a good breeze would have afforded the poor pooch some respite from the droves of blood loving critters.
The river soon burst into life as wave upon wave of several ephemerid species rose from the water edge to begin the cycle all over again. Caddis and mayfly of every size and description brought on an impressive feeding frenzy of Salmo salar’s smaller cousin – the humble brown trout. Several larger specimens were observed head and tailing above the race. While mosquitoes caused havoc around camp, far upstream the Swan lake saga continued. Laurence – no stranger to hooking large fish – found himself attached to what may have been the mystery swan lake monster. Laurence described this fish as having behaved in a similar fashion to the way most big fish do when initially hooked. It then proceeded up and down the pool for a short while before surging off upstream, wrapping the leader around a large boulder near the opposite bank. It is rather interesting that Laurence’s fish happens to be the 3rd time this has happened at Swan Lake over a relatively short space of time. Indeed over the course of last week, there were several noteworthy fish lost in upper parts of the river, not forgetting Don’s large fish lost in the Zolotaya’s ‘now legendary – Jeremy’s pool, and Peter’s DB’s fish of a life time which came off after a good half an hour tussle around Ten Islands.
Friday ended on a warm note and in many ways epitomized what one would hope to be as ‘typical’ July weather ‘if there is such a word in these parts- with the tundra transforming from a grey craggy and seemingly harsh landscape into a lush velvety carpet of green and olive hues – the Tundra at its best. All things considered, a late start with several early-week interruptions, the fishing on the whole has been good, and with a bit of luck and a turn in weather, things are looking great for the weeks ahead.
As always – arrive a’ salmon fisher for all seasons.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended 6-Jul-07
Last week the Rynda guests, “working through the night”, managed to produce 200 salmon & grilse putting us 11% up on last year with a 34 pounder from Dominic. Quite remarkable when you consider water temperatures dropped all throughout the week ending at 10 °C
Long sunlit nights, small flies, floating lines are but a few of the things that one conjures up when thinking of Rynda and July. The fact that summer came and went all in the space of less than a week is now no longer a camp joke. A warm and pleasant start to the week was rapidly eclipsed by great cloud banks, icy winds and rain. A little reminder of how far north we really are. Bug dope, mosquito nets and dry fly spray were rapidly swapped for wooly hats and thermal underwear.
There were big smiles all around as a group of true Rynda veterans stepped off the MI-8 on Saturday afternoon. Vodka, laughter and serious fishing and you have the Strauss party. Before everyone began tinkering with all their kit and caboodle, everyone was seated in the lodge and a fine bottle of Ireland’s finest malt was presented to the group by Derek. ‘Hold back on this one gentlemen! This isn’t just any whisky but rather a gesture of honour, which will provide many a toast to our dear friend Ollie, who sadly could not make it this year. However although he may not be here in person, his spirit is here with us. For all those who know him, he wanted you to have this so that we may toast to him and reflect on great days gone by’ Ollie, you were sorely missed by your group, the guides and all the staff and we hope that in time, we at Rynda might share the pleasure of your company once again.
Rynda veterans of almost a decade, it wasn’t long before the ‘green butt brigade’ was togged up and well into their first session of the week. Despite a late start, everyone enjoyed a great first evening with several good fish to-boot. Cold, wet and windy was not enough to put anyone off and Sunday saw big smiles and silver stories all around. Everyone had a piece of the action, with Home Pool continuing to do well. In the evenings, those who wanted to polish their casting prose had the pleasure of watching-’the casting viceroy’ Julian – weave his wand on home pool. Stuart, a newcomer to the throng of Strauss’s, among others, put this into good practice and duly landed a 14 pounder as Peter, adorned in his evening wear, became caught up in all the excitement and was very nearly seen netting a salmon in his dressing gown and slippers. This was not the last of Stuart’s tales to tell. The very next morning, on the first cast, Stuart hooked a descent fish but for some reason decided a swim was in order and went in with the fish down red creek. Not long after netting a beautiful 14 pounder, Stuart was whisked back to camp by Sasha in the MI-2 for a quick change of waders and back on the river in no time at all. Then there was Dad’s Army on lower home pool with a somewhat ‘maritime’ approach to things, but nonetheless having a merry time all the same.
Despite the abnormally cool conditions, small flies and floating lines have still been the order of the day, with several fish taken on hitched tubes and free-drift bombers. Flies of the week were the green highlander, black-bear green-butt, Willie Gunn, Editor and of course the ubiquitous Sunray Shadow (have this fly in all sizes!) With warmer weather on mind, don’t forget your hitching tubes, bombers and small flies
With fish now beginning to move through the falls, some found lively sport as far upstream as Swan Lake, with Dimitri having great sport on a highlander variant. Not forgetting Katia, who landed her first salmon on a red Francis in the tail of the falls. Down at Rock Island, Dominique’s Sunray disappeared amidst a very large boil made by a very large fish. This fish tore around the pool trying just about everything to leave the pool. If this had happened there would have been little hope of landing that fish. A combination of good guiding and expert handling saw Dominque land a magnificent fish of 32 pounds. A great achievement and the fish of a lifetime, congratulations! Overall, the week went exceptionally well with just under 200 fish for the week. With high flows and lower than normal temperatures, we expect great things for the rest of the season.
The Rynda Diary for the week ended 29-Jun-07
After a long, cold spring, battling it out with heavy sunk lines and large flies, summer has arrived in full force. There is certainly nothing subtle about the Tundra and everything seems to happen fast and in large doses. This week, saw 12 rods step off the MI 8 to cold grey skies and howling winds, the Tundra still caught up in the throes of awakening from a long and extremely cold winter. The general consensus was that there was only room for improvement. How wrong we were! Sunday brought with it- torrential downpours last late into the night, with the river rising over 26 cm. Despite a late spring and higher flows than is expected at this time of year, good runs have entered the river daily.
Charles, having arrived early from Kharlovka, started the week off well with 2 great fish from home pool – literally minutes after his arrival – including a sea-liced 25 pounder. On Sunday the rods were put through their paces as icy northerly winds together with a deluge best described as torrential. Interestingly, no one in camp can remember experiencing rain like that ever before. It literally poured down for several hours on end and most of us where sure that the river would rise beyond a fishable height. Albeit Monday saw a rise of only 26 cm, but thankfully there was little change in color. After several days of wind, the weather improved and with it, so did the fishing! There was a fair amount of hollering at Ten Islands as Charles lost three good fish in quick succession, but his patience was soon rewarded with a solid hook-up and a powerful fish which surged away upstream! With Gena’s expert advice and assistance, Charles was finally rewarded with a magnificent 36 lb beauty, which is his personal best! With conditions improving as the day wore on, action seemed to abound throughout the river and while at home pool, Michael and Ramonda battled one fish after the other – up river, Anthony – a Rynda veteran- the tables turned the other way as Anthony was literally towed downstream after what might be described as a serious fish. Despite having run 400 yards with 200 meters of backing between him and the fish running seaward, the line went dead and the fish parted company. At the end of the day Peter’s reply to this was: ‘not to worry Anthony, I’ll have it on my Sunray Shadow sooner or later!’
The Zolotaya has continued to fish well with many a bonanza throughout the week. However before I mention the large number of reindeer seen from camp and our new ‘pet’ lemming, I do believe Swan Lake has a story to tell. Tuesday morning found Peter, Kola and myself, cooped up in the ‘command bunker’ strategizing as all good generals do, until Peter suddenly put his hand up and said: ‘you know what the problem is, don’t you?’. Kola and I both looked at each other frowning and before either of us could reply, Peter said: ‘now look here chaps, its plainly obvious!’ There was much unnerving shifting and head scratching going on when the uneasy air of silence was ended with: ‘I need to go fishing! No has tried for big fish at Swan Lake. Now go and get your waders on and have Sasha ready to fly in 15 minutes, bring your rods along and we’ll have a little adventure!’ After four casts Peter’s L’erdal Sunray came to a sudden halt putting a solid bend in the rod. After he was sure the fish was well hooked, Peter decided to assess the situation, whereupon he gave the fish a bit of a tug. Up until this point the fish had behaved as all big fish do, cruising about the pool on its own accord, that is, until more pressure was applied. It was only now that both Peter realized that he was having more fun than just a quick break from the ‘office’, as a 35 lb + silver monster erupted from the depths, jumping several times. After a great tussle, the fish was brought under control and worked into the shallows where Sasha was getting ready with the net, the fly shot skyward and alas the weight of the Swan lake monster remains a mystery. Well I’m not sure there are many of us that can admit to having ‘popped out the office’ and lost a great salmon.
As the Russians say: ‘Summer will just arrive’ and so it did! The temperature on Wednesday shot up into the 20′s and with this, the Tundra came to life. Within a space of 12 hours, the birch trees were in full leaf and flowers of all descriptions appeared among river bank and hillside. With this, the fishing just got better as the week progressed with so many silver stories to tell I don’t know where to begin. Well, come to think of it, there was Scott – a salmon virgin, who, having found a lost fly lying on the rocks- attached this to his line and managed no less than 4 fine fish up to 24 pounds! What a way to begin one’s salmon fishing career! And the there was Home pool on Thursday, produced smiles all around, setting a record with no less than 20 solid silver beauties – including 2 in the mid 20′s. The water temperature is up and as I write, Bomber Jim is working his deadly ‘green machine’ below the falls.
On the technical side of things, hitched tubes, sunrays, undertakers and small cone heads seem to be working wonders, not to forgetting the sna’lda, francis and famous willie gunn. With summer well on its way, remember to bring some smaller flies including black bear green butt’s, stoats tails and hairy mary’s. Tube sizes – - 1′ in plastic, aluminum and brass, and fly sizes 8-12 will cover most conditions. Those of you familiar with our rivers know that at any time of the year one should come prepared for all conditions, as it is well known that the weather up here can be quite irregular at the best of times.
With sun-burnt faces, big smiles and many silver stories to boot, we end this week on a high note and look forward to what we can only hope are great things to come.