Sunday, 17 June 2018

Fantastic Start

Date: Evening 16 and 17 June

Air Temp: 21C
Water Temp: 11C
Water height: -4cm to -6cm
Number of rods: 14
Number of fish caught: 39
Biggest fish: 28lbs Henry C
No 30lb+: 0
No 20-29lbs: 6
No 8-19lbs: 31
Grilse: 1

Weather:

The team arrived in Murmansk to find balmy warm weather with scarcely no wind at all and full on sunshine. The views from the helicopter were amazing and we flew over some spectacular scenery when landing at the Gremikha Camp on the lower Yokanga to drop off four Russian fishermen. The same weather continued for Sunday, the first full day of fishing. It is hard to imagine that the weather has turned from winter to summer in the blink of an eye.

Team assemly
Manager’s Comments:

The group arrived at the lodge shortly after 2.30pm and there was some eager anticipation of what the week might bring after some incredible quality fish the previous week. Especially the huge fish landed by Ismo U which has officially gone into the book at a still possibly conservative 41lbs. Accurate length and girth measurements were taken but accurate weighing was not possible. The average of all four established salmon formulae comes in higher than the 41lbs now recorded and it is clear from the photograph that this is indeed an enormous salmon.

After a quick late lunch/early dinner, all 14 fishermen headed to the river to see if they could open their account. The majority were already back at the bar by 10pm and the team total for the unguided evening was seven spanking fresh fish all between 12-21lbs. A very nice start to the week.

Sunday dawned and we were greeted by the forecast sunshine and 21C at breakfast time! With the wall to wall sunshine the salmon did not give themselves up easily and everyone had to work hard for them. Stephen C had two, 16lbs and 21lbs from HJome Pool and Lyliok respectively. It was not until the afternoon that his fishing partner Jonathan M caught up landing three on Lyliok in quick succession.

Stephen C with a mint 16lber
The lodge saw two first ever Atlantic salmon for US fishermen Paul and Bill K from Lower Norcamp. Also from the US, Paul I landed his personal best a 19lber and his fishing partner Ken M landed three, 12, 14lbs and 15lbs from Lyliok and Crow’s Nest. There seem to be a good number of fish in this size class by the way.

Elsewhere on the river, Anders continued his run of threes (having landed three on the first evening) and took a further three from Poachers. Fishing partner Marc took one.

Henry C had an evening to remember. A short stroll down to Pump and he landed three fish in the short 50 yard stretch. Each fish was progressively larger with the last two at 22lbs and 28lbs respectively, the final one his largest salmon to date. Quite a finish to the day.

It was hardly the perfect weather day for fishing but the results were very good with nearly 40 for the team in a day and a half. This is traditionally the best week of the season (based on experience back to 1998) and with a normal winter and spring, the timing would appear to be spot on.

Henry Mountain

Week 9-16 June


Date: 9-16 June

Air Temp: -2 > 12 C
Water Temp: 6 > 7 C
Water height: +8 > -1cm
Number of rods: 15 > 11
Number of fish caught: 83
Biggest fish: 34lbs Roger T
No 30lb+: 5
No 20-29lbs: 17
No 8-19lbs: 61
Grilse: 0

Weather:

Fierce north easterly wind with sub zero temps and snow flurries to warm light breeze and strong sunny spells.

Manager’s Comments:

I always really enjoy this week. The tundra comes to life and the first decent runs of big fresh fish tend to arrive.

The 'Yokanga Family'
The week is made up mainly of long term Yokanga regulars, and that was the case again although everyone missed Dean M whose commitments at home precluded him staying on for his second week. This ‘Yokanga Family’ are always incredibly welcoming and encouraging to the new rods (Marcus, Graeme, David and the Icelandic team of Ingvi, Gunnar, Thorir and Stefan), helping me enormously and never allowing any of the team to get despondent if they have had a blank day or two. They really are what make this river a special place to be – no competition or jealousy - a genuine team who take enormous pleasure from the successes of their fellow fishers.

Chunky fresh salmon
So we ended the week with just over 80 salmon landed. Probably a similar number lost. Big, fresh, fat, perfectly conditioned fish, 27% of them weighing 20lbs or more. Yes it was incredibly challenging at points, horrific wind and cold, but a worthwhile challenge with these really special fish bought to the net, photographed and returned safely to the river.

One of the many salmon over 20lbs in the week
The continuing run of outgoing kelts, extremely well mended and many of them huge, also gave encouragement both in terms of last season’s spawning, coupled with the hope that they will feed locally in the White Sea for the next 12 months and return to the river next season in fantastic shape, joining the maiden spring fish. I will also return to Yokanga in 12 months, no doubt in slightly less fantastic shape than the aforementioned salmon, but nonetheless as excited as ever to arrive on the banks of this great river.

On which note I sign off, heading back to the UK as Henry takes over for the next weeks.

Peter Rippin

Final Friday


Date: 15 June

Air Temp: 8 > 12 C
Water Temp: 7 C
Water height: -1 cm
Number of rods: 11
Number of fish caught: 8
Biggest fish: 21lbs Andy E
No 30lb+: 0
No 20-29lbs: 2
No 8-19lbs: 6
Grilse: 0

Weather:

Warm light breeze, strong sunny spells, cloudless late afternoon and evening.

Manager’s Comments:

The final day of the week saw the leaves begin to unfurl. The warm weather and downstream wind was a complete delight to all, in fact it felt like we had all gone to bed in the Arctic and woken up in the Med!

Our Icelandic team has headed off to the World Cup yesterday, so we had the 11 remaining fishers on the water today. Fishing wasn’t easy, it definitely felt like the fish were using the first day of higher water temp to run as fast as they could upstream, barely looking at flies along the way.

Warmer weather on Yokanga
It was certainly the first day we saw decent numbers of fish. Sam and Andy witnessed a number of fresh salmon running through Lyliok and Home Pool during the afternoon. They managed to land four between them of seven or eight hooked and played.

Elsewhere landed fish were few and far between, Markku and Stefan continued their stream of hooking big fish, but sadly becoming detached from them. This seemed to be the case for many of the other groups also. Kaj, Graeme and Markku being the only other team members to ‘bank’ fish.
 
Fresh sashimi
Nonetheless it was pretty much the perfect day on which to end the week. Warm, relaxing and ideal for the team to gather on the lodge veranda after fishing and reminisce about the week over a few ice cold beers.

Gremikha Camp: Word from down below was that a good day was had by all, with lots of action in Golden Pool and plenty of new fish seen running through. All bodes well for next week on the middle river!

Stunning scenery on the lower river

Peter Rippin

Friday, 15 June 2018

32.6lber at Upper Norcamp


Date: 14 June

Air Temp: 4 > 10 C
Water Temp: 6 C
Water height: -1 cm
Number of rods: 15
Number of fish caught: 12
Biggest fish: 32.6lbs Marcus Sandell
No 30lb+: 1
No 20-29lbs: 0
No 8-19lbs: 11
Grilse: 0

Weather:
Cool light breeze, sunny spells during the day developing into a cloudless evening.

Manager’s Comments:
It came true! The weather forecast that is. Warm (out of the wind) and pleasant and sunny, in truth a day that you could cast downstream and the line and fly would sometimes actually go downstream!

Andy E had good fishing working his way down from Poachers to Beach to Home pool, landing three fish to Sam’s two fish from Lake. Dan got a brace for the day. Markku and David also scored.
 
Roger and Marcus at Upper Norcamp
The story of the day however unfurled on Upper Norcamp. We had feared all week that Marcus would catch a fish even larger than Roger’s 34lber landed at 7 Islands earlier in the week. This would upset the natural order of deference to one’s future father in law (at least prior to the wedding). It was without doubt therefore that Marcus landing a huge fish on a fly and hook given to him by Markku led to a tense bankside weigh-in. 32.6lbs, what a relief, the wedding can still proceed!
 
32.6lb fish for Marcus
The evening was marked by a lot of excitement in camp as Russia won the opening game of the World Cup.

Gremikha Camp: I was checking on everyone at the lower camp today. There was still great excitement about James and Ismo’s successful evening on Pool 18 the evening before with their respective 31lber and 36.5lber. Incredible fish both of them and photos that demonstrate that. The team have been plugging away landing about 6-8 salmon a day with a pretty even spread between beats. With the very high tides this weekend (5-6m highs) we should see another large push of fresh fish entering the river. Exciting times for next weeks fishers.
Dinner underway at the Gremikha Camp

Peter Rippin

Huge Fish from Lower Yokanga


Date: 13 June

Air Temp: 2-7 C
Water Temp: 6 C
Water height: -1 cm
Number of rods: 15
Number of fish caught: 12
Biggest fish: 24lbs Dan C
No 30lb+: 0
No 20-29lbs: 2
No 8-19lbs: 10
Grilse: 0

Weather:

Really nasty northerly upstream wind in the morning and early afternoon, with the first part of calmer weather during late afternoon. Still bitterly cold.

Manager’s Comments:
Another decent day considering the challenging weather. The fish continue to take a bit ‘short’ with the cold water, meaning plenty of fishers are questioning their fly pattern and size. Definitely the slightly smaller flies are still working the best, however the larger Snaelda type patterns are catching a number of fish also.

Markku had a brace a good fish from Crow’s Nest, Stefffan landing one also. David also scored well in Home/Lyliok. Sam and Andy both also had success at Lower Norcamp.
 
31lber for James from the lower Yokanga
Dan C headed to Pots in the evening and had some really good sport with fresh fish (including the 24lber mentioned), overwintered fish and kelts. Some sort of salmon Macnab?

The weather is forecast to be nice tomorrow. After the last 12 days we can’t quite believe it is going to the case, but here’s hoping.

Gremikha Camp: There was much excitement from the lower Yokanga about two huge salmon landed by James and Ismo in the evening in Pool 18. James had a superb fresh cock fish of 31lbs. Ismo's fish measured an enormous 112 x 68cm (44 x 26.5 inches). They weighed the salmon three times at 18kgs, 17.5kgs and 17kgs and it has gone in the book at the lowest weight which equates to 36.5lbs. The established formulae for calculating salmon weights by length and girth seem to suggest 40lbs+. 
 
Ismo U with his HUGE salmon
Peter Rippin

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Quality Salmon

Date: 12 June

Air Temp: -3 > +2C
Water Temp: 5 > 6C
Water height: -1cm
Number of rods: 16
Number of fish caught: 19
Biggest fish: 24lbs Carl Ahlstrom, 23lbs x 2 David M and Stefan G
No 30lb+: 0
No 20-29lbs: 7
No 8-19lbs: 12
Grilse: 0

Weather:
12-14m/sec northerly wind, sleet and snow in late afternoon.

Manager’s Comments:

We all woke up cold!

The northerly upstream wind howled, squeezed under low cloud, which meant the helicopter did not fly until 1pm. The three pairs of rods on Poachers, Home and Lyliok went out shortly after 9am, the remaining fishers relaxed and watched replays on old world cup matches, slightly frustrated by the weather.
 
Flawless fresh fish
When we did head out for the remaining half day it was a battle against the elements. Trying to get a line out from either bank was a challenge, and from the boat near to impossible as the longer the anchor rope, the further up or across stream the boat would move – never downstream towards the lies.
One more for the fishing book
Having said all that, the fresh fish are piling in now. Despite a late morning air temperature of 0 C and a wind chill taking it down to -2/3C, fish were aggressive and even came up to the surface.

David and Graeme landed four fish averaging 20lbs+ from Poachers, Graeme having a serious downstream scramble with one of them. Kaj and Carl landed five fish from Lyliok in 2.5 hrs then called it a day to relax for the afternoon in the lodge. Stefan landed a fantastic 23lber from Norcamp. Marcus a lively fish from 7 Islands. Dan and I landed three from Sand Island (which felt pretty exposed up there on the flat tundra of the upper river, but also fairly exhilarating), Markku landed a fish very quickly in Home, before relaxing for the rest of the day and watching fishing partner Steffan.
 
Lodge manager hard at work!
All things considered, with those starting at 9am finishing around lunchtime and the others not flying out until lunchtime, it was a very productive half day!

I know I keep going on about it, but the fish are in the best condition I have ever seen. Flawless, fat, broad fresh fish. The 12-16lbers are like bionic grilse – small heads, small wrist, hugely deep. The larger fish are just brutally thick set. If Carlsberg made salmon…

Peter Rippin

Largest Salmon So Far


Date: 11 June

Air Temp: 2-6C
Water Temp: 6C
Water height: +3cm
Number of rods: 16
Number of fish caught: 14
Biggest fish: 34lbs Roger T
No 30lb+: 1
No 20-29lbs: 4
No 8-19lbs: 8
Grilse: 1 (7lb ice fish)

Weather:

Calm windless morning, still cool, steady drizzle all afternoon and temp down to 3C. Very cold end of the day.

Manager’s Comments:

The fish continue to turn up in fits and starts. Not all beats are occupied but the feeling is that it is improving day by day. The truth be told it’s tough to tell much of the time as the water temperature is still so cold that salmon takes feel like trout takes and many fish are being lost after a few minutes having been hooked lightly. The most successful flies are small, thin profile and dark – like Dan’s Monkey – although I am sure once the water temperature rises to 7-8 C that the fish will smash anything from a Cascade tube to a Snaelda to a Sunray Shadow.
 
And another fresh one
The story of the day came from Roger and Marcus, fishing Sand Island and Cliff. Marcus, a newly retired Olympian Alpine skier, is engaged to Roger’s daughter, so as you can imagine there are a lot of jokes from their Finnish friends about letting the father in law catch the largest fish. Marcus ignored this by landing a stunning 22lb fresh fish from Sand Island first thing. This ramped up the pressure, as during the day no further fresh fish were landed. Luckily for Marcus they finally arrived at the top island of 7 Islands, where they would start fishing tomorrow, and Roger hooked and landed our largest fish of the season so far tipping the scales at 34lbs. The correct order of father in law to son in law was restored!
 
Nearly in the net
Elsewhere Sam and Andy had good luck on Island, particularly where the water first meets the island and the first section of river left water there. Dan C hooked five fresh fish for the day. He landed a 26lber and 18lber but lost a fish at the net, a hook broke on one other (!) and then he almost got spooled at the Crow’s Nest main draw by the fifth. Kaj landed a lovely fish from Home, as did Graeme. Ingvi had a lovely 15lb fish from 7 Islands which he took on the classic Icelandic pattern “Krafla”.

So much for the lovely warmer weather we were expecting today, it certainly didn’t turn up, but our fishers nonetheless fished hard and did well. Yury cooked a lovely dinner and Den the barman made sure everyone’s glasses were full.

Roll on tomorrow.

Peter Rippin