Saturday, 24 June 2017

Stoic Fishermen

Date: 23 June

Air Temp: 2C to 3C
Water Temp: 5C
Water height: 1.8m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 1
Biggest fish: 15lbs Spencer Palmer
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 0
No 8-19: 1
Grilse: 0

Weather: It was possibly even worse weather than the day before. A very strong upstream wind but fortunately less rain. 

Where did the sun go?
Manager's comments: It was an impossibly tough day on the river but guests remained stoic and kept at it all day. Spencer P was rewarded with a fresh 15lber from Pump. The very same place he had a fish on the first day.

Pilots in team Yokanga caps
Other pairs reported little other action other than a good number of kelts which are migrating downstream. It was a disappointing finish to what has been an exceptionally hard week by Yokanga standards. We are hearing similar news from other rivers too as a result of the impossibly late spring.
'Green' the camp dog

There was better news from the Gremikha camp which fishes the lower Yokanga downstream. One pair of fishers had five fish in the morning, all mint fresh that weighed 18lbs, 18lbs, 20lbs, 22lbs and 29lbs. These all came from the same little pocket of 20 yards on Loopskaia.
Alan C with his 29lber from the lower Yokanga

The fish are clearly there and coming so it is just a question of when they will arrive with us up at Yokanga Lodge on the middle river.

Henry Mountain

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hardly Summer

Date: 22 June

Air Temp: 5C to 2C
Water Temp: 5C
Water height: 1.9m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 4
Biggest fish: 24lbs John Horlock
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 1
No 8-19: 3
Grilse: 0

Weather: Rain in the morning, upstream wind and cool air temperatures.

Manager's comments: The weather was looking pretty grim this morning and it was decided that we should have a more relaxed start and so left at 10.15am instead of the normal 9am. Similarly everyone was picked up at 5.30pm instead of 6pm. Thankfully the rain eased off at lunchtime. Thank the likes of Simms and Patagonia for modern fishing clothing! We are eternally grateful on days like this!
 Can you see it? Camouflaged willow grouse

The best fish of the day went to John H who landed a 24lber from below Pots. On hooking the fish it was happy to fight in the heavy water of a rapid. It put up a seriously good fight in the current and John had the drag set tight and the rod bucked double to the point that his guide feared he was going to break it. Roberto T had a nice fresh 15lber from Lake, the same place that he caught one the day before. Matt H had a 15lber from Poachers and Jonathan Murray a 17lber from Waterfall. Of the four fish caught, one was fresh and the other three were osankas, last year’s autumn fish that will spawn later this year.
John H with his 24lber from below Pots

Below is some encouraging news from James Beaumont fishing the Lower Yokanga from the Gremikha Camp.

I had a truly amazing afternoon yesterday. There were 7 fish caught by the camp. I had 4. 18lbs, 18lbs, 20lbs and 29lbs. I lost another 3. One was lost after a few minutes, another after 25 minutes and another after 45 minutes which we never even saw. I spent 4 hours playing fish between 2pm and 7pm...only spent about 15 minutes casting...the remaining 45 minutes was spent watching Arni play a fish. It was only a 20 yard pool! I connected with another 10 fish, almost a connection with every cast. Quite simply the best afternoon's fishing I have ever had. I actually got cold because I spent so long standing still playing fish! Crazy to think that, in years to come, when someone asks me about my bonanza day and where was the lie, that I am going to have to point 10 feet up the hill to dry land!
James with one of his four fish from the Lower Yokanga

The good news is that there are clearly fish waiting to run the Yokanga but they have just not put in their usual appearance on the middle river as yet. They will surely come soon.
Snake Pool, Lyliok, June 2017
I will sign off by posting photos of Snake Pool on the Lyliok river, taken within days of each other this year and last year.

Henry Mountain

Snake Pool, Lyliok, June 2016

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Longest Day

Date: 21 June

Air Temp: 7C
Water Temp: 4C
Water height: 1.9m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 4
Biggest fish: 16lbs Roberto Trabucco
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 0
No 8-19: 4
Grilse: 0

Weather: Thankfully the sun came out again and the wind dropped substantially since the previous day.

Summer on Yokanga
Manager's comments: Today was the longest day of the year and I would like to start today’s ramblings by showing the difference between this and last season. The two photos below speak for themselves but it just goes to show how wildly different this season is. In fact much of the snow around the lodge has melted since we arrived so it is a lot less white now than it was just a few days ago. 
 21 June 2017

 21 June 2016
The river remains very high compared with any season ever experienced on the Yokanga and the water has dropped a degree in the last day as a result of yesterday’s rain melting some of the snow. The high water has made some of our usual beats, such as Upper and Lower Norcamp, unfishable. We are fishing Island and Waterfall with the rest fishing Poachers to Crows Nest. Even the water closer to the lodge is very restricted at the moment and we have had to create a beat rotation where we swap fishing spots at lunchtime. There are simply limited places that salmon could rest and hold.
Leaning in to one

For the moment, the fish remain very elusive. The party landed three fresh fish today and one autumn run fish. Roberto T landed a nice 16lber from Lake, the biggest of the day. Valery N managed another fresh fish, a 15lber, this time from the Pots and Bill W had a 12lber below Waterfall. It was a stunning blue-sky day on the river so in that sense it was a lovely day to be out fishing even if the rewards were slim.
Valery N with his fish from Pots

People are using a variety of sinking tips, often with intermediate running into 7.5ft of T14. Big flies are very much the order of the day. Heavy tubes tied three inches or more in length would be about right. It is a ‘big job’ to cast this sort of kit!

Stunning day for a picnic lunch
The fish will undoubtedly come but we are very much still at the front end as a result of the conditions. Similar conditions prevail on other rivers on the Kola. It is disappointing and frustrating for everyone but it should be said that the guests in camp are being incredibly philosophical about it. The party has got on well and there have been plenty of laughs around the bar after dinner.

Henry Mountain

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Extreme Weather

Date: 20 June

Air Temp: 2C
Water Temp: 5C
Water height: 2.0m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 2
Biggest fish: 13lbs
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 0
No 8-19: 2
Grilse: 0

Weather: It was a freezing cold day with a strong upstream wind and persistent light rain throughout the day.

Manager's comments: It was a pretty brutal weather day on the river so hats off to the team who persevered on through the day. Simon and Jonathan sensibly sought refuge in the lodge at lunchtime but then bravely went back out again to battle the elements in the afternoon. One or two others returned early to the lodge during the course of the afternoon and I would have done exactly the same. When you are fishing Lake or Pots and the warm lodge is winking at you on the hill within easy walking distance, then the prospect of a cup of tea and a comfortable sofa is all too tempting.
Helicopter transport to the river

Conditions were undoubtedly extreme with 2C air temperature so it was perhaps unsurprising that this was reflected in the catches. Valery N landed a fresh 12lber from Beach and Pete W caught another autumn run fish at Beach in the afternoon. A fresh fish was spotted in Home Pool but otherwise action was thin on the ground.
Wading in the bushes on Pots

There was a great moment of excitement in the late afternoon when Matt H hooked a fish in the Home Pool. It was clearly a strong fish and could not be moved from the current. After 20 minutes, Red Sergei (who was guiding Simon and Jonathan ) persuaded Matt to jump in the boat with him so that they could keep clear of the bushes to play the fish. Now in the role of videographer, Simon recorded most of the battle for posterity. The video evidence shows much discussion between rod, guide and onlookers about the potential size of the ‘monster fish’. Sergei managed a Herculean 60 minutes of rowing and after a total battle of one hour and twenty minutes a 17lb kelt, hooked in the back of the head, was brought to the net. Raucous laughter can be heard in the footage from the onlookers! Just one of those odd moments that can occasionally occur when fishing but very disappointing that it was not the leviathan that was hoped for.
Hard to remember what it looked like only a day or two ago in the sun

There was some very positive news from Gremikha in that they landed five fresh sea-liced fish in the lower part of the river. The fish must be waiting to run the river and are perhaps now beginning to trickle through. We hope to run into them in the coming days at the lodge.

Alan C with a fresh 18lber from Gremikha 
Henry Mountain

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

New beats tested

Air Temp: 7C
Water Temp: 5C
Water height: 2.1m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 7
Biggest fish: 18lbs
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 0
No 8-19: 7
Grilse: 0

Weather: A cool day with plenty of sunshine. An upstream wind picking up through the day.

Manager's comments: All the pairs of rods spread out over more of usual beats today and fished Island down to Waterfall. If nothing else it made sure that collectively we had tried out more places where resting fish could be stopping. John H and Chris A fished Waterfall which had some likely pockets that could have produced a fish but sadly they did not contact anything down there. Chris unexpectedly hooked and landed a pike when practising with his new rod while waiting for the helicopter! Similarly one pair fished Crows Nest but again no luck.
Ready for the day

Congratulations go to Pete W for landing a fresh 12lber at Island. It is interesting to see that at least one has made it that far upstream under this year’s conditions. Robert G was the top scorer with three osankas up to 18lbs. John B christened his new rod and reel with a 12lber from Lake. Bill W had a brace (10lbs and 17lbs) of osankas from Pump.
A nice bend in the rod

Sea trout are rarely caught on Yokanga in my experience. For some reason the team have picked up four sea trout in the last two days. These are bright silver fish of 2-3lbs which somehow seem to be running the river in these high and cold water conditions.
John B with his 12lb osanka

Unsurprisingly there are many kelts still in the system. This had led to an informal kelt competition amongst this week’s guests! Late night bar talk revolved around tactics and which flies may be the most attractive to them! The current front runner for ‘King of the Kelts’ is Matt H who is standing on 10. The week still has a long way to go.

I forgot to report one event from yesterday. Pete W asked Spencer P for a hand but succeeded in pulling him into the river’s edge and also dunked himself in as well. The resulting double life jacket inflation had their guide Old Sasha killing himself with laughter.
White-tailed sea eagle

The river is continuing to drop slowly and as it does we are hopeful that the usual fishing spots may start to perform.

Henry Mountain

Monday, 19 June 2017

First Day

Date: Evening 17 June and 18 June

Air Temp: 6C to 14C
Water Temp: 5C
Water height: 2.6m to 2.4m
Number of rods: 13
Number fish caught: 6
Biggest fish: 24lbs Matt Harris
No 30+: 0
No 20-29: 1
No 8-19: 5
Grilse: 0

Weather: The Saturday afternoon of arrival was grey and overcast. Saturday was mostly sunny with a light wind.

Manager's comments: The arrival process through Murmansk was as fast as I ever recall it, especially with close to 90 people on the charter. There appear to be two new immigration booths which helped considerably. All booths are even sporting modern electronic gates now complete with red and green lights so you know when it is your turn!

View of the lodge to Home Pool
Spring has definitely arrived in Murmansk with leaves out and the landscape looking green again. As we flew towards the Yokanga Lodge, the tundra became increasingly white and the lodge still has piles of drifted snow lying around. As a result of the speedy immigration process we all arrived in camp in very good time only to find that the warm weather of the previous two days had pushed the river level up considerably. The water level is certainly 2m above what would be the normal opening week and we are the first arrivals of the season having had to cancel the first two weeks.

Exhilarating day for flying
Most headed out after dinner to try their luck but it was not long before the team was comparing notes around the bar. With high water lapping into the small bushes along the bank it was difficult to get to likely places and everyone reported snagging on bushes. Just the one kelt was landed on the Lyliok left bank.

Saturday showed a 20cm drop from the previous 24 hours. The advantage of the rise in river levels is that it has removed a good amount of snow from the banks so that we can get better access. With limited places to find suitable slow flowing water the team were distributed from Poachers to Lyliok with many of the pairs swapping places at lunchtime.

Stunning vista on Beach

Spencer P opened the score for the 2017 season and within a few casts caught a 12lb fresh fish from Pump. Pete W evened the score shortly afterwards with a 10lber. Bill W and Matt H were the main scorers of the day at Beach and Lake. Bill had a 16lber and 18lber and Matt ‘fluked’ (or so the bar chat said!) a 16.5lb fresh run fish and a 24lb osanka (last year’s autumn run fish that will spawn this autumn).

Matt H with his 24lb osanka

Six fish for the team was a great result given the conditions and it is encouraging to see that there are fish in the system. As someone remarked, it is like looking for a needle in a very large haystack. It was an exhilarating day on the river with bright sunshine reflecting off the remaining snow banks. A great addition to the day was a sighting of a white tailed sea eagle by several of the party and a pair of red-necked phalaropes that kept Matt company for part of the afternoon. Google ‘red necked phalarope’ as they are very distinctive little waders that rather uniquely like to swim!

The snow seems to be melting rapidly but it will take a lot for it to remain at this height so fingers crossed the level with drop away slowly with the colder weather that is forecast and we can all spread out across some of the normal beats.

Henry Mountain