Ponoi Atlantic Salmon
Located just above the Arctic Circle, the Ponoi is now regarded as one of the best Atlantic salmon rivers in the world. The Ponoi is the largest river on the Kola Peninsula, varying from 200 to more than 500 feet wide (60-150 m), but with a gentle gradient and easy flow. The Ponoi provides Atlantic salmon fishing in two of its purest forms: floating-line fishing and excellent opportunities to fish skated dry flies.
Fly Fishing the Ponoi River
The strength of the Ponoi is consistency. Guests have landed as many as 150 salmon on their own rod in a week, with weekly camp totals reaching over 1,400 fish. While other anglers who have fished only skated or dry flies
have landed 65 fish during their stay, with over 180 rises to their fly. Of course, we all know that fishing is not always like this and therefore one also has to examine the downside: "How reliable is the Ponoi?"
The worst five-year average is 17 fish per rod per week, which, across an 18-week season, demonstrates great reliability.
In July, the temperature rises, so dry fly-fishing has proven to be very effective. Forty percent of the fish caught are over 10-pounds, with fish landed every week in the 20-plus pound range.
Double-handed rods are used effectively here, but this river does not require heavy tackle.
Ponoi River Fishing Seasons
The Ponoi season runs from late May to early October. The first five weeks of the season are when the largest number of fish caught.
These are during some of the famous white nights with twenty-four hours of daylight. During this period, grilse run with the salmon, although the salmon-to-grilse ratio is about 2:1.
The catch stats range from 30 to 40 fish per rod per week and sometimes much higher.
The middle weeks of the season provide good value. The warmest weather tends to be the most productive for those who enjoy dry-fly fishing. Water levels are lower, and wading and bank casting are much easier and more interesting. These weeks produce 20 to 30 fish per rod on average, but many people have caught 40 or more.
From late June, a new run of fish enters the river that is known as the true ‘summer’ run. It consists of 9- to 14-pound mint-bright hen fish, with some larger males up to and over 20 pounds. With them also run more grilse. These are fantastic fish and are free-takers.
During the autumn run, the numbers remain about even in the 20 to 30 fish per rod range, but these are some of the largest salmon. The run begins in the very first days of August at the same time mosquitoes begin to disappear.
By September, nearly half the catch is 10 to 20 pounds-plus, bright and fit with only a handful of grilse showing. As with salmon fishing anywhere, weekly results are greatly influenced by prevailing weather conditions.
Ponoi Boats and Guides
Custom-made, wide-bodied, 17-foot aluminum flat-bottom type boats powered by jet units are employed. The boats are very stable and comfortable.
Productive fishing water is accessible in both directions from the camp by boat, and remote beats are reached by boat or hovercraft. Fishing beats are rotated.
The camp enjoys the luxury of no less than 12 guides, four mechanics, and four chefs, as well as many other equally important backup staff who ensure that the camp is clean and working efficiently at all times. Whether Russian or from further afield, all fishing guides speak English and are true professionals capable of teaching all disciplines of spey casting, as well as single-handed rod casting. The combination of decades of experience on the river from the Russian team, as well as international experience, makes for a very strong and dedicated guide team.
You'll fly to Helsinki, Finland, and spend the night at a very nice hotel (not included, but the outfitter gets a great rate for the group at Hotel Kamp). In the morning, you'll take a charter flight to Murmansk, Russia. In Murmansk, you'll be greeted by members of the lodge staff who will assist you with customs and baggage transfers. You'll then board a Mi-8 helicopter and fly directly to the Ponoi Camp, approximately a two-hour flight.
Ryabaga Camp caters to 20 anglers. Each guest has their own duplex-style, heated cabin with queen-sized bed, Wi-Fi access, and around the clock generator power; plus, ensuite bathroom with shower, towels and plush robe. Hot breakfasts with fresh pastries each morning, and superb river lunches. Four and five-course gourmet dinners feature entrees such as salmon, reindeer tenderloin, filet of beef and other delicacies. Their thirty member staff includes 12 guides, four mechanics, six chefs, a doctor and camp masseuse. The main social hub of the camp is the ‘Big Tent’ which has two burning stoves, a fully stocked bar, and enough tables to seat both guests and staff. There is also a gym, a camp surgery (with camp medic) and a massage service.
7-nights and 6-full days guided fishing prices range from $9,490.00 to $15,990.00.
Click here for a PDF of weekly rates.
Roundtrip air transportation from Murmansk to the Ponoi River Camp; seven nights and six full fishing days at the Ponoi, all meals and accommodations at the river, vodka and wine with dinner, soft drinks, fishing permits, and one guide, boat, and motor for each two anglers.
Packages do not include:
Roundtrip airfare from your home to Murmansk, roundtrip airfare Helsinki Murmansk (approximately $1,150.00 and subject to change), meals and accommodations in Helsinki or other en route cities, visa processing, alcoholic beverages— aside from the vodka and wine served with dinner, other items of a personal nature, gratuities to guides and camp staff, and travel insurance.