“The three greatest gamefish in the world are tarpon, bonefish, and Atlantic salmon, but I’ll take the Atlantic salmon over all of them.” – Ted Williams, “The Splendid Splinter”
The Ponoi River, located just above the Arctic Circle at approximately 67 degrees north latitude, has been rightly proclaimed the most productive Atlantic salmon river in the world today. It flows from west to east, entering the Barents Sea on the southeast coast of the Kola Peninsula. It’s one of the few rivers left where catch statistics are recorded in the thousands and where even its slowest week’s number might exceed an entire season’s catch on certain Canadian or Scottish rivers. The Ponoi is a big river, varying from 200-350 feet wide, but with gentle gradient and easy flow.
The Ponoi offers something special for salmon anglers of every age and ability. There is no better place to learn Atlantic salmon fishing and spey casting with double handed rods, and no better river to challenge and reward the expert angler. Physical limitations can be well accommodated and you don’t have to walk far or wade if you prefer not to. For those who are energetic and want to maximize your fishing time, in addition to the generous 8-hour guided fishing day, there is a productive home pool available for after hours fishing.
Reservations & Rates
7 night, 6.5 day packages on the Ponoi River range in price from $7,490.00 to $15,900.00 USD per person, depending on the particular week.
All meals and accommodations at the river, wine with dinner, fishing permits, one guide, boat & motor per each two anglers, plus vodka and soft drinks.
Transportation from your home to Murmansk, alcoholic beverages (other than vodka and wine with dinner), Russian visa processing, gratuities to the guides and camp staff, and items of a personal nature such as satellite telephone use, tackle shop purchases, or deviations to the itinerary.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Guard Insurance
Seasons at Ponoi River
The Ponoi River season runs from late May to early October. The first five weeks of the season, from late May through June are when anglers encounter the largest number of salmon on the Ponoi River. This time of year offers twenty-four hours of daylight and angler’s fishing days are only limited by their stamina. During this period, grilse (one year fish in the ocean) run with the salmon and the salmon-to-grilse ratio is about 2:1. Water and air temperatures are cooler during the early season and water levels can be higher. Anglers can expect to land between 30 and 40 fish per rod, per week, and sometimes more.
The middle weeks of the season provide good value, the warmest weather, and tend to be the most productive for those who enjoy skating flies on the surface. The water levels are lower; wading is much easier and makes for interesting fishing days. These weeks on average produce 20 to 30 fish per rod, but 40 or more are not uncommon. Starting in late June, a new run of fish enters the river, true ‘summer runs’. These fish run between 9 and 14 pounds – chrome-bright hens with some cock-fish up to and over 20 pounds. In addition, grilse are in the river, fantastic fish and are free-takers.
Autumn brings the largest fish “Osenka Salmon” (winter run) of the season and anglers can expect to take 20 – 30 fish per rods, per week. These salmon, by Mother Nature, are brutally strong, mint-bright and hotter than a pistol when hooked. The run begins in early August, when the mosquitoes begin to disappear, and by September, nearly half the catch is 10 to 20 pounds. Only a handful of grilse show at this time of year. The Ponoi River is a remarkably reliable fishery from start to finish and there is no poor time to fish this river compared to any other Atlantic salmon river anywhere. That’s what makes it so special…
Getting to Ponoi River
The flight is an hour and a half. Two hours if a stop for fuel is required. Views form the helicopter are of the wild Russian tundra that remains wild and untouched. Unforgettable.
Normally guests are routed via Helsinki, Finland where they arrive on Friday and overnight at the excellent Hotel Kamp. Then on Saturday they travel to Murmansk via a FinnAir charter flight, operated on a once weekly basis.
Upon arrival to Murmansk in the early afternoon, guests will clear immigration and customs procedures, and then be shown into a private lounge during a brief waiting period. Luggage and equipment will be weighted and loaded onto the Mi-8 helicopter for the ongoing flight to the Ponoi River. Note, if the helicopter flies directly, estimated flight time is one hour, 40 minutes; occasionally it will be necessary to make an en route fuel stop at Lovozero. If this is the case, it adds 30 minutes to the overall travel time.
Upon arrival at Brevyeni Camp, the staff will be on hand to welcome you and show you to your cabin. Luggage will be delivered to each cabin and the Camp Manager will provide a thorough orientation, issue fishing licenses and discuss the week ahead.
Lodging at Ponoi River
Guests enjoy accommodations right on the river. If you didn't get enough fishing in during the duration of the day, there's good water waiting for you only a short stroll from camp.
Guests are accommodated in a unique wilderness camp facility with high standards that have won both accolades from returning guests and the envy of most other Kola Peninsula competitors. It is a logistically complex
part of the world in which to operate, where everything must be brought in by helicopter, but it happens seamlessly and efficiently at the Ponoi. The staff is legendary too, with a work and service ethic that is unparalleled. Indeed, some return just to experience the buzz, the magical atmosphere, and the “feel good factor” that abound in the camp.
The Ponoi River Company also maintains a highly skilled and bi-lingual international guide pool; high quality, American made jet boats and motors; reliable supply lines of fresh produce and top meats that result in gourmet cuisine; warm hospitality of an expert lodge staff; and our efficient ground team in Murmansk. The annual improvements and upgrades to the camp facilities, the insights and encouraging information about the river gained from an ongoing scientific project, the fully stocked tackle shop, the ability to completely outfit guests with waders, rain gear, and all tackle, are just a few of the many aspects that truly set the Ponoi experience apart.
Ryabaga Camp is the more famous of the two top camps operated by the Ponoi River Company on their 80 kilometer exclusive lease. Ryabaga was the first Atlantic salmon camp to operate on the Kola Peninsula after the region was opened to foreign anglers in 1991. It accommodates 22 anglers in double occupancy tent cabins, outfitted with polished wooden flooring, wood stoves for heat, and daily maid service. Other camp facilities include luxurious bath and sauna houses, an onsite helicopter and medical doctor in case of emergency, and a large dining lodge with comfortable lounge area, full bar, a fully outfitted fly shop, and some of the finest food in all of Russia. It has been said of Ryabaga that it is the finest tent camp in the world.
Brevyeni Camp—about 30 miles downstream of Ryabaga--is an intimate, 8-rod camp providing single accommodation wooden cabins for all rods, and a shared central bathhouse with 24-hour hot water and flush toilets. It’s perfect for a small group of friends to enjoy a week together and allows the party great flexibility in terms of fishing times, as well as how they rotate the beats. The Brevyeni water of the Ponoi is viewed as among the most interesting water on the river with plenty of rapids and runs and lots of wading opportunities. It includes some famous beats such as Lapinyaka, Hard Curve, and Sunken Log, as well as spots like “Alex’s Restaurant” and the “Cuban Disco.” These beats are legendary on the Ponoi and over the years have provided some of the most productive spring and early fall fishing.
Fishing at Ponoi River
Six full days of swinging floating lines and flies. Atlantic Salmon of the Ponoi are aggressive. Anglers routinely lose count of how many fish they have encountered.
Six full days fishing the Brevyeni beats of the Ponoi River. A normal day would begin with coffee and cold breakfast items available in the dining tent from 7am onwards with hot breakfast served at 8am. Guides will take
drink orders for the boats and for lunch and meet you down at the beach area at 9am to commence the fishing day. Normally, lunch is taken picnic style on the river; however, in case of inclement weather it is possible to return to the Brevyeni Camp for lunch indoors.
The guided fishing day concludes at 6pm and all rods are returned to the camp, where they have time to rest, refresh, enjoy the sauna, and dinner is generally served at 8pm. Note, as Brevyeni guests are commonly private groups, there is certainly some element of flexibility in terms of adjusting fishing hours according to the group’s wishes.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• The Ponoi River boasts one of the strongest and most consistent runs of Atlantic salmon in the world. What you might give up in size of fish, you make up in numbers of fish, and you will catch salmon. If you always dreamed of fishing Atlantic Salmon and wanted the best chance at hooking and landing fish, this is the place.
• The fishing on the Ponoi River is not difficult. This is straight forward fishing that does not require long casts, big rods and heavy sinking lines. Much of the fishing is done from anchored boats that are marched down the run. If you are not a strong wader, this is the perfect fishery to consider.
• All anglers at Ryabaga Camp are lodged in newly constructed wood cabins, single private rooms, with a full bathroom. There is no need to share a room with a stranger, you have your own.
• The guide staff on the Ponoi is world-class and all of them are very experienced and excellent teachers. Since the guide is in the boat with each two guests the personable attention is constant. If you are new to Atlantic salmon fishing or casting with a double handed rod, this is a great destination to learn from experts and get up to speed in a hurry.
• Ryabaga Camp on the Ponoi River is a deluxe fly fishing property, extremely well financed and staffed. The food service is what you might find in a fine restaurant. Nothing is left to chance and there are spares for everything – no down time due to potential mechanical issues. If you are looking for a high-end fishing destination, with every available amenity, including reliable internet service, in an extremely remote location, this is the destination to consider.