Varzuga Варзуга!

Jess James and Losha at Varzuga’s Bearlets in a previous season

It’s a brand-new 2012 season and the Kola’s Varzuga continues to amaze although I’ll stick my neck out and say that a bumper week this week (after incredibly high ice-melt water last week) was always on the cards.

Nevertheless, yesterday one of the rods at Middle Varzuga camp caught 62 salmon – in a day.

To his own rod. In one day. Sixty-two salmon.

That’s only four short of Phil Janaway’s world record of 66 salmon caught in the mid-Nineties. And another fisherman yesterday caught 53.

That’s all I really wanted to say in this post – it is just amazing. But it is worth reminding ourselves that it is not a numbers game, on this very special salmon river. That’s what Brian Fratel told me when I went out there with him in 2010. And it is true – a trip out there is so much more than just plentiful salmon – and jaw-dropping sporting action. It is the village with its beautiful 300-year-old wooden church and icons inside. The camp lodge itself with its iconic kitchen, fly-tying bench, and the Roxtons hearth with ‘the best sofa on the Kola’. Even the rather strange stuffed wild boar added last year, it’s whiskers forever being pruned to add hirsute glamour to the Pot-bellied Pigs emerging from a vodka-fuelled fly-tying frenzy. The history of the place, the people, the banya, the early morning trips down to the river where one morning last year I hooked a fish, and played it and netted it in front of a boatload of Russian guides arriving down from the village.

‘Just beach it Henry,’ said Jess. No way said I and steered it into Locha’s net. (Hey, when a Russian guide armed with a Maclean weigh net offers to whip your fish out of the water you can’t turn that down.) Spasibo.

It’s also good to see, yesterday, that the Lower camp got up and running with 46 fish for the day – including ten to a lady angler.

Congratulations to her. And to her prolific co-fishers at Middle. I have a feeling this week will be rather special… Варзуга!!!

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About henrygiles

Born to fish forced to work and fish
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