Ryabaga Home Pool

By Barry Beck


I heard the Russian dive bombers long before I saw them. Peering out from beneath my covers I looked up and there they were. The two mosquitos had to be on steroids and the little monsters were hovering above my nose which I thought to be their intended target. It’s two a.m. and night doesn’t come at this time of year to Ryabaga Camp on the Ponoi River on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. It’s light twenty four hours a day. The Ponoi is known as one of the world’s premier Atlantic salmon fisheries and Cathy and I are here to photograph the camp and the fishing for Frontiers. Cathy lays fast asleep unaware of the mosquito invasion and I decide that if I can’t sleep I might as well go fishing. Before I slip out of our tent I light a mosquito coil and quietly unzip the tent and step out.

Squadrons of mosquitos now attack me and I cover up as quickly as I can. I look around and decide that the entire Russian mosquito air force is right here in camp. We were warned to be prepared for the bugs, so I suck it up, take my rod from the rack and head down the path leading to the Home Pool. This is spey rod work, but I carry a single handed Sage 10 foot Z-Axis for a 8 weight line. The guides have referred to my single handed rod as a toy fly rod, but that’s okay. Because I rarely get to do any spey casting, I am much more comfortable with a single handed fly rod. Cathy on the other hand is becoming quite the wiz with a two handed rod. She, too, often laughs at my choice of rod for this kind of fishing.