Guest editor of Volume V, Issue II William Sitwell fishes the Ponoi river and returns sparkling with tales of salmon and vodka.
It was a long journey to this particular fish. The salmon was in a pool in the Ponoi river, by the Ryabaga Camp, a remote but comfortable collection of tents (which have now been upgraded to ensuite cabins) and small buildings on the Kola Peninsula of north-western Russia. My tent was heated by a small stove which was lit by a member of staff who crept in at dawn so that there would be some warmth when I emerged from my sleeping bag.
The fish, a wild Atlantic salmon possibly heading upstream to the Barents Sea, took a curious dislike, perhaps, to my fly and made the fatal error of taking a bite.
The inexperienced fisherman, that’s me, reacted to the tug on the line with more than usual excitement, along with that dose of fear that comes from the mystery of what might be on the end of the line and the terror at reacting badly and losing the fish. No one wants to let down the experienced guide. But mine had attempted to appease me earlier in the day when he dished out his fishy spiel, philosophising in his southern American drawl that ‘fishing ain’t just about catching fish.’ So there we were, communing with nature when this beautiful river beast took my fly.
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