After almost 5 months of guiding, living, and fishing one of the most renowned Atlantic Salmon Rivers in the world, I can say that it was the experience of a lifetime. The first day flying into camp on the Helicopter seems like it was just yesterday and sadly today was the start to my last week here on the Ponoi River, which is a weird feeling knowing in only 5 days I will be flying out of the camp I have called home for so long! More things happened during this amazing experience that I never even thought of before I got here and taught me so many new things about guiding, and life in general. Working and living with people from all over the world was so awesome and unique learning all of the new cultures, and experiencing it first hand. Really going to miss hearing all the different languages through out the day!
Learning this river was one of my favorite parts about the journey here in Russia. Going from a saltwater background and being surrounded by a freshwater world was one of the most unique fishing experiences of my life. Being able to take my ability as a guide and angler, and challenging it to the fullest by learning a completely new fish, river, and style of guiding was incredible. The team of guides here is top notch and we all work together as one. Sharing places to fish, drawing maps of the different beats, and helping each other produce the best days for our anglers. Working as a team is key in the guiding industry and the team of guides here are world class. You couldn’t find another group of guys with the experience we all have from all over the world and being able to take that experience and put it all together in one, which produced an amazing season here on Ponoi. Not to mention I went the entire 19 week season with out a single skunk, so hopefully it doesn’t happen this week!
Everything here is a routine whether its getting things ready for the day, eating dinner with everyone, or simply fishing everyday. There wasn’t much free time which was nice constantly staying busy so its exciting to go back to a life that changes everyday, and being able to make my own routine again! I had the opportunity to fish a lot while I was here and surprisingly most of that fishing was with clients who asked me to fish with them during our day, which was awesome! Learning how to spey cast was a great experience and being able to teach anglers to spey cast was a lot of fun, and much different from teaching the double haul! Driving my jet boat was awesome and I’m really going to miss the excitement of dodging rocks every morning on the way to the beats, crazy feeling running the boats through rapids. The vodka at dinner will not be missed too much but it will be odd sitting down for dinner and not toasting a shot!
There are a lot of things that I will miss about guiding on the Ponoi and it probably wont kick in until I’m back in the states. Guiding here is something I never would of thought of doing and as the season is winding down its still hard to believe that it happened! It really makes me smile when I think back on the all the days on the water and the all the smiles, handshakes, fish slime, jumping salmon, crazy adventures, and memories shared with guests from all over the world. The reason I enjoy guiding is to share a great day on the water with someone and things like the memory of a big fish, or simply just a fun day. Its about the experience and joy of fly fishing, and then you add in an incredible fishery which takes a day of guiding to another level of excellence. I fished over 100 days here in Russia and I have to say that the fishing never got old because everyday was a new day with a new client. Fishing with almost 200 different people while I was here is a great feeling and most of all, a great experience fishing with people from all over.
Guests would ask me all the time on the water if I miss anything at home and of course the answer is yes! One of the other great parts about this experience was how it truly made me realize how much I love what I do at home in Beaufort, SC. Salt water fishing is what I was born into and my true passion. Sight casting is the ultimate thrill when fly fishing which is what the Low Country is all about. I miss poling the boat, saying “11 o’clock 50 feet!”, reading the tides, wearing flip flops, and most of all sharing my home with every customer on the bow of my skiff. I miss Bay Street Outfitters and the awesome team we have there, very excited to move into our new location when I get back! There are many things I miss including my family, all my friends, my dog Lilla, motorcycle rides, taking girls out, being in my own house, and so many other things at home. Even fishing on one of the best rivers in the world couldn’t take away the way I feel about the Low Country, its a place that will always be my true, the place I’am supposed to be!
This is my last blog from here in Russia and I hope everyone has enjoyed the news from my adventure here on the Ponoi River in Russia. Cant say enough how awesome this place is and how much I will not only miss the fishing, but all of the people I work with. I came here as a seasoned salt water guide and leaving as a seasoned Atlantic Salmon guide, which is something I never imagined. Excited to share more stories with all my friends and clients and cant wait to see everyone! Looking forward to being back on the redfish groove and ready for an awesome fall season! See you all very soon and save some of the fall action for me in the low country!!!
-Captain Owen Plair