|- location||Keivy Uplands, Murmansk Oblast, Russia|
|- location||Cape Korabelniy, Murmansk Oblast, Russia|
|Length||426 km (265 mi)|
|Basin||15,500 km2 (5,985 sq mi)|
The Ponoy's source lies in the western end of the Keivy Uplands, 50 km east of Lake Lovozero, in the middle of the Kola Peninsula. The river then flows towards the east, threading a winding path through a landscape of hilly and marshy taiga for most of its course. The Ponoy receives several tributaries from the north, the largest being the Acheryok. Like the Ponoy itself, these also has their sources in the Keivy Uplands.
Below its confluence with the Purnach River, some 50 km from the sea, the river changes character and flows down a steep-sided, canyon-like valley with many rapids. It finally flows into the White Sea at Cape Korabelniy, at the eastern end of the Kola Peninsula.
Wildlife and fish
The river is very rich in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). It has become very popular among European fishing tourists, and there are fishing camps along the river. Ilya Sherbovich owns the Ponoi river company, a fishing and tourist enterprise. PRC owns the license for sport fishing for Atlantic salmon on 80 km of the Ponoy River; the company and its guides operate on a strict catch-and-release practice.
During a season that runs from May to October, PRC hosts guests in a permanent settlement called Ryabaga Camp, which is situated at the confluence of the Ryabaga tributary and the Ponoi. Among nearly 30 permanent and semi-permanent structures, the camp can accommodate 20 guests. A staff of upwards of 30 individuals serves Ryabaga Camp and its guests. All visitors access the remote camp via a 130 mile ride in a Russian MI-8 helicopter from Murmansk.
The origins of recreational sport-fishing began on Ponoi when rod manufacturer Gary Loomis signed a contract with Soviet authorities in Murmansk for the fishing rights to the river in 1990, and set up a remote camp for paying anglers. Following a few seasons of successful operation, the Ponoi River Company was incorporated by Thorpe McKenzie, an American hedge fund manager and investor, who purchased fishing rights from tackle manufacturer Gary Loomis, and G. Loomis Outdoor Adventures in 1994. With McKenzie at the helm, the potential value of Ponoi salmon as a recreational commodity were proven to exceed their value as a food resource. McKenzie, along with partners including Frontiers Travel Company owner Mike Fitzgerald, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and members of the Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO), negotiated with the Russian government to ensure the removal of the commercial fishing weir (RUZ) on the lower section of the Ponoi river and the dedication of exclusive fishing rights for 10 years. This period of exclusive recreational fishing was to be conducted in conjunction with an extensive tagging/research program.
During a period of steady growth PRC worked with Frontiers Travel as an exclusive booking agent. In 2000, a new contract was forged that extended fishing rights on Ponoi to PRC through 2014. In 2002, McKenzie sold PRC to Shackleton International, a lodge operating company owned by Frontiers Travel and the Fleming family from the UK. Frontiers and Shackleton officially merged in 2003. In 2006, Russian financier Ilya Sherbovich acquired PRC from Frontiers. Sherbovich continues to own and operate PRC today, offering catch-and-release salmon fishing to a Russian and international clientele in conjunction with Frontiers Travel, which remains exclusive booking agent to PRC.
- Chris Santella (2013-06-22). "A Haven for Salmon, and for Salmon Fishers". The New York Times.
- Chris Santella (2016-10-06). "On a remote Russian peninsula, one of the world's most celebrated Atlantic salmon fisheries". The Washington Post.
- Evan McGlinn (2010-03-30). "Fly-Fishing in Russia". Departures.com.
- "Glasnost on the Ponoi" (PDF). Fly Rod & Reel Magazine (March): 9. 1991.
- Jimmy Carter (2015). "Glasnost on the Ponoi" (PDF). Fly Fisherman Magazine (April-May): 16—18.
- Tarquin Millington-Drake. "Salmon galore on the Ponoi". FieldSports.
- Роман Шлейнов, Анастасия Голицына (2014-04-28). "«В контакте» ли Щербович с Сечиным" (in Russian). Vedomosti.
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