Local fishing guide picked to guide charters in Russia
Local fishing guide Owen Plair of Bay Street Outfitters has embarked on a 5 month long stint in Russia as a fishing guide on the famous Ponoi River, which is said to be the best Atlantic Salmon river in the entire world. When he informed us of his opportunity, we were very happy that he was asked and given such an honor. Owen will be sharing his experiences and comparing fishing in Russia, with fishing right here in the beautiful Beaufort waters. As he sends us his blog updates, we will share them with you.
Lowcountry Goes to Russia
By Owen Plair | When the Lowcountry comes to mind, there are numerous things I automatically think of including redfish, fly fishing, spartina grass, mud flats, gorgeous women, and a place that I have called home my entire life. When Russia comes to mind, the first thought into my head is how my parents adopted my youngest sister from Russia 9 years ago. Then there is the cold weather, fuzzy hats, vodka, gorgeous women, and a place I know nothing about. As you can see my sister and of course gorgeous women are the only two things I thought about when comparing Russia to the Lowcountry. Well, little did I know about Russia until I was offered a job guiding for the Ponoi River Company.
After the opportunity first came to my door step I honestly really didn’t know what to think about guiding in Russia because I knew nothing about the Ponoi River. After days of reading and research, I soon realized that this was not just an opportunity, but a dream come true. The Ponoi River is thought by many as the Atlantic Salmon Mecca and stated by many as the best Atlantic Salmon River in the entire world. I soon realized that Russia and the Lowcountry have more in common than my little sister and gorgeous women, they both have an absolutely amazing fishery!
You can imagine what kind of thoughts were racing through my head during the decision of guiding in Russia. Bay Street Outfitters was number one on that list and as a full time guide, and also shop employee, I couldn’t just pack everything up and jump on a plane. My decision was made final when I shared the news with my boss for the last 7 years. Tony Royal is more than just a boss to me and said, “Owen, you’d be crazy not to do this!”. That day Tony gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received and with his blessings, prepared myself for Russia. After all of this research I soon realized this was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed and I accepted the position as an American Guide for the Ponoi River Company in Russia.
The first part of the process after getting the job was getting my Russian Work Visa, and by no means was that easy. After months of paper work, emails, phone calls, HIV Test, trips to the State Capital, and loads of stress, I finally received my Russian Work Visa. I also started to purchase clothes and gear for the new area I would call home. I then arranged for my baby girl, Lilla (my weimaraner), to stay with my parents; Barrier Island Marine to keep my Maverick in their show room; and also having someone take care of my house and get all my cars under cover. The basics were done and then it was time to focus on learning the Ponoi River.
During the last few months I’ve learned more about Atlantic Salmon than anything I ever learned in grade school. Understanding the fish was something I wanted to be able to do very well when arriving at camp but still know I will learn mass amounts about the fishery from the experience working with the unmatched team of guides at the Ponoi River Company. Learning to use a two handed 15ft spey rod was lot of fun and a very different technique from double hauling with a 9ft one handed rod. Catching large mouth and brim in my pond was a pretty damn funny site on a 15ft spey rod! Then I learned about techniques on targeting the fish and how the different seasons change your tactics of fishing. I also learned all about the different types of fly patterns and lines they use during the 5 months I will be guiding there.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world but yet haven’t experienced what its like to live somewhere other than right here in the Lowcountry, let alone guide anglers to a species of fish that I have never even caught.
Yet I’m very confident that my ability not only as a guide but as an angler, will carry over to Russia. I take pride in coming from a saltwater background and transitioning into a freshwater world. I can’t even start to explain the excitement I have for this new adventure and really can’t wait to see how this experience will better my career as a fly fishing guide. The opportunity to guide for the Ponoi River Company came from a 4 hour fishing charter and I can’t wait to see what 5 months of guiding in Russia will have in store. The Lowcountry has brought me this opportunity and the excitement of seeing what I will bring back from Russia to share with the our beloved Beaufort is immense.
I will be flying out Sunday May 12th and will return on October 7th, just in time for the Lowcountry’s fall redfish madness.
Through these articles I will be sure to keep you all updated on my new adventure as an American Guide for the Ponoi River Company.
Please pray that I don’t come home with a Russian wife… or smelling of Vodka and Salmon.