The following morning everyone is up early and ready to go. Needing coffee and a morning snack the guys are looking at each other. Around 8:15 a women arrives at the hotel and starts getting breakfast prepared. Argentines work on a different schedule than Americans and mornings are not for getting up early for. The fishing guides soon arrive and help speed up the process by shuttling coffee to us and getting things up to speed. Soon we are loading bags into their trucks and off to the river. After about a 45 minute drive we arrive at the river and load up the boat with our gear, splash the boats and we are off for an overnight camp trip on the Chimmihein River.
He was up on the bank when he sighted a nice rainbow behind a willow on the bank. He instructed me on where to cast my fly and was watching intensely as I made my presentation. I made three decent casts in the area and he told me to wait.
We have switched fishing partners and I assume the rear of the boat with all my camera equipment. There is a good hatch of medium sized mayfly duns coming off and fish are rising around us as we make our way downstream. My fishing partner for the day has 3 medium sized trout to the boat before I put the camera down and pick up my rod. I unhook my size 16 purple haze from the fly keeper and eye a juicy pocket coming up. I make a few false casts to work out the correct amount of line and cast my fly into a pocket between two branches overhanging the river. My loop straightens out nicely as my fly goes right into the leaves of the branch. Oops. A slight tug and it drops slightly outside of my target and I throw in a quick mend. Suddenly a nice rainbow sucks it in delicately and I am off to the races. A few jumps by the trout and the guide is anchored up waiting for me to land this fish. I soon feel a pressure to get it in as quickly as possible. I start to horse it in, as I know it is a great trout but only about 16 inches. I try to muscle him in as I would do back home and he runs to the middle of the river and breaks me off. I feel like a fool. Why did I do that? Well, the answer is easy. Because these are some of the strongest trout you can find. Many more would prove to us that size meant nothing. At times everyone thought they had a trophy on when in fact when landed it was a very nice 16-18 inch trout that ran so hard on us that we thought we had a 25 inches on. I released many trout over the next few days and I have never felt such a strong trout in my hand. When you unhook them and go to release them back into the water you thought you were arm wrestling Sylvester Stallone. Just a huge muscle in your hand that wanted nothing more than to break your wrist as they left your hand or at least give you a big enough splash to make you have to clean your sunglasses.
We fished all day through some beautiful country till about 8pm. We pulled into camp near dark and when we arrived it we were greeted by Luco and Martin. They are two Argentines in charge of camp and the gear boat. We stepped on shore worn out and camp was all set up, with a fire going and appetizers ready. Soon the rest of the group had arrived and by the look on everyone’s face they were very impressed with the accommodations. Soon refreshments and a quick bite re-energized the group and as darkness fell the stars shown brightly. We dined like kings on food all prepared over the grill in the dining tent and smiles and stories of the day boomed loudly over dinner. After dessert we circled around the campfire for a aperitif and let our food digest. To me there is nothing better than sitting around a nice campfire conversing with friends. The moon was nearly full and the stars were shining brightly and here we were sitting under the southern cross having a great time. We retired to our tents, some chose to sleep in their cot under the stars and once again sleep came easy.
Everyone was up at a decent hour and we were sipping coffee next to the morning fire and watching fish rise across the river. After a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon, OJ and coffee we loaded up our gear for the day. The next few hours were pretty magical. Fish were rising steadily and not super picky. Our guide Nico dropped anchor and set up my boat mate with a new fly. There is a very large brown trout that lives here he told us. I want you to cast about two feet from the bank and give it a good mend. Be ready, he insisted. The cast was made, the fish came up, followed the fly and missed it as it went downstream. We all saw the entire episode. It was awesome. My partner didn't do anything wrong, it just didn't happen. We tried again for another five minutes but didn't see him again. But it gave me total confidence in our guide Nico. I wasn’t even the guy fly fishing. I knew that what he was saying was the gospel. We had a great morning, but when Nico rowed to the bank and told me to follow him it was my turn. He was up on the bank when he sighted a nice rainbow behind a willow on the bank. He instructed me on where to cast my fly and was watching intensely as I made my presentation. I made three decent casts in the area and he told me to wait. He ran back to the boat and grabbed his fly box. He cut off my fly and tied on a foam ant on 5x. I use this method a lot myself and I grinned at Nico as I knew that we were kindred spirits from different hemispheres. My first cast landed in the same area and three-seconds later a nose of a large rainbow inhaled my ant pattern. I hooked, played and landed a great 21” rainbow thanks to Nico.
I was happy as a I could be and put the rod down and started snapping pictures of the rest of the group for the next two hours. The scenery changed quite a bit and we came out of pretty tight canyon and the river opened up quite a bit and became a more volcanic landscape. Soon it was nearing 6pm when we reached the Collan Cura River and we were at the exact spot we had put in two days ago. We exited the boats, had a cold beer and jumped into the trucks for our short drive to the Collon Cura Lodge.
Would you like to join me in Patagonia in 2018?
If you have enjoyed reading about my exploits in Patagonia, you can join me next year in February 2018. The dates have not been set yet but the adventure is planned. There is room for 5 anglers to join me in fly fishing the famous rivers of Argentina, such as the Limay, Chimehuin and Collan Cura rivers. The cost is approximately in the mid $5000 for 8 days of guided fly fishing, including lodging and transportation once in San Martin de los Andes. There will be overnighters on the river and under the stars with a well appointed camp. Nights at estancias (private ranches) with access to private water. Including unbelievable food and great Malbec wines, this is a chance to fish some of the fabled rivers in Patagonia with a great Outfitter, Chocate Lab Expeditions. His professional staff of guides can help you catch that brown trout of a lifetime. Give us a call or use the contact us link if you are interested and get ready for an adventure in South America.