Tierra del Fuego
Fishermen are an odd variety and none more so than fly-fishers. they have their little customs. they have their fortunate socks. They even have restrictions, and expressing the “W” word is one of them. Notice the breeze during an angling lodge, its quality, it’s bearing, its need, and you’ll get looks as sharp as though your ringtone from Verdi’s Macbeth went off during a presentation of The Cherry Orchard.
At Kau Tapen hold up, be that as it may, where the unencumbered breezes of the South Atlantic make the pipes of the wood‑burning oven thump like broke breeze tolls, such restrictions are futile.
Kau Tapen is on Argentina side of the island of Tierra del Fuego, south of the Strait of Magellan (windy) and just north of Cape Horn (windier). It takes such a shelter because it can below a ridge above the valley of the Rio Grande. it’s whilst far south as Blackpool is north, but the only time a bikini is to be seen at Kau Tapen is within the lodge’s sauna. it’s fortnight past midsummer, which I’m wearing two thermal layers, a down waistcoat, a wind-stopping fleece, two pairs of leggings and two pairs of socks below rain jacket and waders. I’m even wearing two hats, which i feel slightly over-dressed until I step outdoors. it’s 4ºC. there’s fresh snow on the Chilean hills. I now know why the figures in Bruce Chatwin’s writing In Patagonia all have red hands.
I had left beautiful Buenos Aires during a wave and landed within the two-horse town of Rio Grande, where the raindrops ran horizontally across the cabin window. Why? Why becomes apparent as we keep off from the lodge, over the ridge where condors hang and see the Rio Grande itself, winding across a gravel plain marked with the scars of old meanders. there’s an exciting bleakness during this landscape and thus the river holds the foremost important sea trout within the planet. Kau Tapen has access to a 20-mile stretch of it. A herd of guanacos canters along a camel-brown ridge as we drive right down to the first pool.
I’m fishing with guide Agustín Garcia Bastons on a pool called “Morita’s” and employing a single-handed rod. The wind isn’t so bad closer to the river, but it’s still strong enough to put my casting technique to the test, until I start working with it. The wind could also be a stern examiner; it is also the ocean trout fisherman’s friend – it ruffles the water and makes fish that are normally spooky in daylight more inclined to need a fly, a bit like the one that takes mine halfway down the pool. it’s only small – around 3lbs – which is lucky, because as I’m playing it, my reel detaches from my rod and falls into the water. My tackle has failed its first test.
At lunchtime Jean-Baptiste Vidal, head guide, tries to repair the reel, but what with the aperitif, the wine, the exceptional meal – and thus the prospect of a siesta – I forget I even have care within the planet until he tells me the superglue hasn’t held as I’m putting on my waders for the evening session. Timo, a self-confessed Swedish gear freak, lends me a really slick reel from his home country, a Danielsson. (I neglect to ask him how it works.) Timo and his fishing partner Peter have 11 rods strapped to the front of their Subaru. only one of them is Peter’s.
The ocean trout in Tierra del Fuego may take well during the day, yet they take far and away superior during the enchantment hour before dimness falls. it resembles stretched out an ideal opportunity to go to as a pivotal shower ignores, yet as I go through the moderate segment close to the tail of the “Dos Equis” pool, José, my pair, yells from upstream inside the focal point of the water. Agustín runs for the web. Squirming inside could likewise be a fantastic fish. It weighs 18lbs.
The wind drops with the fading light which we arrive quietly at “Condor”, our last pool of the day. there’s enough light to determine k out the length of the cast and to ascertain where the road lands within the reflection of the western sky. Something pulls at my fly which I copy a few of steps. It doesn’t return, but as I move right down to where the fly fishes the seam between this and thus the slack water I even have a very solid take. It hits with a deep clunk. It is big.
I realise I don’t skill the drag works on this reel, so I put my expire to cup it, but the Danielsson’s revolutionary design doesn’t work like that either; there is no spool turning that I can slow with my palm. it’s dark which I don’t skill much line has been taken. I even haven’t any way of stopping this fish. then it stops by itself which I start reeling and reeling, then I’m reeling up a slackline. it had been big, but it’s gone.
In the morning I forgot my fear that I even have lost the foremost important fish ready to touch all week, and head downstream with guide Max Mamaev to “Boca”, the lowest beat on Kau Tapen’s water. Amazingly, there’s not a breath of wind and thus the vast sky is scattered with popcorn clouds. Too bright, too still, says Max, but within the streamy run above “Boca”, I hook a stunning 8lb trout on a Sunray Shadow. within the still air, small butterflies flutter among the tufted grasses.
I had traded within the Danielsson for one of the lodge’s reels and continued with my single-handed rod – when the river is low it is easy enough to cover with a shorter rod. In fact, a little rod is vital on the evening we fish the Menendez, a tributary of the Rio Grande. Jean-Baptiste is that the proper guide for this water; his technical, active kind of fishing might sound fussy on a huge pool, but here his directions help get my fly right down to the lowest within the strange currents of “Japanise”, where I even have two takes which i lose both fish.
There’s a pair of Norwegian anglers within the lodge, Helge and Leif, and Leif goes to be a top rod for the week, landing fish after fish with rods that Helge’s company, 2instincts, makes. Helge has one he can loan me and it changes the remainder of my outing, a 12½-foot twofold gave bar that sends a shooting head line far across “Hill’s”, and my fly into the path of a new 9lb fish. I’m crazy. because the wind picks up again within the evening, José is fencing with it in “Big Horn”, where getting the fly tight to the far bank is significant, while my sabre cuts through to land my first fish within the teenagers.
The next day the wind is back and stronger than ever, but the tables are turned. Guide Pelle Tronde takes us to where he thinks we’ll get a line out and José is best equipped to punch out a quick line alongside his short rod. Pelle points me to a spot around the corner, a little run that’s seldom fished, where the wind direction wouldn’t be so difficult. The Sunray Shadow again provokes a take, a fat 12lb trout that I beach on the shingle. It’s an extended way off the only of the week – 24lbs for Kau Tapen, 32lbs for the river – but it’s my most satisfying catch.
Often the wind drops towards dusk, but today it’s getting stronger. We come to the last pool of the day and a storm is piping through downwards. it’s hard to open the door of the SUV. We lean into the wind to steer. Wading out at the very best of the pool there are white caps breaking against my backside. But I’m warm and dry, my line is zinging out, and thus the fly is fishing alright.
After 40 minutes, José has had enough and gets back within the Subaru, but I’m fishing the only sea trout river within the planet at the proper time of day with a guide so determined I buy a fish that he stands upstream to act as a windbreak and changes my fly for progressively heavier Black Leeches. I’m not stopping until something takes. And a willing seven‑pounder obliges.
We have Agustín again on the last evening. Near the middle of “Flamingo” could also be a smooth, green bank that curves down towards the water a bit like the cushion on a billiard table and my fly – a flexible-legged nymph – jumps off it into the water.
It swings round into this and is taken by a handsome fish that flick-flacks across the pool. Three casts later I land its twin. because the sun sets, Agustín takes us to where Timo caught the 24-pounder, but I cannot hook another fish to match the one I lost.
In the twilight, the earth appears stratified: a band of shingle, a strip of water, a ribbon of the bank, a dado of the horizon, a ceiling of cloud above and just where the bank touches the horizon, the gleam of sunshine grows steadily into a rising moon, huge, two days off full. Upland geese honk on a gravel bar. Fish splash unseen. the ocean trout are running.