Saturday, February 19, 2011

One Last Report - And a Good One

Damm, I haven’t written anything for over a week!   I’m going to use the excuse that I want to let Richard and Tyson write their own reports.  Richard left yesterday, the 18th and Tyson left this morning.

Last night was also the last night for Gerlof’s friends Vill and Richard.  For those who may not know who he is, Gerlof is the Dutch kid that is out doing me.  I think almost six weeks is good.  He will be here for 4 months!   They were planning on staying up rather late drinking and remembering their time here.   Gerlof planned to sleep in until about noon.  Plan was that I’d drop Tyson off about 8:30 for his flight home and fish the airport stream.  I’d meet Gerlof around noon to give him some extra maps I have. 

The airport stream was fishing very well – not wind! – but I was not catching well.  I got onto one nice fish after another but just couldn’t finish them off.  I keep going further and further, getting into more good fish and hoping to find my Karma.  It wasn’t there to be found.

About 1:30 Gerlof and I finally got connected.  Gerlof was still a bit tired and perhaps a bit hung over.  He and I have been exchanging information on our GEM locations.  He had given me the gravel pit so I owed him a good one.  As a spire of the moment trip we decided that we would go out and I’d show him the Upper ET and not just how to get there on a map.  Both of us being tired and Gerlof still “tender” as he like to say after a long night or hard day of fishing or both, we throw our gear into my truck and headed off.  So what happens on a spire of the moment trip?  Stuff gets left behind.  For me it was my cane (AKA wading staff) and my camera.  For Gerlof it was his lanyard and his camera.  Can you glimpse the foreshadowing?

We parked on the edge of the road near the corral and header toward the first waterfall.   Right off the bat a tired and tender Gerlof missed the trout that hangs out under the ledge at the end of the plunge pool.  No big deal everyone that fished there missed him.   I hit the run just above the waterfall.  This is the one where Randy got the big fish on the 7th (see post of the 8th for pictures of fish).  I got either Randy’s fish or his twin.  After my Karmaless morning I feel pretty good.  Gerlof got the nice long run that always holds big fish but none that have been touched unless we count E getting a hold of Randy’s leader with a big fish on the 3rd of February!  He missed it but got E’s big fish of the 7th two pools upstream.  From then on it was just one of those days!

And I mean that in a good way!  All the way to the second waterfall we caught one big fish after another!   The run under the foot bridge produced a fish about 18 inches.  The “Sure Dad” pocket produced a big fish (Editor’s note- On the 3rd I suggested to E that he hit this little side pocket.  He looked at me like I’m a fool but did it maybe just to keep the old man happy.  He was rewarded and I was vindicated).  In fact every pool produced one or more big brown, sometime up to 4.  We both caught 10 or more fish in the 18 inch and up range.  My trip fish came from a plunge pool half way up the second waterfall.  Measuring its length against my rod put it at just about 24 inches!

Of course no pictures since both of us had forgotten to bring our cameras.  I bet if we had remembered out cameras it would not have been such a career day condensed into three hours!

It was truly amazing fishing.  Tomorrow is my last full day here for this year and I’m not even going to fish.  There is no way I could top this afternoon’s trip to the Upper Upper ET!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rio Huemules and Arco

The weather has been fantastic the last few days.  Bluebird sky, 80 degrees and NO wind!   Yesterday’s plan was to go to Balmaceda and fish the airport stream.  You don’t get many windless opportunities there.   Plan was to get on the road about 9.  We came close.  We were out about 9:15.  I was very happy.  Now the other shoe drops.  Guess what we find at the airport stream bridge.  You got it.  Two fishermen just finishing rigging up.  Look like they had got there about 10 minutes ago.  We missed it by 5 minutes!  Plan B, the Rio Huemules.

The Rio Huemules is right on the Chile-Argentina boarder.  We stopped at the Immigration and Customs check point and told them what we were going to do and they let you pass.  Of course you can’t legally go into Argentina since you technically haven’t left Chile yet.  I learned all about that a few years ago between Greece and Turkey.  After the Chilean post it about a Km drive to an old bridge (45 54 51.55 S – 71 38 45.67 W).  On one side of the bridge a sign says Welcome to Argentina and on the side we parked a sign says Welcome to Chile.

I walked well downstream, Max a shorter distance down and E and Randy fished upstream.  The Rio Huemules is deeply incised into the pampas, has a sandy bottom with areas of weeds along some of the banks.  The fish are not really what I would call spooky but were very aware of their surroundings.  

I saw 5 fish, all over 18 inches and there was one I didn’t see at first.  I plopped a big foam hopper about 6 inches from some weeds and in a heartbeat I was into the biggest trout of my life!   Now I preach “Exit Strategy” to my clients.  Mine didn’t work because I didn’t have one!  I was about 6 feet above the Huemules and on the same side as the weeds and the fish.  My strategy should have been to slide off the bank and turn him away from the weeds.  I did turn him away from the weeds for a second but he got into them.  In the Valley of the Moon when that happened I had Ethan with me.  He went in and worked the fish out of the weeds.  I had to try and work my way down the leader picking off weeds with one hand and holding my rod in the other.  I could feel tugging on the leader and every once in a while feel water moving against my leg.  Then the tugging stopped.  I put my rod down to expedite getting my leader out of the weeds.  Second mistake.  He was still on and just resting.  Unprepared for his rush out all I could do is watch as a brown close to 30 inches shoot across the Huemles and under the bank on the other side.

After lunch in Balmaceda we headed back toward Coyhaique with as stop to fish the Arroyo Arco.  We fished it right above the bridge last year but locals apparently fish it hard.  Four years ago I went upstream a bit above the bridge and did OK.  Randy and I went up to the second fence across the river and started fishing there.  The Arco fished well.  We both got several nice rainbows and even nicer browns.  The deep holes only produced fish about 12 inches long.  They all had a lot of “trout tracks” around them.  The Arco is back on the fishing list.  

E went home today.  We fished the airport stream so we could fish until about two hours before his flight left.  I got him to the airport about 1, we had a beer and then I headed back to the stream.  At just after 3 when his plane flew over I raised my rod in a salute.  I’m going to miss him.  Of course on the plus side it means that we don’t have to compete with the big fish catching machine anymore. 

When you come down with us next year make sure it is while E is here.  He will put you over some great fish!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To busy fishing

Sorry I’ve been derelict in keeping you up to date on our ADVENTURES.  We have been getting in rather late most nights.  Add stopping for the “first fish” guy to by a beer and then getting diner and most nights it is pushing mid-night before we are really settled in.  Today we are going south toward Balmaceda.  Great little local place to eat lunch there so I have time to blog rather than make lunch.
Snow storms messed Randy and Max up.   

Randy got here a day early and Max got here a day late.  So they averaged out.  We fished the upper ET with Randy on the 3rd.  Randy is primarily a nympher.  Line control was a bit of an issue for him.   He tended to keep his rod tip up rather than pointed at the fly and wasn’t stripping in line fast enough.  Net result was when he tried to set the hook he was moving line rather than getting good contact with the fish.   Several good fish on but nothing landed. 
On the 5th we took them up to the Valley of the Moon.  Wind was not bad so we expected a banner day.  We got a couple of good fish, missed a few more and E put a fly over a 24 inch plus fish.  Fish never even looked at it than turned and casually swam downstream 50 feet and under a bank.

On the 6th we fished the Guillermo upstream of the Villa Ortaga bridge.  Lots of 10 to 13 inch rainbows, a few browns in that range, and as it typically is the biggest fish for Ethan.

Yesterday we were back at the upper ET.  E and randy when going to head well up while Max and I were going to fish the lower portion.  Plan was that Max and I would drive up to a simple walkout point we had found a few days ago and  pick them up in 4 and a half hours.  Well we got there 10 minutes late and they were 40 minutes late.  I expected it.   

“So how was it.” 
“OK for the ET.” 
“Really, just OK.”
“Ya, this was the best we could do.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

ET - Call It Home!

Two years ago I found a way to get to the Estero Turbio (editor’s note:  since I never get the pronunciation quite right now, at Ethan insistence, we refer to it as the ET) above the gorge section that stopped E and I a couple of days ago.  Just above the gorge two tributaries come together to form the ET.  The fishing is very good up there, especially the right descending tributary.   
Now that I’ve found the way in, fishing this area is a snap.  There is a wide spot on the road to park and an old gate to get through so you don’t have to climb the 7 strand wire fence.  Once through the gate it  is a simple stroll over the ridge to the river.   There is one small catch.  We ware quick dry shorts rather than waders.  The field we have to get through has a lot of a plant the locals call “hijo de puta”.  Look it up on google translate.  It is nice to get into the cold water after the walk.

The fishing is not very good.  It is very great.  And the surroundings are breath taking.  Rather than being “gorgy” it more of a steep valley like with rock outcrops and waterfalls of various heights.  In the lower section the banks are grass lined with some thorny brush.  The river is a series of sections of pocket water separated by long pools about 3 to 5 feet deep with the occasional 10 foot deep plunge pool.  As you get higher up the watershed, closer to cloud level, the stream side vegetation becomes more lush and wooded.  On the walk out yesterday, Randy said the area reminded him of scenes from “Lord of the Rings”.

All we catch are browns, and plenty of them.   Each trip up the river gives up a fair share of 18 inch plus fish.  Maybe even better is that the average fish is about 14 inches and there are a lot of them. 
To get the full value of the fish you have to see how big Randy is!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


When we last heard from “Normando” and his fishing amigo “Ethando” they were still in the afterglow of a fantastic fishing day in the Valley of the Moon.  Sunday morning, the 30th of January, found them looking out of Veronica’s kitchen window at a steady rain.  Undaunted, but slowly, they prepared for their day.  Perhaps over the mountains and out of the Rio Simpson valley by Villa Ortaga it would be dry.  And if it was raining there they could go over the next mountains toward the Richards.

It was still raining when they got to Villa Ortaga, so they turned to the east and headed for the Richards.  It was raining there as well!  But it wasn’t a wasted trip.  There is a farmhouse where the Richards come close to the road.  This area is above an impassable gorge.  Even with a name like “Normando”, he can only say a couple of thing in Spanish.  His Spanish is so bad that last year he told the attended at the service station to fill the truck with “hotdogs”.  But his trusty companion Ethando is rather fluent.  Over the gate and to the farmhouse they went.  The farmer said it was OK to fish there. They have another new place to fish and explore. Back toward Coyhaique they headed with a quick stop in Villa Ortaga to make sure the little restaurant/living room they had eaten in last year was still in operation.  It is.

Monday’s plan was to fish the Pedregosa from the bridge up to just above the first gorge.  As they came down over the hill they could see a truck parked there.  So, on they went toward Coyhaique Alto where the landscape is more pampas like to fish the Pedregosa above the gorges on the Estancia del Zorro.

Things are changing in Patagonia. Chile’s rules are Montana rules. If you can access a stream at a public access point you can walk the banks to fish.  In fact, most farmers wouldn’t say anything to you if you were fishing without asking first.  We still always try to find the farmer and ask first.  On the smaller rivers and streams it has never been a problem getting permission.  The big lodges and operations are changing things.  The Cinco Rio/Estancia del Zorro consortium is a prime example.  The Estancia’s  15,000 acres on the upper Pedregosa is clearly posted “No Trespassing” in both Spanish and English.  Additionally the consortium is purchasing leases on other properties. (Follow this link to get a feel for things
Estancia del Zerro property would be off limits but a tributary of the Pedragosa would be OK to fish.  It flowed from the north, under the bridge and onto the Estancia.  Upstream of the bridge would be OK.  And OK it was.  Ethando had the better Karma, both in terms of size and number of fish, than Normando’s.  Both of them could have used a little more big fish Karma.  There were opportunities for both of them but they couldn’t finish the job.