Thursday, January 26, 2012


Both Gerlof and I have been noosing around the area along the Carretera Austral for the past 4 or 5 years looking for new places to fish.  Historically most of the people that have come to Patagonia to fish have gone to the lodges.  The typical programs at a lodge is a couple of days floating the bigger and well know rivers and a couple of days fishing the lakes and lagoons.  Very few offer walk wade fishing on the numerous other smaller rivers and streams.    But things are starting to change a little.  There are starting to be more folks like Gerlof and me.   Some stumble along like us, finding some rare gems of streams and then also fishing some streams that are complete bust.  Others try to pick our brains to find out what we have discovered.  And then there a few that just take them.  They are like burglars with a GPS in their pocket. Oh well, live and learn.  Over a glass of wine in a small Hospedaja we made a pack.  Rivers remain a mystery to all but the two of us.  No names and just general locations, as “in the vicinity of La Junta.” 

Our first location near La Junta was a river slightly bigger than the ones we normally fish.   But the water levels are a bit low this year so we were able to wade through shallow areas and find scattered spots where we could cross.  It took us all afternoon to fish about a kilometer and a half up the river.   We stopped where a nice tributary came in.  Most of our fish were Rainbows in the 13 to 15 inch range, a few fish 15 to 18 inches and one 20 incher for Gerlof from the tributary.  The Browns we got into tended to be larger, 15 to 18 inches.  Right below where the tributary entered was a long deep run.   It was full of fish just waiting for our big foam flies.   As we were reaching the head of the run we looked upstream and saw a fishing raft coming toward us.   The guide, looking very, very upset and talking tough for the benefit of the clients said, ”What are you doing here and how did you find this place?  You didn’t leave us any fish did you? ” He wasn’t interested in an answer.

Google Earth is the nosy fly fisher’s friend.  If a lodge got a raft into the river someplace upstream there were two likely alternatives:  1) the lodge was located someplace upstream on the river or 2) there was a way to get to the river that didn’t show on the maps we had.  If the answer was the first alternative we were finished.  But if the answer was the second we were in “Fat City.”  It looked like we were in “Fat City.”  Panning up the river on Google Earth, we found what looked like it might be a narrow road, barely more than a track, which led down to the river.  After about 3 Km the road became too rough for the car.  But what is a few Km walk to reach potentially rarely fished water?   Beside the bridge over the river was a gap in the willows that looked like where the rafts were launched.    The rest of the day was simply amazing, fishing over fish that in all likelihood had rarely if ever been fished to.   That night in La Junta we plotted our next year’s assault.  We would pack a sleeping bag, tarp, camp stove, rice and oil in our waterproof backpacks and fish up for a couple of days. 

The next morning we were off on a new quest.  On the way to our primary objective we crossed several small streams.  At each one we pulled the car off to the side of the road, scanned the water and debated where it was worth our limited time to give it a “test fish”.  A couple made the grade and rewarded us.  And a couple of them were less than rewarding.  The fishing at our primary objective was about as good as on the previous day’s river.  This time we didn’t run into any floaters.  But we cut the day a bit short when in late afternoon the river started to get off colored.  Once that happened the fishing shut down.  We were too far away from “civilization” for the color to be due to gravel mining and washing.  Our only explanation was that it had rained in the headwaters the night before.

A long day’s drive, with stops at one disappointing small stream and another gem of a find brought us to Coyhaique and the end of our fishing odyssey. Tomorrow I would clean 600 miles of gravel road dust out of the car and Gerlof would pack for a 10 day trip to Argentina.   But tonight we would meet at the Restaurant Charcabuco to have a beer and watch the TV, with the owner Juan, as the soccer team Colo Colo disappointed us once again.   The Chilean trout sure didn’t disappoint us on this adventure.

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