Patagon Journal - - CONTENTS - By Ro­drigo San­doval

Patag­o­nia's small rivers Re­cono­ciendo ríos pe­queños

The Fu­taleufú, Baker, Petro­hué, Ser­rano, Li­may, Grande, these are rivers that stick in the mem­ory of any fly fish­er­man that has ever en­joyed, or dreamt of, vis­it­ing Patag­o­nia. Many of these rivers have also won pres­tige for be­ing among the most sought-af­ter rivers for fly fish­ing any­where in the world. And it is pre­cisely, nearby many of these im­pos­ing rivers, where other small and medium trib­u­taries hide some the best fish­ing se­crets in Patag­o­nia.

Your first in­stinct may tell you that the big­ger the river, the big­ger the fish. But past ex­pe­ri­ence and sci­ence demon­strate that this isn’t al­ways the case. The size of a trout de­pend more so on the abun­dance of food in re­la­tion to the quan­tity of mouths there are to feed, and the ef­fort in­volved in sur­viv­ing in the river en­vi­ron­ment.

But it’s not only about size. Many for­eign vis­i­tors come here for an un­for­get­table fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. In my past work­ing as a fish­ing guide, I had the priv­i­lege of ac­com­pa­ny­ing clients who val­ued the com­plete ex­pe­ri­ence: en­joy­ing wad­ing a river, ob­serv­ing the flora and fauna, the scenery, and launch­ing small flies to pre­cise spots while ob­serv­ing one or two trout-like shad­ows tak­ing pos­ses­sion of a cor­ner. More­over, they could take a nap, wait­ing for the af­ter­noon heat to pass.

I re­mem­ber vis­it­ing Los Alerces Na­tional Park, in Ar­gentina, with two fan­tas­tic young guides who sug­gested to me to try my luck in the Ri­va­davia River. Once I moved closer to the bank, I rec­og­nized a trout´s re­peated pres­ence on the sur­face of the wa­ter. A quick throw of an im­i­ta­tion grasshop­per trig­gered an at­tack dis­pro­por­tion­ately ag­gres­sive for the size of the trout, ac­com­pa­nied by an equiv­a­lent fight. Un­for­get­table.

On an­other oc­ca­sion, a fish­ing day in the renowned La Paloma River, near Coy­haique, brought us to a side canal, of very lit­tle cur­rent, that you al­most couldn’t see from the prin­ci­pal course. Our guide knew of its ex­is­tence and of the res­i­dent trout that live in the deep and calm pools that mark it. A care­ful, five me­ters launch from the bank pro­duced a unique and vo­ra­cious bite that was hardly con­sis­tent with the mere two me­ters of canal width.

The rivers that flow into the sea in the Ay­sen fjords pro­vide the most strik­ing ex­am­ples. Enor­mous trout, var­i­ous of them with a life that al­ter­nates be­tween the hunt­ing for food in the es­tu­ary with stays in fresh wa­ter rivers up­stream, pro­vide re­ally sur­pris­ing fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

But per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ple is in re­mote Tierra del Fuego, es­pe­cially nearby the world fa­mous Rio Grande. This river, renowned for its enor­mous mi­gra­tory browns (Sea Run Browns), seems to take away all of the pres­tige from the small streams, some of them like spring creeks, twist­ing and turn­ing slowly through the pam­pas. It is in these rivers, a few of them widened thanks to beavers, that oc­curs some of the most in­tense fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on the en­tire is­land. Here, where a fish­er­man suc­ceeds in pre­sent­ing a small num­ber 14-sized nymph, just inches be­low the sur­face, and an ag­gres­sive trout at­tacks it with­out doubt.



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