Coun­tries in Con­trast

Fish­ing both sides of the An­des in one trip high­lighted the re­gion’s di­ver­sity By Nick Price

Anglers Journal - - FIRST LIGHT - Nick Price, a pho­tog­ra­pher and fly­fish­ing guide in Idaho, is a fre­quent vis­i­tor to Ar­gen­tine and Chilean Patag­o­nia.

Last April, in the heart of au­tumn, I took a trip to Ar­gen­tine and Chilean Patag­o­nia. It was my first time vis­it­ing both coun­tries dur­ing the same trip. One was arid, ex­pan­sive and windswept. The other was lush and rugged, with rel­a­tively short river val­leys. As a re­gion, Patag­o­nia is a dream des­ti­na­tion to be sure, but there are cer­tainly dis­tinc­tions be­tween Ar­gentina and Chile be­yond the fact that their re­spec­tive peo­ple don’t al­ways like each other. I trav­eled with my friend Zac May­hew. The two of us met up with Jorge Trucco, Ar­gen­tine Patag­o­nia’s first out­fit­ter, in San Mart’n de Los An­des. Our first stops were the Alu­minž, Li­may and Chime­huin rivers. We pro­ceeded to fish by drift boat, and by walk­ing and wad­ing, all three rivers in eight days. Ar­gen­tine Patag­o­nia re­sem­bles in many ways the to­pog­ra­phy of south-cen­tral Idaho and much of Mon­tana. The com­par­isons, to me at least, end there. Think asado, mal­bec, gau­chos, mate and rivers far less crowded than Mon­tana’s, not to men­tion a unique Span­ish that re­places dou­ble Ls with a J sound. As won­der­ful as the fish­ing, food and cul­ture on the Ar­gen­tine side of the An­des were, it was fan­tas­tic to com­bine a trip to Chilean Patag­o­nia, where the wa­ter­sheds are lush, beech tree-laden val­leys, and where an­nual rain­fall re­sem­bles the vo­lu­mi­nous tal­lies of Olympic Na­tional Park. Zac and I were met with rain upon ar­rival at Los Torre­ones Lodge in the Simp­son River Val­ley, owned by the Salas fam­ily. Three years prior, I had spent al­most a month with them, and I was ex­cited to visit. We were quickly whisked away by Se­bas­tian and Ben­jamin Salas. Their guide sea­son was es­sen­tially over, and they were ramped up to fish for a few days. Toy­ota Hilux fully loaded: Nine dogs, fish­ing gear, food for two days and nights, and we were off to a re­mote back­coun­try cabin near lakes ap­par­ently full of large brown trout. We ar­rived in the dark dur­ing a snow­storm and awoke the next morn­ing to 4 inches on the ground. The wood-burn­ing stove served both as our heater and as our cook stove. Mate was passed around. Scram­bled eggs and ba­con hissed and steamed on a skil­let. The dogs out­side ap­par­ently ate the res­i­dent cat. “The cat’s gone,” one of the boys said with the back door par­tially open, pulling in drift­ing snow and cold air. I re­mem­ber think­ing as we headed out in the Hilux to the lake that we would even­tu­ally fish in near-55-mph wind, new snow and white caps with pierc­ingly cold wa­ter. How ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful our tiny world is.

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