Memories of Argentina Fly Fishing

I’ve been spending some time putting together the next Argentina fishing trip.  A trip that will provide an opportunity for a small group of traveling anglers to scratch the fishing itch during the middle of next winter when fishing in the Rocky Mountain West is limited to braving the cold to fish tailwaters while your guides ice up.  Or fishing through the ice on a wind-swept lake.  Neither is for me.  But a week or so of long days of sunshine on productive rivers in the southern hemisphere summer?  That I can handle.

Whenever I start the planning phase for a new Argentina trip, I invariably think back on past trips – the people, the events, the food, and of course, the fish.  I remember the first really nice trout I hooked in Patagonia.  Notice I said “hooked,” as opposed to “caught.”

It was the first day I ever wet a line in Argentina.  I was fishing with guide Carlos Trisciuzzi – a fantastic fisherman who knows the rivers of northern Patagonia as well as anyone and better than most (www.patagonianflyfish.com.ar).  We were fishing the Malleo River and the water was so clear it was nearly impossible to judge the depth of the river.  By late morning I had caught and released plenty of chunky rainbows, but nothing of notable size.  And then Carlos tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a spot near the left bank.  “Mira!” (“Look!”).  There was big rainbow clearly visible holding in the seam.

 I started to get in better position to present my fly, but noticed an even bigger fish a bit further upstream in the same seam.  I pointed the second fish out to Carlos and he gave a thumbs up and huge grin.  I shifted my attention to the second fish and presented my hopper/dropper a couple of feet upstream of her.  As the nymph drifted into view, the huge fish moved up to take it.  And then, just before inhaling the nymph the larger top fly, a Stimulator, caught the rainbow’s attention and she abandoned the nymph a rose to the dry and took it in what could only be considered a leisurely fashion.  Just like that I was tight to the largest trout of my fly fishing career.  I’m sure the ensuing fight lasted no more than a couple of minutes – just long enough for the rainbow to head out into the main current, hang a left on the other side of a large rock, and break me off.  But I do remember that she came out of the water twice.  That Carlos declared “muy grande!”  when she did.  And that he was in the process of getting out his good Nikon when the rainbow and I parted ways (always the kiss of death in my experience!).  Later over a glass of Malbec, Carlos would assure me that the fish had definitely ‘would have been the largest he’d seen taken so far that season.  Que lasitima!

Sometimes the ones that get away are even more memorable than the ones we land!  And often they are the ones that keep us coming back for another shot at the prize…

My first Argentine trout - an arco iris (rainbow) taken on the Malleo River in 2006.

Gearing up to step in the Malleo River for the first time.  Lanin volcano is just over your shoulder everywhere you fish in northern Patagonia.

Gearing up to step in the Malleo River for the first time.  Lanin volcano is just over your shoulder everywhere you fish in northern Patagonia.

A different trip and a different river but this shot perfectly captures the reaction of losing a big fish! Irigoyen River.  Photo by Larry Jenkins.

A different trip and a different river but this shot perfectly captures the reaction of losing a big fish! Irigoyen River.  Photo by Larry Jenkins.