DE
RIO GRANDE, ARGENTINA, FEBRUARY 2012

In autumn of 2011, I decide at short notice to book my next fishing trip to Argentina in February 2012. None of my fishing friends were so spontaneous, I was on my own.

A week is almost too short for South America. Therefore, I planned for first few days to fish trout in crystal clear rivers and Lakes of Patagonia and then to fly to the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego. Fortunately, I snapped up a vacant seat in one of the prime weeks. // My flight was on 13.02.2012 from Innsbruck via Frankfurt to Buenos Aires and after a night, on a domestic flight to Bariloche.

BARILOCHE

Bariloche lies wonderfully embedded in a southern Andean Valley and is surrounded by many waters. There are ski resorts there, mountain climbing, hiking, swimming and just fly fishing, and it is a popular holiday destination. Interesting detail: the name Bariloche comes from the Mapuche word Vuriloche, meaning “People, behind the mountain.”

I am picked up from the airport and in one and a half hours taken to Rio Manso Lodge. The Lodge is located in the heart of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, a hundred metres above the river. The view of the Hess Lake is breathtaking, the landscape and the unique natural character of the rivers and shores.

On the first evening I fished on the Rio Manso. We floated with the dinghy approximately 3 kilometres on the fascinatingly beautiful river. But the conditions were not ideal. After a heat wave, the water temperature rose to 23°C; the trout was therefore inactive. // The following three days I went fishing in deeper waters, where the water temperature was a bit cooler, the Hess Lake, Lake los Moscos and the Fonk Lake. The lakes are situated between mountains, forests and unspoilt nature. I catch numerous brook trout, rainbows and river trout up to 60 cm long. To fish in front of such a backdrop was really fun; the organization, the accommodation and the guiding were first class.

In strong, Patagonian winds, a particular fish at the fishing went me: my sympathetic guide Martin of Flyfishing Patagonia got from me an ear-piercing with a Fat Albert! He took it rather calmly, and all was forgiven after a successful operation. The weather isnot really that nice: the last two days it rains continuously in streams.

RIO GRANDE

Fly fishing enthusiasts from all over the world know that the Rio Grande is the best destination for sea trout. There, you can catch Sea Run Browns up to 16 kg weight. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.

I flew from Bariloche with a stopover in El Calafate to Ushuaia, the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego and the southernmost city in Argentina. Therefore, Ushuaia is also called “the end of the world”. There was no connection from El Calafate to Rio Grande – which would have been much easier. It was another three hours drive From Ushuaia to Maria Behety Lodge on the Rio Grande.

THE MARIA BEHETY LODGE

The Lodge itself, the rooms, the food and the service were great. The guides are very professional and very good fly fisherman with some international guiding experience. The Maria Behety Lodge has a maximum of 16 rods, and has 100 of the best pools at 32 miles on the lower Rio Grande on both riverbanks. No other Lodge on the Rio Grande provides these possibilities.

In the lodge there is a fully equipped fly shop where you can find really everything important. What should go out again; don't worry, all the common nymphs, streamers and lines.

MY FISHING COLLEAGUES

Besides me, there is a South American, John Travis, and otherwise all American angler guests. The Americans and the owner of “The Fly Shop United States” Mike Michalak, Ken, Ten, Bruce, Benson and Kenneth

THE FISHING

On the Rio Grande, I make first acquaintances with a two hand rod. At home, I bought myself a Sage TCX #8 switch with Skagit floating shot head and corresponding sink tips and practiced a little. But still, the cast line is absent. Due to the very strong wind, it is beneficial to fish with the two handed rod. The wind is so strong that the cast with the single handed rod to the opposite edge and channel is very difficult to reach. Also the Menden works better with the two handed rod.

The water level was very low, the water was clear. The deepest points – and the best – were mostly in the outside curves on the opposite bank. In order not to stand constantly in deep the cold water and come too close to the fish, cast range of 20 to 25 metres was necessary. With the two hand rod there was no problem. 30 degrees downstream I cast large mending, let sink and swing, mostly without stripping in. In order to give the Rubber Legs movement, I was stripping back and forth. This way you can always stay in contact with the nymph or streamer. I was slowly stripping in places with little flow and was successful.

The nymphs

The most popular Nymphs can be bought there. Otherwise, according to water level and colour during the day nymphs in hook size 6 – 12 are best of all: Prince, Montana, Stoneflies, Copper John, Girdle bug, Yuk bug, everything mostly with rubber legs. After sunset and with darkness we changed and fished with Black Leech, Crystal Buggers and Wolly Buggers.

19.2.2012

07.15 a.m.: Get up, eat breakfast and depart for Rio Grande. Today, we are on the road with guide Andrew and travel to pool 11 Nirvana. // The guides fish themselves in every free minute, so you can learn a lot. After a few hours, everything flew already rather cleanly and stretched to the other shore. Learn by doing!

Around 10:30 a.m., we see a few fish on the surface. The concentration increased. At 11 a.m., I catch my first sea run brown with eight pounds, and I was delighted and highly motivated. Ken, my partner, had unfortunately, nothing this morning. // Around noon, we head back to the lodge for lunch and daily siesta until 6 p.m., which was almost too long for hard-core anglers. A two hour break would have been enough for me.

At 6 p.m., we go back to the water to the pool 32 Banghero. I catch four Sea runs, and I lost two. At 10.10 p.m., on the last cast in the dark I catch a 16 pound sea run with 80 cm in length. I am totally happy! What a first day of fishing on the Rio Grande.

20.2.2012

On the second day, we head to pool 25 Alejandro with guide Hernan, where I land two sea runs and a great brook trout.

There are also major brook trout on the Rio Grande that are not into the sea. In the course of the week, I caught some of them, usually in the evening, when we moved from small nymphs streamers. On the evening at pool 21 it is quiet for me. No bite. Bruce catches a small sea run.

21.2.2012

“Potato day” or “Papas” – so the Argentine guides call it, if you get zero. We are on the road with Sunnyboy Genaro. Except that he teaches me a few good tricks and I lose two super fish in the play, I cannot land a fish. It’s not much better for Bruce.

In the morning, we were upstream where I lose two fish, in the afternoon we fish closer to the Lodge. Fishing colleagues had warned us already that the pool was not very productive the last days. That can change daily, because the fish move constantly, and a bad pool can be rapidly a top pool.

22.2.2012

Today we go with Lucas, who, incidentally, is a very good photographer, to pool 24 Julio, at which a section should prove particularly well.

We have two cars on the road, four anglers at Julio. Bites come almost exclusively in a specific location. For me, it was difficult at the beginning. All caught, and I had a long hard haul!

Finally I catch three sea runs, and hook a fourth, and lose it in the play. Benson catches a 22 pound male, the colour of a brook trout. A great fish! Unfortunately, I forget in the excitement to take a photo. A great morning for all at Julio. // In the afternoon we drove in extreme wind and icy cold to pool 26. I catch on the third or fourth cast a 14 pound Sea run. Then two brook trout on the streamer, with one 55 cm! It was really cold, I was cold, and there was nothing more. Bruce had no more success.

23.2.2012

With Diego we travel downstream to pool 24. Mike Michalak, owner of Flyshop USA, straight away catches a 16 pound fish!

I am almost three hours without a bite; on the water is no activity. I am glad that Diego decides to change the pool. We go to pool 31 Horseshoe. An interesting place. The shore is slippery, and loamy. Three or four metres from the shore are a steep fissure, where the water is three to five metres deep. Totally promising! And fish turn in the pool! Difficult to get the nymph down, because the water has back flow, and the current is fast.

After a few attempts, I find a solution to fish the passage. In the 50 minutes up to Siesta I catch three fish: 6, 11, and 15 pounds. And finally, the first male with a genuine spawning hook. // In the afternoon at pool 16 Mike hooks a fish and loses it. I had “Papas”! With the return to the Lodge I learn that in the morning on the last day of the week that we are at the top pool X Andrew. Anticipation and expectations are big.

24.2.2012

The day starts cold, without wind, the water is frozen at the edge of the river, as smooth as glass. The night was clear.

Our guide, head guide Federico, gives us a guideline: At the first pool we have to catch 10 fish, everything else is weak. Now: We catch in the morning with no wind, and sunshine 18 fish, I 11! I am very proud of that, because I have more fish than John, the South African, who otherwise always outclassed us. A great day! Twice we have double strikes. As a Coronation I catch at 11:00hr a 26.5 pound female sea run!

In the afternoon, I catch nothing more, but John three fish, and thus he brings me back to the ground. I am pleased with him.

SUMMARY

I had a great week on the Rio Grande. The conditions were good; the weather was a slightly cold but fine and the most important: fishing was a dream! I have developed a real relationship with my two handed rod and learned a lot. What can I say: I have now decided to return in January 2013. Perhaps with a friend, as the photos are certainly convincing

RESULTS OF THE WEEK

IIn this great week in six days, I have caught the following fish:

25 Sea runs
18 fish with 5 -15 pounds
5 fish between 15 and 20 pounds
1 fish with 26.5 pounds

ALL IMAGES FROM THIS TRIP