DE
RIO GRANDE, ARGENTINA, FEBRUARY 2013

Caught by the Rio Grande fever, I am again on the way to South America. The only downside is the long journey. However, from experience one is wise – this time I take a Lufthansa direct flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires. A real improvement!

I have convinced Georg Marberger to go on this trip with me. We naturally met during fishing: I have a yearly fishing license on part of the Ötztal Ache, a great stretch of river with strong river trout and rainbow trout stock. We are meeting on 25th January in Buenos Aires. Georg comes with Air France to Argentina. We spend the afternoon with a stroll through town, we grant ourselves for the welcoming with a delicious Argentinian steak and a few glasses of good Malbec. The next day we fly to Rio Grande. At the airport, the guides await us and take us to Maria Behety Lodge.

Bad news: The fishing was quite difficult in the days before our arrival despite good water level. An unusual heat wave with temperatures up to 30 degrees, heated the water up very quickly, and that wasn’t very good for the Sea Runs. They were not particularly motivated to attack the fly.

The water is almost clear and the water level slightly higher than the year before. At first glance, it seems that the conditions are not bad. What we need most of all is a constant water temperature. // At the Lodge we meet our fishing colleagues for this week. Except for Georg and me, they are mainly Americans, two Irish and two Englishmen.

THE POOLMAP OF THE MARIA BEHETY LODGE

27.01.2013

Sunday morning! Finally – after the long journey we start. At 07:30hr we drive with guide Andrew to pool 25 Theresa, where it is going off; fishes roll wherever you look. The wind has an estimated 70 km/h, not so comfortable.

It takes an hour, and then I catch the first, with 6 pounds, not a particularly great sea run, but still. Shortly after that I lose one. Alson Georg loses shortly before landing a better fish. // In the evening we drive upstream to Pool 5 Gringa and Pool 6 Record. The top places shares the EMB lodge with the KAU Tapen Lodge.

From the last year I have no good memories of the pools located upstream. The river is quite narrow with approximately 30 metres, and so I decide to fish with the single handed rod. The correct decision: I catch five sea trouts, Georg lands one. The fish with 5 to 7 pounds are generally rather small for the Rio Grand

28.01.2013

In the morning Miguel, a new guide, welcomes us; it is his first year at the Behety Lodge, but before that he had experience at other lodges on the Rio Grande. In the morning, we are divided at the Pools 11 Nirvana and 12 Barda. Nirvana has a reputation as a great pool, but today we have no luck. We see no activity and also have no bite. It looks as if the fish have left the pool and moved further upstream.

In the evening, we then fish pool 15 Castor and Pecera. Georg a catches small sea run, I have a “Potato Day” – in other words, zero.

29.01.2013

Today we fish at 22 Pool Andrew, with another new guide, Gabi. I have the best memories of Andrew: Last year, I landed 11 fabulous fish here in just one morning and crowning a 26.5 pound sea run. Is it any wonder: I love this pool and it reminds me of course of the top places. And it is as expected! The bites come in the same place as the year before, although the water level is higher.

The wind is strong and comes sideways to the direction of the cast. I have to cut the wind with an overhead cast at strong angle in the direction of water to get to the shore on the other side where the drop-off is. Then it's hit after hit! I catch five sea runs with up to 17 pounds and lose 3 more in the play. // George, who has little experience in casting with the double handed rod, does not manage with the conditions so well and is kept short: He cannot get to the good places on the other side and, therefore, cannot hook anything.

In the evening we go to space 26 Pool Largo, where the river actually is slow. However, the fish are rolling on the other side of the river. I saw nothing, Georg catches a Sea run. That's it for this evening.

30.01.2013

Today we fish with head guide Federico – which can only be a good day! The wind is extreme and even becomes stronger. We have to fight, in some cases with 70 km/h; the local weather report forecasts a storm.

Nevertheless, I have a great bite and an extremely strong play with long flights. That’s suspicious. I land a 14 pound sea run hooked on the side, and Georg catches a sea run. Sometimes you just have bad luck and only hook small fish. // There is a large barbecue lunch at the Estancia Maria Behety together with the guests of the La Villa Lodge. The food is something to be proud of: a large starter buffet, then lamb, pork, beef and chicken from the grill – excellent!

All the others tell of their good catches in the morning, while we come to lunch with disappointing results. We hope all the more for the evening session. The hope lives – because, unfortunately the prospects are modest: we have not a particularly popular pool for the evening; this puts pressure on the mood.

Our trump card is head guide Federico. Spontaneously he changes the plan, and we travel to the excellent evening place 31, Pool Horseshoe. I remember my great successes at Horseshoe and I am sure to hook something.

This place is extremely difficult to fish: the soil is clay and very slippery, and on the banks there is a 90 degree sloping fissure. The water is three to five metres, the current pushes strongly on the edge. Everything reminds me of the last year. I bring my small streamer on depth and I succeed in hooking two fish and lose one in the play. The difficult circumstances are not in Georg ‘s favour, and Horseshoe denies him a bite.

Then we change to place 32, Pool Banquero. Federico shows Georg the place and how it should be fished. Meanwhile, I turn and switch to a lighter shot head fly. On the second reel I hook a 14 pound sea run which has extreme bite marks from a sea lion. After sunset, when it is dark, the sensation: Georg and I have a double run! What a way to end this adventurous day.

31.1.2013

Guide Patrick welcomes us today with the message that we are going to have a storm and wind really roaring around the ears. And he should be right. At place 20, Pool Cabbezoni and Bocca, Quieto wind speeds are of up to 80 km/h and gusts of 100 km/h! However, the wind plays in our favour, the cast distance is gigantic. At the same time with the strong wind, it is even colder. I have just a bite, but we both land no fish. The same happens to our colleagues in the lodge. Nobody lands a fish except Doug.

In the afternoon the wind increases. Some in the group have doubts as to whether we should even go out. But the fighting spirit always wins eventually; no one wants to leave the bad results from this morning, and then in the afternoon we all go out.

On place 18 nothing at all happens at first. Georg finishes early, and I stay and catch a sea run with 6 pounds. So for me no zero round or “Potato Day”, as one says here.

1.02.2013

With Genaro, the sunny boy, we drive to the promising place 30, Pool Moneta, which had brought good fish the whole week. Right at the beginning, Georg hooks a super fish. I leave the fishing and film him, in the hope that he can land this beautiful fish. Unfortunately, shortly before landing he loses it and a little later another one.

And then I have hit after hit! I have found just the right place for me: in a row I catch fish with 7, 11, 14, 13, and 16 pounds and lose two more.. The evening session is at place 16. I have a sea run on the hook, and again, a good one, that I lose.

Georg has bad luck. 30 metres away from me he is fighting with a really great fish, that jumps three, four times completely out of the water, not even five metres in front of him. We see the fish very close – it is a sea run with over 20 pounds. But unfortunately, Georg loses the fighting fish; in a jump it shakes the hook off. It's a shame – it would be the biggest fish of the week!

SUMMARY

Fishing was first class this week on the Rio Grande; a really, really great experience. The strong wind is simply a part of the Rio Grande; otherwise, we were lucky with the weather: there was hardly any rain and it was also not as cold as 2012. A little haunted by bad luck, Georg has developed admirable fighting spirit. In the spring, he wants to make a two hand cast course, to prepare him better to return to the Rio Grande. He still has an open account.

It was a really good time, also together with the colleagues from our group. Rio Grande – 2014 I will come again!

ALL IMAGES OF THIS TRIP