Gareth B reports from Tierra del Fuego

by Charlie White

Water levels remained very low and we knew before we went what to expect, knowing that the fishing had been difficult all season. That proved to be the case; the numbers for our six rods were down on previous seasons, but we didn’t struggle. I believe the six of us at La Villa actually landed more fish than the twelve rods at the top lodge. Personally, I had fourteen fish for the week with yet again three times as many lost, the amazing statistic was that my average weight of fish was 14lbs. Where on this planet could you average sea trout like that? I only had two fish under 10lbs, one at 9lbs and a wee one at 3lbs.

Conditions were tough; with low water we didn’t see as many fishing moving as we normally do but a five inch rise in water midweek brought in some fresh fish to stir things up and I was again lucky to land the biggest fish at La Villa for the week – a lovely fresh hen fish of 22lbs! I had another at 20lbs. My fishing buddy from Scotland travelling to TDF for the first time smashed his personal best with fish at 19lbs and he will forever remember losing what myself and Federico the guide simply saw as a monster. He played it very well and despite taking him down to the backing a couple of times and nearly in the net once, it all ended in tears when it took a big run downstream, swam around a underground tuft of grass and was gone! It was easily in the high twenties. We normally have the first frost of the year our week but not this year – it was instead mild with rain during the night. The weather challenged us on the Friday with winds at 100km/h and gusting even stronger, it was a struggle just to stand up let alone cast and fish. The demands on anglers and their tackle are exceptional and unfortunately one of Malcolm’s rods just shattered when he went to lift line from the water for a cast! I have never seen anything like it before and a quick 200M dash (I believe I was caught on video) running after my beanie hat was something to behold. With that wind behind me I’m sure I was faster than Usain Bolt! It wasn’t in vain but playing a 12lbs sea trout in those conditions is not for the feint-hearted, not only do you battle the fish but battling the wind is just as tricky.

The guides, lodge staff and all the arrangements in Buenos Aires was as normal first class. Fishing the Rio Grande is not easy if some people read about it and think it’s a fish every cast, it is not but you have the same challenges as with other rivers… water levels, fish numbers and fish in the taking mood, plus of course perhaps some skill in presenting the right fly in the right place. Although numbers were down, it was still a trip to remember and Malcolm described it as his best ever angling trip and learnt so much about casting and fishing techniques he never knew before all thanks to the knowledge of the three guides.

We had a absolute blast and another memory of a lifetime, I look forward to returning for another adventure in the future.”