Week 2 started much like we left off last week with water levels at around 15 above zero and overall excellent conditions. With this type of water, we expect more fish to push up the river, something that was confirmed during the week by several sightings of schools of fish moving upstream. With a second straight week with over 100 fish landed and several new personal records we can’t be anything but thrilled about how the season has started.
The week started with a very warm day where we saw temperatures up to 30 C (86 F). Luckily this heatwave was of the shorter kind and on day 2 we were back to cooler temperatures again. With the water level remaining high we continued fishing slightly bigger flies like girdle bugs and different streamer patterns in green, yellow, and black. During the first half of the week, slow sink tips were the go-to choice, but as the water started dropping towards the end of the week, we switched the slow sink tips to intermediate tips.
Our group this week, consisting of a nice mix of guests from the USA, Canada, Sweden, the UK, and Poland, couldn’t wait to see the river and to make their first casts. Among many Las Buitreras regulars this week, we also welcomed three first-time visitors to our lodge. Susan and her son Jack from Canada had fished the Rio Grande a few years back but were now ready to try Rio Gallegos for the first time.
After finishing our weekly intro, explaining the river, how we fish it, recommended tackle for the current conditions, and a few things around the lodge, Susan and Jack went to work, setting up their gear. Jack took the lead and within 5 minutes the lawn in front of the lodge looked like a tackle shop. We love when people come prepared, but to call Jack with his arsenal of gear well-prepared would be a gross understatement. At some stage, we had to check his bag to see if he was pulling some magic trick on us as he just kept pulling more rods and reels out of this seemingly bottomless bag. It’s great to see such enthusiasm and excitement.
When it finally came time to fish, both Susan and Jack started at a good pace, landing fish on a regular basis, adding size to each landed fish. Zone 2 turned out to be the most productive part of the river for them both this week. Susan had four double-digit fish in Machaca pool, the biggest tipping the scale at 14 lbs. This is a fantastic pool with faster water and we usually swing the fly like one would for Atlantic salmon. The shallow water is the perfect setup for some intense runs and jumps, a great spectacle for onlooking fishing partners and guides but often nerve-wracking for the one holding the rod.
Jack ran into his most intense battle partner of the week a couple of hundred meters downstream in La Recta. Fishing a Yuk Bug near the middle of the run, his swing was suddenly interrupted by a 17 lb seatrout crushing his fly. A great fight followed and Jack got a proper test of his favorite switch rod before he could land this stunning fish.
Jack and Susan will be with us for a couple more days next week so stay tuned for more from them. At the time of writing this, we can already say that there has been some real excitement and heartbreak (fishing related of course) going down.
Our good friend Michael, who’s been coming here since forever it seems, brought a few friends this time around. You might know Michael from our video “The Blakely Testimonial” that you can find on our website. A must-watch if you’re thinking about visiting us at some stage. Apart from making a cast or two here and there, Michael usually enjoys the social side of these trips, chatting with the guides about their lives, and Argentinian culture, or just enjoying a vino Tinto next to the river.
This week Michael was fishing together with Pontus, here for his second week of the season. Pontus has also been here several times and last season he stayed for three straight weeks. Although he’s seemingly always finding fish, being exceptional angler as he is, that one trophy fish over 20 lbs was still eluding him. Until now that is. We can’t count the number of fish Pontus has landed between 17-19 lbs over the years, always coming in just shy of that dream mark. Last year we remember him losing an absolute tank up in Zone Zero that would have most likely been the fish of the season. On day one of the week, Pontus and Michael were up in Zone 1. We had seen quite a few big fish moving and jumping in Turning bank so far and thought one of them would take a fly eventually.
Fishing this pool in good water conditions always gives you that feeling that you’re about to get interrupted mid-swing or on the first strip. Pontus, fishing a big leech, had reached the lower section of the pool without a bite when suddenly the pool exploded. As soon as the line got tight we knew this was a proper fish and Pontus realized quickly he was nothing but a passenger at this stage. Several minutes later after a couple of crazy runs, some intense headshakes, and for Pontus a roller coaster of emotions, the fish was within reach. As a bystander that last move, when the fish is just about to be landed, is definitely the worst to watch. It just feels like you have everything to lose at that stage so it was with great relief we saw the fish being scooped up and resting firmly in the net. Pontus, knowing how precious these fish are, let out a roar that is still ringing in our ears five days later. Now, the big question was of course: Would it break the 20 lb barrier, or was this going to be another incredibly close call for Pontus? After weighing the fish three times it was confirmed that Pontus finally can call himself a member of the 20 lbs club with the fish weighing in at 20.1 lbs. Huge congrats Pontus, well deserved!
Our Polish team, Maciej and Rafal, have been fishing with us many times in the past and it was great to see both of them again. As mentioned earlier, Turning Bank was holding some big fish this week and Maciej and Rafal were two of the anglers that got to experience this, both hooking into some absolute monsters within minutes of each other. Unfortunately, none of these fish were landed but we got to see enough of the fish during the fights to know that there could have been more than one 20 lbs fish landed this week.
After the initial disappointment of losing what could have been the fish of a lifetime, they got on very well and enjoyed every minute on the water. Maciej, a big fan of fishing sunray shadows, had great results with it all week. One standout session for Maciej and Rafal came in Zone 4 when they came across a huge school of fish moving through the pool, pushing water, and creating wakes, like a school of dolphins moving up the river. Maciej was quick to react and got his sunray in the water. In quick succession, he landed a 16 and a 14 lbs fish. Rafa also did his part and landed a nice 10 lbs fish. All this in a matter of minutes. How fortunate are we to get to experience these types of moments on the water! Amazing times.
Thomas from Sweden and Colin from the UK were fishing together this week and to no-ones surprise, they were on point from day one. Thomas is another regular guest here at Buitreras and knows his way around the water very well. Colin quickly nicknamed Thomas “The Machine”, due to his consistency and machine-like movement through each pool. There probably wasn’t a seatrout in the river that didn’t Thomas Girdle bug swinging by at least once. With a high of six fish landed in one session, and 18 for the week, Thomas ended up “top rod” of the week.
Colin, visiting us for the first time had never tried fishing for sea-run brown trout before and enjoyed every minute of it. So much so that he rebooked for 2024 on day two of the week already. As for most avid salmon anglers, it takes a little time to adapt to the way we fish here but Colin quickly picked it up. After a nice session on day two where he landed 3 fish, the biggest caught in Machaca on a Sunray and weighing in at 12 lbs, Colin is now a full-feathered Rio Gallegos fan.
Another new pairing this week was Jordan, a regular for many years, and Evan, a first-time visitor here at Buitreras. We first met Evan when he came to fish with us in Kangia, Greenland, this past summer. Evan came in hot and landed his first Argentinian seatrout in his first session on the water. Evan was swinging a sunray across the lower part of C-pool when a football-shaped, chromer, decided he’d had enough and went full destruction mode on that poor Sunray.
Jordan, always relaxed and covering water perfectly, had his best session on day two when he landed 3 fish in quick succession.
Last but not least, we were fortunate enough to have father and son duo Bill and Will from Maine, back at the lodge again. They have also been visiting us here for years and it’s always great to have them at the lodge. As most regulars that come back year after year, they both have their own rhythm when they fish Rio Gallegos which works very well. The talk in the lodge before each session this week was centered around who was going to be lucky and run into one of those big schools of fish moving up the river. Bill and Will had a few of those encounters, both in Zone 5 and Zone 3, and managed to land a couple of really nice fish. One of the standout fish was a 14 lbs seatrout that took a black Woolly Bugger, an all-time favorite fly here at Buitreras.
As always, we would like to thank all of you that visited us for this phenomenal week, we can’t wait to see you all again!
Stats of the week
Biggest sea-run brown trout landed: 20,1 lbs by Pontus G from Sweden
Top rod of the week: Thomas L from Sweden with 18 sea-run brown trout landed
Number of fish over 10 lbs: 27
Average size:8,5 lbs