What a difference a day makes. After two weeks of nearly perfect conditions, meaning cooler temperatures, clouds, and a bit of wind, we were suddenly hit by tropical summer conditions. With temperatures of up to 30 °C (86 °F), scorching sunshine, and almost no wind, it would have been perfect if we were chasing Bonefish in the Bahamas, but not so much for seatrout fishing in Patagonia. An interesting challenge says the optimist, and luckily this week’s group was full of them. At the end of the day, enjoying a cold beer, or a glass of wine in the sun on a beautiful river, still full of fish, is a pretty good deal compared to the snow and darkness back home.
This week we welcomed friends that have been visiting us for years, coupled with a few first-timers. We also had Susan and Jack from the previous week who had decided to stay a couple of days longer to fish in Zone Zero.
Thanks to the high water levels at the start of the season we’ve had several pushes of huge schools moving up the river into our upper beats. A potentially good setup for Jack and Susan who were spending three days fishing in Zone Zero, a big stretch of river located above Zone 1. They began their experience in this upper section by landing a couple of smaller fish each before Susan hooked a nice 13-pounder in Channels pool that took a classic Girdle Bug. Once released it was Jack’s turn to hook into a decent fish. This one substantially bigger again. Jack was fishing a well-known big fish pool, Green Bush, in the evening when a very and we mean very, big fish took his fly and went absolutely bonkers. At times like this all you can really do is hang on to your rod, pray that your real is up for the test, be ready to run, and hope for the best. Jack did exactly that while watching his backing fly out from his reel time and time again. Like an engine revving up and down. It’s not every time a fish this size takes to the air, but this fish just kept jumping, over and over again, putting its size on display. Jack, just like most other anglers when fighting a fish this size, was hit with the big fish jitters and was visibly shaking while trying to maintain his cool. The fish made a final devastating run all the way to the bank across the river, followed by a couple of vicious headshakes, and the tension on the line was gone. Brutal. When jack came back to the lodge you could see on his face he was absolutely gutted. Trying to encourage him we all tried to be positive, telling him there will be another one out there for him, but we all know how rare these real monster fish experiences can be. Little did we know that there actually was another one waiting for Jack already the following day. Here Jack is, swinging a fly in Valhalla pool, still devastated about losing the fish of a lifetime the day before, probably thinking he will never see a fish like that again when suddenly: Schmack! A deep, hard pull at the end of the line and a rod bend that said it all. Jack’s face turned from disbelief to a smile, to pure anxiety. Although this fish didn’t jump as much it went on the same long runs, almost emptying the reel from time to time, followed by a moment of standstill and then those nasty headshakes that you feel all the way up the cork in your hands. On top of that Valhalla has a quite strong current to navigate as well. Jack played it all to perfection and after a long fight, we stared at the fish getting closer and closer to the net. Carlos, normally calmness personified, waiting with the net was trying to get further and further out to ensure this wasn’t coming off. We could see his arms extending like the arms of Mr gadget. When the fish was no more than a meter at most from the net, pop, and then there was silence. We will leave what happened after that to your imagination but unfortunately, this happens quite often with really big fish down here. They know every trick in the book and more often than not they win. Both these fish had the potential of being the biggest fish of the season.
David and Derek from the UK have been fishing with us here at Buitreras for over 20 years and most of that time as a team, a friendship that goes a long way back. It’s always special to welcome them back and to share a few moments with them on the river. To quote David from last week: “You know, there are only two places in the world that I have fished every season through all these years, and Las Buitreras is one of them. It is always very emotional coming back down here, I love this place.” Strong words that means everything to us. Derek and David have been part of naming pools here at Las Buitreras and have caught their fair share of fish through their many visits. This year they had to deal with very challenging conditions but it didn’t stop them from enjoying every cast, hoping and waiting for that hard tug at the end of the line. Derek experienced a great moment at El Henrik pool, when he saw a fish rolling near the cut bank on the other side. El Henrik is a pool where you are forced to wade quite far out towards the channel, meaning you are in for some real close-quarter battle once a fish takes. After placing the fly right on top of the rolling fish twice without getting any attention, the water finally exploded on the third try. After a super exciting fight, Derek was able to land a nice 13 lbs fish for a quick photo before sending it back on its way. Another great memory to add to the selection. And as tradition has it this particular week, Derek and Nick G performed their famous Las Buitreras version of Hotel California, with new lyrics every season. A masterpiece that keeps getting better.
Apart from Susan and Jack, we had two more family constellations visiting this week. Sten and Nick G who has been with us as long as Derek and David, brought their kids this time around. Sten with his two sons Chris and Nick, who have both been here several times, and Nick G who brought his daughter Sara for the first time to show her what the Las Buitreras experience is all about.
Sten, Chris, and Nick are all very comfortable fishing this river and don’t need many instructions. Even though conditions were incredibly challenging they managed to catch a few nice fish during the week. Apart from fishing, they made the most of the warm weather, always laughing and enjoying a cold beer or a bottle of wine along the river, and chasing down armadillos, skunks, and caracaras with their cameras.
Sara turned out to be natural and wasted no time showing dad how easy this fly fishing thing really is. Although Nick G landed a nice double-digit fish in Barranca Blanca in the first evening, he didn’t get to keep the family bragging rights for long. Day two and Sara is covering Lawson pool with ease when she’s interrupted by an aggressive take mid-swing. Being her first fish ever on a flyrod she quickly asked her Guide Franco “what do I do now”? Sara followed Franco’s instructions to perfection and 10 minutes later she landed a beautiful 14 lbs chromer. Big congrats to your first-ever seatrout Sara, what a way to start your fly fishing journey!
Our second Norwegian team this week, Svein and Arne, are both experienced Salmon anglers but new to the Sea-run brown trout game. Switching their salmon rods for the shorter and lighter spey rods we normally use down here, it didn’t take long for them to get accustomed to this style of fishing and they were both soon hooking fish. Sven had a great moment in Barranca Blanca, when on his last cast of the day hooked a fresh 14-pounder. After attacking the fly with full force, the fish took to the air several times, leaving Svein in disbelief at just how aggressive these fish can be. Coming back to the lodge Svein stated that “it is absolutely amazing how hard these fish take and how completely bananas they go once hooked”.
Arne caught his best fish of the week at the tail of C-pool a couple days later when he landed a very nice double-digit fish.
We were very happy to welcome back Kjersti and Marianne to the lodge. They have known each other since high school and since then share a passion for fishing. After a break from travel during the covid chaos they were finally back here at Las Buitreras to spend time together and celebrate their friendship. They were both catching fish during the week and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, nice weather, and surroundings.
Frank, another first-time guest this week, was paired up with our friend Keith who’s been with us for years and knows the river very well. With the conditions being what they were, they both kept trying hard all week. It was great to see them both get rewarded for their hard week and land a couple of fish towards the end of the week. Even though Keith has been down here many many times, it’s safe to say that this week was the most challenging he’s experienced in terms of fishing.
During a week like this when the seatrout fishing is really hard, it is the perfect opportunity to bring a 5-weight rod out and try some dry fly fishing for the resident brown trout we have here. Since most of our guests focus entirely on seatrout fishing, the brown trout fishing in this river doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves. It is without exaggeration absolutely world-class. Just ask our guides what they do in their spare time.
We are keeping our fingers crossed for some cooler temperatures the next few days to cool down the water and get these fish more active. On a positive note, we’ve seen an incredible number of fish moving up the river even in these conditions which is a very promising sign for the following couple of weeks!
Stats of the week
Biggest sea-run brown trout landed: 14 lbs by Sara G from USA and Svein E from Norway
Top rod of the week: Nick G from USA with 6 sea-run brown trout landed
Average size: 6,5 lbs