During the last week of January we welcomed our good friend Ken Morrish from Flywater travel, USA. Ken brought a mixed group of first time visitors and regulars this time around. Luckily the conditions had approved slightly for their arrival and we saw temperatures in 15-20 C° along with some nice cloud cover. We also had quite a bit of that nice wind that helps you cover most of the pools with ease.
The water level remained on the low side as Patagonia is experiencing a very dry season so far. In these conditions we have mainly been focusing on fishing small nymph patterns during the day sessions and switching to leeches and Sunray shadows in the evenings. However, mixing it up with a Sunray Shadow during the daylight sessions keeps proving to be very efficient and we had some amazing action on these tactics during the week. More on that later in the report.
Magic hour continues to be the most productive part of the day in these conditions with the clear and low water. While morning sessions tended to be slower and quite tricky, it was a different story listening to the banter after the evening sessions. We still see new schools of fish moving through the river and catching them is all about hitting them at the right moment when they suddenly seem to switch on and get aggressive.
Tom has been to Las Buitreras before and has this big fish mojo about him when fishing the Rio Gallegos. This week was no different. Tom started by warming up with a 15 pounder from Seniors on day one, followed by a triple in Little Corner on day two, all in one run down the pool. The biggest, a stunning 18 lbs chromer. All landed on a green, ruberleg nymph.
Little Corner, one of our all time favorite pools, is an amazing little section of Rio Gallegos. It’s a narrow part of the river close to a big cliffside inhabited by eagles who normally comes out to check you out when you are fishing along. You normally hook fish very close to where you’re standing, calling for some very exciting fights.
Tom’s fishing partner for the week, Ned, was on his maiden quest in search for sea-run browns in Argentina. It started of really well when he hooked a nice fish on the first evening session. After a blistering run downstream, the fish unfortunately got the better of Ned this time around, but that’s the nature of fishing down here. You won’t always come out on top, far from it. Ned kept covering water really well and was eventually rewarded with a couple nice fish safely in the net.
After missing not one but two straight seasons here at Las Buitreras due to Covid, Tim and Jamie were finally back at the lodge and more than ready to battle some Argentinan chrome footballs. They had one particular morning session that stood out this week. Fishing Wagon Wheel, one of the most upper pools in zone 1, they both decided to try Sunray’s instead of the smaller nymph they had fished the previous morning. Jamie, starting at the top of the pool, carefully waded in position for his first cast. A nice presentation and we watched the fly swing down along the weed edge and BAM! First cast and the water exploded. Unfortunately the fish came off after a couple seconds but if the coffee hadn’t done it’s part, at least everyone was awake now. A couple more casts and the surface exploded again. Another strike and another lost fish. A quick check of the hook, all good, just bad luck, keep casting. Meanwhile, after watching his fishing buddy hook 2 fish in a matter of minutes, Tim had waded into position further downstream and started covering water with his Sunray. After a couple cast he managed to land the fly perfectly right at the hot spot. The fly swung downstream and suddenly the fly disappeared. Out of the water a monster came flying, fly in its mouth and tail straight up in the air, landing on its face. Tim quickly tried to set the hook and…..nothing. There was nothing there to set it in anymore. Fortunately Tim took it the right way, laughing hard and enjoying every bit of the surprise attack. Both Jame and Tim several nice fish during the week. Tim had a super nice 15 lbs in Barranca Blanca, and a 13 lbs fish in C-pool. Nowhere near the size of the fish he missed at Wagon Wheel but still very nice fish.
La Curva pool, an under the radar guide favorite, is perhaps one of the most interesting pools in zone 1. A deep channel with several big rocks scattered all over the bottom, and deep weed cutoffs on both sides, makes fishing here very interesting and sometimes challenging. Especially the landing part can be quite chaotic and we don’t know how many times we have ended up swimming with the net while trying to get the fish out from behind a rock or the weed overhang. Brad was fishing a Sunray Shadow during magic hour (last hour of light), when on his last cast of the day, a perfect 18 pounder, shaped like a torpedo, charged his fly and reminded Brad what seatrout fishing is all about. Brad managed to navigate all hurdles, included keeping the fish out of the weed when landing it, and after a great fight was able to land an absolute beauty.
Brad landed a couple more really nice sea-runs, including a 15 lbs fish, during the week. His fishing partner Nils from Switzerland, here for the first time, was fishing very well during these challenging conditions. He ended the week with 8 landed searun’s. His biggest, a nice 12 pounder was caught in Island Stream on a, yes, you guessed it, Sunray Shadow.
Ken, back hosting a group here at Las Buitreras for the first time in a while, was mostly hanging out with his group, having a good time watching them hook fish and sharing time on the river. Ken managed to squeeze a few casts in here and there but was more interested in seeing his friends having a good time. Next time we promise to give El Henrik a few more runs Ken.
Randall and Clay have fished together many times for steelhead in BC, and had finally made the decision to give the sea-run browns in Argentina a try. It always take a while getting used to the different way of casting and fishing here at Rio Gallegos compared to most steelhead rivers. But after a few smaller adjustments to their fishing technique they started fishing very well, covering water perfectly.
Randall, who usually fishes only dry flies for steelhead, landed 9 sea trout over the course of the week which made him top rod – not bad for your first stay Randall, well done!
Then there was Scott and Rob, brothers from the US and totally new to spey fishing. It didn’t take long however, to see that they were both naturals and would pick this spey fishing game up in no time. Rob got his first taste of these fish on a rather slow morning session, when guide Charly suggested to give Little Corner a second quick try before heading back for lunch. Rigged with a Prince nymph Rob started covering water and after a couple casts he was on. After a great fight with several strong runs and jumps Rob landed his first Rio Gallegos seatrout. A very nice 14 lbs fish was photographed and quickly released. That feeling when you come back to the lodge after landing a special fish is pure magic.
Rob’s brother Scott waited until the last session of the week for his highlight. He was fishing really well all week, and continuously improved both distance and presentation, but was still waiting for that solid, double digit fish. On this last session he was covering the lower part of C-pool when out of the blue he was surprised by a hard take. Suddenly he is standing there with a deep bend in the rod and line flying out of the reel. The fish ran all the way up to the head of the pool before dong a 180 and runniing all the way down to the tail again. And on it went, the fish running into the weeds, then straight out in the fast current, then down the pool, then up again. It was more than 15 minutes later before he finally got the fish close enough to be safely netted. And so finally, there it was; a fresh, shiny, 15,5 lbs Argentinian sea-run brown trout. Rob and Scott headed straight back to the lodge to celebrate with a local favorite, Fernet and Coke (we will consider swapping the Fernet for a good Tequila next time Scott). What a way to finish off the week!
Last but not least, we had our friends Nick and Keith from last week who had added three days extra to their trip to get a chance to fish Zone Zero, which is our most upper beat. Apart from some great seatrout pools Zone Zero also has some amazing brown trout water. Nick decided to give the browns a go one morning, using his 5-weight rod a special dry fly given to him by Ken Morrish, called the Morrish Mouse”. It only took a few casts before the Morrish Mouse got inhaled by an angry, 8 lbs seatrout. Catching a seatrout on a dry fly and a 5-weight rod is a very special experience and one Nick can add to his accomplishments here at Las Buitreras.
Keith saved his best fish of the trip for the last day. Putting his faith in a proven and very popular choice among anglers here at Buitreras, the good ol Copper John, he was fishing Barranca Blanca as well as anyone can when he was rewarded with that grab we all hope for every cast we make in this river. A good fight followed before Keith was staring down at a superb 16 lbs fish, Keith smiling from ear to ear. A quick photo and release, and for a moment, everything was just as it should be in the world. It’s a unique feeling that you experience as an angler, right after releasing a special fish, and Keith was soaking up every bit of it.
A big thank you to all guests this week! You all did amazing in this challenging conditions and we are so happy we got share a week here at Las Buitreras with you. Thank you also to Ken for bringing such a nice group over, we hope to see you again soon!
Stats of the week
Biggest sea-run brown trout landed: 18 lbs by Tom T and Brad F from USA
Top rod of the week: Randall S from USA with 9 sea-run brown trout landed
Average size: 8,3 lbs