It was the most expensive day trip I’ve ever taken: Tweed Angling Fair, May 2007. Jaw-droppingly effortless casting exhibitions then a wander through the trade stands. Drawn as if by magnet to the WhereWiseMenFish fish stand. Hooked! Sea trout fishing on Patagonia’s Rio Gallegos. I’d seen Paul Young’s ‘Hooked on Fishing’ programme and always thought I’d love to go there. Can we afford it? Carpe diem. Tempus fugit. Anno domini. More prosaically, Richard Branson’s ‘Screw it, let’s do it!’ Sarah said yes. Decided – Week 11, early March 2008.
We fell in love with the place as soon as we arrived. The lodge was homely, the food superb and company good. Unusually low water conditions meant that the fishing was tough but the guides were friendly, helpful and oh so patient with the incompetent (i.e. me). At the end of the week we were already planning a return visit.
Tweed Angling Fair, May 2008. Beeline for WhereWiseMenFish stand. No hesitation this time – decided: week 1, January 2009, this time with Jurassic Lake for good measure while Sarah would do some guided sight-seeing.
Saturday 3 March: met at the airport by Manuel, one of the guides. Greeted like long-lost friends and driven to the lodge. Earlier arrival this time. Manuel said, “Let’s fish”. Token unpacking before heading off to the river. What a difference! High water and reports that there were plenty of fish coming up. Within half an hour of starting, one deep-bodied, silver 15lb sea trout on the single-hander. I’m in heaven. Double-handed fishing from now on as the river rises overnight.
Next day, down to earth again. Lost a sea trout early on Wagon Wheel, caught any number of brownies that would have meant a bumper day back home, but here – disappointment. Perspective changes in Patagonia.
By the end of the week, 11 sea trout from 8lb to 17lb, every one beautiful, silver, deep-bodied and powerful. Even more hooked and lost. Lots of good brown trout to maintain the interest between the sea trout.
My admiration for the guides knows no bounds. Boy, do they know their river! Ignore their advice at your peril. If they say, “One more metre”, you do it – probably makes the difference between covering and taking fish and blanking. They take as much pleasure from your hooking and landing fish as you do yourself. They’re all dab hands with their Nikons and Canons too, taking wonderful photographs of your triumphs. At the end of the week you’re presented with a compilation of photographs taken by all guides and anglers during the week – nice touch.
The other residents proved excellent company. We were 2 Brits among 6 Swedes and had a wonderful time. Mr Loop himself played mein host, entertainingly and instructively while he was involved with a Swedish film crew making their equivalent of ‘Hooked on Fishing’.
The 3 'girls' running the domestic side of Las Buitreras do an incredible job, making guests feel at home and producing the most wonderful meals. They’re also very easy on the eye!
As a contrast to the refinements of Las Buitreras the allure of monster Rainbow Trout at the complimenting Jurassic Lake was to much to resist. In summary by the time I’d finished my Patagonian fishing trip I’d caught my biggest sea trout, my biggest brown trout, my biggest rainbow trout and biggest trout on a dry fly. Not bad! The trip goes all too quickly. Without my knowing, Sarah has already agreed with Mr Loop that we’ll be back New Year 2010.
An expensive day trip, yes, but I’m not complaining!
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