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FLY FISHING BY DESTINATION FLY FISHING BY SPECIES

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The Secret River in Patagonia

The next morning at Casa de Campo we all met in the breakfast room for a hot coffee and to get ready for an amazing day at the Secret River. We were there like at quarter to eight and Daniel, the lodge owner, was waiting there for us.

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He had prepared some apple pies, fruit salads, some cereals, yogurt, and he had offered us his special breakfast with eggs and bacon from his own ranch. The attention and details, and the presentation of his breakfast is really amazing. It also featured some orange juice they make fresh every morning and also different teas to enjoy in the morning.

Eduardo, our guide, had breakfast with us and they were telling us about the program for the day. We were going to be split in two groups and Rell would be fishing with Eduardo, who is well known as Sanjua because he was born in San Juan province, and Pablo would be fishing with Gonzalo. Juan, who would join us for photos and videos, was going to split his time between the two teams, trying to catch some of the nicest fish and best moments of the Secret River. One of the challenges for the day was to find two nice names for this secret river…. we ended up with two names Liroy river and Black Gold river. By one vote we decided to call it Black Gold river, this is because the Black Gold is a famous casino in the Zapala area and Cutralco town in the area of Neuquen. 

We had met with Gonzalo earlier in the morning and on Tuesday he came from San Martin to join us, Rell and Sanjua, the guide, to go to the Secret River. It was very exciting to know they were taking us to a place where they normally don’t go fly fishing. It’s a beautiful small creek where we got the chance to sightsee fish, mostly with dry flies with small rods. We were using the same rods we had used at the Quillen river: 3, 4, 5 Sages, the Approach, the Method, and we also had one TFO that Juan brough and  that we wanted to try. 

It took us, well, I’m not gonna say how long it took us to get to the river, after all it’s a secret river, right? What I can tell you is that after driving we got to the river with the two fly fishing guides, Juan and Rodolfo, who was going to be in charge of preparing the camp and  lunch for us. I think everybody knows how unpleasant is to get in your waders and tight you boots specially if the night before you had a delicious barbeque and you drank some wine and you feel like your body is about to explode with lamb. The day was amazing, sunny, and by 9.30 when we got to the river there was no wind so it was kind of excellent conditions for small rods. We decided in our team with Gonzalo to use the number 3 Approach to start and very small hooks number 20 on dry flies, long leaders with 15 feet and 5x tippets at the end. Just in case Gonzalo brought 6x, just in case we wanted to catch some fish or hook some fish if we tried to go smaller and more artistic fishing, but knowing that probably we would lose the fish. 

We were expecting to see rainbow and brown trout in this river from 15 -22 inches and I do not wanna go further yet but I can say that the reports from the guides were very, very enthusiastic.

The Casino river was very, very interesting. It was a small creek with areas of slow waters and big holes. Some areas had little channels and nervous waters and some parts had trees close to the banks and some parts that were kind of open. The sightseeing fishing was very interesting there and it was very important to do it properly. Gonzalo explained that we had to approach the river slowly, otherwise the fish would see us and we would spook them away. So like 15 meters before getting to the bank we wanted to scout we got to walk step by step very smoothly trying to check the waters before we got close to the banks. Normally we were watching the river like from 5 to 10 yards outside in between the bush. We were searching for the shades while being covered so as not to be seen by the fish. 

I’d like to tell my personal experience in the first water hole that was in a turn. It was about 1 and a half yard deep surrounded by some small trees. Gonzalo, before I even had the chance to see the fish, just told me, check over there, look here, etc and we had a chance to see a fish that looked as if it was in between 18-22 inches. I can tell you the adrenaline was running through my body and thinking “this looks very good.” It also reminded me of my experience with my friend Juan Dumas, at the Filo Hua Hum river, a hard river  that I’m wandering to come back one day with this expert guides that make even normal people like me catch fish in this beautiful and sophisticated places.

So, going back to my story. We saw this fish and it was moving around, it was not a very quiet area. It was going up and down the river, covering almost the whole hole, all the area of the hole and the turn. It was about 25 yards between the bottom part of the river I was going and the river where he was coming up. He got steady in a shade so we started with a dry fly, we were watching him. The fly just got in the correct area, went towards the fish a couple of times and he did not take it. Gonzalo said after the third time, “lets change the fly so that we also give the fish a chance not to watch a different thing from what he’s used to.” By this time he wanted to try with a nymph and see if we got some chances in the bottom. We got some small nymphs, 20 hook and did a couple of casts. At that time the wind started blowing a little bit and we had to make some changes  because the number 3 rod from the distance we were was not that accurate. Again we got two times when the nymph was going with the current about probably no more than half a yard from the fish and the fish just did not react  to the fly. Again it was time off. Gonzalo said it was time to change the fly to a small floating or dry fly and we’re going to try to see.     

When Gonzalo was thinking about the fly we saw a caddy on the water going close by to where the fish was. We saw the  fish coming up the river and take that fly very smoothly so we thought, ok this is lottery time, this is our casino time, it’s gonna give us the big win. We got excited, we knew what to put and Gonzalo got this imitation of the caddy we just saw and we did that. I do not remember if we did one or two cast, the fly ended up going where the fish was. The feeling of adrenaline when we saw the fish coming up and taking the fly is impossible to put into words. Only people who have been into this situation and really love and are passionate about fly fishing will understand what this means, when the fish comes up and very smoothly takes your fly. It was a really really small fly, and Gonzalo said SET!, and do not ask me why but the hook was out of his mouth without giving us any resistance. We do not know if the fish open the mouth in the water again or he missed the take or what happened, but we can tell you that we felt very disappointed.

The rest of the day we spent walking, looking for fish, chasing fish and trying different things to get them out of the water. We were so excited that we ended up having lunch at about 6pm! Yes, correct, we’re kind of crazy, but the day was so, so nice it seemed a waste of time to stop for lunch. We got some small fish but I’d like to talk about a couple of fish that we lost and that were amazing. We went to an area that was like a big lake in the river. 20 by 20 yards I’d say, where there was a little stream coming into the lake and we saw three different fish in the area. The position for fly casting there was really uncomfortable, a lot of trees around so the cast had to be sending the line really high on you back and then coming down on your front side trying not to touch the water so as not to spook away the fish. Maybe we did some roll, so we went with the roll but then for a better presentation of the flies we just did the back cast, very up and high and then we threw the front line smoothly into the water.

Let’s go back to the fish. It was about 20 inches. We were really excited, we tried a couple of casts the dry fly went past the fish. We said “let it go a little bit more”  just in case the fish would turn down. One second later the line sunk a little bit because the line was tight and a fish we had not noticed came up from the bottom and caught the fly. It surprised us in such a way that when we put the road up the strength in our hands was way more than what we expected to have with our 5x so… this is another story where we lost our fish, but this is because we made a mistake and when we got the fish in the hook, we used too much strength to put the rod up. That was something I will remember for the next day, so as not to do it again. It happens, we know it happens so one suggestion if you ever come to fish this rivers, be very smooth when you take the line. 

About 45 min later I had the chance to get another beautiful fish. It was a rainbow trout, very colorful. It was in an area with white, yelowish sand where it was easy to see the fish. After three casts I was able to put the fly just one yard in front of the fish, and this fish took the line and run away so hard that when the reel stopped the line too fast, the stop of the reel was too strong and we could not hold it. It was another loss! It was a day in which I lost the three great fish I had. On the other hand, the good news was that Rell Tipton got his 3 nice fish that day. He only lost one because it was big and he could not hold it, but he was lucky in his day at the casino to get this three nicest fish and hold them.

Stay tuned, more reports to come!

Pablo Aguilo

Director

Pointer Outfitters

 

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