Chimeuin 7:30 pm
When your mind hosts a kind of illness called Fly Fishing nothing is impossible. So it has not been enough a 24 hours trip for making us tired and to slow down the will to fish. We got to San Junin de Los Andes at 7 pm and after half an hour we were on the Chimeuin river for a first touch dressed with the European name called “Coup du Soir”.
The river is wide yes, but the wise man says that fish are never in the middle of it. The long willows branches cover the water for almost one meter, and there I’ll try first. The sun is sliding down behind the mountains; there is a strange light and the river seems to be a big mirror laying down. The surface of the water is moved by the evening blow.
Light it means nothing without shadows; a couple of casts made just to hunt as only some small guys were rising, but they were doing that not close to the big brown’s house. The big mirror started to turn into the dark and only then, the shadows of the big brown heads started to breake the water surface, sipping gently the small yellow mayflies.
What a chance!!!
The light was almost over, so the choice of the right fly was crucial as from that moment wasn’t be possible to change the fly again in the middle of the darkness.
Small caddis, hoping that before the yellow mayflies hatch was over a caddis one could begin. The casts were followed by the emotions to see again my line getting a bath on the Patagonia waters.
The big brownies won, but this was only the beginning of a 9 days long battle.
Malleo 10:00 am
I have had the chance to fish the Malleo for the first time 2 years before, and it has been love at the first look. If God has had the time to create a stream that better than other ones could represent a kind of fly fishing heaven, well in that case He’d created the Malleo.
There is something I cannot explain; it’s a kind of magic you can feel in its sounds, in its waters, in its fish, something of magic that makes me sure that my soul, as the ones of many fly fishermen” belongs to the Malleo. To me it’s a kind of Sanctuary where the faith of fly fishermen gets recover and peace (especially if you are a believer of the dry fly orthodoxy)
The upper Malleo is a very technical river that represents a great challenge for your caster and fisher capabilities. At the same time it can be really generous. The surprise are always around the next bend, and they could be really good (as a big brownie or rainbow that decide to grab your deceive) or a more fresh one like the one when you get the bath in its clear and fresh waters. In the upper section, the wading is very hard. Big and slippery stones make of every step a kind of question mark. “Do I take the bath now or later?” – and each time I take my bath on its water.
The river at this time of the year (end of February beginning of march) is not very rich of rising or big hatches (except of course early in the morning or late in the night), but fishing the right places (close to the banks or big currents) you can be sure that some trout will sip your fly gently, or it will attack your stimulators in a very violent way.
This year I had great success using the Deer Hair Caddis Patterns. That morning the activities of the big rainbow was really good, but fishing barbless and with 5 or 6x tippet, I lost a lot of big fish. The biggest challenge in the upper Malleo, is of course trying to convince a big fish to rise on your fly, but more than this is that once you hook a big trout some problem will begin before the trout will be in your net. The big guys don’t make long run, but short and powerful run with one direction: the herb that cover the stones of the river, where loosing a fish can be really easy.
But the adrenaline of those moments when you see the big mouth grabbing your fly and soon after you see the big rainbows jumping out of the water and then run under the rocks covered by the herbs, are emotions that always deserve to be lived.
After lunch, the activity of the river took a rest; we keep landing considerable number of normal fish, but I didn’t get anymore the chance, during that day, to fight another big trout.
We walked a lot that day…it takes more than one hour to get back to the car. Pain in the legs for sure, but as always a great smile on the everyone’s face.
In the car, heading to the lodge, I turned behind my head for a last look to the river, and with no surprise my look has been captured by the edge of the Lanin that seemed to say welcomeback.
Lower Malleo 10:00 am
Approaching the wooden made gate, a Mapuche man got out from a small house. He opened the gate and ask for our entering paying (the contribution to the local community). The jeep moved heading to the part where the Malleo joins the Aluminè. There we’d have started to fish.
When I see the Mapuche I feel that sense of fault that I’m sure is common to many people coming from Europe. We were the Huinca (local term which it means thief). Well we did some disaster in the south America some hundreds of years ago. I asked some info about them and I was very surprised when I’ve known that the nowaday mapuche are not the origin ones, but they came from Chile, conquired the original Mapuche land and killed of the Mapuche.
This thought were still spinning in my head when the jeep stop. We got to the pool where we strated to fish.
In the lower area the Malleo slows down its run and it becomes a more gentle river than the face he shows in the upper section. There are possibilities to fish long stretch of flat water, and some nice current that reminds the upper section characters of the river. The scenario all around is quite different too from the other section. Here high and dry rocks rises all around and between them there a very unique one where the condors make their nests.
We started to fish on small fish rising. We also did some cast on currents but hunting currents with caddis or stimulator was not effective. At the end of the morning we got to a very nice pool. The back part was totally flat water, but step by step heading upstream, the water became more and more interesting, until the head part where a bigger current smashed against the bank get into the pool.
In the middle of the currents, a strange trick of the currents, created a very small piece of calm water, just in the corner. There was at least 1 inch of foam in that little rectangule.I casted there and as soon as mu beetle landed on the foam a big male of brown came out to grab the beetle. The fly remained on that piece of calm water no more than 2 seconds. Then the sourrounding currents swallowed the leader and the line making the fly dragging. The big brown tried to get the beetle and I tried to set the fish twice. NO WAY!!!
A bit of disappointement..that was a nice fish. Exactly what I look for each time I have the chance to fish this unbelievable waters. At least one brown of 20/25 inches caught on dry fly.
Until that moment I was not able to satisfy my desire.
The day run fast and we were at the sunset fishing a long stretch of calm water. The left side bank was very rich of willow trees. I put a deer hair caddis and casted under the willow shadow.
Suddendly a big rainmbow jumped of our and grab the caddis. Hooked!! Ten minutes of pure adrenaline. Fighting the fish and then give to it the deserved freedom.
This trout made my day. I got to the lodge satisfied but not completely. I was still looking for the big brown.
Caleufu 14:30 pm
I spent that morning fishing the Chimeuin (the stretch close to the lodge). Couple of hours during which, I fished 3 pools and had fun with a lot of small rainbows caught fishing the current with sedges patterns.
We had the date at lunch time for heading to Caleufu. The decision to spend that afternoon on the Caleufu was taken the day before. We were going back to the lodge and during the trip to start to talk about the right choice for the day after. Actually at the beginning of the conversation the Caleufu was our third choice. It seemed that the river conditions were very unpredictable, as some day the activities were good and the day later there was no chance to catch a fish.
At the end we decided to take the risk…And it was the right decision.
Once we got to the Caleufu we had a fast lunch and soon after we headed to the river. Minnows was the choice, due to the river conditions, the wind and also because it seemed that the fish were feeding on them.
Casting in the wind is never easy and pleasant, but “this is Patagonia!!” Said Esteban “and the wind is our friend!”. Well, i looked to his eyes and without say a word we understood about that ironic comment. For a fly fisherman maybe the wind is the worst enemy.
Anyway, fishing the first pool we understood that the day was a good one. Soon nice sized of raimbow started to bend our rods. The afternoon passed fast; fishing in the wind make you tired so we arrived to the last pool quite satiisfied about the results, but there was still spinning in my mind, the idea of the big brown. We arrived to the final pool and in the middle of the big current there was a frenetic activities of big browns feeding just above the surface. They grab in a so violent way the minnows that after they took them in their mouth they jump out of the water, or turn upsdide down showing us the yellow belly.
But the first cast must be done just under your feeth. So get calm, change the minnows, make a new tipped and cast there. There were there was not more than 5 inches water, just were the little waterfall makes the mess in the little stones.
So there i casted. The minnow didn’t have the time to touch the stone under the little water that i just felt like two big pull. The first one was heavy and fast, the second on followed with a more strong Energy. I didn’t have the time to set that my line fell down soft and my leader was blwoing up by the wind.
The trout just cut the loop where my minnow was tied. Few secondo f power that will remain in my mind for a while.
After the shocking start i fished the current where big males were coming up. They were at least 3 big males of brown. At the first cast i hooked the smaller. It’s a nice fight the one you can have with a big brown. It’s quite different from the way the rainbows do that. It’s something that seems to be more tactical. So after 5 minutes the nice brown was finally in the net. I looked the fish, and yes, despite it was the smaller of the three, it was the brown i was looking for.
Collon Cura 3 days floating/camping
Fishing from the boat is not my kind of fishing. I like to walk along the river, covering with the look all the possibilities that a pool can give and fishing, taking my times and respecting the animal times.
Fishing from the boat is quite different. You have to set your mind 20 seconds ahead to grab a couple of good cast in the place where the boat is approaching. There is no cast from the boat, is just a kinda of up line and throw it as soon as you can. So times are hugely different in those two kinds of fishing.
For sure, from the boat you can cover a long section of the river, and so for sure the possibilities to catch fish are surely higher than fading.
But what i really like about fishing a long stretch of river is the idea to camp overnight along the river banks. Wake up in tent with the sound of the river just closet o your ears is something i really like.
They have been three wonderful days, fishing so different stretches that we tried almost all the techniques. I lots of catches during the days, despite the strong wind decreased the fishability of the river.
I especially remind a nice raimbow caught the last day morning. It’s a was a nice place to stop the boat and do some waiding. The river where we stop keep running in two different direction. In one side there is a nice current for fishing minnows. On the other side a nice pool perfect for dry fly. I choosed the dry fly option. Fishing downstream with a beetle i was covering each single place of the head of the pool. There just around a big rock was drifitin my beetle when a big mouth made it disappear under the water. Nice set, nice battle, nice releasing.
See you next year Patagonia.
Patagonia bamboo week in 5 minutes (video)