Strange stories were told about Count Vladimir, and often the line between reality and legend was really thin. He also emigrated from Europe, seemed to have arrived in Patagonia only a few years before the day on which I saw him dressed as a perfect English Lord on the banks of Chimeuin. English, however, had nothing since its supposed origins were the Balkans.
Had risen to the headlines for the local wild nights spent in the bars of Bariloche where in the midst of colossal hangovers began to recite verses that appeared the most meaningless.
“To you! Navigators of the placid waters choppy properly to feel the wind in your hair. To you! Timid sailors unable to plow the perennial gale. Who will save you from this silent wreck!? ”
This and other stories earned him the nickname of Vladimir “el loco” and the extravagance that never stands still even accompanied him on the river.
He wore the jacket Tweed, knee-length trousers and a strange hat that called to mind those worn by the mountain communities of the Austro-German and they were very common in Bariloche.
When I got to the river, the Count stood with water knee muttering to himself as one of his rambling sentences. I got off my bike a few meters before the river bank and trying not to arouse too much attention I walked slowly, taking care to avoid any noise or sudden movements that could scare the possible presence of trout in the margins. Vladimir did not notice anything, so it seemed, was so taken by the river and trout that had begun their dances. There were hatched of ephemeral and began to flutter even big stone flies. He was fishing on a large current. I did nothing to make me notice and took the opportunity to enjoy in all its beauty that scene that I admired for a long time.
The river was gorgeous, crystal clear water refracted on the backdrop of white stones like marble. From its launch did not seem insidiasse none of the trout that came from much current, limited itself to launch upstream of the current leaving his fly float for the entire length of the stretch of river. His movements were not quite harmonious as those of the Archangel, looked more like a gesture that is not dictated by the strength of the technique. Watching him I wanted one thing: to have a scuriazzo between your hands and join the party. All of a sudden I saw him shoeing, the rod bent along its entire length and the line like crazy headed straight for a bush place on the bank where I was sitting, then suddenly changed direction coming straight toward “el loco”. He anxiously sought to recover the braid as quickly as possible to maintain the tension that meant that the hook does not come out of the mouth of the animal. As soon as he recovered that tension, trout jumped out of the water .
“Hey boy, take the net under that tree and come here quickly”
I hesitated for a moment as if the words were not addressed to me. Moreover I thought that ignored my presence. Him keeping one hand on the bottom of the reel that continued to sing in the restarts of the animal, he turned where I sat and cried: “So … you want me to lose it!?”.
At that point jumped up in an instant, I took the net and I joined him in the middle of the river, while his prey continued the fight and looked anything but tired and resigned. It was a great pitcher, but on how to hold off the outbursts of trout Vladimir seemed to have nothing to learn. Become aware safe with the net to hand the excitement subsided and the strength of the trout began to decline, so within a few minutes he pulled her towards him and dropped into the net.
“Look how wonderful!” Exclaimed with great happiness and satisfaction. “It will be at least 60cm” I nodded smiling but in my heart I measured that trout no more than 40cm, looking good from saying it. However, it was a wonderful specimen with fins perfectly formed and great for a fish of that size. I was not used to seeing fish so powerful a small bridge, the river was not impressive and full of water as there, and the fish so they had no need to develop large fins, let alone the strength that had shown the trout just captured by Vladimir. We walked back along the shore and lit his pipe with taste, almost a completion to the satisfaction of the catch.
“Do you practice the English tecnique” I said Vladimir further pleasing.
He certainly did not let the opportunity pass to show his knowledge on the subject and gently letting out the smoke of his pipe from his lips said,
“You young man, but you should know that the origins of fishing with artificial flies are actually traced the areas of my birth, and specifically in a part just south of the Balkan area called Macedonia. ”
Vladimir was fishing with a rod wonderful, more than a tool fishing seemed a work of art. It was made by gluing together six triangular strips which provided that wonder a hexagonal shape similar to the cells found in the nest of bees. “That fishing rod is a marvel!” Exclaimed instinctively. I sensed that the material with which it was built was bamboo, but wanted to know more and I also knew that my interest was extremely pleased Vladimir, so I asked: “Bamboo is done in it?”. “Certainly, young man, is made with particular species of bamboo called Tonkin, even though the scientific name of the plant is Arundinaria amabilis “. The explanations of Vladimir went beyond my wildest expectations by far satisfying my desire for knowledge on the subject. He began to tell me about the time spent in the United States where he had fished many rivers to a lover of fly fishing are considered as real sanctuaries. One of these was the Catskill, and it was there that he met some of the manufacturers of bamboo rods with which he bought and fished. The bamboo came mostly from China and after the long journey by ship docked in the port of New York.
The long bamboo poles were then carefully selected by manufacturers after they have been cut and split into rectangular strips or obtained through planing, triangular strips that were then glued together. The finishing touches were wonderful with ligatures of different colors made using pure silk also from Asian countries. The stories of Vladimir I marveled doing while growing inside me, believing that a fishing rod that kind would cost a fortune and that I would never have had the pleasure of owning one.
“Young man, let’s go, trouts are new in feeding …. let’s catch some exemplary noteworthy!”
In fact after the first hours of the afternoon in which the river seemed to have taken a break, opened them again began to make their appearance and trout resumed the ‘surface activity. We started well in the middle of the river where Vladimir was fishing that morning. Walking among the pebbles of the river trying to see which insects were present and saw the stone flies mostly of medium size.
“Stonefly hatch is on,” I said to Vladimir suggesting indirectly the right fly to use.
He mounted an imitation of that type and resumed fishing. The choice was right and it led a couple of young fish to seize the deception. Then suddenly Vladimir forcefully grabbed my arm and in a voice choked in his throat he said,
“Young man … Stop..Don’t make a move!”
He said as his eyes remained as transfixed staring at a piece of water that flowed under the branches of a tree bent down as if to gently graze the surface. “Look under the second branch …. the lower one,” he continued in a choked voice, almost as if the trout had been able to hear it. I looked under the second branch as I had suggested, and I knew all his excitement.
A fish of considerable size was feeding and that fish did it with gentle and almost imperceptible movements.
Vladimir took a deep breath and not to scare the animal casted the braid in the opposite direction to the one where the big trout was feeding. Once considered the length of the braid appropriate for the cast he led it where the fish was rising.
The fly gently placed one meter upstream from the position of the trout. The imitation flowing water in a natural way, my heart was beating faster and faster as the stonefly of Vladimir approached in the exact spot where the trout would make it his own. The concentration of both was at its highest, we saw the animal approaching slowly on the Vladimir fly, came up until a few inches below the surface of the water; the fish follone the fly, looking for good, and then decided that no, that was not of which he was feeding on, and returned to its original position hunting.
It was clear that we had to change the fly. Vladimir always avoid disturbing noises and movements gently retrieved the braid, pulled the stonefly and opening the box where he kept his flies looked at me quizzically:
“Young man what do you suggest?”.
The question was one of those who deserved a reasoned response. So I looked at the water again to see some other kind of insect this, but I saw nothing but stonefly. Then I exclaimed, remembering the words of the Archangel
“big fish, small fly.”
Vladimir nodded and climbed a small ephemeral. Reached again the braid in the direction opposite to that where he stopped trout and performed again immediately after a launch similar to the above. The fly trout that passed over this time do not bother to look. He tried again a launch but nothing, she just did not want to know. Dejected changed a couple of flies but the results were not the best.
It began to get dark, so we gave up and both with a touch of melancholy reached the shore. “I and the trout have an account opened by this evening,” said Vladimir laughing …
“Try again tomorrow?” I asked. “I’ll see you here, young man, at the usual time.”
Then he mounted his horse and saluted his arm walked away. I went up on my bike gave a last look where the trout ate and at that moment a gust of wind moves the branches of the tree.
They fell on the water a bit ‘of leaves and she went out with a bang once again in all its majestic beauty snatching something together with the leaves had fallen right on top of her.
Only then I realized what he was eating. I approached one of the trees next to the bank where Vladimir smoked a pipe, and I saw hanging from the branches of the little caterpillars with green body. They were hanging in long strands similar to those produced by the mucus of the spider.
I picked one, I climbed on the bike and walked quickly towards Estancia La Carmela. I was happy for the day on the river, for having brought my heart to my old love, for the stories of Vladimir and to have solved the mystery that perhaps the day after would allow us to catch that trout that just before, had trimmer us a memorable lesson.
After dinner I asked Felipe where I could find some love. He took me to a warehouse near the fence of the taming of horses from an old box and pulled out a pair of old love a little ‘rusty. Coming out I passed the fence on the chickens and gathered some small feather light, being careful to choose the most long and narrow. Perhaps belonged to the only cock which was at that chicken coop. Then I went to my mother and asked her to show me the wires that used to mending clothes to Mrs. Pettinari. In the box full of spools of thread and needles, we found a spool of thread light green and one yellow. I had so all you need to accomplish a few imitations with which undermine that monster. My mother was asleep when I finished my flies, and without making a noise I slipped under the covers and closed my eyes with only one desire, that the next morning she came as soon as possible.
Before the sun came out behind the peaks of the volcano Lanin was already on his feet to wander around the kitchen. I came out of the Estancia Carmela at dawn and prey to the same excitement with which I was back there the night before I went away riding like the wind toward the river Chimeuin. Arrived on the banks of the Count found napping under a tree and I thought that after a night of drinking in the bars of Bariloche had decided to go back on the river, who knows what wild prey to thinking.
“Good morning, Count!”
Exclaimed forcefully trying to rouse him from what seemed to sleep more than a sort of temporary demise. The sound of my voice was easily covered by the sound of his snoring so I tried again, this time giving the bottom of all the breath in my lungs “Hello Count!”. A sort of gasp brought him back to life and with wide eyes stared at me without saying a word. Evidently it took several seconds before the full consciousness returned to assist him and then he landed on the shores of the river shouting “Hello young man …. then we are ready to tame the beast?”. I smiled and held out a hand to lift it from his makeshift bed and convinced replied “Certainly Lord.”
The beast had called her as he did not show up all morning and most of the afternoon, then as if by magic at the same time the day before the two reappeared enormous lips breaking the surface under the second branch coming down almost touching the water. “Here we go Count.” Vladimir as ready for a duel to the death regained her braid, mounted a small ephemeral try the previous day and began to dance the braid then deposit his deception few inches upstream of the trout. One, two, three throws as the day before but she seemed unmoved by that mass of feathers. I touched his elbow Vladimir and pulling out from his pants pocket those caterpillars built the previous night I invited him to try those. Vladimir mounted on caterpillar making sure that the knot was well done and that he resisted the attack of the beast. He threw this time in the direction of the trout and the fly landed about half a meter from the mouth of the animal with a shot of powerful fin caught making her without any hesitation. The Count promptly lifted the tip of the rod and the animal feeling the hook penetrating his mouth, broke the water under the second branch so dull and violent, as if someone had pulled into a large boulder. The trout did not jump out of the water as opposed to what one might have expected but pointed straight at the bottom slamming his nose against the stones of the river to try to get rid of the foreign body that had put in his mouth. Fortunately for Vladimir attempt was in vain, so with the speed and strength of a steam train pointed straight true of us, past us in flash and a moment later swam in favor of the current about 20 meters downstream from where we were positioned. Vladimir realized that standing still in that way he would not have kept, so he started to follow her jumping from stone to stone and gaining the opposite shore from where he continued his run towards the valley. “Let’s go Young Man…run ru run … this time is ours!”
I heard him screaming and saw him running away jumping from boulder to boulder with the lightness and enthusiasm of a young boy; forded the river and net in hand, I followed him. He managed to get the better of that force of nature spiaggiandola about a hundred meters downstream from where he had captured. It was a specimen of rare beauty. Beaked pronounced on the lower lip had to be a male eye measured about 80 cm with a weight that was around 5kg. We were incredulous to admire the impressive beauty of the trout then the Count giving the bottom of all his nobility handed it back to the river that we had given for a limited time though remained indelibly imprinted in my mind as in Vladimir . When the trout regained freedom I put my hand to Vladimir, and he held her by saying, “This is paradise young man.” Together we wlked back the point where we had met, I climbed on my bike and smiling said, “At the next one Count.” He handed me the rod with which he had captured this magnificent prey said,
“Wait a minute, young man ….. this is for you.”