This is NOT me, yet! But it is the place I am in, Lago Strobel in Patagonia, Argentina and this is, believe it or not, a Rainbow trout, caught by one of the guides here. Stay tuned an hopefully you will see my smiling face next to a monster like this.
The title of today’s blog is Great Location, Bad Timing. For a flyfisher you can understand why I say Great Location. I’ll explain below. And, unless you have just returned from the moon, you know what I mean my Bad Timing. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the world and I am currently at a lodge a 5 hour drive from the nearest town, and my BA flight home has been cancelled. At this writing I have no way home and British Airways are not answering the phones or taking any new reservations. So. . . It may be a while before anyone other than fishing guides and rainbow trout see me again.
The Great Location refers to the most magical trout fishing spot in the world, which came about in a way that seems more like fiction than reality. Here is what I know about how and why this place has the largest rainbow trout population on earth.
Early in 1900s some British businessmen in Argentia thought that trout fishing needed to come to Argentina, guess they were tired of shooting and tea. So they talked the Argentine government into studies to see if trout could survive in Patagonian rivers and lakes. The research was promising so they talked the Argentine government into paying to stock the rivers and lakes in Patagonia with trout and salmon from the US. So, as the story goes, they thought Rainbow trout eggs from the Baird hatchery on the McLeod River in California would be a good stock. But the problem was how to get them to Argentina!
A former US hatchery manager from Colorado came up with an ingenious plan of using the steamer ships that transport Argentinean beef from the East Coast of the US to the UK, and then travel to Argentina to pick up the next load of beef. The ships had refrigerated sections to keep the meet cool, and the trout eggs needed to be kept cool as well. So in 1904 the first load of trout and salmon eggs (some 50 to 100 thousand each) went across the US from California by train, were loaded onto a steamer for Southampton, England, then on to Argentina. From there they were shipped by rail and then horse drawn carts to Lake Nahuel Huapi in Patagonia.
Then between 1904-1907 other trips were made and eggs introduced in other lakes and rivers. The trout thrived. And according to the owners of the lodge where I am staying, rainbow trout fingerlings were introduced into Lago Strobel in 1998 from a hatchery in Patagonia. At Strobel Lake they found an abundance of natural food in the form of small fresh water crustaceans known as Scuds.
The trout gorged themselves and grew to monster size, hence the popular name Jurassic Lake.
An incredible story.
And another incredible story will be how I am going to get home to England. There is nothing I can do at the moment until the world settles down and opens up again for international travel. In the meantime, I am going fishing.