The mind is a very curious thing. And the mind of a fisherman, well . . . It’s complicated! Fishing takes focus and a mind full of thoughts is probably a fisherman’s worst enemy. More than howling wind, biting cold or a frayed tippet. An overactive mind ruins casts, results in poor presentations and missed strikes. And yesterday was a classic tale of the woes of a lost soul.
My mind was full of thoughts (mostly negative) about cancelled flights, loved ones far away, and the general unhealthy state of the world (both physical and mental health). As a result, my casting was crap (that’s a technical fishing term), I tripped over rocks on the trail, my concentration was like an overactive puppy, and as I result, while others had a good day, my catch was 1 (one fish and multiple lost flies from snags on the rocky bottom.
But, a new day and a new mindset. I have all my flights home arranged, a day later than my original itinerary, my wife and daughter are home and healthy, and the gale force winds have receded. And a clear mind with a singular focus, enjoy a day of fishing in a beautiful part of the world in a world-class fishery with a great guide.
In the morning we fished Barrancoso Creek. Strobel Lake is a glacial melt lake with no outlet and only one stream coming into it, which is raging when the snow melts and a trickle in the fall. Which is now. We drove 30 minutes to the stream and hiked up about half a kilometer to the first pool, which was about the size of a home swimming pool, yet only 3 ft deep. Yet with my polarized sunglasses I could see probably 6 huge rainbow trout holding in the slots and behind boulders in the pool, along with several smaller, resident trout.
The “jurassic sized” trout from the lake migrate up the creek to spawn in the Spring and some of them take up residence while the rest return to the lake. The smaller ones are resident and because of the sparse food supply in the creek compared to the lake, don’t grow as large, yet their coloration is one of the glories of Mother Nature.
Talk about a flashy dresser!
And trying to hook and land one of the monsters is a challenge of technique and patience as the water is gin clear (I love that term), shallow and they can see almost any movement on the bank and dart away at any unusual large movement, like a clumsy angler or a bad cast that crash lands like a Gooney Bird on the water.
Yet after an hour of casting, changing flies, letting the pool “rest” for 10 minutes, one of them, probably not the sharpest tack in the box, decided my nymph imitation looked pretty edible and he was hooked. Now the hard part, bringing him to the net. Which may sound easy in such a small, shallow creek, but these fish know all the tricks, and hiding places. After he was hooked he headed straight for a small opening underneath a large boulder. A perfect hiding place. My guide had to jump in the pool and tease him out without breaking the line. Then he was off like a Formula 1 car racing around the pool, jumping and trying to dislodge the hook, which is barbless by the way and quite easy to come out if the tension on the line is lessened.
But together, my guide and I accomplished what all fishermen want, a great fish and a great thrill.
Great fishing is more enjoyable with a good guide. What is a good guide? Someone once told me the most important decision a person can make in their life is the choice of their spouse (or life-partner in modern language). Very true. And the second most important choice is your fishing guide. Fortunately the guides here at Estancia Laguna Verde Lodge are all excellent, otherwise they wouldn’t last a week. And like all guides at a remote lodge, they coach each other to constantly improve their abilities to work with the guests and produce great fishing opportunities.
My guide this week is Nehuen (an Indian name, but an Argentinian from the Andes foothills, of Italian heritage and one of three brothers to work as guides here at the lodge). In another blog I will spend more time on the characteristics of a good guide, much like the characteristics of a good mentor for a business executive thirsty for learning, without making all the mistakes themselves!
That was a great morning, and then off in our Toyota HILUX pickup truck (the same brand ISIS fighters use because of their dependability – except ours didn’t have a 50 Caliber machine gun mounted in the truck bed) to lunch at a hut at the lake. Everyday we have lunch at the lake with the other fishing parties (this week there are only three others at the lodge – a gentleman and his doctor wife from Sao Paolo, Brazil, and a young American lad from Colorado).
Lunch at the lake is definitely worth a separate blog, stay tuned. But suffice to say it is definitely hearty and outdoor gourmet, with beer and wine as well. Here is one of the many Argentinian Merlot brands, all exceptional. With a trout label no less.
After lunch Nehuen and I headed off to the edge of the lake. He said to me: “can you cast into the wind?” Now that is a loaded question. Under normal fishing circumstances the wind is mostly a nuisance, a headache at times, but a competent flycaster over time learns the tricks of casting against the wind. Sometimes its as simple as casting with the wind, or casting over the other shoulder if the wind is coming from your left or right. But this is Patagonia. There is a reason there a no trees or even tall bushes out here on the Patagonia steppes. The constant wind stunts everything, including my casting.
So I said what every red blooded male flyfisher would say, “No problemo!” Well, that was more bravado than truth, but I persevered and with a lifetime of flyfishing and casting, I was able to cast out into the lake with the wind mounting a full frontal attack. Not every cast, but enough successful casts to result in an afternoon of spectacular fishing. Maybe one of the best afternoons I’ve ever had here at Lago Strobel. 6 fish landed and an equal number hooked but not landed.
Here’s a sample:
So long until tomorrow. The adventure, and learning, continues.