According to the meteorologists when the wind reaches 80 km/hr it rips the water up off the lake, which looks like mist rising but its actually water being torn from the surface and thrown up into the air. And that’s what we woke up to this morning, Wednesday, 18 March at Estancia Laguna Verde lodge in Santa Cruz Province, Patagonia,Argentina.
The lodge overlooks Laguna Verde, one of the many smaller lakes surrounding the big lake, Lago Strobel.
If you look closely across Laguna Verde you can see how the wind rips the water off the surface. That’s a real gale, and we’re going fishing!
After a hearty breakfast we headed to Lago Strobel. The food here is outstanding. As good as any fancy restaurant in any major city. Occasionally a fishing lodge gets it right, and this one certainly does. Creamy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and rich, aromatic coffee (not that weak stuff you get in the US but real strong coffee. Fortification for the day of wind and cold ahead.
Here is what awaited us at our first fishing spot. Looks more like the ocean than a lake.
I know what most of you are thinking. “John’s finally lost it. He’s going fishing in that?” Flyfishing is a lot like leadership, you have to adapt to whatever conditions are thrown at you, whether it’s gale force weather for fishing or global economic chaos for a business. Flyfishers and business leaders must adapt to all conditions, at least if they want to be successful. (Note: there will be book forthcoming from me – at some point in the not too distant future – entitled “Flyfishing for Leadership”, about how flyfishing and leadership contain many similarities and many lessons for those intent of learning and improving).
So my guide, Nehuen, and I headed for the cliffs above the rolling surf and got ready to brave the elements in search of monster trout. A great guide is not a coach or mentor, like some believe, but their real job is to prepare you for success. The real work is yours, but a good guide prepares you well, and that means talking tactics and equipment, as well as choice of flies and fly lines. Flyfishing, like leadership, takes preparation and thought, not just flogging the water or for a business putting our a cheap, shoddy product.
And Nehuen prepared me well for our upcoming battle with the elements and the fishing conditions. We fished hard for the next three hours, battling the wind and waves, but good preparation and perseverance can pay off. I caught two nice trout, here is one of them.
Not sure who is colder, me or the fish! But he went back into the lake to grow bigger and we headed to our lunch spot at the edge of the lake, a cove called C Bay, where there is a wooden hut with a gas ring burner. The guides here are not only good fishermen and interesting companions, but great cooks as well. And a hearty lunch was just what the doctor ordered at that point.
We had a chicken and lentel stew, piping hot, with tasty Argentinian cheese, and of course a great bottle of Merlot wine, finished off with a quince tart and more of that “antifreeze” thick rich coffee. Here is Chef Nehuen at work.
So, where to fish on this last afternoon before the long trip home tomorrow? Monster Bay, of course! About a 40 minute slow drive over the rocky terrain we arrived at a large bay, aptly named Monster Bay, not for its size, but for the large fish that tend to hang out there gorging on Scuds and daphnia (small crustaceans floating in the current).
Here’s an example of the wind. This is one of the flies I fished with, and the wind is keeping it straight out!
On a normal day the wind makes Monster Bay a challenge to fish, but today it was nearly impossible. But . . . They don’t call it Monster Bay for nothing. I took five very large Rainbow trout over the next 3 hours, topping it off with a 13 pound male and a 15 ½ pound beauty.
Here’s the male:
And my largest fish of the trip, a 15 ½ pound hen.
Whew, I was so tired and cold I could hardly hold her up. The perfect end to a hard but perfect day and a perfect trip (except for COVID-19 and the world situation),
Here we are, the four intrepid anglers who were the last to leave the lodge. Luiz and his wife, the doctor, Pablo a real estate developer from Argentina, and me! Smiles of happiness and sadness. Just like life!
But this blog will continue. More to say about this magical world class trout fishery, the people, Argentina, and flyfishing. Stay tuned.