Fishing upside down, Part III
Fishing and hunting
DOTTIE learns basic tango steps from our Buenos Aires guide Pablo Piera.
If I were asked to use one word to describe Argentinians, I would choose “passion.” The best part of our trip was meeting and getting to know our hosts, guides and people we met along the way. Without exception they were warm, gracious and infused with a zest for life, their jobs, communities and avocations.
We first experienced this with Pablo Piera, our guide for two city tours in Buenos Aires. I've never taken a tour of anything in which a guide was as passionate about his subject as Pablo, and it wasn't just for the historic sites. Our first tour began with a stop at the BA’s oldest cafe, where he introduced us to a signature chocolate drink called the Submarine. It was there also that he attempted to teach each of us the basics of the tango. While Dottie and Katherine Culligan seemed to get it, Tom Culligan and I moved like wooden soldiers with our feet partially nailed to the floor. Through it all, Pablo enthusiastically cheered even our slightest success and pronounced us ready to tango the night away.
He waxed effusively on lesser-known bits of the city's history and his energy was enough to carry us along like a wave does a surfer.
So what does this have to do with fishing? Our fishing guides were no less enthusiastic, perhaps even more so.
Tuqui, whose real name is Carlos Viscarro (every guide has a nickname down here), was great at organizing our daily fishing and finding fish. He was every bit as passionate about the rivers and fishing them as Pablo was about his beloved city. He was especially enthusiastic about making sure that Dottie hooked and landed some really big trout, and when she did, he cheered her on like an enthusiastic soccer fan celebrating a home team goal.
We fished for three days on the Collon Cura River with Tuqui and his associate guide, Sancho (Santiago Ramis), and we felt like we were vacationing with longtime friends.
We stayed at the Collon Cura Lodge on an expansive former cattle ranch now owned by Ted Turner. The lodge is run by a delightful couple, Malú and Nano Acuña, and staffed by a talented crew, including a chef who created Michelin-star-quality dinners for us every night. Ted wasn't around to join us, but we were assured he does visit from time to time. Note to Ted: You were wrong. Print is not quite dead yet, but you were right on about the fishing.
While the Collon Cura is a big, wide river, we caught most of our biggest trout within inches of the bank, usually using a grasshopper pattern. When a big trout chased down the fly, you could see its dorsal and tail fin streaking toward it like a shark closing in on a hapless swimmer.
The fishing would have made it a great trip in any case, but the Argentinians made it absolutely wonderful. We also credit Rachel Andras of Andras Outfitters for setting us up with such nice people and places.
I will tell you more next week, but closer to home, you can find some nice fishing for sturgeon in the Napa River, mouth of Sonoma Creek, mouth of the Petaluma River and near the Pump House, said Valerie Lightborne, of Leonard's Bait Shop at Port Sonoma. They have plenty of bait and the tides are good for the weekend.
Kevin Wolf, at Loch Lomond Bait shop, said that guys fishing from kayaks are hooking into some huge sturgeon near China Camp and other Marin shoreline locations. When they hook them, they get a long, free ride.
Crab and dab combo trips are still making anglers smile out of Bodega Bay where Capt. Rick Powers is pulling limits of Dungeness crab and buckets of sand dabs for his clients on virtually every trip. Call Rick at 875-3344.
Local lakes are still slow, but I saw a couple of reports indicating that Clear Lake bass fishing is starting to warm up.
Heading north, steelhead fishing on the Trinity, Klamath and Rogue rivers is good now. Call Rachel Andras at 530-722-7992, to book a drift with Jim Andras up that way.
You'll also find good trout fishing on the upper and lower Sacramento River this week.