My fishing companion and frequent correspondent Steve Kyle, sent me the following report from his expedition to Tierra del Fuego last week with a group led by our friend Rachel Andras, of Andras Outfitters. Here’s Steve’s report (slightly edited for brevity):
“If you want to find the most formidable, butt-kicking brown trout in the world, you’ll have to go to one of the Argentine estancias that border the Rio Grande River in Tierra del Fuego.
“From San Francisco, it takes about 27 hours. But OMG! these mighty sea-run trout are of such preposterous proportions and attitude that it was worth the outlay of time, money and effort.
“Even with experienced anglers, the latest flies, state-of-the-art rods and knowledgeable guides, most of the time it wasn’t a fair fight. The six of us combined to hook over 450 fish during the week but were only able to land 148, with a group average of about one landed out of every three hooked. Some days it was one out of 10 or worse, because the fish are huge. In our defense, we were fishing with size #14 flies, which are more typically seen on small trout streams. It’s hard to get your head around the thought that a little green speck of fuzz would interest a fish that weighs 20 pounds or more, but they do.
“Our typical day was: in the water by 8:30, lunch at the lodge around 1. Nap time until 4, then back at it until 9 and then home for dinner at 10.
It didn’t take long after the sun set before it was pitch black and we couldn’t see a damn thing.
“At this point, we were reduced to blind-casting a fly line into a dark and windy void. With the typical wind speed varying between 10 knots with gusts of 50 knots, you have no real knowledge of where the fly will end up in the water.
“Lots of casts went unanswered, but sometimes in mid-swing through the current, the line would simply stop. Then, after a pause of a few seconds, the reel would slowly, click by click, reverse its direction as the line would start to peel off and then all hell broke loose!
“Fighting a fish in the dark, with just a headlamp to help negotiate your exit from the water, all the while trying to keep the fish on, was quite an experience.
“My one screw-up was when I tried to launch a titanic cast into a strong headwind and lost my balance. Splash, head first into the 39-degree water. It was less than an optimal experience, but the lodge was just a few minutes drive away. So, after a quick change of clothes, I was back in the water in about 40 minutes.”