The Chilean Mixed Bag
I love Argentina and Chile, the food, the people and the wine, did I mention the wine, drink a glass or two of fine Malbec on the river with lunch and I am positive your casting becomes better, your line control sharper, your wading a little slower and less ‘rock rabbit-like’ but it puts you more in the swing of things, pardon the pun!
Oh yes, and of course the fishing, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia have the most wonderful trout fishing on the planet. On top of that Chile has something a little different, King salmon or Chinooks as they are known, were introduced from Canada in the mid 20’s.
These foreign bruisers did take a while to establish themselves but eventually did well, feeding out in the nutrient-rich Pacific ocean and then running back into the rivers to spawn and gobble big bright flies. Now the poor old trout that were introduced a hundred years earlier probably really had their noses put out of joint. They were the top of the food chain, the heavyweights of the rivers, now they were getting jostled off their spawning beds and harassed by their newly arrived big brash American cousins the King salmon. While some might argue that the introduction of salmon would have been detrimental to the trout fishing, I feel quite the opposite, while numbers of trout possibly decreased due to increased competition, now there was a massive protein source available in the form of salmon eggs and even rotting flesh of the post spawn salmon. Now Chilean trout in the river systems that have salmon are on average much bigger and stronger than their counterparts that do not share the river with salmon.
While my past few trips to Chile have been affected by the El Nino phenomenon and fishing days have been in short sleeve fishing shirts and buffs as opposed to thermal tops and head to toe Gortex, lower rivers and hot dry conditions mean less salmon in the river but glorious conditions for trout, sight fishing, with dries and nymphing likely looking runs. This year the heatwave affected the salmon fishing but didn’t dampen the groups’ spirits, the Actuary amongst us calculated just over 190 bottles of wine for the week between 8 anglers! We had a blast both on and off the water. The one trophy King salmon going very deservedly to Graham Tait, a long-time supporter of our Guide Dog Charity Flyfishing event having come second twice in the past and the winner last year, he landed a 38-pound beast. The rest of the group enjoyed a thoroughly mixed bag of some smaller salmon, both King and Atlantic, fat Patagonian perch, beautiful butter golden resident browns, their greener sheen sea run brothers, and trophy rainbows up to 12 pounds. In an age of growing unpredictability of fishing conditions due to climate change, Chile’s very diverse fishing has so much to offer, and there is the wine of course…!