I´ve noticed that traveling through the more rural areas of Argentina, you get a big sense of the small town feel. Often times any given individual will work two completely different jobs or own numerous random businesses within a town. In our case, our hotel owners Rueben and Mimi spent their mornings cleaning up their hotel then spent the rest of the afternoon listening to music at their ice cream shop a couple blocks down the street. This ain´t no thirty-one flavors. Argentinan´s love their ice cream almost as much as their meat. I´m not a food critic, but I can´t remember the last time chocolate ice cream has tasted so dreamlike. I like to think that is because Argentina is a place in the world that still takes great care and pride in the foods they prepare and the goods they make mostly likely from the fact that each town produces all of these goods locally. Away from Buenos Aires there are no Walmarts or any other small business killing superpowers. This is the ultimate small town feel and Eric and I were welcomed warmly. This was proven when Mimi joked with us saying that if we came back from fishing empty handed we could fish out of her freezer that was stocked full of 30+ inch rainbow trout.
Raul met up with us an took us to one of the best yet unexpected places to get a fishing license, the gas station down the street. For $300 pesos or $100 American dollars we purchased a seasonal pass for fly fishing in the Patagonia region. We were startled to learn that upon our arrival into the Tierra del Fuego in a couple weeks we can expect to pay a $1000 pesos for that region. Yikes. We will worry about that when the time comes. From there Raul recommended that we consider fishing at a privately own lake that he knew of. Throughout all of the fishable waters around Esquel, only two require additional charges for access. The famous Arroyo Pescado, said to be the country´s best spring creek and the Laguna de Willimanco, a small private lake that Raul said had rainbows that fought like Tarpon. For as poor as Eric and I are for this trip, who are we to question a guy like Raul. We choose door number two.
From just a short drive out of town we barreled our way down a dirt road and through numerous cattle gates to the lake and came to look upon gorgeous aqua blue waters unspoiled by the presence of land owners. Large stallions sprinted and kicked to a safe view point as we rigged up our Sage rods and listened to Raul offer pointers about the fishing. For as beautiful as the lake was it was like starring down the barrell of a hurricane. Forty knot winds blasted us and bent our rid tips in the wind. Raul explained that he had a busy day ahead of him and that he would be back to pick us up here around 9 p.m. Sure thing. He even made sure to show us how to get out of the wind by hiding behind a few large bushes.
This lake offers a large sand flat off the shoreline that extends about 100 yards. We waded out into waist deep water where the wind was kicking up three feet high waves. These rainbow trout would gather in along the flats cruising back and forth, feeding on small shrimp on the lake bed. For us it was a delicate balance of bracing for wave impact and then trying to spot these pigs inbetween the wave breaks. Sight fishing is a lot like knowing a secret plot for a surprise party. You know it´s coming but you´re not really sure when and how and then all of a sudden a dark mass materializes in the water and starts swiming your way and the realizations of “Holy shit is is a big bow headed my way´´ sinks in.
To see the fish is one thing. To cast accurately to it in the constant state of hurricane was another. We missed many o fish but for the few perfect casts, they hit our prince nympths like a Harry Potter book. The result was a intense fight of long runs and jumps that left our arms sore at the end of the day. We couldn´t have asked for a better day of fishing. Welcome to the Patagonia.