Week 12: Mar. 28 – Ap. 1, 2016
Fernando and his group of Argentine amigos joined us for a shorter than usual five days this week.
In the past this group has predominantly experienced high dirty water with the use of heavy colourful leeches being essential. So on the opening session of the week it was somewhat of a culture shock to suggest the use of green machines. Many of the anglers had never even seen this deadly creation, producing four inch long green leeches when asked did they possess one in their fly box. After four hours fishing all were convinced of its effectiveness with all anglers landing fish. Fernando had a particularly good session landing three fish, best of which was 14 pounds.
For the first morning session of the week we were greeted by foggy overcast conditions with absolutely no wind. It is probably the first time I have experienced such conditions on the Rio Grande and it was most eerie. Guiding on Hills beat with father and son, Ricardo and Ricardo, I got them fishing seperate pools and warned them that the only audible noise to be made was a whistle to indicate a fish was on such was the poor visibility and stillness of the morning. Not long into the session a short sharp shrill was heard upstream and I was off at full tilt, net in hand. Upon arrival the single handed eight weight was doubled over and the long lazy head knocks indicated a fish well over 10 pounds. A tedious battle ensued with the end result being a 20 pound hen fish for Ricardo jnr. Julio and Guillermo did well the same morning both landing fish in the teen’s.
A major drop in overnight temperatures midweek saw water temperatures plummet to four degrees celcius and the green machine tactic went out the window, colourful strips of rabbit fished super slow and deep was the new recipe for success.
Jorge, more comfortable fishing the big flies did well and landed several fish in the teen’s while his fishing partner Ronnie took things at a more relaxed pace and fished only now and then, travelling to the Chilean border one morning for some sightseeing.
The Menendez which at this time of year is stuffed with fish produced quite a few during the week, both Charlie and Quito capitalized using a combination of Sunrays and leeches.
Further cold temperatures at the end of the week brought temperatures down even more and our catch statistics suffered as a result, with fish only willing to take during the middle of the day. Our final group of the season next week will certainly be going deep and slow.
Week 11: Mar. 20 – 25, 2016
Unseasonably warm weather this week was a pleasant surprise, keeping the water temperature high and the fish in a relatively good humour. Many weeks particularly at this time of year have been destroyed by cold and dirty water. The conditions lead to the opening day of the week starting with a bang with just eight anglers hooking forty fish of which twenty nine were landed.
Father and son team of Roberto and Fransisco from Argentina had differing fortunes on both sessions, Fransisco saw all the action in the morning landing a total of three fish while it was his father Roberto who account for a total of five in the evening.
Argentine guest Christian came equiped with a single handed set up but strong winds early in the week saw his guide suggest the use of a double hander, the speed at which he grasped the technique was astounding, experienced anglers find the single spey difficult to master at times but Christian was at the stage of fine tuning after just twenty minutes. His new found talent ensured he landed fish after fish.
His fishing partner Ed from the States joined us for his second season in a row, having only taken up fly fishing in recent years this guy has become a complete addict making multiple trips each year to destinations such as Kamchatka, Alaska and here. Although he failed to beat his personal best of 22 pounds from last season a not to shabby 18 pounder with Andrei has no doubt ensure his name will feature on the team sheet next season.
Fishing partners for many years Arnold and Steve from the States were here for their first time. The pair were a complete pleasure to guide, relaxed anglers of considerable talent their expectations were set at just the right level, willing to do a little hard work to catch some exceptional fish. Their approach reaped its just rewards and their score sheet of fish over 10 pounds read as follows, 10, 11, 11, 10, 10, 12, 13, 15, 15, 10, 21, 15, 14, 10, 17.
Joe also from the States was here with his camera man in toe to make a short movie about the regions trout as well as its food. A single hand enthusiast as well as left handed made for some tricky casting situations but with plenty of patience and persistance he got the job done and managed to get some great footage of these leviathan trout.
Complete novice anglers Edjuardo and his son Vicente joined us for a short visit of just three days, helping a youngster catch his first ever fish is probably the most satisfying situation for a guide to experience on the river and Vicente’s fish of 7 pounds as well as his reaction to landing it, is one I will remember for many years to come. His father took a little longer to break the ice but the same jubulation was experienced for his first fish with Max.
Friday evenings session saw Legendary Kau Tapen guide Max Mameav complete yet another season on the Rio Grande. A most insightful person to guide alongside we look forward to seeing him here again next season.
A final push of fresh fish through the system this week has stirred things up once again and with temperatures holding in the teen’s our final two weeks should remain productive.
Week 10: Mar. 12 – 19, 2016
For me one of the major attractions to fishing for sea trout on the Rio Grande has always been the ability of the river and its fish to put the angler to the ultimate test. If you do not have “your shit together” as a former guide used to say, you will experience frustration, the feeling of inadequacy can burn through your arms as each cast fails to land in its desired location. Its not all doom and gloom however as each session passes your ability improves and you slowly begin to conquer your demons. Your confidence rises once things start fitting into place and that burning sensation turns to pure elation once your line goes tight and you feel thoses first couple of head shakes. I feel a greater appreciation and sense of achievement is obtained by doing some hard yards at the start of the week rather than nailing fish from the get go.
The Rio Grande certainly made our guests appreciate their fish this week as gusts of 80 kmph were experienced on the opening session. The river was transformed into a sea of white horses and for the first session of the season all guides returned for siesta empty handed.
A significant abatement in the wind for the evening session allowed us to restore some parity on the scoresheets. Italian angler and Kau Tapen regular Andrea managed to land three fish, the biggest of which was 13 pounds, while his fishing partner David landed the fish of his dreams a beautiful 19 pound female.
On the same evening Bernard here for his second week had a 19 pounder with the current big fish specialist Diego.
Monday morning saw the wind causing more havoc, blowing from a North easterly direction which makes many of our pools extremely difficult to fish, the anguish was beginning to show on some of our anglers faces and I am sure some guys felt they had bitten off more than they could chew travelling to the end of the world to catch huge sea trout only to be defeated by the wind. Thankfully more amicable weather conditions greeted us on Tuesday evening and these remained with us for the rest of the week. With a greater percentage of flies landing in the target zone the trout began to co-operate.
Johannes and Henrik both heavily involved in the fly fishing scene in Iceland had six super hot sessions landing twenty two fish, the biggest of which was 16 pounds.
Londoners, Nigel and his son Ryan formed the nucleus of a seven man group that fish in Iceland with Johannes and Henrik every year. So impressed with the the experience they had here in Kau Tapen, plans are already at an advanced stage for a return trip next season.
The father and son pair, here to relax as much as fish, provided yours truly with the perfect St. Patrick’s day surprize. The morning of the 17th was deemed too wet and cold to go fishing so all three of us remained warm and cozy in our bedrooms much to the dismay of my fellow guides who retuned wet and miserable from the river.
Fishing partners David and Patrick were like sponges during the week always willing to learn a new trick or try a new tactic in order to put the odds in their favour, their attitude was rewarded throughout the week both landing personal best and many other fish besides.
Diego’s hot streak of big fish prevailed on the last night of the week landing a 20 pounder with Henrik, the particular pool in question has remained nameless for years so we thought it only fitting to ask the angler involved for a suggestion, Kassow’s is now the name of that deep slow water above Athol Rocks.
Although wind did prove a problem early in the week, temperatures are remaining quite high for this time of year which is always a bonus as it prevents the fish from becoming lethargic. Increased rainfall is also rising the river at a most perfect pace as we have yet to have experience dirty water.
Early indicatiions form the current weeks fishing suggest that the fish are still in the mood.
Week 9: Mar. 5 – 12, 2016
Reading people, specifically anglers is a talent all guides acquire after just a short time guiding, as my ghille back in South Kerry would say “ is not needed but paying close attention to the adjectives they use usually gives the game awayhe week, however you can tell by the way they walk down to the boat whether they are any good to fish or not”, of course this refers directly to talent which ultimately affects the anglers success during the week, however success does not have to determine how much an individual angler enjoys their week.
This is where reading your guests goes to the next level, a degree in phycology is not needed but paying close attention to the adjectives they use usually gives the game away. “I need to catch a fish this evening”, as opposed to “I would like to catch a fish”. Kau Tapen guide Diego, with his limited English (a good deal better than my Spanish) uses what I feel the perfect adjectives when it comes to fishing, his catch phrase has become ¨maybe I have the opportunity and possibility to catch a fish in this place¨, for all anglers, no matter where they are fishing this is a super approach to take. Needing to catch a fish is like buying a lotto ticket in order to pay your next mortgage instalment, you will be over the moon if it comes through but there is an even bigger chance you will be disappointed with the end result.
Timo from Sweden was our most anticipated guest of the season, somewhat of a father Christmas to the guide team he had in his possession a large order of Danielsson reels which we had ordered, needless to say we were like children around a Christmas tree upon his arrival.
Timo was quick to set an early trend for the weeks fishing, hooking and landing several fish on large flies fished deep, his fellow anglers followed suit and experienced similar success.
French pair of Andre and Bernard landed five fish going big and deep for their morning session in Boca. This is their first week of two here with us, they will certainly have every inch of water fished by the time they leave this Saturday.
Bobby and Scooter form the States usually time their visit to coincide with Paddies day where the pair and yours truly are accompanied to the river by Mr. John and the Tri colour, arriving a week later this year Mr. John stayed in the lodge.
Diego´s opportunities and possibilities turned into realities for his guests on Wednesday night as Timo and his fishing partner Peter had the session of their dreams, landing four and three fish respectively. Peter´s fish are of particular mention, travelling to the Rio Grande in search of a trophy trout for the past few seasons he finally broke the 20 pound barrier in Frenchman´s only to catch one four pounds heavier less than thirty minutes later.
The other Scandinavian pair of Trond and Ivor also did well during the week, both landing fish in the high teens, in fact an even greater proportion of larger fish started to show interest late in the week with a further 20 pounder (22) landed on Thursday.
Villa Maria regular Gilbert decided to travel further upstream this season to see the differences between the upper and lower stretches, his most memorable fish however came on a completely different river as his guide brought him to the Menendez, fishing a switch rod for the first time he hooked into a super fresh 13 pounder and as fish usually do on the Menendez it went BANANAS.
His fishing partner John from Cardiff, Wales was no stranger to sea trout, fishing the renowned sea trout rivers of Wales. He had spent less than an hour on the Rio Grande when he had broke his personal best fly caught sea trout, the trend continued all week.
Spawning is now firming on the sea trouts agenda and a fly swung at the right time can aggregate those bigger fish into a take. The biggest fish of the season should be caught in the next week or so. Bigger densities of fish in the Menendez is also giving us another great option to catch some super fish in small water.
Without a drastic change in conditions we will have the opportunity and possibility to catch some great fish.
Week 8: Feb. 27 – Mar. 5, 2016
Its no secret that you enjoy guiding some guests more than others, nationality is irrelavant as difficult guests can come from any corner of the planet.
It is always astounding to get the distinct impression from your guests that you are actually trying to hinder their chances of catching a fish when in fact you are doing your upmost to do the opposite. Thankfully such guests are few and far between and the group we welcomed to Kau Tapen this week were all polar opposites to those just described, in fact for both guides and house staff these folks could only be described as dream guests. Both relaxing and pleasant to be around, our time on the river this week seemed to fly by and no sooner had we finished assembling rods than it felt like we were having our final tapas night of the week.
A slight rise in water levels ( 4 – 5cm) just as the guests arrived lifted not only the river but also the sea trouts spirits and quite alot of movement was observed during the low light conditions of early morning and dusk ( the sea trouts preferred time to travel upstream).
The family group of Janet and Bill accompanied by their sons Jake and Frost started their first week of two on the Rio Grande, here with us in Kau Tapen, they have travelled down river this week to see what the Villa Maria waters have to offer. For Frost and Jake it was their second season down here with the double handers and the improvement in their ability was tenfold, so much in fact that they almost got a compliment from fly casting supremo Max Mameav “ Almost”.
Although it may kill their father Bill to admit it these two guys are close to surpassing their old mans ability to catch trout.
Their mother Janet, a lady as always was a pleasure for all the guides to guide and finished her week on a high landing three fish in her final session.
Our other group, also hailing from the U.S were a mixture of both guides and clients who all crossed paths at Rock Creek Anglers in Wyoming, over the years the group have built up super guide – client relationships and now embark on a fishing trip at least once a year as friends. All first timers to the Rio Grande they were completely astounded by what the river thrown up to them.
Gaston was the guide who first helped open their eyes to the rivers potential as Hank and Rick hooked six fish on Monday morning of which four were landed, the biggest being 22 pounds.
Clark and Cole both experienced “Pro guides” with the Wyoming outfitters were here to relax, enjoy the surroundinsg, fly a kite in the Tierra Del Fuego winds and probably last on their list of priorities was to land a few decent trout.
Clarks dead drift dry fly approach was a refreshing change from dredging leaded rabbit across the pools and by the weeks end the foam hopper had accounted for seven fish.
On Thursday evening in difficult upstream winds Cole’s double taper quad tip line was working with lethal success, his final fish of the session was a cracking 14 pounder.
Brothers David and Did had contrasting fortunes througtout the week and if one brother was have a purple patch the other was sure to skunk. Thankfully being the two super relaxed dudes that they are they took things in their stride and enjoyed both the ups and downs.
It would be wrong not to mention the standout session of the week when Hank, Cole and Clark teamed up to give Condor beat a real spanking, they landed a total of twelve fish in less than four hour, Clark’s 19 pounder was the fish of the session.
This small change in water height has helped us in several different ways obviously bringing fresh fish into our pools which in turn stir up the older fish which have been waiting patiently for their chance to spawn. Increased flow has also increased our fishable water and instead of casting a mile down stream and stripping like crazy a much more natural and effect drift is obtained by simply using the rivers flow. As we draw into the close of the season rainfall is becoming more regular and low water worries can be laid to rest for another season.
Prospects for a productive grande finale are high.
Week 7: Feb. 20 – 27, 2016
Week number 7 has seen us reach the half way point in our season, physcoligically for all staff this is a significant milestone, working in an isolated location, far from family and friends is not easy but knowing you are on the home stretch gives you a calm reassurance that you are almost there.
We had a predominantly Russian group of guests this week with the exception of Kau Tapen legend and all round gentleman Gianni who was also accompanied by his wife Lalla.
Thankfully the moody fish of last week have settled into the cold water regime and were less affected by cold overnight temperatures. Persistant upstream winds on Sunday, Thursday and Friday did hamper the anglers efforts at straight line presentation however cloudy conditions on the evening sessions made for very productive fishing and with the early on set of darkness some of the fishing at the so called magic hour was ridiculous.
Sergei with guide Gaston set an early benchmark on the warm up session landing a 13 pound fish which heightened expectations for all other guests immediately. His fishing partner Igor did not have to wait long and went one better the following morning landing an 18 pounder.
Fishing alone Gianni did what he does every year, taking his time he carefully picks out as many fish as he can from each pool, at the age of eighty the mans ability to catch fish after fish is amazing and if the truth were told caught many more fish than men half his age. The phrase “the olde dog for the hard road and the puppy for the path” comes to mind.
There was a touch of Hollywood around the place as Vladimir, making a film about different fishing destination around the world had cameraman Jako in toe, indeed Jako was kept quite busy throughout the week and some of his final footage and still shots were simply amazing.
Vladimir’s son also Vladimir and Gregory took things at a much more leisurely pace bringing a selection of wines, cheese and dried meats to the river, for the amount of time they actually spent fishing they did remarkably well.
There is usually one fishing group down here whos stars align and hit every beat just at the right time and this week that would certainly have to be Juriy and Andrey, only counting their fish over 10 pounds their score sheet read as follows: 16, 11, 11, 15, 15, 10, 18, 14, 15.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, again our numbers remained amazingly consistent given the low water conditions, our average weight was an incredible 9 pounds. Unusually for the second week in a row we failed to land a fish over 20 pounds, with the accolade of biggest fish of the week being awarded to three different anglers all landing fish of 18 pounds.
As I write the river is rising and has increased in height by 4 to 5 centimeters with no change in its colour. Hopes are high that this coming week could be a belter.
Week 6: Feb. 13 – 20, 2016
The sea trout at Kau Tapen this week reminded me of a girlfriend I once had, her early morning mood was generally bad and no amount of cajoling or sweet talk could bring her around. As midday approached her spirits would lift a little and a smile or even a kiss were not out of the question but as soon as darkness fell a whole new person would appear and the cranky tyrant that you had to tip toe around all day was as playful as a puppy.
We went our separate was in the end and to this day I could never figure out the reason for her daily mood cycles, as for the trout behaving in a similar fashion the reasons are straight forward, freezing over night temperatures made them slow and lethargic, as temperatures rose during the day they became more active and by nightfall they were happy to cooperate.
Obviously fewer fish were landed in the morning sessions but in the long run the figures balanced themselves, the simple reason being that more fish were willing to take the fly at night, having not felt the anglers hooks earlier in the day.
David and Kjell for Norway made the short trip over the fence from Aurelia lodge just upstream, to spend there second week in pursuit of these prized fish. David had a case of déjà vu landing the biggest fish of the week, a title he also received during his stay upstream. Kjell’s tales of big fish are far less joyous however, clumped by a giant of a fish on Wednesday night he returned the following evening for revenge only to be clumped for a second time.
Scottish pair of David and Lorne had been well informed of what to expect down here from their countrymen who joined us three weeks ago. They fished well throughout the week and we could well see their faces back here again in the near future.
UK couple of Jeremy and Zoe did what most first timers should consider and went to have casting lessons before arrival, they hit the ground running, landing fish on every session. The plaudits however must go to Jeremy who late one evening hooked a beaver by mistake, so impressed with the ensuing struggle he lobbed perfectly weighted casts in front of all other beavers who chose to cross his path, doing what all good anglers do, he waited for the line to go tight. His final tally for the evening was three hook ups, landing none as their fur is too thick and a proper hook set impossible.
Kiwi Jim, who first crossed our paths in 2014 was back again, it is quite obvious that this man has a bad dose of big fish fever, his two favourite destinations being here and Jurassic lake. Proceedings on his final evening of fishing did nothing to quench his appetite for big fish and in Max Mameav’s words “ lost two huge ones”. Family and friends but all living in different parts of the globe John, Joseph, Colin and Peter chose Kau Tapen as the appropriate meeting place to catch up on life and of course fish. All landing personal best in terms of size their decision to come was not one they are soon to forget or regret.
Numbers of fish again this week were consistent and the final figure was north of one hundred, in terms of size plenty of fish in the high teens were landed, the largest being 18 pounds but judging by the tails of woe around the guide table late at night this was certainly not the biggest hooked.
Graeme’s 24 pounder is still the fish to beat, lets see can we do it in the coming week.
Week 5: Feb. 6 – 13, 2016
Free time last summer allowed me to spend sometime in the Southwest of Ireland fishing on what is considered the premier sea trout fishery on the island.
This was probably my 15th or 16th time visiting the fishery and in the past I had been pleased with my success ( I am talking Irish standards not Rio Grande standards ).
I decided to break with tradition this time around and instead of plodding my own course I hired a ghille, a gentleman who I had know for many years and who had been guiding on the fishery for many more.
Leaving any ego or self professed knowledge I thought I had on the bank I approached the day as a learning experience and hoped to gleam as much information from a man who had spent a lifetime on the water.
Without going into too much detail a most enjoyable two days was had on the water, landing sea trout on both days and picking up a few valuable tips along the way. One abiding phrases however will stick in my head for many years to come.
No less than two minutes into our first mornings fishing my ghillie turns to me in his unique southern draw “ lisen to me here now Matthew, fishing here is like playing soccer in the Premiership but not only that you are playing in the top three of the table”. In hindsight this was a form of physcological grooming, things needed to be done in a certain way in order to acquire the desired result and no matter how many other ways I had caught fish in the past “this was the way it was done in the deep south”.
Rio Grande’s sea trout while more plentiful and much bigger can be described the same way. Each pool requires a key set of ingredients, once your guests become familiar and follow these ingredients fish usually follow.
Repeating guests Nigel and Graeme joined us from the UK, this was certainly not their first “Rio Grande Rodeo” and they were ticking all the boxes right from the first session. Their anchors were solid, loops tight, angles persise, their nymphs were hit with short sharp strokes while their leeches were carressed in smoothly with long slow draws. The fish just kept coming and coming, for their standout session of the week they were accompanied by head guide Gaston who returned to the guide cabin like a child buzzed up on smarties and coka cola. Having just landed a 24 pound submarine the final fish of a nine fish session he had good reason to be ecstatic.
Max Mameav was as plain stated as ever when asked by father and son team of Steve and Charlie “could he guarantee some fish” – “ if you can guarantee 80% of your casts land straight”. In fairness to the pair they delivered the goods and got their just rewards.
Gaston’s hot streak continued later in the week landing a 19 pound fish with first timer Carl.
Sebastian and Nick expressed their desire to fish the more intimate and technical Menendez river early in the week, to tip the odds in their favor a little their guide darted from pool to pool rising fish on a hookless Sunray while then marking the spot with a line on the beach and returning with guests fully armed a couple of minutes later. Three fish from two pools in little more than an hour was not a bad return for their efforts.
Argentine Juan, a regular visitor later in the season when large colourful leeches are the fly of choice due to cold water conditions, was amazed how freely the same fish would take a fly as small as a size 10 green machine in our current water conditions.
Hailing from Colorado, Brodie and Joe took a little time to find the right ingredients but by the weeks end they had begun to crack the code and land fish on a more consistent basis.
I am always reluctant to give numbers in terms of quantity of fish landed for the week as it has little or no correlation to ones individual outcome if “you don’t got the ingredients” but suffice to say week number 5 was the best week of the season so far, not only in terms of quantity but also quality.
Best of luck to our future anglers in their attempts to surpass Graeme’s 24 pound tank.
Week 4: Jan. 30 – Feb. 6, 2016
Ever since Max M. went south to the Rio Grande and Steve E. travelled North to the Ponoi there has been a huge connection between both places.
Both guides and guests have followed the same paths and made similar journeys.
Week number 4 at Kau Tapen saw quite a collection of these journey men all gathered in the one spot and although the current weeks fishing was top priority one could not help feel the sense of nostalgia in all those present.
Former Kau Tapen manager and current Ryabaga CEO Steve E. as well as former Ryabaga manager Roddy H. joined us for the week, having first crossed paths with guides Max and Andrei some 17 years ago in Russia they all had plenty of stories to catch up on.
Jon S. and some of his party of friends are also regulars in both locations and fishing tales from near and far abounded on our first tapas night.
Jon being no stranger to the Rio Grande has land more trout down here than he cares to remember, the story was no different this time around and from the very first session he was into fish. His best session of the week produced seven fish all on a single handed rod.
Father and son team of Hubert and Jean were more interested in quality than quantity and had an amazing streak of land fish on 6 consecutive session, none of which were less than 10 pounds, the largest tipped the scales at 16 pounds.
Jon’s party also consisted of two complete fly fishing virgin’s. Mike and Ralph having heard Jon speak about the Rio Grande for many years they decided to bite the bullet and see what all this talk was about. Taking a little time to find their feet by Thursday they were consistently landing fish. Mike’s jubilation at landing a 19 pound fish late on Thursday night was priceless, awed not by the power and beauty of the fish but the ammunition it provided to “Burst Jon’s Ball’s” having land a larger fish.
On the same evening Roddy’s fishing partner Rick landed a 22 pound fish from Henry’s Home, indeed many fish in the teens were landed that night and the final two in the Shakour party, Bob and Jeff also shared in the spoils.
Gaston’s Friday night announcement that we had land over 100 fish for the week came as quite a surprise as we had battled strong upstream winds on both Monday and Tuesday. This change in wind direction usually heralds rain and on Wednesday morning the heavens opened. To the relief of all our guests the expected washout did not occur, a sign that the majority of the rain fell on the lower river basin as opposed to high in the Andes.
Forecasts of rain for the coming week are welcome as the river can only be characterized as low, with most fish being encountered using light tackle, ie intermediate tips, long leaders and small flies.
Week 3: Jan. 23 – 30, 2016
Guides Excel at Kau Tapen
I have always said “the education you get from doing a full seasons guiding on any fishery is invaluable”, day in day out studying, watching, analysing a myriad of different factors which affect your ultimate target – catching a fish.
Your mind is constantly busy weighing up each and every factor. Doing this on your own, you develop an approach to your guiding which you believe will deliver the best results, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong, with experience the odds usually turn in your favour.
Guiding with a team of guides the horizon to your approach broadens significantly.
This year at Kau Tapen we have been afforded an unbelievable wealth of experience and the guide cabin has become an incredible melting pot of ideas.
Our youngest member Santiago at the tender age of twenty one has already guided here for five seasons, the Russian pair of Max M. and Andrei F. are your “Wallace and Gromit” of fishing and since crossing paths on a bus journey to a fishing spot many years ago they have been bouncing ideas off each other ever since. Our head guide Gaston wanted to grasp the intricacies of the trout in Patagonia so much that he decided to live in the region for over thirteen years.
While Diego and I come from a slightly darker side, where poaching provided a solid foundation of knowledge.
Week number three at Kau Tapen saw this culmination of experience come to full fruition, each guide was playing their trump cards on the river with deadly results. Walking leeches into the top of some of the pools, fishing size 16 droppers, fishing certain pools backwards ( moving up the pool after each cast rather than down). While all the time adjusting the size, weight, profile of our flies, to suit the water conditions.
Sunrays needed to be shorter with less volume, green machines smaller, apple green nymphs with a hares ear thorax, even one of our Patagonia wading belts got ripped to shreds as our rubber legs were thought to be too rigid while the elastic material within the belt was deemed to be the perfect diameter. Such was the production of flies that buckets of water were kept on standby to keep the vices from over heating. The end result saw us having the best week of the season so far.
A majority group of seven Scotsmen joined by two Kiwi’s and a Canadian were the group of guests who got to witness the guide team in action. All first timers to the lodge they revelled not only in the Kau Tapen experience but also in each others company.
With two to three fish sessions being the norm the atmosphere in the lodge soared and late night singing sessions occurred regularly.
Wattie’s rendition of the “ Fields of Athenry “ on the final night had me feeling like I was at an Irish rugby game rather than in a fly fishing lodge eating tapas.
Under Colin’s stewardship, the head of the table and a high visibility jacket was awarded to the angler who landed the biggest fish of the session. Michael D., Vince M., Russell L. and Mike S. all got to don the jacket landing fish in the high teens, while Colin himself sat at the head of the table on Wednesday after landing an 18 pound fish on his single handed rod. The fish of the week however goes to Gordon Turner who landed a 21 pounder in Athol Rocks.
I would like to reiterate Carolina’s words from Friday night and congradulate our guests for not only catching so many fish but for the manner in which they embraced the week, enjoying each others company and the experience as a whole and taking the fish as a bonus. We also promise to have much more Johnnie Walker in stock if they ever pay us a visit again.
For those guests coming in the near future I am glad to report that our holding pools are literally stuffed with fish and when they decide to show themselves the pools just come alive. Having witnessed, in the space of half an hour, close to twenty fish running the shallows below Isabel’s pool this morning, the future looks bright and Kau Tapen is certainly an exciting place to have on your travel schedule at the moment. A forecast of heavy rain midweek may hamper some of our current guests fishing but this will bode well in the long term, encouraging even more fish into our waters and keep good flows in our pools.
Week 2: Jan. 16 – 23, 2016
Fishing con Chicas
Anglers the world over have heard again and again the conundrum as to why female anglers catch bigger fish, many hypothesis have been developed ( mainly by the dominant practitioners of the sport – Men), pheromones, shorter casts, delicate presentation, luck etc etc. Having witnessed this weeks fishing I would propose a much simpler answer “Chicas are just better to fish”!!!!
Week number two at Kau Tapen saw the arrival of twelve guests, nothing unusual there, of the twelve however four were female anglers and when I say anglers I mean anglers, not some poor olde doll dragged here with tall tales of glorious weather and light winds, and an Antarctic cruise thrown in as a sweetner.
These girls were the real deal, avid anglers, here by choice, ready to take on what ever the Rio Grande had to offer.
Female anglers are common the world over and we regularly have mixed couples fishing together, be it husband and wife, father and daughter etc etc. Quite often it is the female of the couple who ends the week with more fish, in the past I would have given this very little taught and put it down to the luck of the draw. However, as the statisticians would say, having a greater sample population of four female anglers the results are closer to the mean. By the weeks end on Friday it was blatantly obvious which of the sexes are better to fish. Not only had the chicas out fished their male fishing partners they had out fished the entire male contingent of eight anglers. This had my luck of the draw theory in shreds and I began to analyze the scenario deeper.
Guiding as opposed to fishing gives you a unique opportunity to “fish through someone else’s hands”, the catch 22 to this scenario is that some guests hands are more willing to cooperate than others, not in terms of talent but in more of a willingness to feed off the information you as a guide try to provide. Women in this situation are more of a blank canvas not in terms of knowledge but because they tend to hold less preconceived ideas as to how things should be done. On the river they are eager to try anything, regardless of how unusual it may sound and are far more rigid in sticking to instructions such as the angle of cast, speed of the fly retrieve etc etc.
I have spoke before about the importance of fishing with confidence and here again women excel.
“ Fish this line, with this fly, in that spot, using this retrieve “ and the instructions are followed as if they were one of the ten commandments.
Males on the other hand often tend to lose confidence in some part of the set up far too quickly,
“do you think we should try it this way”
By the time a guest has asked you this question they have spent the last five to ten minutes contemplating the situation rather than concentrating on fishing the set up currently in use.
Without turning this into a complete man bashing report our male guests did land plenty of fish this week and Steve M. kept some respectability on the figures by landing the biggest fish of the week, a cracking 20 pound cock fish, just in off the tide, I would go so far as to say it is one of the most impressive fish I have ever landed for a guest.
Bill Y. was up to his usual tricks at the bar and kept his fellow guests well entertained, he also managed to trick his fair share of trout on the river. Bill was joined by his wife Wendy, who instead of fishing used the week to relax in the Kau Tapen surroundings and wander along the many tracks and trails of the estancia.
Kau Tapen character and old favourite Bobby S. and his daughter Nini were also here. Nini impressed with the speed she took to the double hander, landing her first fish in complete darkness on Sunday, she excelled as the week went on. Bobby’s usual consistency did not let him down and he too accounted for his fair share.
As she does every year Nicole S. dominated with the floating line tactics and light flies, finishing the week on a high, in glassy conditions she rose a trout five times before finally connecting with it on the 6th cast, it would tip the scales at 10 pounds.
Austrian pair of Gerard and Peter returned for their second consecutive season, more determined than ever to land the elusive 20 pounder. Unfortunately he remained elusive but both were pleased, landing fish in the teens.
More accustomed to fishing on the Restigouche river in Eastern Canada, where a dead drift green machine works well, Ginny and David were amazed at its effectiveness when fished down and across, indeed the green machine regained its position as top fly for the week. Our water has dropped since the first week and the movement and buoyancy the green machine provides in such conditions is deadly.
The remaining two rods were filled by long term repeating guests Peter and Cheryl who had spent the previous week fishing at Pira and Alto Parana. Having got over the severe contrast in climate between Northern and Southern Argentina they fished well throughout the week and were pleased with their final results.
As I have mentioned already our water has dropped since the first week but heavy rain on the 23rd has stabilized the level. Judging by the size of Steve’s fresh 20 pounder the fish are not in the least bit inhibited travelling to our water. A forecast of stable weather conditions for the coming week bode well for this weeks guests and as I write our new group are gearing up for the warm up session, eager to find out what the Rio Grande has to offer
Week 1: Jan 9 – 16, 2016
“Welcome home!” were the first words house manager Carolina said to me upon arrival. Alejandro Hemmingson’s bear hug followed, a warm welcome that had me feeling like I’d never left. The blues skies overhead were also a nice change from the storms and rain that the North Atlantic had been dumping on Ireland for eight week straight prior to my departure. And with that, it was great to be back among good friends on the banks of the Rio Grande after a year sabbatical hunting big brown trout in New Zealand.
Caro and her team had pre-season preparations well underway by the time I arrived and the lodge was in tip-top shape. Meanwhile, on the river, no stone was left unfished as the guide team got themselves reacquainted with the river.
On Jan. 9, we welcomed the Ackman group, accompanied by fly-fishing aficionado Oliver White. The group included many familiar faces, as well as three complete fly-fishing virgins. The enthusiasm of the novices was evident from the get-go. Within an hour of arriving at the lodge we had them suited, booted, and knee-deep in the Rio Grande. Some of the more experienced guests also took the opportunity to take a refresher course with the double-hander rigs.
Max Mamaev was not long in planting the seed of knowledge in some of his students. And Nick Botta, under Max’s careful tutelage, was into a fish literally minutes after picking up a two-handed rod for the first time. The good news was that the fish were in, and the trend of hooking and catching them continued through the week with large numbers of sea-runs moving into our waters. By far the most successful fly was the yellow rubberlegs. Old favorites such as the Sun Ray Shadow, Green Machine, and bunny leeches also played their part.
With anglers getting well into the grove by Tuesday, fish were consistently coming to our nets. Mornings did prove to be slower, however, with cold overnight temperatures making the fish sluggish. This did not deter a beautiful 20-pound brown from eating Mr. Ackman’s rubberlegs on Wednesday morning in the Home Pool. This would prove to be the biggest fish of the week, closely followed by Vladimir Jacimovic’s 19 pounder landed in Russell’s Pool.
Our final two days of fishing were unusual, marked by low temperatures and lazy winds that would rather cut through you than go around you. Temperatures soared to 20 degrees celcius riding the upstream wind. Needless to say our catch statistics suffered due to the increased difficulty of making straight-line presentation. This scenario was made doubly frustrating by trout that choose this opportune moment to start showing themselves on the surface; dolphin-like porpoises could be seen the entire length of some pools. Nerves began to fray as we struggled to cope with the upstream breeze, while fish after fish seemed to taunt us by rolling again and again in the exact spot the fly needed to be. Some patient guiding and useful tips did manage to turn the scales in the anglers’ favor. But many were left tortured, vying for revenge next season.
Having our first week completed here at Kau Tapen is a great feeling. Pre-season nerves have dissolved and we’re ready to help make your stay here a trip of a lifetime.
—Matthew Solon, Head Guide