Week 13: March 30 – April 6, 2019
The season comes to an end and the timing could not have been more perfect. During the last week, we had the very cool and interesting experience to host a full group of non-anglers, who stayed here for 2,5 days as part of a business meeting. Luckily, the conditions were still great – clear(ish) water and fairly stable & warm weather conditions. After a few hours of (spey)casting lessons, we tackled the river and already caught the first few fish. For us, this experience was just as exciting, as it probably was for them. Most of the group members had never fished before and it was amazing to see their progress on both, the mere casting and the understanding of the entire concept of fly fishing. Within those 2,5 days, we managed to bring everyone into fish, amongst them a few very good high-teen specimen and even one amazing fresh fish of 21 lbs – and it seemed like we might have even sparked the interested for a new passion at least for some of them. What an amazing experience for everyone and the excitement about every fish, no matter its size, was very humbling and refreshing!
As this fun group left on Tuesday morning, we welcomed the last group of anglers on Wednesday morning for the owner’s week with Nervous Water CEO Fernando alongside some good friends and guides from other Nervous Waters operations. Some of them stayed for only one or two days, some others until Sunday. However, while it had heavily rained on Monday and all the way through Tuesday night, the water had come up at least one foot on Wednesday morning. Both, the Rio Grande and the Menendez were quite murky and conditions were tricky. While the fishing was very tough on Wednesday and all Thursday, with just a few fish landed, the water cleared just enough on Friday, that both the Rio Menendez and the Rio Grande produced some very good fishing with heavier sinking lines and big intruders or leeches. Just during that Friday morning session, we could land some very good high-teen fish and three incredible fish over 20 lbs in both rivers. While the Conditions stayed stable and fishable until Saturday morning, the very strong wind with gusts up to 110 km/h muddied up the water even more during the afternoon, and the river came up another 5 inches just during lunch, making fishing pretty much impossible. Those Saturday-morning fish, were the last ones landed for 2019 season, and amongst them some very good fish up to 19 lbs. While all group members left on Sunday morning, the river had continued to rise and was completely blown out by the time we came back from the airport! What a season timing!
The 2019 season has been a ride! It was a strange season, but a very successful one to say the least. Despite the extremely low water all season long, every single week produced some amazing fish up to over 20 lbs. The fishing in some of these weeks felt like hard work, as it seemed like we had to figure these fish out again and again. The low water affected the activity of the fish a lot more and changes in weather and water conditions had a more severe impact on the activity, than in “normal” water levels. The approach that worked one day, might be ineffective on the next one. For me as a guide it was an eye-opening experience to see the river this low – not only, because the fishing became a lot more strategically, but most importantly, because you get to see “into” the pools like you normally couldn’t.
But the 2019 season was not only a very dry season, but also an early one. When we fished the river first at the end of December (guide’s week), there were already plenty of fish around, that had entered the river already in the end of November. That also showed when fishing the Rio Menendez, which consistently started to produce good numbers and sizes of fish early on. If you have followed the reports of the previous weeks, you will have noticed that the Menendez has shifted much more into the center of attention than in any previous season. We have worked on new roads to create easier access to a lot of good sections, and we have continued to scout new pools throughout this entire season, that encourages us to improve and grade new roads for the next seasons to come, making this river and the spectacular fishery that goes along with it even more accessible.
This season has shown us, that fishing the Rio Menendez more as part of the “regular rotation”, instead of just as a backup to the main river, immensely payed off – even more than expected, so much that we began to split it up between different beats to be able to fish it more effectively. In some weeks, the Menendez became our top choice and the most sought-after beat of the rotation!
The extreme low water made the fishing in some pools of the Rio Grande quite difficult, as large parts of many pools stopped flowing – the Menendez with its tight but deep channels on the other hand did not lose its flow so much, as the water dropped. Just like atlantic salmon, the seatrout will follow the path of the stronger current on their way upriver, and while the main river slowed down as the water dropped, the current in the Rio Menendez was still flowing swiftly, also providing more oxygenated water for the fish to hold in. Bottom line is, that the Rio Menendez adds another dimension to the fishery, that our guests can expect here, offering spectacular fishing in a small trout-like stream for record size fish on single handed rods. And this season would have been far less productive if it wasn’t for that amazing tributary of the Rio Grande, also producing this season’s largest seatrout – an incredible 25 lbs specimen!
But the fishing is one thing – of course it is the reason why most of our guests come down here and travel all these thousands of miles for. But there is so much more that adds to the Kau Tapen experience than “just” fishing. The unique landscape, the endless skies with its awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises, the wildlife and the eerie sound of the wind, just to name a few. Last but not least of course the lodging and the wine&dine, that we take such great pride in. Just as we (the guides) are doing our best to give you an unforgettable fishing experience on the river, our staff in the lodge has been working very hard this entire season to make the stay for our guests the most comfortable imaginable. Especially, when the fishing gets tricky, returning to a warm and cozy lodge with good drinks and food can make up for any tough session on the river.
I, personally, am very thankful for such a great team here at Kau Tapen, that has been working hand in hand to make everyone’s job easier. There is a lot of effort and attention to small details happening behind the scenes and I deeply appreciate everyone’s energy to build that link between lodging and guiding and to always have a helping hand. What a great team, it’s been a true pleasure.
Thanks everybody for an unforgettable 2019 season – it has been a fantastic ride!
~ Paulo, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 12: March 23-30, 2019
The second last week of the season is over and we had a full house! Some old friends came to visit us again: Roberto and Fran, as well as Martin and Theresa, all four from Argentina, and who have been coming here for many years now. Tom and Colman, who’s first time it was were keen fishermen and excited for a completely new fishing experience. Richard, who had fished the Rio Grande before, brought his good friend Gordon. Just as last year, the guys from Fly Fishing Nation hosted part of the week with Alex bringing along Daniel, both who were with the same week last year, as well as Fabrizio and Patrick, who were in for a great first Argentinian experience. Last but not least Toni, who came to follow this week’s anglers with his camera, conserving all these amazing experiences and images in motion pictures! After this exact week last year had been a complete blast, we were all looking forward to another great late season week!
Last week’s push of water had already dropped to a large extend. However, the water was still colored and the visibility stayed knee- to thigh-deep all week – a dark tee. In my opinion the best color of water, that gives the fish enough clarity to fish smaller rubberleg nymphs/bugs, but at the same time is murky enough to fish a larger streamers or leeches with good confidence as well.
Despite those very promising conditions, the first day started slowly, with only few fish landed during the first morning session. Everybody had to get used to the new environment and get warmed up with the casting. But already the evening brought some proper fish, amongst them a chunky 18 pounder for Gordon to take the pressure off of him. The fishing on Monday picked up, showing the group the immense potential of this river. Just barely into the morning session, Tom could land a splendid 18,5 lbs specimen, amongst a lot of medium sized fish for the group, while more big fish were lost for the group. However, it wasn’t until Day 3, that the fishing really turned on – especially the Rio Menendez was the center of the action. While Alex and Daniel had an incredible morning on that little tributary with 7 fish landed, amongst them a 16 lbs, a 19,5 lbs for Alex and an amazing 20 lbs for Daniel, they did not stop during the evening either, topping it off with another 17,5 lbs and an incredible 23 lbs for Alex! But they were not the only ones, who had a blasting session on the Menendez. While Gordon started his day on another great 15 pounder, Tom ended his on a fantastic 20 lbs fish – both from the Rio Menendez as well! This just showed us once again, how incredibly lucky we are to be able to fish this little river: three fish over 20 lbs landed in just one day, all on single handed rods.
But it came even better, when Tom returned on Thursday with news of the biggest fish of the season! 25 lbs of dynamite from the Rio Menendez as well – the same day that Martin landed an amazing 23 lbs just a few turns upstream. And also Fran and Roberto had an amazing session on the Menendez, landing 7 good fish just in the evening on that little tributary.
While the Rio Menendez was on fire this week, the Rio Grande also produced incredible fishing this week, as it was slowly but gradually clearing up. The fishing into the sunset got also more productive again by midweek after being fairly slow while the water was colored. That was shown by Richard and Gordon, when they doubled up on two good during their Thursday’s evening session. The same night, when Daniel was back at it again with two proper fish landed at just before dark.
By Friday, everybody had already landed good fish and could head relaxed into the last two sessions. But it was not over yet and there were a couple more surprises left for the last day. Almost every group member was able to end his trip on a good note by landing one last fish. Daniel had another ace up his sleeve and saved the best for last, landing another two fish over 20 lbs on this very day. Incredible!
An incredibly fun week comes to an end, that ended up being one of the best of the season. The low activity of the fish made it everything else but easy to connect to fish, but the high spirits and hard work of every group member made it much more productive than anyone would have predicted.
Especially the Rio Menendez stood out once again this week. Not only a saving grace, when the conditions on the Rio Grande are tough, but the go-to place to have a really good chance on a giant sea trout on the single hander. This week alone showed how real these chances are, with five fish over 20 lbs from this river alone, amongst them the biggest of the season. The scouting of new pools in this river throughout this and last season payed off and many of these new places produced immensely good fishing – not only this week.
We had an incredible week with lots of laughs, great stories and good food. We are sad to send this amazing bunch of people back on their travels home, but while the season is almost over, we are even more looking forward to seeing many of these kind people next season here in Kau Tapen again!
~ Paulo, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 11: March 16 – 23, 2019
While we were sad about our Italian friends from last week leaving, we were just as excited for our new group to arrive. Especially with the weather forecast, that predicted heavy rain for Saturday and Sunday – not only here, but most importantly in the mountains.
When our new group arrived in the evening on Saturday, it had already started raining. Enrico, Joe, Paul, Robert (Bob), Charlie and Kevin, who all came together as friends, and some of whom had fished here before a couple of years ago. Peter and Cam, who came here straight from a week of Peacock fishing in Colombia and were looking for a change-up in weather and pace; Virgil, who would be with us for his first time and who was completely new to this kind of fishing; and Robert, who had been to the Rio Grande five times already, but never with us here at Kau Tapen. We were all keen for the week to come and to show all of our dear guests a great experience.
The rain never stopped at night and persisted throughout the entire first fishing day. It was a rough start in the pouring rain, and the morning only produced “smaller” fish. The barometric pressure was down and the fish were not really active. But the evening proved to be more prolific and some good fish could be hooked. Amongst them a 17 lbs for Joe and a great 18 lbs fish for Robert.
On Monday morning, it had stopped raining and the sun peaked though again. While the Rio Grande had a slow start again, the Rio Menendez produced once again some amazing fishing for Bob and Charlie. Amongst the 4 double digit fish they could land during their morning session, two of them were over 20 lbs! And in the evening, the tributary kept on giving and produced more big fish up to 17 lbs for the team.
The fish could feel that something was about to change in the water – that at least would explain the tough fishing in the main river on the first two days. And on Tuesday, we woke up to a much bigger river. The water had come up about 1,5 ft. and was still rising. About 10 inches of visibility – not great, but enough to get creative with some bigger flies: Heavy tips and big intruders or tandem tube rigs. Although it was hard to find the fish on that third day due to the murky water, the one’s we did find were big and angry. Robert started his day with a 19 lbs and an incredible 22 lbs fish, while Peter could land a perfect 18 pounder. But the water was still rising and muddying up until the point, where even large flies were not finding the fish anymore. Only Cam managed to land a proper 15 lbs specimen during the evening.
The peak of the high water reached us on Thursday. The visibility was down to only a couple of inches and the fishing in the main river was close to hopeless. But luckily, the Rio Menendez was not affected by the high water too much and was also clearing up much quicker. While fishing on the main river was quite the struggle, the Menendez was once again a blessing and fished extremely well under these conditions. Joe and Bob had an amazing evening on that little tributary with three dream fish landed: a 17 lbs and a double hookup of a 16 lbs and a 21 lbs. Especially in extreme water conditions like these, the Rio Menendez is so much more than a nice “add-on” to the main river.
Luckily, the water had already started to drop overnight and seeing the river on Thursday morning brought new hope for the last two days. While the clarity was still compromised, it was just enough for the fish to track a large and pushy fly. And usually, the fish will be more active in dropping/clearing water than in rising. Although casting heavy tips and large flies was more of a challenge especially for our spey casting beginners, it payed off on these last days. Robert was able to land another nice 18 lbs while Virgil managed an awesome 14 lbs from the same pool. And while Charlie landed another outstanding 19 pounder, the fish of the day came in for Bob – a remarkable 22,5 lbs hen, that would remain the biggest of the week!
Severe fluctuations of the barometric pressure unfortunately put the fish down on the last day, especially the bigger ones. Although there were some nice mid-sized fish landed over the course of the day, the big ones did not want to play along. However, Robert put in a lot of work and managed a nice fish during his last evening, a spanking 16 pounder that ended the week on a good note.
A strange week (considering the fishing) comes to an end, and despite of the challenging conditions, I think we all can be quite happy with the overall results. Despite of two days of very murky water, the group was able to land a good amount of fish – including a good number of very big fish.
The clearing water and the full moon that we had midweek brings hope for the next week to come. A new run of fish should be entering the river just now and with the little push of water during the week, they should be able to make it into our beats quite easily!
A mixed group of anglers, from different places with different backgrounds, united here by the same passion, chasing the same dream. It is always nice to see these different people find their way together along the week, sharing drinks and becoming good friends. I am certain we will be lucky to host most of them again in the near future. We are certainly looking forward to it!
~ Paulo, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 10: March 9 – 16, 2019
We were happy to welcome a new group of guests and a very fun week should lie ahead of us. A group of Italian anglers, some of whom had fished the Rio Grande before, and some, who were completely new to this kind of fishing. Orazio, Matteo, Michelangelo, Riccardo, Luigi, and Marco – such lovely people and passionate fishermen through and though. The group was completed by Clint, Ben and Mike from the US, all who came for their first time and who were looking to learn and experience something completely new, including spey casting.
The conditions remained very similar compared to last week. The forecast did not predict any major rain and we were looking at another week of super low and clear water. Very tricky conditions to start on. But all of this week’s anglers knew that weather and water conditions are beyond our control and were eager to put in the work in order to make this week a success on the fishing side of things.
Tricky conditions and a new environment made the first session tough for most. After skipping Saturday’s warm-up session after a delayed flight, the first morning was the first chance to wet a line. But already in the evening, both the Rio Grande and the Menendez showed its full potential. Orazio started into the week on a great 18 lbs fish, and Marco kicked off his week on an incredible 23 lbs Menendez fish in the evening. This fish set the bar high for the week, but a bit of healthy competition between the anglers kept the ambition up. After the first day, everybody seemed to have warmed up and was ready, when the fishing suddenly “turned on” on Monday – a windy high-pressure day. The river conditions did not change much, but the fish were active in most places. Already early, Riccardo hooked and landed a big fish – an amazing 20,5 lbs male. Luigi and Michelangelo had a wicket morning session with 9 fish landed, many of them in the double digits. Clint and Ben came back with similar news – 8 fish landed, most of them very good sized as well. And the evening continued to be prolific. After an already amazing morning, Luigi did not stop grinding and topped of his day with a spanking 20 pounder. And Orazio, after a considerably slow morning session, ended his day on a 16 lbs and yet another fantastic 20 lbs fish! Three 20+ lbs fish landed of over 40 for the day – one of the most successful days of the season, both in terms of numbers and size!
There are a lot of big fish around – that’s for sure and although the fishing turned on and off from session to session, we saw and hooked into these big fish on a regular basis. Like Clint’s 18,5 lbs fish on Tuesday. That was also the day when Marco hooked into a huge fish in the mouth of the Menendez. That fish took off downstream into the main river and emptied the reel completely before spitting the fly!
Big fish were hooked and landed almost every day. Just like Riccardo’s awesome 21 pounder on Wednesday morning, followed by another great 20 lbs whooper for Mike in the evening! And Mike would do it again with yet another 20 lbs stunner on the next morning.
By Thursday night, everyone had already landed multiple good fish, some even the fish of their lifetime! One could tell that the pressure was off for everybody. The atmosphere in the lodge was great – easy and relaxed and even those who hadn’t known each other prior to this week, were sitting together at the bar, laughing and sharing a good bottle of Malbec.
But the week was not over yet! Friday would be another great day for the group. Matteo and Orazio had an amazing morning with 9 good fish landed, where Matteo would beat his PB with an outstanding 17,5 lbs hen fish. Clint came from his morning session with a great 18,5 pounder and Ben finished his week on an incredible 18 lbs, while Michelangelo was able to land a stunning 19 pounder during the last evening session – all of these fish busting the angler’s previous PB!
Considering these ongoing critical low water conditions, this week’s numbers were outstanding – especially the amount of big fish hooked and landed. Marco’s outstanding 23 lbs fish remained the biggest one of the week and displayed once again the great potential that the Rio Menendez offers.
But fishing aside – most importantly, this was an incredibly fun week for all of us (the guides and staff) – on and off the river! And I am certain it was just as fun for all of our guests, who became good friends along the week and who we dearly look forward to see again next season. Hopefully in the same constellation!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 9: March 2 – 9, 2019
Another week is done and I can’t believe how fast the time is flying. We are closing in towards the end of the season, but our excitement for the week to come was as high as always. We were happy to welcome a full group of Kau Tapen (and Rio Grande) first timers. Kent, his son Kris, Joe, George, Paul, and Mike – all good friends, who have known each other for a long time – most new to spey casting but very keen on a new experience here. Maurice and Richard, who have been fishing together for many years for salmon and sea trout in the UK; Anthony, seasoned salmon angler and very handy with a spey rod; Peter, who fishes sea trout a lot back home in the UK, but who came here for the fish of a lifetime; and Robert, new to this kind of fishing, but who had prepared his spey casting prior to this trip!
Last week’s rain did not do much to the river – it remained low, similar to the water level from one week ago. The forecast did predict some heavier rain for the week, but most of us had given up hoping for rain, after seeing the river drop at a consistent pace almost all season long, not coming up a significant amount once!
Although very low and clear, Sunday morning started off moody with overcast and a slight drizzle here and there. The mild easterly wind kept pushing the wet air from the ocean against the Andes – not the easiest wind to fish most pools, but good preconditions if you are looking for clouds and rain.
Most of our guest were new to spey casting and had to get used to the new technique. But Maurice made quick business and kickstarted his week wish a spanking fresh 19 pounder. So did Peter, who aimed to ticked off his “fish of a lifetime” early with an amazing 17 lbs fish on the single hander – both fish already during the morning session. The activity slowed down towards the evening, as the clouds were replaced by bright sunshine all of the sudden.
Very cold nights made for low water temperatures during the morning sessions almost every day. Temperatures close to the freezing point and even below during the early morning and around 12 °C (54 °F) during the day – that trend persisted throughout the week. The cold water in the main river made fishing quite tough during the morning sessions. The Rio Menendez however was not affected so much by these temperature fluctuations and produced more consistent fishing along the entire week. That was shown early by Richard and Maurice, who came back with two great 17 pounders from the second day’s morning session. After the main river had warmed up a bit, the fishing became better towards the evening on most days onwards.
Fishing larger flies (leeches, bigger rubberleg pattern, large sunrays,…) during the cold mornings with water temperatures of only 5-6 °C (41-43 °F) triggered some fish, although the activity was mostly shut down and we were all focusing our energy on the evenings. Wednesday was a great example with only two small fish landed during the cold morning, but an amazing evening session that completely made up for the slow start. Anthony and Robert had a glorious evening with three dream fish landed. A 17 and a 19,5 lbs for Robert and a 21 lbs for Anthony – all in the Rio Menendez. Also Peter hit it right on the little tributary and landed five fish alone, amongst these a 15 lbs and a splendid 16 lbs. Kent showed that also the main river would produce, landing a 15,5 lbs and a 16 lbs back to back!
A small push of water reached us during the next morning – not much but enough to get the fish moving. This little push made for great fishing! Despite of a very cold night and cold water, the fish were active in most pools and already Thursday’s morning session was a big success. Maurice’s 14 lbs and 16,5 lbs, as well as Kent’s 16 lbs were just three examples of the many good fish landed. But fishing picked up even more towards the warmer evening, where Peter could beat his PB with a humbling 21 lbs stunner – a true fish of a lifetime! Also George would come back with amazing news: an incredible, fat 22 lbs specimen. But Mike’s great 19 pounder did not go unnoticed and neither did Richard’s 16 lbs and Maurice’s 18 pounder. This incredible day ended not only with many fish landed, but most importantly with many drinks at the bar and a great all around atmosphere at the lodge!
After Thursday’s incredible sessions, everyone went very relaxed into the final fishing day. Although the last day started quite slow – similar to most days with very cold water in the morning, we finished the week on a very good note with good numbers of big fish landed. Amongst these fish a fantastic 16 lbs and 18 lbs for Paul and George as well as more great “high teen” fish.
Another week with tough condition comes to an end and we are very happy with the final results. Partly thanks to a couple of very good days, but most importantly thanks to a great group of anglers, who was very keen to learn new techniques and listened carefully to the guide’s advice. Tackling these tricky conditions was everything else but easy, especially considering that many anglers of the group were completely new to spey casting. But the learning curve was steep and the motivation of every single group member very high. We were surely impressed by how quickly everyone got acquainted with the casting and we had such a great time on and off the water with this fun group of people – I am sure I speak for the behalf of all of us by saying that!
Thanks for yet another very cool week, that makes us look forward to what the next one may bring!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 8: February 23 – March 2, 2019
A bunch of familiar faces was on its way here and we were super stoked to see all of them again. We were so happy to see Bill, Janet and their son Jake again, all of whom had come here many times and who we had grown so very fond of. Along with them their good friend Rodney for his second consecutive time with us and who is always in for a great time and lots of laughs. David and his father Kjell, along with their friends Jim and Roger, who had come to visit us multiple years now and who were such a bliss to spend time with. And finally, Ferro and Sergio, who we had the pleasure to host two years ago and who’s Italian charm and temperament we were all looking forward to. Such a lovely group would guarantee for a week full of laughs, good stories, old memories and new ones to be made – fishing conditions aside.
After the river had risen a few inches during the last couple of days of the previous week, we were hoping for some more stable water conditions and faster flow in the pools. But already during Saturday night’s warm-up session, we had to realize, that our watermarks were out in the dry yet again and the water had dropped right back to its critically low level we had seen it at the beginning of last week. And unfortunately, the forecast would not predict any major rain for the week to come.
But just as all of our guests were motivated to put in the hard work to tackle these ongoing low-water conditions, we were just as eager to do our best to make this week’s experience the best possible one for every one of them. Despite the tricky conditions, however, we headed into the week on a very good first day that was quite productive already, with fish landed on most rods. The Rio Menendez showed once again, that it is much more than just an add-on to the main river, but a very prolific piece of water if the conditions align. Already during the past weeks, it has shown us, that especially with the extreme low water in the Rio Grande, most places in the Rio Menendez will still have a speedy flow and the running fish will go up in these narrow, but deep pools and channels. This week, we integrated the Menendez even more into our daily rotation and it paid off from day no1. The great 16 pounder for David and the amazing spanking fresh 18 pounder for Bill were just two examples of its potential.
But this week was a constant rollercoaster ride of up and downs. The predominant and unusual south wind brought cold air from the Antarctica and temperatures dropped down especially during the night. While on many mornings the fishing was very slow after these cold nights, it picked up significantly during the later afternoon and evening hours. That was the case almost every day. Most of the “high-teen” fish (15+ lbs) were landed later during the day. Any change in conditions (temperature, air pressure, water level, etc.) seem to affect the fish a lot more in this very low water and the “smaller” fish of 3-10 pound were “waking up” a bit sooner after a change in weather or water conditions.
Monday sunny morning, for instance, produced only a handful of bites with just one fish brought to the net. The sky was cloudless and there was not a single breeze on the flat calm water. During the lunch break, no wind and blue skies were replaced by a thick cloud cover, a steadily blowing wind, and even some light drizzle later on. This change of conditions completely turned the game around and we had one of this season’s most prolific sessions during that evening. Ferro’s 21 lbs immaculate male fish during that afternoon definitely stood out of the crowd and was of course celebrated accordingly in the lodge – it ended up being the biggest fish of the week!
Bill and Janet had their go on the next day when they hit it right on the spot in their evening session. Bill started off with a 16 pounder, just to get warmed up for his cracking 20 lbs fish later on. But we were just as excited about Janet’s 17 lbs fish out of the same pool, just minutes apart. David’s 17 pounder from that session did not go unnoticed either and was celebrated with drinks at the bar during the night!
The fish that made Bill’s week, however, must have been the fresh 18 lbs Menendez fish. After over 16 years of coming here, he had never fished the Menendez – but I do believe he will more often now, after this unforgettable fight in the tight pools of this small tributary after landing a more few smaller fish. Jake left his mark on the Menendez as well. After Rodney and he landed a 14,5 and a 6 lbs fish back to back in an unnamed pool, it will be referred to as “Pauli’s Pool” from now on.
On that day (Thursday), it had started to drizzle during the morning session. The drizzle turned to rain that would never stop during the night. Also on the next morning, the rain prevailed and kept on wetting the soil for the entire day. It was an unforeseen, but yet so promising change of weather and we were all crossing our fingers for more rain for the next week, that would make the river rise. The weather felt very fishy, and although there was no immediate change in the water level, the fish would sense the change ahead of time. Jake’s 17 lbs and Ferro’s 15 lbs on the last day were just two examples of the many great specimen landed on the last day.
But let’s put the fishing aside. I see it more as the excuse to come down here to escape from a hectic everyday life and enjoy the company of like-minded people, experience the haunting charm of Tierra del Fuego and lean back with a big glass of Malbec. Every night, you could probably hear the chatter and laughter echo away from the lodge and anyone around the estancia would probably hear that someone had a good time 😉 It is so nice to see a mixed group “click” this well from the very beginning. Everyone had stories to tell or an open ear for someone else’s to be told. We are sad to already wave goodbye to this outstanding bunch of people – this week went past so quickly and we are already looking forward to a great reunion next year.
Thanks for such a fun week!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 7: February 16-23, 2019
Another week has passed and we were excited to welcome some very old friends once again this year. Jon, Jeremy (US), Hubert and his son Jean-Hubert (Belgium), who have been with us many, many years and who we were much looking forward to take out to the river once again. But also Julian, Philipp, Collin and Rosemary (UK) had been here before and we were equally excited to fish with them again after four years. Nina and her husband Goeff (US) came for their first time and we were very keen on showing them a new experience on this river.
The conditions remained tricky! The water was still extremely low and clear, the forecast predicted some heavier rain for midweek, however – so fingers crossed! Fishing float/intermediate lines, long leaders, and very small flies, as well as minimizing the wading was our preferred approach during the day, and larger sunrays and leeches for the later evenings. This delicate adjustment payed off on the first day already, when almost every member of the group would hook into fish! However, temperatures dropped significantly during the night and made for very cold water on the second morning. The combination of the suddenly very cold and still extremely low water put the activity of the fish down significantly. Every fish was hard work and the result of many cast into the frosty morning air. Fishing bigger flies slower and deeper brought some results, but the fishing was quite tough during these mornings. The eveningsessions on the other hand – when water temperatures had gone up a bit – brought better results. Monday’s evening showed again how quickly things can get turned around, when Jean and Hubert had an amazing last hour with 8 fish landed, ending on an incredible 19 lbs fish for Jean.
Tuesday morning confirmed, that the cold nightly temperatures were a huge deciding factor for the activity of the fish. It was the only mild morning of the entire week, but the most productive morningsession of all. And finally, FINALLY we got some rain. The light drizzle here did not change much, but hopefully the heavy cloud cover over the mountains. Winds from a north-easterly direction made fishing in many pools a bit more difficult, but those pools that we were able to cover seemed to produce good fish. Jeremy had a glorious session, coming back with three double digit fish on a single hander and a nymph: 12, 16 and 18 lbs after losing a couple more. But also Philipp managed an amazing 18 and a 14 lbs and Nina and Geoff added a 14 and a 15 lbs to the catchbook. More fish in the 8-13 lbs range were landed and also the eveningsession unveiled some more nice fish.
The combination of snowmelt and again a very cool night made temperatures in the water drop below 7 degrees on Wednesday morning and the river had a green-blueish taint to it. Fishing was very slow and only “smaller” fish could be enticed to take the fly.
Tuesday’s rain in the mountains finally affected the river down here on Thursay morning. The water had risen 3 inches over night and was still rising, while also coloring up. Away from small flies and long leaders to heavier tips and bigger rubberleg pattern and leeches – this change in tactics payed off and rewarded us with some fish here and there. However, these constantly changing conditions in the water had put the fish down and we were hoping for water and weather to stabilize. Towards the late afternoon, we started to see fish moving in different pools across the river – it seemed like the fish were starting to run again. And halfway into the eveningsession, Jeremy hooked into the biggest fish of the week! After an exhilarating fight with deep headshakes that confirmed its size, he could land that magnificent 23 lbs hen fish. What an effort on a tough day like this. But also Julian managed to land three fish on his birthday, that was celebrated with the whole group in the lodge!
On the last morning, we woke up to frozen windshields and rime on the grass outside of the lodge. The river was still colored up and fishing larger leeches and intruders was the only way to move some fish, amongst these a nice and very fresh 14 pounder for Julian out of Rio Menendez. After an amazing fight up and down the pool on his single hander, Julian recalls this as the “fish, that made the week for him”! Towards the evening the water started to slightly clear up again and the fish were starting to get more active again. Geoff finished his week on a great 16 pounder and also Jeremy could add another awesome 14 lbs to his already pretty good week! But the fish of the evening came quite late, a cracking 19 pounder for Rosemary at almost dark!
In a nutshell, the combination of low water, and big temperature fluctuations caused by very cold nights made the fishing very tough, especially during most mornings. The Rio Menedez was once again much more than a backup plan, but rather the go-to option during these tricky conditions. The push of water that finally arrived here on Thursday morning seemed to be enough to make the fish run again. Although, we are still desperately hoping for more water, this push – although just a few inches – may shuffle the deck again and mix up the pools. We’re hoping to see some movement as conditions settle. Our fingers are crossed for more stable weather and some more rain, as the river still remains low!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 6: February 9 – 16, 2019
Here we go again, another week had gone by and we’ve almost reached halftime for this season. And – you might have guessed it already – we were still struggling with incredibly low water. But both – guides and our new guests alike – were eager to put in the work to make this week a success, no matter the conditions. Richard and Rupert (UK), John and Terry (UK), Andy and Sandy (Alexander, who had been with us here the previous week already), Chris R. and Chris M. (UK), David (UK) and Evan (US). A mixed group of great characters, some who had been here many times, some others, for whom this week would be their first Rio Grande experience. But all of them good fishermen with a great attitude, which was highly needed to tackle these tricky conditions. Despite of what good or bad surprises the river may bring, we were all looking forward to a fun week and making new friends!
The first fishing day started off with cold wind from the south. Although quite slow for most anglers, the first session already showed the group what can be possible on the Rio Grande, when John came back with a 19,5 lbs and Terry with a cracking 21,5 lbs fish from the same pool. Sandy, after already landing a 21 lbs the previous week already, topped his PB fish during the first evening by landing another amazing 22 lbs fish. Also John got lucky again with a 17 lbs and Richard started his week with a proper 15 lbs fish.
Monday was overcast and during the first hours, the wind was quite moderate. These good conditions made for pretty good numbers during the morning session. All anglers were able to land fish, many of them in the 8-12 lbs range, amongst them, however, a nice 16 lbs for David and a beautiful 15 lbs for Evan. The wind picked up and became very gusty towards the evening and the second half of that day started a bit slowly. But as the light started to vanish, the fish became more active. David managed another 16 lbs on a leech at almost dark and Chris M. finished his second day on a bang, landing an 18 lbs and an amazing 20 lbs fish back to back.
Although the numbers of the 7-12 lbs fish were quite impressive, there were also quite a lot of very big fish around, and Tuesday proved that again. Although the morning session was quite tough with strong winds of ~ 80 km/h, Richard came back with the fish of his lifetime, a 94 cm long cockfish weighting in at 23 lbs, which was properly celebrated by the whole group at lunch. Only late during the evening, the wind began to drop and the fish seemed to get more active rather late, just minutes before the session was over. But Evan and David had saved up some energy for these last minutes and it was well worth it. Just before it was time to call it, David hooked into a big fish. Before it was landed, Evan was in too: 21,5 lbs for David and 18 lbs for Evan, landing the fish only 10 meters apart from each other. What a double! Also Terry had a great last minute 15 pounder to finish his session on a successful note.
While the water was still dropping, our leaders were getting longer and longer during daytime with very small flies at the end of it. Most of our fishing was with floating or very light sink tips (1-3 inch/s). The river, being lower than any of us had ever seen it, had become quite narrow. Wading was not needed in most pools and we only entered the water where necessary. But despite those very tough conditions, everyone had already landed multiple double digit fish, amongst them some very big ones. And although the water remained low for the rest of the week and the only light drizzle that passed us would not at all affect the water level, we were catching good fish on a pretty consistent basis.
Every fish, however, was the result of hard work and many casts that every member of the group had to put in individually. John showed once again on Wednesday that consistency will pay off eventually and came back with another amazing 20 lbs hen fish. Also Chris R. showed how it can be done with a spanking fresh 16 lbs fish from our upper waters. Richard started his morning with a couple of very good fish, 13 and 15 lbs. The evening session, on the other hand, was quite tough, as the wind kept howling way into the night. That did not stop Terry from getting another perfect 18,5 pounder, though. Also David put in his effort once again and was rewarded with a proper 16,5 lbs specimen. The wind never stopped during the night and the second last day was one of the windiest of the season with gusts up to over 100 km/h. Fishing on the main river was quite tough during that morning – quite frankly, even standing up straight was tough enough. The combination of low water that was muddied up by the strong winds did not do the fishing any good. The Rio Menendez, however, was once again a saving grace, producing a few good fish for the team who was fishing it, amongst them a great 16,5 pounder for Andy and a chunky 13 lbs for Sandy – both caught on single handed rods. Luckily, the wind slowed down later during the evening and more good fish were brought to net once the wind let up and the light had gone down. Chris R. ended his day with a splendid 17 pounder and so did David. Rupert could be quite excited about a last minute 14 pounder that put on a great fight at almost dark. Most of the fish for the session were caught during the last hour of fishing. Everyone seemed quite relaxed, going into the last day of fishing. Despite the very low water and tricky conditions, the week had produced good numbers of fish and very good numbers of big fish! No one had the pressure of catching or proving himself anymore. But even the last day brought fish for everyone with a very strong finish by Richard, who ended his week on two outstanding 17 pounders!
The fishing this week was everything but easy and I think I can speak on the behalf of everyone here, that the good numbers of fish that we eventually hooked and landed were the mere result of very hard work on all sides. Our delicate approach (light tips, long leaders, small flies, and little wading) payed off and that was partly because our anglers were paying great attention to our guide’s advises.
But fishing aside – a week at Kau Tapen is not only about catching big trout, but more importantly about spending quality time with likeminded people, good food, new friendships and new experiences – fishing might just be a great excuse for all that. And in my eyes, this week has had all that and more. I am certain we will see many of these faces again, hopefully in similar constellation! Thanks for a great week!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 5: February 2 – 9, 2019
New week, a new group of guests, and new chances. However, the river remained very low and kept on dropping at a constant pace. The odds did not seem to be in our favor, but maybe the fishing gods were. And as low water wasn’t tough enough, the forecast promised a heat wave that would hit us on the first fishing day. We all had the feeling that this would be a very tough week ahead of us. On the upside, though, our new group was made up of very capable anglers: Gerald (Austria), David, Ginny and her son Seth (US), who had been here many times and just came straight from a week of fishing in Villa Maria; Stuart and Ian (Australia), first time at the Rio Grande, but very keen trout anglers and eager to learn this new way of fishing; Irwin, who was here once 15 years ago brought his long time fishing friend John (US); Robert (Ausria), who had never speyfished before and looked forward to a very new experience; Alexander (Scottland), seasoned angler who fishes salmon all year round back home; and Brian (US), David’s son and very versatile fisherman.
Sunday started out to be sunny and windy with moderate temperatures at least for the earlier hours! Most of us were fishing with floating and intermediate tips by now, sometimes slightly heavier. And just like last week ended on a good note, this week started out on one. After the very first session, the group had already landed a good handful of double digit fish – John broke the ice with a beautiful 17 lbs fish and Brian started his trip on a cracking 19 pounder! During midday, the temperatures skyrocketed and the wind died down. While the water was 10 °C in the morning (50 °F), its was 18 °C (65 °F) in the beginning of the evening session. Understandably, the fishing shut down dramatically. Monday and Tuesday were the hottest days many of us had seen down here in a long time. Air temperatures climbed up to shocking 32 °C (90 °F) and we measured water temperatures of up to 21/22 °C (70 °F). The nights were mild and the water only cooled down a little bit. Despite of these very critical conditions, the numbers of fish hooked and landed were surprisingly good. On Monday morning, Seth landed two nice fish within 5 casts, a 14 and a 15 lbs. Brian had another 17 pounder in the evening and Ginny and Stuart topped off the day with two 21 pound fish in the late evening. Tuesday was even warmer and without a breeze in the morning. Most of the fishing was done with very long leaders and tiny flies. The river was flat like a mirror, so we suggested single handed casting where possible to not disturb the water. Our delicate approach payed off and we could land many good fish between 5 and 12 lbs despite these tricky circumstances – amongst all fish a very healthy 17,5 lbs fish for John on a hitch fly. With the water temperatures at their peak during afternoon, the evening session was only productive in the very last 1,5 hours, as the light slowly went down. But the size of fish caught on the third evening made up for it. A 19 lbs fish for Ginny, another 19 lbs fish for Brian, and a cracking 19,5 lbs fish for Irwin – that made for some healthy competition around the dinner table. Healthy Competition is also the catchphrase for this funny group of anglers. Whoever would catch the biggest fish of the day would have to tell a funny (fishing related) story or tale during dinner and would win “The flask” – a flask that Irwin hand carved with the motive of a brown trout, filled of course with whisky! This competition made for a lot of fun in and outside the lodge and really tied the group together – and, quite important too, it kept everyone focused on the prize.
The weather cooled down again on Wednesday, and this drop in temperatures was quite needed – for us, but most importantly for the fish. That also showed in the activity of the fish and in terms of numbers, this would end up to be the most prolific day of the season so far. But as the weather stayed stable, the fishing picked up even more on Thursday, when even more fish were brought to the net than the day before. Amongst all these fish, Alexander had a nice 14 and 18 lbs fish in the morning, and finished the day on another cracking 21 pounder. Ian was over the moon with an amazing 19 lbs fish at almost dark. And Gerald had a six-fish-streak in the upper part of the river, ending this productive evening on a beautiful fresh 18 lbs fish. An amazing number of 42 fish were landed that day and that is all thanks to an extremely dedicated and hardworking group of anglers. Very well done!
However, the week was not quite over, yet. Especially not for Robert – as he was on a mission to land one big fish on his switch rod. After losing a silver bright fish far beyond the 20 lbs mark two days earlier, he had only one day left to redeem himself. But karma can be a bitch sometime…well sometimes, not this time though. And on the last cast of his trip, an angry 22 lbs hen fish took his leech. And luckily, this time chances were on Robert’s side and the fish was landed.
Maybe the fishing gods were with us after all, because even though the odds seemed to be against us with low water, beating heat, and fluctuating water temperatures, this week turned out to be the most prolific one of this season so far.
For all of us, this has been an incredibly fun week. Not only was it a true pleasure to spend quality time with every single group member, but personally I had the feeling that this group in particular really grew together over the course of the week. New friendships formed, great entertainment around the dinner table, and just the right amount of competition on the water – this is what makes these trips so special. And if the fishing is this good on top of all the rest – even better. A true team effort!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 4: January 26 – February 2, 2019
Going into the new week, the river was at the lowest many of us had ever seen it. But a lovely group was on its way here, eager to tackle whatever challenge this river may bring. Some familiar faces we all looked forward to see again, and new folk, who we were eager to get to know better on the water: Eliot (US), who would fish this river for his sixth time; Tom (UK), who had been here last week with us and brought his good friend Stephen (UK); Peter H. and his wife Sherley (US), who had fished this river many years ago, however never with us here at Kau Tapen; John and his son Peter B. (US), who appreciated every experience along the way and fishing seemed to be just the excuse for a great adventure; Mike and Peter F. (US), old friends from medschool, who have been fishing together the better part of their lives; and Daniel (France), who looked forward to a new challenge on this magnificent river. Such a nice group, that would grow together along the week, with such different backgrounds but the same objective in mind.
The first day started out to be by far the toughest of the entire season so far. Windy, sunny and very low water. The fish that were holding in the pools were completely shut down and for the whole group, only two fish were brought to the net, while losing a handful more. It could only get better after this, especially knowing that the forecast predicted some rain to come. Not much, but maybe enough to get the fish moving a bit and make more fish enter the system. Monday’s weather started off sunny, but as the day progressed, more and more clouds started to darken the sky. And while the morning was quite tough for all, the evening’s fishing picked up significantly, producing the first double figure fish – a proper 12 lbs fish for John on a Sunray and and two spanking fresh 13 pounders for Eliot and Peter H. Monday night brought rain – rain that all of us had desperately prayed for. Combined with the snowmelt in the mountains, this would hopefully bring some change in the water. But not only did the rain change the water, it most importantly changed the enthusiasm of the entire group. And while the river would not rise until the late evening, Tuesday already produced more numbers of bigger fish than the first two days combined. Daniel had his shot at a beautiful 11 lbs fish and Sherley managed four fish in her evening session alone, amongst them an amazing 16 lbs and another 14 lbs cracker – both super fresh.
After checking our watermark early on Wednesday, all of us got very excited about the 2-3 inches in rise thanks to the combination of snowmelt and rain. And our excitement was justified. Not only did we see a lot more action in the pools (jumping and rolling fish), the movement of the fish had shuffled the deck and a lot of these bigger fish got activated again. Tom started his day on a 19 pounder within his first 3 cast of his day. Stephen would later hook into a fresh 16 lbs in that same pool. Daniel managed a solid 15 lbs and Peter F. – having in mind that he had to leave early on the next day – landed another super fresh 15 pounder as a strong early finish to his trip!
Peter H. kept grinding and landed two double digit fish, a 12 lbs and an incredible 22 lbs cockfish, which would remain the biggest of the week.
However, this week did not only tell the story of hard-working anglers, but also of unfortunate ones. The lack of commitment in the bites made for many barely hooked fish that were never brought to net. The bitter taste of Eliot’s huge fish in the mid-to-high twenties, that spit the fly after an unbelievable 7 min. fight up and down the pool, remained for a long time. But that was just the morning session. And more big fish were landed during the evening, amongst them a nice 14 lbs for Stephen and a cracking fresh 17 pounder on the single hander for Mike.
While the water had already begun to drop again, the weather stayed fishy (slightly windy with overcast) and the fish remained quite active. Peter H. and Sherley had a magical morning session with three double figure fish and Tom landed another nice 15 lbs fish at almost dark. Eliot’s misfortunate continued and sadly he lost another huge fish in the evening. It was great to see that the small rise in water did bring a lot more of these super fresh 6-15 lbs fish into our waters.
Last day, last luck! However, the morning started off sunny and calm. A quite tough morning session once again, where only few fish were hooked. However, the pressure was off for all of the anglers already after a few very good days, were everyone was able to land some very proper fish. During lunch, the wind started to pick up, however, and dense cloud cover started to build up. The last evening started to look very promising. And so it came: Peter H. hooked into 7 fish alone, of which he was able to land four over 10 lbs. Daniel would land three good fish, amongst them a 14 and a 15 pounder. And Tom and Stephen had a magical 5-fish-session, where Stephen ended his trip on a 19,5 lbs personal best. A strong finish to a very, very tough week.
The combination of very tough fishing and great group dynamics in the lodge around the fireplace made this mix of anglers grow together into one very homogenous group. Shared success or misfortune, rather than competition in the river – that was awesome to see! And while we (the guides and staff) found a whole bunch of new friends in these amazing characters, I am certain our anglers have formed new friendships amongst them along the week as well. We dearly hope to welcome this great constellation of anglers and adventurers again for seasons to come!
Thanks for an awesome week, tough conditions aside!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 3: January 19 – 26, 2019
The river remained at its very low water level, as the new group of clients arrived. Our prayers for more rain had not been answered and the sticks that we put right at the waterline every other day just confirmed our fear, that the water was still dropping. But our new guests understood that there is not much anyone could do about tough conditions and kept their positive spirit up. A through and through positive group – familiar and new faces alike. Peter and Cheryl (US), who have been coming here for more than a dozen times; Jim, for whom it was his fourth time here with us brought his good friend Owen (NZ); Mark and Kim (US), Vini and Luke (Chile and US), Jim and his son Robert (US), who we all welcomed their very first time and we all were excited to get to know a bit better; and our good friend Stephan (Germany), who had been here a few times to host weeks and take images.
Despite these very low water conditions, we were still fishing quite deep with rather fast sinking tips at the end of our lines. The delicate approach that the low water would suggest did not deliver any good results, as the fish were not active in their pools. Strong wind almost every day did not make it easy for our speycasting beginners. Everybody was working hard, however, to tackle these rather tricky circumstances and the first good fish were brought to net on the first day. Mark and Cheryl helped to put some double digit fish on the board with two cracking 15 and 17 lbs silver bullets. And also Luke’s very first seatrout cracked the 10 lbs mark and put him into the game quite early in the week. Day 2 started with a very slow morning session, which was quickly forgotten after Owen’s amazing fight with a 15 lbs fish in Menendez, and Jim’s absolutely stunning 20 lbs cockfish on that same evening.
It was nice to see how well the group got along, better and better with each passing day, and the mutual excitement for the achievement of a good fish, no matter who caught it, was a very pleasant observation in a tough fishing week like this. While the morning sessions seemed to be a quite slow on most days this week, the evening sessions oftentimes made up for it. Tuesday’s evening session for instance produced another good amount of double figure fish. Stephan alone managed to land 3 fish above 10 lbs that night. But also Cheryl and Robert helped to ramp up the numbers with a nice 16,5 lbs and a beautiful fresh 15 lbs fish during dusk.
Wednesday started with heavy overcast and only very little wind. Everyone could feel it already that this would be the day to grind the pools. Perfect weather conditions and a group of already dialed in anglers made this the most prolific day of the week. Luke and Vini landed 7 fish alone in the morning session, amongst them a fresh 15 lbs fish in perfect conditions and a spanking 13 pounder. Also Kim had a very nice 13 lbs fish and Jim managed an airborne 14 pound fish, both landed in the lower Menendez. The evening continued to be prolific. Stephan’s perfect fresh male 17 lbs annihilated a sunray on a floating line and also Cheryl was able to put another incredible 17 pounder on the board. Robert had an incredible day that he made complete with two great fish in the last 20 minutes of the day: 14 and 16 lbs of pure dynamite that both hit his leech like a freight train!
While the second last morning was a tough one for most – extremely windy with gusts up to over 100 km/h and sunny – Jim and Owen, however, were able to move a few proper fish on big sunrays in the uppermost part of the river, of which they landed two very nice specimen: 15 and 17 lbs, both very fresh. The fishing picked up towards the evening, while the wind only got weaker for the last 30-60 minutes of the day. The wind had colored up the river a bit and bigger leeches and bright intruders started working. Stephan was able to bring in a super fresh 17 pounder and also Mark got hooked up to a couple of very nice fish, of which he landed a super fresh and feisty 12 pounder that simply destroyed his large sunray. Cheryl kept grinding and her persistency rewarded her with a 19 lbs kyped cockfish at dusk.
Similar weather conditions with bright sun and gusty wind persisted for the last day of the week. Jim started his session with a spanking 15 pounder and also Mark put another 12 lbs fish on the board. Owen, who had immensely improved his casting throughout the week and was covering the water like a champion, ended his trip with an extremely fresh and well deserved 12 lbs fish.
The last couple of days were tough from a fishing perspective, but everybody took it very easy. The atmosphere was relaxed and the group had developed into a homogenic unit, everybody had landed good fish and the pressure was off after day 4 already. While I am sure we will see the already familiar faces in upcoming seasons again, we dearly hope for the same with the new friends we’ve made during this week. As for the weather conditions we can do nothing, but pray for some serious rain to cause the river to rise a few inches and make the fish move in their pools. Fingers Crossed for our next week of clients – we are very much looking forward to it, no matter the weather conditions!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.
Week 2: January 12 – 18, 2019
The tough conditions from the last days of the previous week persisted. The start into this week was not an easy one: while the water kept dropping, sunny and very windy first two days gave everyone a rough start. But we had just the right group to battle these tough conditions: A group of South African, British and Norwegian fly warriors, who did not shy away from a bit of wind (~65-75 km/h during our first days). But the constellation of the group was not a random one! Although from very different corners of the world, they have been fishing and travelling together for years, united by family, friendship and most importantly a shared passion. We here at Kau Tapen have been lucky enough to have hosted them a good handful of times before. That’s why everyone – the guides and the staff alike – especially looked forward to welcoming this great bunch of people for this particular week again!
Trond, Didrik, Lars, Hans Terje (HT), Helge from Norway; Clive and Allen from the UK; and Murray, Louis and Mark from South Africa. When the group arrived at the lodge, they already knew the drill: A couple of drinks, a quick introduction and straight to setting up the equipment for the week ahead. While one half of the team took their early go with a quick warmup session (where already a few fish were landed), the other half stuck to drinks and the comfortable couch.
On Sunday, everybody was locked and loaded! The sun was out, the wind was howling and the start into the week was not the easiest to say the least. But already during morning session, the ice was broken for many of the group, amongst these fish an amazing 17 lbs fish for Didrik to break in the fishing trip! The next day started with similar conditions, and although we do have a good amount of fish in the river, the activity of the fish has been rather low. Despite of the low and very clear water, the fish were (at least at the moment) too willing to come up for a fly, forcing us to fish deeper than conditions would suggest. However, that did not seem to bother HT – known Rio Grande big fish magnet and very entertaining character – when he decided to set the bar quite high with a 21 pound kyped male. The excitement about HT’s fish did not overshadow Clive’s amazing, fresh 18 pounder from the same session, however. More double figure fish were landed that day and Lars would make his first fish of the trip a cracking 16 lbs specimen.
The fact that we saw more and more really fresh fish in the 5-9 pound range got us all excited. And although we were catching a fair amount of these “smaller fish”, the amount of fish in their high teens was very solid for this week. Both Helge and Clive would manage to bring a proper 17 lbs fish to the net. This trend continued on Day 4 with Mark adding a 16 pounder and Louis another 17 lbs fish to the board. Murray’s 14 lbs silver bullet got us all excited: after covering the water like a champion during the first three days without the bit of luck, this fish was even more rewarding and well deserved!
The second last day started with heavy overcast. And it was one of those days where you have this fishy feeling in the air. And our gut feeling should not fool us. While some of the pools in the Rio Grande were working pretty well, the Rio Menendez was on fire that day. Helge, Lars and Didrik were lucky to be on that river in the morning and touched fish in every pool. Too good to not do it again, Lars and Didrik took on the Menendez for the evening session as well. And man, it did not disappoint! We are pretty sure Didrik won’t forget his magical five fish session with a 16 and an incredible 20,5 pound fish on his single handed rod anytime soon. But also the main river was producing good fish, with another 16 pounder for Helge and a beautiful 17 lbs hen fish for Trond!
With just one last day left, everyone had landed multiple double digit fish and the pressure was off completely. The atmosphere around the group on the next morning was extremely relaxed. No rush to go to the river and lot of laughs around the lodge. But the last day should have some last surprises left. Helge would finish his day with another proper 15 pounder and Lars and Didrik managed two amazing fish in their last session: A whooping 18 lbs cock fish and a chunky 19 lbs hen on literally the last cast of the trip, while the sun was setting. What an ending to the week! A tough week with challenging conditions comes to an end. The group worked incredibly hard for these really good results and every single fish was earned and well deserved. Closed groups like this are incredible fun for all of us. The mix of healthy competition on the water, the shared stories around the dinner table and the bar, and most importantly the mutual excitement for a big fish is what makes all of this very special.
Thank you for great company, good entertainment, and a lot of skill on the water – an outstanding week if you ask me! We’re already looking forward to the next time we may welcome this group again!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.