Wow-what a feeling it was to travel again, and after a successful week hosting at Worlds End Lodge, it was time to fly back to BA and meet the next group of customers, many of whom are more like friends and new people joining us for the first time at Las Buitreras.
After the long two years wait, the atmosphere and excitement on everyone’s faces just told the story. I had been in daily contact with Felix, the lodge manager, about the water conditions; as we knew from previous weeks’ reports, the rivers in Argentina were all running low. Strangely the last couple of days before we were due to arrive, Felix had gone quiet on me. I just put this down to the fact he was extremely busy. I did not know that the river was rising, and he wanted to keep it as a surprise. The river level had come up significantly Friday and Saturday just as we arrived, so we were back to more typical summer conditions. Just what every Sea Trout angler wants to hear at the start of their trip.
Once everyone had settled into their rooms and started to unpack all their tackle, it was back to the usual questions, take a look at the catch book to see what Zones were producing fish, what flies was catching fish, and how many had the previous week caught.
Anglers were paired up, and the rotation was set. I was to spend my time between customers in the mornings and fish the evening sessions with Nail, who otherwise would be fishing on his own.
The weather started off very warm for the week, with temperatures up to 29 C (84 F), only to drop all the way to 12 C (54 F) later in the week. In a classical southern Patagonian manner, one day to the next, we went from wearing only t-shirts and sweating to wearing six layers and freezing.
Fishing wise, the first day started off with a bang when a first-time visitor to Las Buiteras Philip caught his biggest fish ever on the first morning. Philip started his session by landing a nine-pounder in Little corner before moving down to Old bridge pool. A well placed cast later, and all hell broke loose. Philip was just about to make his second strip when the line was ripped out of his hand, and all of a sudden, his neatly tied yuk bug was on its way back towards the Atlantic ocean. The backing was flying out of Phillips reel, who at this stage was holding on for dear life, still not sure about what was going on. A stunned crowd was watching from the bank as Phillips reel was getting decimated quickly. Luckily the fish decided to turn and run upstreams, and at this stage, Phillip was back in the game and on point with his handling of reel and line, keeping enough pressure while the fish was moving upriver fast. A few stressful jumps, rushes, and head shakes later, and Phillip was finally able to get the fish close enough to be netted. Staring back at him from the net was a perfect 18 pounder waiting to be re-released.
That was not all while high fives and hugs were flying all around at Old Bridge, celebrating Phillip’s new record. Las Buitreras veteran farmer John was battling an even bigger fish down in Cantera in Zone 4. Using all his skill and years of experience, he’d managed to hook the fish of a lifetime and was now running around on the bank trying to keep calm and avoiding making any mistakes which are so easy to do when you are fighting a dream fish. “Stay calm, stay calm, don’t force it, John”, was repeated in his head as minutes passed and the fish was sitting in the current. Twenty-five minutes later, yes, Twenty-five minutes later, John managed to get the fish close enough to be netted. The reward, a stunning 23 lbs male fish!
This was the start of a week that will be known as a week of many firsts and records. For this week, we also had Chris and his son William who were on their first big father and son fishing trip together and had decided that Las Buitreras was the place to go. Chris, of course, has been here before and knew what they were in for. However, we are not sure that he had anticipated how quickly Will was going to pick up spey casting, and it didn’t take long before Will had a beautiful 14 pounder in the books. What a way to start your spey and Sea trout fishing career. The look on both William’s face and he’s ever so proud father Chris, who had been saying to me all the time I just want Will to catch a Sea Trout was worth a million pounds. Will continued to fly and really get into the swing of things by landing two more fish in the 15 lbs range early in the week, putting some real pressure on dad. Chris, however, has been around this game for years and knows that if you put in the work and stay focused, you will eventually be rewarded, and so he was. On the very last session of the week, fishing Kitchen, Chris’ highlight came in the form of a proper dream fish that went utterly crazy on Chris Green Machine fly. Anyone who has ever fished Kitchen pool knows that catching a big fish in that pool on a light wind day is an absolute dream. At 22lb, that was a new personal best for Chris and a proper way to end the perfect father & son week at Las Buitreras. It’s no surprise that they have already booked for a rematch on the 2023 hosted week who will be the victor next year; time will only tell.
Since the beginning of times, Neil and John, childhood friends and fishing buddies, experienced several highlights during the week. One, of course, was John’s monster fish, but apart from that, one particular session stood out a little extra. They had decided to give the pool called Turning bank ago, and Neil was in a position to make his first cast. Strip strip boom! Fish on but quickly lost. Second cast: strip strip boom! Another fish and unfortunately, another fish lost. Third cast: strip strip strip Boom! Neil was as sharp as you can be and landed a perfect 15 pounder this time. Thus far a spectator in this particular pool, John figured that if there are three fish in three casts, why wouldn’t there be four. He went down to the bottom of the pool, made one long cast and Bang! Fish was on and taking line, but the fly came loose just as the fish stopped its run downstream. One landed and three losses in four casts may not be the best landing ratio, but it makes for a hell of a story, and we’re sure they will never pass turning bank again without making at least one cast. They finished that session with four fish landed between them as a side note.
Fishing buddies David and Greg were a force to be reckoned with, and the banter between them never stopped. Being good casters, they fished really well all week, and after missing several strikes and eventually losing a couple of fish as well, they both managed to land some nice fish. David especially managed to miss fish almost every session until he finally landed a nice 11 pounder in Barranca Blanca. Greg claimed David caught his fish using a bobber and worm, but the guide said differently. In this case, we’ll give David the benefit of the doubt and add it to the catch book. I had the pleasure of spending a morning with this pair, and it was a fun morning all around. One of the highlights was David or Jubb, as he likes to be called, was fishing little corner, and he decided to get out a vintage Hardy single-handed rod and reel, which was quite a challenge as there was a tricky crosswind over the right shoulder. Nevertheless, Jubb persisted on until, with a loud cry and line all around his head to everyone else’s amusement, we noticed he had placed his fly very deeply in his neck. Both I and Santi came to his aid, mainly to laugh, but in all seriousness, Santi proceeded to remove the fly very swiftly while I filmed the whole event. One to show everyone back at the lodge for a giggle, and two to make a great little video on how to correctly remove a fly from your body with a piece on mono line.
We also had a regular returning guest, Dave, with his good friend Keith who had previously fished the Rio Gallegos nine years earlier at Bella Vista Lodge. Keith loved the river and was pleased to be back; what he had not told us before, as us anglers are very superstitious, is that before this trip, he had landed 99 Sea trout from the river, so his first from Las Buiteras would be his 100th fish. Imagine what that was like when he returned from that first day after having achieved that momentous event. As the week progressed, Dave had a slow start; being a regular and experienced angler, he was doing nothing wrong it just goes that way sometimes. However, I am pleased to say as the week went on, Dave found back his mojo and started to get into some nice size fish. This just goes to show you, never give up, never doubt yourself, keep focused, and it will all come right in the end.
Niall, who’s was on his second visit to Las Buitreras and my fishing partner for the majority of the week, came in hot from the get-go and started racking up fish from the first session. He eventually ended up with 19 landed and several fish in the 14 to 16 lbs range. I must say it was an absolute pleasure to share the bank and evening fishing session with Niall. We got on famously and were both equally happy in sharing each other’s catches as we were catching our own. We even managed two double hookups, and at one stage, when Niall was playing the 16lb fish, we all thought by the way it was fighting that it was over 20lb. I also got a brutal take which turned out to be a 5lb brownie, but two double hookups and landed fish in a week was also a great result.
Even though this was a week full of action throughout, perhaps the most memorable stories were created on the first and the last day. We’ve already told you about Phillips’ first day with landing his personal best 18 lbs fish, Johns’s 23lb fish and on the last day, Chris’s landing his personal best 22lb fish. Well, that was not all Ross, who was Phil’s fishing partner for the week who is 84 years young. Ross was casting and fishing like a machine all week but somehow had very little to show for it. He lost a nice fish in Lawson pool early in the week and had a few bites here and there, but nothing landed as he came into the Friday afternoon session. Back in zone 2 and Little Corner, where he began the week six days earlier, Ross was fishing the upper section of the pool and covering the water as well as anyone could. Then, halfway down the pool, the line came tight on a perfect swing, followed by a big swirl. Everyone watching could tell this was a big fish, and so could Ross seconds later as the fish went airborne before taking off down the river. Ross, standing on a gravel bank with a high cut bank behind him, had very little space to manoeuvre but played the fish perfectly from his tight quarters. Especially considering he had no less than four people constantly giving him directions on what to do and not to do. With over 70 years of fishing experience, you would think he probably knows how to fight a fish, but it’s sometimes hard to stay calm amid the excitement, even for the guides. Ten minutes later, the fish was in the net. A perfect 15 pounder and wild celebrations took place on the bank. That was probably the most well-deserved fish of the week and made the week for the whole group.
The last evening we had the pleasure of having all the guides join us in the lodge for drinks and food. It was an excellent way to say a huge thank you to the guides who worked extremely hard all week. So much so the group at the beginning of the week put up an additional $300 bonus to the guide with the most fish at the end of the week. However, by the end of the week, you could argue that the guides that had worked even harder were the ones on the slower Zones, as they tried everything to get as many fish from those zones as possible and never gave up. Therefore, the group decided that the additional bonus was shared between all the guides plus and their usual tips to recognise just how hard they had all worked.
I would like to also thank Felix and Rick from the lodge for taking the time to help everyone with their fishing, making sure that everyone went home with stories to tell.
I can honestly say it was an absolute pleasure and privilege to host this group once again. You are all more like friends, and it makes us all realise just how much we have all missed over these last two years. Plus, it just proves it was all worth the wait and stress. Here is too many more successful years.
Thank You, everyone; you have made my year.
Tight Lines Peter.
Our fly fishing specialist Peter Collingsworth has been over to Las Buitreras, fishing the banks of the famous Rio Gallegos many times, so if there’s anything you would like to know about the fishing or if you have any questions you’d like to ask him, you can contact him on 01603 407 596 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org he would be delighted to speak to you.