Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe
Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
November 22, 2007 - Hola from Rio Gallegos, Patagonia!
I arrived here about 2 weeks ago and was immediately adopted by the local fly fishing community. Actually, I returned from running some errands in town to find a business card of a local guide tucked under my windshield wiper. I called the number and was passed around to a couple of people before someone gave me directions to the location of what seemed to be a very rowdy and boisterous gathering. 10 minutes later I was seated amongst 8 people with a plastic cup full of delicious Argentinean wine and a big steak on my plate. The gathering was to celebrate the publishing of a book by one of the party participants. "Pesca con mosca para los Argentinos (Fly fishing for Argentineans) was written and wonderfully illustrated by Efrain Castro. Efrain was also the most fluent English speaker and we immediately hit if off. Suddenly a call went out amongst the crew "WE FISH!" "When?" I asked. "NOW!!!!!!" I thought there was a bit of faulty logic involved as it was almost dark (night fishing is not allowed in Argentina), very cold and the wind was blowing at least 50 mph. Never-the-less, I wasn't going to be the one to introduce rationale thinking to this group.
That evening we fished below the main bridge about 35 km from the city. I was up to the limit of my waders in VERY cold water, casting a super-fast sinking line with an 8 wt. rod into a strong wind and rapidly losing the sensation in all my appendages. "DISASTER" was written all over the situation. Fortunately, I forgot my tippets back at the truck and upon losing my 2nd fly, decided to help start an impromptu fire and stick my hands into it. Only one of 7 anglers caught a fish. This was my introduction to fishing the Rio Gallegos.
To say that fishing the Rio Gallegos is difficult is a massive understatement. Patagonia MUST be the windiest place in the world. I failed to mention the wind at Jurassic Lake in the last update. However, it was definitely present........ in a volume enough to keep 30 feet of stripped-in line suspended above the surface of the lake. It is an odd sensation to reach for the next strip of line from your rod hand and find that the wind has placed it somewhere other than the normal place. On the Rio Gallegos, winds of 30-50 mph are "normal." Coupled with Spring temperatures around 45F make for some challenging conditions. It has become readily apparent that I have never really fished in "real" wind until now.
For the local fly fishing community...... ignorance is bliss. My new best friend in Rio Gallegos, Martin Gonzales, doesn't even realize that there is such a thing as fly fishing without wind. Perhaps he must have some idea as he converted to a Spey rod this year. All I heard during our outings was "Dos manos, Dos manos, Dos manos!" This isn't exactly true as they don't pronounce the "S" in Argentina. This makes things a bit more difficult to understand as well.
File under "life is like a box of paradoxes....... " Under the nearby land and ocean are what the experts believe to be vast reserves of petroleum. Patagonia is, however, experiencing a gasoline shortage. I was too young to remember waiting in lines at the pump during the ‘70s....... but I sure know it now. As a matter-of-fact, I am typing this while waiting in a line! Should only be a few more hours........
Tomorrow I will depart for Rio Grande. I have had an incredible time here in Rio Gallegos. The people of Argentina are wonderful, helpful and generous...... just the kind of people to take in a transient fisherman like me! They were even nice enough to give me my own nickname....."Boludo." They insist it is a term of endearment even though the dictionary says it means "dumbass" or "jerk." I love these guys!!!
A special thanks to Martin and Tony for taking me under their wing. Thank you to all the guys I met during my stay here. Also big thanks to the Loop gang–Christer, Gabriel and Claudio for allowing me access to some nice fishing spots on the Estancia Las Buitreras.
Finally, a very, very Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends back home. I will see everyone soon!