Bob Gilmore in Argentina.
I apologize it’s been a while since my last email. When I got off the ship at the end of March, I rented a car for a week and immediately headed off into the backcountry of Tierra del Fuego
! It was incredible. From Ushuaia I took the only road north. Through the majestic southern Andes
I traveled, passing great forests of beech and pine while winding through the snow-cliffed valleys. It was interesting that the tree-line was at a far lower elevation than it is in the Rockies
, I attributed this to the fact that these mountains lie at a higher latitude south than we are north and hence are located closer to the pole than we are.
Argentines do drive on the right side of the road, but the roads outside of the cities are all gravel. That coinciding with the crappy car I rented made for a rough ride. Another interesting note is the lack of signs that they have. When interpreting a map to find an access road that would get me into a lake or a stream I wanted to visit, I would almost always pass it up before I realized that I did. Only after noticing some geological formation outside my window and then referencing it to the map, I would know that I had passed the road. So I would then turn around and negotiate my way through the pot holes until I finally saw a miniscule opening in the trees that had a small gravel road heading in. This was it?! I gave it a go and sure enough it kept going and ended up at the lake or the stream that I was looking for. A simple sign would be nice gentlemen…
I accomplished my goal of camping out in the backcountry and landing some South American trout species. I nailed a few brook trout, one rainbow and many sea-run brown trout! These are what are truly unique to Argentina
! The browns!!! The first few streams I came upon that I was told about weren’t very fishable, lots of trees in the water and not a whole lot of water running through. Finally I came upon a nice looking stream, the Rio San Pueblo. It was similar to my own river, the Frying Pan in the central Rockies
. Here I landed many beautiful and hard fighting, aggressive sea-run browns. They would charge out of the recesses of the semi-silty stream and absolutely slam my fly as it idly made its way down stream! They were like little rockets the way they would jump in the air and not give up the fight.
That was a great day! The only problem though, was that they weren’t the size of the legendary fish that are said to be in these valleys. For these I had to travel even further north, to the infamous Rio Grande.
As I slowly transitioned from high mountains to low-lying hills I started to see many of the animals that occupy the same niche as deer do here in the northern hemisphere. Llamas! They were in herds all over the place, similar to deer most active at day break and in the evening. Interesting creatures, they looked like small camels without the hump. Once out of the lower forests, the country side opened up to the vast, treeless plains of coastal Patagonia
. This is where the larger rivers are located that hold these incredibly large brown trout. The Rio Grande
, in fact, holds the current world record just caught within the last few years!! I was told that this guy was about 30 kilograms!! If I’m not mistaken that’s about a 60 pound brown trout!! OUCH!! =)
Unfortunately, as soon as I got into the open plains, the wind picked up to about a constant 30 -40 miles per hour and it was not all that sympathetic to a fly rod. I waited out the first day in a friendly hostel where I met some very cool folks and locals that told me about the history of the small coastal city and families, etc. This is where I wish I knew Spanish MUCH better… After day two of waiting I decided to hell with it, wind or no wind, I had to try. So I went out, got to a nice spot of the river that looked as if I was in northern Alaska
, no trees, no bushes, just endless plains and grasses. I found a deep pool next to a cut bank and started casting as best I could. I found that a roll cast was all that I could accomplish and settled into that. After a few hours of winds howling and nothing hitting at all… BAM!!!!!!!!! FISH ON!!!!!!!!!!! …and it was big!! After a great fight that pulled me out to my backing twice I got my first glimpse of the brownie! A large female!! Once I got her on shore I was able to take a quick photo and then talked a fellow fisherman to quickly take another of me with her before I reoxygenated her and let her free. What an awesome time!!!!!!!! =)
I then slowly made my way out of the plains, I waved to the llamas and past the lower elevation forests/grasslands, through the winding valleys of the southern Andes
and back into Ushuaia. Here I stayed for a few days with a friend I made, he and his friends showed me around town and an altogether great time!! (thank god they could speak English!) I was then thinking about Buenos Aries and spending a few days in the city to look around when I got an email from my family. My sister-in-law’s father had passed away and I headed straight home.
The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, but I was very glad that I was able to get to central Illinois for the ceremonies and to support my family. I just got back to the beautiful Rocky Mountains a week ago and am loving the fact that spring is here!!