Travel Journal - Sea Run Brown Trout - Argentina

Bucket list trip you might be thinking? Absolutely! This adventure to the southern tip of the America's was on everyone's list as a "must do very soon" and it did not disappoint! For those beginning to ponder some fly fishing travel in the near future, we would like to put a few thoughts in front of you. Travel has exploded over the past 10 years or so in our industry with many claiming to be experts in it. Our sport has always been associated with the telling of tall "tails" with a bit of embellishment so always keep this in mind. One thing we would like to point out is that just because you see and hear about a lodge or location all over the place by everyone in the game, does not mean it is a great location. Even if it is, it may not be all of the time. Often you are seeing and hearing about it with such frequency because it is easy and most of us know what is easy is not always best. "Best" is another term to be wary of as you shop around for your next location to visit, it is highly subjective so it is imperative you understand who is tossing this term around like a caddis in May and assure their idea of it resembles yours, otherwise disappointment is likely. Attention to the finer details and the goal of exceeding expectations is paramount, not just hoping you have an OK time... Secondly, we didn't get into this industry with the idea of being within close proximity to other anglers all the time. Sometimes it is unavoidable but often, with a little sniffing around, other options will appear and in our experience, these should be fully investigated. Typically for us, those who enjoy solitude while pursuing all these great species of fish around the world have a very similar interest to ours and this is extraordinarily important to us when choosing our next destination. Off the beaten path, great opportunities, competent guiding, food and culture all resonate with us and with several options at our disposal, we chose Las Buitreras Lodge. Choosing which lodge, which river, time of year, food and all the other particulars involved in planning a trip like this make the anticipation all that much more intense as jump time approaches. We chose Las Buitreras Lodge for several reasons over other big name sea run brown operations so here is a brief look into the reasoning behind ending up here. First was the exhaustive amount of water at the lodge's disposal, almost 25 miles of shoreline to fish without fear of seeing another angler. In the fly fishing world, this is a head turner as we are all growing accustomed to more angling pressure globally on many of our favorite waters. This will not be an issue here with about 25 miles of privately accessed water which was one of the biggest reasons for choosing this over other sea run brown lodges. Having known the owners via a small industry, Solid Adventures runs a well oiled machine here with everyone and all facets of the experience working seamlessly together, very impressed from beginning to end with this place. So on to the meat of the trip, the fishing. The Rio Gallegos is a low gradient, slow moving river with very a subtle nuance to the runs and where the fish will sit and when. This is where not just covering water but listen to the guides will make a huge difference, particularly if you are relatively new to reading this type of water. While a single hand rod would work quite well on certain parts of this river, our entire group is enamored with spey casting so all of us toted down our two handed rods with a variety of PNW type heads the guides didn't like at all! Being a guide for the past 25+ years, I enjoy challenging what the local guides are pushing for not other reason than to see if I can make it work when they say it won't. So while most of the team was converted to Scandi heads, I stuck with a Skagit Switch and also a Rage Compact. As it turned out, both seemed to work just fine as I hooked fish when I fished, between taking photos. The wind was considerable nearly every day which if you have ever looked into fly fishing at the bottom of the planet, the word/term "wind" seems to come up often as does the wind itself. Even at its worst we still managed to cast and find fish, not always in a beautiful fashion but the fish don't really care, beautiful casts are for photographers mainly! Fly wise we experienced low water conditions for most of the trip so we found smaller bugs of the Girdle bug variety to be preferred by both guides and fish it appeared. I fished hard with surface flies hoping entice a brown brute to the surface to no avail, none I fished over were willing to rise to the occasion so I relented and went subsurface...reluctantly! Black with white legged small girdle bugs were the ticket...or because that was what we were fishing they were what caught fish, it is always a question that rests in the front of my brain when fishing this whole anadromous fish world. We were using long leaders, 12ft or longer down to 8lb test or so and attaching flies with a loop knot of your choice...or that is what the guides were putting on everyone else but by this time they had all collectively decided to leave me alone, sort of the way I like it actually. For many, the split day of early AM fly fishing until lunch, with a 3 course meal and then a 3 hour nap before an evening session can be awkward. I am not going to argue that it's not but...when met after an early morning of hail and rain with a generous pour of local Malbec and savory finger food I am just saying...give it a chance! Essentially you fish from 8am to 1pm and then from 5pm to 10pm, still affording you ample fishing time during the day and if really driven, you are able to walk about a half mile to the river and fish the home pool during the break. For me, a couple more Malbec's, find Argentine steak and some Tiramisu followed by a little shut eye put a whole new spin on the evening session. Possibly a bit more optimistic and less defeated than having battled the weather for 10 straight hours. Not that I am at turned by doing so but this does make it more digestible if you will! Now for those accustomed to above average accommodations and cuisine to match a finicky palette you will be in good hands here I assure you. Lamb, steak and empanada's every night and all the sublime red wine you could possibly consume with a staff ensuring you didn't have to lift a finger if you didn't want to. Pretty sure I left weighing more than when I arrived. This was not a goal I had set out to achieve on this trip! Flora and fauna are of considerable interest to me on trips like this as I believe it lends to the culture of the region and helps me appreciate each and every location I travel to. I was absolutely stunned at the variety of wild animals in the region. I would say there was one that was more impressive than another but I would be lying. Wild fox, Rhea, armadillo, Pink Flamingo and Guanaco were everywhere and it was fun to see them in such good numbers throughout the week. Each night, sipping wine after the evening session, we could sit on the front porch of the lodge and watch as fox would scurry down the driveway, slinking low to the ground and disappearing into the grass. Rhea were everywhere but unwilling to pose for selfies as were most of the other local residents. Happy to see them still with a healthy mistrust of humans. At the end of a trip, what always makes it seem whole are the little stories and adventures that took place between arrival and departure. Some are directly associated with fishing but most are not. Sequestered at the Estancia Buitreras kept us mostly in check but between chasing sheep and Rhea across potholed hillsides, trying to pull armadillos out of their burrows by the tail, wet wading the evening session because waders were left at the lodge and of course watching great friends catch the fish of their life. Capturing these moments are what drive us to chase fish around this large round orb we call home. A special thanks for our new Swedish friends who we shared this experience with who made the experience that much more special and fun. Without you guys we would have been in bed earlier, fished harder and left a bit of wine for the next group! Would we return to Las Buitrera Lodge --- ABSOLUTELY! A few more images from the trip: A wild Rhea stands still for just a moment...don't need any feathers, just a photo, thank you! Bright afternoon on Beat 4. High sun must mean lunch time is near! I will need serious help if these make it into the U.S. I will drink 3 times the coffee I already do... John Baughn getting a facial from his first big sea run...THAT is what we came for! Chef proudly displaying today's lunch. Any fish returning from the ocean to a river presents itself with such majesty in color and strength. Parting thought... Many would say, "Sadly every trip must come to an end." I beg to differ. New friends were made along with some fabulous memories which will remain with each of us forever. The finality of a trip is only so if you have nothing on the horizon to look forward to. Each adventure provides a new gathering of friends to relive this trip by while generating experiences to share on the one after. So travel people, it is vivacious and healthy and I promise you will have zero regrets.
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