Story & pictures by Dave Parkes.
After a difficult build up to the trip following surgery in November I was thinking that my trip would have to be cancelled. So when I boarded the plane to Buenos Aires on the Thursday to say I was happy was an understatement !!!!!! I was almost looking forward to the long 13 hour flight.
After an overnight in Buenos Aires were on our way to Rio Grande, another 3 hour flight, the only down side of the whole trip is getting there and back. Rumours were that although there were plenty of sea trout in the river it was very low and clear. Those rumours were confirmed by the guides when we transferred to the lodge.
We were staying at Maria Behety, and they have two superb lodges on the Estancia, the one we stayed in which is for 12 rods and one for 6 rods, both are excellent with great facilities and good service and food, and both fish the premier pools on the river. We have been lucky enough to stay here for a good few seasons. It is situated on the middle beats of the estancia, so access to all of the first 32 beats is good.
Despite the low and clear water we were all very excited as we set up our prefered set ups for the week. Because of the low water conditions my three outfits were as follows:
– 13ft 9in Lxi 7/8 wt Rod with a 7/9 Quadra reel loaded with a full spey line complete with a full set of tips, this gives me complete control of the fly, being able to mend upstream or down to either slow or speed up the fly as required. In most instances the sea trout prefer the fly to be hung over their noses so continual upstream mends are essential to get the flies down to the required depth. Apart from mending you must also strip the line in either short or long strips and then let the current straighten the line before continually repeating the process. This entices the sea trout into attacking the fly.
– 13ft 9in Lxi 8/9 wt Rod with a 7/9 Quadra reel loaded with a floating 8/9 DDC connect with a full set of tips in case the wind gets very strong. Shorter lines like shooting heads cast in a tight loop works very well in wind. Fortunately the prevailing wind is downstream so it is a help not a hindrance.
So on Sunday morning, armed with rods and gear we made our first excited visit to the river. Although some of the pools are better than others, they all hold fish and there is always a chance. As we got out of the vehicle, fish were rolling in our pool. The pool we were fishing was a particular favourite of mine, but as I made my way into the river I was disappointed to see because of the low water that the pool had very little flow and to get a good drift was virtually impossible I was having to figure of eight or even strip the fly to give it movement, not good for presentation.
We left that pool without a pull and made our way to the pool above, apart from the head, again there was very little flow and we ended the day with one fish each. Our evening session was much better, we were on the higher reaches of the estancia not every ones favourite, but my session ended with three good fish, all doubles the biggest going over 15lbs. Two to nymphs and one on a black Sunray Shadow. The week followed a similar pattern and was probably the most difficult conditions I have experienced. Fly patterns used were much smaller than usual because of the low clear water, mainly size 10,s and 8,s and standard nymphs were more successful than the legged variety.
The evening sessions, especially the last half hour before dark, fishing big black leeches or similar is normally a certainty, but even this proved difficult, but not always impossible. A Sunray Shadow worked better in the last half an hour rather than the normal bigger black flies that we normally use.
On pools that are relatively shallow using my single handed rod I had a lot of fun fishing wake lures in the last fifteen minutes before dark enticing many abortive takes, but also hooking and landing fish to 17.5lbs on some nights. Great on a single handed rod. All you need to do is cast the lure square and HANG ON !! When fishing these lures it is important not to strike, just let the fish hook itself. Without doubt, my favourite way of catching sea trout, so exciting.
Because of the low water conditions and a lack of the normal strong winds I was able to use all week the 13ft 9 in 7/8wt Lxi during the daylight hours, it’s a great piece of kit, effortless to use. I used 14.55 lb EGOR Fluorocarbon throughout and it performed admirably. Maybe a lighter tippet would have got a few extra fish but some of the takes are savage so I do not risk it.
Above a selection of nymphs, surface lures & black lures used. Sometimes there are times when all the theory and practice doesn,t work, so you just have to keep changing flies, depth and have patience. Always listen to your guide they are on the river everyday and have an huge amount of experience and the Maria Behety guides are the best, incorporate that with your own thoughts and experience and you wont go far wrong All migratory fish just turn on and off when they want too, when they want it, they have it, and when they don’t you have no chance, they are just like women !!!!! so when they are on it its unbeatable.
The two fish below smashed the fly as it hit the water, no skill involved at all. I thought the cock fish was foul hooked even though it took the fly off the surface, he took all my fly line and 50yds of backing before I could even get out of the water, I landed the fish 150yds below where it was hooked after about 10 minutes with the hook firmly in the scissors, a tremendous scrap.
The week was all too soon over and with heavy hearts and sad farewells to the guides and staff we started our long journey home. We reflected on a difficult but enjoyable week. The party of mostly old friends from the UK and USA caught 212 sea trout with an average weight of just over 10lbs, that’s almost 18 fish each. The four biggest fish were all over 20lbs and there were an incredible 52 fish over 15lbs. Where else can you go that produces such incredible fishing. I managed 31 fish with the biggest over 20lbs. I was HAPPY !!!! Considering the conditions, we had a great time! We booked our trip through Roxtons, Berkshire England (www.roxtons.com) most European anglers do the same. The American anglers book through The Flyshop, ( www.theflyshop.com ) and both are excellent agents.