Photographs of big fish and beautiful scenery abounded in the presentation given by Tom Leach and Jeannette Launer at the SaddleBrooke Fly Fishers’ (SBFF) January meeting. Just recently returned from fishing the Patagonia region of Chile, they were anxious to share their adventure with other SBFF members.
Jeannette characterized the trip as a “really long way to travel” with one leg of the trip, from Coyhaique, Aysen, Chile to Tucson, taking 3- hours (including layovers). This was their fifth trip to fish the northern Patagonia of Chile and Argentina though, clear evidence they think the travel is worth the experience.
In fact, Tom said that when he first went down to Chile in 2015, he was so fascinated with Chile that he wanted to stay there for maybe a year because of the incredible fishing and scenery. Then he met Jeannette in 2016, and they began making trips there, together.
Tom described Chile as “beautiful beyond belief” with the west side of the Andes housing a temperate rainforest. Named the Valdivian Rain Forest, it is very lush, much like that of our Pacific Northwest. Conversely, within about 50-miles on the east side of the Andes in Argentina, the landscape quickly changes to the pampas grasslands.
Towns they fished near Argentina were San Junin de los Andes, San Martin de los Andes, San Carlos de Bariloche, Esquel, and Trevelin. San Carlos de Bariloche was unique because of its ubiquitous Bavarian architecture and amazing chocolate, and Trevelin was a Welsh-culture town that offered 4 p.m. afternoon tea.
Jeannette highlighted one Rainbow trout she caught in the Collón Curá to talk about its huge, wide tail. The fish had evolved this way she said, to be able to handle the strong currents in this big river. It made, she said, for great fights when they were hooked.
A walk and wade river in Argentina, the Malleo, was among the most gorgeous streams they had ever fished and had lots of rising fish. They spent two and one-half days on this river alone, both fishing on their own and with a guide.
The recent 10-day trip included guided float and wade fishing on rivers in the Lakes District of Chile near Puerto Varas and the area around Coyhaique. This town is a fly fishers’ paradise due to the large number of rivers and lakes in close proximity. They had a few challenges such as wind which is always a factor in Patagonia. Also in the Lakes District, for most of January, the huge biting horseflies are a real annoyance that requires additional clothing and head nets.
The big and bountiful fish, combined with fabulous scenery and great sightseeing, however, made it a fabulous adventure. That’s why, just like Arnold, both Tom and Jeannette say, “I’ll be back”.
The SBFF normally meets on the fourth Monday of the month at 4 p.m. in HOA-2’s Catalina Room next to the Mesquite Grill. For more information, email us at SaddleBrookeFlyFishers@gmail.com.