Kau Tapen Lodge

Teamworking a Pool

By Stephan Dombaj   The headline “Teamworking” may come as a surprise to some readers. Fishing tends to blur the lines between recreational joy and the diehard reality of numbers. Some of us count fish, others like to record the length and weight of prize catches. And really, there’s nothing wrong with chasing more and bigger fish.   The late Mel Krieger referred to fly fishing as, “solitude without loneliness.” And no coincidence, he coined that phrase on the Rio Grande, a river that fueled his endless pursuit till the end. This solitude we’re all seeking may also be the reason why we develop a one-man-army attitude when we’re on the water. But inevitably you’ll find times when you’re not alone. And this is when working together can really pay off.   The idea of claiming team rewards seems odd, even to myself. But hear me out. If I’m fishing with other anglers, I always pay attention to the strongest rod in the group. That’s because I’m always up for a lesson. And that’s the beauty of this game: there’s always something to learn. Sea trout and Atlantic salmon are migratory fish with minds of their own. Their behavior is dynamic and their moods are ever changing. So it can help to have two “thinking” rods on the same piece of water, testing different theories and experimenting with different approaches.   Let’s assume you have teamed up with a capable rod. You happen to be fishing behind him or her, covering the same water. Whether the rod in front of you catches a ton of fish or nil doesn’t matter. But would you cover the same water with the same line and the same fly again? Hoping for the same or a better result? You shouldn’t.   Teamworking a pool […]

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Gearing up for world’s end

Tierra del Fuego means land of fire. But “land of wind”, as many traveling anglers know, would be an equally appropriate title for this breathtaking part of the world. When it chooses to blow hard, casting can become more complicated. With the right equipment and the proper technique, however, a blustery forecast can be easily conquered. Casting in Windy Conditions Casting into or against the wind is a tiresome task. Fortunately, the beats at Kau Tapen, on the upper river, and Villa Maria, on the lower, have enough water on both banks that you can generally switch sides when needed, keeping the gusts at your back, rather than in your face. Because the wind here comes predominantly from the west, it follows the river corridor downstream, which benefits right-handed casters when it comes to both distance and presentation. But while the river meanders from left to right, leaving fishy cutbank pools at every turn, there will inevitably be occasions when the wind works against you.   Being able to switch from right- to left-handed casting helps minimize problems. Another tip to consider: Keep your backcast low, and finish with the forward stroke high. A shorter spey rod or a switch rod helps with the latter by allowing for more compact D-loops, and more consistent anchor placements. A slow, wide D-loop, on the other hand, gives the wind more time and space to blow the line away, with can compromise your cast/presentation. For me, the ideal spey rod for windy conditions will handle a compact, slightly overweight shooting head that doesn’t give the wind time to mess everything up. Rods between 11 and 13 feet work great. A deep-loading, quickly recovering 7- or 8-weight is my preferred rod of choice, matched either with a short Scandi shooting head for normal conditions, […]

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Top Flies for Rio Grande Trout… And How To Fish ’Em

By S. Dombaj and T. Burrell Argentina’s Rio Grande and its Rio Menendez tributary are home to healthy returns of migrating trout that can reach near-mythical proportions. In order to turn lore into reality, preparation is key. In this short series of articles, we intend to help you do just that by sharing tips and tricks—from our guide staff, as well as accomplished Rio Grande anglers—that will help you succeed. Let’s start by looking inside the fly box. Flies, in all their glorious varieties, are designed to deceive fish by imitating a known food source or by provoking a territorial response. Some, of course, work better than others—and this is absolutely true on the Rio Grande, where over the years we’ve fine-tuned our “ammo” to best suit our quarry. Here are 5 highly effective patterns that will surely turn your fishing guide into your best friend for a day, or a week. 1) Metal Detector Intruder Intruders have become undeniably popular in the Pacific Northwest over the past decade. Designed to be swung across the river, they combine fast-sinking design elements and a great silhouette with the benefits of short-shank stinger hooks. The abbreviated shank doesn’t provide the exuberant leverage of a longer shank, hence more twisting and turning fish will stay on once buttoned-up. Favorite color variations for the Rio Grande and the Menendez include Black/Chartreuse, Blue/Chartreuse, Black/Silver, or simply chartreuse. They are great flies for when the river blows out, when something that pushes a lot of water is required. Heavier versions are also a good choice for when the fish stack up in deeper pools.   Presentation: Depending on the water level, all line types apply. Mostly fished on a floating head with a heavy sink-tip. Cast down and across the pool, at a 70° angle. Let […]

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Kau Tapen Lodge: March 10-24, 2018

As we are closing in towards the end of the season, the fishing can get a bit less predictable. I personally love fishing the late weeks of the season for different reasons. For me it is the most photogenic time of the year, incredible sunrises and even more stunning sunsets, apocalyptic skies with cloud formations, that you will hardly see anywhere else, and the low sun that gives everything the drama it deserves – simply incredible and a good reason itself to come down here during that time of the year. But these cool looking clouds can be a silver lining: They oftentimes bring rain, mostly local showers. And while we were dearly hoping for more water, it is always a fine line between not getting enough rain and getting blown out. Although we felt like the river needed some water, a complete blow out will cost the anglers a few days of fishing. When welcoming our new group two weeks ago, the water was still pretty low and clear, as we had seen it before. However, we had a great group to tackle these conditions with: Pete and Tom from the UK, who were keen Iceland fishermen but had never come down to TDF; Tony and Billy form the States, who fished all over the world but never for sea-run browns like this; Roberto and his son Fransisco, who had come here already six times and knew the river pretty well already; Michael from the UK, who had fished the Rio Grande many times and brought his friend Ross for his first time; and finally Roddy from England and Paddy from Ireland, both very keen fly fishermen and who had fished this place before – Roddy in previous years and Paddy the week before down below in Villa Maria’s […]

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Kau Tapen Lodge: Feb 24 – March 10, 2018

The past two weeks have been a blast! And it’s nice to be able to say that in spite of the tough fishing conditions that we’ve had due to still ongoing low water levels. As the river had been dropping, our leaders were getting longer, our tips lighter and our flies increasingly smaller. Although last week did finally bring some rain, the water stayed nearly unaffected and the river remained low. On the bright sight, we had just the right groups to tackle these tough conditions, not only with skillful angling, but with the right attitude, an open mind towards the experience, and most importantly with lot of humor. Janet, Bill with their son Frost, who we had the pleasure to host for many years already always bring a lot of laughs and a great mood over from Cali. Along with them their good friend Rodney, who picked up spey casting incredibly quickly and was covering the water already from day one! For us it’s always lovely to welcome the same bunch of people every year – to revive old memories over a good glass of wine and to make new ones on and off the river bank. It makes us all feel like a big family and we do appreciate that a lot. I for my part learned to cherish this place even more, seeing guests like Bill and Janet, who have been here so many years, yet still finding joy and excitement in every detail of the adventure, whether it’s the wildlife around the lodge, the washed-out stones on the gravel banks or the crazy colors in the sky during the evening hours. David and Rich, who had met on a fishing trip years back and have been travelling together ever since, where just a bliss to spend time with, listening carefully to every tip and […]

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Kau Tapen Lodge: Feb 10 -24, 2018

Kau Tapen is all about the good times. The fishing is just the cherry on top, at least this is what we want it to be. The world’s largest sea trout is just the perfect excuse to escape everyday’s working life and dive into a world of great company with like-minded people, fine cuisine and a lot of laughs. Switch off your brains and enjoy the untamed charm of Tierra del Fuego. The past two weeks were again an example of that special charm. Guests from all over the globe traveled down here not only to catch large sea-runs, but to experience a completely different world from the one back home. Fishing during the past two weeks had been a bit inconsistent – outstanding on some days, while the fish were shut down on others due to rapidly changing weather conditions. As the water was dropping constantly over the past weeks, all of us had desperately hoped for rain to push more fresh fish into the system and get some new movement in the pools… And half way into the past week there came the rain. Along with it some bone-crushing gusts of wind and more rain in the mountains, that turned the water from gin clear to murky with only a foot of visibility within one session. A tough day to be out fishing, but our house manager, Guy, kept the mood up, bringing hot wine down to the river. Up to that point fishing had felt a bit weird, as all of us found it hard to see a clear pattern. Although the catch numbers looked great on the paper, the fishing was inconsistent and felt tough. But a lot of smaller fish were pushing in and stirred up the pools, providing for more consistent fishing as the […]

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Kau Tapen Week 5: Feb 3-10, 2018

It’s Saturday and that means switchover day. It’s an exciting day for all of us here at Kau Tapen. Relief about last week’s success and excitement about what the new week will bring renders every Saturday special, plus our staff gets a bit of time off and the guides can wet their lines for a few hours themselves as well. This week we were happy to welcome a lot of new faces. Jim and son Chris, Jeff, Gary and Rick from the US, who have been going on fishing trips in this constellation for over a decade. Dave and his two sons Aaron and Seth (also from the US), who brought their friend Aaron form Canada, and last but not least our friend Gerald from Austria, who came to visit us for his fifth time. A great bunch of anglers combined with great fishing conditions – pretty much our last week in a nutshell. Other than any other past week of this season so far, this week has kicked off with a “bang”. The water level had been stable, air and water temperature hadn’t change a lot and most of the pools were holding a good number of fish. Already after the first morning session on Saturday, every rod had connected. Gerald, who had been with us for the last 4 years, kicked off his week with a perfect, fresh 17 lbs fish and Rick, who was just learning how to speycast would land a cracking 21 pound kype amongst others. The amount of double digit fish landed on that very first day was incredible and you could tell that the pressure was off for all group members already after the first two sessions. Warm nights and cloudy days made for consistent conditions for the next couple of days, most […]

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Kau Tapen Week 4: Jan 27- Feb 3, 2018

Another week is in the books and the fishing has been a rollercoaster ride indeed. While conditions were almost perfect and stable during the previous week, this week has provided us – once again – with a lot of weather changes. For over two decades now, client and dear friend Jon has been coming to Kau Tapen Lodge now and this week once again being a great joy to all of us here. Alongside with him his friends Jeremy, Jeffrey, Chris and Hubert with son Jean-Hubert, some who we had the pleasure to host before, some who would spend their first week with us. To complete this week’s group, we were happy to welcome Alexey and Sonia from Russia for their debut here at our Lodge. For some strange reason, the first day of each week has always been a tough one, and that should be the case this week as well. Proper Patagonian winds of up to 65 km/h made it tough to acquire any kind of casting rhythm or get a feeling for the double handed rod. Especially a rough start for our speycasting beginners. On top of the winds, warm temperature and sun did not help the fishing either. Towards the evening, the wind died down though and the later hours brought the first nice fish of the week, including a perfect 18-pound fish for Jon! But whoever though the wind would not get stronger got proven wrong on day two. With gusts up to 80-90 km/h, all of us had a hard time standing straight in the river, not to speak about bringing the fly across in a proper angle. While the wind died down again towards the night, the fishing picked up significantly at dusk and besides a buff 17 lbs fish for Jean, we […]

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Kau Tapen Week 3: Jan. 20-27, 2018

For the first time this season, the water did not change much before the arrival of our new group. The river had been dropping at a constant pace and had cleared up to the point, where you could start fishing EMBs on floating line, without worrying that the fish wouldn’t see the fly. Short: The river looked fantastic and the entire team was stoked about these (now) more consistent conditions. This week, we were happy to welcome a mixed bunch from all corners of the world, old and young alike. Team Kazakh (from Kazakhstan) with Yerkin, Yerlan, Talgat and Daniel (from NY); Ted and Glenda from North Carolina; our German-speaking fishing machines and long-time Rio Grande anglers Jörg from Schwitzerland and Heinz out of Austria; Frank, Patrick and Hannah from NYC and Jim from New Zealand. It is always so refreshing to see such seemingly different people get together, united under the same banner of fishing and connected by their drive for adventure, no matter the origin, language or age. Suited and booted for a quick warm-up session on Saturday evening and the week was on! Not only did the river look great upon the new group’s arrival, the weather should also be quite consistent throughout the entire week. Few rain showers, fairly cold nights and mostly overcast skies allowed for very constant water levels and only little changes in water temperature (mostly between 10-13 °C). Only that well-known Southern-Patagonian wind, that will grind on you and get down to your bones would make it tough to cast at times, especially for our spey-casting beginners. But already on day one, these guys were filling up the catchbook, amongst the first fish, a nice 16-punder for Jörg and a perfect, bright 17-pounder for Talgat to start the week. Monday continued to […]

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Kau Tapen Week 2: Jan 13-20, 2018

“Unusual conditions“ is what would describe the past week’s fishing. The rains that had poured down during the last days of the previous fishing week have had their impact on the water: slightly high and cloudy. Already throughout Saturday, the water had started to clear up again and the color of the water had changed into that one of a light tea. Standing up on the hill, glancing down on the Rio Grande reflecting the dark blue sky while the sun is setting somewhere behind the Andes puts everything to peace for me. We would have a great week ahead of us! For this week, we were welcoming a colorful bunch of anglers from around the world. David and Peter from Australia, Tim, Ian and James from England, Jamie (James) from Schottland, Curtis Jr, Curtis Sr., Scott and John from the United States, and of course our dear regulars Cheryll and Peter from the US as well. But despite the seemingly good water conditions, the weather gave us all quite the rough start. Our first fishing day was coined by gusty winds of 80 km/h and more, that would not allow anyone to get into a proper casting rhythm. Not quite the start that our speycasting-beginners might had hoped for. On the up-side, it made the casting on any of the following days seem so much easier. Tough conditions to start with made for only a few fish for day one, one of them a cracking 19 pounder for Curtis Sr. – what a fish to start the week. While the water was continuously dropping throughout the whole week, clear skies and sun on most days, and cold nights with the occasional morning rain made for highly fluctuating water temperatures during the day. When it was 10-12 °C in the morning, the water had warmed […]

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2018 Fishing Reports

Fishing Reports by Year