7th Mar – 13th Mar. By James Topham
My boyhood hero was Robert F. Scott, the famous Antarctic explorer from the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole. Those of you familiar with the story will recall Captain Oats, who stricken frostbite and realizing he was slowing down the group said, “I’m going outside, I might be gone some time”… and was never seen again.
This scene flashed through my mind when early on in the week we had a morning session with 100km/h winds and gusts strong enough to knock a full-grown flyfisher off his feet. At our first pool I parked the car into the wind, so the doors wouldn’t rip off their hinges. We sat for a few moments marveling at what the river had become. It was completely white-capped, with sheets of spray whirling and rolling downstream. It looked more like a waterfall that had been turned horizontally than the usually sedate Rio Grande.
The car rocked and bucked. The rods needed a leader change. And I said to my wide-eyed guests, “I’m going outside, I might be gone some time”. I tried to replicate the brave Captain Oats and make a hero’s exit, but embarrassingly the doors wouldn’t open, the wind kept them firmly shut. It took some ungraceful grunting and shoving until I finally made it outside and was promptly blown out of sight. My 120-pound frame isn’t built for such conditions. One might say I’m gravitationally challenged. It was thrilling though, and we laughed over the absurdity of flyfishing in gale-force winds. It wasn’t a complete bust either. Peter Rippen managed to catch a beautifully fresh 11-pound hen, while casting on his knees so he wouldn’t get blown over.
Thankfully, it quieted down for the evening sessions, and normal fishing resumed. The river had risen and colored from a previous rain (and all the wave action!) so large leeches were the best bet. Some big fish were caught this week, too: Another 21-pound hen, as well as a host of sizable trout from 12 to 19 pounds. Again, the bigger fish seem to be coming through, and the average seems much heavier as the weeks progress.
All in all the week was a great success, and an adventure that all of us will remember for a long time.
See you on the water,
—James Topham and the Kau Tapen Guide Team