By MATT HARRIS Itati, a humble farming village on Argentina’s remote northern border seems an unlikely spot to find a spectac..
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 water started to drop and clear up again. With more stable water levels, the weather started to be more consistent as well. Milder nights and overcast days. The fishing picked up significantly and the river started to look really promising. Now we are looking at a good water level with perfect clarity. A great starting point to receive our new group.
From a guide’s point of view, it is always great to have accomplished sea-trout anglers like Magnus and Hans from two weeks ago or Anders from last week, as it makes our job a lot easier. Consistency definitely pays off and you do see it in the numbers after a hard week of fishing. On the other hand, it is always amazing to see absolute spey-casting beginners hook into monstrous fish. And if fills us with joy, seeing their first reactions, when they connect to their first proper fish. Just like Travis, who had just picked up the double handed rod for the first time during warm-up session and could already account for an 18 lbs fish before his first lunch here. Good casting will help you, no doubt about that, but coming here without any preconceptions is really a good thing. It happens time and time again, that beginners end up hooking more fish, just because they seem to listen more to the tips we (the guides) provide them. Being able to adjust your fishing to the current conditions is an important aspect and that starts by listening to the advice that your guide gives to you. It was especially refreshing to see Natalia from Ukraine, who had started fly fishing just last year and had never touched a spey rod before, land a 19 pound fish on day one. All of our coaching was in sign language or on a white board – Natalia did perfectly fine and ended up catching the fish of the week – a 21-pound fresh male – on her last day of past week. It was the week of the women indeed. Along with Natalia, Ginny from the US had the hot hand, with a 20 and two 19 lbs fish in just the last three days. They were handing over the lucky hat between them at the dinner table like a baton during a relay.
But just like we enjoy watching beginners connect to fish, it fills us with joy welcoming old faces time and time again. Especially Gianni, our good friend from Italy who had come to visit us here for his 31st time now. Evidently, the pressure was off for him – you could tell that he had caught enough big sea trout in his time – and it is nice to see his enjoyment for the outdoors, the time he spends with us on the water and the laughs we share. That he is an incredible fisherman and outstanding caster with his proud 81 years of age is just a bliss on the side.
And whether it’s with you family, old fishing buddies or newly acquired friends, it is important to share these experiences with others to be able to really cherish them. Just like Kjell, his son Dave and their friend Jim, who we had the pleasure to host for a few years now. They truly know how to spend their vacations and have a good time – Kau Tapen was just one stop for them along the way and we dearly wish them a great journey. Or Dan, Travis and Dale who had been waiting for go on this trip for a such long time, filling up boxes and boxes of self-tied flies and watching spey-casting videos. It was truly encouraging to see their excitement and eagerness. Ginny, her son Seth and old friend David, who have shared fishing trips for years and will hopefully for years to come, so incredibly open and eager to learn something new every day, despite being such accomplished anglers and having been here a few times already. Nigel, Peter and Andrew, who took the sea-runs as a good excuse to experience Argentina and TDF and ended up having a hard time leaving this place. Or like Frank, Eliot and Anders, who had come on this trip by themselves but ended up making many new friends during their week.
It fills all of us with such joy to see all guest click at some point, swapping seats at the dinner table or even fishing partners between sessions. All of these different people united under the same banner of fly fishing, in a remote place far away from home – pretty special if you ask me. No photograph in the world is capable of capturing the emotions you feel, collect and share with your fishing partners out on the water. They will only be the catalyst to revive the memories you make along the way and we dearly hope you’re making the best ones while here with us!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide