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: 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 waters.
With groups like this, where you have smaller groups within, it can be tricky at times if you look at the group dynamics. But we had nothing to worry about – the humor around the dining table and in the living room was great. Everybody took it really easy and got along incredibly well. You would see Billy stand up during dinner, telling hilarious jokes that would crack up the rest of the group. Everyone was relaxed and open-minded. And ”karma” did its job on rewarding them with a pretty good week!
After a really cold Saturday morning, it warmed up significantly and stayed fairly warm during the following night, which made for a really productive first fishing day with already a good amount of double-digit fish brought to net, some quite fresh ones amongst them. And although we, yet again, experienced quite inconsistent fishing during the week – partly because the water and air temperatures were changing quite a lot – everyone would get their shots at some really proper Rio Grande sea trout and the numbers at the end of the week were really good with lots of fish above 15 lbs landed. Amongst them, two fish over 20 pounds – a great 22-pounder Pete and a fat 21 lbs fish for Billy on the last day. More rain towards the end of the week made the water consistently come up a few centimeters and seeing more bigger fresh fish being landed during this week kept our hopes up for the rest of the season.
While the water was still rising, partly because of rain, partly because of snowmelt in the mountains, the river was already a few inches higher when we welcomed the next group. We were all looking much forward to this week – on the one hand, because the river had shaped up to really nice-looking conditions, and on the other hand, because we were awaiting a great group of friends: Nigel with his three sons Ryan, Danny and Kenny; David and Pat – all from England, Scottish David and Henrik from Denmark. Except for Danny and Kenny, for whom it was the first time here, we had the pleasure to host all of these gents already two years ago. And because they came as a closed group, the lodge turned into a big holyday house with family and friends – just a great atmosphere to be part of.
As the water was a bit off colored and quite cold due to the snowmelt and quite cold nights, the best fishing was usually during the day, when the temperatures were up a bit more. More water brought more fresh fish from the lower Rio Grande into our beats and a lot of the double-figure fish that we landed were fairly fresh, amongst them a perfect, silver 20-pound fish for Danny. And although some pools were working a lot better than others, the fishing seemed a bit more consistent during that week, at least considering the amount of fish hooked and landed every day. Additionally, the push of water made for a bit more movement in the pools. Despite not seeing many fish roll, jump or splash on the surface, the average weight of the fish landed had increased in that week, which makes us hope for a quite promising end of the season.
Two more weeks to go and the water looks just great at the moment!
~ Paulo Hoffmann, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide