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 Week 13: March 30 – April 6, 2019
The season comes to an end and the timing could not have been more perfect. During the last week, we had the very cool and interesting experience to host a full group of non-anglers, who stayed here for 2,5 days as part of a business meeting. Luckily, the conditions were still great – clear(ish) water and fairly stable & warm weather conditions. After a few hours of (spey)casting lessons, we tackled the river and already caught the first few fish. For us, this experience was just as exciting, as it probably was for them. Most of the group members had never fished before and it was amazing to see their progress on both, the mere casting and the understanding of the entire concept of fly fishing. Within those 2,5 days, we managed to bring everyone into fish, amongst them a few very good high-teen specimen and even one amazing fresh fish of 21 lbs – and it seemed like we might have even sparked the interested for a new passion at least for some of them. What an amazing experience for everyone and the excitement about every fish, no matter its size, was very humbling and refreshing!
As this fun group left on Tuesday morning, we welcomed the last group of anglers on Wednesday morning for the owner’s week with Nervous Water CEO Fernando alongside some good friends and guides from other Nervous Waters operations. Some of them stayed for only one or two days, some others until Sunday. However, while it had heavily rained on Monday and all the way through Tuesday night, the water had come up at least one foot on Wednesday morning. Both, the Rio Grande and the Menendez were quite murky and conditions were tricky. While the fishing was very tough on Wednesday and all Thursday, with just a few fish landed, the water cleared just enough on Friday, that both the Rio Menendez and the Rio Grande produced some very good fishing with heavier sinking lines and big intruders or leeches. Just during that Friday morning session, we could land some very good high-teen fish and three incredible fish over 20 lbs in both rivers. While the Conditions stayed stable and fishable until Saturday morning, the very strong wind with gusts up to 110 km/h muddied up the water even more during the afternoon, and the river came up another 5 inches just during lunch, making fishing pretty much impossible. Those Saturday-morning fish, were the last ones landed for 2019 season, and amongst them some very good fish up to 19 lbs. While all group members left on Sunday morning, the river had continued to rise and was completely blown out by the time we came back from the airport! What a season timing!
The 2019 season has been a ride! It was a strange season, but a very successful one to say the least. Despite the extremely low water all season long, every single week produced some amazing fish up to over 20 lbs. The fishing in some of these weeks felt like hard work, as it seemed like we had to figure these fish out again and again. The low water affected the activity of the fish a lot more and changes in weather and water conditions had a more severe impact on the activity, than in “normal” water levels. The approach that worked one day, might be ineffective on the next one. For me as a guide it was an eye-opening experience to see the river this low – not only, because the fishing became a lot more strategically, but most importantly, because you get to see “into” the pools like you normally couldn’t.
But the 2019 season was not only a very dry season, but also an early one. When we fished the river first at the end of December (guide’s week), there were already plenty of fish around, that had entered the river already in the end of November. That also showed when fishing the Rio Menendez, which consistently started to produce good numbers and sizes of fish early on. If you have followed the reports of the previous weeks, you will have noticed that the Menendez has shifted much more into the center of attention than in any previous season. We have worked on new roads to create easier access to a lot of good sections, and we have continued to scout new pools throughout this entire season, that encourages us to improve and grade new roads for the next seasons to come, making this river and the spectacular fishery that goes along with it even more accessible.
This season has shown us, that fishing the Rio Menendez more as part of the “regular rotation”, instead of just as a backup to the main river, immensely payed off – even more than expected, so much that we began to split it up between different beats to be able to fish it more effectively. In some weeks, the Menendez became our top choice and the most sought-after beat of the rotation!
The extreme low water made the fishing in some pools of the Rio Grande quite difficult, as large parts of many pools stopped flowing – the Menendez with its tight but deep channels on the other hand did not lose its flow so much, as the water dropped. Just like atlantic salmon, the seatrout will follow the path of the stronger current on their way upriver, and while the main river slowed down as the water dropped, the current in the Rio Menendez was still flowing swiftly, also providing more oxygenated water for the fish to hold in. Bottom line is, that the Rio Menendez adds another dimension to the fishery, that our guests can expect here, offering spectacular fishing in a small trout-like stream for record size fish on single handed rods. And this season would have been far less productive if it wasn’t for that amazing tributary of the Rio Grande, also producing this season’s largest seatrout – an incredible 25 lbs specimen!
But the fishing is one thing – of course it is the reason why most of our guests come down here and travel all these thousands of miles for. But there is so much more that adds to the Kau Tapen experience than “just” fishing. The unique landscape, the endless skies with its awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises, the wildlife and the eerie sound of the wind, just to name a few. Last but not least of course the lodging and the wine&dine, that we take such great pride in. Just as we (the guides) are doing our best to give you an unforgettable fishing experience on the river, our staff in the lodge has been working very hard this entire season to make the stay for our guests the most comfortable imaginable. Especially, when the fishing gets tricky, returning to a warm and cozy lodge with good drinks and food can make up for any tough session on the river.
I, personally, am very thankful for such a great team here at Kau Tapen, that has been working hand in hand to make everyone’s job easier. There is a lot of effort and attention to small details happening behind the scenes and I deeply appreciate everyone’s energy to build that link between lodging and guiding and to always have a helping hand. What a great team, it’s been a true pleasure.
Thanks everybody for an unforgettable 2019 season – it has been a fantastic ride!
~ Paulo, Kau Tapen Fishing Guide.