By MATT HARRIS Itati, a humble farming village on Argentina’s remote northern border seems an unlikely spot to find a spectac..
Villa María Lodge – Week 1: December 29th to January 6th, 2023
By Alejandro Martello - Villa Maria Lodge Fishing Manager
Welcome to Villa María Lodge 2023 season!
We are totally delighted to be back in the river and expecting a fantastic season ahead. In our opening week, Stephan & Alex again put together a great and enjoyable group.
This year we started with low water conditions as the winter had some proper snowfall but the spring was slightly warmer and we didn’t get any of the typical rain of December. We can say that the river and pools remained mainly unchanged from last year, with very few exceptions where the heads of the pools were modified due to the action of the water, sand, and fine gravel.
Like last season’s first week, the weather was a main character. It was harsh. We had 3 days of winds touching the 100km/h and a couple of other days just slightly lower than that. As you can imagine this makes fishing pretty challenging as presenting good flies is the main goal.
But by adjusting the tackle and technique, and choosing the fishing spots according to the conditions everybody was able to enjoy the fishing and catch some gorgeous fish!
The group was conformed mainly of Rio Grande’s rookies but all of them achieved great success!! Albert is definitely worthy of mention, standing tall in the gales at 79 years old only taking a few breaks when things got a bit too physical. His efforts were handsomely rewarded with a 20-lb. male fish that took a very traditional Sunday Shadow a few inches under the river surface in a shallower run.
Another highlight was when Stephan, after fighting the wind for the whole day, had THE take of the day and after a solid fight, he landed his biggest sea trout ever with a fantastic fish just shy under 22 lbs. Well done guys!
Aside from those personal records, several double-digit fish were caught, all super silver, super fresh, and with unbelievable power and explosive fights.
Water clarity was excellent aside from a couple of extra windy days when it was compromised due to sediments being stirred up from shallow banks. A brief but powerful rain in the headwaters rose the river’s level by 4 inches overnight but, surprisingly, the water remained clear.
Having all these factors into account, the most successful setup included good Skagit lines, medium to heavy sink tips (10-12ft usually), and long leaders.
No big surprises with the flies used, but we fished flies bigger than usual mainly because the water was below 10C most of the days. So leeches were the usual choices but, I have to confess that under certain moments, like when the water was cold and the visibility was compromised we had to go even bigger, at least to the Intruder’s territory. Fish are arriving and the weather is supposed to be milder next week so we have our fingers crossed.
Largest fish of the week: 21.5 lbs.