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 7: February 11th to 18th, 2022
Another week went through at Villa Maria with the lodge full of old friends of the house. A great week, full of stories and memories from decades of visiting the Rio Grande.
Weather-wise we were punished by the wind as it did set a new season’s record when last Sunday it reached an incredible 130km/h speed (80 mph), turning that day almost unfishable as the waves and the gusts made difficult to get in the river even in shallow stretches. We had a couple of days with 90km/h winds but compared to that Sunday, they felt kind of pleasant.
Those windy conditions influenced the water condition as the intense wind and big waves stirred muddy banks and lifted a great number of sediments causing cloudiness and reducing drastically the visibility in it. We have to add to the mix a 10-15cm raise in the water due to early snow in the headwaters that along the week melted fast. This pulse of water went through very fast and within a day the river raised and dropped again to its level.
With all that taken into account, we had to make obvious choices in regards to the fishing setups. Long and heavy sink tips, short and thicker than usual leaders, and leeches were the go-to rigs to fish every pool. When the conditions get that extreme we choose to use high visibility flies and you can choose between big silhouette flies (like intruders) and/or smaller colorful patterns (like leeches). Chartreuse, orange, black, purple, or pink, or combinations of them, are colors that become obvious to use when you step into a brown-colored river. Its also commendable to use weighted patterns, either with dumbbell eyes or cone-heads as they usually fly better into the wind and break the surface faster to reach the desired depth, especially in these extreme conditions where you cast and fish “as you can” and not “as you want”.
Even with these conditions, the fishing was fine with days averaging up to 13.7lbs per fish. One of the highlights of the week belonged to Bob S., who, at his 84 years of life, caught the biggest of the week (21lbs) following his long-time tradition. Bob is in the Wall of Fame of both Villa Maria and Kau Tapen Lodge for catching the biggest fish of the season. Kudos Bob!
As stated before, most of the time we choose sinking tips ranging 10 to 15 feet in length with sinking rates from a classic Sink 6 (6 inches per second) to the most modern T lines, especially T11 and T14 but these tips, as they have a higher sinking rate, were shorter in a range of 10 to 12 ft. depending on the pool, speed of the water and size/weight of the fly.
Weather forecasts state that in the upcoming weeks we won’t have strong winds anymore but some showers, low temperatures, and east wind will show up. Probably that would be the beginning of the autumn weather.
Largest fish of the week: 21 lbs.
By Alejandro Martello – Villa María Lodge Fishing Manager