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Articles: Pesca de grandes truchas en el Chubut inferior

by: Daniel Beilinson

The Chubut river is born in the Andes Mountains and meanders along the Patagonian plateau for more than 500 miles from the west to the Southern Atlantic Ocean, at Rawson City in the Province of Chubut.
Florentino Ameghino dam, at about 60 miles from the sea, interrupts its course forming a large lake of over 50 miles. From there the river flows south with a total flow of 70 m3/second. Below the dam, water released from the bottom of the lake makes the river clear, clean, and cold because sediments remain in the lake. This last stretch of the Chubut river is known as the "lower section" (cauce inferior).
Between 40,000 and 50,000 young rainbow and brown trout have been sowed every year for the past 20 years. They have adapted to this environment perfectly well and have developed specially because of the abundant amount of food.
Apart from the trout, there are other fish that inhabit this river: perches, pejerreyes and amazing quantities of scud.
The riverbed has gravel areas as well as abundant weeds and calcareous sedimentation.

A couple of months ago, Walter Ruiz "an expert guide from Trelew" told me about the good quality of the fishing in the lower section of the river. As I cannot help being tempted by the idea of discovering new fishing spots, I ended up organizing a 2-day float trip at the end of March and invited a group of friends to join me.
We flew to Trelew on a Friday afternoon on a regular scheduled flight that takes less than 2 hours from Buenos Aires. We got to the airport with a temperature of 27°C and a partially clouded sky, so I was afraid of rainshowers at the weekend. We were welcomed by Walter, Alexis and Guillermo, who were going to be our guides and hosts for the next two days. We placed our luggage and equipment in the 4x4 and headed towards Trelew to spend the night.
I never sleep well when I go on this kind of trip, so I woke up much earlier than what we had arranged.
After breakfast, at 7.30 am, we were picked up to go to the Dam. The trip seemed shorter, while we talked about the organization, the fishing tackle, the flies, the features of the area, the river and lots of other things.
We got to the river at about 9.00 am, where the boats were already ready. We changed, prepared the rods, put our bags and equipment on the boats and left.
We had planned floating about 96 miles of the river in the first day, stopping for lunch and setting up the tents in the evening. On the second day, we wanted to float other 6 miles, stop for lunch and then go to a meeting point where the 4x4 and other support vehicles would drive us back to Trelew.
We started to float the river just a few metres from the dam. The water was clear and emerald green. Walter told me that the water level was at its height at that moment. The clearness of the water was good but it was not absolutely transparent. What really called my attention was the great amount of weed lying on the riverbed. The landscape was amazing; dense weeping willows along the banks and huge reddish rocks, eroded by the wind and the rain, accompanied us during the whole journey. I kept this first impression for the entire adventure.
We prepared #5 tackles with sinking line Teeny 150. I started by choosing a black and olive Bunny, tied on #6 weight rod. The suggested technique consisted in casting to the weedy banks, letting the fly drift while the line was sinking and then retrieve gently with continuous strips, so that the fly would work all the time. Another useful piece of advice: don´t pull up the fly until you make sure that there is not a trout after it.
We had been sailing for just 15 minutes when I had my first strike close to the shore. It didn´t look like a large fish but it was strong and very active. After a few minutes I managed to land the first brown trout in the morning, weighing about 1,6-pound. While I was releasing it and starting to oxigenate it, my partner got another strike, but this was bigger. The black Wully Bugger had tempted a beautiful rainbow trout of over 3 pounds.
We kept fishing like this during the whole morning. We stopped for lunch and went on in the afternoon. The guides led the boats to one coast first; then, to the other. They sailed the middle of the river too. We had several strikes: Some trout succeeded in unhooking from the barbless hooks (compulsory in the Province of Chubut) while others were caught. Except for 3 browns and 1 perch, what called our attention was that all the trout were large rainbows, since all of them weighed over 3 pounds and one reached the 6 pounds.
We set up the tents, a big one for the dining room and bedroom for the guides and 3 igloo tents, each one with two camp beds and sleeping bags. For dinner, we had the never-failing Patagonian lamb, served with an excellent wine from Mendoza. Everything was perfect. We sat under a sky covered with stars telling stories, laughing, forgetting all our worries and enjoying the moment immensely.
In the morning of our second day, we had breakfast and we set out for our journey repeating the ritual of the previous day. The guides placed the boats close to one of the shores; then they moved to the other until the first 1,6-pound rainbow caught a black Fuzzy Guzzy with green body, tied on hook #4. We were using a shock tippet 3X so that the trout wouldn´t be too tired and drown. Later, a great rainbow trout took the same fly but it managed to unhook, and an 1,6-pound. brown and two perches were caught. Before lunch, a rainbow weighing about 4 pounds delighted us with its leaps. I caught it and made my last cast. While I was retrieving, with the fly on sight, a rainbow appeared out of the blue just 12 feet from me. It charged a the fly floating on the water, so I immediately hook it by pulling up the line and lifting the rod at the same time, as it was so close. It did a hard battle until I approached it to the boat and was able to net it. It turned out to be a female rainbow of over 5 pounds.
Everybody fished trout weighing over 2 pounds and a half and some perches. The fly was the Fuzzy Guzzy tied with Mara hair on hook #4.
We had lunch, took a little rest and continued floating. It was a sunny and warm day but the wind started blowing in the afternoon. The fishing yielded very well. All of us got rainbows and some perches. The other boats managed to hook a couple of trout weighing over 6 pounds, but they escaped. I caught two male rainbows weighing 3 pounds or over and had 4 strikes.
At 6 pm, exhausted after such a lot of action, we arrived at the meeting point where Walter and his assistants were waiting with the vans. We changed our clothes, we prepared our bags and rods, we talked about the adventures and achievements of the day and went back to Trelew. After a nice shower at the hotel, we had dinner and at 10.30 pm we were already sleeping in our rooms.
The water level allowed us to do little wading, but when the level decreases, large flats are formed so it is possible to wade it more easily. To fish the lower section, I suggest tackle #5 or #6, with sinking line (or shooting) like Teeny 150. Take different streamers, such as black Wooly Bugger (with or without rubber legs), Bunny´s, Fuzzy Guzzy or other large streamers with flashabou. All of them should be tied on hook # 4 or #6. Some nymphs like Stonefly on hook #10 or #12 also give good results. Use 7.5-foot leaders with 3X shock tippet and, of course, waders, polarized sunglasses, hat or cap, sun block, a warm jacket and necessary clothes and elements to make the most of two days "unplugged" from everything.
The lower section of the Chubut river went far beyond my expectations for the quality of the trout, the beauty of its waters, the amazing landscape in the middle of the Patagonian plateau and, of course, the excellent service of Walter and his collaborators.
It has proved to be a very interesting destination to recommend for good trout fishing during the whole season, with the advantage of being able to fish it in just a 2-day adventure tour or combined with other alternatives offered in Puerto Madrin and Peninsula de Valdez.

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