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Argentina day 2 – Going fly-fishing in Bariloche, Patagonia

Posted by on July 10, 2011

I was desperate to go fishing as it was one of the activities as it was on my to-do-list as I had crossed off diving a few days prior thanks to the Chiloé Island experience. After I woke up early and ate breakfast, I took off into town looking for some tourist/excursion offices despite the downpour of rain. I tried one place but wasn’t interested in doing trekking or sightseeing as I found that too boring for my tastes and also being holed up in my hotel room or some café was not acceptable as I needed to do something physical to get my juices running. After checking one place, I went to one office where I asked about the possibility of fishing and ka-ching! I was in business! The lady behind the counter stated that there was fishing tours available, basically all-year-round, rain or shine. Perfect, I’m signing up despite the high price of 1520 Argentinean pesos (US$380) which in my opinion was not bad at all if the guide was providing everything – fishing gear like rod, reel, bait, food, drinks, lunch, boat, and his years of experience on the waters. The cost was not bad after comparing on the internet that some places were charging up to $500-700/day! That’s not even including gear! You have to bring your own rods, reels, lines, flies, hooks, waders, and other stuff! Also, to me, this was an experience that I could not pass up as I’ve heard great things about fly-fishing in Argentina from not only people who have gone there but from the amount of booths at the Hunting and Fishing Expos I have gone to back in the US that showcased the excellent possibilities of landing of some big ones!

food of Argentina - Argentine sandwich

They make some damn good sandwiches in Argentina!

At 1 PM back at my hotel, my guide showed us and we were ready to go. As I was going out the door, the hotel manager remarked, “good luck, since catching an Argentinean girl is easier than catching a fish here.” Ha ha. You know what? He might be right as I’ve seen a lot of beauties even in this town despite the rains. My guide drove us about 30 minutes away to a river where we put his boat in the river. It was a special pontoon boat specially designed for fishing and I knew my guide knew his stuff when I asked him about fishing. He was a pro and even watching him I could tell.

Putting the boat in the river to go fly fishing by Bariloche, Argentina, pescar con mosca

Putting the boat in the river in one of Bariloche's rivers and getting ready to fish!

pescador de caña, la pesca con mosca en rio, Bariloche, Argentina, fishermen on the river

The competition from other fishermen - hopefully I'll be able to out-fish them!

Fly fishing on a boat in Bariloche, Argentina, pescando en el bote

On the river finally!

fly fisherman on a river, la pesca en agua dulceFly fishing is very different from regular fishing as it requires a person to pull the rod back and snapping the line forward to make a good presentation of a fly which would be the bait for fish either floating it on top of the water like a fallen bug or underwater to act as baitfish or a small water bug. It takes some skill to get used to this type of fishing since you’re also using the current of the water. Once the line has been cast, you’re basically drifting the bait downstream until you get to the point of having to recycle the bait and do it over again. The point is to make a good cast to where the fish thinks it is a bug or food and will take it. If the bait is not set properly, the fish will either not see it, not take it, or quite possibly get scared and swim away from it. My friend back home taught me how to fly-fish and I’ve continued on from his training so I had some skill on how to go for fish.

Bariloche river in Argentina

You have to read the river's signs to know where to fish

River currents, deep part of the water

By having a guide, you can maximize the chance of catching a fish since he's probably going to know where to look for the fish

Fly fishing in the rain, wind, cold, weather, pescar en la lluvia, el viento, frio, y tiempo

Fighting the rain and cold, I kept trying to catch something

The only problem with fishing on this day was that it was raining hard on and off on the river making it tough for fishing as the fish didn’t want to get caught and thus get wet. My hands were freezing cold from pulling in and out the fly line. After hours and hours on the river, I got nothing but one whole bite which I wasn’t fast enough to set the hook.

fly fishing in South America, pescar en sudamericaSure, it was disappointing that I caught nothing but at the end, when all the boats were recovered, I learned from the other fishermen that they did not catch one single fish nor get one bite. The fact that I, as a foreigner coming in fishing for the first time in these rivers, got one bite over guys who have been fishing these waters for years has to be a testament to my skills or just plain dumb luck. I think it’s all about my skills since I have out-caught other fishermen in other places. I still take it all as a learning moment that despite what my friend’s claims that he would teach me how to use a sinking line while fly-fishing but never did, I finally got to learn how to do it under the tutelage of a very experienced fly fisherman. To me, this was just a stepping stone because I have plans to go fly fishing in the warm waters of Baja California and/or the Caribbean Sea and a sinking line is necessary. Sometimes in life, you have to learn your way by going through hell and failing so you know how to reach heaven on your own and not fail in the end. It’s all part of the process and numbers game in my opinion – I have caught so many fish, much more on certain days over groups of people combined, that it only makes sense that I would have zero days too. I guess the hotel manager was right – catching an Argentinean girl was easier than a fish. I actually asked an Argentinean if she would put a hook in her mouth just to make that statement true. I was denied. At least I tried!

Fisherman with big salmon, pescador con salmon/pez grande

If it were my way, I would have hooked and landed a fish the size like this one I caught back in New York!

But it was good and dandy since to end the day on a great note I ended up eating another awesome Argentinean steak – filet mignon with mushrooms and potatoes since the next day we were going on another bus ride. To Buenos Aires!

Argentine steak, meat, food, la comida de Argentina - filete de lomo asado/asada

Steak, Argentinean style!