Yesterday we went to the mouth of the Rio Chimehuin where the river begins at the outlet from Lake Huechlafquen, “la boca.” This is trophy water famous for many fish, big fish and renowned fisherman.
We were suiting up when the game warden presented himself and asked for our licenses. We have met the game warden on most of our fishing excursions. They typically show up on cross-country motorcycles, ask for your permit and after carefully inspecting it, leave. They are friendly in an official way. El Señor Hugo Felix, the guardfauna, turned out to be an extremely hospitable, well-informed guide. He showed us the popular fishing spots and told us their names. He pointed out fish and told us about popular methods for catching the fish. From the bridge, he pointed to several extremely large fish and groups of smaller fish swimming peacefully in the crystal clear water. When prompted, he told stories of famous fisherman that knew particular fish by their markings and could catch them with a single, well-placed roll cast.
I started fishing the boca where it is more lake than river. I was preparing my line for the first cast when the first fish struck my line. I was ill prepared. I fished downstream. I caught a small one and lost another. I was using my seven weight in the wind. The wind is easterly–and although it was light, it created one to two foot waves. In the river proper is a large, submerged rock. Hugo spotted a feeding fish and said I needed a long cast to reach it. I could cast that far, but the fly floated over the head of the fish. Hugo said I needed to get deeper. But when I added weight, the BB kept flying off on my backcast. My roll cast came up short.
Meanwhile, Dawn had positioned herself to drift nymphs to feeding fish under low-hanging willow trees. She captured and liberated (Captura y Liberación) three fish all well over twenty inches. She fought two of them for about fifteen minutes each. I returned to my fish at the point of the rock and switched to my usual technique of deep nymphing and finally managed to hook a nice rainbow.
When we decided to take a lunch break. Hugo set up some chairs and a table for us in the shade. We told him of our travels. He is from Junin and has worked for the department for twenty years. His schedule is fourteen days of work followed by four days off. For fun, on his vacation, he goes to northern Argentina to fish dorado. They have teeth that require special leaders. He suggested we try our five-weight rods for better feel and because the wind was not especially strong.
After lunch, I switched over to my five weight. I had been using a 3X tippet on the seven-weight, but left the 5X on the five-weight. Both Hugo and the fishing book suggested using a wooly bugger. I decided to fish with a Prince Nymph, a fly I have a lot of c0nfidence in. I tied on a 14. I flipped the fly into the slack water below the piling of the bridge. I pulled my line tight and a giant fish leapt up. I was ill prepared. My reel began to sing, spinning madly as the fish swam into the main current and chugged downstream, careening and leaping. It reached the bend in the river, paused, took a final leap and disappeared. I tossed the same fly into the river and again hooked another fish. This fish immediately snapped my line at the leader and disappeared. Because this is the big one that got away, I cannot say that the one that jumped in the air reminded me of an Alaskan king salmon or that the size of its head was as big as my thigh. I will say that confirmed catches from this trophy boca include a twenty-four pound brown.
I caught several more fish including another nice rainbow. Dawn won the prize for the day. We were both tired and cold from standing in a river fed by melting, volcanic snow with out faces blown by the wind and burned by the sun. Hugo was kind enough to invite us into his trailer home and offer us hot tea and bread with jam. After conversing for awhile, he said it was nice we could speak Spanish. He has lots of visitors from the States, especially Montana, but most only speak English. We thanked him for his introduction to “la boca” and told him that without him, we would have had a good day, but with him, we had a special day.