The Lake District and Chilean Patagonia
The Lake District in Chile is much like Alaska with natural lakes and rivers that run to the ocean unimpeded by dams. This is a big reason that I am so grateful for this opportunity to explore and fish this region before it is spoiled by further development. There are plans to build dams on many of the rivers in this area to bring more hydroelectric power northward. As we know from our experience in California, it will drastically and negatively impact the anadromous fish (fish that live in the ocean and rivers like steelhead & salmon) population.
Not every river crossing is a bridge. Here we see a ferry used to get vehicles from one side of the river to the other.
Around the turn of the century the Chilean government recruited many Europeans, especially Germans to this area so they could clear the land and establish settlements to keep Argentina from encroaching on what they considered be their turf. As a result many of the buildings and structures in Southern Chile have a definite European look and feel to them. Argentina also made a similar recruitment effort in Europe, focusing on bringing groups of people from Italy to the Bariloche and Patagoia region of their country. The recruitment of Europeans to this part of the world was at the expense of the indigenous people who had lived here for centuries and had their land taken with no compensation or recourse.
Bringing in a feisty Rainbow Trout by drifting a nymph fly under an idicator...
The rivers here have many different types of fish but the majority are Rainbow and German BrownTrout and Atlantic Salmon. The trout are not native to Chile or Argentina but were brought here around the turn of the century where they have flourished in the rivers and lakes of this region.The rainbow trout that were planted here originally came from the McCloud River a world famous river, known for a hearty strain of rainbows. The McCloud is one of the most beautiful rivers in the state and it flows into Lake Shasta in Northern California...Diane Feinstein and Westlands Water District (Fresno Corporate Farmers) wants to raise Shasta Dam which will inundate the lower portion of this river...shame, shame, shame!
The Northern Patagonia of Argentina
We fished the Rio Malleo and the Chimehuin
In this area of Argentina the Spaniards had two extermination drives in the 1700’s that pushed many indigenous people (Mapuches, Huilliches and Chonos) westward, from their homelands on the eastern side of the Andes into Southern Chile.
Here we are going over the Andes leaving Chile and entering Argentina...in the Batman mobile. When you get to the border offices in both countries, everybody has to get out of the car, show their passports and fill out forms.
The town and region we stayed in Junin de los Andes is reknowned by fly fishing enthusiasts the world over....one of many fly fishing meccas.
The terrain and rivers are far different from the lush greenery that we experienced in Chile. This area is high mountain desert terrain similar to what we see on the eastern side of the Sierra's in Califonia and Nevada.
Large out croppings and rolling hills dominate the terrain and the fish tend to feed on grasshoppers and terrestrial insects. That means dry fly fishing with surface presentations...fun, fun fun!
Like Chile Argentina has architecture with a European semblance or influence. These are two structures that caught my attention but there were many unique buildings throughout this area of the country. Not sure if those natural logs would be up to code in SF but they sure make beautiful support beams.
I suppose that most of you have heard of the world famous Argentinian beef…this place would be tough for vegetarians as Argentinians are big on meat.
One of the bonuses when fishing out on the river are that you never know what kind of animals or wildlife you will encounter. Here is an angora goat that came to the riverside to munch on the greenery, and one evening in the distance, llamas could be scene grazing with the cows.
This is a good example of a native hut constructed of poles, reeds and mud. The reeds continue to grow along the banks of the Malleo River. Like most civilzations they created shelter with the materials that were readily available.
Needless to say, both Pat and I were envious...but that's fishin'!