Recently I went on a voyage to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. It had been a long time coming, and going to Argentina or Chile had been on the list ever since I had heard the legendary stories of 30 inch Brown Trout. I guess since I had pretty much injected saltwater in my veins about 6 years ago, the freshwater species hadn't weighed too heavy on my mind, not as much at least lately. I was invited by the crew of Patagonia River Guides in the Trevellin Valley, with the lodge being on the outskirts of Esquel, Argentina. The travel there wasn't unlike getting to Alaska, a few plane changes, airport shuffles...feeling like a completed marathon would be on your resume and you're there.
There's nothing like a week at a place like this. Aside from the fishing, it is just as exciting for me to meet the staff, the guides, the travel assistants that have been answering all my stupid questions via email and of course the other guests that I will be over-drinking with all week. Of course upon arrival, I was greeted with Red Wine and appetizers. The stories already begin with past experiences at this lodge, from 10 years ago and from any fishing trip that may fit the bill of conversation. It's a great way to get the feel of the week, who will be the bullshitter, who is the cool guy, who is the one-upper and who is just the observer. If you are a people-watcher like me, this is a great venue.
The fishing program is top notch here, you typically fish a different river or piece of water every day. Along with the diversity of water, the guides shuffle everyday too, so getting to know them and getting all the different stories daily is very well worth the trip. These waters are turquiose, aqua, colorless and any other way you can describe pristine. When you soak in these type of experiences that seem to hit the reset button, the fishing really does take a backseat on the priority list. There were plenty of times I would just sit back and relax and relish in the fact that I may never ever find myself here again. It's easy to take for granted fishing somewhere in the states and not doing that, for there's a pretty good chance you can or will return there. But being this far away from home and considering how long it took me to get there, I literally let everything soak in.
I'm not gonna give you play by play on certain fish and awesome the fishing was, but more about the way it just took me to a place that I may never be again. It really was like Montana in the late 1800's, which I had heard so many times...but it was. Driving to the put-ins, there would be Gauchos along side the road in there traditional get-ups and their Gaucho hats, it was a very cool site that definitely took me somewhere. The riverside lunches were a total throwback to something I had never seen before. Setting up a couple tables, searing steaks, drinking wine and getting to know people that may be friends for the rest of your life. After realizing after an hour or so that there is fishing to be had, the boat carries on down the river and takes out in order to get you back to the lodge to be greeted by happy hour and story time. The day ends with dinner at about 9 pm, pretty standard Argentine time schedule. After consuming a very considerable amount of meat and amazing sides, theres not much else to besides go to sleep, for in 8 hours it all begins again.