Fishing Trip to Tierra Del Fuego January 2011
Tierra Del Fuego is definitely an interesting place. The culture is sheep farming and this is all you will see while traveling the large expanse of dusty gravel roads. Even though it can turn to rain at any time, the constant wind gusts keep the ground mostly dry and that is definitely the case with the roads. After about 5 hours traveling we came to a very large estancia. In South America a farm is called an estancia which literally means a place to stay or a ranch. Because the land is so dry and the soil barren, the only possible livelihood is sheep. There are cows in the central and northern areas, but mostly sheep in southern Chile. The estancias are much larger than ranches or farms in North America because of the low sustainability per acre. The estancia we stayed on was many hectares and is navigated by vehicles and by horseback. Gauchos are South American cowboys who tend the farms. They live by very primitive means often without power and modern comforts. We stayed in a place that had limited hot water, heated only by the woodstove in the kitchen.
Fishing opportunities are quite vast in this area. The key is knowing where to go. Just because there is water somewhere does not mean there are fish. And sometimes there trout in the most unlikely places. We fished one very small lake which most would call a pond. You could wade most of it and it was only about .5 of a mile long. To my surprise, it was filled with mostly large trout. The first brown trout I caught was 4.5lbs. We roasted it on the fire for lunch. After lunch one of my fishing buddies headed out to the same spot I was at and started hooking one fish after another. By the time I got there he was finally landing one after losing a few. I immediately hooked into a large trout about 7-8 lbs that jumped and really gave a good fight. After releasing him, all 5 of us fished for another couple hours and hooked a few more trout. All the trout seen and hooked were quite large. This seemed to be a strange phenomenon considering the amount of water for them to live in.
During the trip we also fished Lago Blanco and Rio Blanco which are large bodies of water. I was a little disappointed with the results; however, there is apparently some good fishing on Lago Blanco in other locations, just not where we fished at the south end of the lake. During the trip we fished the Rio Grande in a few different parts. The goal was catching sea trout which are sea run brown trout. Among 5 of us, we caught 5 sea trout, none bigger than 8 lbs. We were there at the end of January, however the best time is either October or March. Next time I go, I will go in these months! All in all, it fueled my passion for fly fishing which previously was quite limited. I had mostly fished salmon in the river by the fly, but fly fishing trout can be quite and art. I plan on returning to Chile sometime, this time a little better prepared for what I can expect. For all nature lovers it can be quite a romantic place with a wide expanse of thinly vegetated land and a few different species of animals including the most common guanaco which roams freely in many places.