By Dominic D’Ambrosi
Some friends and I wanted to take advantage of our location in Uruguay being close to Argentina so we planned for a fly fishing trip. We looked into the Patagonia region of Argentina but we were worried that the ash from the Puyehue volcano located in Chile, which erupted in mid-2011, was still wreaking havoc in the region and causing all types of flight cancellations. Being the underpaid government workers that we are and not wanting to take the chance of losing money on flight bookings, we decided to look to Chile. We were fortunate to find Jack Trout — yes, that’s his name — at www.jacktrout.com, who guides in Mount Shasta California six months out of the year, and in Chile six months out of the year. Jack and his wife Carola made our flight reservations and we stayed at their lodge, which is in the Lake Region of Chile close to several rivers that are ideal for fly fishing.
We fished the first day on the Enco River, for which only Jack has access to. The day started out slow and I had no bites by lunch. I started to get discouraged, thinking my fly fishing dream adventure was going down the tubes. Then shortly after a streamside lunch, we got back in the raft and I hooked a small rainbow and then, shortly after, another small one — so things started looking up. Then all of the sudden I got a wallop of a bite and, for the first time ever in my brief fly fishing life, I had to go to the reel to get it in. In all my previous experiences fly fishing in Maryland streams and rivers for trout and Smallmouth I never caught anything bigger than 15 inches and was always able to strip them in. This one put up a little fight and turned out to be a 2.5 pound Rainbow. I was ready to declare the trip a success but an hour later I had a little more luck. I was fishing out of the back of the boat and I felt a strong tug on the line. I alerted Jack that I think I had one. All of the sudden the fish took off and went at least 50 feet down river past the front of the boat; the sound of the reel screeching is something a fisherman longs for. For about five minutes I fought this one back and forth on the reel and I finally landed him after about five minutes. It turned out to be a 5 pound rainbow.
The next day we went to the Calcurrupe River, which is in the Patagonia region of Chile. Within the first hour of fishing I got another wallop of a bite. For the next 10 to 15 minutes I was fighting something I had no idea what it was. I would get the fish in a little and then, all of the sudden, it would go straight down to the bottom. I finally got the fish in and was amazed that it was a 7 pound brown trout. My friend who I was fishing with is an avid fly fisherman from Montana and told me that in all his years of fly fishing he had never caught a trout that big. The rest of the day I didn’t catch anything but it didn’t matter as I felt I finally had done something substantial in my fishing life. I just enjoyed the day casting and looking at the scenery, which included snow-capped volcanos and a portion of the river that was sovereign land of some of Chile’s Mapuche Indians. The next day we fished another river and the wind was fierce and discouraging, but I still managed to land three more Rainbows.
We used streamers for the duration of our trip, as Jack stated if you want a chance at big fish you have to stay deep. All the fish I caught were on simple black or green wooly bugger patterns. Jack supplied all the gear to include tackle, waders, and boots, so we packed light. The other thing to keep in mind is that it was January when we went and the area is south of the equator so the seasons are reversed from the U.S., so we were fishing in warm summer weather. The whole trip for three full days fishing, five nights lodging, and airfare was very affordable.
Jack Trout was dedicated to getting us on fish; we stayed out on the water every day until dark. If you are looking for an affordable adventure with a taste of Chilean culture and a chance at big fish, you should seriously consider going to Chile and fishing with Jack.