“The Edge of the World”
By Mike Love, Member since 2004
On February 15, my oldest son and I journeyed to Argentina in search of the fabled Sea-run Brown Trout. After an overnight in Buenos Aires (8 1/2 hr. flight) it was on to Ushuaia (another 3 1/2 hr. flight) to the very tip of Argentina called Tierra del Fuego, “The Land of Fire”.
This area was named by Magellan, because when his group of ships sailed close to the coastline, the local Indians, some of which were cannibals, would light fires all along the coast. Some were for warmth in their huts, since most wore no clothing, but Magellan felt many were also signals of approaching danger.
Tierra del Fuego is part of an area of Argentina called Patagonia. This area was also named by Magellan for a group of local Indians they encountered. These were a giant tribe, known to be as tall as 10 feet. Magellan named them the Patagones, which translated to Big Feet, because some of these giants wore animal skins around their feet which made them look enormous. They eventually turned to the Spanish translation of Patagonia.
Magellan had a firsthand encounter with these people, as he captured two, and was taking them to the King of Spain when, unfortunately, they died. Some said because the captivity destroyed their spirit. Magellan himself was later killed in the Philippines by natives in a fight he should not have started.
Ushuaia is the port for the Exploration ships to Antarctica, but our journey took us north 80 miles through the mountains. At the town of Rio Grande, we turned west for our remaining one-hour drive on dirt roads, to the Estancia del San Jose.
This is a 24,000-acre ranch owned by Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting that a few lucky anglers are allowed to visit each year. The ranch is an actual working ranch with sheep and cattle and maintains a full-time staff. For the next 6 1/2 days we explored the ranch’s 12 1/2 miles of private waters.
Although the water was still very low due to a drought in the area, we found many pools that held fish. The local brown trout that had not gone to sea yet were a beautiful orange-brown color with red, green, and black spots, and were in the 5-8 lb. range. The sea-run were much larger – my son caught a 16 1/2 lb. – and were bright silver with black spots. Obviously, a transition to help from the predators of the open ocean. It was great fun where fly fishing expertise was rewarded.
Of special note was the everchanging weather with mixtures of sun, rain and wind. One afternoon I had to quit fishing as the gusts reached 70 mph. I worried about getting blown over, even while I was waist-deep fishing a pool.
What a grand trip to “The Land of Fire” made very special by our hosts at Estancia del San Jose, and the bonus of being able to fish with my son.
Featured above: Mike Love and his son with San Jose’s local sea-run brown trout.