Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DIY Patagonia Fly Fishing: From Maine to Patagonia Argentina

Before I start, I would like to mention that you may experience a few format and grammatical errors. Due a broken right finger, I have limited use of my right hand and I am now using a pre-installed Mac voice dictation application. So, I am doing my best to put my best English forward, but I simply do not have the time to thoroughly edit/review everything I would take too much time.  In advance, thanks for understanding.

As time passes, it is becoming harder to remember the exact details on how I met my clients (i.e. in person or via my blog).  However, in this particular case, I remember most of the details because Marc Richman lives only 20 minutes from my home and his wife, an operating room nurse, works with my friend, an orthopedic physician assistant.  As it turns out Marc is a retired ophthalmic eye surgeon, originally from Boston, now splitting time between Florida and Kittery Point, Maine.  I can also remember meeting Marc because my friend was kind enough to refer my name to his wife (thank you very much BC), and two, Marc invited me to lunch to discuss a DIY fly fishing trip to Patagonia Argentina (a face to face meeting like this does not happen often). We had a good discussion at lunch and I believe we felt comfortable with each other, but I walked away not knowing if he would be a future client.  Why?  Marc is a 76 year old retired eye surgeon who probably could afford to go to any lodge in the world and stay as long as he desired.  In fact, I later learned that he has taken 75 float/lodge trips around the world and he was a member of the second group of fisherman to fish Kamchatka, for the first time ever! This information means that money is no object, and over his lifetime, my guess is that Marc has spent well over $100,000 USD on fishing trips, maybe over $200,000 USD.  So, as we talked at our lunch meeting, and then several emails/phone conversations reviewing Q's & A's, and even after he came to see my slide show presentation titled Fly Fishing and Traveling Argentina, I had one burning question I had to ask him!  Why me?  Specifically the question in my mind...why would a 76 year old retired eye surgeon who has been on 75 float trips around the world, and could easily afford to go to any lodge in the world, want a DIY fly fishing trip to Patagonia Argentina, with me?  His reply, "I have been looking for you for over 20 years." WHAT... did I hear him correctly?  I did not say this out loud, but admittedly I did think it.  I am skipping a few details, but eventually, once Marc arrived in Argentina, and once we began to learn more about each other, we discovered that we had a lot in common.  As a result of our common life experiences and interest, I felt it was okay for me to ask him what his statement meant.  Without hesitation, Marc was kind enough to explain to me the following:

  • I want to fish and spend my time with 'real' fisherman! 
  • I want to spend my time and money exactly how I want, regardless if it is $1.00 or $1,000,000!
  • I don't want to go to a lodge and over-eat and drink with a large group of strangers!  
  • Each day, I want the ability to make my own plans/decisions...not a pre-set program that caters to large groups.   

In the end, Marc got exactly what he wished...a true DIY fly fishing trip to Patagonia Argentina.  Below are a series of photos and comments based on his vacation. 

I picked Marc up at the San Martin de los Andes airport, called Chapelco (only 20 minutes from Junin de los Andes). We immediately went to San Martin for a quick tour and to exchange USA dollars for pesos (the rates is up to 7.6 and 8.1 in BsAs).  He said San Martin reminded him of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I asked him if he would like to spend more time touring SM, but he said, "no thanks, I have seen enough."  The above photo is a picture of Marc standing outside of his rented apartment, located in Junin de los Andes.  My apartment is next door.  The cost of this one bedroom (1 bed and bunk bed, bath, and small kitchen) was less than $40 USD per night.  FYI, I did give him multiple lodging options, but he picked this 'charming' abode.  Each morning, Marc and I would have breakfast in my apartment (fruit, yogurt, pastries and tea...just what he wanted).  We bought lunch to go (mostly empanadas) at a local store that makes all home made food.  For dinners, we would grab take out at the home made food store or visit the below

This photo is of a Patagonia Parilla (BBQ restaurant) located three blocks from the apartment.  They cook fish, chicken, meat, and pastas. You can also order salads, mashed potato's and french fries.  I would guess that Marc was spending about +/- 100 pesos per day on food = less than $15 USD per day, and he ate very well! 

Marc does not speak Spanish, but he had no problem asking for a sample of vacio (flank steak).

Marc's fishing program entailed 2 days of float trips and 4 days of walking-wading.  Naturally, the best river to put a DIY walk-wade 'dry-fly' fisherman is the Rio Malleo.  When I tell you that Marc can cast and present a dry fly, I am telling you he is the real deal.  He makes roll casting a dry fly, 30-40ft away, into a space about the size of a bagel, an art form!  I really enjoyed watching him pick apart this river.  

I will be honest, the Malleo was extremely low, so the opportunity to catch big fish (+16") on a dry fly was greatly diminished.  There are big fish here, but they are at the bottom of the pools = dredge with nymphs.  Marc caught lots of fish in the 8"to 14" range, both bows and browns, all on a dry fly.  

We fished both the lower and upper Malleo.  At Marc's request, we went back to the upper Malleo to fish a very special spot.  When we arrived we spotted a 30" brown bathing in the shallows.  Unfortunately, upon the first cast, the fish was spooked and swam off.  

DIY on the upper Malleo = not another person seen for days and great views of Volcan Lanin, at +12,000 feet.  

Another great pool on the upper Malleo = just you and Patagonia mother nature

The 'corner pocket pool.'  Most anglers would pass this run/pool, but this spot is about quality/presentation.  You have to be able to roll cast a fly into rock nook and make the prefect presentation, or you are done.  Marc pulled two beautiful brown's out of this spot and it was so pretty to watch him put the fly on the spot.   

Marc spent two days floating the Rio Alumine.  The first day, he had great weather and fish were cooperating.  The second float trip on the Alumine was OK, due to high winds in the afternoon. 
Marc with his guide Gustavou, on the Alumine.  He caught 18" to 24" bows all day long!  Marc said this float trip was one of the best he has ever had and spoke highly of the guide. 

Marc seen at the Rio Limay amphitheater ...heading to Bariloche. Marc plans to meet his wife and friend in Chile and spend a week fishing.

One night stay in Bariloche at Hospedaje Wikter, before taking the 7:30am bus to Puerto Montt, Chile.    I arranged all travel plans from Argentina to Chile...he arrived in Chile with no problems.  Before leaving town, I brought Marc to an organic pastry shop to buy breakfast food for the bus ride.  If your in Bariloche, be sure to stop in and buy the breakfast cereal bars! 

Before Marc stepped on the bus heading to Chile he said, "I have been following your blog and truthfully, I was a bit minute your camping on the Pacific Ocean in Chile and the next minute your getting surgery on a broken, I wondered what the hell was I getting myself into.  But, in the end, your DIY program is exactly what I wanted and I am very happy with your guides and service...thank you for doing a great job."   What a great compliment, especially from a man who has been on 75 float/lodge trips around the world!  Marc...on behalf of FCFF, the guides and their families, thank you for visiting Patagonia with us, and we hope to see you again.  

I probably will know all the reasons, but I now realize why Marc Richman chose the DIY fly fishing Patagonia.  In his heart, regardless of anything else, Marc has returned to his true self...a boy who grew up within a poor Boston family living in a rough neighborhood, who worked hard his entire life for himself and his family, who ultimately, before leaving this earth, just wants to watch a trout rise to his carefully placed dry fly...for Marc, this is the magic, and this is why he has chosen to spend his time and dime as a DIY fisherman, with FCFF.

I realize that Marc is a rare DIY bird...there may not be many more of his type out there.  Personally, I wonder how many more DIY fly fisherman are out there, who have been looking for me for the past 20 years?  People may think I am crazy, but I think there are millions!  Why?  At one time in our lives, we were all DIY fly fisherman...this is a special thing that may get lost in the hustle and bustle of life, but it never truly goes away!  

Thanks to my guides Gustavou and Cristian for providing excellent service and thanks to all the people in Junin de los Andes for helping.

Muchas Gracias,  


PS.  Next season, we'll be offering several new DIY programs that might catch your attention.  So, join or keep following the FCFF bog and stay tuned.