- 98% of all North American and European fly fisherman visit Patagonia during the high season (January 01 through March 01). Why? Patagonia has been discovered and it gets pretty busy during peak summer months
- 2% of fly fisherman visit Patagonia during the low season (March through May 31).
- More accurately, I would guess there are no Americans or Europeans fishing in Patagonia during April and May. Except for...
Gene and Tom Rochette, are fraternal twins from Lowell, Massachusetts, who now reside in New Hampshire and are members of Ducks Unlimited, Great Bay Trout Unlimited and Three Rivers Stocking Association (www.3riversstocking.blogspot.com). During the last two weeks of April, they joined me for a DIY walk-wade northern Patagonia fly fishing adventure. Why so late in the season? Simple... Tom is a tax account working (owner) at www.rochettetax.com and could not leave his office till after April 15th (FYI, Gene is the owner of www.statelineguns.com, located in Plaistow, NH). Both had no idea that some of the best fishing to be had in Patagonia is during the month of April (and May). Plus, they had no idea that they were probably the only two Americans fishing the waters surrounding Junin de los Andes. In other words, with the exception of a few Argentines, they had the place to themselves.
I met Tom less than a year ago; at about the same time he and I were elected board members to the Great Bay Trout Unlimited Chapter (www.greatbaytu.blogspot.com). Other than monthly GBTU board meetings, I don't personally know Tom. In other words, I assumed he was a fly fisherman, but I did not know his experience and skill level. As it turns out, as I discovered on day one of fishing, both Tom and Gene's skill level, according the Patagonia standards, was between beginner and beginner. Specifically, neither could single or double haul...what about the freaking Patagonia wind? Neither knew what a water haul/tension cast was...how are they going to nymph all day without this simple must know cast? Neither could shoot line without fumbling the line...WT-Fudge! Neither could properly mend line without disturbing the surface of the water...they had what I coined the Lucas Pond mend (an ugly piece of shit mend that originates from the pond they live on in New Hampshire, and by using this mending technique, they would disturb the entire pool!). When asked about certain basic flies (nymphs and streamers), neither of them had a clue...they had boxes full of flies that I had never seen! Neither of them knew how to set a strike, play and beach or handle a trout...it was obvious that both of them grew up watching way too much bass fishing on TV! Add in that they signed up for 10 days of DIY walk-wade fishing, and on day two, Tom tells me that his new wading boots, which he did not try on prior to Patagonia, were hurting his feet...are you F'n kidding me! The list goes on...add it all up and you just might have the perfect storm (an obvious reference to the movie/book based on a true fishing story out of Gloucester, Mass.) or the worst fly fishing vacation of your life! Well, NOT ON MY H2O WATCH!
So, not to entirely beat them down, the question is, "what did the Rochette brothers have?" Gene and Tom, especially after two days of me coaching (at times yelling) at them to do this or that, showed me they have blind determination to get it done. At times the fishing/casting/mending was not pretty, but I saw two guys who kept their mouths shut and kept going and going...no matter what situation I put them in. Even after fishing for 7 days straight (which is physically and mentally unbelievable) they were ready for more...and that's exactly what they got.
Hope you enjoy the photos and comments.
|First Day: Amphitheater on the rio Limay. Do they have any idea what they are in for? This is not fly fishing for New Hampshire stocked fished! This is N.F.L (national fly-fishing league) level...time to bring your 'A' game.|
|Day 01: was slow for both Gene and Tom. Lots of missed strikes, and when they had fish on they lost lots of fish on the fight. But at the end of the day I brought them to big H2O for big fish. Gene with his first Alumine Rainbow.|
|Up close with Patagonia wild rainbow. Gene with another Alumine bow.|
|Gene on the Collan Cura with full Patagonian moon in background. He has no idea what size fish he just missed... I could not bare to tell to him...next year Gene!|
|Day 03: Gene showing us a fine middle Malleo bow.|
|Gene with another middle Malleo bow...he's on fire!|
|Gene's middle Malleo rainbow 'heater' continues!|
|Gene the gun guy, now a fly fisherman! Congrats on a beautiful fish! Now how about letting your older brother get some?|
|After an epic fishing day, it's time to celebrate and relax = Patagonia Parilla/Asado (BBQ).|
|Like all Americans, the unmarked bottle to the bottom left of the meat pile instantly becomes your best friend. It's called Chimechuri and it is a multi-herb oil-vinegar based condiment that makes everything pop.|
|Day 04: Gene is back on the Malleo rainbow heater. Again, short upstream cast, focusing on presentation and no Lucas Pond mending!|
|Day 06: One last pose before we released this magnificent brown. Great job Gene!|
|Day 06: +24" brown trout, in the right spot at the right time! Great job Tom and thank you Patagonia fish gods.|
|Day 07: We will be leaving Junin soon, so it's time take a quick tour of lago Huechulafquen, scenic views of +12,000 foot volcan Lanin, and the famous 'boca' of Chimehuin river.|
|Day 07: The 'boca' (mouth) of the Chimehuin river. Over 50 years ago, a world record brown trout was caught at the very spot Tom and Gene were standing.|
|Day 07: Gene and Tom in front a defunct hotel, now a private home.|
|Day 07: The upper Chimehuin is best fished by floating, but we decided to wet the lines. The pool in this spot, depending on water flow/level, ranges from 30ft-60ft deep. Obviously this makes it very hard to fish.|
|Day 07: We could not leave Junin without fishing the upper-upper Malleo, or the monkey puzzle tree forest. April offers stunning colors.|
|Day 07: I love this water/place. Don't expect to catch tons of big fish, but do expect to relax and catch lots of pretty little fish. FYI, I have written a lot about the upper-upper Malleo (see blog post for more details).|
|Day 07: upper-upper Malleo brown. Believe it or not, these little guys are harder to catch than the bigger fish. This is great water for beginners to hone their skills.|
|Day 07: Well, the Rochette boys got their fill of the upper-upper Malleo, but hey wanted more BIG browns! So, we headed back to the same spot that we caught the big browns on the Alumine. Only this time the Perca god's were answering our prays...|
|Day 07: Gene with a HUGE native/wild Patagonia Perca (perch).|
Ten days ago, I picked up two strangers from my home state of New Hampshire. According to Patagonia standards, I also picked up two semi-beginner fly fisherman (they know enough to be dangerous on Lucas Pond, located in Northwood, NH...a stocked pond). If you understand guiding, it is extremely difficult to teach while fishing, especially with two Patagonia beginners who believe that they would catch fish on every cast! As a result, Gene and Tom received my crash course in Patagonia fly fishing! So, at times, when I felt it was necessary, I pushed them mentally and physically. I don't like teaching this way...it's not my style and goes against my principles of what I call the E.I. Fly Fishing System™ (see tab on main header). But given the short amount of time, and the need to please clients by catching sizable fish, I had to push them beyond their comfort zone. In other words, I had to figure out how to break bad habits, and develop new skills ASAP!! In the end, we worked together and got it done!
In the end, I left two new friends at the airport, two New Hampshire residents that now have seen the real Patagonia and love it, and two Lucas Pond Bass Master fisherman who are well on their way to becoming great fly fisherman! Seriously, Gene and Tom...you have what it takes (look at the fish you caught!)...stick to the basics and just keep working at it!
Lastly, a HUGE thank you to Gene and Tom. You guys were good sports and hope to see you soon!
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