Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: A New York City Review

I’m not usually one to leave reviews – but my recent fishing experience with Mark (and Gustavo) was truly awesome.  And trust me, I was not paid to write this. 

So let me first start off by saying this: Before meeting Mark, I knew 2 ways of fly fishing down in Argentina.  You can stay at a lodge and pay at least $5000 per week (with little DIY walk-wade fishing options), or you can read up as much as you can, rent a car, and go off on your own.  Both are very fun – as I have experienced each. 

This is where the unique team of Mark and Gustavo come in.  They are providing a service that you can’t find anywhere else down there.  By unique, I mean Mark can pick you up in his truck and take you to GREAT DIY walk-wade fishing areas.  He gives you the exact info you need; flies, fish behavior, and fishy spots.  He then says simply “have at em”.  I was able to enjoy the adventure of exploring a river on foot, with a knowledgeable fishing buddy and a truck

One of my favorite characteristics of Mark is that he is game for anything.  Often, when we were driving, I would see a bend in the river that looked particularly enticing.  He would explain that the fish are small there, or that there is no room to cast etc, etc (he KNOWS these waters).  However, one time I pointed out a cool spot and asked him about it.  He replied “Yeah, hmmmm I have never fished that bend, not sure how to get down there, looks good doesn’t it…. want to give it a shot?”  Even if we had not gotten into many fish – which we did – I would still have loved the experience of scouting with someone who is open to explore…and who knows the area very well.  He also happens to be a fabulous fly fisherman with many tips to offer.  He was even prepared to drive down god knows how many hours to fish Jurassic Lake – just because I suggested it, and he thought it would be fun.    I didn’t have the time so we didn’t go, but who else would do that?

He is more than a knowledgeable fishing buddy with a vehicle.  For instance, I took my girlfriend (who is a beginner) out with Mark one day.  She wanted to learn how to fish, but she was very interested in learning about restaurants, where to exchange money, and which hostel hostels we should stay in.  He was of course easily able to answer these questions since he lives down there i.e. not some guide isolated within some fishing lodge.  I should also mention that his patience with her was saint like.    

Net net, I originally planned on fishing with him once – just to get some basic info – and to then go out on my own with a rented car.  To be sure, that is actually not a bad way to “use” Mark Foley: he gives you all the info you need and boom, you are out on your own the next day.  As it turns out, I had so much fun that first day that I fished with him 3 more days and did one float trip with his partner Gustavo.  Yes, Mark specializes in walk wading / exploring…but the beauty is – if you do want to float – he sets you up with his partner.  

Julia, Jeffers and Gustavou.

This brings me to the Gustavo.  An older friend of ours had recently fished with him and made this ridiculous claim: “I have fished with over 500 guides and Gustavo is simply the best.”  I dismissed this of course, but it left me worried that Gustavo might be one of those GO HARD alpha male intensity guides.  Those dudes are okay at times when I want to fish hard, but I was with my girlfriend and hoping for a more relaxed float.   I was relieved when I quickly noticed his gentle, calm, self-effacing manner.  (but don’t let that fool you; he has a quiet confidence and the skill to back it up.)  Anyway, once I was able to get past my girlfriend’s serious crush on this strapping +50 year-old man, I began to realize that he really was among the very best.  He had a way of correcting my girlfriend’s casts and mending techniques, which was gentle, informative, and the opposite of berating.  And the instructions worked too.  I had spent many hours working on her casts in weeks prior, and so I sat there in amazement as she rolled out beautiful loops after listening to a few short instructions from Gustavo.  This did not help my jealousy, but it was exciting to watch.  I don’t need to get into the fishing – we floated the Alumine that day – if only to say it was awesome.  Lot’s of hard fighting fish and never a dull moment.  Oh yeah, and Gustavo was able to get my girlfriend the biggest fish of the day on the last run.  I’ve never had such a perfect ending to a float trip.


One more thing.   When Mark asked me what kind of fishing we wanted to do, I had the gall to say “I just want to catch a big one."  I have worked at a fly shop and I know that guides sometimes roll their eyes when a client says this.  Mark bit his tongue though.  And one day he took me way up the Malleo river…pointed to a pool, suggested some flies, and said our version of “good luck” which was “Don’t fuck up!”  Well, I some how nailed the cast and the mend…and I caught the biggest trout of my life.  Thanks Mark!  And thank you Gustavo!   I will be back!

A, Jeffers, Lyon.  NYC, USA.

To read more and view photos about Jeffers and Julia's adventure: