Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Vermont Fishin' Sistah's Walk-Wade the Rio Malleo, Part 1

Two years ago,  in New Hampshire, I started fly casting and fly tying classes at the Dover and Exeter Adult Learning. I did so because I strongly felt that our communities needed low cost classes, that appealed to working professionals (folks that are busy on the weekends, but desire alternative education programs, Monday-Friday, after 5pm).   To date, the classes have been a big success and even more importantly, the students are becoming actively involved in local fishing groups/clubs such as Three Rivers Stocking Association ( and Great Bay Trout Unlimited (

During the classes at Exeter Adult Edu, I quickly became friends with one of my students; Art Reed, the Newfields, New Hampshire, Chief of Police.  Art really liked FCFF's community first approach and talked about doing more with FCFFt, outside of the Exeter Adult Edu class.  But, after the class ended, I lost touch with Art and did not talk to him for another eight months. 

Fast forward eight months, I am driving through the town of Newfields, New Hampshire.  I can't recall the exact wording, but I saw a bunch of signs that clearly indicated that there was something wrong with the Newfields Police Department.  I looked into it and discovered that the town council was soon to vote on dissolving the entire police department.  I instantly thought of Art Reed and his fellow employees, and how they might be out of their jobs.  So, I called Art and said the following, "I know this must be a stressful situation for you, your employees, and their families....I would like to offer free casting lessons to all of your employees and family members...maybe this might help relieve some of the stress that you folks have been going through."  Art replied, "thank you for your kind the past eight months, you are the first person to reach out to offer support." From that point forward, Art and I now talk, tie flies, and fish on a regular basis. Oh, and the story has a good ending; the police department was caught up in some town politics and was never dissolved.

Fast forward to Rangeley, Maine, the birthplace of Carrie Stevens, the creator of the Grey Ghost; who was known to tie flies by hand:

On a warm fall New England day, Art Reed and I were fishing the upper Magalloway River.  We split up and did our walk-wade thing. Long story short, Art get's a ride back to his truck by four women from Vermont. One of the women in the truck, taught Art's wife how to cast, via Casting for Recovery.  The four women tell Art that they are going to Patagonia, in 2014.  Art tells them that his New Hampshire fish'n buddy (me) lives and works in Patagonia; in the winters only.  Some how, on that day, I did not get to meet these four women; but they later contacted me and we discussed the possibility of them fishing with me in Patagonia, Argentina. 

Fast forward to March 03, 2014:  for the very first time, I am meeting these four women at the Petrobras gas station, located in Junin de los Andes, Argentina.  I am not just meeting four women, I am meeting the Fish'n Sistahs! 

In the spirit of women anglers, such as Carrie Stevens from Rangeley, Maine, I would like to explain who-what the Fish'n Sistahs is all about.  

For over a decade, the four Vermont women mentioned above, volunteered as instructors for an organization called Casting for Recovery.  CFR is a national organization that offers fly fishing retreats for women with breast cancer.  As two of the volunteer's became more actively involved in managing the local CFR chapter, they noticed an issue with the budget/finances. In short, they noticed that up to 50% of the money they raised for local outings/efforts 'had' to be sent back to the national home office. Being independent free thinkers, much like Carrie Stevens, they decided to ask why so much money had to be sent back to the national office.  Little did they know that this question would ignite a fire-storm and uncover a nation-wide multi-million dollar issue (I believe it made national headlines). You see, there are hundreds of CFR chapters, all having to send back money to the national home office; i.e. there are salaries to be paid at the national home office, and some of the salaries are HUGE! Obviously, this information, along with the fact the CFR would not offer services to any other female cancer patient (breast cancer = tata's only), did not sit well with these two Vermont women. So, along with a few of their friends, a non-profit entity called Fish'n Sistahs was born. They will service all women cancer patients and 100% of the money raised will stay local!  Currently, the Fishin' Sistahs are operating/holding events in Vermont and New Hampshire.  A long term goal = they hope their story inspires other women, in other parts of the U.S.A., to start similar non-profit entities.  If interested please contact Mary Ward or Susan Bulmer at 

One Day with the Sistahs: Part 1, Upper Malleo

I only had one day with the Sistahs; Mary Ward, Susan Bulmer, Janine Small, and Caroll Ellis Ruhlman.  I can honestly say, it was one of my best days on the river, ever!  Why?  These ladies, like any one else wanted to catch big wild Patagonia trout, on every cast.  But, most importantly, they simply wanted to have a good experience.  In the end, and in less than 24 hours, I showed them as much as I possible could, but also allowed them plenty of space to have their own DIY experience.

Meet the Sistahs...Hermana's Pescadoras!
Even for a day, this river reaches into your soul and brings you to a place that was previously not imaginable.
+12,000 ft volcan Lanin. We pride ourselves as being the first anglers on the river, whether a DIY walk-wade or a float trip.
Sistahs getting their Ju-Ju going....Brrr, it's cold!
Four Anglers on this section = a bit over-crowded, but we spread out and used a variety techniques/flies = they were on fish instantly, small, but muy-muy linda trouchas.
As we moved up river, this fish got a little bigger.
I put the Sistahs on a pool/run rotation.  That way every one would have at least one chance to fish a honey hole. Janine was next to take the lead.  I described the next pool to Janine.  I gave her specific instructions on where to put the fly = women are very good listeners...congratulations!
We wish we were there to watch her magic, but when she took this photo, Janine was all by herself. Her net goes at least 24".  This was thick-healthy fish.  Way to go Sistah, you deserved this one :)
Sometimes you gotta grab the bull by the horns, and get busy living.  Thanks for the great find Sistahs.  I am no expert, but it looks as though this antler came from a trophy Eurepean Red Stag.  In just a few more weeks, the rut will be on (end of March).
Round One Complete = Fishin' Sistahs take siesta on the upper Malleo.  

Rio Malleo Facts

Location: Junin de los Andes, Argentina.  Approximately, +/- 1 hour from Junin.
Province: Neuquen
Fishing Season: Generally, November 01 till May 31st.
Licensed Required: Yes, general fishing only.
Floating:  Floating the Malleo is prohibited.
Entrance Fee:  Currently $40 pesos (per day) to enter the lower section or Mapuche reservation.
Camping: Yes, only on the Mapuche reservation, $15 pesos per night.
Length: 64 Kilometers or 40 miles.
Origin: Lago Tromen (third major lake tributary to the rio Alumine).
Termination: Alumine.
Fly Rods: 9ft/4wt through 9ft/6wt. Switch = 11ft/5wt.
Fly Lines:  Floating for dry flies and nymphs.  Seasonal use of sink tips for faster-deeper water.
Flies:  Sorry, but we only share this information with our guest. 

Fishing with FCFF in Patagonia

We feel very fortunate to host anglers from all over the's a wonderful experience sharing our angling cultures.  We also feel very fortunate to host anglers from the USA; in this particular instance, Vermont...our 'green mountain' neighbor (Vermont is next to New Hampshire).  We have had some great moments, both on and off the river.  Thanks again Fishin' Sistahs. Please feel free to read client testimonials at

Many Thanks.


PS. Our business is 100% organic and by referrals only.  So, please feel free to share amongst friends, or reply with comments.  We also have a Facebook page.