Archive for March, 2010


When I start thinking about my next fishing outing, like most fishermen, my thoughts focus on the enjoyment I have waiting for me; a chance to reconnect with nature, sooth my soul and take away memories to last me until my next outing. I think of myself as someone who does his best to preserve nature so that I can continue to enjoy the environment and so that my son, and generations to come, can do so also. I don’t litter and even will pick up bottles or garbage that I find and hope my fishing companions will notice and that it will be contagious. But I’m not one to impose my values on others. So if I see a fishing pal drop a wrapper carelessly, instead of saying “hey jackass friend, why not drop that in a wastebasket instead”, I’ll just subtly pick it up myself (hoping he/she will notice) and save it to toss later, or toss it directly if there’s a recipient nearby.

But even though I think I’ve got all the good behavior down (and maybe you do too), perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider how recreational fishing can have an impact on the environment, because in fact it’s not just commercial fishing that has a negative impact on the environment. Unfortunately, we good natured weekend warriors also make an impact and recreational “harvest” may make up as much as 12% of the global take.  source: Cooke & Cowx

 Ok, now you’re thinking, “Hey, I practice catch and release…” But it is not only those fish that you keep. Even the ones you toss back may end up as flotsam. Not to mention that negligent fishing practices and carelessness can also harm other wildlife and even destroy entire habitats. Here are some things that might be good to keep in mind, consider and even address actively and constantly improve your conservationism and minimize your negative impact on the environment and sport we all love. To approach this logically I’ve assembled five points, one for each finger (assuming you haven’t lost one to a nasty Pike, Muskie, Walleye, Golden Dorado, Pacú, etc. while trying to extract your “lucky fly”).

  1. Transport – Imagine putting your outboard in your bathtub before taking a bath. Right, they are nasty. So imagine what they do to the natural environment. Now jump in the tub with your outboard and crank her up… You may or may not whack a fish with your outboard propeller but it works like a moulinex on plants and anything else that are vital for fish survival (i.e. food and shelter).

    Moulinex

    Engines also make clear waters murky because of their pollution and contribution to erosion.Some alternatives I can think of are, electric motors, not using a motor at all, and at the very least, just being conscious of the potential damage you might do if you’re not as careful as you could be while operating a fishing boat.Giving up the motorized transport may introduce you to a whole new fishing experience.

    Two years ago, I decided to try fly fishing from a canoe I found by a path leading to a small lake behind the cabins we were staying in while fishing Trout Lake in Canada. I’d never tried to fly fish off a canoe before, and it wasn’t easy, but when I finally hooked a Pike, even though he wasn’t very big, he hauled me all over that little lake before I got him in the net. It is still the most vivid catch memory from that trip.

  2. Gear – Most of your gear goes in with you and comes back out, but there are some things that you leave behind which can have significant negative effect you may not be aware of. There are the obvious things, such as lures that get snagged and you end up loosing because of a broken line. Whenever possible, make every effort to retrieve them. You’ll have the lure to use again in the future, and you’ll ensure that no animals are injured when they come across your lure either by mistake or because they mistake it for real food. Fishing line is also a huge hazard. It doesn’t bio-degrade and can trap fish and fauna alike. Next time you have a big hairy knot-up (galleta as it’s known around here) dispose of it properly instead of just tossing it to the depths.Lead weights are another hazard.  They are toxic and left in the water they can also be mistaken for food. Believe it or not there are lures and weights that are now made of fish food and might actually improve the luck of some of you out there who I know can use all the luck they can get… 😉

  3. Trash – This one is simple to remember. Don’t be stupid. Don’t litter. ‘nuf said?
  4. Non-native – Non-native plants and species can devastate your newly discovered fishing paradise. You’ve all heard by now about Zebra Muscles, Asian Carp and Sea Lamprey among others, that are invading and significantly impacting your local fishing environments. In most cases this didn’t happen because some crazy guy introduced the non-native plant or creature on purpose. Usually these problems started because of carelessness. Be sure you boat, float, lures, bait bags, minnow buckets, etc. are all cleaned and free of plants and other animals before you go from one body of water to the next. It’s just the smart and correct thing to do. It will also ensure that your gear stays in the best shape possible and you enjoy your investment that much longer. Invading species can displace native ones by outcompeting them for resources, thus altering the species composition and balance of the ecosystem. According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, non-native and invasive species cost the United States more than $100 billion dollars each year.Also, don’t dump your unused bait in the water when you are done fishing, and don’t use live bait if it is prohibited. Be a good sportsman and obey the rules. If you set a good example, other will follow.
  5. Handling – This is something that is becoming more and more popular and well know, and I’m happy for it. The length of time and how you handle your catch is key to fish survival.I hope most, if not all of you, are practicing catch and release, and only keep what you eat during a shore lunch or dinner. Taking “limits” back home to store in a freezer for me is just greedy. Go out and have a nice fish dinner in a restaurant when you get back home, and if you want fresh caught Pike or Trout, enjoy it when you’re on the water only.

    Keep only the small and medium sized fish and let the big ones that reproduce do their duty.  Use barbless hooks to minimize damage, hold the fish as little as possible, avoid touching their gills and removing protective slime. Reel them in, take a quick picture and return them to the water quickly (to avoid exhausting them). If you hook a fish deeply, don’t risk unnecessary harm by trying to get it out — simply clip the line and let the fish go.

Give and Take-care

Like I said before, I’m not one to impose, but I hope by now you are considering some ways that you can be a more environmentally friendly fisherman. Nobody is perfect, but by setting an example whenever we can, we’ll ensure that there are many more productive and enjoyable fishing outings in our future and for those who follow on behind us.

Sources: Cooke, Steven J. and Ian G. Cowx. “The Role of Recreational Fishing in Global Fish Crises.” BioScience. September 2004. Vol. 54, No. 9.

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We are now approaching the end of the fishing season in many of the provinces in Argentina. Depending on the province, the season will be over by the end of April or May. Opening season and “Cierre de Temporada” are the most exciting times for planning a fishing trip with friends or family in Argentina. The fishing can be very difficult since the weather is in transition, but the quality and quantity of the fish can make the effort worth while.

Alfredo Romero is heading out to San Martin de Los Andes to close out the season, and has promised me a story and pictures. I’m looking forward to those pictures as much as I am envious of Alfredo. You see, he’s not only a good fly fisherman, he’s also a very good photographer. So get ready to see some great shots in the upcoming story from Alfredo.

A while ago, I started a review of what I know about Trout, but since there are so many species (over 60) I’ll keep this focused on the basics and True Trout today and later we’ll review some species of Char. Here are some that you already know about, and maybe one or two you didn’t.

Future Monster

Rainbow trout are among the most popular game fish. Their natural range is from Alaska to Argentina, but they have been widely introduced in other localities. They are olive to greenish-blue above and silvery below with a prominent red or pink stripe along the side. Stream-dwellers have dark spots on the body, dorsal fins, and tail. Lake-dwellers usually have weak spots or none. Rainbow trout have been recorded weighing up to 50 pounds (22.5 kg)… although I don’t know anyone who’s caught a monster like that, but apparently it is true.

Steelhead

Steelheads are actually sea-running rainbow trout. They go out to sea when they are about a year old, returning upstream to spawn two to five years later. Steelheads have been monitored traveling 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Adak in the Aleutian Islands to the Columbia River in Washington. While at sea they are colored like the lake-dwelling rainbows (sort of a opaque silvery color), but near spawning time they resemble stream-dwellers. They can weigh up to 35 pounds (16 kg). Now, this is the weird part because, here in Argentina, the Steelheads are usually much larger than the Rainbows. In fact, I would invert the weight estimates between Rainbow and Steelhead here.

Cutthroat

Cutthroat trout get their name from a bright red streak on the throat. They are found in coastal streams from Alaska to northern California and in inland waters of the western United States and Canada. I’ve never heard of them here, but I’m checking with some guides I know in various provinces to be sure. Cutthroats in high mountain streams are often called spotted trout. Sea-running cutthroats enter the ocean when a year old and remain there a year or two before returning to coastal streams to spawn. Cutthroats average around 5 pounds (2.25 kg), but some attain a weight of 40 pounds (18 kg).

Big Brown

Brown trout are native to Europe from Iceland to the Mediterranean Sea, but have been successfully transplanted to other parts of the world. They are golden to greenish brown with darker brown or black spots on the sides, back, and dorsal fins. There is also a sprinkling of red or orange spots, with pale borders, on the upper sides. While fishing the Chimehuin River in the Province of Neuquén two years ago, we actually caught Browns there were both dark brown with orange spots and silvery browns, depending on how many days they had been coming into the river from Lake Huechulafquen (try not to choke on that name, although it might clear up some congestion trying). Apparently, the change in color has to do with the hormones that accompany breeding activity.

Brown just in from the lake. Note the difference in color.

Brown trout are difficult to catch because they are much more aggressive fighters and use the river current to their advantage. Some individuals grow to a weight of 40 pounds (18 kg), but the average brown trout caught in the United States weighs 4 to 7 pounds (1.8 to 3.2 kg), while I believe that the average Brown in Argentina is probably 20% larger.

Golden trout are beautifully colored fish found in mountain streams and lakes in California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Again, I’m pretty certain there are no Golden trout in Argentina (although there are Golden Dorado… but that’s another story.) Golden trout, as you may have guessed are pure black… just kidding, actually they are gold in color with a pinkish stripe along the side and a golden or reddish-orange belly.

Golden Trout: Note the red and spots

The dorsal fin, tail, and upper part of the body have dark spots. Golden trout average one pound (450 g) or less, but some attain a weight of about 10 pounds (4.5 kg).

The nice thing about fishing for trout here in Argentina, is that you can’t always be sure what you’ll get. Many species share the same habitat, and compete in the same waters for survival. Depending on when each species is actively spawning or feeding, and depending on whether you are in the right place at the right time, you may catch several different trout in a single outing.

While taking a break from a 4×4 excursion through Mendoza’s Valle Hermoso, in 20 minutes I could three different varieties of trout. In fact, I’m sort of doubtful about one of them. I think it may have been a land-locked salmon, since it was so different from the other two. It was the first I caught that day, and I didn’t have my camera ready, but you can see from these pictures, that the second two trout were definitely different species. Now can you tell which is which?

Local fishing guide, Claudio “El Vasco” Huebra, sent in some information about the Río Negro and his services, working primarily the area around the city of Neuquén.

Río Negro

This River is born out of the convergence of the Limay and Neuquén rivers in the western part of the country, and after crossing the entire province (the entire country in fact) from west to east, it quietly empties into the ocean (Mar Argentino). Like most rivers that traverse big valleys, its course isn’t through turbulent and rough waters, it is actually calm… yet awesome!!

Rio Negro

The species that inhabit these waters are the Rainbow, Brown (not many yet, since they were just stocked this year), Patagonian “pejerreyes”, Perch and Carp (which less known here).

In the Alto Valle (upper valley) we fish mostly Bows and pejerreyes… and the occasional Brown when they are in the mood for our flies… there are also Carp, but these are a relatively new species for us… we are testing out different flies, and a few have been successful!!

For catching Bows and Browns, we use #6 rods, WF or ST Fast II to V, and steamers that are no larger than No 6.

El Vasco

There are lot of pejerreyes, and these are not only a primary food source for the Rainbow and Brown, but they also very attractive for fly fishing!!! The ideal set equipment are #3 or #4 rods, floating WF or DT (best)  lines, and leaders no less than 12 feet, with 5X tippet.

Patagonian “pejerrey"

Carp – the only one I was able to catch was on WF wet tip and black with red headed Rabbit, and what a fight!!! They pull hard and although this one was just under 6 lbs. a previous catch weighed just under 30 lbs!!

In sum, this river has its enigmas, magic and stories to tell… I invite you to discover them.

Guided trips, from various points on the southern coast of the Río Negro, from Allen (Puesto Sánchez) to General Roca (La Palangana), include:

  • Transport to/from Gral. Roca
  • Pickup from your hotel, hostel, or other lodging
  • Although we will provide you with our recommendations, the start and finish of your fishing day are worked out based on your preferences and needs.

Modality: Fly Casting

Fishing access: coastal and wading.

Recommended equipment: #3 to #6 rods, Line: WF o DT-F (recommended), WF or ST-S Fast II & IV.

We strictly conform to the Patagonian Continental Fishing Regulations, and clients are responsible for obtaining the appropriate fishing license.
We do not offer equipment for rent but can provide information about where you may inquire.

Contact details:

• Cellular Phone: 02941-649195
• E-mail: claudiohuebra@yahoo.com.ar
• Skype: claudiohuebra

Ask me about other rivers, such at the Limay, Zones  I, II & III.

Un abrazo y los espero!

El Vasco

My fellow blogging pal Simon is a really talented artist (Check out: BPF#3). His fly tying skills, and blogging skills are only matched by his enterprising spirit. In addition to having a passion for fly fishing in common, we are also both living abroad and trying to take advantage of every moment! Simon is an English born South African, but lives on Replot Island in Finland. (Hoe gaan dit, Simon?) I guess we’ve both exchanged hemispheres, but I have to give him credit for standing up to the cold. I don’t envy him that, but I do envy his access to Northern Pike on a regular basis.

So when I saw the news about the the Kvarken International Pike Fly-Fishing Tournament, I thought, no way – too far, besides, my blog is about Sport Fishing Americas, not Scandinavia! So why did I then find myself checking my calendar? Hmmm…. I will be working in Africa and Asia around that time. Perhaps I could just pop-in. It’s only 3 days after all, my wife would understand, right? But then I noticed a real problem. Team America is “ilman varusteita!” (I think that’s Finnish for “no team“.) I mean, it wouldn’t be a very good way for them to kick off the first ever tournament of this kind with one overconfident American out-fishing all those old-world fly fishermen alone. At least we should try to keep up appearances right? Of course, if anyone wants to meet me in Kvarken, don’t hesitate to let me know!

6 Countries will battle it out for Piking Glory over 3 intense days.

America | Holland | England | Scottland | Ireland | Sweden | Finland

The tournament will be held on Replot island which is situated in the famous Kvarken World Natural Heritage Site from the 10th – 13th May 2010, & is the 1st international pike fly tournament ever to be held in Finland. The waters around Replot island are very special waters indeed. In fact the entire area and western coastline is aptly named pike paradise by the Ostrobothnian fishing association.

During spring time here, thousands upon thousands of pike can be found spawning in the shallow bays & as the area is found smack bang in the middle of the Baltic sea, water temperatures stay far cooler than closed waters like lakes, and so fishing is prevalent all through the season, from early April – late November when the sea freezes over.

As well as the prolific fishing this area has, It also has an extremely diverse set of fauna & flora. 24 endemic plant families are found on the shores of the Baltic sea, of which 16 are only found in the Kvarken Archipelago. Replot’s fauna is equally impressive with over 126 species to be found here such as Skuas, Black Guillemots, Eider ducks, Razerbills, White tailed eagle,Crane,Ural & Great Grey Owls & the endangered Scaup. Elk,White tailed deer,Bear,raccoon dog,Fox,Otter all live on the island as well.

The area is wild & rugged with over 2000 islands & skerries to fish between and around With Vision fly fishing, Eumer tube & Baltic pike flies as well as several co-operation partners from the island involved, it promises to be a fly-fishing tournament like no other.

I’m really excited about introducing my visitors to some new service providers on my blogroll.

Today’s featured service is “Aonikenk”. Apart from having a great name, this outfit opperates on some of my absolute favorite rivers in Patagonia… Chimehuin, Collón Cura, Aluminé, Caleufu and the Limay.

I think Eduardo (AKA “Bigua”) expresses his service and outfit better than I ever could. Check it out, and then check out the website. The pictures alone will knock you out.

My name is Eduardo Furlong. I am in charge of this dream come true called Aonikenk Fly Fishing. I am an angler, heart and soul, and life has led me to discover San Martín de los Andes, where I filled my life with mountains, rivers and lakes over 25 years ago, 21 of which I have been a professional guide.

I consider myself an illuminated person and I thank life for that. I invite my friends to share my favorite sport: fishing.

Nature gives us little pleasures every day. It gives us light, life, fresh air and unbeatable opportunities we will just find if we get immersed in its environment. One of these is water and its richness.

Let me lead you to enjoy the various ways of sharing a fishing outing, which will conclude in a friendship that will remain in the memories of many outings.

I have devoted a great part of my life to attempting to manage perfection as far as angling is concerned and I would like to share this with you.

My team –made up of professional guides- is highly qualified to turn your fishing outing into an unforgettable experience.

Once we become familiar with the chosen spot, we will start looking for the large trout.
I am sure that the largest one will escape. We, anglers, have an advantage: the fish grows as we travel home and once there, in our account, it will be heavier and larger.

Bigua
Eduardo Furlong

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