Time: 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Location: Lago Roca
Fish Landed: 4
Jane was scheduled to join me for a day of fishing on Tuesday, so we didn’t rush to get up early and instead took our time and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast. After breakfast we went to the wader room and bundled up as the weather was supposed to be similar to Monday. I actually wore my warm green jacket over two other layers to start the day. Once I suited up in my waders, we exited the lodge and discovered that Matias was once again our guide, and we were headed to Lago Roca for the day. As it turns out Lago Roca is less than a kilometer from the lodge so despite our leisurely start, we were on the water by 10AM.
Lago Roca is a lake slightly larger than the two Foncks, and was described as having fewer fish but larger fish. That sounded fine to Jane and I. I took the platform in the front of the boat while Jane sat in the back with Matias as he cranked up the outboard motor, and we sped roughly halfway up the lake and cruised in toward the eastern shore. The hill next to shore in this stretch was quite steep, so it probably meant the depth increased rapidly, and there were quite a few fallen logs providing cover in this area.
Once again as predicted it was quite windy but not as cloudy and consequently the air temperature warmed more quickly. I wore my green jacket for the boat ride, but quickly removed it and stuffed it in my dry bag before fishing. Matias instructed me to grab my six weight Scott with a sink tip line, and he attached a large bunny leach to the heavy tippet. I began covering the water by shooting long casts to shore using the technique I’d learned on Monday, and then I retrieved the fly using various speeds and pauses. This went on for quite awhile as Matias kept rowing the boat back out and into the wind to position me to cover a large amount of shoreline. The water looked great with rocks and numerous sunken deadfalls, and I shot casts into all the likely indentations in structure to attempt to draw interest from hiding fish.
Finally after a long period of unproductive casting I felt a heavy bump and set the hook and my six weight began to throb. The rod bounces were not quick abrupt jerks, but instead they were heavy deep thumps. I was optimistic that this might be my best fish of the trip so far, so I focused on fighting the fish. The fish immediately went deep, and I applied upward pressure as I didn’t know what type of debris might lie in the depths of the lake. Finally the fish tired a bit and I was able to gain line, but then it made a couple strong runs away from the boat, and in a final effort to reach freedom, it made another deep dive under the boat. I allowed line to shoot back through the guides and followed the fish with my rod tip. Eventually the resistance and drag had an impact, and I was able to bring the fish close to the surface, and we could all see that it was a big bad brown trout. After a few surface rolls Matias slid his long handled net beneath the bruiser and brought it into the boat for viewing.
Matias’s net had inches (not centimeters) calibrated on the bottom of the net, and we determined that the brown trout was 24″ long, thus representing the largest brown I have landed in my life. This prompted high fives all around, and then Matias lowered the big guy into the lake to revive it before the photography commenced. Matias seemed more excited than Jane and I as he snapped off six photos of one fish, but eventually he lowered the brown into the water and spent quite a bit of time reviving it before it wiggled its fins and swam away.
Needless to say I was re-energized by this catch and resumed casting the streamer with renewed enthusiasm. After we’d covered more of the eastern shoreline, Matias again decided to change things up, so we motored further up the lake to another shoreline near the inlet that was more shallow and contained reeds and tall grass similar to what I’d observed at Lago Fonck. Mati grabbed my fly box and decided to clip off the bunny leach and tie on a muddler minnow style fly with a big deer hair collar and a white wing. I began casting toward the grassy shore and stripping the fly and after a few casts felt a strike and set the hook. This fish fought its battle closer to the surface so I knew it wasn’t another brown, and sure enough I brought a nice 20″ rainbow to the net. The morning fishing was quite slow, but the fish caught were both over 20″, so the experience was matching what we’d been told; fewer fish but larger fish.
It was now approaching lunch time so Matias motored back down along the opposite shoreline from where I’d caught the brown trout, and he pulled the boat up on a nice small peninsula that jutted into the lake. There were some trees and a large fallen log here, and Mati set up the chairs and table right behind the natural windbreak, and we faced the warm sun as we indulged in another delicious lunchtime repast that included wine, bread, small quiches, and a type of chicken loaf.
While we relaxed in our lounge chairs, Matias and I spotted two substantial rises in the reeds along the shoreline beyond the base of the peninsula. While Mati put the food away and packed up the table and chairs, and while Jane soaked up the sun, I wandered around the peninsula and then along the shore for another twenty yards before I waded into the lake until I was even with the grass. I began working casts parallel to the shoreline and just beyond the line of protruding reeds and after covering 10 yards or so, I spotted a swirl on the surface and set the hook. I was connected to a nice fish and battled it for a few minutes until Matias arrived and helped land and release it. We didn’t have the net to measure, but we estimated this fish to also be twenty inches but heavier than the previous catch.
Matias returned to the boat and loaded the remainder of the lunch equipment, and then he and Jane pushed off and drifted over to my position and allowed me to climb in. Since it was now after lunch, I switched positions with Jane and she became the focal point of Mati’s efforts. First we stopped in the middle of the lake where there were no obstructions, and he had Jane strip out line and make casts and false casts. In a fairly short amount of time Jane was pausing on her back cast and getting a bit of rythmn. Next he taught her to grip the line with her left hand and allow line to slide through her fingers on the forward cast and then pinch to stop the line. Jane was struggling, as do many beginning fishermen, with moving her rod tip too far on the back and forward casts, but eventually she shortened the arc and threw out some decent casts. Of course making this more difficult was the constant gusting wind which increased the complexity of all the mechanics of casting.
After the casting lesson we drifted toward a grassy shoreline and Jane attempted to place some casts, but the wind and overpowering the forward cast caused her line to pile up short of the target, so Matias began to cast for her, and then allowed Jane to hold the rod and the line and concentrate on her fly. It was fun to watch Matias manage the boat and in between, shoot extraordinarily long and accurate casts out ahead of the boat and within inches of the shoreline grass. Seeing this type of casting made me realize that I need to practice double hauling in order to raise my game and be a more versatile fisherman.
Unfortunately due to the bright sun and wind, we were never able to coax a fish to rise, although Jane did see one swirl or refuse as she twitched her fly back toward the boat. It was unfortunate that Jane never experienced the thrill of a strong Patagonia fish stripping line off her reel, but I think she gained some sense of the beauty of the environment and the challenge of overcoming the elements to land large fish.
I had promised Jane that we would make it a shorter than normal day, and we had already gone beyond her expected 2PM quitting time, so Mati radioed the lodge to send a truck to pick us up. We motored back toward the launch point, but as the truck had not yet arrived, we found a large submerged weed bed and positioned the boat so I could fish the edges. From a distance the weed bed looked like a long narrow brown ribbon that stretched cross the lake. In the short amount of time over the weeds I hooked a heavy fish that escaped and then hooked and landed a rainbow in the 15 inch range. After releasing the rainbow the Rio Manso truck appeared, and we motored to the gently sloping shore and removed our belongings, took down the rods and returned to the lodge.
Four fish in five hours of fishing is not exactly hot action, but I landed the largest brown trout of my life plus two 20″ rainbows, and we had the entire lake to ourselves. I spent the day with my lovely wife, and I enjoyed watching her make large strides in casting a dry fly under extremely adverse conditions. The scenery was breathtaking, and we enjoyed sunshine most of the day. Best of all I still had four days of fishing ahead of me in the remote wilderness of western Patagonia.