Day 386: Truly wild fishing

Scott and Mary put their fishing skills to the test way down south

Position: S55 11.22, W67 52.97 Isla Navarino, Chile

Scott and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar bound for New Zealand on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete listing of their diary entries, click here .

It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with Scott and Mary Flanders. Here, we rejoin their adventure, as they continue to explore the waters around Ushuaia in Argentina.

Fri 14th SeptemberFriday more than made up for the nasty Thursday weather. Our buddies on Santa Maria Australis (SMA) dinghy-ed over (very full with 6 people) and we were OFF, up the creek. We felt like Lewis and Clark but with more modern equipment. First we putted the CIB up the creek towing our two inflatable canoes/kayaks. After reaching a place to safely leave the CIB, Umberto, the Chilean friend of SMA, pulled one canoe along the shore against the rapids and current and we pulled the second with the 11-year old daughter of SMA. On the opposite side of the stream the SMA crew were muscling their small RIB over the rocks and so forth. Looong pull.

In the interest of brevity let’s just say we passed the first stream into the first lake then half way up the second stream toward the large lake at the head. After pulling the canoes ashore, having abandoned the RIB on a particularly difficult section of rapids, we set off on foot. All the while we are in an almost unexplored mountain valley following this twisting stream that was perhaps 60-100′ across with occasional wide spots and pools.

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Yours truly dropped off early to start fishing while the rest trekked upstream. It didn’t take long before a rainbow trout snapped and was pulled ashore. In the US this would be a fine catch (about 20″) but here in the Deep South it is but a raton (rat). As the stream shallowed YT headed back to the just-set-up camp with the fish. Umberto had set up the forked sticks and a cross-stick for the asado (cookout). In minutes he had circled the fire pit with stones, rounded up firewood and had cut the necessary pieces for holding the meat. Next, he skewered two huge chunks of beef on the cross stick and tied them in place with short pieces of wire them rubbed them with coarse salt. The spit was set downwind from the fire, not over it. I gutted the trout and gave it to Unberto. He took a long stick, shoved the fish head at the tip of the stick then whittled a short stick to spread the belly flaps. The fish was held in place with wire and set well away from the fire skin toward the fire.

While the meat was cooking Mary fixed snacks of apples, oranges, cheese ‘n crackers, chips and so on. The beer was put onto crushed ice from the river and we put cokes in the stream for the children. While the rest of us were snacking, Wolf (boat owner) set off upstream with his monster spinning rod to give it a go. He returned when the meat was cooked with a bigger ‘n mine trout. You trout fishermen will appreciate this. Wolf used a heavy, ocean duty spinning rod with a HUGE snap swivel attached to a monster spinner deal. The whole package had to be over 4″ long. If he were to throw that monster lure in a Colorado trout stream the trout would soon be in Wyoming – it’s like dropping TK in a bath tub with you IN it. The fish still snapped & later he caught another. Amazing. (By this time I had lost my three worms (lures) to snags). You, and I, can’t imagine how good the fishing will be in a couple of months when the ice has drifted downstream (it is 50’ out from the edge in the big lake) and the winter hibernation is over and the fish are feeding heavily before the next winter. The Frenchman who has guided a few diehard fishermen to different lakes in the past said those fishermen told him fishing was better (more bigger fish) than Alaska or Siberia, the two normal hotspots.

Back at the asado, Umberto was cutting off strips of cooked meat and handing them out on sharpened sticks. The trout was laid out on a plastic bag for everyone to sample the pink meat. There were no napkins, plates, tableware or other niceties. We all ate too much and wiped our greasy hands on the grass. We wiped our greasy mouths on our shirtsleeves. Yup. Pretty basic hygiene. Pretty cool.

Did I mention the snow-capped mountains reflecting in the stream? Or the floating ice cake that drifted into my boot scaring me witless? Or the sculptured ice piece balanced on top of the head without hands contest? Unberto fishing with a heavy monofilament line wrapped around a can with a lure similar to Wolf’s? Unberto would whirl this anchor deal with hooks around in a circle then let it go to cross the stream. Because it was so shallow and the lure SO heavy it was a whirl of hands n’ elbows to get it back before it sank n’ snagged on the bottom.

The kids had a great adventure bringing back the kayaks with the current, thru the rapids, etc. What a great day.

Sat 15th SeptemberSaturday was spent dinghy exploring out of the stream into the surrounding islands and the south coast of Isla Navarino. We landed on a rocky beach with a small stream then climbed to the top of a small hill. Forty-five minute nap at the top. More dinghy exploring then back to the boat. Mary is now fixing a huge pot of spaghetti to feed their 6 and ourselves. We’ll have dinner aboard Santa Maria Australis because Egret is too small for everyone to sit. The 6-pack of local suds is tied by its plastic wrap floating behind Egret’s swim platform getting chilled for tonight. (1 ltr bottles cost 20 cents more than the kids cokes, Egret’s kind of deal). Ho hum.

Sun 16th SeptemberGreat night last night aboard SMA. Lots of spaghetti, a little beer, vino and even centolla (southern king crab) pizza.

This morning we were talking on the radio with SMA and found they ruined their RIB dinghy on the trip back thru the rapids. They bruised the fiberglass bottom to the point the bottom needs repair and tore a hole in the fabric. NO more dinghies up the rapids in the future. If they want to fish the large lake they can easily portage the lightweight canoes in the impossible spots. Hip waders would also make it much easier vs tall sea boots. Soooo, we loaned them our little inflatable dinghy and two canoes. Wolf and Umberto joined Mary and I in a hastily organized walking fishing trip up the stream. We threw a few food tings in backpacks, loaded two light spinning rods for ourselves and set off up the creek. After securing the dink to a deep water edge to keep it from big time grounding on the falling tide off we went walking the shoreline & woods where necessary.

An hour or so later we reached a deep pool out of the influence and saltwater of the tide. YT stopped for a cast. First cast, first fish, a nice 22″ or so rainbow. On a bonefish wiggle jig no less. Moons ago I had a pile of white and pink custom jigs tied with extra flashabou (sparkly hair). These are flat 1/4oz jigs that ride with the hook up. From then on it was a race to the pools at the ends of the rapids. Mary caught a bigger one, second largest of the trip, then Wolf caught his grande rainbow on his spinner/anchor lure. Casting along the way within a couple of hours we had caught seven. Pretty cool. Umberto even had some strikes with his line wrapped around a can tossing the lure by hand. By now it was getting late so we stopped for our lunch. Umberto built a fire then put a large flat rock on the fire (our frying pan). YT filleted the fish leaving the skin. We put the fillets on the roca (rock) skin side down and rubbed salt into the meat. Mary sliced oranges in thin slices and put them on top. A plastic box full of mixed nuts, a huge chocolate bar, as much fish as the four of us could eat (we cooked the three smallest), a bottle of water & that was lunch. Ho hum………again! The rod laying next to the fish in the picture is to give you an idea of the size. The picture of MS with her biggest fish also tells the tale (no exaggerated fish stories here).

After returning to Egret for a bit of brew and fish tales we returned Umberto and Wolf to SMA. Ho hum, a crab boat had stopped by earlier and had given SMA at least 15 GALLONS of centolla legs (minus bodys). SMA in turn filled a three-gallon pail of legs to overflowing for us. So now we have to eat LOTS of centolla.

Wolf was so impressed that he is thinking of leading fishing trips based out of Isla Bertrand (their island) later after the fishing season REALLY gets going. Fly fishing using waders would be ideal. A three day plus camping trip would be perfect, then of course throw in a Cape Horn rounding by sail, or a wildlife photography tour, or a Chilean Channels trip, etc. Tough life down here folks. It would be fun to get a gang together (6-8) and fly down here to enjoy the fishing and so on.

Mon 17th SeptemberFOG! YT’s toes took a beating in the sea boots after putting in a footpad making them too small. Dumb attack. So instead of staying a few more days, and having NO wind for the fourth day straight (with wind coming for sure with the falling barometer) we retrieved the shorelines, raised TK and left with the radar doing its job. Our most valuable asset after the radar and depth finder was the Italian guide (better than the Chilean charts) helping us thru the intricate channel between numerous islets before entering Bahia Nassau. It’s now three hours later and the visibility is still less than three hundred yards. Fortunately now the only targets are birds sitting on the calm, oily water. We are now running under autopilot to the waypoint at the extreme southern end of the far southward reaching kelp beds off Punta Gunaco we passed on the way to Isla Bertrand. From there, one more waypoint then the trek up the east coast of Isla Navarino to Puerto Toro, or if we feel like it, a night arrival in Puerto Williams.

So there you have it. A used-to-be-fisherman returned to active duty. Great fun and I’m proud of my sweetie catching the second largest rainbow trout (and bigger than any rainbow I have ever caught AND to join the list of her fish one-upmanship; mahi mahi, bonefish, mutton snapper and yellowfin tuna). Ciao.



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