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Over the years, our fishing strategy on the Great Lakes tributaries has evolved. In the beginning, trips were all about satisfying the urge to bring fish to hand and place a check mark on the bucket list. This involved copious amounts of nymphing under an indicator, which is devastatingly effective. On Great Lakes tributaries that have salmon, steelhead and brown trout line up to gorge themselves on eggs that saturate the river bottom for a large chunk of the season. As time past, the monotony of the strategy gave way to focusing much less on numbers and more on the experience of how a fish is caught. Enter swinging flies with two handed rods. Our current mantra is that of swinging or going home, not because we think highly of ourselves, but because we believe that to be the more enjoyable and rewarding experience.
The season began in late August and early September targeting king salmon on the lower reaches of the Salmon River, in New York. Here, fishing success depends on the movement of fish out of the lake and estuary. If fish are on the move, fishing can be very good as you may be the first angler to show them your fly. If fish are not on the move, you are in for a long day, where you may not even have a tug. This season we had a mixed bag of slow days punctuated by a few hours of success. Long hours of casting and swinging interrupted by the big pull of a salmon’s take and then the ferocity of their run up or downstream. The reward is a chance to hold and thank the salmon for the battle before sending them back on their final destination.
The second part of the early season features steelhead and brown trout that are drawn into the river to feast on salmon eggs during the spawn. For those fishing the swing, this can be a frustrating time. Steelhead key in on the gravy train of eggs behind spawning beds and it can be challenging to get them to take a swung fly. If you do get a few steelhead, they’ll most likely be chrome and full of energy. Nicknamed, “silver bullets,” they are extremely acrobatic and are known for throwing hooks with ease. A bonus fish in this time period are the pre-spawn brown trout that also gorge on salmon eggs. In their pre-spawn mode, the females are fat with eggs and the browns are typically all kyped up. As opposed to the acrobatic runs of steelhead, the browns are more lethargic and opt for deep head shakes in an attempt to throw a hook.
Our “go to” rod this Fall was the Loop Cross S1 7120 spey rod. Our intention was to test it out by putting it up against king salmon and steelhead to truly find out what it could handle. Featuring 3M’s Powerlux Composites, the 7120 is extremely light, strong, and accurate. It is well suited for a variety of casting styles and preferences because it has a large grain window that accommodates different situations. For Skagit, we preferred shooting heads in the 450-510 grain window, but it is capable of throwing heavier than that, especially if you want to feel the rod load down into the butt and use heavier tips. For Scandi lines, we really liked the Loop GDC #7 rated at 417 grains, and the new Rio Scandi Short @ 420 grains. The 7120 has a medium curve, medium fast action that features a high recovery speed with no vibrations. It excelled in the unpredictable weather along the Lake Ontario coast and never let us down, even when battling a 30-pound king salmon that pushed the rod to its max. As we continue to fish the S1 into the winter season, the rod has earned a permanent spot in our quiver for the migratory species found along the Great Lakes.
The season 2013/14 has just started in Patagonia and every year we are looking for new places and adventures. I´m a fishing guide so, this is the time where I enjoy myself with friends fishing and scouting places. This year we got a few days to kill the anxiety that we bred the whole winter. Therefore, I will just show you some of the surroundings of Gallegos zone and places where you can fish while you come for sea runs or the mystic rainbows of Jurassic Lake.
Chico Sur River
This place is “a must” for the brook fans. You hunt the fish in slow water pools mostly and in some narrow runs where the main current hits the cut banks, that´s the place you aim to find while you walk and spot fish. This a typical spring creek but wider than usual and quite deep too. For years, this place was opened for everyone and the fishing pressure was extremely high putting the number of trophy fish down due to the lack of control. This fact also made some of the big fish a lot smarter and alert, and fortunately kept some of them safe. Now most of the properties where this river runs don´t open the gates to often, what has probably caused the recovery of this fishery on the last years.
When you think on brooks you think on a pound or maybe two, but this river has given fishes up to 8 or 9 pds. I must tell a short tale about one of the estancias house where the slaughter goes right above the river. It was end of the season in the 50ties´and my uncle was fishing close to that place with a pot and some thread (we call it LATA). After a while, a piece of wood he was staring at, close to the shore started to take life, and swam to get some of the rest of the sheep meat that was coming through the slaughter drain. My uncle used his net and took the monster inside with the bad luck of braking the wood handle and almost losing the fish. He got into the water and came out with a brook that weighed 8 kg, and both eyes white. Sadly, I could never get that picture, but the legend remains still in my family.
This season on a windy afternoon, my friend Claudio and I managed to get some nice brooks using #5 weights loop exact and grey line rods, floating and sinking lines and weighed flies. It was our first fishing afternoon after months so the excitement made us walk for miles, but on the way back we didn´t notice that the wind was blowing way over 40 miles. We barely made it to the car! Even though, these pictures justified our brook addiction by far.
Estancia Río Pelke
The other place, I consider it my home, where I spent summers chasing fish and learning to love my land. Estancia Río Pelke, where I´ll be receiving some anglers right on next week, surprised me with some big browns this time. One of my personal best came out last weekend.
I called my friend Hector to scout a piece of water that could be good on a high water condition. We found that this beat was crowded with some amazing browns. This place is one the best spring creeks you could imagine. In some places, the channel is a meter wide and then it can get 40 meters and force you to cast a #4-weight rod with much more distance. We walked and fished the whole way, pool after pool. That is the fun on this river. The browns are in every piece of water that is more than a meter deep. If you stay down close to any of these pools, you can see them jumping and hunting bugs. Here you can catch browns of 3 to 5pds and brookies over a kilo, dry flies and streamers are the choices with a floating line the whole time.
I hope you like the pictures, and I will keep posting about all the fishing that surrounds the famous ones.
By Juan Manuel