Cast & Blast: Mother & Daughter | Fieldsports Journal, Nov. 2020

CAST – & – BLAST

MOTHER & DAUGHTER

Author MARINA GIBSON

I’m lucky that I share the same passion as my mother. Some would say I have even followed in her footsteps as she has been fly fishing since her early 20s and tickling trout, gudgeon and bullheads since she was a wee nipper. Ever since my mother first picked up a fly rod she has been hooked; no pun intended. Fishing has been her passport to many places, both locally and worldwide, and in the last five years we have been fortunate enough to share some amazing destinations together.

At the beginning of 2020 we packed our bags and escaped the bitter cold by setting off to Argentina for a two-week ‘cast & blast’ adventure, with the help of Nervous Waters and Fly Fishing Nation.

There aren’t many countries in the world that can offer such a variety of species to catch, shoot and stalk in the same season as Argentina, and because of this the country has emerged as the premier reverse season fishing destination to anglers living in the UK and US. From Tierra Del Fuego in the south, a renowned hot- spot for sea-run brown trout, to Cordoba in the north for dove shooting in lusciously green, open-air hides, every corner of the country offers a new challenge and quarry. All you need is the determination to go after some of the most desirable fish and game that live in its rivers, lakes and wilderness.

For the first couple days of our trip we indulged in their renowned national food, wine and culture in the capital, Buenos Aires. On day four we headed to Ushuaia – the southern-most city in the world – and arrived at our first sporting Nervous Waters lodge, Kau Tapen, a remote location far away from everyone and everything.

Generally speaking, the sea trout average 8–12lb at Kau Tapen, but the record is in the 30lb zone and it is not uncommon to hook and, with a little luck, land a 20lb- plus fish during your stay. During our time here one of the fishermen landed a 26lb sea trout on the Menendez, an intricate and very clear tributary of the Rio Grande.

These fish are not native to the area and we can thank John Goodall for having stocked 60,000 Chilean Salmo trutta eggs into the tributaries in 1935. Over time they’ve adapted to the harsh conditions and are now some of the largest and most sort after sea trout in the world.

The lodge itself is located just a stone’s throw from the river and is surrounded by wildlife.

Guanacos – a type of lama – stand four feet tall and roam freely over the shallow basin, while overhead the condors glide high in the sky, their beady eyes scanning the ground below for their next meal, and in the evening, beavers trot along the banks scaring fishermen during their last hour of fishing before nightfall. It’s quite a remarkable place.

With such vast swathes of land it’s not surprising that things can get a bit windy down there, so much so that sudden gusts can make it hard to keep your feet rooted to the ground, but such conditions are every bit as famous as the fish themselves and came as no surprise. However, after a day or two, one learns not to fight against it and instead use it to your advantage. By keeping your casting stroke low, tilting the trajectory of your casting arc backwards with a low back cast and a higher forward cast, the tail wind will take your fly line much further than you ever imagined with such little effort.

On the penultimate day of our trip, just as the sun began to dip below the horizon, I made my final cast on a day where the fish hadn’t shown the slightest bit of interest in my flies.

As I stripped back the line I had an almighty take that jarred my whole body into life, my senses were heightened and I could feel my heart pounding as I squared up to what felt like an absolute beast compared with the ones I had caught on the previous days. I could feel the bend in the rod, the line peeling off the reel and the drag working at a steady pace. After a short but powerful fight Hernan Garcia Garona netted the fish in the shallows and I rushed over to see my catch. It was a solid looking 16lb bar of silver. My legs began to shake as I caught my breath and I felt so much joy in that moment.

After our week at Kau Tapen we ventured north and headed to Cordoba to Pico Zuro, David Denies’ lodge for dove shooting. I must say it was immensely exciting and special, in part due to the beautiful open-air hides as much as the physical and mental challenge. It was important to keep up our concentration in the sweltering heat whilst the doves flew left, right and centre. As well as boasting excellent shooting facilities – through The Maria de la Esperanza Mission – the lodge supports the local community by providing food (in the form of doves), fuel, building supplies and school materials to children’s community centres.

After our week at Kau Tapen we ventured north and headed to Cordoba to Pico Zuro, David Denies’ lodge for dove shooting. I must say it was immensely exciting and special, in part due to the beautiful open-air hides as much as the physical and mental challenge. It was important to keep up our concentration in the sweltering heat whilst the doves flew left, right and centre. As well as boasting excellent shooting facilities – through The Maria de la Esperanza Mission – the lodge supports the local community by providing food (in the form of doves), fuel, building supplies and school materials to children’s community centres.

During our time at Pico Zuro we were spoilt with traditional dishes; the ‘asado’ being their most highly acclaimed.

Our favourite was the lamb, cooked over an open fire pit, accompanied by chimichurri, a vibrant green salsa that is an essential part of a meat feast barbecue. At both the Nervous Waters and David Denies lodges we were truly spoilt with some of the very best food and wine my mother and I had ever experienced on any previous fishing adventure, which all added to the experience.

Argentina is an extremely diverse country, encompassing great variations in weather, topography and wildlife. It was a holiday adventure of a lifetime and I’m just so happy I got to share it with Mum. FS