(Nice brown caught below the "Falls" , low water)
I ended yesterday with fishing the "Pisci" just above the Gate Pool, and what a wonderful experience it was, to have been able to fish the "Traful Wasp", and take so many large trout on the surface with a dry fly. Now, it was only around noon when I finished my Dry Fly fix, and it was time to try for some very large trout. In December on the Traful, large "lake run" fish are passing throughout the river system . The Traful is a good sized river, but it is only a tributary to a much larger river the" Limay", which also is "born" from a huge lake, south of here around 38 miles near the town of Bariloche . So, the Traful river starts from a lake ( Lago Traful) , and it is a relatively short river , around 20 miles long before it enters into the Rio Limay, inwhich started up stream from a lake around 38 miles. Now, where the Traful enters the Limay, is yet another lake formed from a dam just around ten miles down stream, the actual moving Limay river is south or, up stream just a couple of miles , but , all three lake systems are connected. A trout born in Lago Traful , or a tributary coming into the lake, can swim down stream, and swim back upstream through the Rio Limay to enter an enormous lake with rivers flowing into it, they are all connected. The two older lakes are eco systems within themselves, with lake trout, brook trout , brown trout, and rainbow trout. Funny, they tried in the early 1900's to introduce " Whitefish", but they did not survive , because their mouths were so small and could not feed on the local crayfish ( Pancora crabs), that are found in amazing abundance, in Chile and Argentina. Due to the abundance of food , and the enormous size of the lakes, the fish grow to incredible sizes. The brook trout use to be caught up to 15 lbs, giant brown trout and rainbows are caught every year. On the radio going into Bariloche , I remember hearing about somebody who was fly fishing ,had caught a brown trout in the mouth (Boca) of the Limay river, that was well over 20 lbs. Fly fishing is a big sport in this part of the world, it has a long and rich history, much like our American West.
I decided to fish the Gate pool with heavy, good sized nymphs. I know what your thinking, why not dry flys, com'on, whats with the nymphs. But , we are talking about very large trout, the problem was, that the water was moving with a heavy current, most of the bigger fish were in the "slots" where the water was deepest, holding on the bottom, and you could see them from time to time move and take a nymph. In order to allow the trout to see the fly, in this deeper, fast moving water, it made sense. I had developed some "prince" style nymphs that were tied on very heavy curved hooks ( size # 6 and #8),with the largest beads made to help get the nymphs down to the fish. ( This was before Tungsten was available). The problem was , the water is "gin clear", the fish are feeding on stonefly nymphs, but the hook needs to be heavy enough not to bend out, and the tippet must be strong enough to hold the giants. Indicators needed to be small not to spook the trout, but float well enough to be able to get a decent drift.
There were alot of factors going into the preperation of the equipment, and I felt like I had it all together.To give the fish a chance , I was using a Sage 9-#6, a light rod for this type of fishing, but perfect for the fish I was catching earlier.
I started from the shore and cast into the first current line , this run usually holds quite a few fish, and this day was no exception. I hooked and landed four rainbows from 3.5 lbs and the largest was near 5 lbs. In this run the water is a bit slower than out in the middle and on the slot just off the far bank. The depth is varying from 3 ft to 5 ft. Just on the other side it shallows again to around 2.5 ft, where you can wade up and down the pool. The entire pool is 100 -130 yards long , with the top of the run and bottom both being the most shallow.
After releasing all of the four fish , I slowly waded in where I just fished. The water came close to the top of my waders, but I stayed dry and made it to the shallow gravel bar and started casting upstream with the xtra large prince nymphs into water that is very fast and shallow, but most of time holds good sized trout. It was amazing ,the amount of fish holding in the shallows, nearly every cast I was hooking up, most bolted out of shallows throwing the big hooks, and jumping free, again and again, like the fly was still attached. But, I managed to land 3 or 4 that were all nice sized , 3-6 lb trout, one brown and the rest rainbows. I had on a stonefly I'd tied with a saltwater hook , just to make sure it would be strong enough, and I was using 1x maxima, for insurance. I made a cast upstream and a little more towards the middle , but still in the shallows, the line tightened and I really set the hook. At first, I thought it might have been the bottom, it was heavy like I'd hooked a boulder, then the boulder moved, I knew it was not an average fish. The monster was 20 ft upstream of me , and I could not even budge it. I started moving towards it and reeling fast, knowing that it would be making a quick move to get to deeper water , I was ready. The giant copper colored brown came straight up and out of the water 3 feet into the air, bending and shaking , I can remember seeing the red flaring from it's gills, it seemed like the fish was in the air for along time. When it landed , it ripped line off my reel so fast , all I could do was hold on to the 6wt. and wish I'd brought a much heavier rod .In less than a few seconds the monster was 80 yards below me, 3 feet out of the air once again, then, the line went slack. I was numb, all I could do was hold the rod and watch the Goliath jump, and jump , and jump further down stream with my #6 prince nymph hanging from the side of his mouth. For a second I felt sick, then I caught myself, com'on, it's not like your having a bad day! But, I'd take one monster over all the other trout that I'd released earlier that day.
My best estimation of that Brown was it had to be at least 18lbs, it was the largest trout that I have ever hooked. I brought the line in to examine what could had gone wrong. On the trouts first run , it was so powerful and strong , that 1x maxima was no match for the boulders that the lay on the bottom of the river. I knew that I was going to have to step it up a notch to land one of these truly enormous fish. I went to shore to and found some 15lb maxima, and after digging around the 20lb appeared. Ok, now, let them try to break this, 15 lb might be too light!Tommorow I'll finish the Gate Pool...Tune in!
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