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A PATAGONIAN ODYSSEY
Ernest Schwiebert
August 27, 1962
From the Quilquihue to Tierra del Fuego, the author and two companions sought the fabled trout and salmon of Argentina and found the fish only a bit smaller than the tallest tales
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August 27, 1962

A Patagonian Odyssey

From the Quilquihue to Tierra del Fuego, the author and two companions sought the fabled trout and salmon of Argentina and found the fish only a bit smaller than the tallest tales

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Leaving the village we went inland across the pampas toward the ranch that controlled the Rio Grande. Wind whistled around our trucks while we drove, and, when we climbed out to fish, it shrieked around our bodies. Our rods dipped and wavered in the wind, and sometimes whole casts hovered over the river without falling. Our hosts fished five-inch copper spoons that rifled out into the wind, lost their velocity, stopped in midair, and came back with the wind into the current. We took fine six-pound river browns and rainbows in good numbers, but the bigger sea-run browns escaped us.

Our hosts at the ranch were disappointed. "This is a terrible shame," they said, pointing to our six-pound river fish. "Such three-kilo specimens are nothing when the sea trout are taking."

On our last morning in Tierra del Fuego, the sun flickered weakly through low ragged clouds and the wind seemed less fierce. When we dropped down into the river bottoms, improbable flocks of flamingos rose ahead of our trucks. It was an omen. The sea-run browns were in the river and taking. They slashed at our streamers until the hooks were stripped of their feathers. Our rods doubled over, and we stumbled and ran downriver after hooked fish. Reels rasped and jammed under the strain. Lines were lost when unseen trout ran our reels into the backing, and flies were wrenched from 15-pound leaders on the strike. Some fish were landed, several over eight pounds, and we laid their great sea-armored length in the grass until exhaustion and the cold rain drove us from the river.

That night our host raised his cognac. "You must return again when our sea trout are running." We raised our glasses and drank to that prospect. "We have two legends that will help," added his wife. "The legends of michay and mat�."

"We've sampled both," we said.

Our host shrugged and spread his hands. "Then you will return to Patagonia and our Land of Fire," he said, laughing, "because two legends together make it inevitable."

Two legends—plus those fish.

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