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
sampled both," we said.
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