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The Captain ushered us to the lake and stowed us in a launch under the guidance of a small Indian boy who seemed to know what to do with a Johnson twin. Under full throttle, we headed up the lake to the Straits of Tiquina, the narrow channel which connects the big and little lakes. The Indian lad, who answered to the improbable name of Moses, throttled down the outboard and we got our silver spoons into the water. Two hours of trolling along the shore just outside the reeds didn't raise a thing.
We had plenty of time, however, to admire the Andean peaks in the background. Jorge, with pardonable pride, pointed out Illampu, which he assured me was the second highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. Except for the Indian village of Tiquina, lying on either side of the Straits, we saw almost no signs of habitation.
The whisky, laced with ice-cold lake water, was good. The company was excellent. Freddie and Jorge regaled me with tales of Bolivia's history and revolutions. Jorge found the last revolution particularly amusing, since he and Freddie had been in opposing factions. "When the revolution started, Freddie was Director of the Bank of Bolivia," Jorge roared, "and when it was over they made me head of the Bank, and I had to kick Freddie out of a job." Freddie sheepishly grinned that this was the God's truth.
MOSES WASN'T WORRIED
But now as we started back along the east shore in the direction of the Yacht Club, my two hosts began to worry about our lack of success. After bringing this gringo all the way up here they weren't anxious to have him return empty-handed. There were veiled threats about throwing Moses back to the bullrushes if we didn't come up with something pretty soon. Our teen-age guide didn't appear worried by these sallies; after all, there was the agrarian reform, and the government of President Victor Paz Estenssoro was on the side of the Indians.
Prowling through Jorge's tackle box, I came up with an old-fashioned red and white spoon, known as a "daredevil" in Minnesota, where I had found it tempting to northern pike. In Bolivia, however, it was a " Peru," so named because its colors were those of the Peruvian flag. "Daredevil" or " Peru," I hooked it onto my leader. Anything to change the luck. The sun was getting a little low on the horizon, a chill wind was coming up. By this time we had polished off the bottle of Dewar's White Label and had almost run out of revolutions.
Then my trout struck!
RAINBOW ON THE RUN
We had snagged a few odd reeds and rocks earlier when trolling too deep, but this was no rock or reed. I gave the line a yank to set the hook, and grinned beatifically when the silvery brute broke the water at the end of 100 feet of line. Jorge shouted to Moses to cut the Johnson. I began to reel in and suddenly realized I hadn't given Freddie proper instructions to photograph this historic event. Grabbing the Retina with my left hand, I began explaining its intricacies to Freddie while trying to keep a taut line on the rod in my right hand. At this point the trout broke water again, dashed toward the boat, and the line went slack. Screaming to Freddie to figure the camera out as best he could, I tossed it to him and got both hands on the rod again, reeling in madly. A wonderful tug was proof that Mr. Rainbow was still there. I let him run a bit while Freddie managed to get the camera set. Jorge, meanwhile, stood at attention with the landing net. The trout broke water again, this time close enough for us to get a fairly good glimpse of him and to know that he was no record breaker. He was also, by all odds, the biggest rainbow I ever had on a line. After a few more frantic spurts he tired enough for me to bring him alongside the boat where Freddie scooped him in. Naturally, the " Peru" jumped out of his mouth just as the net encircled him.
We discouraged his floppings with a few strokes of a monkey wrench, and Freddie got to work with the camera while Jorge rummaged for his rule and scales. Twenty-six inches and nine pounds was the story, and a smugger, more pleased gringo you never saw.