Tierra del Fuego Fishing

| November 28, 2009

After our two-week Antarctica adventure (trip reports coming soon), I extended my stay in Argentina by four days to go fishing in Tierra del Fuego with John Griber, Tucker Patton, Dan Starr and Scott Flint.  All of these guys were either fishing guides or superb fishermen at the least, which made it fun for me as I was/am a total fishing gumby.

From the little that I know about fishing in Tierra del Fuego (TDL), it is supposed to be one of the great places on earth to go fishing.  Not only are there endless lakes and rivers, but they are all stuffed with big, beautiful fish.  The main attraction, and something I never saw, was the sea-run Brown Trout which were just starting to make their way back into the fresh water after spending some time at sea and getting big, fat and mean.  We were there right as the season opened, and when coupled with what seems like astronomically high permit fees for the rivers (up to $100 per person, per day, per river, plus the general fishing license, plus this, plus that, etc.), our options and pocketbooks were limited.  I commented that fishing made heliskiing look cheap and later found out from Tucker (who guides both) that a week of fishing can be far more expensive than a week of heliskiing.  I had no idea, and ignorance is bliss, but in any case, we did more free lake fishing and not many rivers.

Based on the directions from an Argentinian friend, our first stop was the Rio Turbio.  “Follow a dirt road, cross a bridge and cast where you see a log.  You will catch fish.”  He wasn’t kidding. I was literally tripping over fish at one point and Gribz was able to poke one with his rod tip to see if it would move (no).  We later found out that the river wasn’t open yet, but as we were all catch & release, no fish were permanently harmed.

John Griber showing the fruits of five minutes of labor.

John Griber showing the fruits of five minutes of labor.

From the Turbio, it was a short drive to the Rio Ewan.  Ewan is one of the legendary rivers in Argentina and the fishing starts right where the freeway crosses it.

Free camping at the head of the Rio Ewan.

Free camping at the head of the Rio Ewan.

We didn’t have much luck on the Ewan, but later found out that the real fishing took place at the confluence of the north and south fork of the Ewan, which was about a 13 mile walk across rugged tundra.  This is right near where it flows into the ocean and the big browns seem to like the briny water, at least at this time of year.

Thirteen miles of off-piste hiking over terrain like this leaves you dry as a bone.

Thirteen miles of off-piste hiking over terrain like this leaves you dry as a bone.

After some assorted dinking around, we rallied to do some lake fishing, as much as anything, because it was free and there were lots of fish, although it meant standing groin deep in cold water for hours on end and blind casting.

Dan Starr ties on one along the shore of Lago Bambizo (spelling?).

Dan Starr ties one on along the shore of Lago Bambizo (spelling?).

Prior to the Antarctica trip, the entire ship had been told to pack some lunch and snack type food items as the boot may not have them.  It turned out the boat did have them (and much more), so as the five of us were gearing up afterward to go fishing, people kept donating their gourmet cheese, chocolate, olives, crackers, cookies and meat to us as they couldn’t take it back on the plane.  It seemed overwhelming at first and then it became comical.  We must have had 40-50 pounds of this type of food and we ended up eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The rule was that if you wanted to eat something, you had to open a new package to help get rid of all of our surplus.  We did pretty well and eventually donated the leftovers to some fellow campers.  “Look at what those American’s just gave me – six blocks of cheese!”

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Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

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  1. Very interesting that fishing can in fact be more expensive than heliskiing, but this must have been a great opportunity.

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