Sunday, March 28, 2010

Argentina Revisited

Comfortable seated, tired and stuffed, I leaned back to gaze upon a foreign sky consumed.  In my hand the embers from a dying cigar glowed warmly, a hint of smoke drifting aimlessly in to the abyss of the Argentine night.   Overhead the Southern Cross slowly crept from beneath a cirrus sliver; the Milky Way intensely reaching from horizon to horizon off to its side.  It was the first clear night since arriving in Argentina and the first opportunity to partake in a ritual my first evening the Nuequen Province; a therapeutic conclusion to each eventful day.

Earlier the day began cold and unwelcome; winds ripped the meniscus from the rivers black reflective surface.  Sheets of horizontal rain added to the mix of challenging weather, yet we found more than a few trout willing to take our small offerings.  As the day progressed unrelenting winds tore at our efforts disheveling our casts grossly off target as if discarded bits of paper.
These elements seemed to suit this vast countries character, its lush valleys and raw mountainous landscape.  Such days at home are cherished, knowing all but the fairest of flyfishers will venture out. Here, where 53 kilometers of private water at your personal disposal one doesn’t have to subject themselves to such exigent elements to enjoy relative solitude; a luxury that does not go unappreciated.

Last year the enamored waters of the Rio Malleo left me skeptical of its rich history and legendary reputation. First impressions of this storied fishery were vicariously morphed from the impressionable and imaginative writings of the prolific Ernest Schweibert.   Prior to leaving San Huberto, home of the Rio Malleo, the discovery of a timeless journal lavishly anointed with the musing of past guests expressively depicting their memorable experiences on these storied waters left me with images tempering my departing skepticism.  Its last entry in 1999 was the final year Mr. Schweibert would fish this river with his beautiful flies and leave his gracious impression and artistic renderings in the torn pages of this eloquent find.

From its upper meandering and lush meadows to the Rio Malleo’s lower reaches there is significant contrast to its character.  Shallow riffles yield to elegant pools that flow through one of trout fishing most impressionable valleys.  At its head stands the valleys omnipresent guardian, Lanin, a discernable landmark that lies in dormant vigil at Chile’s rugged border.    Further downriver the lower valleys more confined river corridor finds turbulent waters sheltered by dense thickets of willow; refuge to some of the rivers more notable resident that so far have eluded my gifts of fur and feather.

Towards evening fragmented columns of light magically found their way through the Andes raw granite stonework; picturesque light illuminating the valley walls and yellowing tall grasses evidence of the days belated hour.  After a lengthy walkabout in search of more enticing waters I emerged from a dense copse of willow to find the most alluring of waters.  Evening’s first caddis frantically take to the air; their pupal sucks abandon and lifelessly adrift. Those that lurked in wait briefly exposed themselves not wasting the opportunity to dine on Mother Nature’s bounty.  For now, the trout superior in the food chain, fed uninterrupted, but in an instant as in all of life that can change.
Before departing to reconnect with my companions, I would experience one of those rare yet euphoric epiphanies that leaves one with the realization that anything other than appreciating the moment would detract from scale of what just happened.  It would come to it’s conclusion as the final piscatorial canvas, burnt orange and peppered in spots of the blackest ink,  slipped quietly from the cradle of my outstretched hands again to seek solace within these sheltered waters; its girth impressionable, the struggle filled with emotional swings, ending admirably in awe.
Before stepping from the river I paused to removed my hat, swept my hand across my midsection and bowed in a familiar gesture of gratitude and recognition.  Heading back evenings darkness had begun to blacken the western sky; distant peaks now absent of any illuminating light.  A cascading river and the ubiquitous chatter of parrots lent a sense of place to my surmising thoughts.    Momentarily among tall grasses I took stock of that which surrounded me and pondered the experience of fishing in an unspoiled setting where riparian corridors exist neither uninterrupted nor compromised by the presence of man.  Such is getting harder to find.

Upon leaving the Rio Malleo, I have a new found respect for the river that eluded me upon my first visit.  Looking back it troubles me that such considerations effected my perceptions; there should have been simple consolation in the eloquence of the resource, but as in life that which is obvious is not always easily observed.  I remind myself, the same can be true in fishing.         

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quiet Observation

In the growing twilight a lone trout rose uninterrupted from the placid mercurial waters quietly sipping dying mayflies haplessly adrift.  With each audible rise and residual tranquil dissipating ring of death the urge grew, yet I cast not a fly nor moved to do so.  I simply grasp the moment to relished the simple yet poetic act of life;  an act that only over time I’ve come to appreciate in simple observation content to not disturb that which was playing our before me.