Patagonian River Side Channels...

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It had been an OK day up until this point. We had a slow morning on the lake before being blown off by 40-50mph winds. On the river we had caught some decent fish but had mostly been struggling with high water levels in the main channel and the larger fish we had been spotting in side channels were either in impossible to cast to locations, solely focused on eating tiny midge emergers (I didn’t come to Patagonia to fish size 24-26 emergers), and/or very spooky. Thus, as we approached the last side channel of the day, I had already written off any hope of finding (let along catching) a larger fish and my mind had started to focus on the cold beers waiting for us back at the truck. 

However, after a couple minutes of slowly walking down the channel I spotted a nice brown (a “marrón” in Argentinian Spanish)  moving slowly upriver among the weeds. I lost sight of it after a few minutes of stalking but figured I knew roughly which clump of weeds it was hiding under. I moved into position, cast my flashy streamer upstream, and brought it straight downstream parallel to the weeds where I thought the fish might be hiding. On about the 3rd cast, just as I was picking up the line to recast, I saw a large pumpkin-orange marrón flash at my fly. By accelerating the fly to pick up and recast I had triggered the fish, but I had also pulled the fly away from it at the same time. I tried a few more casts with fast retrieves but did not get a response. I decided to rest the fish and change flies. 

After 5 minutes I was ready to try again. I made about 10 casts with the new fly with no sign of the fish. Before changing flies again I decided to try the next small bucket about 20 feet upriver on the suspicion that perhaps the fish had moved up again. This “hole” was similar to the first one, a small depression in the river bottom where the water went from 18-24” deep to around 3-4’ deep and was flanked with two large clumps of weeds on either side waving in the current. The perfect spot for a large marrón to hide while it waits to ambush some poor little creature coming down the main channel. 

On about my 5th cast in the new bucket, just as I was losing hope of finding the fish again, I saw a flash of movement and felt my line come tight. I swept my rod tip downstream to set the hook. The fish immediately bolted upriver, ripping line and wrapping me up in about 4 or 5 large clumps of weeds. I kept my rod tip low in the water in hopes of maintaining some type of direct connection with the fish but thought for sure I was going to lose it. I began to work my way upstream, reeling in and untangling my line from the weeds as I went. As I freed my line from the last clump of weeds I realized that, miraculously, the fish was still hooked. I fought the fish for another 45-60 seconds before slipping the fish headfirst into Guille’s waiting net. High fives were exchanged, a quick burst of photos were taken, the fish was released, and we headed back to the truck to find those cold beers.

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