Thursday, January 30, 2014

Torres del Paine, Chile and Tierra del Fuego 2012

The entrance to Torres del Paine National Park, the locals park rangers told me its too cold for any fish...
How could this be if in Alaska, Salmon and Steelhead run up glacial channels to spawn?

Las Torres del Paine, a 21km hike. Dad and I hiked up on an overcast day and had a window of time that we had set for viewing these mind blowing mountain fingers.  When we arrived, the clouds among us were at head level across the lake and on the mountain, so we could not see anything other than the opaque lake.  Dad and I decided to stay as long as possible in case that the clouds would burn off or blow away.  A few hours beyond our deadline, which meant that we would spend a chunk of the return leg in the dark with flashlights, the clouds began to clear at an incredibly slow rate.  But sure enough, they parted and God gave us that special moment.  I turned to Dad and suggested that it was a great place to spread some of Grandpa's ashes that Dad had brought up with him on the hike.   The hands represent the Orr 4 - Tucker, Julian, Ansel, and Mia.    

Los Cuernos del Paine on the right. 

Rio Serrano.  Imagine that in a couple of hours sunset brought an immaculate peach and purple sky that I was too busy fishing to capture.  When I get a hold of some of Dad's photos, I will add them here. I had done some research on the fishing in this mighty river and all of the information I had led to there being salmon.  We drove along the river for miles until I was in a place where I could wade, as the river mouth led to a lake.  I chose the spot above and when we pulled up we heard what sounded like someone had dropped a tire into a lake nearby.  The salmon bolting upriver were Kings!!  I had briefed my dad on how to fish for these bad boys since I had only brought an 8wt rod and reel set and was quite underprepared, but my Dad was in heaven taking pictures while I began to chase these Kings.  I cast to fish over and over and over until one finally took my fly right about 10 minutes before it was totally black out.  It was insane, because the prepping I was giving my Dad on how to fight and land a fish of this magnitude meant that he would have to chase the fish down river and palm the reel to create enough drag.  Little did I know I was just visualizing.  10 minutes later, gasping for air in chest waders, the king, with his mighty hook jaw, took one last leap about 80 yards down from me and broke off. 

We stayed at the buildings in red where we were the only people in the entire hotel/lodge.  Our waitress was THE most attentive of all time.  
Across the Straights of Magellan with the Darwin Mountains beyond us, the Land of Fire began to sink in.  The brave men before us and how remote of a region in the world we were tapping into.  This is what I live for.  
A land of wind, sheep, and gorgeous skies.  

After 3 full days of wade fishing in intense 30mph winds with gusts up to 50mph, I was blessed with this fat 10-12 lb female Sea Run Brown Trout.  Sea Run Browns are an incredibly rare species and tough to catch as they do not feed while they spawn.  Unlike salmon though, they do not die after spawning, they return to sea to feed, grow and return the following year.  

Our guide, Alejandro (Chilean native), was tough, relentless and fantastic.  He taught us how to cast a spey road, which was making 80-100ft casts possible in the wind.

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