Rio Chimehuin: The Last Trout of the Day

Of all the beautiful trout I reeled in off my fly rod on Monday, I have to say the last one was the most beautiful.

It was dusk on the Rio Chimehuin, one of the finest fly-fishing rivers in the entire world. There was a dark storm hovering above the Andes to the west, and clouds swirling over the Steppe to the east. A dramatic scene. Bits of sunlight were peaking through the clouds, as the sun made it’s way behind the peaks.

We’d moved on from the previous pool because the sunset’s reflection made it nearly impossible to pick the fly out of the small rapids. Even a bright orange strike indicator got lost. i was waist-deep in my waders trying to get closer to the hole, and just couldn’t make anything out between the ripples.  Plus, I’d already caught (and quickly released, bien sur) a rainbow and a brownie at that pool.

So, with stomachs rumbling for dinner and a soul energized by a day wading in a piece of paradise, we headed back to the pool we’d had some luck in an hour or so earlier, just upstream, and just next to where our truck was parked.

The Chimehuin begins at the massive Lago Huechalaufquen, which sparkles beneath the conical Lanin Volcano. I’d, in fact, traced the Huechulafquen up the previous days, heading deep in to the Andes to relax at a gorgeous thermal spa (which I wrote about previously here and now has a lovely lodge). Anyway, a record 25.5 lb trout was once caught at the mouth of the Chimi, which is renowned for it’s strong, sleek trout.

Other rivers may have bigger fish (Traful, Rio Grande, Cholila) but the trout of the Chimehuin are healthy and beautiful, the river crystaline and full of character. The fish here are fun!

The Chimi is most commonly floated by fishers from around the world, but I had the unique privilege of spending a few glorious days at Tipiliuke Lodge, which is a giant private and historic estancia with 14km of private Chimi shoreline. That meant private wading. Oh yeah, the good stuff.

So back to the sunset fishing. My guide puffed up my fly, I got on my knees and snuck through the bushes so as not to disturb any ‘body’ who might be hanging out beneath the willows. It was a simple target-practice cast.

Casting up wind into a tiny spot beneath willow trees ain’t the easiest, but I was in the groove. I hit the target. Like the previous six trout I’d brought in earlier that same day, this buddy caught quick and fought tough.

He jumped above the water, a flash of orange highlighted against the darkening sky beyond. I let him run. He hurled himself into the air, his strip of pink picked up the sunset’s reflection, a glistening and shining blast of colour that matched the sky.

Little Buddy fought up and down, jumping in and out of the light. When he finally came in close enough, I realized he was only about 12-inches long, although he’d been fighting like an 18-incher. Such are the trout on the Chimehuin.

With a quick snap of the Ketchum Release (a nifty little device that lets you release the tiny hook from the fish’s mouth in one simple, clean motion, meaning next to no pain for the fish and an ultra quick release that doesn’t involve complicated things like nets and handling), my Little Buddy was back into the water.

Lucky guy.

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