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South America, Part Three

From the city of Rio Gallegos we headed west into Patagonia. It’s amazing how much of that country looks exactly like parts of central and eastern Montana. Paved roads were not to be seen. There was this one section where they had paved half the road and of course everybody drove on that half and only swerved off just before impact. We were heading for a small stream called Rio Gallegos Chico which Perry had discovered a couple years before when he was doing his trout bum thing. Again out in the middle of nowhere after we topped this hill there stood an Argentine policeman. He was fully armed with the all too familiar M16 and a 45 on his hip. There was no vehicle within sight and I have no idea how he got there. Maybe they drop them off in the morning and pick em up in the evening when his shift is over, who knows but he was there and motioning for us to pull over. Perry was driving and as soon as he stopped he said I’ll handle this and reached in his shirt pocket and handed him a can of Copenhagen. The policeman looked at it and at Perry and a big smile came over his face. It turned out it was the same guy Perry ran into a year before and found out he had a craving for Copenhagen chewing tobacco. After hand shakes and introductions all around he wished us a good trip and at the same time was stuffing about half that can between cheek and gum, just like your supposed to do it.

Endless miles later we came upon the Punta Blanca Hotel which Perry had also known about. Apparently years ago this place was a waystop for truckers and again it was in the middle of nowhere. It was an old place but with a lot of character and very clean. Sergio and his wife operated it and were very cordial and the food was excellent. We were the only guests and I think the first in quite some time. Some one had turned Sergio onto fly fishing and he was excited just to talk to us. He had an Orvis catalogue that was about ten years old but he was pretty proud of it and enjoyed going through it with us and commenting about fly patterns, rods, etc.

The next morning he insisted that we go with him in his old Ford Pickup (with it’s shattered windshield as were on most vehicles in the area due to the flying rocks when passing) to a couple of his favorite spots for sea run brown’s. I was all for it because he showed me what was in his freezer. There were Brown Trout in there as long as your leg. For him it wasn’t catch and release, it was catch and cook. His fly selection was pretty much depleted so I offered him my box and he immediately selected a #2 white wooly bugger. Fishing for sea run browns is a lot like fishing for steelhead, a lot of casting and stripping. Sergio hooked and landed the first one which was a huge male and after a couple pictures released it. It was his way of showing us he can be a sportsman also. About a half hour later I hooked and landed a female about the same size in the same hole. Sergio helped me land it, took a couple pictures, removed the hook and smiled as he let it slip back in the river. He agreed it was the male-female pair that were going up river to spawn. We did a couple high-fives and in our limited oral communication skills, congratulated each other on doing the right thing and headed back to the hotel for an evening meal of roast lamb.

The rooms and beds were comfortable but the only problem was that the electricity was produced from a diesel generator and it was right next to my room. I was thinking about going outside and pitching my little tent when a voice came in my head and said, why don’t you just cowboy up and deal with it. A few moments later the purr of the diesel motor put me right to sleep.


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