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Tierra Del Fuego

Some years ago some friends of mine and I took a trip to the southern end of South America, across the Straits of Magellan to Tierra Del Fuego. We camped on the Chilean side of the island along the banks of the Rio Grande River. One of the guys with us had spent a couple summers down there exploring and knew about this spot. It was on a private Estanzia (ranch) but Perry had obtained permission for us to camp there. We each had our own little tents and the first challenge was to set them up without having them blow all the way to Cape Horn, (which isn’t that far away). If you don’t like to fish in the wind, this is not the place to go. It blows constantly and sometimes it really gets with the program. We anchored the tents down with anything we could find including spare tires we had along, which by then were all flat. You think some of the roads in Montana are bad, their like super highways compared to these. Their was a little windbreak set up with white birch that the gauchos have used for years while tending their sheep. It had a rough hewn table made out of the same trees and a few stumps for chairs. Actually when we were finally set up and unpacked it was quite comfortable. Perry and I went up on the hill behind camp to collect firewood. The view from their was astonishing. The Rio Grande River meandering through the pampas while far to the west the towering peaks of the Darwin Range. For me this was every bit worth the cost of admission. When we crossed the Straits of Magellan I was already completely satisfied, catch fish or not. As a kid I always loved geography and would dream about going to places like this and now I was there.

Terry from L.A. did nothing but rig up his fly rod and went in search of the sea run brown trout, which was the main reason why we were here. Somehow I had forgotten about that. I was in no big hurry as I was just soaking up the scenery and events to this point.

We spent about five days at this camp and the fishing wasn’t that good. The food supply was starting to dwindle and we were thinking of keeping one of those sea run browns for dinner. A gaucho came by on his horse, which looked like the black stallion, what a magnificent animal. Perry knew a little Spanish and approached him and asked if we could buy a lamb. He said he would have to go back to the Estanzia and ask El Capitan. That afternoon I was down along the river fishing and Berry was in his tent taking a nap. (there were four of us on this trip, Al, Terry, Barry and Perry which confused the hell out of the locals). A sound outside of his tent woke Barry from his nap and as he looked out there was this gaucho hanging a freshly butchered lamb on our pole. All he said was ” usted americanos? bueno” and rode off. I had no idea this was happening until I started to smell this delicious aroma coming from our camp. Barry had found enough parts to make a spit and was roasting leg of lamb over an open fire. I immediately beat feet for camp and to this day I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a finer meal.

In my next couple entry’s I will go into other details of this once in a lifetime trip including, getting busted at the border for papas (potatoes), finding a little stream with big brown’s in the middle of nowhere and catching huge sea-runs on the Rio Gallegos.


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