And Another Season Ends in Argentina

Well folks,… the fishing season down here,… has officially ended.   And as is always the case after such an event, the non-fishing season,… has fishily begun.  Yes.  Fishily indeed.  It was a great summer overall, low water notwithstanding.  And from the look of the rain and snowfall surrounding this writer’s current point of view here at the big bay window in Trevelin (I know it’s early, but just in the last 24 hours we’ve had over five inches) things are going to be back to normal levels in no time and we’re likely to have plenty of water for next summer. Rance and Travis had some photographers down in March and so I showed them around the Tres Valles venue, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  These are good friends of mine, and also the owners of Patagonia River Guides, whose programs at Estancia Tres Valles and in Trevelin, as well as up in the San Martin/Junin de los Andes region all appear in the Patagonia Unlimited catalogue.  Austin Trayser, Matt Jones, Rance Rathie, Guillermina Etchebarne, and Khadizhat and I had a great time of it those days, fishing and rowing and hiking and setting up shot after shot after shot.   And in the process I even ended up convincing Marcelo Acevedo (one of Rance’s auxiliars and a neighbor of mine from back in the Rio Pico days) of all people that my fishing Icaros actually work.  He had challenged me to try one, in fact, while Rance was nymphing the juncos bank one day as we waited on the lunch truck.  Bright sun, no wind, and no bite happening whatsoever – these were the conditions, that is until the last note of my Icaro – then Wham!  Rod went up and it was on!    Pretty cool really.  “Ahora te creo” Marcello said, “Ahora te creo”.  Other highlights of these few days were my own thirty inch brown, pictured here and now also on the homepage slideshow of Rance and Travis’ website, a lot of really good lunches, and a lot of just kind of lying around in the tall grass looking up at clouds while Austin and Matt messed with the cameras getting set up for a shot.  After the shoot we had several more very nice groups, including my last of the season which was really made up more of friends than clients – Matt Branton and his father Allen.  Even Negra got to tag along on this week’s worth of wading, boating, and getting hooked in the face, although she mostly just got tangled in the stripping.  Matti apparently has a thing about my face; at one point while I was netting a big rainbow for him on Lago Tres he spat Copenhagen all the way across it, and at another point down on La Panisa he buried the size #2 hook of his Great Pumpkin (a big orange articulated streamer fly) in it on his back cast.  God Love the guy though, he did keep catching hogs, and even rowed the boat sometimes!  Once it was over though it was over, and I had to accept that the hour had come to shift gears.  Luckily, there were apples.  Lots and lots of apples. When Trevelin was first settled by the Welsh in the 1880’s they brought more than a couple of apple trees.  At that time the farms which were being developed here were all producing wheat, not cattle, and once the mills were constructed the flour being produced in our region even began to win world fairs.  Once the population began to come in off the estancias and center up more in town though, the apple trees just kind of got left out on the old homesteads.  And since those same old homesteads are the kinds of places I usually hunt quail in the fall, I run across these trees quite often.  So Khadizhat and Caetano (a most excellent neighbor from across the way) went out gathering them, and have been eating and cooking and drying and juicing them ever since.  Khadizhat makes pies and cakes, I make apple sauce and cider, and we’ve both been dehydrating and juicing the living Dickens out of them to the point that I honestly wonder if one might not overdose on apple with such practices.  Alas though, the things are apparently healthy, in whatever quantity, and with the stores that now exist here it looks like we’ll be eating them still for a good long while.  In truth though we’re actually just now getting back to the processing of the harvest that got stashed beneath the stairs, since it got interrupted for a bit with a trip to the Amazon in Peru.  No new country mind you, just some more of the same ol’ same ol’ with our friends up there in the jungle, but this time also a lot more water than we are used to.  The river herself, which off the banks of our usual camp is already a mile and a half wide and normally a hundred and twenty or so feet deep, had come up thirty-plus feet above even her hundred year high-water mark, which totally flooded us out.  It’s truly hard to explain the scale of this river.  Actually, even for a guy like me who spends more days than not on a river of some sort or another, it is hard to even comprehend the Amazon’s scale, much less explain it.  Just to give it a try though for my North American friends who have never been there, we’re talking about a river that is over ten times the size of the MississippiThe area of the watershed itself encompasses more than 40% of the continent of South America.  I mean, seriously.  This is a RIVER.  And for folks like myself the fact that it is home to over two thousand five hundred known species of fish, a total greater than that of the entire Atlantic Ocean, is also of significant interest. Some ichthyologists even estimate that the actual total, if we get to know it, will likely be over six thousand. But anyway, I could go on for hours here…  Our usual camp, as I said, was flooded, and so we traveled inland to one of the old camps that I have spent a lot of time at over the years, and in fact even harvested plants from the property herself that we had been watching grow for a very long time. Plus we spent time in Iquitos proper, and took some nice photos as usual of the stray dogs and locals, not to mention my old adopted son Charlie, the monkey of Belen, who Sunay and I bought/adopted last year.  It was a great trip overall though, and now we are back in Trevelin and looking out at the snow capped and rapidly whitening Andes and wondering what happens next.  So in other words the question now,….

Leaving Las Pampas

Well, actually leaving Patagonia altogether for a while.  But whattayagonnado?  I got other fish to catch!  It’s been an awesome season though, even if it was a short one for me (Gustavo and the boys are still going strong).  Just looking back through the photos and the stories from these few of months though it almost seems as though I’ve packed an entire season into half the time this year.  Between all the usual Rio Pico Lodge package trips, and a couple of back-country Trout Bum endeavors, a heck of a lot of fish were caught, and a heck of a lot of good times were had.  Onwards and upwards though; I’ll be back down here soon enough!Write me back everybody!

A Snowy Christmas in the Austral Summer

Happy Holidays Everyone!  As I write this I am sitting in the altillo here at home in Patagonia, with the sound of the centrifugal honey extractor humming up from down below where that lovely substance is being spun from its combs for safe packing into jars; while the snow, yes I said snow, falls on the mountains outside my big bay windows to the West.  I am going to miss this place.  A lot.  But as a famous writer once said, “Everything moves and changes, and no two days are ever the same for a fly fisherman.”  And so, I am winding down a shorter than normal season here and getting ready to head north, then farther north, into a year that will see me guiding at one point or another in every single hemisphere on Earth.  Such is the way things move and change these days.  On that note – my house in Trevelin is currently for sale.  Don’t everyone panic all at once; I am certainly not closing up shop here in Patagonia. It’s just that with my upcoming cycle of work between Argentina and the Bahamas, the Peruvian Amazon and Siberian Russia, it just doesn’t make sense at the moment to let the place sit here un-used.  Like I said in my last post, operations will continue as normal while I’m gone, as well as when I am back in between other locations, but in the meantime the house has to be let go.  Anyone interested or who thinks they might know someone who will be interested can click here to see details.  In the meantime, when it sells, all of my stuff will be stored with friends here in the area, and I’ll still have a more than adequate base of operations down at the lodge in Rio Pico until I find something else I want to buy.  It’s been a busy season so far (hence the long time no update) and both the weather and the fishing have been excellent.  Hernan and I did a couple of dot-connecting excursions down to Rio Pico last month where we enjoyed catching on both the Spey rigs and the dry fly throwers, spending a few nights as always beneath the bridge at the Corcovado Boca with Don Arias and the gang.  This is always such a wonderful experience, and one I wish I could share with more people than I do.  The folks that congregate beneath that bridge for the opening and closing of each season are some of the most knowledgeable, and nicest in all of Patagonia.  I don’t think a thousand dinners with them would be sufficient to hear all the stories that might get told, or to learn all of the useful tricks that might be learned.  The time was cut a bit short this year though due to a re-paving project that the province had (in my opinion) rather poorly timed, which caused the Madrugon II to be disassembled and hauled back to Rio Pico after the first week of the season.  But no worries, April will be here soon enough, and Maestros Paulino, Raul, and Pedro will be there to serve, as always.  Hernan and I had other business to attend to anyway at that point, and made our way North and then West to see about the wedding of our good friend Zachariah Tweed with the beautiful (and to be honest) practically perfect in every way, Marcela.  This event was held in Chile, on a lake, and despite the less than cooperative weather every single person in attendance wore a smile.  As a means of post ceremony celebration we then enjoyed two days of thermal pool frolic that even the curmudgeonliest of curmudgeons would not have been able to prevent from putting to good healthy use.  Afterwards Hernan and I headed back East, then South, anxiously awaiting throughout the first part of that drive our arrival at a creek which had attracted both of our attentions as we crossed it on the way to Chile – the Arroyo M. Malal.  This thing just sort of screamed to have hoppers thrown into it, and the throwing of them was exactly our intention as we anxiously parked beneath a clear blue sky that afternoon and rigged our rods.  No sooner had we done so though, when Hernan said “Che, Justin, has viste ese letrero?”  I could hardly believe my eyes.  We had parked right next to a sign which read, in no uncertain terms, “No Fishing”.  Arghhh!!!  I grabbed my regulations and looked up the creek.  Sure enough – closed.  But why???  Only thing we could figure was that it was an important spawning ground for the fish of the nearby river into which it flowed.  So – licensed guides and law abiding citizens that we are, we took down the rods and pulled out the cameras for a walk. Sure enough the thing was chock full of beautiful trout, some of which we even managed to photograph, but a fishing we did not get to go.  Another interesting note from this particular trip across the Andes was that it was Hernan’s first into the “interior” of Chile, and the roads made quite an impression on him.  I mean, they’re paved!  And not full of potholes!   Plus there is the embarrassing question of the cow crossing signage.  You see, in Argentina we have this sign: that of a cow, crossing.  In Chile, on the other hand, they go full-bull:  Whether this is simply an issue of greater impact iconography to make drivers even more cautious than they might otherwise be, or some sort of pseudo-Freudian complex about terminology differences between the two cultures along the lines of “Pico” vs. “Pito”, I don’t know, but Hernan was laughing pretty hard, so we took pictures.  Back in Rio Pico it was client/fishing time again, and we enjoyed some wonderful weeks on the water with folks who had come down to do just that.  I was a bit surprised at how low some of our streams and rivers have fallen already, considering the excellent snow pack the area had this last winter, but the fishing was spectacular, as usual, all the same.  Of special note was a visit by one of my favorite clients, Mr. David Capen, who this year took advantage of both our Rio Pico Lodge package and a portion of the Trout Bum package, following Hernan and I with packs into one of the back-country drainages we love so dearly in order to make camp and fish for trout that have most likely never seen a fly, as well as enjoying the campfire and natural surroundings of a puma-tracked and little accessed area of Patagonia he had not before been familiar with.  As usual, the fishing was great.  And now with the new snowfall I am watching and the rain which is forecast to follow, I am certain the coming weeks will be more than superb as well.  There is definitely better moisture in general though this year, as noted with the year’s crop of Llao llao, an orange tree dwelling mushroom which is sweet to the taste and a delicious treat while we are out on the streams. Taking a quick break before my next group comes in though I just got back from the annual “scenalada”, or marking/castrating of the lambs, out at my good friend Marcelo’s place on Lago Rosario just down the road.  A bittersweet if also delectable affair as always, we got started at dawn and wrestled with the poor creatures all morning through the process of ear marking, castrating, and tail-docking, before eventually slaughtering and roasting one of them for the afternoon asado.  This year was a low-attendance event to be sure, with only myself and the always reliable Toledo from the peninsula puesto doing the pin-downs, and Marcelo doing the cuts.  The resulting feed was awesome though, and I washed all of the blood off my skin by swimming myself out most of the way across the lake that afternoon.  So anyway, here I am folks!  Write me back!  I would love to hear how all of you are experiencing the holidays, and where you are and what you are up to in the world.

Back, for a minute anyway, from some serious messing about in boats

Hey Folks. Whew, really has been a long time this time huh? Well, the thing is, I’ve spent far more nights beneath the moon and stars these last two months than I have with a roof over my head, and that situation not only fails to lend itself to making blog updates, it also tends to become addictive and self-perpetuating, at least for some of us. So – where do I start? Migratory spawning fish, in general, salt-run or not, are really a whole nother ballgame from “normal” salmonids. Just ask Paulino and the boys under the bridge every November and April on the Corc, Potamodromous and Anadromous ain’t all that dog gone different when it comes down to hooking the buggers with a fly. The main variable in that equation is always the same see; the fish have to be there. And this is exactly the problem with migratory spawners, lots of times when you’re there, they aren’t! And vice versa. This is something I have had to come to grips with over the last couple of months through thousands of miles of driving, hundreds of miles of floating, and possibly millions of Spey casts (ok, that last one may be an exaggeration, but then again, who was counting?). The thing is, these fish have their own agenda, and for the most part not only does it have nothing to do with eating, it is also extremely dependent on some sort of exactitude of conditions. The problem for us is, how that exactitude of conditions actually works is more or less a mystery. Long story short – high water, low water, high temperatures, low temperatures, lots of silt, little silt, big tides, little tides, clouds, sun, wind, calm, – we hit em’ all; and apparently we hit em’ all wrong. This is not to say that fish weren’t caught. Fish were caught. Steelhead, sea-run browns, lake-run rainbows, and lake-run browns all felt my finger and thumb around their tail along the way; but it wasn’t exactly what you’d call a slug-fest.

As always with road trips and float trips though it wasn’t just the fishing that sticks out in my mind as I sit here at my desk today and write. As with any long excursion of the sort there was plenty of good, and plenty of not so good, but with folks like Dr. Tweed and the gang alongside who understand the drill, the rhythm, and the silence of a thing like that, it is a pleasure in the end all the same. Along the way there were fossils and petrified trees, Tehuelche artifacts, and windstorms that threatened to sand blast the skin from our very faces. There were days that we floated for miles and miles, and days that we stayed in one camp and beat the runs to death. There was the day we snapped the oarlock, and the day we found the cave inhabited by the Puma. There was even a whole long night that we floated beneath clear skies and a beautiful full moon, rowing amongst reflections of the Milky Way and listening to our iPods as we navigated our way towards the sea. We explored abandoned estancias and saw the vestiges of what that life too was like in the buildings and equipment left behind, even tasting a bit of it in the fruit we picked from their still producing orchards. And, after running from the rising tides in Piedra Buena all the way to the Red Stag infested plains of Piedra del Aguila, I finished the whole damn thing up with wader-clad swim all the way across the Rio Limay Medio at full generation, wearing a backpack full of meat for good measure, then warmed myself back to life next to a raging brush fire built by Paulino luckily just in time for the occasion. And such is the life. Now it’s off to the North, not quite far enough to reach the majority of you all, (at least not just yet) but into the Amazon basin and more rivers, more country that needs to be explored. I have no idea what my connectivity will be over the next two months or whether or not I’ll be able to make any updates but will certainly do so if I can. In the meantime, since there’s a week or so between now and when I leave, all of you please write me an email to let me know how you are!

But now, to keep you entertained in the meantime, (I mean, what do you people do when you’re not reading this blog?) here’s another addition of “Stuff typed into Google that landed people on this website”, from the amazingly confounding data-maze of Google Analytics.

• “Only Interesting Topics” – I’m guessing this person spends a lot of time looking up trivia on the internet. The thing is, there’s just so much out there, and with a few simple keystrokes, there it is at your fingertips. How do you narrow it down? Well, you type “Only Interesting Topics” into Google of course! Duh! Honestly though, I’m glad to have been included. Most likely my blog was in the first ten results that showed up for this search, don’t you think?

• “One Interesting Topic” – Our guy is getting desperate here. The cubicle camouflage has worked its magic all too well, and he’s down to the very nitty gritty of the thing, searching for all he is worth, searching his little heart out, searching till it hurts, looking for the one thing, that one reason to live that will make his life have meaning once again, and discarding all that has come before. Just. Give. Me. One. Interesting. Topic! And still, somehow my blog is in the result list he ends up with. And. He. Clicks. On. It.

• “Brook Trout Skype” – I can see it now; Tweed and I are walking up the Rio Shaman into the Cordillera and the brookies are all logged on in a massive river-wide chat session. “They’re rounding the bend. The ugly one is already wearing those goofy rubber pants. The other one has one of those long bendy things. OK, everybody! No matter how much it looks like a juicy swimming morsel of food, DON’T EAT IT! DON’T EVEN SWAT AT IT!!!” Actually, seriously though, what was this person trying to Google, and how did they end up here?

• “Cattle Round Up Jokes” – Ha! That’s a good joke in and of itself. There can certainly be some jokes that get passed back and forth once the round up is done, but trust me, no one is joking much during the actual process of the work. Speaking from first-hand experience here, cattle round ups are not what they look like in the movies. It’s more like riding a twelve-hour hunter-jumper set up while paying only peripheral attention to the direction of your own animal, since the cattle themselves require the majority of your focus. This one is fairly easy to track, although still, I think the searcher must have been disappointed. There was a round up that I posted about, the one I did with my friend Tizo a couple of years ago up above Estancia Tres Valles, and there was a joke in the same post, but the two things weren’t related. Hope the poor fellow got a laugh out of the whole it anyway though.

• “How Make Homemade Table Saw” – Geeze. I have no idea! We should probably ask Philip or one of the other Voghs.  I’ve scrounged and scrounged through the whole friggin’ history of this site and cannot for the life of me figure out how this one works. Must be Google’s just playing jokes on people, like that news post they did April 1st about the new “Google Nose” smelling app for Smartphone’s. I’m so disconnected from what’s going on in technology up there these days they actually almost got me with that one. Almost.

• “Just Another Day Post Office Music” – Awesome. I can totally see why someone might type that in, especially if they were in the middle of a long hard day of actually working at the post office. There’s got to be tons of good music that comes up from such a search (hehehe) and I’m sure they could easily find what they were looking for. I just hope it wasn’t gangster rap though, or anything else that might have had the potential to incite violence (you know how those postal workers are). Seriously, how many pages of results did this person have to click through before they ended up here?

• “Patagonian Tube Animal Sex” – Oh boy. Here we go again. Tube flies, all kinds of animals, Patagonia, sure, we’ve got you covered. But as far as I can tell the word sex has never appeared in the content of this site until I typed it here just now. Can’t wait to see what that attracts next time I look at the reports…

• “What Constitute the Theory When Writing a Report on Bench Work?” – No clue bro.

• “The Fly Fisherman Justin Witt” – So I’ve been reduced to that. I can remember my life before, sometimes anyway, especially if I’ve had a glass of wine or am half asleep, or watching a beautiful sunset that allows me to have forgotten where I am for just a moment. There was the “Goofy Looking Kid with a Bowl Cut” Justin Witt (I even have pictures of him), the “Student” Justin Witt (grades may have had something to do with the fact that this is all we’re left with now), the “Son”, or “Brother”, Justin Witt (I wish I saw my family more often, but they stubbornly continue to live more than five thousand miles away from here), The “Flipside of Pain” (don’t ask), or even “The World Wandering Sporadically Employed Vagabond Reader, Fly Fisherman, Beer Drinker, and Sometimes Writer of Short Stories, Poems, and Novels” Justin C. Witt (the by-line from one of my earliest published works in a smallish New York Literary Journal, hence the middle initial). But now,.. just this. The Fly Fisherman. Justin Witt. Oh well. I imagine there are worse things one could be reduced to in this world.

• “Legendary Patagonia Fishing Guide” – Honestly I do like this one better. But still, come on….

• “Gaucho Knife Fight” - Now, that’s a good one. It may be that the poor fellow who initiated this search was simply looking for some entertainment. Let’s hope so anyway. Because if there is one thing you don’t want to do ladies and gentlemen, it is get into a knife fight with a gaucho. What is a guacho, you ask? That’s a good question, and while the answer these days might depend somewhat on who you ask, I’ll break it down like this: Historically, gauchos were nomadic cowboys, working here and there across the estancias and vastness of the Patagonian landscape, with nothing but their horse, a few dogs, their tiny satchel, and a penchant to move when they decided a change of venue was in order. There aren’t as many of them now as there used to be, but believe me, they’re still around. When they get into knife fights though, it isn’t something that generally lasts long enough to become a paying enterprise on cable television. One of my friends in Rio Pico, Mario Riasnianski, worked as a radiologist in the tiny hospital there (which is named after his mother) for many decades before becoming a fly fishing guide full time. While he has many wonderful stories about the medical history of that region and its people which I won’t go into here (not even the one in which he catheterized a woman who was giving birth in the back-country with a sterilized peacock quill), when it comes to the gaucho knife fight stories he says the losers only ever came in with one of two wounds. The ones who were alive had been sliced across the back of the knee so as to sever the most important ligaments and tendons of the leg, and render the fellow unable to continue the dispute. And the ones who were dead had been stabbed just to one side or the other of their sternums, with the knife blade angled in between two ribs and straight across the top valves of the heart. You see, that’s the thing about gauchos. They’ve spent their entire lives with that knife in their hands, using it in the killing and taking apart various large mammals that are anatomically very, very similar to human beings, and as a result they can probably picture the mechanical inner workings of your body better than your family doctor can. Seriously guys, gaucho knife fight – only takes a half a second or so, but a very, very bad idea.

• “The Party is Well Under Way Now and We’re Starting” – Of course! Why wouldn’t it be/we be? I mean, what?

• “Christmas Creek Rio Pico” – Ha! Good try. The way this one works is like this: When we find new water around here that makes us happy and to which we would like to return, we give it a name. Much of this new water of course already has a name, something the gauchos call it or the Tehuelches called it before the gauchos where there, but we don’t much concern ourselves with those names. We like our new ones. I mean, what’s in a name, anyway? With or without people giving streams their names, the streams are there, flowing along like always, and they themselves really couldn’t care less what we call them if you ask me. But it cracks me up to see this search, because it means that some poor soul who saw a photo of a fish, in this case likely an enormous brown trout with a tiny spring creek in the background, thought that Google, of all places, might be a good place to find out where it was that we were fishing. Sorry pal; we named it Christmas Creek because we found it Christmas day, and if you want to fish there, you’ll have to ask me personally where it flows.

• “Wild Bunch Legal Leather Chaps” – Is this some sort of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid meets The Village People fetish? More importantly, actually MUCH more importantly, what the hell does it have to do with me?

• “Hilux Fishing Truck” – I didn’t previously realize that the Toyota Hilux was a fishing truck. Most of the photos I have seen of them in the media have shown Taliban drivers and huge bed mounted machine guns being fired by insurgents at my infidel brethren in Afghanistan. But I like this new picture better. The Hilux is definitely the four wheel drive tool of choice for those of us plying our trade here in the Andes, so why not? Too bad they don’t sell them in the states.

• “Little Piranha Juvenile Delinquency in Peru” – It’s a ongoing problem. Every year the newly spawned toothy little critters in the Amazon get uppity, and think they have every right to barge right in on the most tender parts of whatever hapless mammal falls into the river. Meanwhile, the elder Piranhas, many of whom engaged in such unseemly behavior throughout their own fingerling years, find themselves with only the second rate morsels of innocent flesh, but rip them from the thrashing skeleton of the still alive innocent creature they are devouring all the same. Such is modern piranha culture. Actually, the “Little Piranhas” are apparently a gang engaged in violent acts of crime on the streets of Lima. I tested this search myself, thinking “Google’s nuts”, but we were the 18th result in the list, after a couple of news articles about the gang, the lyrics from an “Old Dirty Bastard” song, and a bunch of other nonsense. So,… Hello? Google? WTF?

• “Quail Beekeeping” – Now see that sounds interesting. I’m into all kinds of goofy intertwinings of activities. I like quail. And bees. So why not? If the person who did this search is reading – could you please get in touch with me and let me know how it is I can combine the two?

• “Capybara Body Parts” – GOOGLE! Buddy! Seriously! I’m going to switch over to Bing if this keeps up! This has gone too far. Please explain yourself.

• “Lioness Eating Testicle” – I gotta go, again, before I laugh myself to death here…

Bending light – fall is rolling in

Hey Folks!  I hope this post finds you all doing well, wherever you are in the world.  Where I am it is autumn, and the light has bent from green and blue to yellow, and is making its way on to orange even as I type.  Fall light is something I have thought a lot about over the years, and while I do love this country better than almost any other place I have seen in the world, I must still admit that the light down here in March and April is not quite the same as it is in the Northern Hemisphere in September and October where I am from.  The Alders in Colorado and the Oaks and Maples and Poplars in Georgia just have our Nires and Lengas (Andean beech trees) beat, and to be honest the whole angle of the sun isn’t quite right either.  But it’s what I’ve got to work with; and I’m milking it for all its worth.  This particular change of seasons is so dear to me though I’ve been known to start adding nutmeg and cinnamon to my coffee even in the spring, just on general principal and out of respect for the word October.  Oh well; I’m hoping to enjoy two autumns this calendar year, so those of you in my neighborhood up North keep your ears peeled for a knock on your doors come fall, and keep the fly rods handy too.In other news, I’m just in from Rio Pico and had a wonderful time with this last group.  It was a family brought down by my good friend Trey Scharp, one of the owners of Grand Teton Fly Fishing up out of good ol’ Jackson Hole, Wyoming (one of the places sporting beautiful yellow alders in September).  Highlights from last week included a 27” buck-brown caught on a dry fly with 4x tippet from some very skinny water, lots of good rowing through beautiful country, and an array of jokes and stories told that will keep me thinking about these folks for many months to come.  This season has been a great one so far, and I’ll be sorry to see it go.  But it’s not over yet.  As I write this post I am taking a short break from some serious trip-prep process, for I am leaving in a couple of weeks to do a month long float trip through one of the longest free-flowing glacial drainages left on Earth – the Rio Santa Cruz.  Born from a large ice field deep within the heart of the Andes, the Santa Cruz flows unhindered and practically un-touched by human influence from its high-altitude origins all the way to the Atlantic, crossing one of the least populated and still pristine regions in all of Patagonia.  And on top of that, this unique river has become the home-environment of one of the most genetically pure strains of Pacific steelhead in existence.  First stocked with McCloud River California steelhead sometime before 1930, the Rio Santa Cruz has proved to be an ideal environment for this anadromous fish, a species suffering from loss of habitat, genetic tampering, and over-harvest almost everywhere else they exist on Earth today.  And Zach (Tweed) Otte, Loren Elliott, Hernan Salvay, and I intend to get to know it – intimately.  We’ll be on the river for somewhere between three weeks and a month, floating it in its entirety from the mouth of Lago Argentino to the Atlantic likely without much possibility of running into a single other soul along the way; but the fishing, well, it should be spectacular.  Stay tuned for an update on that when we get back.