Kau Tapen Lodge Fishing Reports, 2020
Weeks 1 & 2 2020
Kau Tapen Lodge
Jan 4-11, 2020 Week 1
Opening week! We could not have asked for a better bunch of anglers for this first week of our 2020 fishing season, an amazingly homogenous group, a lot of familiar faces, as well as some new members to the Kau Tapen family: Timo and Iver, our long-time friends together with their buddies Lars and Ian; Mike who has been with us for the past three years brought his good fishing friends Jim and Woody along, who we dearly got to know and hope to be welcoming soon again. And last but not least David, also here for his third time together with his mate Peter, who unfortunately could only get a taste of this place, staying just 2,5 days. All in all, we had five nationalities gathered around our dinner table, but the common language everyone spoke was “fishing”.
Starting into this week, the water conditions were near to perfect. A comfortable water level of +10 cm rendered almost every pool fishable from top to bottom and temperatures stayed stable between 10-13 °C (50-55 °F) along the week. Although the wind would come from all imaginable directions over the course of the week, it blew rather mellow, allowing us to efficiently cover most of our pools. While the water and weather conditions were on our side, it was still a hit-and-miss kind of fishery in some beats that did not follow a clear pattern, yet. With this season being rather late, it seemed that the bigger fresh fish were just starting to enter the freshwater in the estuary in the beginning of the week and although it is fair to say that all pools are already holding fish, the main run of fish has yet to arrive.
Luckily, all of our anglers were keen fisherman and handy with a spey rod. Those, who fished for sea trout for the first time picked it up incredibly quickly which made our job as guides much easier, allowing us to focus on finding fish and cover the water very quickly and efficiently. Already in our short warm-up session on Saturday evening, the first fish were hooked and landed – a promising start into the week. By midweek, we had already racked up numbers much higher than expected considering this year’s delay of the run. And although we were still hoping for the main run of big fish to enter our beats in better numbers, we saw more and more silver bright fish in that 6-12 lbs range and every group member had already landed fish. These midsized fish were in perfect condition and thanks to ideal water temperatures, were fighting incredibly hard, putting angler and equipment to the test.
Finally, we received the big news from Villa Maria that the first big and spanking fresh fish were caught on Tuesday evening and sure enough, after a full day of rain that pushed the water level up a couple of inches, these fish reached our waters on Thursday. And although during these last two days it was still about finding the running fish in the right place, we saw significantly more large fish being hooked and landed: an incredible fresh 18 lbs chromer for Jim, a two 17 lbs rockets for David, an angry kyped-up 16 pounder for Mike, and a mean-fighting 15 lbs freight train for Woody, amongst other great fish.
An incredibly fun week comes to an end, and although the fishing did not seem easy with lots of casting and pool-hopping, searching to find the right pieces of water that were working, we are very happy with this week’s final results. Despite of the fishing, we could not have asked for a more pleasant and joyful week to start into our 2020 season. It was great to see our old friends again, and to make new friends along the week – we surely hope we can welcome everyone (ideally in this same constellation) next year again!
The good water level that we have now, the feeling of more and more consistency in most pools, and the fact that the big full moon will push up the tides in the beginning of next week to hopefully drive in a major run of fresh fish into the river give us great confidence about the coming week(s). Stay tuned for more – as always, you will get our weekly updates about the course of the season here in our River Diaries!
Paulo Hoffmann – Kau Tapen Fishing Guide
Kau Tapen Lodge
Jan 11-18, 2020 Week 2
One great week was in the books and we were all very happy with the start of the season, despite of its rather late nature this year. While we had to say “good-bye” to our first week’s amazing anglers, we were keen on meeting our new guests for this coming week: A fairly small group would await us, which is always refreshing, because you get to spend more time with each guest and it feels like you really get to know each group member along the week.
Brian and Christina, a lovely couple out of Chicago, both who never spey-casted before (and a fishing debut for Christina!). Fred and Chuck, two old friends who have known each other since medical school and stayed life-long fishing friends. Alex and Pat, both keen fishermen and simply overall “good-time havers”. And last but not least Santi from Nervous Waters, who joined us mid-week for a couple of good fishing days. Except for Santi, all members of this week’s group were Kau Tapen first-timers and just as they were keen to experience our pristine sea trout waters, we were much looking forwards to invite them into our world here at Kau Tapen.
The water conditions did not change much from last week: The visibility remained clear and the water level at a stable + 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) above normal. The weather however did not, almost every day we experienced severe changes. If it was sunny in the morning, it could be hail-storming in the afternoon, if it was quite the first few hours, it might blow 75 km/h a couple of hours later. Strong rains on Monday night and Tuesday caused a minor rise in the Rio Grande, but pushed the Río Menéndez up a foot, rendering it dirty and unfishable for almost the entire second half of the week.
The fishing was still patchy. There was no clear pattern of which approaches worked best and pools could switch on and off within just hours. If one would intercept running fish, it was very possible to connect to half a dozen fish in one pool, while others did not produce a single bite. But the first full moon of the season was predicted for Monday, and the big tides that go hand in hand with it would hopefully push a lot of fish into the system. Luckily, the comfortable water level would make it easy for these fresh running fish to hopefully enter our waters relatively quickly. Unsurprisingly, our anticipation to finally intercept these fish in our beats was as great as it could be.
But despite the unpredictability of the fishing, we had a great start into this week. Although everyone was still getting their casting sorted out on Sunday, some good fish were landed during these first couple of sessions already. Brian decided to take all the pressure off his trip by landing three double digit fish on day two, amongst them a stunning 16 and an amazing 21 lbs fish. But also Pat did not mess around for long, after losing a couple of good takes, he was able to bring in an immaculate 16 lbs buck from lower Menendez. While the Río Grande still felt slow and unpredictable, the lower pools of the Río Menéndez were already holding good amounts of fish and in the right conditions, offered some incredible fishing. Unfortunately, it blew out on Wednesday and was unfishable for the remainder of the week.
Tuesday was the day of the lost giants. In the morning session alone, Pat and Alex hooked into five big fish, none of which made it to the net unfortunately. They redeemed themselves the same afternoon, when they intercepted one of those schools of running fish, hooking into nine fish within just 1,5 hours and landing six of them, all of which were in superb conditions and amongst them a silver fresh 13 lbs for Alex.
Brian kept consistently delivering solid double-figure fish in almost every session, just like the stunning 18 lbs that he managed to hook on Thursday just before dusk. It took him just a few practice casts to pick up the basic principles of spey casting and by the first evening, he was already covering the water consistently. But also Christina, without any preliminary fishing (!) experience, learned incredibly quickly and was able to bring a few nice fresh fish to the net, a couple of superb ten-pounders amongst them.
While Chuck and Fred were a bit unlucky during their first couple of fishing days, they finished strong and could both end their trip on a double-digit fish each.
Although the fishing still felt a bit inconsistent, all of our guests landed some great fish and considering the intimate size of this week’s group and the fact that most of our anglers were spey-casting beginners, we are very happy with the effort everyone put in and the final fishing results. While some days were very tough fishing with winds up to 80 km/h and hail-/rainstorms, our team in the lodge tried to go the extra mile to make the time off the water as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Funny stories around the dining table and the bar, supported with good food and drinks, and topped off with some incredible sights of the elusive Condor hopefully added to the experience off the water. By the end of this week, we all felt like having made a bunch of new friends and that exactly is what makes this job as special and fun for us as it is.
Thanks for an outstanding week of great fun, good conversations, and of course great memories out on the water! To hopefully be repeated next season…
Paulo Hoffmann – Kau Tapen Fishing Guide