Fishing Reports – Kau Tapen Lodge, Weeks 5-8, 2022

Kau Tapen Lodge 2022 Fishing Reports
Weeks 5-8
By:
Max Kantor – Kau Tapen Guide 2021/22

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Photos are the bottom of page!

Kau Tapen Lodge – Week 5
Jan 29-Feb 5, 2022  

As more fish push into the river on a daily basis, we were excited to receive a group of guests from the USA consisting of some very accomplished world travelers and anglers. Though this week was an introduction to spey casting and sea trout fishing for some, a few great fish were landed during the warm-up session after practically no time at all. Notably, Anne put an 18lber in the net before the first full day of fishing. What a fantastic start to the week!

Although a little bit of rain was present at the very start of the week, it did little to change the low water level, which continued to drop on a daily basis. Still, the fish were there and a bit of persistence and help from the guides led to some fantastic results. On the first morning of fishing, Jeff and Margot had a spectacular session in the upper river where Margot hooked and landed 4 fish, including one of 16lbs. This is quite the feat on the Rio Grande, as to trick this many fish in a few hours is not always an easy task. Jim had a session of his own in the evening, with 4 fish up to 15lbs to his rod with a healthy average size. We saw this trend of good-sized fish continue through the week, with a memorable average weight of close to 11lbs per sea trout!

The next morning on the lower beats, Jim landed another great fish of 17lbs, however, in the evening the river seemed to come alive for all. Tom landed back to back 15 and 17lbers and Leland fought and landed a trophy of 19lbs. With fishing like this, it’s hard to argue that there is no better river for sea trout anywhere else on the planet!

On the morning of day 3, the wind rose to a level that all would consider difficult to fish through. Here in Tierra del Fuego, this is just one of the elements that is necessary to overcome in search of a trophy fish. Guides and guests were undaunted and all went out to the evening session with high hopes, and despite the wind, some fantastic catches came rolling in. Tom landed a pair of 16lbers and a fish of 14lbs, but in the final hours of the session, his partner Anne hooked and landed a fish of 18lbs. The fish of the evening and the week, however, went to Jeff, who found his fish of a lifetime in an amazing 93cm 22lbs fish in the upper river. We have been seeing these trophies with regularity this season and any cast can result in a true giant!

The next day, as water levels continued to drop in the Grande, was dubbed the “day of the Menendez.” Lee and Marles had 4 fish from the lower Menendez in the morning session- a fantastic feat on this smaller river! 3 other fish were landed throughout the Menedez for the other groups trying it as well. The same size fish that run into the Grande are found in Menendez, but it takes a bit of stealth and precision to be successful when targeting them here. The fight is spectacular as well, as there is only one place for the fish to go- up. Tom found a great 18lbs male in the main river to round out the morning session and this fresh, hooked jawed fish was certainly the sea trout of dreams. In the evening, Anne hooked 3 fish in Menendez and Jim notably landed a pair of 16lb fish from the lower Grande. The trophies certainly seemed to roll in this week.

Over the last two days, the water level continued to drop, making a few adjustments necessary for the guides and guests alike. Numerous fish around the 10lb mark were still brought to hand utilizing a variety of low water techniques and a few more 16lbers were landed for Jeff and Paul on the final evening. Paul’s 16.5lb sea trout was a fitting end to his week, as this was his first-time spey casting. It is always great to watch one’s improvement through the week, hopefully leading to a seasoned angler in the making.

Conditions this week were not easy given the wind and low water, but it was a super memorable and productive week for all. As stated above, the average fish landed was close to 11lbs. It’s hard to overlook statistics like this that show the amazing potential here at Kau Tapen. All guides worked hard to achieve this result and the smiling faces each night back in the lodge were indicative of a job well done! As of right now, a bit of rain is in the forecast for the beginning of next week, hopefully giving us a much-needed bump in the water levels.

 

Kau Tapen Lodge – Week 6
Feb 5-12, 2022  

We began the week with a bit of rain as we welcomed guests from the USA, UK, and Canada. While not a downpour, this change in weather mixed with calm conditions was a welcome sight as we headed to the river. In our lower beats, Jim and Larry began the week on a high note and landed 3 solid fish of 10lbs from the Menendez. Catches ramped up in the evening, and a number of fantastic 16lbs fish were landed for Jim, John, and Sam. John’s fish was extra special as we were able to get it unstuck from a snag on the bottom. Although this sometimes ends with a fish story, today the team angler and guide prevailed we were soon releasing the fish John stated, “he traveled thousands of miles for.”

It seems that last week’s exceptional average size of the fish was turning into a trend rather than a fluke and the next morning, Bill proved just that and landed the fish of the week, a 90cmX 53cm bright male of 21lbs. After a harrowing fight with a single hand rod, the fish was in the net and it was smiles all around. Jon took a fish of 16lbs the same session and Jim had one of 18lbs. The action continued to roll in through the evening, as Mark took a great fish of 17.5lbs and Bill lost a great fish that came unbuttoned after a lengthy battle. We never saw the fish, but the power on the end of the rod was enough to leave all parties in shock moments after.

Two days after our initial rain, there was a slight 6cm rise in the water, and the calmness came to an end. Although the wind was not exceptional by Tierra del Fuego standards, it still made for a bit more work in navigating the pools and placing anglers where they could use these conditions to their advantage. Jim and Larry continued to have success in Menendez, landing three fish and hooking a few more. Bill returned from the morning with another 20lber, this time a silver hen fish with exceptional girth. Two 20lbs+ fish in two days is quite the feat! That evening, Nadine put on a show with three fish of 15, 16, and 17lbs. Ali landed his fish of the week of 19lbs as well. We are so excited to see these fish in a healthy condition and to have so many trophies around. While any cast can produce an amazing fish here at Kau Tapen, to see so many giants is truly special.

The next morning the wind continued and there was a special fish to note. Chris, visiting us for the 21st time, landed a great 17lbs fish in the pool of his namesake- “Chris’s pocket.” Many years ago he landed a few nice fish in the same place, so it was great to see the river giving up another from his pool. That evening, Jon found his fish of the week, a 88cm x 49cm 19lber, that was well earned and landed on the single had rod as well after a great fight.

The wind did not let up the next morning as predicted, but that did not stop Jim and Larry from landing 6 fish for the day’s first session. This included a 17.5 and 18.5lber, a great fish for each angler. Two fish of 17lbs were landed for Jon and John during the evening session and the wind finally began to recede, at least for a bit.

While the water did rise slightly this week, by the final day it was back to its previous level. The week ended with clouds and calm conditions, although the wind is expected to arrive again in full force for the first few days of the next week. No matter the condition, the guide team is working hard for all and excited based on the fantastic catches that are coming in on a daily basis. Over 20 fish were landed this week over the 15lb mark, which is an exceptional result for guests and guides alike. It is turning into a season to remember here at Kau Tapen, and we cannot wait to share it with all of you from around the world.

 

Kau Tapen Lodge – Week 7
Feb 12-19, 2022  

The strong Tierra del Fuego winds were on full display this week, as guests from the USA, the UK, and South Africa arrived at gusts upwards of 68kts or 130km/hr. This act of nature was particularly interesting because over half our arriving group was totally new to spey casting and fly fishing for anadromous fish. Some immediately opted to return to the lodge to enjoy the spa, jacuzzi, and amenities of the hotel, while others relished in the challenge of fishing in some of the most intense conditions imaginable. Luckily for all, the wind calmed down enough in the afternoon for all parties to head out and despite the dirty water, there were fish to be had.

Mark, Vaughn, and Frank all landed their first sea trout(s), including a few great fish of 12lbs. However, the fish of the day and the week would go to our friend Hubert, who converted his first bite of the week into a magnificent 22lb fresh hen fish. A great fish in its own right, it was only made more special by the conditions the first day dealt with us.

The following day the water cleared up considerably, as it does not take a long time for the river to return back to normal following a windy or dirty water event. Fish were landed in both the Grande and Menendez and Richard and Dave had a fantastic evening session bringing 5 sea trout to hand. It is a pleasure to catch every one of these fish and even better to watch them swim away!

There was an amazing fish to note for guest David from South Africa. Despite fly fishing “one or two times” prior and never holding a spey rod, the analogy of ancient Roman catapults gave him enough understanding of the physics of the line and rod to hone in his cast. He fought and landed an 18.5 buck with guide Valentine, which is quite a feat for any angler.

Throughout the week we saw the Menendez truly come into shape, as guests were consistently hooking, landing, and telling fish stories of big sea-trout in small water. Richard and Dave each had a heartbreaker, playing the fish for more than 10 minutes without ever seeing them. This small river often produces some of the largest fish of the season, although the close-quarters combat with a trophy fish is no easy task at times. It was great to see guides and guests alike taking advantage of all this special river has to offer, sometimes spending entire sessions with single-hand rods prospecting through the many pools. The upper Menendez was fished with guests for an evening as well, resulting in a 13lb fish landing for David among others hooked.

While the wind on day one was the most severe, conditions certainly did not let up all week apart from a few calmer evenings. That is until the last day, where clouds and calm had all excited to head out to try their luck. The morning and evening sessions were productive with fish hooked all around, notably a 17lb stunning hen for Richard on his single hander and a 15lb fish in Menendez for Dave. Richard’s fish gave a spectacular account of itself with a strong take as the fly had barely touched the water followed by a series of jumps that kept all watching on their toes.

This week had a bit more leisure for all, as stated before, as many guests made full use of all of the lodge’s amenities. There were late nights spent singing at the bar, breaks for meet-ups between groups on the river, and all-around good times had between everyone. Adding in the strong winds, unpredictable weather, and new anglers, it can be said that it was a resounding success. While we tend to focus on the fish, it’s hard to ignore the other great parts of Kau Tapen from the lodge to the food to the amazing landscape we all call home for almost half the year. Dave, an enthusiastic photographer, took time each day to shoot prints with his 1950’s era camera, and David, an avid and professional bird watcher added many new species to his life list. Add on some big sea-trout and you have the experience of a lifetime!

It is truly turning into a season to remember here at Kau Tapen, and we cannot wait to share it with all of you from around the world.

 

Kau Tapan Lodge – Week 8
Feb 19-26, 2022  

We were excited to welcome a great group of enthusiastic anglers from the UK and USA this week. It is no secret that southern Argentina is experiencing drastically low water levels at the moment, but despite the tough conditions, low water tactics brought many memorable fish to hand, including a few true trophies. One factor that was fairly absent this week was wind, at least at its strongest. We did have a few days of inconsistent gusts from the North and East, necessitating spey casting off either shoulder or a strong backhand single-hand cast.

The week started strong, first in the lower beats of the river along with the Menendez, followed by the upper section the next day. Guides used a variety of sink tips and flies for the now wary fish in low water. Stealth in all situations here is of the utmost importance and accurate casting mixed with the right presentation is necessary. This is where the guide team’s skills shine, as everyone’s experiences with anadromous fish and spey casting certainly led to more fish hooked. There were quite a number of one to two sea winter sea trout that kept the rod bent and sharpened one’s skills for when a monster decides to take the fly.

Speaking of monster sea-trout, Rio Grande continued to deliver the caliber of fish that made it famous midway through the week. Around this time of year historically, the larger males that have moved upriver can be more willing to come to the fly and on the third day, they seemed to wake up. Both Peter and Peter came tight and sadly lost their battles with monster fish that morning. One must be both skillful and lucky in fighting a 20 plus pound sea trout, as these creatures are a true force of nature. That evening Roderic was the happy angler, hooking and landing a beautiful 21lb fish. And on the following day, Peter got a second chance and landed the fish of the week and his lifetime, a stunning 24.5lb male with guide Santi. There is truly nowhere else in the world that produces fish of this caliber consistently and in any water condition. This fish was well celebrated by all, especially Peter who stated that he can’t wait to return!

In certain pools, quite a great number of fish were seen jumping and moving around. Yet, when these fish turn on it can almost be automatic. After covering an area like this for most of the morning, Malcolm and Peter returned after resting the pool and immediately doubled up within their first casts. This was a spectacular Rio Grande double of 18 and 12lbs and certainly worth mentioning here.

On the final day, even in the low water, the fish were comfortable and the anglers had the presentation dialed in. Richard had 6 fish for the day, including an 18lber that took him for a ride upriver that was landed after a spectacular fight. All in all, conditions certainly were not easy this week, but guides and guests made the most of it and enjoyed what will be remembered as a special week for all. There are certainly some extraordinary fish being hooked and landed and we all cannot wait to see what’s to come in the time ahead. The days are slowly getting shorter and a serious push of fresh fish was seen moving into our waters in the last few sessions.

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