Did you know there are no bears in South America?
Now while this is verifiably false with a quick internet search (there are bears, but very few and not the way we have them in North America), it is the type of thing that is very easy to ponder as fact while drifting down the middle of a river surrounded by the grandiose beauty of Chilean Patagonia with no cell reception.
So, despite it being untrue, the lack of Grizzly Bears along these pristine rivers teeming with large salmonids proves itself true in the moment with their absence. But that’s the thing about South America and Patagonia in particular – its a refuge for fly-fishing junkies trying to chase summer trout fishing weather – the scenery is very familiar, but the flora and fauna are just different enough that you can feel like you’re in a distinctly foreign land.
We got the opportunity to close out the season at Eleven Angling’s Martin Pescador Lodge in Chile, and despite the weather delivering less than the picture-perfect blue skies against craggy peaks, my long-time friend, Hank Welles, and I found comfort in the warm fires and cold pisco sours while we dried out our rain-soaked gear (and my cameras).
It was a trip that was filled with laughter and new friends, the guides showing us their favorite spots as we tried to overcome the challenges of rough weather to land some large brown trout. No matter the differences of these Patagonian river systems, the familiarity of good company and enthusiasm over the tug of a heavy fish on a stripped streamer made us feel right at home, no matter how many times we were asked, “Is this your first time down here?”