Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘trout’

Chile – A repost

In Adventure, Travel on May 4, 2012 at 6:00 am

Since I’m traveling, I thought it appropriate to drop in a little travel piece I wrote a few years ago. It was published in the travel section of the Baltimore Sun in March, 1999.

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It was January and I was thinking forward to spring and fishing my favorite trout stream. Winter for a fisherman is a time of anxious restlessness. But it was not winter everywhere and it occurred to me that the rivers in the Southern Hemisphere were running strong and fast and the trout were probably rising. Within 30 days I was on water in Southern Chile.

Roughly three hours south of Santiago by air, this western region of Patagonia has become a draw for fishermen the world over. I stayed at Isla Monita, on a trip arranged by Frontiers International. I was joined by five others, two from the states and three from Europe. The trip lasted ten days, however four days were spent in travel. The area was remote, requiring two flights after touching down in Santiago, a two-hour overland ride and a short boat trip to the lodge, where I was welcomed by Anne and Fanz, my hosts. There was no phone, fax or email at the lodge. The food was outstanding and meals were complimented by fine Chilean wine.

Trout live in beautiful undisturbed places and there are not many places more beautiful or remote than southern Chile. Though the fishing was the draw, the mountains and glaciers and night sky punctuated by the Southern Cross alone would have made the trip worthwhile. The wild geography of Chile consists of 4,300 miles of coastline, yet the country is, at its broadest, only 110 miles wide. Over 2000 volcanoes speckle the countryside.

The rivers flowing out of the Andes are fed by run-off and mountain glaciers. They are big deep rivers, rich in nutrients and aquatic life, supporting a trout population famous in fly-fishing circles. The native trout of these rivers grow large and jump high. Twenty-inch fish are the rule, not the exception. One member of our group landed a 31” brown trout. The rivers also are sport to kayakers, many of whom were headed to the region for an international competition the week following my departure. The mountain backdrop draws climbers and trekkers as well.

I don’t think Chile comes to mind as a travel destination for many. My experience was a surprising delight. I did not anticipate a country so diverse and appealing.

N 45° 41′ 12.57 – W 70° 36’35.80

In Nature on August 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm

N 45° 41′ 12.57/W 70° 36’35.80

N 45° 36’35.80/W 70° 21′ 50.09

Above: Coordinates for Eagle Pond and Horseshoe Pond respectively.

I was humbled by the North Woods last month. The Audubon Society and Trout Unlimited put a call out to members interested in volunteering for a study of remote ponds in Northern Maine which might hold native brook trout. It is estimated that 97 percent of all native brookies resident in the lower 48 live in the state of Maine. But no one knows for certain. One way to find out is to fish the ponds and lakes which have never been stocked. Hence the call to anglers comfortable in the backwoods. I raised my hand, packed my gear, loaded my dog into the Escape and headed north to Jackman, a lumber outpost a dozen or so miles shy of the Canadian border.

I did not leave home leave without committing the Google maps of my ponds to memory, not without my compass and a quick brush up of orienteering skills. I used to be pretty good with a map and compass. No more. Of the five ponds I was to survey, I could not deliver myself to a single one. I knew where I wanted to go, but I could not get there, which feels like a metaphor for (my) life. Apt metaphors aside, I found the woods impenetrably thick. The deeper I got into them, the less likely I was heading in the right direction and the more concerned I grew about getting out. Frankly, I bailed. Me and Lucy, tails between our legs, came home humbled.

The difference between pride and humiliation is a matter of a few degrees. Where I was proud of back country skills, I was handed up a meaty dish of humiliation. But that was then. Modern technology has a solution and I embrace it wholeheartedly. I now own a Delorme PN-60 GPS, loaded with the lastest topo map and, most importantly, keyed with the coordinates to my assigned ponds. No matter how deep I crawl into those wonderful 27,000 square miles we call the The Great North Woods, I should find my waters–and my way out! Old school be damned. Maps and compass are so very yesterday. So next week I’m off , as Twain said, to parts unknown, seeking redemption and tight lines.