Everything at each meal is either from the
farm or the garden, prepared fresh by Evana,
the tall blond girlfriend of on vertically
challenged Juan Carlos.
The lodge has a generator to provide electricity
during the morning and evening hours (the only
electricity in the valley) and we had been told
that the lights would flash later in the night
indicating you have 10 minutes before lights out.
Jim C. and I were out looking at the stars when
the lights went out.
We stood there for a few
moments expecting them to flash on again, we then
realized they were out for good and when I say dark
I mean dark. Pitch black, the stars are all you can
see. I knew I had a flashlight in my bag in the room
but I couldn't find the room, I could barely find the
house. I felt my way in and tried to retrieve the
flashlight but with minimal luck. I came back out
and got Jim's lighter to assist in my search but with
little success. After more than a little time feeling
my way around my luggage I finally located the light
and went back outside to find I was now alone. It
seems the guys went to bed so I figured it was time
for me too. When I got to the bed I found on the
nightstand a battery powered lamp which had I known
about a few minutes ago would have made it a lot easier
to locate than my flashlight.
Sunday morning and Marcelo is the first
person you see as each morning he sticks
his head into your room and asks if you'd
like some coffee and whether you need a fire
started but the first thing you hear each
morning is the classical music that awakens
you. It begins when the electricity comes on
along with all the lights that you left on when
the power went off the night before. It's not a
big problem though since you are getting to bed
late (for me) and the power come on at 0700 which
is about sunup anyway. I've always been an early
riser so first light is like sleeping in for me.
I'm up and in the shower which turned out to be a
mistake due to the fact that though I had thought
I'd figured out the electricity thing, I obviously
had not yet figured out the hot water thing. The
water started warm stayed that way just long enough
for me to get the hair good and lathered then it
went cold, really cold. I quickly analyzed my options
and came to the realization that cold was all I could
do so I bit my lip and attempted to finish my shower.
Just about the time I figured out how to get the soap
from my hair without having the frigid water hit the
rest of me the hot came back on and then I hear
laughter in the kitchen, which in on the other side
of the wall, and I wondered if I've just become the
victim of another of Juan Carlos' pranks.
I make it through the shower and met the others
out on the porch in the crisp morning air with
dew heavy on the ground and fog rising from the
river at the end on the path. The mountains
surrounding us were beautifully framed by the
fog and low clouds in the distance.
Breakfast is ready so we all head in for our
choice of scrambled eggs, omelets or oatmeal.
Freshly squeezed juices consisting of a variety
of apparently whatever fruits are on hand because
it was different every day. Homemade jams, orange
and blackberry, to go on the homemade breads along
with coffee and great conversation.
By the time we're done with breakfast our guide
G.B. and Juan have the truck packed and ready
for another drive over the mountain to a day
of fishing on the "Lagoon."
Juan is a hunting guide from Argentina who
during the hunting off season has been driving
for the lodge. Juan speaks English as well as
any of the natives and I asked where he learned
and he indicated he is self taught from his
The lagoon is located off the valley road not far
from the turnoff to Futaleufu. We pass through a
gate and into a large pasture then down a plain
into a flat area under a large tree. The lagoon
is a section of the river separated by two pieces
of impassable whitewater, one at the canyon just
above and the other a way below the lagoon but
the put-in area is the only way in or out. The
lagoon is maybe 80 acres of swirling water 30
to 40 feet deep. (Harry tells us there's a
Hexagraph and nice reel at the bottom but wouldn't
go into details.) The rapids just above the lagoon
constrict the river so that an enormous volume of
water spills into the west side of the lagoon with
such force that over half of the area is constantly
This highly oxygenated fast moving water make for
some strong fish not to mention some interesting
rowing. The fish cruise the foam lines moving across
the backwater and we sight cast ants and mayflies.
The fish have a very subtle take but once they're
hooked they go straight down and as I mentioned
they are strong and that along with the strength
of the current makes this a real challenge. You're
never disappointed with your fish but at times
surprised the fish is not larger for the amount
of effort it took to get them in.
Jim and I had the boat most of the day with Harry
spending time before lunch fishing the riffles of
the outflow. Jim had quite an argument going with
G.B. concerning trout selectivity. It seems that
Chile has no mosquitoes so the prevailing viewpoint
is that the fish don't know what they are and won't
take them but Jim was able to prove the theory void
but it didn't stop G.B. from argueing about it all week.
We came off the water around 2:00 and G.B built a
fire for our first shore lunch of which consisted
of vegetable quiche, pasta salad with garden tomatoes
and our first experience with Aji', a Chilean hot
sauce that's not all that hot but tasty, a beer
while we waited and of course a glass of wine with
After lunch Jim stayed on shore and Harry and I
fished from the boat for a while. The fishing was
kind of slow but we did manage eight or so for the
Later I swapped with Jim and did the fishing off
the bank thing and hit the back water pond behind
the big tree that apparently holds a large fish
the guides would like to return to the river if
someone could catch it. I was the only one to have
a strike there but I don't think it was the big one.
With the day winding down Juan our driver shows up
to load the fishermen and the gear for the trip back
over the mountain and to the lodge. By the time we
hit the road it's almost dark and within a few hundred
yards we meet a local walking along the road. Juan
offers him a ride and he piles into the back with
the boat and gear. As we rock and roll along, the
local jumps out to get the gates and I think about
where this guy would be had we not shown up. He rode
with us all the way to the lodge then took off on foot
again, we must have saved this guy 2 hours of walking
and as I said it was getting dark, really dark. I can't
imagine how that walk would have been in pitch black
but this is how the locals live. As I said before,
walk, horse or 4 wheel drive and we're in one of
only 3 vehicles in the valley.
We're the last group back to the lodge and we're
immediately met by Marcelo and his tray of Pisco
Sours, and Or'derves. After a day of fishing and
the rough road back, you're ready to relax and
Marcelo and his wares is just the ticket. After
an hour or so of milling around, cigar smoking
and conversation, dinner is served and we all
head into the dining room.
The fare tonight is Lasagna with a white cream
sauce. As we ate Wayne asked each of us about
our most memorable fishing experience, it was
a good subject and all enjoyed hearing the stories.
We retired to admire the consolations and then to
It's Monday and I now that I understand the
shower routine I breeze through the process
without issue and enjoy a fine breakfast of
oatmeal in rich cream and toast from homemade
bread. Harry planned to go to Jim Repines home
in Esquel, Argentine so we decided to fish near
the lodge in the morning so he could leave in
the early afternoon.
Every day we swap the 2 guides so today Nicolas
plans to take us up river from the lodge. The
large size of the river limits how it can be
fished and rowing is a particular art that I
have no desire to learn. Nicolas begins by
rowing Jim and me across the river while
Harry stays on the lodge side and fishes
downstream where a few years ago he caught
the then lodge record 29½ inch native brown.
Jim walks upriver a ways and Nicolas sets me
up fishing streamers downstream. The term
streamer on the Futaleufu River is loosely
given to everything from a woolly bugger type
nymph, a conventional salmon-type streamer to
a water-logged "Jim's Green" which is a local
creation that resembles a large green pile of
grass tied to a hook. It's actually a stimulator
of some kind but is quite effective.
As was the case the day before, and will be
for the week, the fishing is slow, so after
an hour or so Nicolas loads me into the boat
and we row across to retrieve Harry. Then it's
back across the river where Harry and Jim walk
up river to fish along the way. Nicolas drags
and rows me up while I fish some areas. At one
point we find a channel where a fish catches
my streamer. I say it this way because I had
little to do with it at that point; I believe
it was a mercy catch. A nice rainbow with an
unusual black head which concerned Nicolas since
he had never before seen a two-toned trout in
On the float back to the lodge for lunch we
again stopped at the 'aquarium hole' between
Jim's run and the lodge landing and after a
good strike that I missed, I hooked a nice
rainbow that took me deep but was apparently
more than I could handle so I unwillingly
approved a long distance release.
Since Harry was leaving us we only fished a
half day and lunched at the lodge on pork chops
and garden fresh potatoes then decided to head
to a small stream on horseback. Paz, Jim, Warren,
Nicolas and I loaded onto horses organized by
Pete our Waso (wrangler) and headed to a small
creek called the Kuillaeca, which is north of
the lodge about a mile or two, for an afternoon
of puddle jumping. I hadn't been on a horse for
10 or 20 years so it was an interesting effort
just getting on but I made it on thanks to a
bench and then got to thinking how I'd get off
and decided falling would be effective.
The Kuillaeca is a small boulder laden creek
with small pools and steep banks, just the kind
of fishing that is more conducive to my wading
abilities. Large flies and small fish was the
name of the game however, as has been the case
the last couple of days it was slow but I did
manage 2 rainbows and a brown which was about
what the others did.
Back at the lodge before dark we were able to
start the Pisco sours and appetizers earlier
than usual so it was nice to just kick back
and relax for a while before a dinner of turkey,
fresh vegetables and of course, fine wine.
Tuesday morning began with clouds and rain and
an omelet. Jim C. had decided to drive into
Esquel to retrieve Harry and Jim R. so I was
left alone to fish with G.B. in the rain.
I suspect that the difficult fishing the previous
2 days was the result of the front that brought
this weather. G.B. decided on the 'down river'
float and we departed mid-morning and as has been
the case the fishing was slow and that coupled
with the rain made for a less than perfect day.
At one point we beached the boat at the mouth of
the small stream we had fished the day before.
I caught a few with one special event when a
long cast up a long pool beside a stream side
willow resulted in the largest rainbow ever
taken from that stream, a 16 inch lodge record,
a beautiful fish.
We hiked back to the boat and started back
downstream again. A hopper produced a couple
of strikes but that was it. We stopped for
lunch, in the rain, G.B. had trouble getting
a fire started but I was able to get it lit
and we enjoyed sausage and hot coffee.
The rain continued and I was now getting a
little uncomfortable since my waterproof jacket
was apparently not prepared for the water it
was subjected to. It was about 3:30 and we
wanted to head back but the ox cart that is
contracted to haul the gear back to the lodge
was not supposed to be there until five. We
were pleasantly surprised when the ox cart
arrived after we had been at the pullout only
about 20 minutes. They apparently monitor the
river and when they see you pass they head your
The oxen were operated by an 80 year old man
who had two of his 18 children with him. We
understand that the old man had had open lung
surgery just 2 weeks before and his daughter
was on him the whole time to not be straining
himself. We loaded up on 2 of the 3 horses they
brought along and headed up the hill to a wide
pasture and a most beautiful part of the valley.
The ride back takes you through 2 large pastures,
through a couple of gates, then along a path above
the river, then past a few farms and the simple
and quaint frame dwellings of the locals.
At one point we pass the works of the reconstruction
of a swinging bridge that fell into the river a
few years ago. Not having the bridge makes getting
to town more difficult for the people on the east
side of the valley since the only way to now get
a horse across is to swim the river and that is a
very difficult task so work goes on. The work goes
slowly and completion is years away but some progress
has been made in that you can now use a metal cage
attached to one of the steel cables spanning the
river and propel yourself across using a hand crank.
Wet, wet, wet are the three best adjectives to describe
Tuesday, Harry and Jim picked a good day to not be on
the water being that the most redeeming piece of the
day was the horse ride back to the lodge. The pull-out
point and the horse ride back is on the opposite side
of the river from the lodge so when we arrive across
from the lodge we must hope that someone sees us then
rows across in another boat to bring us in from cold.
Warren was out in front of the lodge and sent Pete
(the Waso) across in the boat to retrieve us. As I
may have mentioned earlier here at the lodge the
guest is only expected to do about three things for
themselves, eat, drink and cast and at this point
in the day primary responsibilities consisted of
removing my waders and finding Marcelo for a Pisco
Sour the former always took more effort than the
Jim Repine, who had traveled back from Esquel with
Harry and Jim C. was at the lodge when we arrived
and it was wonderful to finally meet him. Jim has
owned the lodge for about 15 years and this will
be his last. He has Parkinson's disease and is not
nearly active enough to host the lodge in the manner
he feels is necessary. Only two more groups after us
and he will sell the lodge so this week is pretty
emotional for him and Harry who has been down here
eight consecutive years now. Jim refers to him as
his best friend.
The books and magazine articles Jim R. has written
grace the coffee table in the main room and the
photographs he has taken and published over the
years hang throughout the lodge.
Driftwood naturally shaped into trout hang inside
and out, faces and figures in river rock found
over the years watch the events from window sills
and floors. Original artwork by watercolorist C. D.
Clarke of Jim, Sonia, the lodge and the river hang
throughout. For Jim it will be a difficult week,
his memories hanging on every wall in every room.
Before our fine local beef steak dinner Harry gave
Jim R. a beautiful 6 ft one piece bamboo rod and
a Hardy reel that had been sent by the Joan
Wulff (Royal Wulff group) as a replica of one on which
Lee Wulff had taken 25 lb salmon. (The Lee Wulff Classic.)
I then presented him with one of my handmade
maple landing nets so we got him on our good
side early. During dinner we again reminisced
of our years of fishing but this time with
the welcome input of our host.
Jim's stories and experiences make him the envy
of the table. We're just sorry he will be unable
to fish with us, it seems every minute of our
time down here is filled with something hear,
something to see or something to learn.
Until tonight I had a room by myself, Harry was
kind enough to relinquish the lower level room
to me account of the stairs which Jim R. thought
highly agreeable since he's slept with Harry's
snoring before even referring to it in an article
once using an analogy of a trombone.
Wednesday arrived in a spectacular fashion, the
rain the previous day brought a beautiful bright
and clear morning. Every morning it seems to
bring you into a new world. With the wet grass
and river warmer than the air the fog and haze
lifting off the ground and river brings a kind
of mysterious quality to the morning.
Eggs and bacon for breakfast and we all headed
out front to watch Jim R. test his new bamboo
rod that Harry had given him the night before.
It's time again to load up and we're off with
Juan Carlos and Nicolas to Rio Chico, a small
fast running river with large boulders and
tough wading a few valleys over. Juan Carlos
drops us off at an old horse barn and we rig
up then hike up the hill to meet our host for
the day Don Christino. This old man is one of
the most interesting residents we'll meet all
Continued next time....