2023 Season Summary at Las Buitreras
Solid Adventures September 22, 2023
And please excuse us for being a bit blunt and excited but it was nothing short of a Banger! This river keeps exceeding our expectations and it was nice to have a season where we managed to land some of the brutes that we constantly hook but more often than not can’t seem to get all the way into the net. In terms of numbers, we keep seeing incredible amounts of fish stacking up in the pools at the Las Buitreras beats and had several weeks with over 100 fish landed. Several of these weeks came late in the season, reinforcing our view that late March and April offer some of the best fishing of the season.
As always, there were plenty of surprises, especially when it came to weather and water conditions. Early January, usually the driest part of the season, offered plenty of water and great conditions, and we didn’t really see a warm, dry spell, until February, which lasted all the way into early March. This led to fishing mostly small flies during the early and mid-season, and from mid-March, we consistently fished bigger flies such as Yellow Yummies, Green Lanterns, and Sunray Shadows.
Early January saw very good water levels, consistently holding over the zero mark. This is something we used to see on a regular basis, but the last couple of years early January has been quite dry with lower water levels. This resulted in some very good fishing for our first two groups, landing way over 100 fish each week, including some incredible specimens. Fishing tactics changed a little bit throughout the month, as we fished slow sink tips (which we rarely use) together with big streamers and tube fly patterns in the first part of the month, but changed back to our more standard setup with floating lines and intermediate tips after week 2 due to a dropping river. This also called for smaller flies during the days for the rest of January. In the evenings with the light dropping, the good old Sunray Shadows and various Leech imitations were deadly.
There are so many individual stories to be told from the start of the season and it’s been difficult to pick just a few for you. One that stands out is about our good friend Pontus from Sweden, who finally, after coming here year after year and being oh so close time after time, was able to tick the 20 lbs + box. Pontus was swinging a black leech in Turning Bank, one of our faster pools, when the water suddenly exploded in front of him. Half a second later his line got tight and it was on. Pontus being a very experienced salmon and seatrout angler, immediately felt that this was a serious fish, and got his act together real fast. After several runs down to the bottom of the pool and up again, Pontus was able to carefully guide the fish into the deep, slow water at the bottom of the run where it was finally landed. Realizing this could be it, the fish was weighed and then measured several times before confirming that the curse had been broken. A solid 20.7 lbs fish in the books and Pontus could finally claim his spot in the 20 lbs club. When Pontus returned to the lodge later that evening it was clear to everyone that this was something that had weighed on him and seeing his smile and look of happiness and relief was amazing. Well done and certainly deserved amigo! Now, with that box ticked and weight off your shoulders we are sure there are plenty more monsters in your future.
Another early season highlight was when Christer managed to lure a beast out of C-pool during some of the toughest conditions we saw all season. By the end of January, after a longer dry spell, the water had dropped substantially. Add no wind, blue skies, and scorching sun, and most of us realize these are quite tough conditions. Christer however would not be deterred and with his years of experience knew all too well that this river can serve up a treasure when you least expect it. As he was walking up the bank, making sure to stay away from the water’s edge, he saw a fish rolling down towards the corner where the river gets narrow, really close to shore. Christer, being as careful as he possibly could, slowly moved closer to the spot, and without stepping into the water and with only half the shooting head hanging outside the rod tip, made a short cast a few meters above where he saw the fish. All of us witnessing this were counting down to when the fly would hit the spot: Three, Two, One, BAM! From nowhere, a big wave formed followed by an explosion, right in front of Christer and no more than a few feet from the shallow bank. Anyone who’s ever fished with Christer knows all too well what follows: ‘FISH ON”, and a deep, loud laugh straight from the soul and a smile covering his whole face. No one enjoys catching fish more than Christer! No one. Especially during tough conditions like these. After an intense Christer was able to land an almost perfect specimen. And just like Pontus fish, this one came in at exactly 20.7 lbs.
As mentioned before, we could tell an endless number of stories from the season, like when Steinar and Thor landed two beautiful fish in a new spot below Barranca Blanca, Lech’s session with 4 fish landed, including one 18 lbs and one 16 lbs fish, Alex B’s incredible week landing 20 sea trout, Annacarin’s monster that took the fly just in front of her feet and took straight to the air so close she could almost touch it, leaving her and guide Carlos speechless and in disbelief, or the heartbreak of our youngest client of the season Jack, who lost two absolute brutes in Zone Zero. Both fish were close to emptying his reel on several occasions and were both well over the magic 20-pound mark. What do you even say to someone after losing two fish in a row that could’ve been the fish of a lifetime? For those of you who want more stories and details from the early season, you can read our week reports here.
We entered February with the same low water conditions but experienced a quick drop in temperature. From fishing in t-shirts and a thin layer under the waders, we were suddenly dressing up in multiple layers with puff hoodies, windbreakers, and beanies. Although fishing got a bit tough with the sudden change, this change was very much welcomed considering the rest of the season. And when we say tough, we were still landing plenty of fish every day and the weekly catch rates were good throughout the season. As the water remained low we kept fishing smaller nymph patterns in size 8-12 during the day, only to switch to a Leech pattern or Sunray as the light started to fade. One noticeable change this season was that we were using thicker tippets even in low and clear water conditions, rarely fishing less than 20 lbs tippet or 0,33 mm. It can be very tempting to go thinner but we’ve seen so many fish lost over the years that it doesn’t really make sense to fish thin leaders only to lose your dream fish on a broken tippet. We’ve been fishing 20 lb tippets ourselves the last couple of seasons and we haven’t seen any difference in hook-up rates so this year we started pushing it more aggressively for all guests as well. Whether or not this was the reason that we saw more big fish landed this season can be debated but the fact is that we had more big fish landed this season than the previous ones.
At the beginning of March, we had the first real flood of the season, and this one was the biggest we’ve seen in several years. The river we know more or less disappeared and the pools we normally fish were gone. With so much water pushing down we had to do something we rarely do, bring out the secret stash of Skagit lines and heavy T-tips. Those of you who’ve visited us down here probably know that this is something we never do, but, in these very rare circumstances, it made sense. Although the fishing got very tricky for a few days, this push of water was desperately needed after a long drought. And even though this was a huge flood it only took 3 days for the river to clear up. As is usually the case with this river, the first couple of days after a big flood can be insanely good, and this time was no different. From this point on the water level remained at a good level through the rest of the season and we replaced the smaller nymphs that we’d been fishing for the first part of the season with bigger flies such as Yuk Bugs, Streamers in different colors, Intruders, Leeches, and Sunray Shadows.
Neil and John from the UK have been visiting us for years, and probably love this place as much as we do. These two are as fishy as they come and always seem to find both numbers and size in this river. They are the type of anglers who will fish in a t-shirt and cap when the rest of us are wearing double puff jackets, beanies, and gloves. On day 5 of their February week, Neil was working his magic in Lawson pool when he had a hard grab in the fast water in the upper section of the pool. A quick hookset at the unexpected grab and it was all madness from there. The fish went ballistic and started peeling backing off of Neil’s reel in a hurry. It took Neil a couple of seconds to act, but when he realized he was about to get spooled, he took off like a professional sprinter. One minute later and Neil was now fighting the fish from the bank of La Recta, a good 100 meters down from where the fish grabbed the fly. It turned out Neil had hooked a massive male with a solid kype and plenty of attitude. These fish are known to be vicious fighters and Neil had to stay on his toes the whole time. He eventually managed to get it close enough to the bank to be netted. You could see the weight coming off his shoulders when the fish was in the net and a big smile took over when Neil was looking down at a perfect specimen weighing in at 21.2 lbs. An amazing fish and a new personal best for Neil. It’s incredible to see how much these experiences mean to us fly-fishing enthusiasts and how truly precious it is.
We’ve all experienced a fishing trip where there is that one guy who just can’t do anything wrong. It doesn’t matter what pool he is fishing or what fly he is using, fish just seem to find it. Well in February one of our German guests, Dirk, was that guy. It didn’t matter what pool, what conditions, or what fly he was using. He would just walk out and a couple of minutes later you’d hear “Fish On” ” On trips like these, you better have a cool-tempered partner. One instance that stood out during the week was when Dirk and Sven were fishing Old Bridge pool and Dirk landed two fish in 10 casts, both in the exact same spot. After Dirk landed the first fish, he decided to take a break and let Sven try that spot. Sven, a true master caster, tried the same fly, the same swing, fishing it seemingly perfectly, but no action. After a couple of casts, Sven decided to give it up and called Dirk to try again since it had been this type of week. Dirk walked out, the same fly as Sven, made one cast, waited for the fly to sink and swing around, strip strip “Fish On’! It’s just crazy how these things work sometimes. Luckily Sven and Dirk have been fishing together for quite some time and this time it was Dirk who was the lucky one, last year it was Sven. It was however great to see how happy the whole group was for Dirk.
From mid-March onwards we were blessed with more or less perfect water conditions, with a water level of 15-20 cm above normal. This lasted all the way through mid-April when we finished the season. With that said it’s probably not a big surprise that these weeks also offered some amazing fishing. Late season is usually really good and we see a good mix of fresh fish coming up, and colored fish that has been in the river for a while. With good water levels, the trout just keep coming up from the ocean, stacking up in pool after pool.
When we now come to the story of the biggest fish of the season, landed in week 13 by Tomas ögren from Sweden, we were seeing a river in perfect condition and schools with really big specimens were entering the pools on a daily basis. Tomas is a very experienced trout and salmon angler and has seen plenty of big fish through the years. Coming back from the morning session and getting out of the car, Tomas’s eyes were wide open and his hands were shaking. When Rick approached him to ask how the morning had been, all he could get out was “25 pounder”, his voice trembling. “What” Rick asked, as he couldn’t really hear what Tomas said. “25 pounder, I landed a 25 pounder”. Rick just stared at him, trying to understand if he was joking or what was going on. “Are you serious”, asked Rick. “Yes, dead serious, I have it on video. 25.3 lbs. Tomas then held up his hand, “Look, I can’t stop shaking”, while laughing out loud. For those of you who want the full story of the fight, please see week report 13 on our website, but we will do a short recap here. Tomas was fishing Molino Run while his partner Petra was fishing Seniors’ Pool further down the river with the guide. Swinging a black Leech pattern across the rather narrow pool, his line went tight and Tomas saw the back of a huge fish breaking the surface before going back to the bottom. For several seconds that felt like minutes, the fish did not move at all. At some point Tomas realized that this fish was not going to move, perhaps not even aware that it was hooked, so Tomas decided to start pumping the rod up and down while slightly changing the angle. Suddenly the fish woke up and went for a quick run downstream, enough for Tomas to know that this was a serious fish and he’d need help to land it. Screaming “Chaaaarlyy” from the top of his lungs to get the attention of his guide that was in the pool below. Tomas hadn’t finished shouting before Charly was literally flying out of the water, reminding us of a Swan taking off, and heading up the bank to Tomas. After an intense fight where you could literally taste the tension in the air, Tomas managed to get the fish close to the shallow gravel bank. Charly did not hesitate and sent the net deep down in the gravel before scooping up the fish. Wild cheering from both Tomas and Charly followed while staring at the fish in disbelief. The fish measured precisely 100 cm in length and 57 cm in girth, weighing in at 25.3 lbs on the scale. Tomas was fishing a 7-weight, 12-foot prototype rod and a floating line. Hats off to you Tomas, this one will be hard to beat.
As a side note, Petra and Tomas landed over 30 fish together for the week, with several fish over 15 lbs. The following week, week 14 which was the first week of April, our good friend Kent landed a stunning 24.7 lbs fish at Bridge Pool on a prototype 7-weight single-hand rod. Another stand-out moment from early April was when Christina from Austria landed a beautiful 13-pound resident brown trout in Tiura. Christina and her partner Klaus, both here for the first time were on fire the whole week and landed plenty of fish.
Summary and Some Stats
To sum it all up this was a great season with plenty of new PB’s for our guests visiting from all over the world. Fishing here seems to get better and better by the year but the weekly catch rate is obviously depending on the water level and condition for the week. We had some tricky fishing from the end of January to mid-February due to low water levels and warm weather but we were still landing decent numbers of fish. The later part of the season was incredible with great numbers of fish as well as plenty of big fish. This was probably due to more or less perfect water levels which allowed fish to come up the system consistently.
The week with the highest average weight of fish landed, note, landed, was Week 8 with an average weight of 9.7 lbs.
The week with the most number of fish landed was week 11, with over 150 fish landed.
The biggest fish of the season was landed by Tomas ögren in week 13. The fish was hooked and landed in Molino Run and took a black Woolly Bugger.
Pool of the season: Crillos. This pool was almost freakishly reliable throughout the season and more often than not delivered several fish per session.
As always we are so glad to see so many old friends coming back year after year, as well as having the opportunity to meet new friends to show and share the magic of Las Buitreras with. We are so happy and proud to see how much this place means to so many of you and we promise to do our best to keep improving without changing the atmosphere and what makes this place what it is. We have already made some updates for next season and we can’t wait to see you all again very soon.
Las Buitreras Lodge
Enjoy nearly 25-miles of private fishing access on both sides of the Rio Gallegos.