World Wide Fishing!

A True Chilean Adventure

By Dan Sedergren

On a recent trip to Regions X and XI in Chile I experienced one of those "adventures" that make for great story telling around the fire with good friends on a winters evening. I was in Puerto Varas on my last day before returning home to the states and had scheduled a float trip on the Rio Petrohue through the Tres Piedras Fly Shop. At 7:30 AM our guide Francisco picked Jack and me up at my hotel for the trip to the river. He and a driver arrived in a new Mitsubishi 4x4 diesel van, pulling a trailer with a McKenzie River style drift boat.

The trip to the put-in took about an hour, and by 9 AM we were on the river, fishing a sink-tip line with black seal buggers. I picked up two McCloud River strain Rainbows in the first few minutes of the float so figured this was going to be another great day of fishing.

Around 1 PM we pulled into a small, side bay off the main channel and immediately saw actively rising fish working along a weed bed finger that extended a couple of hundred yards into the bay. Switching to my dry fly rig I started casting a Chernobyl Ant pattern along the outer edges of the weeds and was rewarded with a nice Rainbow. As this was where we intended to have lunch, Francisco beached the boat and unloaded. While he was busy getting things set up, Jack asked if he could row me around a bit and Francisco said yes. I managed to pickup another nice fish before lunch was ready.

After lunch we worked along the edge of a sand spit, casting over the weeds to cruising fish and then returned to the boat. We continued to work the small bay and I picked up two more very nice fish, one of which went 22 inches and around 3 lbs.

We continued the float and finally reached our takeout point about 7 PM and this is when the "fun" started. Francisco had arranged to have his brother bring the van and the boat trailer. The evening prior it had rained most of the night and as a result, the spot chosen for the takeout had become soft. We were greeted with the sight of the van, with its front end buried and the trailer jack knifed behind it. While my Spanish is not that good, I had no trouble understanding the exchange that went on between Francisco and his brother.

We unhitched the trailer and attempted to drive out with the additional weight of three of us standing on the rear bumper. All we succeeded in doing was digging it in deeper and winding up with the van down in the mud to the undercarriage. At this point Francisco decided to send his brother for help.

In Chile you don't call Triple A; instead you call "Double Ox". Fortunately the well-chastised brother was able to locate a local peasant farmer with an ox team, and they arrived back at the van around 8. The farmer had thought to bring a shovel along; I suspect this wasn't the first time he had been called on to rescue someone.

After much head shaking and walking around, the shovel was used to dig out around the tires and the oxen were hitched to the rear bumper. With encouragement from both the farmer and the rest of us, the ox strained but the van remained stuck.

More shoveling and another attempt with the oxen resulted in the same outcome; still stuck. By now it was about 9, dark with a three-quarter moon providing most of the light. Francisco decided our best course of action would be to carry our gear out to the road and try to hitch a ride back to Los Trancos, about 10 km out of Puerto Varas where his home was located and he could get his Jeep with a winch on it. He would take us back to the hotel and then come back to the river to pull the van out.

We hiked about a third of a mile out to the road which was in the middle of nowhere, and dark as the inside of a cave. Francisco continued to apologize and I continued to reassure him that stuff happens and I was enjoying the adventure. Over the next half hour we were passed by three trucks, one pickup, and one car; none of which even slowed down. I was beginning to think we would be spending the entire night out there when a white van pulled up and stopped. Francisco had a discussion with the driver and his wife and they agreed to give us a lift. When the driver got out and came around to open the sliding door we discovered that the van was full of jug wine, wine boxes, beer, and Pisco (the Chilean equivalent of Tequila). The couple said they owned a small market in a tiny village out of Ensanada and were bringing supplies in.

Boxes were moved, jugs were rearranged and soon we had seats on the cargo for the ride back to Los Trancos. The only problem was that the fumes from the jug wine were like what you encounter in a racking room at a winery, and before long we were starting to feel the effects. We kept opening the side windows to get some air in our faces and to clear our heads.

The trip to Los Trancos took about 40 minutes and when we arrived our savior pulled off the road in front of a small Catholic Church and we unloaded our gear. Before leaving, the driver came around to the side, opened a box and presented me with a 2 liter box of Gato Negro; a red table wine. Francisco asked if we would be alright waiting there while he ran the 10 minutes or so it would take to reach his home. We agreed and off he went. Jack and I were still in our waders and boots so we took the opportunity to change. Jack then produced some crackers left over from lunch. I opened the box of wine and we sat on the church steps toasting the evening with a beautiful moonlight view of Lago Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano.

When Francisco returned with the Jeep, we loaded up and headed into Puerto Varas. The next morning I went by the shop to see if they had gotten the van out. Francisco said that by the time he got back the farmer had drug some boards down to the river, jacked up each wheel and placed boards under them. They were then able to drive the van out. He said he didn't let the farmer leave until the boat was back on the trailer and the van was on solid ground. ~ DS

More South American Fly Fishing:

Peacock Bass in Brazil (Brasil)
Dorados in Argentina
Argentine Patagonia - Introduction
Argentine Patagonia - Part 2
Argentine Patagonia - Part 3
Argentine Patagonia - Part 4
Argentine Patagonia - Part 5
Argentine Patagonia - Part 6
A True Chilean Adventure
Futaleufu, Chile, Part 1
Futaleufu, Chile, Part 2

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