Fly fishing with our associated partners in North Patagonia, Andes Drifters, and his CEO and General manager Gustavo Hiebaum. News from last season…
It turns out there is a cure for winter. The sky is blue. The sun is warm. Red stone cliffs rise above deep green water. Rolling hills covered in sage brush, or what looks like sage brush, roll uninterrupted as far as the eye can see. Twentyinch brown trout rise out every green pocket to eat big bushy dry flies. It’s January and at home pipes are bursting in my basement.
I could swear I was in Montana. It looks so much like Montana. I didn’t expect that. Just like Montana summer, until you spot a group of llamas resting by the river or a snow covered volcano or a condor sailing like a pterodactyl overhead or your guide says something like, “give it to me please, the fly.”
So much about Patagonia is familiar and so much strange. The language, the customs and the wildlife may seem strange, but rivers are rivers and trout, trout. My fly knows what to do here and it does it time and time again.
We float beautiful wild rivers and never see another boat. We fish long days. The sun is up late here, less than fivehundred miles from Antarctica. The water is so clear you can count the pebbles at the bottom of the deepest runs. The air is warm and sweet and even the fish seem to be carried away in the innocence of summer. I drink wine and eat dolce de leche as the crawlspace at home fills with water.
At night we gather around a fire and watch a goat brown on a spit. We drink too much and sleep under the southern cross. I hear Crosby Stills and Nash singing “Southern Cross” in my head all week. The guides tell stories in Spanish long after I have drifted off. They are full of life and love of this land and these waters. It’s easy to imagine that it’s always summer here. That the pipes never freeze.
Patagonia with its red stag and giant birds, its wine and its chocolate, its classical guitars and tango dancers. This beautiful wild Montana of the south with its volcanos and its wind and its crazy, drunken Spanish stories and its wild, wild rivers and its hungry trout. The whole place feels like a fairy tale. Like something lost in time. Like a drunken story told in Spanish by a roaring fire.
The whole week I feel like a high school kid who’s snuck into a college party. Like I’ll wake up somewhere else, somewhere cold and wet with awful work to do. I try to drink it in. I try to tell myself it’s real and it can last. I land one last big brown trout and we row off the river. I ride through the desert in a pickup truck. I take pills and I sleep on the plane. I wake up somewhere cold and wet, with awful work to do.
But I can’t stop thinking about Patagonia. I keep thinking about that politician from South Carolina who told everyone he was going to hike the Appalachian trail, disappeared to Argentina and fell in love with some beautiful darkhaired woman, burned his whole career and family to the ground. I think about that poor miserable bastard while I lay in the dirt of my crawl space in the cold and the wet and I want to be him so bad I could cry.
In the end, the trip to Patagonia cost about the same as the plumbing. I think I’ll do it again next year. Not the plumbing.
Gustavo Hiebaum - Andes Drifters
By Louis Cahill/ Gink & Gasoline