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STROBEL, FLY FISHING IN ABORIGINAL LANDS OF PATAGONIA

by Luis San Miguel

Photography by Isaias Miciu // written by Luis San Miguel

Lake Strobel is located in the plateau of Patagonia, in the middle of the Santa Cruz province in Argentina. Its name comes from the missionary Jesuit priest Matías Strobel, who worked in North Patagonia in the mid XVIII century.

With an area of more than 65 square kilometers it is hidden in a crater of the plateau that is hit by constant strong winds. It’s a closed basin with an only affluent, the Barrancoso River. Its cold waters are the ideal place for huge rainbow trout fly fishing.

After many years of seeing pictures, hearing tales and reading about this particular place, I took a plane in mid November heading to El Calafate airport to meet Isaías Miciu, one of the best fly-fishing photographers, to share three days of fishing. The trip started with sharing anecdotes as we went through the great Santa Cruz plateau. After 5 hours of dirt roads, we arrived to Laguna Verde Lodge.

I have to admit that before the trip I had some ideas about lake fishing, about blind casting a shooting line and a streamer. I sincerely got surprised with a radically different fishing, and also with the landscape and history of the place, really intriguing.

Here there still are tracks of Tehuelche aborigines that lived some 10.000 BC years ago. Not far from the lodge one can find stone parapets used for hunting guanacos and ñandues, with spears, “boleadoras”, bows and arrows. Obsidian stone remaining used for arrow tips and spears can be found too.

It is also worthy to take some time and observe the petroglyphs, aborigine art carved in rock on the walls where aborigines took shelter from the cold wind. There are drawings of pumas, guanacos, ñandues, human figures and more (see photos)

Not far, there’s the stream Arroyo Moro, a small water course, really fun in the beginning of the season with #5 rods, floating lines and mice imitations. It ends up in a system of chained lagoons with lots of rainbow trout of 2 to 3 kilos. A great spot to warm up before Strobel Lake.

This lake is surrounded is white abrasive rocks, with practically no vegetation around. The water, around 4°C, is extremely transparent, and the bottom is light colored; we can see about two meters deep sometimes. An ideal spot for sight fishing with floating lines

This water body has an abundance of scuds, a small freshwater crustacean that trout feed on. It’s amazing to watch the way these patrol the line where the lake gets deep, shoals swim while feeding on scuds effortlessly. It’s not a preying trout as we can see in other Patagonia lakes.

In the shores where the wind hits making waves, trout simply remain in shallow spots eating what gets lifted by the waves, making the fish to be two meters from us if we stay still. It’s amazing to watch the size of some trout, an adrenalin rush for every fly fisherman.

Prince, Copper John, scud imitations and small Woolly Buggers were the most successful when stripped very slowly.

In the shoals of silvery rainbow trout feeding in shallow waters it was impressive to see how aggressively they took the San Juan Worm while it sunk vertically. It was interesting how they reacted when we changed flies; they totally refused them after some few casts.

It’s a lake that has its moments, constant strikes some times and then times with not one; but it keeps you sharp as you see trout patrolling constantly. I hope I go back in March to catch those big silver trout with blue backs.

Gear: Sage Method #8, Sage 6080 reel

Recommendations: take good warm clothing, several layers to be isolated and control temperature. There are bays with shelter from wind and others really windy.

Guide: Dario Arrieta, always sharp so I could fish better

Lodge: Laguna Verde: (A special thanks to its owners Alberto y Luciano Alba, who with great dedication manage the place themselves)

Photographer: Isaías Miciu / Thanks for these great memories Isa!!

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