My fishing plans in quarantine

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Photo: Mike MuñozPhoto: Mike Muñoz
 
 
By Tamara Toro Teutsch
 
If this year had gone as planned, I would be ending this summer returning home from vacation in southern Chile with my parents. Our journey would have started in Cerro Castillo for fishing in the Ibáñez River, Lake General Carrera and probably other stunning parts of the Aysén region. The second stop would have been the beautiful Lake Todos los Santos further north, and we would have finished the trip in Valdivia and its surrounding rivers. All throughout the journey we would have seen frenzied rainbow trout and large brown trout drawn to our bait or caught by our jerky movements.
 
I would have brought along my faithful Redington Path so that my dad could keep learning to cast, and I would have probably used my Winston Vapor, which I still haven’t got fully accustomed to yet. We would have casted until our arms were sore, with half the fly bait lost between the trees, and my maps would be covered in red marks ticking off where we had been.
 
My face might still have been burnt by the Patagonian wind and cold. My hands would have been fresh with the sweet smell of live fish straight out of the water, while we pondered whether to cast one final time or call it a day. I would have missed being stuck to the window admiring the landscape we don’t have in Santiago, with its sprawling towers and smog.
 
I have learned that in fishing, you control what you can, which is very little: which bait to use, how and where to cast, what time to arrive and when to leave. All the rest is a matter of patience and chance. The wind, the temperature, the behavior of the fish – while we are there, nature can be unpredictable.
 
 
Cerro Castillo. Photo: Diego Toro TeutschCerro Castillo. Photo: Diego Toro Teutsch
 
 
I would have been writing about these memories today, but instead I have had to settle for spending the rest of my vacation in Santiago, where for several weeks maybe months I will be shut in my apartment avoiding the coronavirus. At the beginning of the year, the news of COVID-19 seemed so far detached that we began March with a gradual lockdown, not knowing what was going on. In regions like Ñuble, Los Lagos and Aysén, the fishing season was cut short early to cooperate with the capital. The pandemic has consigned us to social distancing.
 
Since we have been under lockdown, I have enjoyed reading “A Temporary Refuge” by Lee Spencer. While guarding steelhead salmon in the North Umpqua river from poachers, Spencer built a small lookout that later became an observatory. Inspired, I asked myself: What can I do whilst I can’t go fishing?
 
As I searched for an answer, my friend Darwin, who introduced me to the sophisticated and subtle art of line fishing, told me that he has made use of his time tying new flies. Despite being in Parral where he usually enjoys great fishing trips every summer, he has remained indoors crafting Perdigon nymphs (bait) of varying sizes.
 
 
Photo: Mike MuñozPhoto: Mike Muñoz
 
 
On the other hand, my friend Mike – originally from Texas but residing in Chile for many years – enjoys spending time in his workshop where he puts all his passion for fishing into creating personalised rods. Before the quarantine, I watched him at different stages of the process: carving and sanding the cork for a new grip, or fitting new guides with glue and fine colored lines.
  
My change of plans is a shame, but it could be worse. I am sure the fishing guides and lodges that have been forced to put their activities on hold have been worse affected than myself. I hope that next year we will be able to once again feel the peace of going out and getting wet in waders and trying out the flies that are boxed up waiting to be used. Plans can always be re-arranged. 
 
 

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