An Objective Appraisal of the Middle Limay
The Middle Limay may just be the best kept secret in trout fishing in Argentina. Ask any foreign, international fisher for their favourite river and they might hanker after the glory days of the Rio Chimehuin, when 10lb+ rainbows and browns off the fam View more...An Objective Appraisal of the Middle Limay
The Middle Limay may just be the best kept secret in trout fishing in Argentina. Ask any foreign, international fisher for their favourite river and they might hanker after the glory days of the Rio Chimehuin, when 10lb+ rainbows and browns off the famed ‘Boca’ were legendary; or they may seek their trophy fish and landlocked salmon in the ‘Enchanted Valley’ of the Rio Traful, perhaps the prettiest of all; or they might prefer to float the beautiful Rio Collon Cura, or fish the Rio Malleo, generally considered the finest dry fly river in the country. But nobody will mention the Rio Limay Medio.
Well, nobody until you talk to the locals and the guides. And then everyone will. Buy why? What is the deal here?
Until recently, there has been no purpose-built fishing lodge on the Limay, so you had to stay in the little town of Piedra del Aguila, which is charming and very scenic, but where the accommodation and dining is on the simpler side, and the transit to and from the river (especially the lower parts) can be long. But if you eat in the local restaurant, the wall is literally covered in pictures of brown trout, many of which are over 10lb, 28’’+… Nearly all of them will have been caught on a 300g sinking line and a big streamer, in April, or May, when the big browns migrate up from the lake after the puyen ‘minnows’.
And that, generally, is it – Limay is seen as a trophy brown trout fishery at the end of the season and you need to bang out heavy sinking minnows for 10 hours a day and you may, if lucky, connect with an amazing trout. I did it for 4 days, and whilst it is not fun fishing, and very tiring, I landed browns of 24,26 and 26’’ and missed another, and all in all was very happy. But I also caught about 20 smaller fish, mainly rainbows, and mainly 18-22’’ which were rather wasted on such heavy tackle. It was a bit sad to feel disappointed at hooking a fat 20+’’ rainbow because it was not a huge brown, and it’s a shame to haul in such wonderful fish on tackle meant for salmon not trout.
When I returned to the Middle Limay I had tied up a box of minnow flies and even brought down a light twelve foot double handed ‘Spey’ rod, an 8 weight. I don’t like to use a salmon rod for trout, but it’s true it makes the physical effort much less and instead of mad double hauls in the Patagonian wind, you have a simple lift, roll cast and punch, line out. But in the end I hardly used it. Why? Because I had a new guide and we tried a different approach. Yes, if we found what looked like good holding water for the big boys, we’d thump out the big gun for half an hour, but otherwise we’d fish a 6 or 5 weight trout rod and nymphs or dry flies.
And this is where it gets even more interesting. We did not hook a trophy brown, but in 4 days we caught 15 fish on a nymph, 5 of which were 20+’’ rainbows that took me almost to the backing in a wonderful fast riffle; then we landed 30 on a dry fly, of which 10 were > 20’’ and the best a 23’’ brown on a size 18 Royal Wulff. On the streamer we took 2 smaller trout and 2 perch. That means over 11 trout a day with the average size being 18-21’’, with 2/3rds on a dry fly. Where else can you do that? On Collon Cura, Chimehuin, Malleo etc, the average rainbow is probably 14-18’’. A 19’’ fish is a good one and the 20-22’’ are not common. And yet on Middle Limay a third of the fish I catch are 20-22’’ rainbows in great condition.
The reason is that when they dammed the river forty odd years ago, they created a bottom-feed tailwater, and just like all those famous fisheries in the US, that means a steady flow of cool water at a consistent temperature all year round, which leads to an abundance of fly life and trout feeding twelve months a year. When you get to Limay in the morning you will see mayfly spinners and caddis in the air, and trout rising. The water is full of nymphal shucks, a veritable bug soup. During the day you may well see hatches of baetis (a size 18 parachute dry works well) and as the sun drops the caddis come on. I think it fair to say that the Middle Limay has the best rainbow trout in the area in terms of quality and quantity. In the section below the dam I don’t think I have caught one that was less than 18’’. If Malleo is the Queen of dry fly rivers, you could easily argue that Limay is the King.
And that’s the deal. The Middle Limay is really two rivers in one, or a river with a split personality. You can fish for the late season trophy browns with a heavy streamer and a lot of patience (they do sometimes come to a dry, especially a big attractor foam-based mouthful) and you have a world-class big brown fishery. Or, all season, you can enjoy a world-class rainbow fishery where you might just catch some big browns, but you will definitely have great sport on a dry fly. The difficult part is choosing which one to chase…
Risk & Insurance Manager, Schlumberger Ltd.
42 Rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris, France.
Tel: +33(0)1 40 62 11 69 or Mobile +33(0)609639477