Land of Plenty, Story and photos by Nick Price - continued

We head down to the Simpson. It’s 8:30 or so, and the sun is still up. We bust a wedge of ibises, and they call out like mad drill sergeants from the air. They push on low to the green swaying pasture, into the sun, and then disappear behind a turn in the river. I’m not fishing tonight. I’m wadered-up, though, and excited to watch and participate with my camera.

We are on a section of water that is about a 15-minute walk from the lodge. Fish rise regularly throughout the length of this run, which is about the size of a football field. The trout leave concentric rings after each rise. 

On the far bank near fallen beech trees, Pancho sees the large fish he wants to target. It’s sipping a few inches from the downed tree. He readies his rig, 3X tippet, size 16 Parachute Adams, and wades most of the way across, chest-deep at times. He positions himself directly across from the fish and pulls line off his reel with his left hand while holding his parachute and rod in his right hand, so as not to wet his fly prior to casting. The sun has slipped behind the green, tree-lined hills, and the evening immediately cools.

I stand with Sebastian and watch Pancho. He dresses his fly with desiccant and drops it, at the same time commencing a series of false casts and building up an amount of line that he deems the perfect distance between where he stands and where the big trout is taking mayflies from the surface. His first cast, first presentation, lands softly just 2 feet or so upstream of this fish. 

I cannot see Pancho’s fly from where I stand, and Sebastian’s and my eyes are fixed on Pancho as he sets the hook. He reaches high with his right arm, forcing the trajectory of his rod upward. A large, muscular rainbow jumps, destroying the serene water’s surface, and runs for the old sunken beech trees.

Pancho is in his perfect world, standing waist-deep in his home river, connected to a fish. He has his family and lodge and ranch and animals. People seek him out not only as a consummate guide, but also to have him share his knowledge of this area and enviable way of life. 

Early on in the trip, I remember asking Pancho how to say “heaven” in Spanish. “Simpson River Valley,” he replied.

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Click through the photo gallery below to see more of
Nick’s stunning photos from his fishing trip to Chilean Patagonia.

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