Kooi Noom Trip Report by Ben Etridge
WEEK: 29/11/14 – 06/12/14
Thoughts and Recollections
Kooi Noom fully lived up to expectations. The fishing was challenging and technical but also extremely rewarding. The weather was both tough toward the fisherman with high winds but also we received a calm break midway through the week which enabled us to explore more territory slightly further afield. The programme was extremely well balance and we never repeated fishing a stretch we had covered on a previous day. The flexibility this gave to the week added diversity and interest whilst providing absolutely brilliant fishing on all days.
The location of the estancia is a boon for the fisherman. There’s a very untouched feeling to the place with an abundance of animals visible at all times. We saw guanacos, various hawks, flamingoes, geese, condors and hares on all days. The Andes are still capped in snow at this time so provide a stunning backdrop when visible. The feeling is one of strange but beautiful harshness, a land that hasn’t seen development or people.
The upper Rio Capitan fished very well during my stay despite a couple of windy days near the outlet to the lake Quiroga. The first few pools produced great action on streamers and nymphs. Fish were taking softly but we hooked many between three of us. Some males were very coloured from spawning some not so much. A Brazilian guest hooked a big silver female fish that was the fight of the day on the second main pool. From the steep hillsides above the river you could see fish cruising up over the flats at the edge then back into the deeper channel. A lot of males were fighting each other for space and there was always a good amount of fish visible. Casting was tricky with the high winds. Later in the week we tried dry fly patterns and found, surprisingly, the fish willing to take. This was some great action to see and fish.
The middle section of the Capitan fished brilliantly despite the slightly coloured and high water. The river cuts a sinuous form dropping steeply toward the estancia buildings and big rainbows shelter in pools, eddies, behind or in front of boulders. Holding flies in the pockets was tricky but again doable. Resident rainbows were also present as were eager but much smaller fish. We caught big fish on nymphs and heavy streamers. Resident fish came hard to hopper patterns and coneheads. We missed a few good fish because of tricky hooking in the fast water (I was broken off a couple of times), and extremely athletic fish. However, the valley was stunning and sheltered from the wind with wild flowers carpeting the slopes. Wildlife was plentiful even if the terrain hard going.
The Tavia creek was a sheltered paradise. We fished the upper section early in the week, discovering various pools with numerous good sized and gorgeous trout. Up here, above the laguna Toro, the Tavia meanders freely for about 2km, splits into sections then rejoins, forms junction pools, eddies, small runs and steep cascade waterfalls.
The outlet from laguna Toro and the mazy 500 meter section to the following lake produced beautiful rainbows that had recently come out of the lake to spawn. We caught them up to 5lb – amazing considering the size of water.
The beautiful lower section of the Tavia is a spring creek fanatics dream. A twisting dark stream it’s full of scuds and other life, the valley is green and fertile and the fish are very eager to hit flies. We caught stunning fish on dries and nymphs often with the guides being positioned above the angler, spotting the trout and advising on casts.
On a spectacularly calm day we took the rib across the lake Quiroga to an inlet and fished the three channels caused by the entering water. Despite the balmy weather and wilderness feeling the fishing didn’t come on great and we couldn’t find the big blue/silver lake fish we know are there.
Fantastic early season fishing with all that it entails, be it the behavior of spawning trout, high water, sometimes very high wind needing good casts or soft takes testing the angler. The weather was often against us but the fishing was seriously full-on, changeable and engaging. Sometimes the fish ran hard in all directions and other times not. Cold water was a feature of the fishing this week but as a rule, whenever there was too much of one thing we could adapt the fishing to always get the best out of Kooi Noom. When there was too much wind we headed for quieter spots, when the guests wanted to fish close we hit the pocket water and more intimate locations and always found immaculate fish of impressive size. It was very intense and a genuinely all-round experience for trout in the wildest of places. This is the actual extreme fishing of Patagonia – untouched and extremely good.