TURN RIGHT AT THE ARGENTINE FIGHTER’S TAIL PLANE – HEAD FOR THE FISH

Wayne and I set out for the Warrah River in his ancient Land Rover. The wind whistled through the places where the doors should have met the doorframes. The spidery shattering of the windscreen complicated the view from the passenger’s seat. That’s an occupational hazard on these islands because so many of the roads are graveled and loose stones do seem to seek out glass.

Roundabout the white grass wilderness spread as far as the horizon, which was blue in one direction, black in another, and frosted white with snow on top of a range of imposing hills. You could get lost here easily. There are no signposts; apart from those that mark farms and farms are big so their signposts are very few and far between. We turned off the road at a piece of metal stuck in the ground about the size of two doors. “That’s the tail plane of an Argentine fighter that got show down by a Harrier,” said Wayne. “There’s bits and pieces of it all around here. There’s the cockpit somewhere and you can see the Argies bought it from Israel. The star of David is still on the frame.”

This was our daily route to the Warrah River and its tributaries. Sheep skittered out of our way, when they were not skittering into it. Crested Caracara and Black Buzzards followed our trail. There was not a tree in sight and barely a landmark that wasn’t a stone. And then the river winked at us at the bottom of a valley, and we were there.

The Warrah is broad in parts, 100 metres or so, and it was running peaty and fairly full after recent rain. We fished a tributary one day – the Greenhill stream – and I got two fresh silver specimens. Then the next day we fished the Long Pool of the main river in the worst conditions I have ever hurled a fly in – driving wind, sleet, snow, rain, brilliant sunshine, a cocktail of weather types that was becoming familiar. I had to give up my 10” #7 weight Hardy and use the 11’6” #8 Orvis Switch Rod I got in Seattle. It had the right line and punch to get a General Practitioner out into the water. Bob Triggs showed me how to wield this WMD. He’s in a picture below.

On my first day I got a total of 14 Sea Trout up to about six lbs. That’s the most Sea Trout I have caught in one day and by far the heaviest bag. Some were silver; some were dark, all fought like cornered pumas. I got two of five and three pounds the next day on the Greenhill stretch before the wind blew us off the camp. And on the last day, in even worse weather, I got 10 on the Long Pool again, and left the water that day dripping and dizzy with a sense of well being. It was only when we turned left at the Argentine fighter’s tail plane and bumped back onto gravel that I realized the fishing was over. For this year at least. I’ll be back. Like Gierach says, it’s not about the fishing trip of a lifetime, but a lifetime of fishing trips. This was an epic.

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