Villa Maria Lodge – Week 11: March 8st to 15th, 2024

Our penultimate week unfolded just as we had anticipated according to the weather forecasts. We experienced heavy rains, not lasting for several days but rather just a few hours, yet with enough intensity to alter the fishing scene for the week. In the early days of the week, the fishing beats at Villa Maria Lodge found the river at a very high level, although not overflowing. Additionally, tributaries such as the Rio Ona and Rio Menendez were flowing heavily, carrying a lot of sediment from the mountains, leaving the lower Rio Grande completely turbid and the river very fast-flowing, making it almost unfishable.

Fortunately, our sister operation, Kau Tapen Lodge, is located in the middle section of the Rio Grande, upstream from these tributaries. Although the river there was also swollen and turbid, its reduced size and lower flow made it entirely suitable for fishing. So, we headed there to fish for three days while waiting for the water from the rains to pass and for us to return to our sector of the river.

Under these conditions, fishing wasn’t easy, and we had to work hard to achieve the catches we were all aiming for. Fortunately, from the first day, we were able to succeed, and the fishing remained stable throughout the week to such an extent that all the anglers landed catches exceeding 16 lbs, with a spectacular 20 lbs male caught by Jack on the last day of fishing.

Undoubtedly, we had to adjust our fishing setups to these extreme conditions. Short rods and light lines were left behind, and we opted for long and powerful rods that allowed us to comfortably fish deep wading and cast long and fast or extra-fast sinking tips. So, rods ranging from 13 to 14 feet, Skagit floating or sinking lines, and heavy tips ranging from 12 to 15 feet were the most successful setups. Obviously, the flies also increased in size. Large leeches and intruders were the most productive, and most of the time, we opted to combine two flies (tube + fly) to achieve a larger silhouette and a more attractive color combination. Unusual colors under normal conditions such as pink, orange, or purple took the prizes.

By midweek, the rains ceased, and the forecast promises a week without precipitation, so the river should soon return to its normal clarity, although the accumulated snow in the nearby Andes guarantees that the high water level could persist and perhaps even lower the river temperatures by a few degrees.

We want to extend our gratitude to the staff and guides at Kau Tapen Lodge for welcoming and serving us exceptionally, making it possible for our guests to enjoy an extraordinary week of fishing.

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