My first episode in fly fishing was a century ago in south Chile, one of the very best place in the world for rainbows. I was an absolute beginner with the fly, and had an opportunity to fish for ten days, lost in the Fuegian emptiness. Mauricio was my local friend, he was showing me the ropes. We reached a first fishing spot in the Valle del Castor.

Not my pic, but exactly how I remember it

Five minutes top after the car had stopped, I had a rod rigged and was ready for anything. Obviously, the first couple of casts were spectacular fuckups. It was going to require lots of work.

Then, after like six or seven blasphemies against anything sacred in the gospel of casting, I chanced a correct shoot of a good 8 to 10m, properly laid on the stream, and my fly fell on the pocket of water against the bank were I reckoned a trout should live if anything I was told in the books up to then wasn’t a lie. Of course, after the repeated disaster of the first casts, I expected all the trouts of the arroyo, at least a mile up and downstream, to have left to the near Argentinian border to ask for political asylum.

Still, I was thinking, a good cast like that deserves a strike. As if fishing had ever had anything to do with merit.

Looking back over the years, I cannot but conclude, as many have done before me, that the cracking 8-incher that took my fly a second later caught me much more than I caught it. My first ever on a fly, and a dry fly no less, coming with a powerful suggestion that this whole fly fishing business was chiefly an affair of competence. I was doomed.


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