As any angler will attest to, the most coveted landscape is one that is untouched, untainted, and full of fish who are foreign to the bits of fluff we put in front of them. This concept does not just apply to fishing, a passionate traveler yearns for the wild and remote, far from the reaches of technology and everyday diversions.
It won’t come as a surprise that an opportunity to fish untouched waters at Pira Lodge in the Ibera Marshland of Argentina would be of enormous interest to someone who falls into both categories of adventurer and fly angler. The team at Pira were working on carving out new locations for their adventurous guests who craved expedition and hopefully, lucrative fishing. Needless to say, I said yes.
In preparing for my trip, I first referred to Gordy & Sons, the premier hunting and fly fishing outfitter based in Houston, TX that is considered the ultimate one-stop-shop for any expedition. In addition to offering the top of the line product and equipment for every target imaginable, it is the unrivaled knowledge from the team that sets this enterprise apart.
I dialed Marcos Enriquez, Fly Fishing Manager to ask about golden dorado. “The first thing I like to ask when my clients want to know about golden dorado, is whether they have fished for pike or bass? The aggressive take, the importance of the retrieve and the imperative sharp set are all akin to those aggressive freshwater fish, and they offer incredible acrobatics,” Marcos explained.
I had fished for pike, but not bass and grew excited at such potential aggression, hard fights, and powerful jumps. “The best part of golden dorado fishing, however, is the unexpected. You will be faced with scenarios where you need to fish these species in ways you don’t anticipate. The diversity of their habitat mean they behave in all sorts of ways. Even as a seasoned angler, this fish will keep you on your toes.” This piece of advice excited me the most. It sounded like I would learn a great deal from this one fish. A new species is exciting enough, but paired with an unfamiliar environment that had also never been fished before is an opportunity most dream of.
I was desperate to witness such pristine landscape never tinted by the human hand. After a few days of warm up, where I thankfully managed to land a few small dorado, we embarked on a route the following day to the intended exploratory spot. It was so remote we had to navigate via drone, and get out and push the skiffs in order to traverse the channels.
About three hours in, during a particularly challenging obstacle each team member simultaneously fell through the floating marsh into chest deep water, and thankfully managed to salvage any valuables.
As we polled through a series of lagoons, we nearly jumped out of our skin as we spotted a golden dorado swim by that could have easily weighed 22lbs. Buzzing from this encounter, we quietly moved into a pool which we instinctively felt would be healthy. Sure enough, we had a fish every cast.
I had never experienced sight fishing like this before. The visibility allowed the anglers to really take in the bizarre nature of the golden dorado. Some takes were sudden and out of nowhere, and some takes the fish were absurdly close, having followed all the way in.
The expert advice I had received echoed in my mind and I was thankful for the initial advice that prepared me as much I could have been for this funny fish. Frustratingly, I lost two over 10lbs which would have been my record to date. I was taught to not let my strip set get lazy!
I felt annoyed that I couldn’t connect into the big ones, but experiencing such intricate sight fishing was just as exciting. I had never seen such detail. And I did manage to land some beautiful fish over the course of the day.
These fish (and the surrounding wildlife) had never seen our boats, our flies, or us, which meant the fishing was as fresh and organic as it would ever be. As I stood at the front of the skiff, drinking in the diverse biota of wildlife before me, I tried to log the memory as best as possible.
In addition to virgin water and fish, the novice angler must do everything they can to appreciate first time experiences. Although a lack of experience can be frustrating at times, success at the beginning of your career can be some of the most elated moments of your angling life.
All photos courtesy of The Fly Fishing Nation