Today Chris Price, our manager at Chile West, give a little bit of background on Chilean trout. The facts are the facts, but a couple of stories give you a feel for the possibilities…
“There are trout in Southern Chile? What are they like? What kind?
Well… here in Southern Chile, we have rainbows, browns and brookies, all three species having the same characteristics as would trout in any other part of the world.
Southern Chile is an ideal environment for trout. With its climate and geography similar to that of the Pacific Northwest, it’s no wonder the trout have thrived since their introduction in the early 1900’s. All three can be found within the same ecosystem, but the brook trout prefers its own habitat.
You will find trout in the normal spots. The riffles, cut banks, tail outs, behind and in front of boulders, around logs or root wads, reed beds, same as anywhere. The Chilean trout diet consists of a variety of foods and will vary depending on their habitat, water temperature and time of season.
Foods are terrestrial insects, mostly different types of beetles and grasshoppers, with flies and bees in the mix, aquatic insects such as dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies, crane flies and midges, all in a variety of sizes, in both adult and nymph forms, frogs, snails, leeches, crustaceans, fish and mice, maybe even small birds!
I was once floating down the river with my clients and out of the corner of my eye I saw something flopping on the river bank. It was a very large brown trout, maybe 24 inches. It was completely out of the water, maybe three feet up on the shore! There was no one around to have pulled it up on the bank. What was it doing there? I thought about it for a few days and can only think that it was chasing some prey, whether it was a mouse or a bird, I don’t know, but I do know… that fish was hungry!
All three species are opportunistic feeders and will eat other fish as well as their own specie, the brown being the most carnivorous and cannibalistic. Large Browns tend to be nocturnal feeders and will actually hunt.
I have seen on more than one occasion, a client hooked up with rainbow only to have it mauled by an enormous brown! In one case, we were floating river ‘X’ and my client in the front hooked a nice ‘bow, just as we started into a rapid. The fish was a good fighter if I recall, a real jumper, that one was. By now, I was paying attention to the oars, when all of a sudden I heard ‘OH MY GOD! HUGE BROWN! HUGE BROWN!’ We all looked down and there was a giant brown following the rainbow and gaining! The brown started chomping on the ‘bow and spitting it out. We played the rainbow down through the rapids, wondering how this story would end. Meanwhile the other client tried to cast repeatedly, his double bunny leech which now seemed obsolete, in the vicinity of the brown. I don’t think the brown ever saw the leech as it had tunnel vision, sharking back and forth behind the now injured rainbow.
I rowed us through the rapids and over the shore where the brown finally noticed us and the boat, gave up the chase and disappeared. We pulled the rainbow in, now less-lively and scarred up after the battle, and released it. It swam off. We sat there for a bit staring at each other.
In another case I was with different clients, floating river ‘X’. We were fishing a big eddy where the trout were sipping dries on the seam. One of the guys hooked a rainbow and it dove down and started thrashing around. It was a deep pool, maybe twenty feet deep. Suddenly I noticed a dark figure circling below the trout. I stood there looking and finally the figure rose up and grabbed hold of the rainbow. I yelled out to my clients ‘Look at that!’ They both looked down in amazement.
I told the client with the fish on ‘Just leave it slack! Leave it slack! Look it! Look at it!’ I was wondering if the enormous brown would swallow the ‘bow and we would somehow hook it.
The brown was actually shaking the rainbow, like a dog would shake a rag doll! It would then spit it out, circle it and chomp on it again.
While this is going on the other client is frantically trying to cast his small dry fly/dropper to the brown and manages to tangle up with the other guy. By the time I untangled the two, both fish were gone!”
This isn’t your father’s trout fishing.