Trevor Covich, as you may know, guides at Alaska West and Chile West. Trevor’s in the middle of prime-time fishing in Chile right now, but he was still kind enough to send in a great post on our favorite bug from Southern Chile, the famous Cantaria beetle.
Bring On the Beetle
February is here and though we like casting our large stoneflies, we at Chile West have adopted the American policy that bigger is better! The Cantaria beetles are showing up like they do every year around this time. It’s the equivalent of fishing the mouse for hungry ‘bows in Alaska. The difference here is that you get both rainbows and browns, and it’s a great way to target the brown trout of your life (a.k.a. Leroy Brown).
Chug it, twitch it, swing it, dead drift it! All these presentations work. When on your feet fishing smaller water, the best presentation is to work downstream, going away from the upstream dry fly mentality. Cast to the far bank, straight across, and let your beetle swing while gently popping your rod tip, and taking a step after every cast.
While fishing out of the boat, accuracy can be crucial but delicate is not the word. These beetles are some of the clumsiest critters I’ve ever seen. When they lose altitude and hit the water it’s game over – there’s no getting back in the air. So casting under overhanging trees around logs and, yes, the back eddy, will all bring fish to the top.
The best way to describe a take on the Cantaria beetle is to imagine watching a Great White shark blast a seal from below. Since the prey is too large to take in one bite, it’s common for them to hit it hard first and then come back for seconds. I had a 24” brown hit my beetle so hard the fish did a flip – impressive! However, the fish in the picture above sipped it. We barely saw the take. The larger fish down here do as they please, and for them engulfing a large Cantaria beetle in one bite isn’t difficult.
The best time to come down for the beetle is February and March. Fishing the beetle will ruin you! Like the mouse in Alaska, it has converted many trout fisherman to the dark side. So when you probably should be throwing the Chernobyl, you’ve got beetle juice pumping through your veins, and why not – it’s a blast!