A Wonderful Fishing Story from Erwin W. Brown sent to us by Bob Daly………………..
I started my lifelong fishing experience when I was twenty years old and took a hiatus from my university studies to replenish my bank account. I obtained a job as a chemical analyst working for U.S. Steel’s subsidiary, Oliver Iron Mining Company, in Hibbing Minnesota.
I took to fishing like a duck to water. Northern Pike, Walleye, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, and Bluegill were the main sport fish in Minnesota. All of my new friends in Hibbing were fishermen, so I had plenty of opportunities for excellent sport.
During my military years I was stationed in the western Great Plains with access to wonderful trout streams in Colorado. I became a fly fisherman; as a soldier I was welcome to any and all private fishing clubs. The streams were virgin territory and the catches were phenomenal. I learned the art of catch and release and to this day I don’t kill trout.
After the war, I discovered southern Canada; more virgin territory. I made numerous four-day trips every summer to fish trophy size Northern Pike and Walleyes. Limits were generous and we always brought home plenty of good eating fish. As time passed, I became more interested in trophy quality and different species, rather than numbers. My horizons moved from southern Canada to the Northwest Territories, the Arctic, and Alaska.
The summers are short in the north country, so to extend the season I began to fish Florida — especially the Keys. I found saltwater fish exciting and was an early sport fisherman in the Keys as new fishing techniques were being discovered.
I like to set goals that give me a sense of purpose in planning my activities. By the time I reached the age of 40, I had fished for a significant number of different species of sport fish. It dawned on me that it would be interesting to try to collect all the fresh water sport fish in the world in trophy class. I set the target and have spent the last 50 years trying to achieve the goal.
My modus operandi is to research each specie to determine where I might find the largest specimen, the best time to fish, and to locate the most experienced guides. My best sources of information come from other fishermen who live in the area where these fish were available. I write a lot of letters and make many phone calls Through practice, I developed a sixth sense in being able to tell if I am getting good information.
I flew to Asuncion, Paraguay, the capitol, and fished the Paraguay River north of the city. I had to bring my own tackle which was a problem as I really didn’t have very accurate information on the type of lures that would be most effective. I took a number of swimming lures (casting plugs) that I found effective for Northern Pike and Walleyes.
I fished for four days and caught a number of fish. The largest was ten pounds and I called it a trophy. Most were four to six pounds. I used a bait casting reel with a rod of medium action. I was impressed with the fighting quality of the Dorado and the wild jumps they made from the time of the strike to the end of the tussle. They have a hard, bony mouth with sharp teeth. By the end of the trip I didn’t have any lures left; they were all destroyed.
I have visited Argentina a number of times since, principally to hunt. Each time I would ask our hunting guides about fishing for Dorado and the usual reply was, “They are hard to catch but a fisherman caught a large fish two weeks ago! ” In other words, the chance of catching a fish larger than my ten pound trophy was slim.
In 2007, one of my fishing friends, Dale Rothstein, asked me if I was interested in a Golden Dorado trip where the chance for large fish was assured. I was interested but the trip was scheduled for mid October, right in the middle of my waterfowl season. I just couldn’t think of losing a season of waterfowl hunting, so had to decline.
The reports of the trip were amazing. Everyone caught large fish and had the pictures to prove it! I called the booking agent who made their arrangements (Steve Yatomi at Adventure Travel Alliance), but there were no openings in the foreseeable future.
Government regulations restrict the area to four fishermen; two boats with two guides and two fishermen in each boat are allowed. I kept pestering Steve, hoping that a cancellation would occur or an opening would develop. In May 2008, I received a call informing me that there were two slots open for April 2009 but I would have to find a partner. I just didn’t have any friends crazy enough to sign on, but Steve suggested that I contact Gary Cox of La Palma, California who had also been inquiring about the trip.
I phoned Gary; after a few minutes of conversation we decided that we would partner up and sign on. There was a significant age discrepancy between us; I would be 87 in April 2009 and he was in his upper 60’s. I was concerned that I would not be able to keep up with him and I am sure that he had some reservations as well.
In the beginning, I had absolutely no knowledge of the kind of tackle I would need. Golden Dorado are very special fish that live in a hostile environment. With the wrong equipment, the trip would be a failure. I had been fishing around the world for more than fifty years and owned a fantastic quantity of fishing gear, but I didn’t have anything suitable to handle the Golden Dorado in the Uruguay River.
More research was needed. Dale Rothstein and Steve Yatomi were very helpful. Larry Dahlberg (star of the TV series Fishing For Big Fish) had made a TV documentary of his trip there. Larry lives near St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, about 50 miles northeast of my home in St. Paul, Minnesota. When he was a very young man he guided me on the St. Croix River for Smallmouth Bass. Larry was helpful with tips on equipment.
Gary Cox and I were struggling for equipment information. We learned that the other two fishermen who would be there at the same time as we were booked had been there the previous year. Bob Daly of Whiting, Indiana had actually been there the two previous years. He was a goldmine of knowledge; that ended our quest for tackle info.
I booked my airline flight with American Airlines. I left Miami April 9, 2009 and arrived in Buenos Aries at 8:00 AM the next day, via Dallas. Total flying time was 14 hours. It was a very tedious journey as American had added two additional seats to each row in coach, so the leg room was minimal; I could hardly get into or out of my seat! Had I known this in advance, I would have booked business class.
I rested four hours and then went to the Las Nazarenas Restaurant for a wonderful filet mignon to catch up on my eating. Argentina is noted for excellent beef and the Las Nazarenas is tops in the world. The filet was about three inches thick and cooked to perfection. I normally wouldn’t eat that much but I slowly consumed the entire serving! I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours!
Gary arrived the evening of April 10, and Bob Daly and Cole Lundquist (the second party) showed up the morning of April 11. We all had dinner together at the Las Nazarenas that evening. I again ordered my favorite filet and devoured the works!
The fishery is located about 300 miles northwest of Buenos Aries near the city of Concordia. There is a hydroelectric dam on the Uruguay River, on the border of Uruguay and Argentina. The primary area fished is from the dam for about a half a mile down stream. The fish concentrate near the dam and feed on food being washed down from the spillway and on small carp (Boga).
The lodge was very modern and comfortable with four bedrooms. We began fishing at 9:00 AM the morning of the 13th. There were two boats and two teams of guides. We agreed to switch boats every day to keep everything even. Gary and I fished with Hector and Javier the first day. Argentina was suffering from a severe drought, so the water level was very low complicating the fishing, but because of our extensive research on tackle we had the right equipment to handle all conditions.
The largest fish I caught the first morning was 20 pounds, but Gary took the prize with a 40 pound giant. I landed 14 fish from 10 to 18 pounds and had numerous strikes that threw the hook on the first couple of jumps. The Dorado has a hard ,bony mouth so it is difficult to get the hook to stick. I had wished that I had brought a counter, as the action was so fast I couldn’t keep track of what we had done.
I knew that the Dorado was a ferocious fighter but I just wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the action. There aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to accurately describe the fighting quality; hardest strike, bone jarring, head shaking, jumping action, etc & etc. When they struck, you had to have a good hold on the rod, or you would lose it. Cole Lundquist is a 6-foot+ strong man, and he had the rod pulled out of his hand on a hard strike. The last he saw of his rod is when it was in the air behind the boat!!
I have fished for all the big sport fish in the world — the Tunas, Billfish, Tarpon, Wahoo, Giant Trevaly, and Sharks — but I had never experienced a fish that struck a lure so hard. The big fish generally have a soft bite as they are confident that whatever they intend to eat can’t get away. They go crazy when they feel the hook.
The action in the afternoon increased significantly. We were catching fish in the 20+ class regularly, along with many in the teens. So many were quality fish that we slowed the photography to only the biggest.
The second day we fished with Enzo and Diego. It was a red letter day for me. In mid morning we were fishing shallow water over rocks using shallow running lures. At about 10 o’clock I had a terrific strike and an arm tiring battle. When Diego tailed the fish and brought it into the boat, I was looking at the Dorado of my dreams: It weighed 42 pounds! Not to be outdone, however, I hook another giant about thirty minutes later that tipped the scale at 47 pounds. It was a more exciting battle, as it kept weaving through the rocks. I really didn’t think that I would successfully land the fish; several times I thought that I had lost him before he got tangled behind a rock. That battle destroyed my 60-pound Power Pro line. It was so badly abraded that I had to replace it with 100 pound line.
The action continued for the entire trip. The water conditions never improved significantly but I don’t know what I could have done with more action. My wrists and arthritic hands really took a beating. Casting heavy lures (6 to 10 inch casting plugs) on long retrieves at break neck speed all day, took its toll.
I counted the strikes for the last three hours on the last evening; I had 47. Half threw the hooks after a few jumps. I may have boated fifteen and lost the rest when the fish saw the boat and went crazy. Gary boated a 30+ pound fish and had several nice fish in the high 20s. I had a number in the 20s.
The four guides were very experienced and did a wonderful job. They were as good as any guides that I had ever had in all of my travels. It is a pleasure to fish or hunt with guides that are so knowledgeable and helpful. Whenever you had a little problem, they were there instantly to help with the solution.
My only wish is that I was young enough to repeat the experience!
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