A remote archipelago situated quite literary at the end of the earth, Tierra del Fuego has long held a powerful allure over travelers, navigators and explorers alike. Prominent historical figures such as Ferdinand Magellan, Charles Darwin and Captain Fitz Roy sit at the forefront of this land’s rich history of exploration and adventure, and many prominent landmarks still bear their names. Somewhat of a misnomer given its harsh climate, the “Land of Fire” actually derives its name from the numerous native Yamana campfires Magellan spotted in 1520 upon his discovery of la Isla Grande (the largest island in South America), and the strait that would later bear his name. Then, as now, Tierra del Fuego is characterized by long winters, short summers, intemperate weather and indefatigable winds. But this hasn’t deterred modern day travelers either, who continue to visit Tierra del Fuego for the simple novelty of seeing the “end of the earth”, or to follow in the footsteps of these great explorers. Fishermen, however, have different motives – chasing the southernmost salmonids in the world.
Upon entering the city of Río Grande and gazing up at the15ft statue of a giant sea trout proclaiming the area as the ¨Trout Capital of the World”, it becomes immediately apparent that fishing is pretty damn important in Tierra del Fuego. Indeed, fishermen from all over the globe are drawn to this remote corner of the world, mostly for a chance at the monster sea-run brown trout that make the island famous. When an English settler by the name of John Goodall fortuitously brought 100,000 sea trout eggs to the island in the 1930’s with hopes of establishing a South American equivalent of his beloved English pastime, he sowed the seeds for what has arguably grown into some of the finest fly fishing on earth. Because of his foresight, TDF has made an international name for itself within fly fishing circles for the trophy sea trout which have since propagated in varying degrees to nearly every Atlantic drainage on the island.
The foremost of these is of course the Río Grande, a sea trout river without peer and one of the most famous and coveted fly fishing waters on the planet. An average sea-run brown on the Grande is the fish of a lifetime most anywhere else, and while the attention it receives is certainly well-deserved, the Grande’s reputation overshadows many other excellent fishing opportunities on the island. Fishing some of the lesser-known Fuegian waterways is also different experience than anglers often imagine. Owing to the predominance of images from the Río Grande, some fishermen are under the impression that all of Tierra del Fuego’s landscape is nothing more than a rolling windswept prairie. TDF is much more dynamic, however, and offers some truly spectacular and unique scenery, consisting of beaver ponds, lichen-covered beech forests and austral tundra, among other things.
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