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Letter from the Pages - in South America

Dick Page to Bill Euston - 1976

from Jenny Lewis, Bill's daughter

3 May 1976

Dear Bill,

Your long awaited letter! I thought it best to give you some up to date news of the fishing on our trip so have waited until the season is over - now we have put our rods away and up in the north here we find all the rivers terribly muddy so we don’t regret not fishing - couldn’t possibly eat any fish caught from these rivers!

How are you Bill? I gather that you are still living in Lewes and we often talk about old times - when we find ourselves in some outlandish place and wonder what we are doing there. Buenos Aries Skyline However we are having a great time. A word about our itinerary. We left Buenos Aires in November and drove south through the pampa - a vast rich agricultural plain but the farming is suffering badly from low prices for farm products - a beef animal here only makes a few pounds and we were able to buy best T bone steaks for 5p each! Of course inflation was rife and the peso seemed to be devalued pretty well every week. Before the price change I was getting 26 gallons of diesel fuel for £1!! This of course was before the recent government change. I gather things are improving slowly in Argentina and devaluation is slowing down considerably.

Guanaco South of the pampa Patagonia presented a more different picture - a low plateau of flat scrub as far as the eye could see - mile after mile, hour after hour of travelling and also day after day. The coastline was generally of the cliff type and very interesting. Patagonian hare We saw elephant seals and penguins in great quantity and we could sit amongst them on the beach and watch their antics. The animal that we saw a great number of was the brown hare, obviously introduced from Europe and it must thrive here. Also plentiful were the attractive Guanaco belonging as you know to the llama family. Puerto Madryn Going southwards we finally reached Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia. The southern half of the island is most attractive and looks very much like parkland with its grass and trees but it was raw and cold even in high summer when we were there. Turning north we went into Southern Chile for some fishing - more of that later!

Moreno - Bariloche We visited many lakes and glaciers and then up to Bariloche in the Argentinian lake district - lovely country, much of it looking very Alpine. We crossed the Andes to Chile once again and went south to a fishing town in Puerto Montt. Near here we met some English people with an Estancia. They bred Puert Montt Herefords and South Down sheep and they invited us to stay with them. We had a great time and saw pretty well everything that is done on their huge farms. We stayed eight days, then moved north to a second Estancia, friends of the first. Vast area of land here including a 400 acre lake. This gentleman had a herd of Friesian cattle (500) in all and grew grain etc. He had a saw mill for his timber, of which he sold great quantities. We came to the conclusion that he was stinking rich. But a fine gentleman with it, and he gave us a wonderful time. Up north again to Santiago - interesting city but they have a smog problem - here we crossed back to Argentina over the Andes. What a climb! Five hours up hill to the top and then a two mile tunnel on a rail track which was really rough going but we were rewarded by seeing Mendoza, a lovely city and the centre of the wine industry. Fine wines come from here and could be bought cheaply throughout Argentina.

Cactus and Inca Ruins Jujuy On northwards to Tucuman Salta and Jujuy, then to Ascuncion, a three day journey across the Chaco, hot, dusty and rough going in places but the vegetation never altered: cactus scrub the whole way. Saw two or three different rodents, one looking so much like a rabbit, but with a short, thin tail and different teeth and feet, the ‘fur’ looking almost identical with the rabbit.

AscuncionAscuncion, capital of Paraguay, is not a very attractive city and all prices are very high, much dearer than in Argentina. We had a marvellous evening out at one of the top restaurants: good food and then a two hour floor show with first class dancers - very very pretty girls and then two excellent groups with harp and mandolins. We have a tape of one of the groups and love playing it in the LR.

Iguaco Falls From Ascuncion to the Iguacu Falls, a spectacle of breathtaking dimension. They are huge. They make the Victoria Falls seem small. They are a cataract with the water falling in two or three cascades. We had to walk a long way just to see the width of the water. The view points were marvellous and very well arranged. At one point we took a catwalk out over one of the cataracts and in minutes we were soaked to the skin, but the view was terrific.

Brasilia A long journey North to Brasilia - what a city - sited on the gentle slope of the plateau and laid out in the form of a bow and arrow. Some of the buildings are magnificent and the main highways are up to eight lanes. It is not finished yet and plenty of building is going on but nevertheless it’s a most impressive sight. We are now on our way to Rio and southwards and hope to find some nice beaches for swimming. So far so good. Now for a bit of fishing news.

Bahia Blanca A friend of a friend in Buenos Aires gave us our first advice on where to fish (and we had plenty all told!) - a small fishing village on the East coast, south of Bahia Blanca for sea fishing for Descallia(? Sea-bass?). We duly arrived, and we had good advice, and were given a small herring like fish for bait. Well we soon got amongst the fish and caught six the first afternoon. They were all of a size, about 3lbs and were beautiful eating. We had them morning and night for our meals and Dorothy cooked them in about five different ways. We filled our fridge with them and also gave some away. We caught twenty two in all and even stopped fishing because we couldn’t cope with more fish! That was a very enjoyable stay of three days, We next moved south but found little good fishing. End of the World We were in high hopes of Tierra del Fuego and when we reached there we visited the Vice Consul and he gave us five places to fish on our way through the island. However we soon found that the locals had taken to fishing and place after place that we tried we found that the water was fished out. We were very very disappointed. We did not get one trout. We asked here and there and everyone said, ‘Oh yes, fine fishing at so and so’ but we had already fished there - the proverbial fishing story!

However one river, the Rio Grande was very good. It had a sea trout run and we saw the fish. They rose in the air and after fly etc. but they were very shy and we couldn’t get one with fly or spinner. We just couldn’t attract them. We did meet another fisherman there and had a long chat with him. He came from Chile and told us of an excellent river off the beaten track in S.Chile where there were brown and sea trout, if we could find it. And find it we did! After a pretty rough ride we found ourselves in a wonderful valley beside a beautiful river. The scenery was breath taking. The snow capped mountains were all around us and we counted six glaciers descending the slopes. The river was crystal clear and averaged about 70 yards wide. It ran out of a very large lake and I suppose we had about two miles of river bank. We arrived in the late afternoon and parked the LR beside what I thought was a very large deep pool on a bend which should certainly hold fish. We went to bed anticipating the morning.

I got up early at first light thinking that early morning may be a good time to fish. I left Dorothy and walked about 20 yards from the LR. to fish this lovely deep pool. My fifth cast - Wham! What a strike, and I had a fish. On and away he went upstream very strongly - and I played him, but for the first five minutes I couldn’t even see him as the light was poor. Then I saw his tail and he looked big. Eventually I got him out. What a fish! A brown trout about 8lbs. This soon got Dorothy up. Later on in the day she got a 3lb sea trout out of a fast piece of water and when I told her she was lucky to get a fish in such shallow water she promptly got another, same weight from the same spot. We stayed four days and soon found that with the very clear water it was little good fishing during the day.

Early mornings and late evenings were best. The next morning I got a six pound sea trout and Dorothy another three pound from the same place. Then the next day I got the big one- from the same pool as the six pounder. I got an 11lb fish (sea trout), a wonderful fish. I had a small Japanese lure. I found this my best spinner. I caught all my fish one late evening and I gave it to Dorothy just to prove a point to fish it in our pool. She caught three trout, one at 10pm, one at 10.15 and the other at 10.35. One was 4 lbs. and the others a bit less. Fancy putting 3lb trout back into the river. We caught twelve trout in the river in the four days, largest 11lbs, smallest 2lbs. Wonderful fishing.

Lake Cardiel We visited Lake Cardiel next having been told it was a fisherman’s paradise. Again off the beaten track. The lake is roughly square with a 15 mile side. Huge. We arrived to find the place deserted. Not a soul, and the land around the lake was desert scrub, not at all encouraging. We camped the night and in the morning I fixed up my rod and left Dorothy doing some washing and walked to the lake side. With my field glasses I saw four fishermen about two miles round the lake and thought I would get some local information from them. However I talked to the first one and he was despondent saying the moon was wrong, etc. etc. Big Trout I left him as he moved away and walked to the lakeside and found what I thought to be a nice deep pool just off some shallow rocks. I put on my favourite spinner and cast in. Wham! I had hardly turned my reel a couple of turns when a trout leapt from the water with my spinner in his mouth. My word, he fought me for about a minute and I lost him. My fifth cast, Wham! Another fish. He jumped three times but I got him in - a 3lb rainbow. Well, what sport we had. But these fish could get off a treble hook and I should think we actually caught one in four that we hooked, and did they fight. In three days, marvellous fishing. We caught 18 fish from that same pool and both of us standing in the same spot. That lake must have held millions. I mean millions of fish. In the evening they were jumping for the fly all around us. I have never known fish to fight as much as these rainbows. We filled the fridge once again and they were grand eating.

Lake Menendez We had to pay for our next outing to a lake off the beaten track again. This fisherman promised us some of the best fishing in the world, so we took him up on this. We left at 8am in his boat - a long trip to the end of a lake in the Andes, up a river to a second lake, put the boat on a trailer and over the hills to Lake Menendez. We had a glorious day on this lake and the fishing was wonderful. We caught 18 trout, largest 8lbs (brown), caught by Dorothy, 7lbs brown myself and all the rest 4-5lb rainbows. The 5lb rainbows bent our rods full circle. We only brought the biggest fish home. The rest we put back.

I am in my limit for paper, Bill, so will have to close very abruptly - apologies. Hope you are looking after yourself well. We will natter fishing when we meet. Should be home in June.

With all best wishes,

Dick and Dorothy.


[Note by webmaster: In the early 1970s, after the retirement of most of the older LCGS staff, they pursued their various interests and hobbies. Unfortunately Mr Hoggins died unexpectedly before being fully retired leaving his wife Dorothy with two sons - one quite young and still at LCGS. Some time later, Mr Page, who had lost his wife, married Dorothy Hoggins. Subsequently Dick, who had taught geography, and Dorothy acquired a Land Rover and set out on expeditions to explore the world. This letter was written to his friend and colleague Bill Euston while they were in South America.]

The small pictures shown are not part of the letter; they are provided courtesy of various South American travel and tourism organisations on the internet.