Rugged Chile lures a fisherman

PERSONAL JOURNEYS

July 16, 2000|By Douglas Bruns | Douglas Bruns,Special to the Sun

A MEMORABLE PLACE

It was January, and I was thinking forward to spring and fishing my favorite trout stream. Winter for a fisherman is a time of restlessness. But it was not winter everywhere, and it occurred to me that the rivers in the Southern Hemisphere were running strong and fast, and the trout were probably rising. Within 30 days I was on the water in Southern Chile.

The western region of Patagonia, about three hours south of Santiago by air, has become a draw for fisherman the world over. I stayed at Isla Monita, on a trip arranged by Frontiers International. I was joined by five others, two from the United States and three from Europe.

The trip lasted 10 days, although four days were spent in travel. The area was remote, requiring two flights after touching down in Santiago, a two-hour overland ride and a short boat trip to the lodge, where I was welcomed by Anne and Hanz, my hosts.

There was no phone, fax or e-mail at the lodge. The food was outstanding, and meals were complemented by fine Chilean wine.

Trout live in beautiful, undisturbed places, and there are not many places more beautiful or undisturbed than southern Chile. Though the fishing was the draw, the mountains and glaciers and night sky punctuated by the Southern Cross would have made the trip worthwhile.

The wild geography of Chile consists of 2,700 miles of coastline, yet the country is only an average of 110 miles wide. More than 2,000 volcanoes speckle the countryside.

The rivers flowing out of the Andes are fed by run-off and mountain glaciers. There are big, deep rivers, rich in nutrients and aquatic life, supporting a trout population famous in fly-fishing circles. The native trout in these rivers grow large and jump high. Twenty-inch fish are the rule, not the exception. One member of our group landed a 31-inch brown trout.

The rivers are sport to kayakers, many of whom were headed to the region for an international competition the week after my departure. The mountain backdrop draws climbers and trekkers as well.

I don't think Chile comes to mind as a travel destination for many people. My experience was a surprising delight. I did not anticipate a country so diverse and appealing.

Douglas Bruns lives in Baltimore.

MY BEST SHOT

Artful Montmartre

Edna Davenport, Joppa

To celebrate my 75th birthday last summer, my daughter and I traveled to Europe. At Montmartre in Paris, we wondered who would be the next Dali or Rembrandt.

READERS RESPOND

What is your favorite beach?

Siesta Key, Fla.

Elsie Wescott, Parkville

"A more beautiful beach cannot be found. The sand is pure white quartz, known worldwide for its beauty and coolness. Everyone goes to watch the sunsets -- they are absolutely breathtaking."

Nauset Beach, Mass.

Marie Poole, Emmitsburg

"Under the watchful eye of its lighthouse on the dunes, Nauset Beach welcomes surfers, swimmers, Frisbee throwers and fishermen to its broad beach. The Atlantic hurls pounding waves along this Cape Cod coast, beckoning lovers of sea, sand and sky."

Tybee Island, Ga.

Regina Linton, Annapolis

"Tybee Island is calm, clean and full of birds, and the sky is just beautiful. Wilmington Island and Savannah are easily accessible. Two weeks there in July are always a breeze."

Our Next Question

Everyone knows to pack light on vacation. What are your other best packing tips?

Please answer in 50 words or less. Send via fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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