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The Sea Run Brown Trout of
Tierra del Fuego
This is truly where monster trout are as long as your leg!
THE FIRST SEA TROUT OF Tierra del Fuego were stocked by John Goodall, an expat Brit, lonely for freshwater fishing and the sea run brown trout of his own native island. He first planted them (along with rainbows) on his own estancia in the Ewan River, and then turned to stocking the Rio Grande and other rivers on the island in 1935. Both the rainbows and the brown trout estab- lished strong resident populations in the Rio Grande and by the mid-1900’s there were quite a few of both kind of trout in the main stem, headwaters, and tributaries.
For more than two decades sea trout averaged four or five pounds. By European standards that was (and still is) phenomenal, and fanatics began flocking to the Rio Grande in the 60’s.
The famous outdoor writer, Joe Brooks chronicled the state of the fishery in his best selling book, Greatest Fishing, Where to Go to Get the Best (Stackpole, 1957). He described the rainbows as “plentiful,” and in two weeks of hard fishing, he and his three famous com- panions landed 5 brown trout over 10 pounds. He was ecstatic!
A decade after that publication virtually all the rainbows and most resident browns in the lower 30 or 40 miles of the river were gone. What was left was a strong population of 2 pound ‘bows in the headwaters, some resident browns in tributaries, and an ever-increasing migration of sea run brown trout which soon claimed the river as their own.
These anadromous browns continued to grow in size each decade and, as the turn of the cen- tury approached, they were averaging about 6 pounds with an occasional double digit fish. Then, for no yet explained reason, the size of the sea trout returning to their natal stream suddenly increased by nearly 50%. An average fish was over nine pounds. One in five is over 15 pounds, and one in forty will weigh more than 20 pounds.
Now everyone became ecstatic.
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