Dateline: January 17, 2012 – Tigre, Argentina
What’s new, Buenos Aires?
The “Women’s Bridge” near the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires. It was a night of a thousand stars.
The musical “Evita” came out when I was in high school, and the powerful story of the young, beautiful first lady of Argentina is still one of my favorite pieces of musical theater. I can never visit Buenos Aires without getting “Don’t cry for me, Argentina” stuck in my head. I generally suffer with this for several days, so I apologize if this inadvertently creeps into my writing … inadvertently. I mean, I hope it won’t. But it could. Like when the hotel asked about my laundry, and I said “Don’t dry for me, Argentina.”
Before all my meetings started, I wanted to take a full day and chase some of the interesting species that live in the Parana Delta to the west of Buenos Aires. It had been 10 years since I fished down here, and I remembered all the thrilling new species I got back then, like Golden Dorado, Surubi Catfish, and my first Pirahna.
My first Piranha, near Goya, Argentina – August 1999.
Through the miracle of the internet and through Martin’s patient translations, we set up a day with guide Oscar Ferreira, a well-known Golden Dorado specialist.
Oscar Ferreira, guide extraordinaire. If you are in the area, look him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We got to the dock in Tigre early in the morning, but it was already crowded with fishermen. What a circus. We met Oscar – smiling, sturdy, and suntanned – and introduced ourselves. He offered to take us fly fishing for Dorados, but I said “Don’t fly for me, Argentina” and we agreed to use my spinning gear.
We moved around the endless rivers, canals, and back channels of the area, casting plugs and fishing cut baits on the bottom. The region is surprisingly remote and almost jungle-like, despite being just a short hop from the big city.
A back channel of the Parana Delta.
Quickly, we started catching an assortment of catfish. These looked similar to ones I had gotten in northern Argentina years back, but happily, after some reasearch by Dr. Alfredo Carvalho and Dr. Paolo Petry – at least 2 of them checked out to be new species.
The dreaded Muncholo Aramillo – species 1113.
The Raphael Catfish. There is no safe place to touch these things. Even one this small can slice a human finger to the bone if the human grabs it wrong.
The Great White Whatsit. I keep catching them, and I can never nail down the exact species.
At lunch, Oscar offered to head to shore and cook up some of our fish, but I told him “Don’t fry for me, Argentina.” I kept fishing – subsisting on handfuls of Doritos and the occasional soda. (They offered tea, but I said “No chai for me, Argentina.”) Oscar even pulled some baked chicken out of the cooler, but it was only dark meat, and I said “No thigh for me, Argentina.”
The afternoon was hot and still, and the fishing slowed down a bit. We tied up in the shade under some large trees overhanging the river and kept at it for a few hours. I caught a lot of Bogas – a great fight on light tackle, and also some sort of odd Characin that turned out to be another new species.
A likely case of Oligosarcus jenynsii. I have discovered that a plain background doesn’t show how very tiny this creature is.
But the true treat of the afternoon was when Martin, generally quite fashion-conservative, brought out his sun hat. Sure, seasickness photos are always more fun, but this was pretty good.
Martin shamelessly wears his new sun hat. I had thought these were wall decorations. Live and learn.
Toward the end of the day, in the shadow of an abandoned barge, I got a spirited bite and managed to reel in an attractive small fish. My demented brain immediately linked it to two species I caught 10 years ago in Brazil, which tells me I spend far too much time reading fish books. I remember my mother asking “Why couldn’t you read Playboy like normal teenagers?”
Scott’s Jacunda. Note the “weeping” marks under the eye. It is weeping because it heard about Jaime Hamamoto’s bonefish – see below.
Oscar offered a toast of local whiskey to celebrate the new species, but I said “No rye for me, Argentina.” Besides, fishing and alcohol don’t mix for me – see https://1000fish.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/the-goulash-archipelago/.
Our ride back to port was great. A fabulous warm afternoon on the river, seeing quite a range of sights – everything from exclusive hotels to abandoned ships to kids playing in the water.
Not a camera-shy bunch.
We pulled over to take some photos from the bank, and two nuns wandered by and kindly requested donations for the church. Martin offered them some money on all of our behalf. I thought “Don’t tithe for me, Argentina.”
We got off the water in late afternoon, then took some photos with Oscar and Martin. We hit the bathroom before we got in the car. They had a choice of toilet tissues, so I said “Three ply for me, Argentina.”
After yelling at the fish all day, I was feeling a little hoarse.
Our drive back from Tigre took us through some wonderful old neighborhoods, some well-off, some not, and then down by the Rio de la Plata before we arrived at the Hilton. I thanked Martin for his time, his kindness, and for that amazing sun hat. He said “Good night and thank you.” and he was on his way home.
That evening, I enjoyed a magnificent steak dinner, but I was so full I had to decline a lovely baked fruit dessert. I said … “No pie for me, Argentina.”
SPECIAL BONUS SECTION – JAIME HAMAMOTO UPDATE
OK, it was bad enough to help Spellman catch a fish, but now she’s really on my nerves. Purely to annoy me, she went out and caught a Hawaiian Bonefish of some 16 pounds. To put this in perspective, my 5 best Bonefish would not weigh 16 pounds if they stood on a scale together holding a bag of bricks.
Note the look of competitive savagery on her face. It’s downright frightening. Sure, she told me exactly where she caught it and offered to take me there, but this was just because Wade told her to be polite. Don’t cry for me, Honolulu.