After an incredible week with Monte, Ryan and I made our way down to his rafting buddy and fellow lodge owner Rex Bryngleson place called La Posadade los Farios Lodge located on the Rio Cisnes aka Swan River.

So during my time at El Saltamontes aka the Grasshopper, I got this idea to take a picture that would emphasize the idea that there were a lot of hoppers around the area. Never got around to doing it at Jose and Erika´s. But the idea came back top me when I came to Monte´s place and every step you took along the banks scattered thousands of them. The idea was that I would have someone with a bunch of grasshoppers cupped in there hands and then when I gave them the go, I would then capture the hoppers exploding out in every direction trying to escape.

Ryan volunteered his hands for the model shoot and now all I needed was the bugs. We spent upwards of an hour wandering and diving into grass and brush trying to capture enough grasshoppers. I figure we ended up with about a couple hundred which we kept in a plastic bottle until showtime. Everything worked smoothly except them. When I had Ryan open his hands it was like the hoppers were all stunned and they just clung to his hands without moving. After a couple shakes, a few did there part and complied to spring from his hands as pictured above. I still think the idea could work but for now it´s back to the drawing board.

We said our goodbyes to Jose and Erika and were shuttled northward up to Coyhaique to meet up with Monte Becker, owner of Patagonia Drifers. Monte runs his lodge with the help of his wife and her mother, brother, sister and their two little boys. Right away we started out fishing on a little lake that craddled large browns.

So in the middle of the week, I was out fishing with a couple of the clients at El Saltamontes. When photographing fly fishing, often times there are moments when not much is going on. Either your subject is untangling knots or the fishing may be slow. For the past half hour, we had been trying to hook into a brown trout we saw swiming in a particular eddy without success. Normally, it is in these situations that I will start looking beyond the subject for anything else that might catch my eye. It was during one of these moments when I was looking upstream away from the client when all of a sudden he shouts ¨Mink!¨ Sure enough I turn around to see this small brown weasel-like animal hoping upstream towards me. The client was on the opposing bank and I was on the side of the Mink. I watched as the mink scampered up the river rocks towards me with his eyes locked onto the fishing hole we had been occupying. Standing up on a rock, not ten feet away from me, he looked into the hole and dove out of sight. For the next minute we stood there dumbfounded as we watched this mink catch the very same brown we had been casting to and drag it up onto shore. I have never seen anything like it.

Mink like beavers are invasive species to Chile and Argentina and they have been threatening the native trout populations throughout numerous river systems down here. So when we got over the shock of being out fished by a 3 foot rodent, we tried to come to the rescue of the 14 inch brown and started trying to get it away from it´s captor. Our guide grabbed a stick in attempts to separate the animal from its catch. Mink fight back. After a hissing and stick scratching match the mink finally was able to drag the trout into a thick wood pile where our sticks could not reach. The trout was lost and the mink, in a victorious bragging move kept poping out of his little hole, chomping on bits of fresh trout and staring at us as if to say ¨Better luck next time fellas.¨ We admitted defeat.

Here´s some pictures of the lodge and the environment of El Saltamontes lodge.

Before the Jose and Erika, owners of the El Saltamontes Lodge, got into the fly fishing business, they had begun a very small Alpaca farming operation. Now many moons later, their Alpaca business has grown into and they have become the largest exporters of Alpaca fur in their region. I was able to watch a morning sheering session of some of the prized males that they own.

There is no such thing as shortage of fisheries for the El Saltamontes (aka espanol for “grasshopper“) Lodge. In just three days, Ryan and I were able to cram every minute with a large variety of water systems to fish.

Our first of three days fishing at El Saltamontes started off at this beautiful lake. The brown trout would hide in amongst the weeds and cruise the shoreline underneath summerged trees.

After our week at PBC lodge, Ryan and I said our goodbyes to Marcel and Carolina and hopped a plane north to Balmaceda towards our next destination, El Saltamontes Lodge. We met by Jose, the lodge owner at the airport, piled into his Dodge Ram (which was weird to see after such a long time down here in the Patagonia with the smaller more efficient trucks) and chatted with him over the two hour car ride in to his lodge. Upon arriving, the sun was setting and I noticed large alpaca herds that were grazing on his land. It turns out that the lodge is the largest working alpaca ranch in the region and that exports to the States and Asia a couple times a year. Jose´s daughter Natalia took Ryan and I over for a closer look at them.