No sooner did the door open, anyone would have noticed that place had a fishing atmosphere wherever you looked at. Entering the seat of the AAPM, located on 452 Lerma Street (in the Federal District), was finding yourself face to face with all kinds of anecdotes, photos that said everything and that perfectly reflected a glorious age of fly-fishing, when anglers of the stature of Jorge Donovan or Bebe Anchorena would display their trophies, which would generally range about the ten kilograms.
Those were other times; times when the trout were really great but so were their fishermen. Everything remained intact in the pictures seen there. The great smiles and the clothes from the days of yore, together with the old fly-fishing equipments seemed to have endured the passing of time.
A small picture also summarized what it means to be an angler. It was the Testament of the Fisherman, a true work of art written by the late American angler Robert Traver, who brightly put on words the values and the spirit of fly-fishing.
But not only in pictures was the history of an age protected. A beautiful library treasured hundreds of books and videos. Everything seemed especially thought for fishing and it was even possible to open a window designed for anglers where the logotype of the association appeared, which was nothing less than a fly.
And it was there, in such a harmonic and perfect environment, where we interviewed Mr. Carlos Villagi, ex president of the Asociación Argentina de Pesca con Mosca (Fly-fishing Argentinian Association).
Ipat: How did the story of the AAPM start?
Carlos Villagi: The association is 30 years old and it was on July 19, 1974 when it was created. It was founded by pioneer fly-fishermen who used to fish in Patagonia every year and who, thanks to the influence of foreigners who would come to the southern lands to fish, began to become nourished with knowledge and experience about conservation and education, and started to listen carefully to reflections about the deterioration of fishing environments somewhere else in the world. Thus, a clear aim about the resource and a conservative awareness emerged among Argentinian fly-fishermen: the idea of teaching and taking care of fishing environments, which has remained till this date.
Ipat: Can we say that fly-fishing was born in Argentina from a select group?
CV: There is a whole fantasy about the origin of fly-fishing in Argentina that puts these fishermen in an unfavorable position. And in fact, none of these anglers has been selfish. Saying that they were an elite does not make sense, as very much on the contrary, they were part of an association devoted to spread knowledge to other anglers. Even if many of them used to belong to aristocratic groups of Argentinian society, they did not transfer these privileges to fly-fishing.
Ipat: What are the association’s aims today?
CV: Ideals of conservation and education remain the same. As an association, we believe that it is essential to maintain the fishing environments, but education and teaching continue to be key aims as well.
Ipat: And are the association’s tasks taken into account on a national scope?
CV: Today the association is very well-known at the moment of interacting with public authorities about the management of the resource. We are in constant contact with National Parks and the Patagonian Fishing Consultation Committee. We are also in charge of dictating initiation courses, tying and casting courses, both for beginners and for active anglers. We also publish a newspaper, we have a web site and we take part in the most important fly-fishing broadcasting events on a national and international level. And of course, we represent the anglers, whether they are members of the association of not, in their struggle for their rights.
Ipat: What does fly-fishing mean for you?
CV : It is a way of fishing. But as an angler I believe all the other modalities should be respected too. Fly-fishing proposes a big challenge for the angler. It is more difficult and demands greater skill. Not only can fooling the fish and fishing it using a fly make the angler feel proud, but it is also a way of paying tribute to the fish.
Ipat: How do you think fly-fishing contributes to the angler?
CV: It makes him more watchful and intuitive. It allows him to know the environments and their species better. When the angler begins to fish using a fly, he is trained as an angler. There is growth, evolution.
Ipat: What do you think about the large amount of anglers that are getting trained in fly-fishing? Are trout in danger?
CV: Today we can assert that fisheries are getting more and more devastated. We have to become aware that if we wish to go on fishing, we have to learn how to take care of the resource. There are four mainstays in the management of sport fishing: education, research, legislation and control. At present, legislation is working much better than the others. I can assure that legislation is very good, but if no control exists, it is useless. Although controlling is not everything; essentially, the angler must be educated.
Ipat: How many associations are there in the country at present?
CV: Around twenty.
Ipat: What do they offer to the angler?
CV: They teach them mainly to fly-fish. But they also operate as a site for encounters, where the anglers may exchange anecdotes, questions and knowledge together with a human group sharing the same interests.
"... trout are not sensitive to the cost of their equipment or their arrogance, but to technique and instinct. A technique that is only managed by means of sacrifice and an instinct that begins to take shape only after many years."
On October 7, 2008, 80-year-old Mel Krieger stopped fishing and became one of the greatest myths of fly-casting. We know farewells are sad, but we are certain that every new season, our beloved Patagonia and the entire world will be honored by the memory of his greatness. Years may pass and Mel will go on fishing with us …
"...We all must contribute to the health and the beauty of the rivers and lakes. We must keep them clean, both as regards the purity of the water and the purity of the banks and shores. There must exist a strict limitation as to the number of fish that may be killed. The application of the catch and release concept must be considered in many, if not in all, of our waters. It would be ideal that the fish population as well as water basin may keep this critical balance point that exists in all the great fishing areas and that a philosophy that elevates the fishing experience to a superior level than that of being an instinct of man for the search of his food be applied.."