Fly-fishing from the Mother of all Mother-ships

Don Oliver

Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to fly-fish from, and spend a week on, what can only be described as the ultimate Mother-ship. To set the stage one needs to have an understanding of what constitutes a Mother-ship. For fly-fishing purposes, a Mother-ship is any ship where you eat and sleep, then are taken to a location to fish every morning. Therefore, a Mother-ship can be anything from a single-wide trailer on a barge, to the vessel we were on, and everything in between.

We were on the Nomads of the Sea, Atmosphere. A 168-foot ship based in Puerto Mont, Chile. In my opinion, the Atmosphere is what every Mother-ship hopes to become.

To fully describe the Nomads of the sea adventure would take more words than this column allows. Plus, I need to tell you about the fly-fishing from the Atmosphere, which can be described simply as the ultimate toy box.

First, in an engineering feat, on the back of the ship are arranged boats for fun and adventure. There are four Zodiacs with 25-horse power motors, a fifth Zodiac with twin-250‘s, three jet boats of various sizes, and more khaki’s than you count. The piece de resistance of toys is a helicopter, used to ferry the guests to far reaches of the Chilean rivers, lakes, glaciers, and forests.

Want to guess how many other people were seen at the locations all these toys made possible?

Also on the Atmosphere are three hot tubs, a sauna, a masseuse, very comfortable quarters, a wonderful staff that out numbers the guests, great food and wonderful Chilean wines and fly-fishing, too. While I really don’t like the term “bucket list”, I have to say; spend the kids’ inheritance or college funds, but get to Chile and the Atmosphere.

A typical day of fly-fishing begins by meeting on the holding deck for the helicopter. You, and your assigned fishing partner for the day, are loaded on the helicopter and flown to either a lake or river. The lakes have clarity of over ten feet, and the rivers are crystal clear. When you arrive at a lake your guide is already there with a drift boat that has been pre-positioned earlier in the year. If you are delivered to a river your guide is there, inflating a river raft.

Once you are deposited at your assigned beat, that no one else has seen or fished for weeks, the fun begins. Whether you are on a lake or stream your guide is most likely to suggest you use a sinking tip line, with a really big ugly fly. Your guide wants you to catch lots of big rainbow or brown trout and this is the best way to it.

As hard as it is to believe, I threw my guides a curve. I wanted to fly-fish with dry flies, and only dry. The guides had a hard time understanding why any gringo would cast dries. We came to an understanding; I would cast dries when they weren’t looking, and sinking tips when they watched me. It worked out pretty well. Except I was always in the back of the boat so they couldn’t see me.

How did my numbers and sizes compare to those that fly-fished on the dark side? Well, in two days of a betting pool with two other anglers my two 20-inch browns didn’t come close to winning. I didn’t care; I was in Chile based on a Mother-ship that moved every night to a new location giving me new opportunities to lose more of my children’s inheritance.

After a morning of fly-fishing, a picnic lunch cooked on shore was served.

It included wine or soft drinks, on tables with China and linens, accompanied by salad and desert. We then fly-fished until the helicopter picked us up and delivered us back to the Atmosphere.

Evening activities started with a nap, followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, then dinner. The evening was capped off with a movie of everyone’s activities filmed and edited by the staff while we napped.

After a good night’s sleep,  all was repeated.

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