Jaime Castillo watches as Daniel Mesa takes his turn with the rod.




After I spring for the plane ticket to Chile, I tell my friends there, all of them professional flyfishing guides, the most important things are to see everyone, eat good food and drink good wine together. Not that I will pass up any opportunity to go fishing, but the months of border closures have left me hungry for company.

In ordinary times, when arranging to cross multiple time zones could be accomplished as quickly as you can say “credit-card debt,” our group would have enjoyed plenty of togetherness during the annual season in Mongolia. That’s where we met initially, more than a decade ago, all of us engaged with the absorbing task of connecting anglers to taimen, the world’s largest trout.

But Mongolia hosted no tourists in 2020. Or 2021. And when I considered the state of the pandemic in March 2022, the possibilities for the upcoming season seemed equally in peril. (In case you’re wondering, most taimen guides are not Chilean, but the alignment of Patagonia’s winter with Mongolia’s summer offers a distinct incentive.)…

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