At The Gates Of Antarctica
The Complete Fly Fisherman|Jan/Feb/Mar 2021
Mauritia Kirchner falls in love with the far­flung Falkland Islands.
Mauritia Kirchner

Land Rovers, machine guns and fishing rods. It is a sad fact that most of us associate the Falkland Islands with the first two rather than the third – a war zone afflicted by armed conflict in the early 1980s, somewhere in the South Atlantic. Hardly anybody knows much about the fishing possibilities of the Falkland Islands, neither the Internet nor magazines offer any deeper insights. Following the quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “You only see what you know,” I decided to venture on that trip to get an impression of the Falklands for myself. My travel companion Eddie Jensen and I used the so-called airbridge, a regular direct flight with an Airbus A330 operated by the Royal Air Force from the Brize Norton military base in England. The flight, which is also open for civilians, takes about 18 hours including a short stopover, landing at Mount Pleasant base. (You can also get there with the Chilean airline LATAM via flights from the South American continent.)

The Falkland Islands are located approximately 500km east of South America between the 51st and 52nd latitude. They comprise about 12,000 square kilometres and consist of 750 islands. They are in fact an outpost of Antarctica, yet they do not count as an Antarctic archipelago. The Falklands are autonomous with their own parliament; however, they are still considered a British overseas territory. The population is a mere 2900 people plus about 1000 members of the British military stationed at Mount Pleasant base. Three quarters of the Falkland Islanders live in the capital Stanley, while the other quarter inhabits huge estates where sheep are raised. Between 500,000 and 700,000 sheep are scattered all over the so-called “Camp”. It is a world preserved in its original state – a wonderful, scarcely populated landscape with breathtaking wildlife in which one can marvel at penguins, sea lions and whales.

THE FISHING

What makes the isles so interesting for anglers is that they are home to big sea trout. When the first Europeans came to the Falkland Islands they only found unknown fish that were barely larger than 20cm. After a couple of stocking attempts between 1940 and 1950 of European brown trout, the trout began to settle in, and it was during the mid-1950s that the first big fish (up to 5.5kg) were caught. The European brown trout has proven itself to be the ideal fish to stock in this region as it’s known as a fighter that can cleverly switch between fresh and salt water, having established a healthy existence along coastlines and river inlets. They feed on the richly laden table of the Falkland Islands’ coasts and easily grow into specimens of more than 10lb. It was Alison Faulkner who caught an incredible 22lb trout in 1992, and who still holds the record to this day.

There are also brown trout that do not migrate to the sea; they are usually slimmer in shape as their food mostly consists of insects.

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