Monday, March 31, 2008

The Mink Menace

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.

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