A haircut? A mindset? Or, a fish? If you visit the Rio Irigoyen, you’re pretty certain to be looking for sea trout but, if Neptune smiles upon you, there’s an outside chance you might catch this beauty, the róbalo AKA Falklands mullet. Tom Clinton,* store manager of Farlows in London, encountered these fish recently. In Issue 22, he weighs in on the what, the where, the how and the who of this Wish List Fish.

A decent-sized róbalo

Angler Jonny Muir of Farlows Travel with a respectable robalo. Photo Tom Clinton

WHAT

The Patagonian Blenny, more commonly referred to as the ‘róbalo,’ is a South American species of notothenioid fish (whatever that means…  I found it on Wikipedia) that looks like a kind of redfish crossed with a load of other kak. It also goes by Falkland’s Mullet when it feels like it.  Latin name: Eleginops maclovinus (big fan of the film Superbad). It’s the only member of its genus, which makes it pretty badass.  The biggest I caught was just into double figures, though the guides claimed they’d had them up to 20-25lb.  Word is they taste damn good too, so it’s no surprise the locals net them pretty hard.

A dead róbalo in a local net

A róbalo dead in a net on the beach. Photo Tom Clinton

WHERE

Róbalo inhabit coastal waters around the bottom half of South America.  They prey on crustaceans, worms, small baitfish and octopuses so you’ll most commonly locate them along the coastline, often moving into river estuaries to feed. We fished for them in the mouth of the Río Irigoyen. They proved a lot of fun while we took a break from thrashing for sea trout.

Close up of a róbalo or Patagonia Blenny

Tom’s biggest róbalo to date. Photo Jonny Muir

HOW

Conehead strip-leeches and woolly buggers.  Anywhere between a 6-weight and a 9-weight will do.  Use a floating line but, depending on the pull of the tide, loop on a 10ft sink tip anywhere from standard intermediate to super-fast di7 with straight fluoro of about 15-20lb.  The idea is to get your fly to the bottom and bump it along to mimic a worm or some other critter on its daily commute.  You cast, you mend upstream a few times to get the fly down and then you pull long, slow strips. You’ve got to keep in touch with the line though, because when the take comes, it hits like a Tyson Fury jab.  If you’re quick enough to set the hook, you’re in for a treat as these things can pull like hell.

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WHO

I was there with Farlows Travel (farlowstravel.com) and we fished with the sea trout hunters at the end of the world (worldsendlodgerioirigoyen.com). Sure the primary target of the trip was Salmo trutta but, when the main river flooded, we had a lot of fun chasing these mad things.

* I am an obsessively average fly fisher and snowboarder – two things London drastically lacks. Follow me on insta: @london_rivercreeper

Check out the rest of issue 22, below for free.