Argentina’s Parana River Delta is second only to the Amazon River in size. But as viewed from a floating duck camp located tens of miles from even the nearest dirt road, you’d hardly know the difference–wild, unspoiled marsh stretching to the horizon in all directions. And ducks. Lots of them. Accessing such remoteness requires an hour-and-a-half boat ride, but accommodations, services and hospitality are far from spartan. To the contrary. Immersed in the middle of nowhere, world-class duck hunting is just minutes away. Those that crave wild ducks in truly wild places will appreciate hearing about this new adventure destined to become absolute legend.

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What Do Fly Fishermen & Hunters Have in Common?

Wanting to be in that wild place, wanting to be knee deep in a stream and casting and there not being another human being within miles of you.

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am smack dab in the middle of absolute nowhere. I’m talking BFE Argentina like I’ve never, ever experienced. I thought I had experienced, but I had not experienced until recently. I am in the middle of the Paraná River delta. Let me tell you how I got here. I drove a few hours out of Buenos Aires and hopped onto a motorboat and drove 2 hours down a tributary. The Paraná River Delta is the largest delta in South America, second only to the amazing Amazon. We’re talking tens of miles from the nearest dirt road, even more from pavement. It’s truly wild and remote. It’s half the distance of the place we used to call Rio Salado that we no longer offer. And it is twice as remote, twice as wild. The boat ride the last hour and a half to the mothership where we presently sitting. Char Dog at my feet, and no other hunt in Argentina. And maybe even the world is as remote as where I’m sitting. Joining me today is my host, Mr. Lucho Alba. Thank you for the amazing couple of days, Lucho. It has been what I needed besides just trigger, put on the shooting, the duck and experience which I had to offer. This is the kind of place that I think all of humanity craves wildness, especially us duck hunters. But thank you. I’ve had an amazing time.

Lucho Alba: Thanks to you, Ramsey. It’s been a pleasure to meet you personally. I was very much looking forward to meeting you, and in a way, I knew you through social media, so in a way, I really was looking forward to meeting you personally and kind of like, learn a lot about you and what you do in life and meeting Char here, sitting in between us, which it’s a new friend now.

Ramsey Russell: Our world famous Martha. Martha, thanks for making introductions, you’re from her home province of La Pampa?

Lucho Alba: Yes, sir. Yeah. I was born and raised in La Pampa, which is not a small province in terms of size, but quite a small in population. So since a little kid, I’ve been always used to being very much, like, alone and in a way, looking for, always adventures, hunting, fishing. So that’s what my father taught me, and that’s what I love doing.

Ramsey Russell: When she told me about this trip, knowing I was looking for somewhere wild, knowing that I’ve just got to have wild, you know, what I’m looking for? I’m looking for somewhere that’ll never be developed. Somewhere that it’s almost like a lot of us, like a lot of us hunters, I think we’re genetically programmed to try to find somewhere that the closest thing that we can find to where maybe no other human being has ever stood and fired a shotgun or set foot. I don’t know what it is about me that just drives me to this. And she told me about it vaguely, and I’ll be honest with you, Lucho, I’ve gotten myself into some stuff. I’ve done podcasts before about doing real Ramsey shit, where I’ve gotten myself into predicaments. You know around the world looking for the complete opposite is true. She wrote me she could tell with the Instagram stories and everything else going on. She said, you look real, real happy. I said, I am ecstatic. I have found paradise. I have found something even more wild and remote than I had ever dreamed of here in Argentina. But my question first to you is, how in the heck did you find this place? What brought Lucho and his family smack dab in the middle of nowhere Argentina? What brought you here?

Lucho Alba: Well, this, in a way, started, like, 16 years ago. We started with our first project, a fishing lodge in southern Patagonia.

Ramsey Russell: Fishing.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, exactly. So even though I’m a hunter, my number one passion is fishing, and fly fishing in particular, because my father raised me as a fly fisherman. So since my very early fishing experiences, I had a fly rod with me. And so, well, that has taken me to very remote locations. So for me, is that something that always, as you were saying, I crave about being in, feeling like the only single soul in places? That’s something for me, it’s been always, like, talking about it gives me goosebumps.

Ramsey Russell: I guess that’s something serious fly fishermen and hunters have in common, isn’t it? Wanting to be in that wild place, wanting to be knee deep in a stream and casting and there not being another human being within miles of you.

Lucho Alba: Absolutely. Yeah. For me, it’s like once you’re fishing and you just don’t see a single soul around you. Like, happens in our lodge in the south. It becomes almost like meditation. You start going into a zone, so it’s like nobody else around you. You just hear the nature. You hear the sounds of a fish rising or whatever, the wind, et cetera, et cetera. I think that, in a way, helps you. We as humans in our day to day activities, kind of have stress and this. And then all of a sudden, you are in those places and really kind of removes all that stress and really brings you back to the basics of life. And I think that I always use it to clean myself from my day to day activities, which I think I mentioned to you that I’m a lawyer. You can do any jokes. I’m fine. You know that we lawyers, we don’t have a heart. Okay? So you can go ahead with any lawyer jokes.

Ramsey Russell: I know you well enough to know you do have a heart. You talk about getting in that zone, and you talk about the wildlife in wildness. And I’m sitting on the second floor of the mothership. You call it the gypsy. And we’re in the dining room, and it’s all glass, and I can look around, and for as far as the human eye can see, it’s just marsh out front of. It’s just marsh all the way to the horizon. There’s no builders, no smokestacks. I have not heard a plane in three nights. I haven’t seen jet lights flying over. I haven’t seen contrails in the sky. I’ve not heard a motor vehicle. I’ve not heard nothing but wildlife. The only sound I hear is the generator when you all turn it on. And a motorboat. That’s it. Just you all’s motorboat. Nobody else. Just us. It’s like we’ve got millions of acres to ourselves here. And the boat ride in the dark is very. You’re talking about it soothing your soul and creating things in your head, because beneath the hum of that outboard motors, we’re going ten minutes, 20 minutes to a blind. In the morning, it’s pitch black, dark. We’ve got the lights off that. The water is shimmering like asphalt in front of us. Wet asphalt, I should say. I don’t know. It’s a tranquility that I have a hard time finding hardly anywhere else. And I get off in my head, my thoughts in my heart. Yesterday morning, we stepped off into a duck hole, and as the sun came up, I wouldn’t say it was foggy. It was just real humid. It was like heavy dew everywhere. And just the humidity was just kind of hanging 20 foot off the ground. And when that sun came up and lit the world, it’s like I’d put on peach colored glasses and there was that tall marsh grass. And I’m going to say I sat where I could see with my naked eye. I sat for ten minutes looking at the ducks landing in the decoys. Char dog, tell it about to break my leg. It was hitting my leg so hard because she could see those duck, too. And beyond, just the ducks are, oh, my gosh. The abundance of sheer bird life, of wildlife out here is just mind numbing. And it’s so hard. But, by God, when I started shooting, I got in that zone. I had some misses, no doubt, but I had a lot of hits, too, because you get in that zone and you get in that rhythm. And I tell you something else. A lot of the places we go around the world, we got a very generous limit down here in Argentina. But sometimes you just have to take what you get. You shoot your quota, shoot 25 ducks. Bam, bam, bam. Not here. All the hunts we’ve been on here, I paced myself, and it still went too quickly, but I paced myself and allowed myself just to shoot drake Rosy bills or white cheek pintails. I gave the teal a pass, and yesterday I quit shooting white cheek pintails because there were so many rosy bills, and I tried to shoot just drake rosy bills. And that in and of itself is just extremely rare to have that opportunity. So it’s a layered amount of wildness and opportunity that you find in wild places. It’s good for the soul, it’s good for the heart. It’s good for the trigger finger. It’s been amazing like that. Now that I’ve kind of gotten off that, I’m going to throw this. What was it like growing up? You got into fly fishing? When were you introduced to the outdoors?

Lucho Alba: Well, my father, since I grew up he was especially big game hunter in Argentina.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a big thing in Argentina, Big Game hunting.

Lucho Alba: Especially where I live in La Pampa, you could say it’s red stag capital of Argentina, La Pampa, especially in an area called (queue) and around those –

Ramsey Russell: A lot of trophies.

The Fly on the Water

If you are not trying, you don’t have any chances. 

Lucho Alba: Yeah, a lot of trophies. Even though red stag, it’s European. So it was introduced really got really well in Argentina. And so in La Pampa, there’s kind of like a tradition in big game hunting and red stag in particular. And so my father, he was big time red stag, but also he liked outdoors, he liked sports. He likes fishing. So he picked up fly fishing maybe when he was in the 20s. So as I grew up, I got used to seeing my father going hunting or going fishing. And then, yeah, as soon as I could, he started. At first, he was giving me a spinning rod, but for some reason, I was always attracted to fly fishing. And in those years in Argentina, it was very, very difficult to get a fly rod because this was in the early 80s. So if my father would tell me, well, if I gave you my fly rod and you broke it, I may not fish for a year because he had just a single rod, but, well, sooner or later, he finally gave me a fly rod, and from then on, I completely got attached to it and very passionate. So you could say I’m kind of like, been a fly fisherman most of my teenage, and from then on, I completely became a fanatic of that. So any material I could read, I could see to learn. So when we started this project in Patagonia, it was like a dream come true for me, because all of a sudden, all the people I had read about, same as you are, with duck hunting, we would meet this well known, famous fly fisherman that you may see in a magazine or may see in a movie, in a tv show. And all of a sudden, I was meeting these personalities that have taught me a lot and have been really interesting to meet for myself personally. And so it’s been more than just like a business project for me, as I’m more and more into this, like fly fishing, hunting, it’s like I’m less and less of a lawyer, and I won’t stop because I love it. Of course, yeah, you work, you try to do good job, earn money, but at the same time, it’s good to do what you are passionate about. And for me, this is my passion, and that’s what I like to do. And that’s why I, less and less of a lawyer.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about what your dad said about, because you were talking about a life lesson your dad imparted to you while fly fishing, that you’ve applied to business, that you’ve applied to hunting and fishing, and it was about your fly being in the water.

Lucho Alba: Yes. Well, when I was starting, my father would teach me to fly fish, and I became really caught into trying to learn how to cast because I always have liked sports. So in a way, casting, fly fishing, you need to develop a technique and how to do it. But it’s like sometimes you get so much into casting that you forget that you’re actually casting in order to catch a fish and you are fishing. So my father will say, okay, son, if the fly is not on the water, you are not actually fishing. Yeah, exactly. So I would be like 20 false casts. And then. So it’s like, the more you get to learn the sport, you realize that, yeah. The more the fly is on the water, more are your chances of catching at the same time. It’s like most times you’re going to get rejections on your fly or you’re not going to catch a fish. So in a way, my father was always the fly, always on the water. And so in a way, I apply that to anything that it would be like, I know in business, it’s like, yeah, if your fly is on the water, you have a chance to do things, to sell. Even I would apply that to when I was a teenager or to go and try to pick up a girl. The fly has to be on the water. If you are not trying, you don’t have any chances. So in my case, I would get a lot of rejections, but that can develop a hard layer of in the skin, become used to rejection. And most times, yeah, you’re not catching. So it’s like, yeah, the fly on the water. That’s my father’s lesson.

Ramsey Russell: Keep the fly on the water.

Lucho Alba: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: That is a life lesson I’ve gotten while I’m here hunting with you and fishing with you is just keep my fly in the water, man.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. So I apply to anything. It’s like I keep the fly on the water forever for whatever reason. That’s kind of like one of my core things that my father has taught me.

Ramsey Russell: Where did you learn such amazing English? Because you speak very good English.

Lucho Alba: Well, thank you, my mother.

Ramsey Russell: And you get context. That’s a big thing. Excuse me, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but it’s not just that you speak English and have an english vocabulary with an accent, which is fine, but I’m saying you get context. I’ve cracked some jokes. A lot of times, english jokes don’t translate. You get it? And we’re not going to tell this joke because it’s politically incorrect. But the other day, you went to tell me one of the single only jokes I can remember, and I couldn’t believe that you knew that joke. But you get context. Where did you learn such amazing English?

Lucho Alba: Well, you know, my mother now is retired, but she’s an English professor, was a professor in University of La Pampa, which is quite a prestigious English university. And so my mother, if you hear my mother speak English, you would think she’s from England because she studied English from England, British English. So in a way, her accent and everything sounds very British and not US. Although when she was 16, she did, like, a scholarship in the US, but still, she worked all her life to have kind of like a British style accent. But anyway, so in my house, there was always a presence of English, like books. Sometimes we will have a foreign student at home that my mother will bring –

Ramsey Russell: Like an exchange.

Paving the Way for a Business in Duck Hunting 

Lucho Alba: Yeah, exactly. Which is interesting that she never, ever taught me, like, a single word. Sometimes maybe she would correct me, but she never taught me any English. But she makes sure that I was attending an English institute or that I was keeping up with my studies. And at first, I was like, why she not? But actually, I think that she was very smart, because sometimes if your mother is telling you to do things, you probably do the opposite. Or, like, you’re like, oh, why she’s bothering me with this? But she made sure I was attending English. And then in a way, that gave me a good background. And also, I was lucky enough to go to a scholarship in the US when I was 16. It was like a 2 month student program in Colorado in a small town called Grand Junction.

Ramsey Russell: I know where Grand junction is.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, the neat town. For me, it was great experience. I went to a family house. There was a rather old couple that they had their kids growing up already, so I was like their new kid. So I was like their new kid at home. So my mother there, Naomi, she would take me anywhere I wanted. And also at that time, I was very passionate about fly fishing and basketball. I used to play.

Ramsey Russell: I was just fixing to ask, when you were in Colorado, did you go fly fishing?

Lucho Alba: Yeah, I did some fly fishing, but it was winter, so, yeah, it was more like, yeah, I fished a couple places, but it wasn’t really the season. We would go skiing in the weekends. They were the years of Michael Jordan. So I was very much passionate about basketball, and there they had the college, Mesa State College. So I kind of like sort of worked my way into the team. I couldn’t play, but they allowed me to train with the team there. So for me, it was an awesome experience, not just as a student of English that I was there, too, but also kind of like interact with real students that were playing. Of course, they play better than me, but for basketball reason, it was awesome as well for my game because I was getting coached and many things that basketball in the US probably the number one country for basketball. And so for me, it was like fantastic. Yeah, absolutely. And so all that, in a way, I feel that when you are trying to learn a language, if you have a real interest in something, then you will really learn the language because you are really paying attention. So I would, for example, watch games of the NBA that were in those years in Argentina, you could only see in English. So I wanted to understand what they were saying about the players play, the stats and so on. So I would try to understand as much as possible, and that gave me understanding of the language and like you say, context. And same with fly fishing. And so I feel that’s been one of the most helpful things I’ve done in my life. Learning English has helped me with friendships, work, now with fly fishing and hunting, and I’m always working. For example, when I’m traveling, I’m listening always to podcasts in English, so interesting for things I want to learn or understand, but also keeps my vocabulary in a way, at least kind of like in the same level or growing, if possible. So in a way, all that helps me to have a decent English.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a big deal. You’re in the hospitality industry, and not just for a couple of months. You’re in the hospitality industry for practically the whole year. But between Patagonia fly fishing with a couple of lodges, and here fishing and duck hunting and la pampa red stag, you’re dealing with a lot of English speaking clients, and it seems to be very important to you that your staff speak English, and a lot of them do speak very good English here. And that’s important from your standpoint. But it’s also important. It’s appreciated by a guy like me that shows up, and I can speak very primitive, rudimentary caveman. I can say water, I can say bathroom, but it helps me to be able to communicate about important things down here. And I think a lot of American tourists appreciate being able to show up somewhere and somebody be able to speak the language talking about English. I can remember a friend of mine over in the Netherlands. He and his wife went, I don’t know, somewhere on a cruise, and they hit it off with a Japanese couple. And the Netherlands couple didn’t speak Japanese, and the Japanese didn’t speak Dutch. But they both spoke enough English. They all spoke enough English. They could communicate and go out to eat dinner and have a good time. So English is kind of important. Is that why it’s important to you that your staff speak English? Why you encourage them to speak English?

Lucho Alba: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I always tell our guides, our staff, that probably the best investment they can do is to improve and learn English. I think that if they can do that, they are going to improve the quality of service we are providing. And also clients are going to understand what they are saying. But also, usually there’s clients that come here, they want to learn about Argentine culture. For example, our chef explaining every night or every meal the dishes we are serving. So, like Alan, our chef is going to say, well, we are going to eat this tonight, blah, blah, prepare in this way, and blah, blah, blah. And in certain desserts, he will say, you should try each ingredient differently and then combine them and so on. And same for our manager, bones, and our guides. Fishing or hunting, trying to provide advice to a client, for example, in fishing, but usually someone trying to learn how to cast in fly fishing. So a guide, knowing English, it increases the chances of a client to get better results. I think that’s very important. So that I was, excuse my expression, by busting the balls of each one here to say, hey, you need to. It’s good for you, but it’s good for us as well. So I think that really improves the experience of our guests.

Words of Wisdom: Keep Shooting

You are definitely not going to kill 100% of the duck that you never pull the trigger on.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I’d do my part teaching the guides English. Very rudimentary. And there’s two very important words I teach them. One is Char, and that means dead duck. Boom. I shoot the gun. If I say Char, that means I hit the duck. In case they were looking at something else. If they hear the word f bomb shouted intensively, they know I missed. In fact, some guides I hunt with around this country, if I miss a duck, they say it for me.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, I’ve seen that, have seen that these days. Yeah, I’m a witness of that.

Ramsey Russell: Well, but look, I could write a book on missing ducks. I can hit with the best of them, but, by God, I can miss with the best of them, too. And I don’t know what it is streaky about that. I can be on a missing streak, and then go make the most spectacular shot. Or I can be on a streak of making the most spectacular shots and then go through a ten shot miss, ten duck miss, clearing. And I have no idea what it is, but I know this, and one of the biggest pointers I’ve got for shotgun and ducks is this. You are definitely not going to kill 100% of the duck that you never pull the trigger on. So just load up and keep shooting, man. Keep shooting. That’s my go to advice.

Lucho Alba: Keep the fly on the water. Yeah, keep shooting.

Ramsey Russell: Fly in the water. That’s exactly right. Keep the lead in the air. That’s the same thing.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, I’m going to take that one. Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Let’s talk a little bit about this duck hunt, because that’s the focus of this conversation. It’s this very unique Parana river delta duck hunt, coming to soon. I guarantee you this hunt is coming and it’s going to be absolutely legend. Just in the few days I’ve been here. Two days posting up in stories and Instagram posts and everything else, my phone, my text messages, my email and especially my inbox and Instagram has absolutely gone nuclear. It is getting red hot. So I’m very excited about this hunt, but I want to talk a little bit about it. First off, you grew up Perdiz hunting. I know. Red stag, especially fly fishing. How important? Or did you grow up duck hunting also at all? No, it’s not really a big deal down here.

Duck Hunting Culture: The Popularity of Duck Hunting in Argentina

 We are in duck paradise. 

Lucho Alba: No, duck hunting for some reason, which I don’t know why it’s not popular. So some people do duck hunt, but it’s not something like in the US that’s so popular. And there’s like a culture of duck hunting. And you have a lot of people that really know about duck hunting. As we going back to one of your first questions that why we are here and the area and why we came here. And so the idea of this project of having a mothership and was being able to move according to water levels and to provide maybe every one or two days move to the new location. And so as we started first with fishing and then with hunting, it’s like to show the hunters new areas and new places in this vast marshland that we move. And at the same time, the clients have this perception of we are alone here, nobody else. No cars, no roads, no one around you. And hearing the noises or the sounds of the river, for me, that’s very special. At night, you are in bed. I know the generator is shut down and you hear just the river running or the birds.

Ramsey Russell: I think that’s amazing. In the dark, we go out to hunt, but when we go out to fish in the afternoons or duck hunt in the afternoons, when we come back from the morning duck hunt, it’s daylight. And it just never ceases to amaze me how many birds there are, not just ibis’s and coops and all kinds of birds I can’t name, but ducks everywhere. It’s like every time we round a bin, ducks get up or they jump off. They’re in a slew just behind the front. Little natural levee. If we drive a mile, if we drive 10 miles, there’s ducks getting up and bowling around the whole time. We are in duck paradise. And I can see where if you were out here fishing, you saw these ducks, you knew that American duck hunters like to come down here, you say, hey, I’m going to start a duck hunt and talk about the mothership. We’ve hinted around at it. First off, you were telling me a little bit about where you got it and the shape it was in and what all did you do? Because it’s a very well appointed barge. It is super appointed. I mean, the bedrooms, you got five staterooms. Downstairs, they’ve all got wood paneling, they got comfortable bedding, they’ve got showers, and they all got ensuite facilities. But the view right here, when you walk in the glass door coming up here, upstairs, you got the view looking out at the marsh and the river around you. But, I mean, you’ve got this massive collection of good wine.

Lucho Alba: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: It’s perfect. Man, I just did not imagine. I’ve been into some very remote places that were comfortable, that felt like just an old school Mississippi duck camp. No complaints at all about it, except that I just really didn’t plan to be so well pampered here. I almost say luxurious. I can’t imagine a detail I would change. It’s so nice and comfortable. How many people could you put on this bar, do you think? What would a good group for Duck hunters on a good maximum size.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, anywhere from six, eight. We can handle them. Even starting with four some people. Four is a good group too and. Yeah, the idea, when we started thinking of this project, we started thinking how we can come up with an idea that is completely different for what was done in Argentina. And, well, after going through many, many different kind of thoughts, kind of like brainstorming, we came up with a mothership project. So then it was about finding kind of like the right boat or if you were going to build it or buy it and then kind of adapt to our needs. So we ended up finding this boat. It’s called the name the Parana Gypsy, that was built in around in the late 80s.

Ramsey Russell: I had no idea.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. And so it was very well built. It’s just that the original owner that built it then sold it to a naval engineer. And so this guy was using it as kind of like his house near Va Integra, close by. And so he was selling it. And so, going through different ideas, we found this by one of those brokers that sell kind of like boats, et cetera. And so he was very well built, just not well maintained. But also he needed a bunch of work to adapt to the needs of a fisherman, of a hunter, of tourism. And so, in a way, it took us almost like a year and probably twice as much money as we had thought in the original. Well, in Argentina, construction workers are known to be difficult. Well, naval construction workers are twice as difficult. And they live up to their reputation. But anyway, it was like just going at it, keep working at it. And finally, we very happy with how we ended the project. How was in a way, shaped in a way. I think that. Yeah, we did, actually, without trying to sound like I’m bragging, but it ended up being a really good house. Set up how you access the cruiser from the sides, because the original frame, you could access only from the front. So for fishing, for hunting, it’s much better that you access from the sides.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah. Because we step just right onto the boat. It’s just like a single step down onto the boat that transfers around. It’s amazing. It’s so convenient.

Lucho Alba: Exactly. Yeah. So we have one of our partners and close friends that we also do some construction in Buenos Aires. So anyway, he came up with many of the ideas that my father and myself would tell him, okay, this is what is needed. So he would then put those into kind of plans, floor plans, and how. Okay, what about the rooms, for example, we didn’t have rooms for all the staff. So in a way, we also build rooms for the staff. All the rooms have ensuite bathrooms and not just one bathroom to share. And so all that took a lot of planning. So we use also a naval engineer that also because one thing is to make it from an architectural point of view. But another thing is to make it logical from a navigation, the weight, keep it balanced, et cetera. And so all that came, and I’m quite happy with how it worked out.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I’ll brag on you as an engineering feat of sorts to be out in the middle of nowhere on a mothership duck camp. You all have got the hottest water and the most greatest water pressure of hardly anywhere. I’ve ever spent time in Argentina. I’ve been here for six weeks, and I finally had to turn on the cold water to cool off the water before I get in there and take a shower.

Lucho Alba: Nice.

Ramsey Russell: Last night it was amazing. It was a really good shower. How in the world do you achieve something like that? I mean, it’s crazy. And something else that I think is just mind blowing is the wifi. You’ve got wifi here, man. I’ve seen TVs around. Who watches TV while you’re at duck camp? You all got wifi. Great wifi right here. How do you do something like that?

Lucho Alba: Well, both the water pressure and also the water heating and wifi, those things kind of like took us a while to fine tune. But over kind of research and this and that, we were able to pressure. After a while, we kind of struggled with that, but finally we got it right. And then with the Internet, the same thing. We tried satellite and many different things that didn’t work. But finally we were able to through Anthenas from town and looking at the areas we were covering. So we were able to achieve no matter where we are moving with the cruiser, in this huge marshland, as you described, we can have wi fi. So there are very few locations that sometimes we may be a little out of reach or the signal comes and go, but usually most places we are moving will have wifi. And as a backup, we have satellite Internet. So even when we don’t have wifi signal with the antennas we have, the plan B would be the satellite dish we have as a backup plan.

Ramsey Russell: We come to wilderness to escape the trappings of modern life. But you kind of got to have wifi.

Lucho Alba: Yeah

Ramsey Russell: You kind of got to have it. I worked for the guy one time that was very proud of. He had a massive flat screen television and 18 rooms in his lodge, and he didn’t have wifi. And I’m like, you got to have wifi this day and age. You’ve got to have wifi. And your wifi here, I would say, is as quick as my wi fi at home. I’m just amazingly impressed.

Lucho Alba: That’s awesome.

Ramsey Russell: Like I say, we’re in the wildest place I’ve ever hunted, especially in Argentina. And yet I’ve got all of the amenities of homes who include hot water pressure and wifi. How good does that get? All the staterooms have a name, and mine is named Anenga. And I asked you what that was. What is Anenga?

Lucho Alba: Yeah. So it’s a bird. Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Anenga. It’s a water turkey.

Lucho Alba: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve got a special request. I’ve got some clients, and they’re probably listening, that I want to place in that particular room. They earned that name, and they’re both saying, oh, shit. Right now, when they hear me say, I’m going to put them in the water turkey room, they got a reputation to keep up with.

Lucho Alba: Okay, we’ll remember that.

Ramsey Russell: How often do you all move the boat? Because one day here, that’s kind of a big production. Not for me, not for a client. But you all do move. We did move one day. I don’t know how far we moved, but he said they drove for an hour and a half, 2 hours, whatever. And how often do you move, and why do you move the mothership? Because portability is a huge deal. I’m not just anchored to a lodge. You’ve got mobility, and there’s got to be looking at the satellite map and looking at his GPS map in the captain’s room, there are gazillions of miles of tributaries like this. How often do you move? Where do you move? When do you move? Why do you move?

Lucho Alba: Yeah. So both for fishing and for hunting purposes. And also, I think that makes it a lot more interesting for guests. We usually tend to move maybe every two days. That’s the usual that we do. But it may happen that, for example, we are, like, fishing or hunting some productive locations that may take. I mean, for example, yeah, it’s worth staying three days. And so in that case. So it’s not like we are attached to one specific plan. It goes more like what the guys are. For example, when it comes to fishing, sometimes you have Dorado, usually will follow migrations of Sabalo as we caught yesterday. Remember Sabalo, that fish? So that would be the main food source of Dorado. But they also like, for example, you have different, you have sardines, you have small bait fish and so on. And so Dorado, for different reasons, will sometimes move and migrate. And so sometimes it’s really good to, when we are more into fishing and it’s not duck hunting season, we move sometimes to areas where we are seen or the guides are seen. Hey, we saw this bunch of sabalo, bunch of sardines coming up. And so, for example, this time of the year, sardines are migrating. So sometimes that can be helpful for fishing reasons. Well, the same comes for duck hunting. So, for example, we would move, like after hunting places, we move to new locations because-

Ramsey Russell: It’s find fresh, unpressured ducks.

Lucho Alba: Exactly. But also I think that it adds to the experience. I know, what was your perception where we’re moving? But my case that I’ve been here many, many times, every time that the cruiser moves, I enjoy it. So we always do it with a guest on board because we feel it’s part of the experience

Ramsey Russell: I enjoyed watching the scenery go by and kind of riding up front and watching it and feeling the breeze. But at the same time, I had had two, maybe three glasses of wine for lunch and went down to my bed, laid down, and those inboard motors purring and rumbling and the wave action. I slept like a baby in his mama’s arms. I mean, I went into a deep sleep when those motors running, I’d almost encourage you to crank them up every day at nap time, the boat back and forth.

Lucho Alba: I did the same. Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Amazing.

Lucho Alba: And you’re not the first to say that. It’s quite common that we hear that.

Ramsey Russell: Like, the area we’ve been duck hunting. I don’t know, but I’m just going to guess the three lagoons that we hunted were in a stretch of three or 4 miles apart. That’s what I’d guesstimate based on the amount of time we went to three different or four different spots, actually, because we hunted one afternoon. But we’ve been hunting from dry blinds. And obviously, because you can see from the water marks on the banks and the current and everything else, the water has dropped about 2 meters, six and a half feet, seven feet. The river has dropped. The Paraná River has dropped. All its tributaries have dropped. And so we’ve been hunting in dry ground, maybe an inch deep mud or something. But dry ground, dry blinds, shooting ducks. And it just occurred to me the other day, man, if you put six foot of water in this slew or six foot of water around here, some of those areas, I’d have been in eyeball deep water. And I said, what do you do then? He said, we just move further up to find the waters because ducks like shallow water, and that’s where this portability that you all can get around between the mothership and the smaller duck boats, you all can get around and find that suitable habitat. Would you say that the duck hunts are always dry, or might you ever be standing in knee deep water or something?

Lucho Alba: Yeah. So since we started scouting and then seeing the area for duck hunting, I think it was 2018. So we’ve seen, like, for example, 2018 was like, one of the record years of high water. Okay, so 2018 and 19 were high waters. And then you’ve been to Argentina many, many times, and so you’ve seen that as well. And so then 2020, 2021, and even 2022 has had very low waters. So, yeah, over the years, either when it’s high water. Yeah, sometimes we are moving to location that have available of some dry lands, but at the same time. So you may be hunting. If it is very high, you may be hunting with water to your ankles, maybe, or maybe below your knee sometimes. So most cases, we try to find dry locations to have a comfortable blind. But, yeah, it may happen with those high water years that you are hunting with water to your thighs. Sorry, to your knees.

Best Duck Hunting Guides in Argentina

So we try to provide as good as an experience in a way to make it like a one in a lifetime trip and not just a duck hunting experience.

Ramsey Russell: And I’m going to brag on a couple of your guides, Tomas and Ramon. As someone that has been to your country many times, been around the world, those are two happy, hardworking, capable, friendly, likable duck guides I’ve ever met. But what surprised me pleasantly about how they worked together was we get up in the morning and no getting up at no 4:30 or 4:00 to eat. We kind of eat breakfast on bankers hours. Breakfast is at 5:30 or 6:00 because we’re right here. We’re in the marsh. It’s at 5:30 or 6:00. And then we pull on our way to step on the boat, drive a few minutes, and we just start running upriver. And with Ramon driving until we come up to Tomas, whose boat is on the bank. Lights are on. You can see him. There he is. We stop. Well, he’s already gone ahead. And when we get there, the blind is touched up. I mean, as good built a blind as I’ve ever hunted in anywhere. And the seats are ready. And you all’s got something I’ve never seen in Argentina. My buddies over at quack rack in America make something similar, but I’ve never seen this in Argentina. It’s like you all got almost like a coffee table. You push it down the mud. And I’m going to say it’s about two foot by three foot. Two foot by two foot, maybe. And it’s expanded metal and you got the ammo and you’ve got the coffee, and you’ve got everything laid out. And all I do is flip on my headlight, walk somewhere between ten yards and fifty yards on dry ground, and walk right into this beautiful blind, load my gun, start shooting ducks, that’s it. I mean, it’s all the decorder out. Everything’s ready. Take that as an extreme compliment, because that’s about as convenient of duck hunt as it possibly gets. That’s amazing.

Lucho Alba: Well, thank you. Very happy to hear that. And, yeah, I appreciate that. And knowing of your vast experience and many, many years of doing this and being a hardcore duck hunter, I mean, couldn’t be happier to hear that. And yeah, in a way, the idea of this program is not just provide great duck hunting, but like a whole experience from everything at the cruiser. Our food, our wines, drinks, service, all our stuff. Luckily, we are blessed with having met some very incredible, I would say, staff and guides. Our guides, for example. I’m very happy you like them. They are born and raised in this area. They come from a humble origin, families, but they are hardworking, they are knowledgeable, they like to learn. Like for example, yesterday that you were giving advice to them. They were really listening, and they are not just, oh, I know what I’m doing. They were really listening, and they like to learn a lot. And each time you have a hunter that can provide for them interesting insight, and they are like sponges. They are absorbing everything. And I think that’s very important when you think, you know, usually that’s when you are losing, actually, and the same for all our staff. So in a way, the idea is to provide the whole experience from the hospitality, each detail of the service, from our transfer into the cruiser, boat ride, our skiffs. Well, like I was saying, our food, et cetera. So we try to provide as good as an experience in a way to make it like a one in a lifetime trip and not just a duck hunting experience.

Ramsey Russell: Well, talk about the ride in and talk about the boys, because we got a late start. I got bogged down with an interview in Buenos Aires and we got a couple of hours late. Then we had a gas tank scare, let’s call it.

Lucho Alba: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: It just so happens, I mean, coincidentally, that the float or something where your fuel gauge goes off about 20 miles after we hit a piece of 18-wheel tire or something, just a little chunk that makes a noise when we roll over it. And I’m like, now if you had a holding your gas tank, I think we’d be done. But we’re fixing to fly off into the part of the drive that there ain’t no gas station. So we stop and check on it. Long story short, we get to the boat a little later than we had anticipated. A little later than you’d like. I know you’d like to get there earlier. And so a lot of the hour and a half ride getting here was in the dark and I was fixing to film or take a picture of something. I turned on my cell phone and Ramon kind of just politely hollered something back in Spanish. And you said he wants you to turn your phone off the light. Because I’m like, how in the world does he know? I mean, I can see the light. You see the glow of water real great, real perceptively without another light on, a headlamp or something on. But man, he knows this myriad of channels like the back of his hand because there were times we’d come to a fork or three and he knew just where to go to get us here. It was impressive. And I wanted to just say this too. We used to hunt a very wild and remote place, 130 sq mi of marsh. This area is obviously looking at the map, much bigger. But it was a long drive out of Buenos Aires. It was ten to twelve hours, unless the roads were muddy, then it might be fifteen hours. And here we just drive 3 hours. We hop on a boat, we’re here really and truly programmatically. What I like about this hunt is somebody could leave the United States, fly overnight, land in Buenos Aires, clear customs, get a cup of coffee and be here in time for a late lunch and catch an afternoon duck hunt. And then they could hunt the morning of their departure, be back here, eat lunch, get packed, square up and make that flight back to the United States. To be so wild and remote, that is utter convenience compared to some of the other places I’ve explored. And I just had to say that because it’s amazing. Now you brought up a detail about food and that, again, has been an amazing experience. It’s been an adventure in and of itself.

Lucho Alba: Thank you.

Ramsey Russell: It really, truly has. Where in the world do you find a chef like Alan? When I walked in, Alan struck me as an artist. His look, his dress. I said, like what I’d expect to see in art school. And when I meet a chef, that kind of strikes me as an artisan I’m like, boy, I’m in for something. This ain’t going to be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, man. Is he a chef? Where do you even find somebody like that?

Lucho Alba: Well, going back to when we started with the fly fishing lodges, we learned after a few mistakes, this is always like a trial and error and experience. And so, yeah, we learned that in order to have a great experience, food becomes very important. And my father and myself, we love wine, but we love also great food. We like to cook. And so at the same time, in order to have a chef in this location that isolated from the world, like being in a mothership, it’s not easy and it’s not for everybody. So it takes not just, I mean, of course you want to find a great chef, but also you need to find the right person for that, that are okay, that actually enjoy being isolated, remote. Not just because in our first years, same in the south, in Patagonia, we are very much isolated in a way different landscape, but similar to here you are in the middle of nowhere. And so it takes the right person there. And if not, you will know very fast. And so, yeah, luckily, over the years, first we started with another chef and then got to know Alan through a friend and he started working here. So usually we have two chefs that take turns. Usually Alan is our main chef, but we have a second one. In a way, they take turns because they need to go to meet their family, take a break, also in a way, to stay fresh in their mind.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Lucho Alba: You’ve been to hundreds of places in the world, and so finding staff, you need a fresh staff, they are happy that you are there to provide a great service. And, well, we always liked Alan’s cooking, but also he has a great personality, always willing to-

Ramsey Russell: Oh, God, he’s hilarious.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. As you mentioned, in my opinion, as you were talking earlier, a great chef, in a way, needs to be like an artist because he’s communicating through food to the plate. But also, in a way, I think it’s important. That’s why we like that he explains the dishes he’s serving because I think that in a way, food is not just the taste, but also the presentation, how it’s served and so on. I think that a whole experience, and in a way, that’s kind of like part of what we try to do here, provide a whole experience and not just duck hunting.

Beyond Duck Hunting: Dining on Duck

I think that guests come to Argentina. Yeah, of course, to duck hunt or fish, but also to experience Argentina. And I think that it’s important that we show that to the guest, both from fishing, our food, our wines. 

Ramsey Russell: And that’s important because both clients, whether fishing or hunting or both here, it’s the trip of a lifetime. And it’s not just the food be good. It’s that every little detail, that’s what I so much love about this program here. Every little detail, no detail is spared. And he does. He plates it very elegantly. I would call. I described the menu to someone that called yesterday. I said, well, I would call it gourmet. This is not just meat, potato food. This is gourmet. And it’s a very elegant presentation. And then he does come out and say, here’s what’s on your plate. And I’m sitting there watching the steam come off the beef and all around my plate, and I’m looking around my plate as he describes how he made each thing and what it is and why it is, and it’s amazing. And you’ve got such a huge wine selection. You pair it with the perfect malbec or white wine, if that’s the case for whatever we’re eating. And I appreciate that. How would you say that your menu reflects your country and your culture? And why is that important?

Lucho Alba: Yeah, in a way, I feel that. Yeah, it’s important. I think that guests come to Argentina. Yeah, of course, to duck hunt or fish, but also to experience Argentina. And I think that it’s important that we show that to the guest, both from fishing, our food, our wines. And so, for example, with my father, we’re very passionate and really like wine. And so, yeah, we feel that providing guests an experience that showing them wines, not just great malbecs from Mendoza, which are the most famous wines, but also from a province like La Pampa that doesn’t have such a history as Mendoza or San Juan or Patagonia wines, and also different wineries, different locations. Among Mendoza, for example, it really shows Argentina and shows much broader spectrum of things to guests than not just, well, we are serving a wine or a normal wine. We like to provide a very good experience into that. And same goes to food. So, yeah, of course, argentine beef is quite known or famous. So, yeah, having the weekly asado, for example, that we had yesterday with you and the staff, you know, it’s part of our culture because, well someone from the US, that if you come to visit me at my home and in the first two days, I don’t prepare for you a welcome masado, probably I’m not liking you much. Especially Buenos Aires, not so much. But in the interior of the know, especially as you go in smaller locations, rural. Yeah, like mate, as you’ve tried. But also, asado is like part of, like, for example, in Argentina, it’s very, very common that on Sunday lunches, you have an asado for the family, for friends. Or maybe in my town, most Wednesdays, we will get together with my friends and have an asado at night. So it’s like, not just eating, it’s about getting together, sharing a drink, nice wine stories, et cetera. So it could be friendship, could be family, could be you have a guest. So it’s like, I’m welcoming you to my house. We are having an asado for you as our guest. So the idea of, for example, an asado here is telling our guests, hey, guys, we are very happy that we’re here. This is how we do it. So it’s like, usually you have appetizers, you have empanadas, very typical of Argentina. And then you have different beef cuts, pork,sometimes you have the blood sausage that you’ve learned to like over the years.

Ramsey Russell: Blood sausage is an acquired taste, and I have acquired it. Finally, I like it. For anybody listening, it’s 60% coagulated blood. I’ll let that sit for a minute. But I do like it. It’s got a very unique flavor that I appreciate now. And speaking of that asado, you asked me yesterday when we were fishing, we haven’t been eating anything but meat over fire here. We’ve been eating very nice food. And you asked me, you said, do you like asados? I go, I love asados. I like meat cooked over fire. But what I really appreciated as you were out here showing me some wine and we were opening a bottle, is Bones was out there. He lit the grill, got it going. He was the grill master. But I noticed instead of being just three plate set, it was five plate set. So Tomas, both of them came in to eat with know. I like that. As Bones was cooking, he was no longer just the lodge manager, and the boys were no longer just the guides. We were all just here together sharing time. And I so enjoyed that last night. It brought a whole another air to a hunt, to an organized hunt. I felt like. I thought it was a very nice personal touch. Now, I’m going to say this, Alan, the other day, I think my first night here, he said something. He asked, do you like duck? I said, I love duck. It was cooked well. And we went out and shot some rosy bills and pintails and a few teal the first day. And we got home and lickety split, some of those birds had been cleaned. And Alan laid out the most spectacular, most beautiful duck recipe I have ever sunk my teeth into. Very simple. It was slightly marinated. Ducks on top of a squash.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Cream squash. And it sliced up nice. And then he made this reduction with blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and produced it and put it on top and then garnished that with something. My wife, who, Miss Anita, who will not eat duck, hardly. She said, I would come there just to eat whatever was on that plate. I said, it’s duck. She says, I’m in. Just how beautiful it was. But it tasted delicious.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. He cooks it very well. Simple, but at the same time, in a way, as you were talking yesterday, lets the meat speaks for itself.

Ramsey Russell: Lets the meat speak for itself. My buddy John O’Dell, who’s been down here in culinary art school, perfectly articulated the Argentina style for cooking meat. And it’s to let the meat speak for itself. And that’s exactly what he did with that duck. And unlike a lot of Argentines, Lucho, he cooked it rare to medium rare, which is how you cook duck. And that tells me that boy knows how to cook. Because a lot of people mess up duck by overcooking it. And it was sumptuous. It was to die for.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. You know what? Besides great personality. And he has studied a lot to become a great chef. So he has also cooked outside Argentina. So, I mean, in order to even simple what? It looks simple, actually. There’s a lot of art behind that. So, yeah, I like a lot how he cooks and how he does. I think it comes from his background in culinary school and knowing how to do it.

Best Gear for Duck Hunting

Ramsey Russell: I brought my own shotgun. I shoot Benelli obviously. I was pleased to see that nearly your entire cabinet was Benelli shotguns. Why do you shoot Benelli shotgun?

Lucho Alba: Well, yeah, same. I mean, we, I think, share the same feeling about Benelli’s. And I think, I mean, we’ve had other shotguns, but by far, number one shotgun for us, the most reliable by far, Benellis. I mean, we carry a lot of Benelli Montefeltros. We have a few other ones as well. But that’s the shotgun you want. You want something reliable that can do the job every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s dry, if it’s wet, if it’s raining, if it does moisture. You want something that your guests are shooting, something good. They are reliable you can trust as well. Because if not being remote has its own problems. Like something breaks, something starts jamming. All of a sudden, the experience of the guests. So we always have backup shotguns, just in case. But we very rarely have to use them because Benelli’s, they’re amazing.

Ramsey Russell: They’re indestructible. That’s why I shoot Benelli. Superior forms, utter reliability. We’re in a marsh, and when you’re on the boat, the mothership is spotless here. And you step off into the boat, and every time you step off into the hunting boat, it’s spotless. They keep everything very tidy. But the minute you step off the boat into the marsh, it’s muddy. Your feet are muddy. Having Char dog here, she’s out there fetching ducks, and now my hands are muddy, my gun is muddy, my waiters are muddy. Which is to say this, every time I set foot on the mothership, it’s like Bones has come through here and power sprayed it. Every piece of glass, every piece of chrome, the floors, everything is gleaming and shiny and nice. He must be a neat freak.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, absolutely. Bones, he’s our manager, but also with his niece, Maggie. They’re in charge of taking care of the cruiser. And he’s completely crazy about cleanliness, cleaning everything. I remember when I told Bones that you were coming along with your dog, he was freaking out because he was completely-

Ramsey Russell: What were you thinking?

Lucho Alba: Well, I thought, well, I’m sure that Bones is not going to be happy. That’s when they were the first thing I thought. And then when I met Char, I said, well, she was traveling in between your legs in the car. And I thought, I was pleasantly surprised. But she was nice and really like a sweet dog. So I thought, well, this is going, I think, to work out good. But still, I was doubtful about how it would turn out. Like, she’s hunting and then coming here all muddy. And I thought, okay, Bones is going to freak out because we’ve had a few other dogs and those haven’t gone very well. So all of a sudden we have here Char that are sitting in between us under the table. And, yeah, now it’s like, I’m not sure you are going to be able to take her back home. I mean, you should be careful.

Ramsey Russell: I told Ramon, every time he passes by, he says something to her. And I said, she’s going home. She’s not staying, Ramon.

Lucho Alba: And I can’t believe that Bones, he always say, oh, this is the most amazing dog I ever seen. He completely in love with her. She’s an amazing dog for sure.

Ramsey Russell: You know what a lot of people in social media have asked is, where does she relieve herself on the mothership? Well, we go out in the mornings and she’s hunting. She’s out in the field for two or 3 hours and she does her business. She does her business while we’re getting sorted, and even before we’re loaded, she’s disappeared and come back. Usually she disappears. I get sorted, I get done, and she’s back at hill and she’s done her business. She’s ready to know we’re tied to the bank. I mean, we’re on the water, but we’re kind of tied to the bank. And I’ll get Ramon, to drive me ten yards up the bank, she goes, and we just sit there and visit. And then when she comes back on the boat, she’s done her business. And so the crazy thing about this dog is she’s superhuman that she does this. But if there’s 15 million people in the city of Buenos air, there’s got to be 14 million dogs and every one of them shits on the sidewalk.

Lucho Alba: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: Unless they find a park, and then every one of them shit in the same place in the park. And Char dog will not, unless she absolutely, positively has to. After a couple of days, she will not relieve herself on concrete around Buenos Aries. I’ll walk ten blocks and maybe she’ll give it up. She just won’t do it. We spent 40 hours in Buenos Aires, and that dog, I take her out, take her out, take her out. Walk her nothing. But the minute we stop, there’s a patch of grass, boom, she’s game on.

Lucho Alba: She’s amazing. I haven’t seen any other dog that behaves so well, but at the same time, so nice, so sweet. And I used to have a yellow lab dog, and so I use her to hunt perdiz, but also, once in a while, a few ducks or doves, pigeon. And when she passed away, I would say eight years ago or so, it’s like I had lost my, in a way, love for dogs. I mean, I still like dogs, but just, I didn’t want to have another dog because I almost feel like I’m betraying my dog. The name was Malinga. But seeing Char has given me, I’m thinking

Ramsey Russell: Go get you a laugh.

Dog Hunting Culture

I had seen a few dogs that were used to duck hunt, but this is like a whole new dimension I had never seen. 

Lucho Alba: Yeah. Because my wife, we have two dogs at home that we just adopted. They were street dogs that, in a way showed up in our door and, okay, but they sleep outside. Yeah, we feed them every day, have a warm place for them, but they are not my dogs. It’s just that we have adopted them and we take care of them, et cetera. But it’s like my love for dogs kind of went away with Malinga. When she passed away, in a way, I felt that I’m betraying her. But watching Char, and it’s like all of a sudden I have that kind of desire to and so I’m really thinking about it.

Ramsey Russell: There is a huge dog culture in Argentina, like Buenos Aires. Everybody loves dogs, has dogs, but not retrievers. Not duck dogs or retrievers like you were the 100th and 50th person to ask me just in the last few weeks, does Char hunt perdiz? Because that’s your bird hunting culture. Or partridge with pointing breeds. She’ll walk at heel. I’ll keep her in close, let her quarter a little bit in front of me, and if we shoot, she goes and fetch it but she ain’t thinking nothing about pointing a bird. And what do you think about? As calm as she is right here, like a house dog laying under our feet, what do you think about seeing? Is that your first time to ever be around a retrieving breed that just marks and retrieves and handles and steers and hunts? When we’re done hunting, she’s gone. Like today, 15, 20 minutes after the hunt, we were getting sorted, getting picked up, getting everything ready, picking up the shell, and Char nowhere to be found, and here she comes with a duck.

Lucho Alba: Incredible. Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: But have you ever been around, like, true retrievers like that?

Lucho Alba: No. I had seen a few dogs that were used to duck hunt, but this is like a whole new dimension I had never seen. And, yeah, watching you, how she’s always waiting for your order when you say Char, and she takes off like a rocket and then comes up, and then if she’s not, maybe sometimes because she couldn’t see in the blind where the duck landed, sometimes she would hear the noise and go straight, but sometimes she’ll –

Ramsey Russell: Walk by the splash.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, but sometimes that maybe she couldn’t because of the shots or whatever, you would then whistle to her and start giving directions. And sooner or later, we’re talking with the guys and, oh, man, this is like, incredible. We couldn’t believe it.

Ramsey Russell: I kid all the guys like Ramon and Tomas, who otherwise have to go pick them up after the hunt. How much are you all going to tip her?

Lucho Alba: Yeah. Ramon is always joking. Oh, I need to get some money for Char.

Ramsey Russell: I’m going to change the subject. I want to talk about the Dorado fishing because yesterday we went fishing, and oftentimes I was casting in the back of the boat using a bait. I can throw a spinning rod, but you can’t aim and control like you can a bait catcher. That’s what I grew up. But I’m not a fly fisherman either. And anytime I get around a guy like yourself or my buddy Ryan Yarnell, that are true fly fishermen, it’s would real quickly, you had a lot of string reeled off, like on the deck. You were barefooted, I noticed.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And you would load it up real quick, I guess. And you were throwing your fly rod. You were throwing your streamer. As far as I could throw that bait caster, it was unbelievable. But you’ve been doing it since you were eight years old, 40 years, let’s say.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: I’m always mesmerized. Like, I have literally stopped in Montana and watched serious fly fishermen. I can tell real quick if they’re newbies or serious. It’s like you were talking about the art and the zone and the pitch and the throw, and it’s like they’re just in their own little world. One time I got five minute, 10 minute fishing lesson or fly fishing lesson from Yarnell. I could get it out there about 30 yards, and he took the same little 5 way dry flying and threw it all the way across. I’m like, oh, my gosh. He could mend 70 yards. It seemed like he could mend a football field worth of line. But down here, the way you’re fishing for Dorado, you’re not using those dry flies, you’re using streamers.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And so it’s very quick. You don’t have to mend it at all, do you?

Strategic Casting

If you do, probably you’re going to miss that strike

Lucho Alba: No. So usually Dorado are by far the number one predator in the Parana river system. Okay. So, yeah, there are other gamefish that are also predators. You have like a wolffish. Very interesting to catch. You have vampire fish, which here we call chafalote. Then you have surubi catfish, but the three most important predators would be Dorado, number one. Then the chafalote, or vampire fish, and the wolffish, those three. And so any of those very aggressive. So in a way they are used to. I mean, they are looking always for their next meal. So usually you’re trying to imitate with a streamer, like bait fish, small sabalo, a sardine depends on. And sometimes you may use, for example, a mouse pattern to get a dorado on top or a popper sometimes works very well. Anyway, all those are mimicking food that they have available in the river system. In a way, unlike, for example, fishing like you describe in Montana. Yeah. You are fishing a dry or dry and an inch below that is like dry dropper rig, as it’s called. Yeah, very different. So, yeah, most times you try to cast very close to structure, like log or like the bank. Sometimes you have water coming in or out or these lagoons. And so any of those are places where the dorado would ambush their prey. And so, in a way, your mindset has to be very different from trout fishing, for example, which sometimes you are just picking up an insect from the surface, like a mayfly or a cattle fly. Here, it’s like these guys are looking for their next meal and they are going to smash it. In a way, every time we have a trout fisherman coming here to the cruiser, in a way, from the start, we tell them, okay, remember that this is completely different from trout fishing from, like, the hook set. Usually in trout fishing, you lift the rod while in Dorado fishing, you want to keep the rod low and line set as hard as you can because –

Ramsey Russell: You don’t raise your rod tip.

Lucho Alba: No. If you do, probably you’re going to miss that strike-

Ramsey Russell: Like with a bait caster you’re cranking. I’m reeling in my plug. I can feel it wobbling around. And if a fish hits, you don’t raise your rod tip up like a bass. You swing it hard to the side. Keep your rod tip down. Swing it hard to the side.

Lucho Alba: Exactly. Hard and low

Ramsey Russell: Fly rod you keep your rod tip pointed at the fish and then yank that line.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, you go as hard as you can. And sometimes the guide will tell you, do it again because he will see that if you didn’t get a good hook set, that the Dorado may lose the. And sometimes we bring to the net a Dorado, that was never actually hooked. They are just holding to the fly.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Lucho Alba: So you get in the net and they spit it, and it’s unbelievable. That’s how hard of a predator they are. They are mean. They are tough individuals.

Ramsey Russell: I have fished. Well, first off, the entire Paraná River basin is the absolute epicenter of golden Dorado fishing. And I have fished the main Paraná River itself go off into different outlets or different mouths of tributaries or up different, because the Paraná River itself is as big as the Mississippi River to look across, but it’s not channelized. It’s still a wild river. And so it’s a lot of braids upriver and you can get off into to get out of the main current. But you go in there, and I’ve used knife fish and put them on the bottom, or knife fish and reeled them in a little know jerk it to initiate the strike. But how does hunting here, up in the delta, up in the marshes, how does that vary from where I’ve been fishing? What is the difference about, how is this different than the Parana? Why is it better or more productive?

Lucho Alba: Yeah, so one of the things that brought us to this area when we were thinking about where to be located with a cruiser and, yeah, one of the things that we liked the most was the diversity of fishing opportunities here. So unlike the main Parana river, when you get into what is called the middle and upper parana upper in Argentina, north of Argentina, well, as you describe those big channels. So usually you need to have to cast to a structure, et cetera. But in a very different way. Also, the water is a lot more murkier, not as clear. So, in a way, this huge delta that forms in all this area is like a braided system of small creeks and lagoons that communicate in each other. And so all of a sudden, you have this water rise, this marsh acts like a big filter of all that water that comes in to this area. And so in a way, all of a sudden, you are fishing very clear water. And like we fished yesterday, those small creeks and lagoons that come out of with. So sometimes you have very interesting phenomenon. So sometimes when water is racing, you will see creeks going into lagoons. And so maybe the Dorado are ambushing their prey on their way in, while maybe then the water starts to get lower. And so all of a sudden, like maybe a week later, that same lagoon that you were fishing with Dorado, kind of like waiting for their prey to go in. Now it’s the opposite. The Dorado on the other side of this creek, waiting for the prey to come out, like the sabalo, et cetera. So all of a sudden, it’s like very varied, very flexible in terms of fishing. So sometimes you are fishing a little bit bigger waters, like, remember the first smaller rivers from the Parana we came in before coming to the cruiser. Those are little bigger, but still not huge as the Parana. So in my opinion, they are more intimate. They feel as a lot more pleasant to fish. And at the same time, each day of fishing, you have. All of a Sudden, if you go through a fishing day, you will have fished small water, bigger waters, side channels. Sometimes the channels are kind of barely the skiff can go in. So maybe in those cases, only one fisherman can fish. I feel that for me, as a fisherman has all the things that I like about it. It makes it very special. That’s one of the main reasons that we chose to be here for me is that makes it really special and unique at the same time. Kind of like completely out of the sort of more famous locations in the upper Parana where, yeah, they are no doubt there. If you want to catch a big Dorado, probably that’s one of the locations you want to go. Here, it’s more about diversity, catching not just Dorado, but also the chafalote, the vampire fish, wolffish. But at the same time, usually it’s more be able to catch more Dorado. And sometimes in the north, it’s just as they call it. They called it plata or mia, which means money or shit, all or nothing. Yeah. You may catch the Dorado of your life, but good chances. You may catch nothing while here you have chances for a few days fishing or a week fishing here. Yeah. Usually you get a good quantity of Dorado hits, and especially if you are a beginner in Dorado fishing, you need to fine tune that hook setting, especially fly fishing. So at first, you are missing a lot of. You are lifting the rod and so on. And same with the casting, as you learn to be able to cast close to the bank and also, in a way, read the water. Because if you come from a trout fishing background. Yeah. Your mindset is completely different. While if you are. Because here you are fishing for a predator. Okay, so the mindset is completely different from a trout sometimes. Yeah. Like a brown trout could be a little bit of a predator, but nothing compared to the Dorado that wants to kill everything, even a casting dorado. Like a small dorado. Sometimes you hook a small dorado and a bigger one will grab a bite and maybe you have half Dorado all of a sudden. Yeah. They are completely aggressive Predators.

Ramsey Russell: So when you talk about big Dorado, like money or nothing, what are we talking about size wise?

Lucho Alba: I would say that. Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: What is a giant?

Lucho Alba: Yeah. Maybe like twenty to thirty pounds. That’s a really big Dorado.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And here, what are you mostly catching?

Lucho Alba: So here would be like from two, three pounds. All the way to six, seven pounders, eight pounders. That’s kind of like the average Dorado we catch here. Yeah, we do sometimes catch a ten pounder, fifteen pounders, and in my case, I’ve caught a few 20 pounders here, but that as big as you can get here.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I can tell you this, on an eight to ten weight fly rod, I can’t imagine the fight. Matter of fact, I can’t imagine because I had some clients here fishing on the main Parana a few years ago, a few weeks ago, I should say, hunter and Alejandro fishing with fly rod, and come to find out they’re pretty serious fly fishermen, and watching them. They had to learn the hook set. They missed a bunch, but they figured it out. And watching them land a two or three pound was a feat. I mean, it was kind of, I’m like, okay, I could dig that rather than just winch them in. But down here, you all got six and a half, seven foot trigger sticks, medium action with a bait catcher, that’s not just a five pound fish, especially a river fish that is so strong. That’s a fun little catch. It’s not like just reeling in something.

Lucho Alba: For me. I mean, I was raised like a trout fisherman, so if you ask me, yeah, of course, probably just a slight more passionate about trout fishing than Dorado. But Dorado is very close second. And because they hit very hard, very aggressive, they jump below, they are very acrobatic, they are mean. They try to get you on logs, on structures. All of a sudden you have a nice Dorado and you are happy for 10 seconds, and then they got you on a branch or a tree. So all of a sudden you are snagged and sometimes you lose it.

Ramsey Russell: That’s what I’ve learned about Dorado immediately, is if that fish doesn’t jump, it’s not a Dorado. Something else. Dorado are going to come out, give you a show.

Lucho Alba: if in the first two or three seconds of you feel the fish, and if it doesn’t jump in two or three seconds, probably that’s something else. Like yesterday, you caught a sabalo. I mean, it was a good fight still, but yeah, it wasn’t a Dorado.

Argentinian Delicacies

We try to have wines that are special, unique in a way, kind of like to match what we try to do here as a whole experience.

Ramsey Russell: Let’s wrap up talking about wine tour, because we deliberated now, we gave it a little talk at lunch. Do we record this podcast before or after the wine tasting? And we, very adult like us, decided to go before. But this whole trip, for me personally, has been a wine tour because you’ve got dozens of different red wines from different provinces and I’ve got a client friend up in British Columbia that works for a winery and asked one time by another client what makes a good wine. And he said, it’s very easy. If you like it, it’s good. If you don’t like it, it ain’t. And I have liked all these wines. Some red wines I don’t like, but I’ve really enjoyed the wines here. But just give me a nickel tour, so to speak Lucho about Argentina wine.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, as you know, I’m very passionate about wine, and so my father. And so, yeah, part of the experience having great wines here, special wines, but at the same time from different areas of Argentina. And, yeah, in a way, our California, which is to the US, like, the most famous wine area would be Mendoza. So in a way, you know the Spanish. Argentina was, in a way, had a lot of immigration from Spain, Italy and France. So three very important wine countries. And so, in a way, at first was more like Spanish brought different grapes that were in Spain because we were a colony of Spain. But then in the mid to late 1800s French started coming, Italian and so all of a sudden, they planted vines in many, many different provinces. And so, of course, some turned out better than others. And so, by far, Mendoza would be our number one province. But then you have another famous province and lots of history in wine would be San Juan and then Salta, which are probably the three most important ones. But then Patagonia, which was, like, the newcomer to the wine thing, became really important in the last years because all of a sudden, especially for certain grapes like Pinot noirs, merlots, those are really, in a way, the winemakers talk about the terroir, the type of terrain you have there. So some of those grapes adapt very well to the weather, the temperatures, et cetera. But, yeah, if you have to rank. And even my province, La Pampa, which doesn’t have a history about winemaking, we’ve had a few wines from La Pampa. And you liked it

Ramsey Russell: delicious.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. And I think that they are doing an awesome job. In a way, for us, it’s like showing guests here not just the classic Mendoza names and wines, but also we try to have wines from, like, small wineries or family wines that have a long tradition. Maybe sometimes we have wines here that they are fourth generation winemakers, but at the same time, they keep it small. And so in a way, to provide something that you cannot just go to a supermarket or a wine store and get it. We try to have wines that are special, unique in a way, kind of like to match what we try to do here as a whole experience.

Ramsey Russell: Well, Malbec is the wine of Argentina. That’s all you hear about it. Argentina, Malbec.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And you showed me a wine last night, a white wine, that you said, this is the most distinctive grape of Argentina and I’d never even heard of it.

Lucho Alba: Grape was introduced to Argentina by the French. And so in France. Yeah. So in know, the Malbec grape is used to make cuts, to make blends. So those famous Bordeaux wines many times have a little bit of Malbec, but never in France. It got like a name by itself. It was just used as making blends into the wine. But then it was brought to Argentina and here, because of different terrain, different climate, especially in Mendoza, really became very important because of the conditions, all of a sudden became very famous. But when you are going into white wines in Argentina, we have a unique grape. It’s called torrentes.

Ramsey Russell: torrentes.

Lucho Alba: Yeah, and so this grape in particular, it’s sort of unique because it’s a mix between a spanish grape that was brought by the spanish Jesuits to Mendoza and a local grape that we had here. So some people think it just happened, kind of like nature did it thing, and all of a sudden you had Torrentes grape. But some other people think that, or discuss that it was actually made on purpose by the Jesuits. They were good winemakers. And so all of a sudden, you have this very unique white grape. That is, of course, our red flag wine will be malbec, but our white will be the Torontes, which is a very nice flavor, fresh, lots of bouquet, lots of very nice fruit. And especially the Torontes from Mendoza, which is kind of like where he grew up. And then it was taken also by the Jesuits to Salta, northwest of Argentina. And probably the best one I gave you from Salta province, they are very special because high altitude, lots of sun, and at the same time, very dry conditions. So all the watering is irrigation only. So they barely get any rain. So in a way, all that creates very unique, special white.

Ramsey Russell: Were you saying something? You were telling me, but when you talk about that Torrentes wine grape, you were saying that it died off in Spain and now it only exists here in Argentina. Did that what I heard you say last night, or had-

Lucho Alba: It had. In a way, it’s still kind of like. There are a few theories on how the Torrentes grape. So some people say, no, it just happened in Argentina, mixed the Jesuit between a spanish grape and this local grape. But some other kind of people or scientists say that it was actually brought as it is now in Argentina from Spain. It’s just that in Spain, those vines died. They are not available anymore. So from then in Argentina, some have been taken back to Spain. But yeah, I guess they’re and other things not really having the same kind of like development. So in a way, basically unique grape in Argentina. And yeah, some people would say it was brought by Spain here. Some people say, yeah, it’s a blend of a spanish grape with some local grapes that happen naturally or not. So that would be two theories.

Ramsey Russell: I was born drinking beer down the deep south. Now, I’m going to tell you what. I’m a beer drinker and I’m a bud heavy and bush like kind of guy. But when I come down here, I do like to drink the wines. And for those of you all listening, he’s got an ice box slap full of cold beer. And he has got one, two, three, four, five shelves of name a spirit. It exists. But he’s got a whole bunch of wine. If you want the real argentine experience, I have had an amazing time. Thank you. Real quickly, what’s for dinner tonight?

Lucho Alba: So tonight we’re having bondiola, pork bondiola, which is like the. Yeah, you’ve tried before, braised like maybe five, 6 hours. So the chef usually says, if you have to use the knife, I will jump into the water.

Ramsey Russell: Pork so tender, I can cut it with a fork.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And we’re going to precede that with a wine tour appetizer. Am I right? You’re going to give me a deep dive education in Malbec wines.

Lucho Alba: Yes, sir. So usually once a week for every group, we do the asado, but also we do a wine tasting one night just before dinner. So we go through three or four different, usually breads. So, yeah, try to give it an experience from different provinces. Or, for example, Mendoza, the most famous. So we go into, like, Mendoza has four very famous regions. So sometimes we go into. Maybe we do just Mendoza, but the four different regions of Mendoza are very famous and each one has its own characteristics.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Lucho Alba: And so, in a way, yeah. To provide, like, a wine experience as well.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much for a great visit. I have absolutely enjoyed my time here. And rest assured you will see me again with a lot of folks.

Lucho Alba: Well, thanks to you-

Ramsey Russell: we are coming back and Char Dawg is coming back.

Lucho Alba: Yeah. You are very welcome. Both. Char first and then you second.

Ramsey Russell: Exactly.

Lucho Alba: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: I’m glad he lets me tag along.

Lucho Alba: Thank you. Pleasure to have you here.

Ramsey Russell: And folks, thank you all for listening. This episode of Duck season, Somewhere from the most wild and most remote place, certainly in Argentina, maybe in the world we no longer offer Ria Solado. It’s just for a lot of different complicated reasons. But this is wilder. It is more remote, it is superior lodging, it is sumptuous food and comfort. It’s wild ducks in a truly, truly, truly wild place. And it’s a lot closer than Rio salado was. This hunt’s not for everybody. Although I can’t imagine why not. But it’s not for everybody. It is a wild, remote hunt. You are in the lap of luxury. But remember, it’s a two hour boat ride down a river. That’s the price you pay to get here wet, raining, cold, whatever the case may be the last 2 hours we’re going to jump in a boat to get here. But once you get here, you’re in a lap of luxury. Thank you all for listening to episode of Duck Season Somewhere. We will see you next time.


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It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks