As luck would have it my work has required me to spend substantial travel time in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. And like many others who have been fortunate enough to travel in this region I have found myself more and more enamored with each visit. It is a place where the landscape, people, rivers, and lifestyle all have a way of fitting together in a way that is quite foreign yet familiar and just feels right.
On my latest trip to Argentina I was fortunate enough to share my experience with a talented and entertaining group of friends and anglers Stephen, Tom, Al, and Diane. We were on a two week trip that would start at Spring Creek Lodge in the San Martin region fishing the Collon Cura, Chimehuin, and the Malleo rivers. After that we would move south to meet Esquel outfitters to fish the Rio Rivadavia, Gualjaina, and the Rio Chubut.
We arrived into San Martin de los Andes to be met by my friend head guide at Spring Creek Lodge, Tuqui Viscarro. After our short drive to the lodge and quick stop to pick up our fishing licenses we had a beer in hand and we toured the lodge grounds which included a wonderful new hot tub complete with stunning views of Mt. Lanin. Things were starting out great. One memorable morning on the Chimehuin River, Tom and I cast to rising fish for what seemed to be hours. We had caught the inch worm fall the day prior and this just seemed like icing on the cake. It was not easy but that is what made it so fun. Tom is a great caster and was able to bring some nice rainbows to the net. On our last night at the lodge the owners Franky and his family and friends gave us a traditional asado complete with lamb, beef, salads, wine, and helado (Argentine ice cream). Spring Creek Lodge took great care of us all and we were sad to depart.
Next we took a long, dusty, yet scenic drive to Bariloche to meet the Esquel outfitters guides who took us to our first nights lodging, El Trebol Lodge. It was so nice to return and see some familiar faces… Marcos, Yiya, and staff. We had a wonderful dinner with our guides and planned for upcoming days of fishing.
Our guides Patricio, Richard, and Juancho were all very experienced and helpful and each day offered such a wonderful diversity of fishing. These guys did a spectacular job with our three day float trip on the Chubut. The Chubut is a river lined with mature willows that hold an endless number of fish. The dry fly fishing was spectacular with rainbows and browns eating hoppers, and caddis. I think Stephen and I caught over 100 fish one day. Each night we would float into camp and be greeted by our camp hosts, Marcos and Marcos. They had pre-set all the tents, cots, appetizers, beverages, shower, toilet, and had a fire ready to warm us for the cool Patagonia evenings. Dinners were magnificent with Argentina steaks, vegetables, local wines, booze, desserts, and coffee.
The next day on the Gualjaina was a day I could not believe. We all landed numerous beautiful fish and missed some incredible fish as well. There is still one big rainbow I wish I would have landed. It was sitting under a few blades of grass in about 3 inches of water and ate my Quigley hopper as it drifted by him. Seconds later he turned into the bank and slid into the undercut bank unhooking my hopper on the way. It was a painful loss and I even tried it again a few hours later but was not successful. After that I continued up river and had what turned out to be a dream day catching 16-19 inch rainbows one after another.
That day our trip ended with our guides singing to us while we enjoyed a final meal- complete with lamb, wine, and a celebration our wonderful time together.