Archive for March 1st, 2007


Being an avid steelheader, a spey rod fanatic and a lover of all sea run fish, the fact that I had not yet fished the Rio Grande for sea run browns was getting under my skin. This March that all changed when I had the opportunity to host a split week of fishing at Toon Ken and Villa Maria lodges, March 9-16. While the reports I received indicated that the season’s fishing had been very challenging my group which included Bill Shaw, Rodger Casper, David Cole and myself had a great time and some really fine fishing.

After a rather hideous flight schedule and delays we finally made it Toon Ken on the upper Rio Grande not far from the Chilean boarder. As far as setting and service were concerned, this place really impressed us. Our guides were also exceptional and during our first evening session we hooked nine fish and landed four. To our delight, they were all big with one over 20 pounds lost and several in the mid teens landed. Each day we fished a morning session and evening session separated by a big meaty gourmet lunch, red wine and hearty siesta. Some sessions were really tough and others were great and that seems to be the way of the Rio Grande; when the fish were on, we were all into them, when they were off we fished hard in vein.

After three days we transferred to Villa Maria Lodge on the lower river. The water was low but there were lots of big fish around. During our three days there we all hooked fish over 20 pounds but landed none! During one session I had the good luck of landing a 17, 18, and 19 pound fish.  Most of them jumped numerous times, some were hotter than pistols and we estimated that our average fish weighed in at about 13 pounds.
By the end of our six days, the four of us had landed roughly 60 fish which was a slightly higher number than the number steaks and of bottles of red wine which we consumed!
For the majority of our trip, the wind was very reasonable and we were able to catch fish on skated dries, little nymphs swung on intermediate lines and big leeches. All and all it was a super trip made all the richer by seeing two very different and interesting sections of the river. The bird life and wildlife was also far more abundant than we had expected.
We are currently holding the same week for our clients for next season (March 7-14, $5,795) and feel this is an exceptional venue as it really helps negate the risks of extremely high or extremely low water conditions. Next year the flights will all go in and out of Ushuaia which makes the prospect of returning far more appealing. Please free to call us if you have an interest in learning more about this remarkable region!

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