Having spent a number of months in both Argentina and Chile in the past, I was so happy to return this past December to see old friends and meet new ones. South America in general had a wet winter season and I was experiencing run off and high waters in Argentina but I did not let it get my spirits down.
Spring Creek Lodge was a beautiful lodge located on the Chimehuin River as well having its own Spring Creek which were both loaded with trout. The accommodations were tasteful bungalows that look out over the waters to the majestic Volcano Lanin. The guides, the staff, and the setting were hard working and dedicated to the fishing program.
I then met my friend, Ramon Aranguren, owner/head guide of Chimehuin Safaris for a fishing tour of his country. Ramon is a long time guide out of San Martin de los Andes who is an incredible caster, teacher, and mentor to many in the fly fishing world. Ramon and his delightful family shared their culture and their hearts with me and made feel incredibly welcome. Estancia Mamuil Malal was a lovely family homestead with a taste of authentic Argentine culture. I totally enjoyed the hospitality of the family and wish I had more time to spend with them. They fish the Malleo which is mostly a dry fly river that is easy to wade and boasts some of the strongest fish and most frequent hatches in Patagonia. Anglers have sight fish opportunities for both rainbows and browns mostly in the 14″ to 20″ range, with browns occasionally reaching 24″.
Another great stop for me was at Estancia San Huberto where anglers fish the Malleo river or the Alumine Rivers. San Huberto is owned by the Olson family and considered one of the most deluxe lodges in the area. The lodge now has accommodation for 12 anglers and has been recently refurbished double and single rooms, each with a private bathroom. Floating the Collon Cura and staying at the Estancia Quemquemtrea is wonderful! This working cattle ranch and mecca for polo players give charm to the entire estancia. The fishing on the Collon Cura can be extremely productive using dries, nymphs, and streamer techniques.
I also enjoyed my stay at Estancia Arroyo Verde which has been named “the finest fishing lodge in the world, period!”. The lodge sits on the banks of the Rio Traful home to rainbows, browns, and landlocked salmon. The fishing is challenging but the rewards are great. The accommodations are top shelf with a staff that caters to your every need.
I then traveled south to meet my guides in Baroliche with Esquel Outfitters who offer a true Argentine experience. Their guides are top-notch with decades of guiding experience. They catered to my every fishing and comfort need. Esquel Outfitters offers a number of estancias, float trips, and walk – wade options for the angling enthusiast including the Rio Rivadavia, Arroyo Pescado, and the Rio Chubut.
Traveling to Chile from Argentina is relatively simple with the help of Lan Chile Airlines that operate flights from Bariloche to Balmaceda via Puerto Montt. Balmaceda is the local airport to the town of Coyhaique. Coyhaique is where the ‘real fishing in Chile’ begins. There are a number of rivers to fish out of Coyhaique while staying at Minchos Lodge. It is a charming Chilean cottage that sits on the edge of town with great meals and wonderful people. A perfect home after a day of fishing with Juan Ramon Astorga, our local guide who has over 10 years experience guiding anglers on his special waters. Juan Ramon is a long time friend of mine who I have fished with for the last 6 years. He is incredibly knowledgeable on the water and very helpful to his anglers.
I was also able to fish the waters of Dragon Fly Lodge on the Picacho river. Dragon Fly was a wonderful adventure running the river miles (24 miles total!) to the lodge and fishing along the way. Adam Henderson, head guide and director of operation of Dragon Fly hosted me for a few days fishing the river and a few of their local lagoons. The fish were BIG and anxious to eat my oversized flies on the surface. The lodge is located on Lago Coppa on the side of the mountain rock. The views are stunning and the service is excellent. Expect about 90% boat fishing though there are hiking opportunities for the more rugged angler. I found Dragon Fly to be a special destination for the fit and more adventurous fisherman.
On this trip, I truly fell in love with the Heart of the Andes due to its remoteness and quality of the fishing. Heart of the Andes is a fly out lodge south of Coyhaique that sits on Lago General Carrera, South America’s second largest body of water. It is a beautiful setting with 3 well appointed cabins (each with 2 bedrooms), bath, and living room with stove. The main lodge is an impressive venue for meals and relaxing including a full stocked bar and pool table. The lodge has a Cessna 206 on floats and an Aztec that flies anglers to some of the most remote and productive fisheries in the area. Plus if you chose to not fly a day or two, you can fish the incredible Rio Baker or Rio Cochrane which produces rainbows and browns while using many different techniques. The guides are great people and very talented. They treasure their waters by keeping their fishing very secret. Heart of the Andes is hard to beat and an impressive destination.
All in all I had an extremely productive and enjoyable trip. I have always been drawn to Patagonia for many reasons and again plan on returning in the near future.