No matter how you look at it, the Rio Grande is the king of the sea trout rivers in the world. No river comes close to having the numbers or size of fish the Rio Grande does. The British record stands at around 27 lbs, but sea trout of 20 lbs or more are caught each week on the Rio Grande, with most seasons seeing fish of over 30 lbs. The Rio Grande is a genuinely great river as most of these large fish are not caught while clambering around in the dark but in the daylight hours.
For British anglers, travelling to the very bottom of Argentina to target a species we can catch in our home waters may seem odd. But those who travel to the Tierra del Fuego to fish the waters of the Rio Grande rarely do so only once. The river, the fish, the lodges, and the food keep many rods returning year upon year. More than anything, it is the opportunity to target huge sea trout that is the draw. Quite simply, the Rio Grande is unique. There is no river in the world where the odds of catching a sea trout over twenty pounds are so largely stacked in your favour. This is not to say that landing one of these fish is guaranteed, but you will cover them, and with good fortune, one may even take.
Stories about the strength of the wind on the Rio Grande are often told but rarely is this an issue, as most of the time, it blows on your back and aids with casting. The wind is a great help for it allows the sea trout, an ordinarily shy species, to be caught without issue even when it is bright. It is the windless days that prove the most challenging. Of course, parallels can be drawn between sea trout fishing at home and fishing on the Rio Grande. But, on the whole, the style of fishing is quite different. Small flies are most often used under normal conditions and during the daytime, usually in the form of rubber-legged nymphs of varying weights and green machines. Sunrays and leeches appear as the light falls, when the water is high and coloured or especially cold. This is not to say that a stripped sunray or leech cant also be effective, but one of the great joys of this river is to hook these giant fish of small flies. There is something rather satisfying about landing a spirited, shoulder-thick sea trout on the kind of nymph that you usually reserve for a trout stream.
There are few freshwater fish this hard fighting and acrobatic who willingly take small flies in the same way that the sea trout of the Rio Grande do. A bright hen fish in the mid teens often gives the best fight for they jump like tarpon and seem to spend more time airborne than in the water.
However, the best takes are usually reserved for when the light drops. The hour before returning to the lodge for another glass of fine Malbec, is known as the magic hour. A pool that may have seemed dead hours earlier can come alive with fish rolling and porpoising on the surface. Without a doubt, this is one of the great spectacles of the fly fishing world. It can show proof to the doubting rod of how many fish are in the pools. A sunray or leech gives the best silhouette when the sky is blackening, and the takes can be ferocious. When the rod gets ripped from your hand, it can be hard to imagine that you are fishing in freshwater.
There is truly no place like the Rio Grande.
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For more information please contact Olly Thompson or phone 01980 847 389.
About the author: Olly Thompson