Fishing Rio Grande Villa Maria Lodge sea trout Argentina
ARGENTINA, TDF, VILLA MARIA; 2017 SEASON FISHING REPORTS FROM THE RIO GRANDE.
WEEK 6-13 JANUARY
Welcome to Villa María Lodge 2017! You’ve likely heard that the season started with some skinny water levels across Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Flows on the Rio Grande were no exception. Most fishermen who chase anadromous species know what that means: tough fishing and smaller returns of fish come to mind. We had similar concerns but when we started exploring we were surprised to see fish everywhere. Strong, powerful, spotless sea-run browns that despite the summer-like conditions keep pouring in.
Without a major spring run-off, the river’s structure including its major pools and runs remains similar to last year. Fish are moving fast and an empty pool in the morning will often have rolling and taking fish by the afternoon.
Weather has been mild, with some light wind and daily showers (but not high or strong enough in the headwaters to bump the river level). Thanks to calm days combined with low, clear water, we’ve been putting the single-handed rods matched with floating lines (mostly) to good use. We’ve also been fishing smaller and lighter flies. Classic prince patterns, sunray shadows, and green machines have been the top producers.
Largest fish of the week: 20 lbs.
Fish over 15 lbs: 14
WEEK 13-20 JANUARY
We just finished the second week of the season at Villa Maria Lodge and it was fantastic. In addition to great fishing we welcomed some familiar faces, returning guests from Switzerland who’ve made Villa Maria their home away from home for more than 12 years.
The weather improved dramatically from previous weeks, with milder temperatures and gentle winds, and the combination helped us get the most from the river. Water conditions remain low and clear, which means it’s important to fish each pool carefully. We start by selecting the correct lines and tying long leaders. Soft presentations and mindful wading also become musts.
Our Swiss group knew the drill well, and began the week with an outstanding warm-up session on Friday. Uli hooked into a chrome 20-pounder on one of his first casts. The week continued with good fishing, great friends, amazing food, and fine cigars and single malt from Islay. Everyone was able to relax and soak in the views from our riverside retreat, enjoying the lost in time feel the Tierra del Fuego countryside.
The next few days unfurled with a good run of thick, silver fish. This year’s sea-runs are particularly gorgeous. Due to continued low levels on the Rio Grande, floaters and intermediate tips paired with long 10-foot leaders have been lethal in the slow-flowing pools. For deeper or faster runs, heavier sinking tips improved the odds. But we’re still using longer leaders in those scenarios. Nymphs, both weighted and unweighted, but without flash, were the top patterns.
We all took the time to celebrate Tommy’s birthday on Monday evening. Our pastry chef prepared a delicious Chocolate Trifle for the occasion and Tommy received a gift of a lifetime, a giant poster of one of his releases from a previous season.
Thomas, our rookie-of-the-week, capped off his trip with a beautiful 23-pounder.
Largest fish of the week: 23 lbs.
Fish over 15 lbs: 29
WEEK 20-27 JANUARY
“The perfect week at the perfect lodge with the perfect guides.” That’s how one of our returning guests, Axel, described Week 3 at Villa Maria Lodge. So what does perfection look like? Let’s start with a 10-fish warm-up session that included a 24-pound chromer. And let’s follow that up with a tapas night featuring savoury tastings from our chefs to end a great day. Now that’s hard to beat!
Could it get better? You bet. As Wednesday’s river sessions were coming to a close a gentle voice over the radio advised, “Put the champagne on ice… 30-pounder landed.” A fish that size is what Axel’s been chasing for 12 years at Villa Maria. He had finally achieved his goal!
Overall, the fishing was excellent during a week that presented some less-than-stable weather. The river remains quite low despite a few showers, and water temperatures have been averaging 8-16 degrees C. (46-61 degrees F.). With those variables in mind, we experienced some skittish fish. But in the end, they were convinced to eat. And nymphs, both weighted and unweighted patterns, mostly without flash, proved to be the fish-catching ticket. On several occasions, nymphs dead-drifted just below the surface produced some outstanding takes—very similar to how’d you fish for resident river trout. Long and, as delicate as possible, leaders were also key.
Largest fish of the week: 30 lbs
Fish over 15 lbs: 38
WEEK 3-10 FEBRUARY
The House of Forstinger’s Friends visited us last week. Willy first traveled to Villa Maria Lodge in 1986, so he’s seen a lot and has plenty of amusing stories to tell. And, luckily, the fishing was in tune with all the fun. This was, so far, the most productive week of the season!
Weather has been pleasant, with light winds and warmer-than-average temps. Consistent conditions have made for reliable fishing from morning till night. The river is still low and clear and delicate presentations were key. Nymphs remained the top producers and our European friends had clearly mastered the setups and skills that led to their astonishing results. Astonishing? Yes, the group landed a total of 16 fish over 20 pounds! Barry’s 24-pound buck was the biggest of the week. The sea-run monster ate a dead-drifted prince nymph just under the surface. Chaos ensured.
Again, single-handed rods and floating lines were the weapons of choice. We also fished some switch rods lined with floaters and lighter sinking-tips. And as per usual, good presentations were more important than the line/rod combo.
Nymphs from #6-10 were the best options coming out of the fly boxes. Green machines also fooled a few finicky fish. As for streamers, long, dark and slender were musts during closer-to-dark conditions.
On Tuesday we had some furious rain for about 10 hours. By Thursday morning (our last day with this group) we noticed the river had risen by about 6 inches. The higher, off-color water forced us to exchange single-handers for our double-handed rods. Add to that fast sinking-tips and monster-sized leeches and you have a completely new game. The challenge has been delivered for the upcoming week…
Largest fish of the week: 24 pounds
Fish over 20 lbs: 16
Fish over 15 lbs: 90
WEEK 10-17 FEBRUARY
Like the last days of the previous week, this fishing week started with some rain in the lower stretch but there were serious cells of rain and snow in the headwaters and the Andes. Its is quite impressive to drive to the river and see all the mountains dressed in white in the middle of the summer! All that rain bumped up the level of the river around 8 inches which turned the river murky. For a couple of days the underwater visibility was quite compromised (around 8 inches) making the fishing a bit more difficult and we had to work harder to get the fish to take the flies.
During those days of low water clarity, we had to fish with heavier than usual sinking tips and big, bushy, colorful flies.
Along the week the water was dropping and cleaning letting us use a wide variety of techniques ranging from from deep, heavy fly/lines combinations to intermediate lines swinging collie dog tube flies. But also, part of the snow reached the river and even when it didn’t change its level at all, we noticed a significative drop in the temperature of the water making the fish to react slower to flies, specially during the earlier morning hours. But around noon, as the sun was heating up the water, the fish started to roll on the surface and react more energetically to the flies.
Most of the fisherman had several seasons fishing Rio Grande, as Gilbert who is fishing his 16th time here, and their patience helped in the tough and we were successful when the fish gave us the chance.
The Lucky Guy of the Week Award was for Bob S, who in his two sessions to our lowest beat he managed to beat the tough fishing conditions and managed to land 8 fish, from 15 to 23lbs!! congratulations Bob!
A variety of flies were successful according to the light, temperature and time of the day but most of them were big in size, usually with some added weight and with a good silhouette.
Regarding lines, skaggit lines with heavy sink tips were the best options, all finishing in tippets around 10/12 lbs.
Largest fish of the week, 23 lbs.
Fish over 20 lbs: 4
Fish over 15 lbs: 17
FEBRUARY 24TH – MARCH 3RD
Another group of returning guests visited us at Villa Maria Lodge this last past week. Having logged more than 10 trips to the Rio Grande, they were seasoned and equipped to deal with the current fishing conditions.
River and weather conditions remained unstable, with booming tributaries altering water levels and clarity in the main-stem Rio Grande. And similar to last week, we prospected deeper, slower moving runs. Tailouts have been especially productive. Gear for this kind of fishing includes Skagit heads paired with long sink-tips (12 to 15ft) and rods from 13 to 14 ft for extra power in the wind.
Winning flies included both large articulated leeches and intruder-style patterns. Colour, on the other hand, was less important. We’ve had equal success with chartreuse, black, purple… even orange. Go figure.
Dave pocketed the Rookie of the Week title. Maybe an obvious choice, considering he was our only first timer! But he also worked for it, landing two fish that topped the 20-pound mark, including a 24-pound hen that took the fly in a swift and shallow pool.
The river is currently dropping and clearing, so next week will be a new challenge. We’ll be ready for it.
Largest fish of the week: 24 pounds.
Fish over 20 pounds: 8
Fish over 15 pounds: 26
Fishing Rio Grande Villa Maria Lodge sea trout Argentina
For more information please contact Steffan Jones or phone 01980 847 389.