Pira Lodge is located in Argentina’s Estores del Ibera a vast five million acre wetland encompassing more than five million acres of flowing water. This habitat rich watercourse is home to the formidable golden dorado.

A day fly fishing at Pira.

The hells bay skiff leaves the wooden dock and begins its weaving path through narrow channels and shallow lagoons. As we drive to the Corriente River capybara hurl themselves into the tannin-stained water and caimen warm in the glowing morning sun. The journey gauges the scale of this enormous maze. Slowly, the boat eases into a patch of weeds. With the rod in hand, I move to the bow to prepare for the morning session. Jose leaps to the platform with the pole, ready to guide.

Methodically working our way along the weedy edge, I cast my fly out and rip it back. Interest comes straight away, although it doesn’t feel like a dorado, no jump and little fight. Jose reaches out his pliers, keeping his distance as he prizes a mangled fly from the razor-sharp jaws of a piranha. New fly, keep casting, the same result, thump, thump, no run and no jump, another piranha. For the sake of my depleting fly box, we reel in, start the motor and move downstream.

A mass of swirling currents at a junction in the river holds large numbers of sabalo (one of the baitfish for dorado). It looks to be a spot, two casts later line is torn from my fingers by a powerful take, a couple of shakes of the head, and I can feel the line surge to the surface. The fish shines gold in the sun, displaying the best of its acrobatic skill by dancing more in the air than in the water. Carefully prospecting structure and interesting currents brings more shiny bars of black and gold to the boat. Getting into a steady rhythm of casting and stripping whittles away the morning session, and before long, we are working our way back through the maze for lunch.

Argentina, Pira Lodge, Golden Dorado, fishing for golden dorado, Esteros del Ibera, Aardvark McLeod

The Afternoon

A quick siesta follows a delicious lunch paired with a cold beer. Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, we march along the sandstone pavement back to the skiffs. In contrast to the morning’s fishing, the plan is to head into the depths of the marsh. There is no mass of open water here. The fishing is far more intimate. Jose eases the skiff gently down the five-meter wide channel as I cast the fly inches away from banks of weed and lumps of structure. Surging from underneath the structure, a fish charges the streamer. In the clear water, all is visible. Its mouth closes firmly on the fly. Tail pulsating, he springs out of the water, ripping his head side to side. Keeping the rod low, I angle it away from snags, persuading him into the channel and away from danger. After four more jumps and several wrenching pulls, the fish comes to hand.

Argentina, Pira Lodge, Golden Dorado, fishing for golden dorado, Esteros del Ibera, Aardvark McLeod

We spend much of the afternoon exploring a network of clear streams and well-featured channels. The marsh is ever-changing and constantly moving. Areas like these may be completely different only a week later. This constantly shifting environment allows for a never-ending window of exploration. This day we fished water of hugely varying types, from large open stretches of the main river to small side channels, shallow lagoons and intimate small streams.

Argentina, Pira Lodge, Golden Dorado, fishing for golden dorado, Esteros del Ibera, Aardvark McLeod

To celebrate the days fishing we sip a ice cold beer on the journey home. The sun now setting, reflects shades of deep red and orange on the water. Encouraged by the dipping light the creatures of the night slowly start form a impressive chorus.

For more details on Pira Lodge or to enquire on availability please contact Olly Thompson call us on 01980 847389.