Chances are that if you like your freshwater fishing there comes a point where the fishing in South America will hold great intrigue and the thought of a double figure sea trout becomes and itch you just have to scratch.
This is especially so in the depths of our winter where many more moons must pass before we can venture out on our home rivers once more. As such, what better way than heading south to sunnier climes and pursuing some silver tourists in their summer sun? However, wading through your options can be a bewildering experience especially when you look at the relative size of Tierra Del Fuego. Added to that, it can be a long way to travel for just a week’s fishing, so what else can be done during your stay?
Let’s start with the main attraction; the sea trout. Why travel all that way to catch a sea trout? The answer is quite simple. You can spend a lifetime pursuing a double figure sea trout in the UK and Europe yet they are a daily occurrence in South America, with 4 lbs fish not even making it onto the daily tally at most lodges. If the thought of a 20 lbs salmon gets your pulse racing then imagine a 20 lbs sea trout! The British record stands at around 27 lbs, but sea trout of 20 lbs or more are caught each and every week on the Rio Grande, with most seasons seeing fish of over 30 lbs! If this isn’t motivation enough then you can add the fact that virtually all these fish are taken in daylight hours, so no need to clamber around in the middle of the night wondering which way the current is flowing.
The when and the where is a little trickier as this is where it rather boils down to the individual – we know these locations intimately so can tailor these destinations accordingly and help you make an informed decision. Each one can fit individuals differently, so please do call on us to help.
No matter what way you look at it, no matter what marketing spin another lodge or river wants to put on it; the Rio Grande is the king of the sea trout rivers in South America. No other river comes close to providing the numbers that the Rio Grande does. The Rio Grande really does reign supreme in terms of numbers and more often than not size too. You can, however, get easily confused when looking over the myriad of options open to you on the river along with when is the best time to go especially as each lodge has its own intricacies and each one appealing to different people. By far the largest and longest river on the isle of Tierra Del Fuego, the Rio Grande’s course takes it from West to East, with its headwaters strewn across the Chilean prairie reaching virtually to the Pacific Ocean before emptying out in the west into the mighty Atlantic Ocean, crossing into Argentina as it does so around the middle reaches of the river. However, and this is often overlooked, more than half the Grande’s length is on the Chilean side, yet the area receives very little fishing pressure.
Of the 220 km that the Grande has cut a course, 120 km is on the Chilean side, flowing through to the bountiful middle reaches where it passes the baton over to the Argentines. Before it does so it offers the venturing angler a unique experience, and fantastic opportunities.
Rio Grande – Cameron Lodge (Chilean side)
A solid week fishing the same river is too monotonous for many, as they look to spice the package up a little with some other alternatives, species and locations. For decades this has remained a mere ‘desire’. However, in our relentless pursuit to find something to suit everyone we stumbled across a little gem on the Chilean side of Tierra Del Fuego.
Our programme on the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego offers huge benefits and adds a whole new dimension to our standalone sea trout programmes on the Argentinean side. The package is a great deal more than just the Rio Grande. Whilst at the lodge, which has no set itinerary allowing you to pick and choose as the conditions dictate, you have access to some lakes that have brown trout, rainbow trout, sea trout and brook char. There are also further river systems that the lodge has access to. All this, combined with the lack of fishing pressure, makes for a truly unique experience. If you are looking for a little variety in your week on the island, then this is the one for you. Best fished in February until mid-March, you have the added advantage of being able to fish at night. The lodge offers fantastic value for money at $4,500 per week, taking just 6 rods per week, each having a single en-suite room as standard.
From the Chilean side we then get our passports checked and stamped and step foot into Argentina, where the lodge options multiply and the sea-trout runs increase accordingly. These lodges are purely about the sea trout fishing, and sea trout fishing at its finest.
A myriad of lodges scatter the 100 km or so length of the Argentine side.
Rio Grande – Aurelia Lodge
Aurelia Lodge offers anglers the opportunity to fish the revered waters of the Rio Grande in Argentina, which is the finest sea trout river in the world. Anglers will have access to some 8 miles of the Rio Grande and 15 miles of the Rio Menendez, all to just four rods per week! Enjoy an enjoyable day on the river and return to the comforts of the warm, welcoming lodge in the evening.
The fishing at Aurelia is on the prime middle reaches of the Rio Grande and is located immediately above Kau Tapen and Estancia Maria Behety. The lodge has access for fly fishing on both banks of the Rio Grande for 8 miles plus some 15 miles double bank fishing on the Rio Menendez. This is all reserved for just 4 rods (6 rod option also available)! Meaning that the water gets well rested throughout the day. Both rivers offer easy wading, with the riverbed being mainly fine gravel.
Fantastic value for money, especially given the exclusive nature of the fishing and the lodge. Great for smaller intact parties.
Rio Grande – Kau Tapen Lodge
From Chile, the first lodge we step over onto is Kau Tapen which really does have the spoils of the Rio Grande to plunder. Perched above the meandering valley of the Rio Grande, Kau Tapen has a huge length of the river to fish, including the Rio Menendez, for those looking for a smaller river to fish. The Rio Grande, however, is not a huge river around these middle reaches and a single handed 10 ft rod or a 13 ft double-hander is the ideal companion. Forming the perfect partnership to the world class fishing is the lodge itself. The service and quality of the lodge at Kau Tapen is world renowned, as is the guide team, who really are at the top of their game and know every inch of the water. This is probably the pinnacle of the Rio Grande sea trout experience, especially with the amount of water open to anglers. As a result, demand is always high, with availability slim. The waters of Kau Tapen fish well from late January until the end of the season (April). A great option for those looking for a little bit of luxury during their stay, huge amount of water to fish, world-class guide team and some of the best holding water on the Rio Grande. The river here is also of a manageable size with most areas being perfectly coverable with a single handed rod. Wading is also very easy, as is the case over the majority of the Rio Grande, with shale and pebbles making up the riverbed. The lodge takes a maximum of 10 rods per week – 12 in the early/late weeks. .
Many of the lodges on the Rio Grande share their waters, quite simply because one Estancia and controlling lodge may own one bank with another controlling the opposite bank. As such, harmonious agreements have been forged and rotations agreed so that the same water isn’t fished by competing lodges over the same sessions or days. With 100 km of waters to explore and the amount of lodges and rods per lodge reducing, the river can hardly now be described as being overfished. Indeed, most, if not all, share this common denominator.
Rio Grande – Villa Maria
Villa Maria offers a unique experience to a limited amount of rods per week we next arrive on the doorstep of Villa-Maria, which is situated on the lower Grande, where the river widens out and larger 14 ft rods are called for at times – certainly early and late season where these reaches still bear fruit. Villa Maria composes of two lodges, both used by the same group. One is the main residence, with the other, situated further upriver, being utilised for lunch and siestas and equipped with full lodge facilities. This is a unique experience and an extremely sought after one, especially for smaller parties wishing to escape the hedonism of the larger lodges. Indeed, availability is always at a premium at Villa Maria, which highlights its popularity and performance. The lodge takes a maximum of 6 rods per week. A great choice throughout the year and a lodge that keeps producing the goods – 2 fish of over 30 lbs were taken from this lodge in the 2010 season. An enviable guide pool with some of the best water on the river, especially early season and in summer lows. It is easy wading, but a sizeable river when carrying some water.
From here and on the neighbouring bank with its mast clearly visible from many of the waters fished around the middle and lower river we have Estanica Maria Behety, which forms one of the oldest, most historical and certainly most prestigious fishing bases on the island let alone the Rio Grande and needs little introduction.
Rio Grande – Estancia Maria Behety Lodge & La Villa Estancia Maria Behety
This 275,000 acre Estancia forms the headquarters for two separate lodges, each offering very different experiences. Firstly we have Estancia Maria Behety, which also lends itself to the EMB fly, which is just devastating on these waters. The lodge can accommodate up to 12 anglers each week, which is no hardship when the amount of water they have to fish is taken into consideration. This is an extremely warm atmosphere, held by the Menendez family tradition, which still courses through the whole operation and Estancia. The lodge presents a good value option, especially with the outstanding and varied fishing on offer. Secondly we have La Villa Estancia Maria Behety, which is part of the original homestead. This is a beautiful house set in stunning gardens, and situated within easy reach of the lower river. It has the look and atmosphere of a traditional Argentine Estancia house, but with all the mod-cons inside. This is supported by an immense wine cellar which boasts over 9,000 bottles of wine. More than enough to share your fishing stories over in the evening.
What else can you do? Argentina can be a long way to travel for one week of fishing, even with the world class fishing it offers. A stop off at Buenos Aires almost becomes compulsory, and is certainly recommended. Beyond this a few packages also fall into the frame forming suitable add-ons to your trip.
Golden Dorado: Found in the northern climes of Argentina, the marauding dorado form a perfect partnership to its southern counterparts. Why not tag on a short trip to Pira Lodge in the Iberra marshlands, where the wildlife alone keeps you captivated. We also offer Alto Parana along with day trips and stays in Buenos Aires itself. Or the wonderful Golden Dorado River Cruiser, which is within easy reach of Buenos Aires by road. Whatever you have in mind, we have it covered.
Trout fishing in Patagonia: There’s more to Argentina than just the sea-trout of Tierra Del Fuego. The central Patagonian region of Chubut offer some of the best trout fishing in the world, yet is largely unexplored and certainly underutilised form the European perspective. There are a mass of options, each offering its unique attractions, so much so that we’re confident we’ll find something to suit your needs. Best of all most offer flexible in/out dates and most will entertain short stays.
Saltwater: From Buenos Aires many of the world class saltwater destinations of the Caribbean are within easy reach and with the seasons overlapping nicely with the peak season at Tierra Del Fuego. Why not check out the huge bonefish of the Bahamas? Sailfish and marlin in Panama? Or perhaps a mixed bag around Mexico or Cuba?
Huge rainbows of Jurassic Lake at Estancia Laguna Verde: How about latching onto a 10 lbs+ wild rainbow after or before a 10 lbs+ sea-trout on the Rio Grande? Well, that is exactly what Estancia Laguna Verde and Jurassic Lake will offer you. With flexible stays and varied fishing this really is a superb option, especially with a flight time of just an hour between Ushuaia and El Calafate airports.
If you would like more information of would like to explore some options please do contact Steffan Jones via email [email protected] or call the office on: +44 (0) 1980 847 389.