Marina Gibson BlogTrout fishing in Patagonia

13 April 2022

If you had to think of the top 3 places in the world to go fishing for wild trout, Patagonia would most likely be one of them. The Trout fishing in Patagonia is truly incredible.

Whilst travelling South America during my off-season, Stephan Dombaj from Fly Fishing Nation and I planned a weeks fishing and fun at Carrileufu River Lodge. After a week of heavy hitting dorados on the Upper Parana, it was just what the doctor called for. We were ready to swap our 8 and 9 weight rods and large baitfish patterns for our delicate 4 and 5 weights and size fourteen and upwards flies.

The Lodge

We flew from Buenos Aires to Barriloche where we were picked up by one of our guides, German. Then we drove a couple of hours to our final destination.

The lodge itself is set in the heart of the Carrileufu River Valley. It’s a stone throw away from the Carrileufu River and the Tigre River and their tributaries. As we drove through the main gates and meandered down the drive the stunning scenery blew us away. The lodge building is a beautiful log and stone structure with high ceilings and spacious rooms. Each bedroom has a local bird painting on the door and a view opening up to the 3-peak mountain where you can sip on a beverage of your choice every evening, watching the sunset in the warm gentle breeze. This place often reminds people of Montana because of its mountainous surroundings and endless fishing opportunities.

The lodge is run by the awesome Panzer family, Pancho and his children Teo and Pili, all of which are passionate anglers. And they have a wonderful team of lodge staff who make your stay seamless from dusk to dawn. Their website accurately states “You take care of fishing, and we take care of everything else!”

The Fishing

During our stay we set out to do a mixture of wading and rafting, the latter on the main rivers and former in a handful of small tributaries and glacier creeks. What I absolutely loved about the fishing was that every day was different. The scenery and technique changed, as did the target species. One day we would be fishing for monster brown trout (Salmo Trutta) on the main river, casting heavy streamers underneath the vegetation that lined the riverbank and in the heavy log structure.

The next we would be sneaking up on browns, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss) and brook trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis) on a tiny glacial stream, hoping that you would spot them before they spotted you. I was also surprised when they told us we could target the allusive landlocked Atlantic salmon. They’re a slight and elegant version of the ones that we have back home.

The Tactics

The water is gin clear, so all of the species named above can be seen from afar. It’s imperative to have a stealthy approach and have everything ready. Then, when you’re in casting distance you can make the first cast without rushing and spoiling your chances. Once the line is elevated and has landed on the water, the fish will be aware of your presence. In a perfect world: spot the fish, pull the amount of line needed off the reel, crouch down where applicable, cast without ticking (fly hitting the water) or getting stuck in the trees behind you, and hook a monster fish!

In our case the water was low when we arrived, so all of the above was essential.

I’m definitely not saying that everything went to plan when I was fishing, because it didn’t. It’s easier said than done. When you see a fish you so desperately want to catch that’s when you lose your cool and do something stupid…

After missing a handful of nice trout, I was more eager than ever.

We spotted a rainbow trout, happy as larry, that was sipping on flies in the surface film. I crept into position behind a tree and made the cast. It came rushing towards it and when it took with a wide-open mouth I lifted the rod like I was hooking into a great white shark. Nerves got the better of me.

The Top Flies

Dries: Adams, Gordo Alberto, Beatles and other Terrestrials.
Nymphs: Scuds, Scuds and more Scuds! A few Frenchies and Perdigons in the mix.
Streamers: Woolly Buggers, Skullheads and Sculpins.

More Than Fishing

The quote “Fishing isn’t just about catching” couldn’t apply more to the Patagonia region. It would be a crying shame not to jump in with both feet and experience more than just the fishing. We took an afternoon off to visit a secluded waterfall with a local gaucho called Jonny and his team of horses.

Carrileufeu River Lodge offers hiking, horse riding and visits to local events and estancias. If you’re traveling with a non-fishing partner then the lodge will keep them busy with a variety of wholesome activities.

Many thanks to Fly Dreamers for organizing this trip.

Photos by The Fly Fishing Nation.

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