Wild brown and rainbow trout fishing in Patagonia summary
We are constantly visiting and appraising fly-fishing lodges throughout Patagonia and have posted details from a selection of our current favourites on this website. The premier wild brown and rainbow trout rivers in Patagonia include the Alumine, Carrileufu, Chubut, Chimehuin, Collón Curá, Futaleufu, Limay, Malleo, Pichi Leufu, Rivadavia, Traful, and Quillen. Each one of these lovely rivers (and several more besides) is known to us personally, as well as numerous productive lakes that come into their own at certain times of year. We also offer trout fishing at many of the estancias featured in our riding and bespoke travel programmes, but not included in the selection below. Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements as each river has different characteristics and we pride ourselves on helping anglers to select the combination of fishing and accommodation that will best meet their requirements.
Many of our featured lodges and estancias have access to other equally attractive rivers, lakes and spring creeks, and for this reason we recommend a 4 night stay as the ideal timeframe for our recommended fishing lodges. We believe that a significant part of the attraction of fishing in Patagonia is the truly wild and remote environment in which the fishing takes place. For that reason we avoid those operations where the hand of man has influenced the fishing either by the creation of lakes or spring creeks, or the artificial stocking of fish. All the fishing operations we work with in Patagonia operate on a catch and release basis.
Wild and Exotic guests are normally accompanied by an English speaking guide at all times, however it is also possible to explore these rivers and lakes unaccompanied if you wish. You will find that most of our fishing lodges are also delightful places to stay for the non-fishing partner with riding, walking and excursions to local places of interest all available for those that wish.
Wild trout fishing on the Alumine River
Estancia Huechahue covers fifteen thousand square acres in the foothills of the Andes – sometimes known as the Patagonian steppes – and lies a thousand miles south of Buenos Aires, forty-five miles east of San Martine de los Andes and one hundred and twenty miles northeast from Bariloche. Huechahue is a privately owned and managed by Jane Williams, who is British and married into an Argentinean family.
Activities at Huechahue revolve around horses, however the jewel in the crown as far as anglers are concerned is several miles of superb fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout on the middle reaches of the Alumine river flowing through open Patagonian steppe. The river has healthy populations of wild brown and rainbow trout up to about 5lbs in weight that can be caught from November until April. Rods between 8 ft. and 9 ft. 6ins for 5 to 8 lines with sinking, wet or floating tip are recommended, as are chest waders because the flow and current in some pools is strong, not dissimilar to the middle reaches of the Spey in Scotland. Patagonian flies such as the woolly worm, woolly bugger, hare’s ear, and a selection of nymphs are all effective. There are some rods available for guests to borrow, but we strongly recommend bringing your own fishing tackle and equipment.
Many of those fishing at Huechahue do so in between riding adventures, however guests who wish to fish only are more than welcome at no extra charge to the daily rate, making the estancias one of the least expensive all inclusive fishing destinations in Patagonia. As the river is straightforward and easy to read for experienced anglers it is not usual to arrange a guide, however qualified and experienced guides can be organised for an extra charge. There is also stalking for both red deer and wild boar in March and April, by prior arrangement through Wild and Exotic.
Wild trout fishing on the Colon Cura and Caleufu
Estancia Quem Quem Treu runs to 160,000 acres and lies in the heart of the northern Patagonian steppe approximately 150 miles to the east of San Martin and 290 miles north of Bariloche on the banks of the Quemquemtreu stream, a principle tributary of the celebrated Collon Curá River.
There are at least 3 separate day’s float fishing on the Colon Curá, a big river with swift currents and clear waters where a decent rainbow weigh up to 4lbs, and bigger brownies lurk in the deeper pools. The usual tactic is downstream fishing with streamers and sinking tips. By contrast the Quemquemtreu stream offers sight fishing with a dry fly up until the end of January, by which time the water is usually too low. There are also several excellent lakes holding double figure trout that fish well throughout the season, from November until the end of April. The estancia uses excellent English speaking fishing guides to assit their guests. The estancia also offers shooting from March 1st onwards, game birds over pointers, red deer stalking and wild boar.
Quem Quem Treu is a proper working estancia, owned by an Anglo Argentine family since 1971 and managed for the owners by Martin and Paula Zimmermann, with Martin overseeing the estancia’s beef cattle operations as well as the training and raising of polo ponies for high goal competitions. Paula runs the fishing lodge at Quem Quem Treu, where there are 5 double rooms and guests are looked after in comfort and style in this stunning wilderness location.
Wild trout fishing on the Futaleufu River
The Futaleufu River that flows through Argentina into Chile on its way to the Pacific Ocean near Chaiten is one of our favourite fishing destinations in Patagonia, reflected by the fact we work with three fishing lodges on the river, two in Argentina and one in Chile. The Futaleufu has a strong turbulent flow between deeper pools and runs, and is a large river in every respect, teeming with free rising wild trout that very occasionally reach double figures although a 5lb fish is considered a good one.
We have summarised these lodges below:
Challhuaquen: This is a luxurious fly fishing lodge, newly constructed from stone and wood and beside the Futaleufu River, with panoramic views across the river to wild country beyond. The accommodation comprises 6 ensuite and spacious rooms, each with two double beds, showers and bath. There is also a sauna, hydro massage and Jacuzzi at the lodge. The high standard of accommodation is matched by an exceptionally high level of food and service. As well as excellent guided fishing the management can organise riding trips and visits to Los Alerces National Park. Challhuaquen is best reached by flying to Esquel, followed by a road transfer to the lodge.
El Encuentro: This delightful property located on the banks of the Futaleufu River near Esquel is run by the Anglo Argentine Beale family. The lodge offers comfortable accommodation for up to eight guests in a friendly family atmosphere complemented by home cooking that takes full advantage of home grown produce fresh from the garden. Guests here can catch fish within yards of their bedroom, as well as on a variety of surrounding rivers, lakes and spring creeks. Skilled and communicative English speaking guide accompany all anglers, who fish in pairs from boats or by wading. Lunch is either taken as a picnic besides the river, or at the lodge followed by an afternoon siesta. The lodge also offers excursions to Lake Menendez and the Alerces National Park, as well as riding and local sightseeing, making it an excellent destination for non fishing partners to also enjoy Patagonia. El Encuentro combines particularly well with a stay at Futa Lodge (see below) several miles downstream in Chile. El Encuentro is best reached by flying to Esquel, followed by a road transfer to the lodge.
Futa Lodge: Futa Lodge is a Chilean farmhouse located in a remote valley populated by subsistence farmers. The charming white house and surrounding wooden buildings perch on a promontory above the river, sandwiched between dramatic forested mountains. Accommodation is in comfortable twin rooms simply furnished and with en-suite bathrooms. Due to the deep Canyon Infernio upstream the river at Futa is largely inaccessible and the fish are amongst the wildest and most prolific in Patagonia. Futa’s stretch of the river is divided into 3 challenging and very different beats that offer exceptional sight fishing with a dry fly as well as prospecting fast flowing turbulent currents with nymphs and wet flies. Parts of the Futaleufu River were affected by volcanic activity in 2008, however the river is now back to its glorious best and is open for business as usual from January 1st 2011. Futa Lodge makes an excellent combination with either Challhuaquen or El Encuentro upstream in Argentina. Futa is best reached by flying to Esquel, followed by a road transfer to the lodge, and is best from December to March.
Please watch this short film clip for a little taste of the experience at Futa Lodge:
Carrileufu & Rivadavia
In Chubut province the Carrileufu River pours out of the eastern end of Lago Cholia and flows for 25 kms through a scenic valley that is overlooked by dramatic, snow capped mountains that once afforded refuge to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Despite its short length the Carrileufu has three distinct stages, with the more accessible upper river flowing crystal clear over a freestone bottom. This top stretch of the river provides some of the best landlocked salmon fishing in Patagonia (only rivalled by the Rio Traful further north), whereas the middle and lower reaches are slower, deeper and best fished by boat. The Carrileufu is home to both brown and rainbow trout, but the rainbows dominate and although the river offers superb sport for the fly fisherman do not expect to catch prolific numbers of fish as the Carrileufu is more about quality than quantity.
The Carrileufu flows into Lago Rivadavia just inside the boundaries of the Los Alerces National Park, but the waters leaving that lake enroute to Lago Verde become the Rivadavia River for just 7 spectacular kilometres that offer some of the most strikingly beautiful fishing in the world, as the rainforest reaches right down to the water’s edge making fishing without a boat virtually impossible. This river often calls for some sophisticated and technical nymph fishing, but although discerning, the fish are often large and always hard fighting. The Rivadavia is also home to landlocked salmon, although the angler wishing to target that species would be advised to concentrate on the Carrileufu. Both rivers are part of the Futaleufu (or Rio Grande as that river is sometimes referred to, not to be confused with the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego) system and can be fished from the base of either of our two recommended lodges, described below:
Carrileufu Valley Lodge: This specialist fishing lodge stands at the foot of spectacular mountains in a tranquil location just outside a small village where horses, hens and dogs add to the ambience of rural Patagonia. The 5 bedroom lodge has its own resident guides, boats and transportation and guests staying several days will typically float fish the full length of both the Carrileufu and Rivadavia rivers with options to also float fish the Chubut and fish spring creeks on foot within the National Park. The timetable here very much revolves around fishing with dinner usually served late in the evening after anglers have retuned from their excursions.
The lodge is a one hour transfer from Esquel or three hours by road from Bariloche. There are flights from Buenos Aires to Esquel three times a week, however there are several flights each day between Buenos Aires and Barilcohe.
Argentina general information and map
Capital: Buenos Aires
Getting there: There are regular flights from most major European cities direct to Buenos Aires. British Airways flies from London Heathrow with a touch down in Sao Paulo (Brazil) en route. Flying time from London is approximately 15 hours.
Time: GMT minus 4 hours.
Try not to miss: Buenos Aires! In all probability you will arrive in Argentina via this most glamorous and cosmopolitan of all south American cities, often described as the Paris of South America. We recommend at least at a two days and nights based either in the hip Palermo part of the city, or the elegant and refined barrio of Recoleta. We use hotels in both districts and can organise anything from private tours of the city to theatre tickets and tango lessons.
From Buenos Aires fly down to Patagonia, land of legendary beauty and inaccessibility that is home to vast estancias and some of the best riding and fishing opportunities in the world. Begin in the north by staying at one of our hand picked estancias scattered about the Patagonian steppe surrounding Lanin National Park, before heading south to explore the Argentine Lake District and the alpine town of Bariloche. Move further south still to Calafate, where the Perito Moreno glacier – one of only 3 in the world that is actually advancing each year – awaits in Los Glaciares National Park, as does the extraordinary estancia Christina at the western end of Lago Argentina. Across the border in Chile lies the rugged and beautiful Torres del Paine National Park, instantly recognisable from the iconic peaks of her famous towers.
Visit the beautiful provinces of Salta, JuJuy and Catamarca in the North West for spectacular high Andes scenery, rich colonial architecture and the southern end of the Inca trail. Explore the fascinating settlements of Cachi and Purmamarca, stay in luxury at estancia Colomé, the oldest bodega (vineyard) in Argentina, visit the dazzling white salt flats of the Salinas Grandes, and be driven along a dried up river bed to experience the charms of isolated Iruya in JuJuy province. Ask us about our high altitude trek with llamas from the eastern jungles across the Andes Mountains to Tilcara. Mendoza lies halfway between the northwest and Buenos Aires, a province celebrated for her vineyards and stylish bodegas, and perhaps a hike to the base of mighty Aconcagua mountain. For something completely different visit the magnificent Iguazu Falls close to the border with Brazil and Paraguay, which are surrounded by tropical rainforest alive with colourful birdlife.
You could also visit Dos Lunas, a boutique farm house that boasts a unique style, located in the heart of the Ongamira valley in the province of Córdoba. Surrounded by an extraordinary 2,300 hectare (5,689 acre) natural environment, Dos Lunas offers an amazing mix of nature and comfort that makes guests feel like home from the moment they arrive. The tours around the valley, coordinated by expert guides and providing the best equipment, are the highlight of Dos Lunas and make it a premium destination. You can explore the valley from horseback together with our expert staff through a variety of paths featuring different levels of difficulty and length. Trekking on foot is also an option to visit the area and actively enjoy its beauty through specially selected paths. Dos Lunas is an excellent destination to combine a riding and shooting holiday.
Visas: No visa is required for visits of up to 90 days for UK citizens.
Why Argentina: Because we cannot think of another country anywhere in the world that boasts such a diverse range of landscapes, from glaciers in the south to steamy jungle in the north east and arid desert in the north west, with a huge variety in between, ensuring there is never a bad month to visit some part of this remarkable country. Come also to experience Argentina’s indefinable spirit and style, her fine wines and celebrated cuts of tender meat – all three fuse together at a weekend asado or barbeque.
“We had a lovely time, everything was organised brilliantly. All transfers and arrangements went without a hitch and exactly to plan. Vanesa was a great guide in Buenos Aires. Thank you so much for organising everything so perfectly”
“El Encuentro gave us a great few days and everyone caught fish in the huge Futaleufu river….good riding there also.”
“Wild and Exotic did a splendid job with all the organisation, everything went without a hitch and I can’t tell you what a truly fantastic time we had.”
“Quemquemtreu was fabulous and the hospitality was absolutely amazing. Augusta my fishing guide was brilliant and we had so much fun. The whole trip was superb and a real credit to you, thank you so much for organising such an amazing holiday.”
“We have a wonderful time, Vanesa was a star in Buenos Aires. Everything worked wonderfully – well done for arranging everything so well, thank you so much”
“Pablo was an excellent and hard working guide: perhaps 11lbs was a bit of an exaggeration for the trout, but it was still a magnificent fish.”
“Carrileufu Valley Lodge is first rate and Poncho is on top of his game. He really seems interested in developing a place that ranks with the best. They have great guides and the rivers are first class.”