Sea trout fishing in Argentina summary
Rivers Gallegos and Grande are known to be two of the finest fly fishing destinations in the world, famous for the enormous size of their sea run trout. The biggest of all are found in the Rio Grande, descendants from brown trout eggs introduced into the river over 70 years ago. This river (on which Wild and Exotic has access to three of the best dedicated fishing lodges) rises in the Chilean Andes and flows for 90 miles through the vast open steppe of Tierra del Fuego before meeting the South Atlantic Ocean at the port of Rio Grande. The Rio Grande is unquestionably the premier sea trout river in the world with anglers having a realistic opportunity of landing a fish in excess of 20lb. The Rio Gallegos lies across the Magellan Straits in the province of Santa Cruz, and although the fish here do not run quite as large as further south, double figure specimens are still the norm and our selected lodge is one of the best places from which to achieve that feat.
Sea trout start running both rivers in December, and continue into April. Guests usually fish well into the evening to take full advantage of the long hours of summer daylight, with dinner often not served until after 10pm. The standard of service and cuisine at all our recommended lodges is exceptionally high, making full use of the delicious produce and fine wines for which Argentina is so well known. The standard of guiding on all lodges is also second to none, with attentive, experienced English speaking guides doing their utmost to help their clients connect with the fish of a lifetime, and each one landed is released to fight another day. Guests are normally driven to and from their fishing beats in comfortable 4 x4 vehicles. Whichever lodge you stay at, the wildlife of the open steppe is an added bonus and you can expect regular sightings of Patagonian foxes and guanaco, as well as diverse range of birdlife including flamingos and Magellan geese.
The Rio Gallegos summary
The Rio Gallegos lies across the Magellan Straits from Tierra del Fuego in the province of Santa Cruz, and although the fish here do not run quite as large as in the Rio Grande further south, double figure specimens still feature on a regular basis and in our opinion, Las Buiteras is the best lodge from which to catch them thanks to its perfect location at the lower end of the river. Guests here have access to over 50 productive pools and more than 40 kms of river, which is divided into 4 seperate beats – it also costs significantly less to fish here than the larger Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego to the south.
Guests normally stay the Friday night in Buenos Aires, and fly down to Rio Gallegos early the following (Saturday morning) so that they are fishing later the same day. The flight takes approximately 3 hours and the transfer from the airport to the lodge takes 90 minutes. At the end of the week’s fishing guests depart in the morning, arriving back in Buenos Aires around lunchtime. All guests will be sent detailed tackle and clothing recommendations for Las Buiteras prior to departure.
The average sized sea trout in the Rio Gallegos is around 10lbs, although fish into the high twenties have also been landed. We recommend either 9 – 10 foot single handed rods or 13 – 15 foot double handed rods with 8 or 9 weight floating lines, although conditions can also call for sink tips or intermediate lines. Lunch at the lodge is usually followed by a siesta, with guests returning to fish the river from 5 – 10pm. The lodge has capacity for 12 rods in 5 ensuite twin bedrooms and 2 single rooms with facilities for both indoor and outdoor parrilla or BBQ.
The Rio Grande summary
The Rio Grande rises in the Chilean Andes and flows for 90 miles through the vast open steppe of Tierra del Fuego before meeting the South Atlantic Ocean at the port of Rio Grande. This river is unquestionably the premier sea trout river in the world with anglers having a realistic opportunity of landing a fish in excess of 20lb. Wild and Exotic have access to fishing lodges on three different stretches of the river, but as availability is always tight from January until the season closes in the middle of April early booking is advisable in order to avoid disappointment.
Guests normally stay the Friday/Saturday night in Buenos Aires (see below for 2016 changeover days) and fly down to Rio Grande early the following (Saturday/Sunday) morning so that they are fishing later the same day. The flight takes approximately 3 ½ hours. At the end of the week’s fishing guests depart in the morning, arriving back in Buenos Aires around lunchtime. It is also possible to fly from Buenos Aires of Bariloche to Ushuaia. The optimum tackle differs according to which stretch of the river you will be fishing, however all guests will be sent detailed tackle and clothing recommendations prior to departure.
Villa Maria: This lodge is located on the lower reaches of the Rio Grande within the historic pioneering family estancia of Jose Menendez, one of the first to be settled in Patagonia. Anglers staying here have the first casts at returning sea trout on 15kms of the lower river, calling for 13 – 15 foot double handed rods with 8 – 11 weight lines, being floating, sink tip or even heavy sink tip according to the conditions. Lunch is usually taken as a picnic beside the river, with guests not returning until the evening having fished a 9 or 10 hour day, making this the most physically demanding of the three lodges we use on the Rio Grande. This comfortable and cosy lodge has capacity for 6 rods in 4 bedrooms (3 ensuite and one single room) with a living and dining area complemented by a bar. Fishing guests at Villa Maria will arrive and depart on Sundays in 2016.
Kau-Tapen: This lodge is located on the middle reaches of the Rio Grande, and was the first fishing lodge in Tierra del Fuego, enjoying an enviable but well deserved reputation as the best sea trout lodge in the world. Access to prime weeks is very hard to come by as multiple catches per day are normal given favourable conditions and Kau-Taupen has access to more productive holding pools than any other lodge on the river, with the clean gravel bottom allowing easy wading. The recommended rod for the river is a 9 – 10 foot for an 8 weight line, although a 13 – 15 foot double handed rod for a 9 – 11 weight line can also be useful in the windy conditions that often prevail in Tierra del Fuego. Weight forward lines are recommended, with the option of sinking tips and sinking poly-leaders. Lunch at the lodge is usually followed by a siesta, with guests returning to fish the river from 5 – 10pm. The lodge has capacity for 12 rods in 9 ensuite bedrooms (8 twins and one double room) as well as a bar, living room with open log fire, sauna and massage room. Fishing guests at Kau Tapen will arrive and depart on Saturdays in 2016.
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.
“It was brilliant from beginning to end and a personal thank you for your excellent work and help. Adrian’s Wild and Exotic is my kind of Company and will be my first port of call wherever I fish next. Maria, Analia, guides and Villa Maria staff made every effort and succeeded to ensure a great experience.7 rods caught 96 fish (LOST 46) with and average weight of 11.2lbs for all fish weighed over 3lbs. 21 fish were over 15lb and 10 were over 20lbs with a top weight of 27lbs. Only one rod missed the 20lb mark. 2 of the rods had a 20lb+ and 4 rods had double 20lbs including me.The top rod for 23 fish was our American friend, Schuyler, and that included 2 x 20lbs+ Mark from Morecambe had the best 2 fish of 27lbs and 24lbs. I had 12 fish including 2 at 21 and 22lbs and a dozen+ of 2/3lbs as did the other rods.From feed back in Argentina and the intimate smaller group experience the Villa Maria Lodge worked for me. A big, big thank you.”
“Your organisation was faultless”