Where can you fish in Argentina?
Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world, so you can imagine, there are a lot of places to fish! In Patagonia, there are endless rivers and lakes that provide some of the world’s best trout fishing. Spring creeks, tailwaters, freestone rivers, glacial rivers, and lakes are all scattered throughout the country. There are also a variety of climates in Patagonia, making these fisheries incredibly diverse.
At Patagonia River Guides, we focus on fishing three very productive and diverse regions: Trevelin & Esquel (access to Los Alerces National Park), Rio Pico, and San Martin de los Andes. Each region we fish showcases a different and beautiful side of Argentina, but one thing they all have in common is the world-class trout fishing.
TREVELIN & ESQUEL REGION
The Esquel or Trevelin region resembles fishing in the American west in many ways, but the water and the way it flows through the Andes Mountains is unique just to this region. Rivers in this area originate from snowpack from in the Andes Mountains or from spring creeks born in Patagonia Steppe. Unique to this region, all rivers except for the Arroyo Pescado, Tecka, and Chubut flow west – through the Andes – to join the Pacific Ocean and not the Atlantic like many other rivers in Argentina.
Waters in this area are as varied as the countryside, and there are many different kinds of creeks, lakes and rivers, which all contain excellent numbers of wild trout. Some of the rivers are large and carry a substantial volume of water year round; others are small and intimate and require a stealthy approach; and others offer miles to walk and fish large attractor patterns. About half of the area rivers can be floated while the other half are perfect to wade. The area is one of the most visually stunning in Argentina and home to PRG Lodge at Trevelin – PRG’s base of operations. Click on the image of the MAP for a larger version.
The Rio Grande is one of Argentina’s most prolific and beautiful trout streams. It is a large river containing plenty of flat water (for rising fish!), riffles and deep pools all of which give you a chance to try different techniques and to catch good numbers of fish on dry flies. The Rio Grande is one of the best terrestrial fishing rivers in Patagonia, and is our home water in the Trevelin Area. The PRG Lodge at Trevelin lies fifteen minutes from the upper reaches. From our lodge, we float severl different sections all with varied water and fishing conditions. The average fish is 16 to 20 inches and it is not uncommon to boat 20 fish per person per day here.
The Arroyo Pescado is easily one of the best spring creeks in the world! It is situated about thirty minutes east of Esquel (45 minutes from the lodge) in the Patagonian steppe and flows about five miles before joining up with the Rio Gualjaina (which in turn joins the Chubut.). The Arroyo can be fished from January 1st through May 1st and is strictly enforced by the private estancia. There are daily hatches and rising fish depending on conditions. Arroyo Pescado offers something for everyone especially the bird lover and has many species such as: pink Chilean Flamingos, Magellan and Ashy Head Geese, a variety of ducks, black neck swans, ibis, parrots, greater rheas and condors. The water is extremely clear and shallow in most parts so the fish can be selective like on any spring creek, and by far the best way to fish the river is by sight fishing. You will surely enjoy the 16-22+ inch fish and the beautiful Patagonian steppe.
LOS ALERCES NATIONAL PARK
Los Alerces National Park was formed to protect one the last stands of giant sequoia trees in Patagonia. The Park encompasses more than 500,000 acres and contains an incredible river/lake system with over two dozen rivers and lakes. Most of the national park is rarely touched because of the limited access on just the eastern edge, and access to the best fishing requires an expert guide and great equipment.
The ecosystem is almost exclusively temperate rainforest (Valdivian Rainforest to be exact) making it different than most of the drier parts of Patagonia. Trout were planted here in 1964 and they have flourished. You can catch rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and even land-locked salmon in the emerald colored waters and sight fishing is the norm. The visibility of the water is astounding and in most rivers, every fish can be spotted before you cast. Get off the beaten path a little bit and anglers will find fish that will confidently swallow size four dry flies.
The Arrayanes River connects Lago Verde to Lago Futalaufquen. The slow and deep river stretches about four miles and offers some exciting fishing mostly in the early season (Nov-Jan). The river is named for the strange trees with orange bark and snarled branches (resembling manzanitas). The most exciting way to fish is to sight cast dry flies to cruising rainbows suspended just under the surface or pull streamers on sink tip lines to find the large browns. You won’t believe the distance a fish will move for a dry fly and how slow they eat your fly! It is a good choice when the conditions are right.
The Frey is the largest river in the park and one of the most remote. You will have to cross two lakes to get there, which means the river has much less pressure and eager fish. The river is incredibly difficult to access from shore so floating is the only choice. You’ll like fishing the Frey and the journey to get there is part of the special program.
The Carrileufu originates just outside the National Park and flows through the northern border. It is best known for early-season landlocked atlantic salmon; however, it also holds hard fighting browns and rainbows. This beautiful river with some of the clearest water on earth flows from Lago Cholila through the dry Cholila Valley, once home to Butch Cassidy. The river eventually flows into Lago Rivadavia and is the source of the Rivadavia River. Early in the season (Nov-Jan) is best and floating is the best way to access the river.
RIO PICO AREA
The Rio Pico area is located about three hours south of the Trevelin and Esquel areas and offers anglers the chance to explore and fish off-the-beaten-path rivers and lakes. Our research, experience and knowledge over the past fifteen years has been aimed at opening this frontier for you to enjoy. The area offers the chance to catch larger than average trout, and the opportunity a wild part of Patagonia without much influence from tourism. Nightly barbecues, fine wine, and stories told around the fireplace and add to this amazing experience. Much has been written over the years about “Jurassic Lake” and we’re happy to tell you that we have excellent lake fishing with large fish that you can enjoy for a day or two without being stuck for a week and without the uncomfortable camping. The Rio Pico lake fishing is quite exciting not only because because of the size of the fish, but also the potential to sight-fish to these bruisers when conditions are right. Lakes are not the only reason to visit this area and there are several smaller rivers and spring creeks, which provide plenty of action and exciting moments when a day on moving water is requested. Click on the MAP for a larger image.
The Rio Pico is a willow-lined stream that is entirely spring fed in its upper reaches and fed by the Rio Nielson and Rio Las Pampas in its lower reaches. Access is challenging but rewarding and normally requires some hiking and walking. You have the possibility to catch some large fish in this small river. There are both rainbows and browns in the Pico and some of large size. Walking the bank is the only way to fish this river until it picks up tributaries toward the Chilean border and has enough water to float.
The Nielson is a delightful river filled with mid-sized rainbows and some larger browns. It is a great place to fish dry flies to eager fish while walking through the vast ranches in the area. This is a perfect size freestone stream that offers miles of riffles and pools to walk and spot fish.
Their names are not a joke or secret code to hide their location. These high desert lakes full of large rainbows and browns and are one of the main reasons to be here. They offer the angler some legitimate shots at fish up to 20 pounds. Fish can be taken on dry flies, streamers and nymphs depending on time of year and conditions. We weren’t lake fishermen until we fished here and are sure that you will be telling stories of gigantic fish after a few days on the water. It is worth the time and effort and very exciting to fish for these huge specimens some of which you will see before you cast to them.
Named after the frontier town of Las Pampas, this river is very similar to the Nielson and offers great wade fishing in a remote setting. Walking the bank and spotting fish seems to net the bigger trout while blind casting will keep you and your dry fly occupied.
San Martin & Junin de los Andes Area
The San Martin area – fished by PRG North – reminds anglers more of Montana than any other fishing region in Argentina. Every river in the area, without exception flows to meet the Limay River and eventually meeting the Atlantic Ocean. Each river offers classic riffles and pools over long distances and offer some of the best dry fly fishing in Patagonia. These hard to pronounce Mapuche Indian named rives and much easier to fish than pronounce and offer variety depending on the valley they flow through. Some, like the Malleo, Filo, and Traful, are strictly waded while others like the Chimihuin, Alumine, Collon Cura, and Limay are best fished from our drift boats.
Many of the northern rivers have daily hatches and daily fishing opportunities can choices are exciting. Most of the best waters are on private estancias protected by large tracks of land, but just about anywhere you can get to the water will produce beautiful rainbows and brown trout. In addition, the area is beautiful and the town of San Martin de los Andes is one of the most charming towns in all of South America, an ideal location to base a flyfishing adventure.