Cheers to Twenty Years!

A Look Back at the History of PRG

We welcomed our first (and only) twelve anglers back in 2003. We were young, hungry and maybe a bit naive at the time. What we lacked in experience, we made up for with grit, determination and hard work. Fortunately, Argentina is an amazing country filled with the most amazing people, and no matter how the country seemingly is always hanging on by a thread, anglers still love to visit Patagonia for the wide open spaces, welcoming culture, inspiring scenery, and incredible trout fishing.

When we first started, we were, as our company name states, a simple guide service. Our first guests stayed in downtown Esquel at Cabinas El Chalten, and we hosted dinners at area restaurants like the Parrilla Espanola (now closed) and Don Chiquino (still open) along with more than a few failed experiments before hosting our signature end-of-the-week asado at John and Valerie Roberts’ home next door. Ellie Rathie took care of all the details back in the day and even invented the signature PRG gourmet streamside lunches, allowing guests to enjoy the best experience and longest days on the river. Quite frankly, we didn’t know what kind of dinners we would find at restaurants so hoped to please everyone with lunches we could control. Seemingly, without a care in the world, we produced quality trips and ten of the twelve anglers immediately rebooked for the next season and invited friends.

Back in the early years, a couple of very brave anglers even extended their trips and stayed in the most basic and unique accommodations in the town of Rio Pico. They enjoyed dining in the back room at Dongui’s Bar, now closed, but perhaps forever remembered as the greatest fishing bar in Patagonia. We explored Rio Pico during those early seasons with Rance’s brother-in-law, Eddie Wester and Dongui’s help along with a worn out topo map and our assistants, Adolfo and Juani. Our explorations took place before the days of Google Earth, social media, You Tube, etc and the only way to see and experience something was with a fly rod and our own eyes. Over those years, we drove countless kilometers and wore the soles off of many pairs of wading boots trying to meet every landowner, gaucho, puestero and family in the valley. Rio Pico still remains a frontier and the wildest of all of our programs.

We realized early on that hosting clients in local towns as a guide service wasn’t sustainable and that we had to change the business model. In 2005 our guests started enjoying PRG’s first exclusively managed lodge at Camping La Paz. The Masardi family worked with us over the years to form the property into a proper lodge. About the same time, two cousins from Buenos Aires also opened Tres Rios Ranch Lodge in Rio Pico near the town of Las Pampas without a clue of what fly fishing was or how to run a hotel or lodge of any kind. A couple years later, we took over management of that facility. Regardless of the rustic beginnings, repeat guests were excited to see yearly upgrades to the lodges and expanded private water programs we offered each season. Improvement of our programs is still something guests look forward to today and every single season.

Over the years, we came up with more than a few signature inventions and concepts, one of them being the assistant guide training program. Cousins Adolfo Alonso and Juani Peryera were our first assistants and faithfully helped us for upwards of ten years before finally taking on their own pro-guide roles within the company. Other assistant guides like Mauricio Techera, Alex Roberts, and Alejandro Jones followed in their footsteps and have become ace guides. Mauricio was previously our favorite bartender at the Disco Ver, a rocking nightclub in Esquel. Alex, a second generation guide and son of legendary guide John Roberts, grew up alongside PRG and even waited tables for a season with his sister Melanie. Alejandro played unforgettable folklore music once a week before finally diving in to become maybe our most versatile guide ever. Still today, we train guides from within and have a couple dozen assistant guides spread out training throughout our programs. Some make it, some don’t. A few staff members have moved on over the years, some more gracefully than others, but the core has remained and they are the true identity and heart of the company. We have so many fond memories and are proud having watched many of these young men grow into top guides.

Huge brown from one of the Rio Pico lakes

In 2010 we hooked up with Alex Knull, a young and charismatic Argentine guide, and PRG North and the Private Estancia program was born, expanding options to fish the Northern Region of Patagonia. Today, PRG North has twelve diverse lodging options including the unforgettable PRG Unplugged Camp. Alex runs a highly talented guide staff with a culture and energy of their own. We couldn’t be more proud of the PRG North program and what Alex has been able to do 300 miles north of our headquarters. That same year, we purchased the twice defunct Trevelin Lodge, the same lodge where we first worked as guides from late 1998 through the 2001 season. An extensive renovation was required, and by the time the purchase was completed, we only had three months to complete the remodel testing every bit of our will and determination. More than 50 construction workers walked out the back door as we welcomed our first guests through the front door. Having a lodge to call our own allowed us to control our own destiny and finally manage 100% of the quality of our program.

Seemingly gluttons for punishment, and after completing the necessary remodels in the lodge, we planted one of the southernmost vineyards in the world during the winter of 2013. Some reading this will wonder what happened to the vines. Well, long story short, we succeeded and have produced five vintages, including our exceptional first vintage in 2018. We never believed we’d be in the wine business but alas we are. We are proud to have taken part in pioneering and developing the world’s newest wine region under our Contra Corriente brand. Meaning “against the current”, Contra Corriente wines can now be purchased at Argentina’s best restaurants like Elena in the Four Seasons, Don Julio, Casa Cavia and Osaka. Wines are also miraculously available in the US as we were able to export 2018 and 2019 wines during the global pandemic and shipping apocalypse. The winery’s name tells the story and reinforces our fortitude, creativity and desire to succeed and continue going against the current, just as we have been doing under the Southern Cross for more than twenty years now. Repeat guests have witnessed the vines grow along with many more upgrades and signature touches making The Lodge at Trevelin, and its unique sporting activities, perhaps the most sought after lodge in all of South America. Today we offer single rooms complimentary as part of our all-inclusive programs. Non-fishers can enjoy our spa and winery and we even offer top programs for seasonal cast and blast programs for California quail and red stag

Don’t worry, we’re not done yet! Just this year we took over the exclusive lodge management of Tres Valles Lodge after abandoning Tres Rios Ranch Lodge and spending the last eight years hosting guests at Tres Valles. At the same time we are enjoying our first guests of the season and exciting spring fishing, we are working hard with managers and staff to implement the PRG experience 100% at Tres Valles. It’s hard to improve such a beautiful lodge and program but we guarantee you will see the PRG difference. More new programs are in the works and we look forward to sharing more details when we can.

Today, as we dream off staring at the snowcapped Andes, we look back at twenty years…. We’re older and wiser and more determined than ever to share the Ultimate Fly Fishing Adventure with anglers from around the world. We hope you can join us in 2023 or next season.

Once again, we would like to thank our extended family of customers for their support over the last twenty years. You are the best and none of this would have been possible without you. We’d also like to thank our incredible team of guides, managers, admin staff, kitchen staff, service staff, cleaning staff, maintenance staff, vineyard crew and numerous other professionals who have helped us. We are blessed to be surrounded by the most diverse and most incredible group of people God ever put on this planet.

A loving and very special thanks goes out to Ellie and Caitlin, who are nothing short of Saints and have allowed for more than our fair share of long fishing days, late dinners and even later time at the lodge with our friends and guests. Your understanding and support over the years has been amazing. Finally, we’d like to thank our children Julia, Ryan, Emmie Lou and Colter Rathie and Tallula and Delila Smith for inspiring us more than anything. Our tribe is beautiful and diverse just like our rivers….born in the mountains full of vibrancy and life, twisting and turning and flowing and ever changing through time…..

We are honored and grateful to be a part of all of your lives.

Rance and Travis

To celebrate our 20-years use code: 20FOR20 at to purchase Contra Corriente wines at a 20% discount. Please take a minute to browse our wine website and to enjoy the 2020 harvest video where you will see many of your old friends of PRG harvesting the lonely but awesome 2021 pandemic vintage! There is no better way to bring back the essence of Patagonia than popping the cork on a crisp CC wine, grown in our unique terrier, harvested by our friends and families hand, and made and bottled right on our property. Limited quantities of first vintage 2018 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are available along with a more complete selection of 2019 wines. Trust us, their quality and uniqueness will surprise you and memories of Patagonia will rise out of your glass along with sophisticated layered aromas and tastes.