Back in March, I made my way down to Argentina for the third consecutive year to visit my good friends at Patagonia River Guides. They asked me to do what I do best – shoot photography – only this time I was joining forces with two other talents in both video and photography. My friends, Isaias Miciu Nicolaevici (photographer) and Austin Trayser (video and photography) are both great behind the lens, and we were assigned an epic three week shoot across Patagonia Argentina. I was also shooting on behalf of Tailwaters Travel, here in Dallas, TX.
To understand our assignment, you must first understand Patagonia River Guides. Also known as PRG, it is a full-service, high-end fly fishing and hunting outfitter in Patagonia, Argentina. Their program is flawless. The guides, food, accommodations, equipment and most importantly, the fishing, is. You also must consider the place: Patagonia. So, our task was to cover a vast area of Patagonia in only three weeks. We were to travel an area from Rio Pico all the way north to San Martin de Los Andes, roughly 700 km.
We started our journey at PRG basecamp in Trevelin. The incredible thing about this area is that you have such an incredible variety of fishable water. Anything from a desert spring creek, to a tailwater, to a deep glacier river in the national park – all of which hold monster fish! I also must mention that most of these fisheries have minimal pressure, which not only offers each angler a great experience, but makes sure the fishery stays healthy. This will be a multi-piece report broken into three sections: Esquel & Trevelin, PRG North – San Martin de Los Andes, and lastly Rio Pico.
Day 1: Unnamed River
We head deep into Los Alerces National Park and float the most remote river in the park, which will remain unnamed by request of the park ranger. This is likely the most beautiful river I have ever floated and only a handful of anglers are privileged enough to float the entire stretch per season. This particular river is glacial fed, which allows for an incredible emerald coloration. Most anglers, if willing to cast a full sinking line and a large streamer, will come away with a trophy brown trout, likely measuring over 28”.
After prepping all the NRS rafts, rigging all rods and organizing anglers, it’s time to hit the water. We (the photo/video crew) had our own boat so we had the freedom to roam wherever to capture any angle possible. Before we could even launch the photo boat, an angler was already fighting a brown, which turned out to be the biggest of the day at a whopping 31”. Beast. Aside from the fishing, an incredible feature to this river is the incredible amount of coihue trees that line the high banks. You truly feel as if you were in one of the most remote places on the planet.
Day Two: Arroyo Pescado
With the previous day being spent on a river within an ecosystem that can be described as a rain forest, we were visiting a place on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Arroyo Pescado is a small spring creek on a private estancia located east of Esquel. This is more along the lines of a desert ecosystem and most would never expect trout fishing to be so incredible. Most anglers will be fishing a variety of dry flies and/or hoppers making the experience entirely visual. All of this is in a spring creek that is no wider than a suburban. Both browns and rainbows can be picked out and there is always the potential for a big one (25”+). Can you imagine a fish that big coming from such a small spring creek?!
Day 3: Rio Futaleufú
Also referred to as Rio Grande, this is a tailwater that eventually makes it’s way to Chile. It’s a broken record, but yes, it’s yet again another one of the prettiest rivers I’ve ever floated. This is a slightly larger river than the Rivadavia and Corcovado. There is a lot of water to cover. I prefer to throw big streamers in hopes of a nice brown or rainbow, but most clients are throwing dry/dropper rigs with the occasional chuck & duck (streamer). There are certainly large fish in the Futaleufu, but you have to work for them. If you want numbers on this river, that’s easy. Fish averaging in the 16-18” range are very common.
(Side Note: Have I mentioned yet that on all of these outings you rarely see another human being with exception to the gauchos? It really doesn’t get any better.)
Day 4: Rivadavia
The Rivadavia is another river located inside Los Alerces National Park. Like the unnamed river above, it is lined with massive coihue trees with the mixed in bamboo. While the Rivadavia is still very remote, you will see a few more anglers on the first part of this float. One thing about this river that everyone notices is how exceptionally clear it is. It’s like an aquarium. Both browns and rainbows can be taken here. It’s more common to fish nymph rigs on this river, but streamers are definitely a go-to setup as well.
Day 5: Corcovado
Normally, the Corcovado is part of the Rio Pico program (report coming soon), but if it is the fall (our spring). This means the brook trout are moving into the river to spawn, which is well worth the lengthy drive. The Corcovado is another stunning river that is gin clear. At peak season, brook trout are stacked up like salmon and you have the opportunity to catch a trophy male brookie in full spawning colors. I don’t think there is a more beautiful fish than the male brook trout in spawning colors. It’s truly a gem of nature.
If you are interested in visiting Argentina to fly fish or experience all that it has to offer, take the time to visit Patagonia River Guides at patagoniariverguides.com. If you wish to book travel please visit Tailwaters Travel at travel.tailwatersflyfishing.com.