These Montana transplants have made quite a name for themselves in Patagonia.
They've applied Yankee fly fishing know-how to some of the smaller, off-the-beaten-path rivers and streams of the distant Esquel region of Argentina. Their equipment and work ethics are second to none, and these guys are hungry to build a reputation that is as large as their talent. Patagonia River Guides has a dawn-to-dark work attitude and you'd better pack plenty stamina along with your fly fishing gear.
Trips with PRG can be built for as few as three and as many as 14 days of hard core fishing. PRG have a spectacular choice of rivers and streams to choose from. They specialize in guiding on small out-of-the-way fisheries and have exclusive access to a number of creeks. There's more than enough on their angling
menu to keep you busy for the entire Patagonia summer.
Note: We met and fished with Rance and Travis 10 years earlier at Trevelin Lodge when they were still cutting their teeth on Argentina trout fishing as guides. Rance and Travis run one of the most successful and widely accepted outfitting companies in all Patagonia. The secret to their success is simple; similar to that of The Fly Shop's. "Surround yourself with good people, take care of your help, pay attention to detail, and take care of clients as if they were guests in your home." It works and you must book far in advance for the few openings that become available each season.
Reservations & Rates
We were fishing and exploring Argentina, Patagonia before it was cool.
The cost of the week-long Patagonia River Guide package is $6,650 per person (double occupancy). Ask about reduced early season rates (November & December).
••• Checkout the Early Season Specials that Patagonia River Guides is currently offering by CLICKING HERE •••
Inclusions: Included in your angling package at the Patagonia River Guides is accommodations; all meals; drinks including wine, beer, and liquor; local transportation; local airport shuttle; professional guide; fishing license; all flies, leaders, and tippet; Simms waders and boots; Winston fly rods; Hatch reels; and private water fees.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your angling package at Patagonia River Guides are gratuity for guides and staff; phone calls, laundry or personal shopping. It also doesn't include transfers, hotel or food in Buenos Aires or ground transfers to and from Bariloche airport if applicable.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
Seasons at Patagonia River Guides
Trout of Patagonia Argentina
Trout were planted in Patagonia around the turn of the 20th Century and have flourished in almost all lakes and streams that they entered. The primary species of trout in the waters accessed by Patagonia River Guides are: brown trout, rainbow trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon and brook trout. Salmon (Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon) are escaping from fish hatcheries in Chile and making runs into some of the streams of Argentina, Patagonia. The effects of these fish in the ecosystem are not known quite yet. Other species of fish in the rivers and lake include: trucha criolla or perca, perjerrey patagonico and puyen. The salmon and indigenous species of fish are not frequently caught; however, a few guests land some salmon and more than a few perca each
Trout populations and size in our area depends on the watershed. Most rivers have more rainbows than browns (something like 75% - 25%). Brook trout and landlocked salmon exist in several watersheds but rarely in large numbers. Trout range from 10 to 30 inches. The average size in most streams is 16 - 20 inches. Anglers fishing with PRG land fish over 20 inches on a daily basis and it is not uncommon for fish to exceed 25 inches. Most of the larger fish are caught on streamers but some of our largest fish have been caught on dry flies. Some rivers are numbers fisheries while others support a smaller population of larger trout.
Spring: December 1st - January 7th
The fishing season officially opens in Argentine Patagonia on November 1st. Spring is a special time to visit Patagonia as the Andes Mountains still hold a large amount of snow and valleys are covered with spring flowers. Precipitation decreases throughout the month of December and average temperatures rise along with the length of day until the summer solstice on December 21st.
Area fisheries are full of water but almost every stream is fishable after December 1st due to the many river-lake systems in the area. Since the water is higher this time of the year, the largest fish tend to be more aggressive and accessible. Fishing is generally spectacular but flexibility is a must as streamers, dry flies, and nymphs are all used depending on the river levels and daily weather conditions. Large flies normally concocted with rubber legs, long hackles, bunny fur, foam--you name it (Chernobyls, garbage, junk, bichos, mutant's, big foam, and etcetera.)—can be thrown and are very effective this time of the year due to the aggressive nature of the fish and the lack
of pressure. You can leave your 5X at home but be sure to bring some 0X and even a sink tip to go down and dirty. Your guide will be as anxious as you are as they have been waiting for the start of the season as long as you have.
Normal tourism season begins after Christmas and the New Year so our area is much more relaxed and the fish are very willing. Imagine a Christmas where it is light until 10:30 pm and you can sit on the deck of your cabin watching fish rise (if you can stand it) while enjoying a glass of malbec wine instead of watching snowflakes and "The Sound of Music". PRG normally offers a pre-season rate to attract clients during this time, not because it's a slow fishing time, but rather because the holiday season tends to keep most anglers at home. If you're looking for a great place to spend the holidays, imagine long days, great fishing, energetic guides, and a very relaxed atmosphere with few people. If you hear a Christmas carol such as" jingle bells", PRG also guarantee that you get your money back!
Summer: January 7th - March 15th
Summer is the most popular month for fishing and tourism in Patagonia. The kids are on vacation and tourists abound. The weather is the best this time of the year with decreasing precipitation and the warmest temperatures. Some snow remains on the highest Andes peaks but almost all the spring flowers are already gone. The grass is getting long, and with warmer temperatures--you guessed it—hoppers and terrestrial insects are prolific and you will enjoy dry fly fishing almost exclusively. There are uncountable species of beetles, ants, hoppers, crickets, wasps, and other unidentified flying objects this time of the year and the trout are looking for them. A South American phenomenon: the hottest, brightest, and clearest days are the best dry fly and fishing days! Yes, it's true, a bluebird-fisherman's dream! All the above being said about fish looking to slam dry flies is true, but
presentation is key on some streams as fish have seen a few gypsy kings, Fat Alberts, Chernobyls ants, hoppers, etc…..and they are as suspicious as they are aggressive this time of the year. You might have to drop down to 3X, 4X, and occasionally even 5X and use a dropper to attract fish in the crystal clear water. You will have lots of sight fishing opportunities daily and wet wading is possible a majority of the time.
Water levels continue to drop and water temperatures rise this time of the year. Every fishery is open and in perfect shape giving you the most options for the "fish a different river every day" philosophy that PRG follows throughout the season. This is Prime Time and getting a spot with PRG is not easy. Repeat customers reserve most spots year after year. If you can get a spot, you won't be disappointed!
Fall: March 15th - May 1st
Fall is the favorite of many anglers, and it is a great time to visit Patagonia. Summer tourist traffic drops off completely and PRG once again has a vast wilderness to themselves. Temperature decreases and precipitation rises this time of the year, which normally brings on the fall feeding frenzy of area trout with cooling and rising rivers. Browns and brook trout are getting ready to spawn and many of those larger fish, which swam back into the lake during the middle of summer, are migrating back to the river to feed or spawn. Fall colors in Patagonia are spectacular and if you are lucky enough to be able to come and enjoy the fall, you will probably become addicted to the beauty, the tranquility and the fishing.
Although, the days are not as long as the
spring and the summer, you still get plenty of time on the water, in fact, you might actually get more fishing as the guides are very excited this time of the year. PRG gets a second wind like no other and scours every last honey hole, secret spot, sure bet, and hog spot to try to catch every last fish before they have to put away their gear for winter. You will enjoy the coziness of the lodges, the fall foods, and the fireside conversations with some of the most passionate fishermen in the world. PRG currently has a group that has to be the last of the season, they don't care when, but they want to be last for aforementioned reasons and tradition. Don't worry, you can get a spot and you'll be thrilled to wake up to foggy mornings, fall colors, and snow capped peaks while getting ready for the ultimate fly fishing adventure that PRG offers!
Getting To Patagonia River Guides
Traveling to Argentina is relatively simple and painless.
There are a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and New York. Most flights are direct departing the States in the afternoon or early evening and arriving early the next morning. Airlines that service Buenos Aires daily include American, United, Continental, Delta, LAN Aerolineas Argentinas, Air France, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Lufthansa and Varig.
Flying Times to Buenos Aires from: Los Angeles: 13 hours, Dallas: 11 hours, Houston: 10 hours, Miami: 9 hours New York: 11 hours, Chicago: 11 hours.
Almost all the international flights into Argentina arrive at the Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport of Buenos Aires, 35 Km from the Federal Capital. You are required to fill out a customary arrival form, which will be handed out to you on your flight down. First you will clear Immigrations (Passport Control) then you will retrieve your luggage, and clear Customs. The entire arrival process in Buenos Aires should take between 1 and 1 ½ half hours.
Arrival Buenos Aires
Getting to Patagonia is not difficult. It is actually very simple: take an overnight flight to Buenos Aires from one of several major cities in the U.S, get a good night's rest and awake in Argentina. If you have so pre-arranged, you will be met by our professional agents at the airport and transferred to your hotel or to the domestic airport for immediate departure to Patagonia.
Our agents in Buenos Aires will re-confirm flights, make dinner reservations, share a cocktail, and take you on a city tour if you wish.
Buenos Aires has two airports, an international and a domestic. You will arrive from your country of origin at Ezezia (EZE) and depart to Esquel (EQS) from the domestic
airport, Aeroparque (AEP). It is necessary to transfer by ground from the international airport to the domestic airport for your flight to Patagonia. Our agents can set up your transfers. Depending on the time your international flight lands, you might be able to travel directly to Patagonia on the same day (If you want to travel directly to Patagonia, you should plan at least on one hour to clear immigrations and customs, one hour to transfer between airports, and to arrive at the domestic airport at least one hour before your flight to Patagonia.).
Flying to Esquel and transferring to the lodge in Trevelin
Esquel has several flights scheduled per week for 2015 departing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. At the time of this writing, the flight to Esquel departs Buenos Aires around 10:30 am and takes about two hours. Flying to Bariloche is possible on all days of the week and there are several options per day; however, there will be an additional charge of $300 for the car, each way (estimate) for the four-hour transfer to Esquel.
When you arrive at the Esquel Airport, Rance Rathie, or a representative of Patagonia River Guides will meet your flight, assist you with luggage and provide transfer to Trevelin Lodge, on the outskirts of the town of Trevelin. The auto transfer from Esquel Airport to the lodge takes about twenty minutes.
When you arrive at Trevelin Lodge, your luggage will be taken to your cabin and you will have a chance to get un-packed, settle in and organize your fishing gear. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served in the clubhouse at approximately 7:00 p.m., and finally dinner in the dinning rooms at around 9:30 p.m. During cocktail hour Rance and/or Travis will provide a comprehensive orientation on the week ahead and answer any questions you might have.
Lodging at Patagonia River Guides
Up to twelve guests per week can enjoy all the comforts of Patagonia River Guides' first class fishing lodge located on the outskirts of the village of Trevelin.
Up to twelve guests per week can enjoy all the comforts of PRG's exclusive first class fishing lodge located on the outskirts of the little Welsh community of Trevelin. The lodge is near the southern margin of Los Alerces National Park and has unbeatable access to both Los Alerces and the Esquel area's rivers. The lodge feathers 12 spacious and beautiful private rooms (yes, each angler gets a private room!), each with ensuite bathrooms. The lodge also includes a cocktail lounge and great room gathering area allowing guests to gather after fishing and share stories with friends while enjoying the open bar. The lodge features a large deck, where people often gather in the warm evenings for drinks and hors d'oeuvre. If you like you can also tie flies, play cards or play pool. The lodge is completed by our beautiful dingin room where you'll enjoy a healthy breakfast in the morning and gourmet food (some of the best in Patagonia) prepared by the talented chef in the evening.
Wold-class Food, Wines, & Beverages:
PRG will provide all food and beverage during your stay. Breakfast is hearty and consists of eggs your style, toast, james, meats, fruits, juice, tea and coffee. Lunch is a culinary delight and is normally served streaside. Lunch includs a nice combination of area meats, cheeses, vegetables, wine, and dessert making this an experience that you'll be looking forward to daily. Dinner is typically served around 9:00 pm after cocktail hour, which gives guests a chance to tell other about their day and those who choose to fish later, a few more minutes to get back to the lodge and ready for dinner. Dinner is typically three courses and features not only Patagonia's famous beef and lamb, but alos pork, chicken, rabbit, fish, pasta and vegetables. Malbec wine is typically served with dinner as this is the best variety that Argentina produces and one of the hardest to find in other countries. We provide a nice selection of top malbecs for you to sample.
The Fishing at Patagonia River Guides
The fishing schedule is designed around the best fishing times. Really, the Argentines have mastered the art of squeezing two fishing days into one.
Patagonia River Guides has a straightforward "blue-collar" approach to its fishing program. Each guide has all of the finest equipment necessary to make your fly fishing experience ideal including: trucks, boats, rods, reels, flies, lines, leaders and tippet. Two anglers fish together with a professional guide and assistant guide to give every angler the finest one-on-one experience possible.
A Typical Day of Fishing with Patagonia River Guides: Fishing programs start on your schedule, which is normally an 8:00 to 8:30 am departure after a hearty breakfast and a meeting with your guide. The lodge is centrally located and the rivers we fish are normally within less then an hour drive. Most days end around 6:00 to 7:00 pm at which time, you are driven back to the lodge for a hot shower, cocktails in our cocktail lounge, and then a magnificent dinner complimented by a great bottle of Argentine wine served by one of their chefs.
You will be treated to a blend of floating, wading and a combination of both on area spring creeks, lakes and rivers. Your options depend on your desires and what is fishing best. Fishing techniques include dry fly, dry-dropper, streamers, and nymphs. Patagonia River Guides try to fish dries at all times when the conditions are right and the fish are feeding; however, it is necessary to go under the surface at times.
The Esquel region resembles fishing in the American West in many ways. Rivers in this area originate in the Andes Mountains or the Patagonia Steppe. All the rivers except for the Arroyo Pescado, Tecka and the Chubut flow east to the Pacific Ocean. Strange but true, the continental divide is actually on the Eastern side of the Andes Mountains. The rivers in this area are as varied as the countryside and there are many creeks, lakes, and rivers, all of which contain excellent numbers of 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. About half the rivers PRG fishes are floated while the other half waded.
The Rio Grande "Futaleufú"
The Rio Grande, not to be confused with its name sake in Tierra del Fuego, is a lot like Montana's Missouri River. It is not only one of Argentina's most prolific trout streams but also one of it's most beautiful. The Rio Grande is a large river containing lots of flat water, riffles and deep pools all of which give you a chance to catch good numbers of fish on dry flies. It has been a tail-water fishery for about thirty years and is maturing more and more every season. It is one of the best terrestrial fishing rivers in the country. We float numerous sections all with varied water and fishing conditions. The average fish is 16 to 18 inches and it is not uncommon to boat 30 fish per day here.
The Arroyo Pescado is one of the best spring creeks in the world! It is situated about thirty minutes east of Esquel in the Patagonian desert and flows about three miles before joining up with the Rio Gualjaina (which in turn joins the Chubut). It 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 here including 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. The best way to fish the river is by sight fishing. Trout on Arroyo Pescado range in size between 16 - 22 inches.
The Corcovado is a fabulous fishery that stretches more than sixty miles in Argentina before crossing the border into Chile, where it is renamed the Palena. It originates at Lago Vinter, one of the largest lakes in the region, which keeps the river cold and full of water for most of the season. It offers some classic trout water and contains some very large brown trout as well as average sized rainbows. The lower stretches around the town of Corcovado fish well with streamers, large dries, and nymphs. A day on the Corcovado provides a combination of white water and classic riffle, pool water. You will also enjoy some wading in the many riffles in the river. Some of our largest brown trout of the season are landed on this river, and they are very strong and stocky due to living in this fast flowing river.
The Nant Y Fall
The Nant Y Fall is a lake fed stream with spring creek characteristics. It is best to fish this river in the early season and late season when the water temperature is cool. Some large Rainbows can be taken here and the average can be more than eighteen inches. The only way to fish the stream is by wading on private access. You will have spectacular views of the Andes and will be in the middle of a large waterfowl habitat giving you opportunity to see many of the birds in Patagonia. When this stream is fishing; it's a must try.
Rio Corintos & Rio Percey
These two streams flow about 30 miles each before meeting and flowing into the Rio Grande. They offer walk wading opportunities for those wanting to get their feet wet. Not all the fish are large on these streams but the occasional fish over 18 inches can be caught on a large dry fly. The character of water is often times like that of a freestone, pocket water stream, and also spring creek like. These rivers are a nice choice for those that want to wade fish with a light rod and enjoy fishing in spectacular scenery.
The Rio Chubut
The Rio Chubut is a small willow lined stream and is one of the only moving waterways which flows east to the Atlantic Ocean. The only way to fish it is to float and camp for three days and cover about fifty miles of this river. Although the scenery of the Chubut and the Patagonia steppe is not as beautiful as other rivers, you will enjoy comfortable camping and nightly asados (barbeques) with friends and guides. It is a great river to catch good numbers of rainbows from 12 – 14 inches on dries and pancora (fresh water crab) streamers. The best time to fish the Chubut is in the spring and early summer when there is still plenty of water for the expedition.
The Rio Gualjina (Rio Tecka)
This small stream is born on the Patagonia Steppe and offers miles of uninterrupted wade fishing. The fish are not all large but the ability to fish a light rod and dry flies makes up for the size of the fish. Both rainbows and browns can be caught. This is a good choice for those that want to walk and cover water.
Los Alerces National Park Area
Los Alerces National Park was formed to protect one the last stands of giant sequoia trees, Los Alerces, in South America. These trees aren't as large as their cousins in the United States but older. Los Alerces encompasses more than 500,000 acres and contains over two dozen rivers and lakes. Most of the national park never gets touched because there are no roads in the park except on the eastern edge. The ecosystem would be described as Valdivian rainforest making it different than most of Argentine Patagonia. Fortunately, the park ranger planted trout here in 1964 and they are flourishing. You can catch rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, and land locked salmon in the emerald waters, and you will enjoy the park as much for the scenery as the fishing.
The Rivadavia River
The Rivadavia has to be one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. It flows from Lago Rivadavia five miles until it reaches Lago Verde. The fishing is challenging but very rewarding as the fish average over 18 inches. Most anglers get very excited about beauty and the numbers of fish you can see and fish to. The water is gin clear and the banks are lined with beech trees and fallen logs, which make the casting challenging. Wading and sight fishing with small nymphs is a good
way to hook up as well as fishing large dries over the logs or chucking streamers under the tree lined banks to entice the large browns. There is also a fishable spring creek that flows into the Rivadavia and offers some exciting sight fishing. This river is the favorite choice for most experienced anglers because of the challenge, beauty, and the fishing. The Rivadavia contains rainbows, browns, brook trout, and landlocked salmon.
The Arrayanes River
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). It is named for the strange trees with orange bark and snarled branches (resembling manzanitas). The most exciting way to fish the Arrayanes 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 River
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 slightly difficult to access from shore so floating is the "best" only choice. You'll like fishing the Frey and the journey to get there is part of the experience.
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 this river.
Lago Verde & Lago Kruger
These small lakes are hard to beat when they are fishing well. Nice fish will readily rise to eat large dry flies cast to the bank. Coupled with the beauty of ten thousand foot peaks, this is a good option for those wanting to fish dry flies and see the beautiful lake system of Los Alerces.
This lake is one of the most remote in the National Park; offers some of the most incredible scenery on earth all with eager trout that readily take a dry fly. You will be fishing under the Torcillas Glacier and have the opportunity to see the rarely seen Alerces Tree. The journey to Lago Menendez is half the fun and experience as are the trout (some over 25 inches).
Rio Pico Area
The Rio Pico Area is located about three hours south of our main lodge and offers anglers the chance to explore a region that hasn't changed much in the last century or two. This is an area which gives you the chance to catch large fish and to enjoy Patagonia without any outside influence from modern technology or tourism. Patagonia River Guides clients stay at Estancia Tres Valles while fishing in the Rio Pico area, a stunningly beautiful lodge in the middle of nowhere. No corner has been cut at this lodge, with beautiful guest rooms overlooking the mountain-ringed ranch valley, superb food and wines, amazing gathering rooms, and some mouth-watering on-property spring creeks with plenty of heavy-shouldered browns and rainbows. You will be shocked at how upscale this place is, considering its remote locale. The fishing out of this lodge is a combination of smaller spring creeks and rivers - all with both numbers and size of fish - and a series of higher-elevation lakes that can produce huge browns and rainbows, sometimes even on huge dry flies.
The Rio Pico
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. There are both rainbows and browns in the Pico and you'll have the possibility of catching large fish in a small river. 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 Rio Nielson
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 trekking through vast local estancias. This is a perfect size freestone stream that offers miles of riffles and pools to walk and spot fish.
The Rio Las Pampas
Named after the frontier town of Las Pampas, this river is very similar to the Nielson and offers great wade fishing in a super 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 for hours.
Lago Uno, Dos, Tres, Quatro, and Cinco (Lakes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)
Their names are not a joke or secret code to hide their location. These high desert lakes stuffed with large rainbows and browns and one of the main reasons to come and experience the Rio Pico program. They offer the angler some legitimate shots at fish up to ten pounds. Fish can be taken on dry flies, streamers and nymphs depending on time of year and conditions. If you are not a still water fishermen, you soon will be after a couple spectacular days on these lakes. It's definitely 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.
Making Reservations to Patagonia River Guides
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.