Nineteen years ago, The Fly Shop discovered El Saltamontes on the Gorroño Ranch in the Patagonia Region of Southern Chile.
The home river, Rio Ñireguao, has proven to be one of the finest hopper-fishing brown trout streams we've ever experienced, with amazing numbers of surface-oriented fish. Testimony to its excellence is the large numbers of clients who return annually.
Jose and Erica Gorroño open their ranch to angling guests in early December, welcoming guests over the Christmas Holiday, and fish straight through the end of March. Fewer than a hundred anglers fish the ranch each year, and every week of the short season is a good one. El Saltamontes is exclusively brown trout angling. Most fishing is done in the Ñireguao River and its oxbow lagoons. Some of the best water in the valley is only a few yards from the door of the deluxe lodge. Browns actively feed on grasshoppers and other terrestrials and the grass bordering the stream is loaded with them in January, February, and March. Even the lodge's name, "El Saltamontes" means grasshopper.
The superb lodge is nestled in a beautiful river valley and is luxurious, by any angling standards. Each of the nine guest rooms has private baths, and magnificent views. A small
and intimate experience, El Saltamontes allows only eight to ten fishermen and four non-anglers each week of its short season. Constructed completely from local timber and river stones, the furnishings and final touches reflect the Gorroño family commitment to make this the finest fishing lodge in Patagonian Chile. The cuisine at El Saltamontes is nothing short of gourmet. Talented chefs deliver meal after meal of mouth-watering regional specialties, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and a few inches on your waistline! To accent these dining masterpieces, your host Jose Gorroño has already started stocking the lodge cellar with a fine selection of domestic wines for next season. The final evening you'll be treated to a traditional asado, an outdoor barbeque complete with live, local entertainment.
The trip to the lodge from the States can be made in a single day, but allowing a night en-route in Santiago makes the trip much more comfortable and enjoyable. Balmaceda, the nearby center of the Chilean cattle ranching district, is serviced by direct jet flights from the capitol, and fishermen usually sample the fishing upon arrival at the lodge.
Reservations & Rates
We were fishing Chile before it was cool. Collectively, The Fly Shop’s travel staff has been exploring the streams and rivers of Chile for nearly seventy years.
We've organized, arranged, guided and hosted anglers on trips to Chile, Patagonia for better than two decades. That knowledge and field experience has been invaluable in helping our clients choose the best dates, and has added a more custom-tailored finish to each of our reservations. Our travel staff communicates regularly with all of our Chilean Outfitters. El Saltamontes is a
Signature Destination of The Fly Shop® and we have instant access to the lodge calendar and space available. Reservations can be made as far as two years in advance, and peak dates are often spoken for more than a year ahead of time. We can confirm your desired dates almost immediately, and guarantee that there are no other comparable packages available at a lower cost.
Package Cost: The package options for El Saltamontes package are (these rates are for the package deal which includes non-angling activities):
• 6 Nights/ 5 Days (Sunday - Saturday) $3,950 per person
• 7 nights / 6 days (Saturday - Saturday) $4,350 per person
• 7 nights / 6 days (SAT - SAT) $4,550 per Angler
• 25% Single Angler Supplement (private guide)
Your angling package at El Saltamontes includes meet and greet at the Balmaceda Airport, round trip auto transfers to the lodge, all meals, accommodations (double occupancy), liquor (wine, beer, spirits), fishing
permits/license, and daily guided fishing (two anglers per guide).
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your El Saltamontes package are airline accommodations to Santiago and Balmaceda, gratuities, items of personal nature, tackle, and equipment.
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
When to make plans for Chile:
The lodges and outfitters that we work with in Chile are small, owner/operated and many of them are family run businesses. Their guest capacity is purposely small in order to deliver exceptional personal service. Our lodge's limited capacity, as small as six and no larger than ten, results in space becoming tight, especially during high-demand months of January, February and March. Therefore, if you are serious about booking a trip to Chile it is important to secure dates at the conclusion of the current season; best in April, May or June. That is not to say that prime space isn't available later in the year, but if you are set
and going and want to secure pick-of-the-litter dates - book early!
After a verbal confirmation of your reservation you'll receive a short confirmation letter or e-message showing the dates of your stay, terms of the booking and an invoice showing the cost of the trip. A 50% deposit is normally due within two weeks of deposit. Final payments are due 60 days prior to arrival. Deposits and final payments can be made with either a credit card (Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover) or check.
Seasons at El Saltamontes
Trout season in Chilean Patagonia swings into high gear by the New Year, and continues until leaves turn crimson and drop with the arrival of winter in late April.
Trout and salmon are not native to South America. They were first introduced into Chile and Argentina's regional rivers beginning in the early 20th Century primarily by European owners of large estancias in the south who imported the eggs and smolt by ship from hatcheries in both the U.S. and Europe. The first brown trout were introduced to Chile's rivers in 1906, and three decades later the world famous strain of McCloud River rainbows (salmo Shasta) were added to the cold clear rivers and streams of that part of Patagonia. Subsequent government sponsored introductions into the pristine lakes and rivers of the Lakes Region of Chile were very successful and this area blossomed into a sports fishing mecca in the 1950's and 1960's.
It was made famous by writers such as Rodrick Haig-Brown, Ernest Schweibert and Joe Brooks. Additionally, introductions into Patagonian waters have been highly successful and the Aysen Region of Chile (Coyhaique) is now considered the sports fishing center of Chile. Rainbow and brown trout are the most abundant species and trophy size brook trout can be found in a few remote areas.
With a coastline stretching 6,435 kilometers (about 4,000 miles), Chile is a world leader in the global aquaculture industry; the number one producer of farm-raised trout and second only to Norway in salmonid production. Millions of rainbow trout, silver salmon and king salmon escape those farms and their offspring can be found cruising the rich saltwater shoreline. The physical condition of these saltwater raised trout and salmon is awesome and they are some of the hottest fish we have ever tied into.
Over the last decade we have seen an increase in the number of Pacific salmon making their way upstream, and resident trout have started to key-in on the salmon spawn as a food source. Although a few fly fishing outfitters are targeting the migrating salmon, we don't think this trend is going to take over the trout fishing in Chilean Patagonia. However, it does warrant attention and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Spring in Chile begins in December. Trees have dropped their blossoms and warm summer weather lands in Patagonia before Christmas presents have been opened.
Trout season in Chilean Patagonia swings into high gear by the New Year, and continues until leaves turn crimson and drop with the arrival of winter in late April. The summers of Patagonia are abbreviated, much like those of Montana and Wyoming. Warm days often begin with cool mornings and can be punctuated by sudden thunderstorms. But for the most part, the best time to visit this fantastic part of the world is from mid-November through mid-April.
Opening day in Chile is in November, traditionally a time when North American fishermen are preoccupied with family and holidays. Schools in South America release their students just before Christmas and the rivers of Patagonia don't see much pressure until after the first of the year. Raul San Martin, one of the most highly respected fly fishing guides and outfitters just across the border in Argentina insists that the best fishing happens in December. The landscape is ablaze with a mind-baffling wildflower display, known locally as "Chocho" (Chilean word for "Lupine Season"). European Lupine carpet the landscape in an explosion of violets, reds, purples and yellows. Fish are on the surface, targeting caddis and mayfly emergences, as well as blizzard hatches of small creamy moths. Their January is our June/July. Spring snow melt is gone, the weather's reliable temperatures are pleasant, and the hatches are predictable. Mosquitoes aren't a concern in most of Patagonia, but the Lake District of Chile can be plagued for a few weeks with Chulihuachos, a pest resembling a horsefly that has all but disappeared by the end of the month.
By the first of February trout begin to key on the caddis hatches and hoppers, stag beetles and other terrestrials that dominate mid-summer fly fishing action. Probably because of the weather, February and March are the most popular months to travel to and fish Patagonia. Too, our winter is a great time to escape to Patagonia's summer and trout fish for a week or so; something difficult to do when Michigan or Vermont is frozen solid.
April is the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Kids go back to school and the traffic is light on the streams and rivers of Chile. Like the Rockies, the weather is less reliable in the fall; days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. Dress for a full range of weather possibilities and plan on some of the best mayfly hatches (especially callibaetis on overcast days) as well as streamer fishing.
The country of Chile is divided into 15 regions with the vast majority of fly fishing taking place in the XI Region, called Aysen, that stretches from Puerto Montt to O'Higgins. Within this vast region of more than 109,000 square kilometers fly fishing outfitters base out of the communities Lago Verde, Coyhaique, Aysen, and Cisnes. Weather in this part of the world is complex; a mixture of heavy maritime climate with cold water influences from the Pacific give way to an increasingly dry continental climate as you head east toward the Andes and Argentine border. There are four different recognized climates with the Aysen Region, (cold rainy temperate), (Andean degenerating to steppe), (cold steppe), and (high altitude icy).
Getting To El Saltamontes
Getting to Chile these days is relatively simple and painless with a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and New York.
In the mid-60's, it took pioneer fly fishers, like Joe Brooks 22 hours to fly from Miami to Santiago and another twenty hours in the air with numerous stops along way to reach the trout infested waters in and around Puerto Montt - now that's dedication!
Getting there is easy with a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and New York. Most flights are direct, departing the States in the afternoon or early evening and arriving early the next morning in Santiago, the Capitol of Chile. Airlines that service Chile include LAN, Delta, United and American.
Arriving in Chile is simple, hassle free and safe. The flights are almost always on time, the new ulta-modern airport is clean, and the entire experience, from clearing immigrations and customs to connecting with domestic flights, is very smooth. Airfares from the U.S. to Santiago vary widely, with tickets from New York, Miami and Los Angeles ranging from $900 to $1,200 round trip. Usually the best fares can be had by flying LAN, the national airline of Chile. LAN is one of the largest air carriers servicing South America. Their modern, new air fleet has a superb record for reliability, safety and on time departures and arrivals.
Immigration Requirements for entry into Chile: U. S. Citizens: When traveling to Chile, a valid passport is required with an expiration date occurring at least 6 months later than the day of arrival. Chilean Tourist Card: A Chilean Tourist Card Application will be handed out by your carrier during your flight to Chile. Please fill out the application and present it and your passport to Chilean
Immigrations upon arrival into Santiago. Immigrations will take one copy of the Tourist Card and leave you with another which you must keep with your passport and present to Immigrations when you leave Chile. Loss of your tourist card may result in a penalty upon departure.
Airport Entry and Departure Taxes: Good for the life of the passport, a fee of $131 USD (paid in cash or with a credit card) will be charged to all U.S. Citizens entering the country by plane for the first time. This is the same amount charged to Chileans applying for a visa to the U.S. A domestic airport tax of $8.00 is charged when flying within the country. A departure tax of $26.00 is due upon leaving Chile for another country. Departure Tax is usually included in the ticket price.
Inoculations and Health Concerns: There are no formal requirements, or recommendations, for immunizations and very little risk of infectious disease in Chile. The risk would be about equivalent to what it would be for a trip to Colorado. You should check with your personal physician if you are concerned. We recommend that anglers be up-to-date on their Tetanus, Hepatitis-A and Hepatitis-B vaccinations.
Political Situation: Chile is a safe, pro-American country and has been a democracy since 1989. On March 11th, 2006 the new president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, took office. Michelle Bachelet is Chile's first woman president. Chileans are overall a very friendly people and welcome foreign tourists. The hospitality of the campesinos (country people) in rural Chile (where all the fishing takes place) is renowned.
Specific flight details for El Saltamontes
Arrival in Santiago, Chile (Saturday) International travelers usually arrive in Santiago, Chile in the morning. Most of our guests transfer to the Ritz Carlton or Plaza San Francisco Hotel to relax for a day and acclimate. The hotels are authentically Chilean. The accommodations, restaurant and bar are excellent. They are conveniently located near Santiago's best shopping, restaurants, cultural center, and nightlife. Anglers traveling with The Fly Shop® qualify for preferential rates at both hotels. However, there are other wonderful hotel options.
After a comfortable night in Santiago, guests fly [via jet] to the Balmaceda Air Terminal (Coyhaique). There, they are met by hosts Jose & Erica Gorroño, who escort the guests to El Saltamontes. The drive to the lodge is about a 2 1/2 hour van trip. The drive is accented by beautiful roadside streams, waterfalls and miles upon miles of open country... Upon arrival at El Saltamontes, you'll be introduced to the staff and accommodations.
The Gorroño's impressive, single story lodge and ranch house sits in the shadow of the beautiful snow-capped Andes. Each of the lovely guest rooms is well-appointed, with a view and private bath. El Saltamontes Lodge amenities are in stark contrast to the remote Patagonian location. After a brief orientation and a chance to settle in and organize tackle, anglers are free to fish with their guides for the remainder of the day. El Saltamontes angling is exclusively for Brown Trout. A portion of the fishing is done in the Ñireguao River. The river's oxbow lagoons and excellent water is just a stone's throw from the door of the lodge. The Browns actively feed on grasshoppers, and the grass bordering the stream is normally infested with them in January, February and March. Anglers often release large numbers of Browns during the week. Other terrestrials and dry flies are very effective throughout the short Patagonian summer and anglers seldom
have to resort to subsurface patterns. The after-angling cocktail reception always includes "Pisco Sour," the Chilean version of a Margarita, along with a complimentary bar and fine domestic wines. Non-alcoholic beverages are also available. The first evening's dinner is a little later than usual. This is to allow for a full afternoon of fishing. Dinners, like all meals at the lodge, are informal, superb, and accompanied by the finest Chilean and Argentine wines.
Days 2 - 6, (Monday through Friday) These are full fishing days, and the exact schedule will depend on the guests’ wishes. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the lodge. Fine mid-day meals are served in the field, streamside. An “asado,” the traditional South American lamb barbecue, highlights the last evening at the lodge. Neighbors often attend the asado, and native folk music is played - providing a memorable accent to the trip. Day 7 (Saturday) Anglers will be transported back to the Balmaceda airport and begin their journey home or to other destinations on their South American itinerary.
Make it easy on yourself. Alicia Regueiro and her expert staff at Holdy Tours (800) 446- 1111 or email@example.com are a full service travel agency. They've been our first choice for ticketing for years because Holdy professionals are intimately familiar with the intricacies of travel to Chile, Argentina and all South America. Holdy gets rave reviews from us for arranging reasonably priced flights as well as city tours, hotels, transfers, and optional add-on travel packages to our fly fishing trips. They know the best routes and connections for even the most complicated Patagonia angling destinations and they've teamed up with LAN to offer the best airfares and service to South America. Make it easy on yourself and contact Holdy Tours for your flight accommodations to, from and within Chile.
Lodging at El Saltamontes
The infrastructure of El Saltamontes consists of four independent buildings, all constructed of local river-worn stone and rough hewn logs.
It is the creative mixture of rustic building materials and fine furnishings that lends El Saltamontes Lodge its unique charm. Electricity is produced 24 hours a day, on the ranch by an eco-friendly and sustainable, private hydro-electric turbine. 220 volt outlets are available throughout the lodge and cabins but adapters must be used for North American 120 volt appliances and chargers. The water supply is sourced from a pure mountain spring, gravity supplied to the lodge.
The main Lodge, accessed over a sweeping, curved timber deck, is an impressive building with high ceilings and two immense fire places. The communal living room is furnished with magnificent antiques, cozy leather sofas and rich rugs. The adjoining bar, with a cheery wood stove, offers another option for socializing. It is always open but the focus is more often on fly-tying and card games, rather than the comprehensive array of beverages.
The dining room seats a maximum of 15 people intimately around a heavy, antique table, and a warm fireplace. Set with gleaming candelabra, silverware and crystal, it is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Huge picture windows provide a back drop of dramatic Andean peaks. The kitchen beyond, is always a hive of activity into which guests are welcome. Through the door, waft inviting aromas and friendly laughter and banter from the domestic staff. Although the chef has an array of modern appliances, the big wood stove takes pride of place. If the kitchen is the heart of the lodge, the old wood stove is its soul. A stones throw away, is a 100% organic vegetable garden, providing the kitchen with fresh greens, salads and vegetables throughout the season.
Hidden discretely to one side of this building, is one spacious guest apartment with a super king-size bed, a single bed, wood stove, living room, en-suite bathroom and river views. Returning guests and couples often request this room for its comfort and proximity. The four guest cabins are all within a short walk from the main lodge and have river views. Built also of river stone, they are solid, roomy and comfortable. Each of the cabins has two bedrooms, accessed from opposite sides of a cozy living room, warmed by a wood stove. All six bedrooms have recently re modeled, en-suite bathrooms. Some have twin single beds, some twin doubles and others a mixture of the two. All rooms are designed to accommodate two guests comfortably but in some instances, single occupancy is an option.
Nestled amongst the cabins and woods is a spa. An open air, wood-fired, hot tub, steams invitingly in the evenings as anglers return after a hard day on the river. Cocktails and nibbles appear spa side to those guests who chose to soak away the day’s exertions. A hot sauna and a massage room complete the little Spa installation.
Just beyond the main Lodge is the "Quincho", a three sided building with a huge fire place. A traditional structure on all ranches, the Quincho allows outdoor dining in sheltered comfort. Every week guests enjoy a typical Patagonian style barbeque or "Asado", with a whole lamb and choice, roasted beef. Neighbors arrive on horseback to enliven the atmosphere with local music and it is always a memorable night.
El Saltamontes Lodge is situated within the Gorroño family ranch "Estancia Adelaida". The River Ñirehuao meanders through this 5,000 acre property, nestled in an Andean valley, surrounded by dramatic mountains.
Initially, the ranch was dedicated to the production of BEEF CATTLE. Jose Gorroño was an innovative grazier and the first in the region to successfully undertake embryo transplants. By introducing fine pedigree Hereford embryos into rustic, local cows, he was able to effectively fast track the improvement of the quality of his herd.
During travels to Australia, Jose and Erica were amazed at the popularity and value of the South American ALPACAS, both "down under" and in the USA. These docile and intelligent "Camelids", produce a luxuriously soft, warm fibre, which is highly valued. The animals themselves have a special charm and there is a high demand for breeding stock.
This prompted the couple to embark on a new venture. They spent weeks on end, scouring the "Altiplano", in the extreme north of Chile, bordering with Peru and Bolivia, at over 4,500 metres altitude (13,500 feet), purchasing export quality alpacas from the Aymara Indians.
These were vetted and trucked south the entire length of the country, to form the base of what is now the largest, single herd in Chile. After building their own quarantine station, the Gorroño's chartered a DC8 and exported 300 live alpacas to New York. There, they were exhibited, bred and sold all over the country, over a period of four years.
Back at El Saltamontes, guests are charmed by the numerous alpacas and their babies that graze freely around the cabins. Along the River Ñirehuao, large herds of these gentle
creatures, curiously watch the antics of the fishermen and women.
Local Chilean ladies hand-spin and weave the natural colors of the alpaca fiber into beautiful shawls, scarves, throws and clothing, which are available to the anglers at the lodge. HORSES are the other passion of the Gorroño family and some sixty head roam the Estancia Adelaida. Having ridden horses to school in their earliest years, the children are all accomplished equestrians. Son Lucas has represented Chile in international junior show-jumping championships and placed second in Australian nationals, in 3 day Eventing.
The Chilean horse is a stocky, chesty, hardy, pony with a willing and dependable nature. These form the basis of the working herd. The family's interest in equestrian sports has prompted the introduction of other breeds such as Arab, Holstein and Thoroughbred. Some are pure-bred, others have mixed blood lines. One of the favorite crosses produced on the ranch, is the result of a Chilean/Arab hybrid. These horses are wonderful to ride and ideal for exploring the rough terrain of the Andes.
Many anglers and their companions choose to trail ride whilst fishing at El Saltamontes. Mounts are selected and rides are tailored to suit each individual, from the total novice to the experienced thrill seeker.
Anglers staying at El Saltamontes enjoy the authentic atmosphere of being immersed in a working ranch. Cowboys in goat-skin leggings, ponchos and berets ride by with lean, scruffy dogs at foot. There is always something going on in the corrals or the barn, from branding to shearing and guests are most welcome to observe or even "have a go" at some of these activities.
El Saltamontes is nestled in a valley in the Andes mountains. As well as being the home of our flyfishing Lodge, It is a fully working cattle, horse and alpaca ranch. Our guests are always welcome to join in the farm's activities and many have ended up learning how to shear alpacas, work cattle and work horses using rational horsemanship techniques.
We have a herd of around 60 horses; Chileans, Arabians, Holsteins, Thoroughbred's and mixes of these breeds. Our main riding herd of 12 horses is made up of sturdy Arab-Chilean crosses and local mountain ponies. These horses are bred in the wild and are well suited to rigorous mountain riding.
Our family has been very involved in show jumping and eventing in Chile and Australia at both national and international levels. However, here we offer "adventure riding." Our guests enjoy riding through landscapes rarely (if ever) visited by other humans. We can take leisurely scenic rides through valleys or, if you are up for a challenge, tackle the steep Andes mountains and be rewarded with wild riding and breathtaking scenery.
El Saltamontes can tailor riding activities to suit every level of riding competence, from the novice to the experienced rider. Depending on current weather conditions (it is Patagonia after all!) and how long riders are willing to
spend in the saddle, these can include:
• Day rides in to the surrounding valleys and mountains, joining the fishermen for lunch on the river and riding back to the lodge in the evening for well deserved 'pisco sour' cocktails, a wood fired hot tub, sauna and sumptuous Chilean cuisine.
• Cultural rides to visit locals, experience their lifestyle, drink mate and see alpaca and sheep's wool garments being made by hand. Fishermen can join in on horse back or meet us there by 4WD.
• Full day treks to surrounding properties where we will find camp set up and waiting for us, enjoy a hot meal cooked by our chefs, red wine and stories by the fire.
• Expeditions where we can leave horses at the end of our day's destination over night, return to our friends and comforts of the Lodge by 4WD and pick up where we left the next morning to continue on.
You are most welcome to watch, learn and help in the rational breaking in process of our horses. If there is anything in particular you would like to do please do not hesitate running it by us. Our aim is to provide the equipment, logistics and venue for you to maximize your horsey experience in the Patagonia.
The Fishing at El Saltamontes
"I've never seen a river so full of big browns that were so totally hooked or spoiled on hoppers as this place." - Dave Whitlock
John Randolph, editor and publisher or Fly Fisherman magazine, states that the ranch's home river, the Rio Ñireguao, is, "arguably the best wild, resident brown-trout river in South America and perhaps the world."
High praise, indeed, from people who have experienced the finest flyfishing on the planet!
The Chilean government has designated the Ñireguao as the first study-catch-and-release river in the country. It has been estimated that approximately 9,000 brown trout swim in each mile of the river, a mid-sized stream that is easily waded and very user-friendly. Expert casters often hook large numbers of trout each day, and when the "hopper grab" is on, even novice flyfishers can expect lots of strikes, with a monster fish an everyday possibility. The lodge record, set during the 2003 season is in excess of 14 pounds!
Anglers who have visited El Saltamontes in the past will attest to this remarkable fishing, but recently the program has improved even further. Spearheaded by innovative professional guides like Argentinean Leandro Troncoso and his intrepid crew of local and imported guides, the angling opportunities at El Saltamontes have blossomed.
In addition to the home water, fly fishers now have the opportunity to ply pristine off-property waters, fisheries that, for the most part, get absolutely no outside pressure. Our own Pat Pendergast describes a day exploring
an unnamed grassy, spring-fed lake that was full of heavy-shouldered 18-20 inch browns. Wading the edges, he'd plop a #6 Chernobyl Ant into openings in the weeds, and watch as huge mouths engulfed his offerings.
Clients have reported fishing remote spring creeks full of feisty 12-16-inchers, rising eagerly to large dries.
For the angler wanting a challenge, the lodge has found locations that seasonally offer demanding, small dry fly opportunities for heavy-shouldered browns, as well. The lodge even has rafts and pontoon boats for day trips to local lakes and rivers. Finally, Jose Gorroño has reclaimed nearly two miles of a picture perfect little stream flowing through the ranch. Fishing the miniature, pristine pools and riffles throughout this past season produced encouraging numbers of 10-18 inch browns.
Fishing conditions range from easy to moderately demanding at El Saltamontes - though there truly are few scenarios that accomplished anglers would describe as remotely difficult. The vast majority of the fishing is done with a floating line, with rods in the 4-wt to 6-wt range. Occasionally, a heavy rain spate may briefly cloud the water, making streamers as effective as dries, but most of the fishing here is done with surface flies, particularly large terrestrials. As in most of Patagonia, breezes range from light to strong - fortunately, the lodge has such a diverse fishing program, there is always someplace to go to avoid the heaviest winds.
The Ñireguao River: The Home Water
Much of this river flows through high desert grasslands, reminiscent of Wyoming's portion of Yellowstone National Park. In addition to the many miles of 4-wheel drive accessible river that flows through the ranch, El Saltamontes also has the fishing rights to nearly all of the best off-property water, including some beautiful canyon stretches accessible only via raft. The Ñireguao is a wonderfully fisherman-friendly stream, with
open banks for easy backcasting, and washed-gravel bottoms that make wading a pleasure. The fishing, season-long, is heavily oriented around large terrestrials, with hoppers and jumbo-sized beetles standard fare. Average fish will run 12-18 inches, with specimens over 20 inches available. As a bonus, the lodge is located right on the river - very convenient for those hard cores that want to put in an extra hour or two before sundown!
Creek Fishing: Outside The Ranch
In addition to the main river, El Saltamontes has a number of outstanding small streams for the adventurous flyfisher - many of which offer nearly virgin fishing. One little waterway flows into a small lake - when the stillwater warms up, the big browns move into the moving water to cool off a little. The water is very clear, so the fish are edgy, but are suckers for a well-placed beetle. This is visual fishing at its best. Another little freestoner has miles of miniature riffles, runs and crystalline pools, full of aggressive 10-18 inch trout that absolutely annihilate hoppers.
Yet another stream pours out of a lake and winds through a spectacular Andean setting.
The fishing in this creek's fast-moving flows is wonderful, though the scenery is so incredible; it is very hard to keep your eye on the fly!
Finally, there is the upper Ñireguao itself - this smallish spring creek flows through the Chilean "Valley of the Moon" for miles, with each miniature meadow bank and riffle home to gorgeously-marked browns averaging 12 inches, with an occasional "surprise" fish in excess of 20 inches. While hoppers work as well here as downriver, there are more aquatic insects present, meaning more diverse hatches - mayfly emergences and spinner falls are common. Serious birdwatchers will love this area, as condors and other indigenous bird species are often observed here.
A large number of what can best be described as ponds, ranging in size from pools the dimension of a small automobile, up to small lakes of 1-2 acres. Some of these are actually ancient river oxbows, while others are spring fed. They are fascinating fisheries, and
consistently hold browns of larger proportions than the average of the main river, often in the 18-20-inch range, with fish over thirty inches occasionally hooked. They seem to pop up at random over the landscape of the ranch - the knowledge of the guides is invaluable in locating them.
Lakes: Local Stillwater
These stillwater additions to the program have been met with great enthusiasm from recent clients. One of the most unusual lakes is largely surrounded by what can best be described as "floating tundra", essentially undercut banks of gargantuan proportions. Getting close enough to the water to fish involves hiking across areas of spongy terrain - safe, but quite bizarre! There are many other small lagunas in the immediate area, most of which are connected subterraneanly to the main lake, and are also loaded with fish. Another favorite, Lago El Saltamontes, is best described by guide Leandro Troncoso: "Lago Saltamontes is quite simply awesome. Any angler harboring a prejudice against stillwater fishing will change their point of
view after this experience! Using the lodge's pontoon boats we can cover most of the lake's shoreline over the course of the day. From cliffs, logjams and weedbeds, this lake offers a lot of great structure. Large browns are often found hugging the shorelines in unbelievably shallow water. The fish enjoy dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers, beetles, caddis, mayflies and midges on their daily menu - basically, anything will work, as long as it is big and ugly! The lake area is incredibly scenic and guests seem to very much enjoy the 45-minute ride through the native forest to get there." There is even a beautiful, glass-walled little lakeside cabana on Lago El Saltamontes for fishing couples, or pairs of anglers that would like to wake up lakeside.
Making Reservations to El Saltamontes
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.