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The birthplace of the passion, fever, and enthusiasm fueling the sport of dorado fishing is Argentina.
OUTSIDE SOUTH AMERICA the dorado suffers an identity crisis. Many anglers confuse this distinct gamefish with other species. Within the confines of Argentina, it is the most admired sportfish in fresh water.
Dorado have long been one of the most sought after fish in South America; but they are some- what of a mystery to the rest of the world. Although the dorado’s body is similar to a salmon’s, the two species are not related. Dorado do not die after spawning and never swim to the ocean. If you tied the strongest of the two species tail-to-tail, the dorado could choose between drowning the salmon in a tug-of-war or, more likely, just turn around and eat it.
The arguable birthplace of dorado fishing is the Parana River, which once flowed, unimped- ed, for over 3,000 miles through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina before emptying into the Atlantic. Tens of thousands of Dorado chased schools of migrating baitfish up the Parana for eons, stacking up below the Sete Quedas water- falls where the river fell over a series of seven magnificent cascades. The spot was celebrated
by A.J. McClane in a string of 1970’s Field & Stream articles describing catching dozens of fish capable of dwarfing the current world records. “Heck”, he said, “I eat world records!”
This natural feature rivaled the world famous Iguazu Falls until flooded by the construction of Itaipu dam in 1984 (the 2nd largest hydro dam in the world, behind only China’s Three Gorges).
Some trophy-driven Argentine and traveling anglers now flock to La Zona, the 1.5 mile tail- water discharge below Grande Salto Dam on the Uruguay River, another Parana tributary. But the majority of sportsmen prefer to chase these magnificent freshwater predators in free flowing rivers, streams, and marshlands. Dorado typical- ly range in size from 5 to 10 pounds. Their intense, radiant, golden color is marked with holographic black horizontal stripes. This pat- terning earned the dorado the sobriquet “River Tiger” in Argentina. It’s a great jumper, an ultra- prodigious fighter, with arm-wrenching strikes and aerobatic leaps that are testament to their ferocity and endurance.
dorado on the fly
in the north of Argentina
Ricardo “Pinti” Pinto is the most famous dorado outfitter in Argentina and has forgotten more about dorado than most others claim to know.
His small, riverside lodge, located in an Indian village near Corrientes on the bank of the Parana, is perfectly positioned to access the endless river, back bays, and side channels harboring some of the largest dorado in the world! The place is totally unpretentious yet proudly features lovely guest rooms, fine meals, great wines, and a full bar.
Each two anglers head out by boat each day in search of trophy dorado, sharing a local guide whose knowledge of the river is encyclopedic. They’ll spend the day casting to structure or bait-busting fish with sinking or floating fly lines attached to custom-tied Andino Deceivers.
Pat Pendergast photo

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