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This part of the world is legend in the fly fishing community
trout fishing in
PATAGONIA IS AN IMAGINARY BAND that stretches from the Argentine Atlantic to the Chilean Pacific. It covers roughy the south- ern third of the continent and includes the island of Tierra del Fuego. But the Patagonia experience extends far beyond the riverbank. It simply transcends fishing and is, in many ways, a journey to another era, and a step into the past where hospitality, old world culture, grand service, spectacular scenery, wonderful fishing, and elegance collide. It is a faraway, sparsely populated world where much of the native transportation is still on horseback; where Christmas comes in their summer, and the clear night sky is filled with stars and constellations that can’t be seen from home.
Here one matches hatches similar to those back home...yet different. A passing shadow causes you look up from watching your fly, expect- ing to see a hawk kiting by, but instead an enormous Andean con-
dor circles, its massive wingspan catching the late morning thermals. Guides are quietly respectful. Midday meals are
late, and evening dinners even later. The rhythm of everyday
life seems more natural here, a pace perhaps lost in the day-
to-day stresses back home.
The heartland of picturesque Patagonia is dotted with volcanoes and fish-rich rivers with hard to pronounce names. The air is so clear that the Andean cordillera separat- ing Argentina from Chile can be seen from the seashore more than a hundred miles away.
Rainbows, browns, brookies, steelhead, and sea trout were all introduced to Patagonia only a century ago. None are native to Chile or Argentina. The first brookies were
brought from New York in 1904, and the rainbows distributed throughout South America were hatched from eggs brought to Bariloche from California in the ‘30’s.
These fighting ‘bows were the same strain of trout collected from the McCloud River and used to stock New Zealand. In their native habitat, the McCloud River rainbows grow fat and strong. In Patagonia, with little com- petition for space, no predators, no fishing pressure, and an abundance of food, they grew fast and multiplied exponentially.
Dwight Eisenhower hit the road to Argentina as quickly as possible after giving the keys to the White House to Kennedy in 1960. He’d probably read articles by Ernest Schweibert in Sports Illustrated and his South American Travelogue in Field & Stream, then decided to put Pennsylvania Avenue in his rear view mirror. Along with Charles Ritz and other famous fly fishermen of
their day, they put Patagonia on the angling map.
By the end of the ‘60’s you could still stuff everyone who had ever fly fished in Patagonia in your home, and everyone who had ever fly fished in Tierra del
Fuego in your kitchen.
Like home, many of those once-famous and
fabulous rivers are now very easily accessible and impacted by public pressure, but there remains plenty of terrific fly fishing in the well-regulated national parks, a handful of private estancias, and the more inaccessible rivers and

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