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PATAGONIA IS THE PERFECT antidotefora fly fisherman’s Winter Madness. Their seasons are the exact opposite of our own and our win- ters are a great time to escape to that part of the world for a week or two. It is a wonderful option to the cold, wet weather of home and the frozen rivers of Michigan, Maine, or Montana.
Spring in Chile and Argentina begins in December. Trees have dropped their blossoms and warm summer weather lands in Patagonia before the Christmas presents are opened.
Patagonia summers are abbreviated, like Montana and Wyoming. Warm summer days often begin with cool mornings and can be punctuated by thunderstorms.
December is a time when North Americans are preoccupied by the holidays, but that’s when things warm up in Patagonia and the fishing gets good. The landscape is ablaze with eye-popping wildflower displays known locally as “Chocho”, or lupine season. European lupine carpet the meadows in an explosion of violet, red, purples, and yellows. Then trout season swings into high gear at the New Year, and the fishing continues to get better and better.
Because it is far away doesn’t necessarily mean that Patagonia trout fishing is easy. And because the Argentines and Chileans speak Spanish doesn’t mean it is cheap. This is a part of the world populated by Europeans, and civi- lized before the American West. It is not a third world destination, but rather a cultural and angling experience that has become a passion for those of us here at The Fly Shop.
OUR FIRST FISHING TRIPS to Chile and Argentina were in the late ‘70’s and early 80’s. They were inspired by Joe Brooks and our friends, Ernie Schweibert and Mel Krieger. What we found, with rare exception, remains true today.
On the Chilean side of the Andes, most of the easily accessible rivers and streams that once held trophy browns and ‘bows (planted in the 1930’s and 40’s) were all but empty of trout. The Carrera Austral, Augusto Pinochet’s grand design to connect the near-uninhabited distant south of Chile to the more developed and rural north by a single road, hadn’t yet stretched further than Puerto Montt. Even then, there wasn’t much beyond a few coastal streams that could actually be considered true wilderness in Chile. But a bit farther south, in the rural countryside near Balmaceda there was still water that hadn’t been hammered. It was hard to find, difficult to reach, and in the middle of nowhere on the maps.
The finest fly fishing on both sides of the cordillera still lies in tough places to get to, away from the cities and more populated pueb- los. Most remain beyond the reach of casual fish- ermen armed with a harvest, catch-and-keep mentality. The truly great fishing in all of Patagonia is much like our own in North America. It requires four-wheel drive vehicles, rafts, drift boats, permission or a key.
Mike Greener photo
With a few exceptions, the best of the lodges were built around the best of the known fish- eries of the 80’s and though there are a lot more lodges now, God hasn’t made any new rivers recently.
The Fly Shop staff has spent a collective life- time exploring Patagonia and kept our finger constantly on the pulse of their trout fishing. We were part of the cutting-edge of fly fishing while it was developing in that part of the world, and there isn’t a more experienced South American angling travel agency in the sport. We can help you avoid hit-and-miss tactics, focus on the best of what Patagonia has to offer, and quickly plan and prepare for what is often the trip of a lifetime.
You don’t hear much about many of The Fly Shop’s premier destinations. The fact is that, often, we’re the only outfit that represents them. Usually the places we work with are so good, their reputation is so well established, and they’re so popular among the veteran crowd of fly fishermen that our work is easy.
We’re positive that the guides, estancias, lodges and fishing you’ll read about in the next several pages are the best in Patagonia.

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