Page 27 -
P. 27

guest cabins and the main lodge also reflect Jose’s character and hard work. Built from local river stone and rough-hewn logs,- the build- ings surround an outdoor wood-fired hot tub (also designed by Jose) where you can relax after a day of fishing.
Everywhere you wade/dine/ride at El Saltamontes you enjoy the effort Jose has put into his ranch and the lodge over the past 30 years. His efforts at protecting and preserving not just the fishery but the culture and history of the people and the land are a story all to themselves, and Jose has many more stories to share at the dining table, making him a central part of the charming hospitality everyone expe- riences at El Saltamontes.
By the end of our one-week trip, the five couples in our group were comparing Jose to “the most interesting man in the world” we’ve all seen the Dos Equis commercials — only the Dos Equis character is fictional, and Jose Gorroño is the real deal.
Gorroño is a ranching pioneer and was the first in Patagonia to use embryo transplants of pedi- gree Hereford cattle in local Chilean cows to quickly improve his cattle herd. He collected alpacas from the Aymara Indians in Bolivia, Peru, and Northern Chile, and once chartered his own cargo plane to export 300 live alpacas to the United States where they were sold to breeders all over the country. Today, gentle alpacas roam the ranch, and local artisans use the soft microfibers to craft shawls, hats, and sweaters.
He has an impressive stable of horses, descendants of either an Arab stallion or of the world champion show jumper Ratina Z
crossed with a Chilean mare, and a full-time equestrian instructor to run the riding program at El Saltamontes.
He has sailed the
Pacific Ocean by himself
from Chile to Australia
many times, been
becalmed, survived
storms, and repaired his
own boat to survive. He
has spearfished the Great
Barrier reef to feed him-
self, been involved in
deep sea salvage opera-
tion, bought and sold
bulk gemstones in
Guyana and Columbia to finance his travels, been jailed by corrupt government officials in Jakarta for failing to deliver a bribe, and was most recent- ly self-rescued after a skiing fall into an icy canyon that resulted in a compound fracture
of his arm.
He is a gracious and humble
host, but over dinner, if you ask
“where did you get this antique diver’s helmet?” or “what’s the biggest shark you’ve swam with” or “which horse is your favorite” you’ll find out that the most interesting man in the world is not in a beer commercial. He owns an estancia and fishing lodge in Patagonia
– Ross Purnell
Editor, Fly Fisherman Magazine
The lodge is built from worn river stone and rough-hewn logs taken from the ranch property. The 3-star cuisine has a Patagonian flavor with many of the fresh ingredients coming from the ranch herds or greenhouse.
In ‘86 José Gorroño became a father for the third time. He and his lovely wife, Erica, then decided it was time to pay more attention to business, the farm, and their growing family. They booted Art, took possession of their ranch house, and agreed to try letting The Fly Shop supplement their income by hosting anglers each South American summer. José jettisoned his plans to annihilate the hordes of grasshoppers who were feeding on the grasslands alongside his cattle herd and instead named his new lodge after the winged critters. The Fly Shop began spreading the word about this blue ribbon river, the wonderful dry fly fishing, the fine food, and the Gorroño brand of hospitality. Then the place started filling with fly fishermen.
In the mid-80’s there wasn’t much interest in Chile’s fly fishing or much competition. Fly fishing had taken a firm grip on the Argentine side of the Andes a full generation earlier, but had not yet become a part of Chile’s cul- ture or sporting tradition. Finding guides in those days was as difficult as tracking down a pretty girl in a bar at closing time. There were few skilled native fly fishermen and no choice but to turn to the ex-pats or import Yankees for help. A dozen years later, you couldn’t find a bar stool in Coyhaique that didn’t have the ass of some Montana drift boat refugee sit- ting on it. El Saltamontes finally developed into a pure Patagonia experi- ence, but not until many of the locals and the other lodge owners in the region had apprenticed, in one form or another, with the Gorroños.
In the ensuing thirty-plus years it hasn’t been only the fishing or just the grasshoppers that has made El Saltamontes a success. It has been the Gorroño style, vision, charm, and hard work. It was their unwillingness to settle for mediocrity (along with a desire to have their home back) that drove the family to build a truly great lodge and become the standard by which all the other Chilean lodges that have followed since are measured.
The Fly Shop has been fortunate to have this family as our friends, and to have been their exclusive angling travel agent since the day we con- vinced them to open their doors to our fly fishermen.  phone 800-669-3474 WWW.THEFLYSHOP.COM  EMAIL: TRAVEL@THEFLYSHOP.COM
Volume 46 
This article is reprinted from Fly Fisherman Magazine Number 5  September, 2015
– Mike Michalak
Owner, The Fly Shop, Inc.

   25   26   27   28   29