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Untamed Angling photos
The monster
rainbows of SantaCruzProvince
There are two sprawling, windswept estancias in the pampas of Santa Cruz Province, just north of the Strait of Magellan. They surround a couple lakes, rivers, and spring creeks that are loaded with the largest rainbow trout on the face of the Earth!
THE FAR-FLUNG CORNER of the east- ern steppe of Patagonia is one of Argentina’s least hospitable places. These pampas are only a short drive from the Perito Moreno Glacier, the second largest glacier field in the world, and the relentless winds that blow east across that ice mass give new meaning to the word, cold.
Visiting the Parque Nacional Perito Moreno and joining the other tourists gaping at the titanic glaciers is one of only two reasons to be in this part of the world. The other is to test your mettle and your tackle against the biggest, toughest, and largest concentration of huge rainbow trout found anywhere on our planet.
The term Jurassic Trout was lifted from the title of a comic novel a few years ago and used to describe the unique, jumbo-sized fish found in a few isolated lakes and rivers just north of the Strait of Magellan. It’s actually appropriate, if only because the fish are not native to this part of the world and, like the movie, these rain- bows reach prehistoric sizes.
These are the same McCloud River rainbows brought to Bariloche in the 1930’s and used to fuel the myriad of trout hatcheries that sprang up all over Chile and Argentina.
What is unique about the planting of these fish in the Santa Cruz Province is these rainbows met a “perfect storm” of components that com- bined and triggered an unexpected, rapid (and seemingly unlimited) growth cycle not found elsewhere. An unusually alkaline soil stratum lying beneath these lakes combined with an almost perfect and constant year ‘round water temperature, and an amazing, near-unlimited, food source, all resulting in a phenomenally fast-growing rainbow trout.
Two naturally occurring menu items are swarms of puyen (a slender minnow so abundant in these lakes that the rainbows often swim like open-mouthed whales gorging themselves on krill) and the equally prolific, protein-rich, Hyallela sp., a Gammeridean scud or shrimp, allowing these fish to grow to breathtaking, epic sizes (25 to 30 pounds).
These trophy trout laden lakes, rivers and streams are geomorphologic anomalies and together they arguably represent the most pro- lific rainbow trout fishery in the Americas.
The route to the two estancias surrounding the “Jurassic” fisheries of the Santa Cruz Province begins about 4 hours away in Calafate, where several flights arrive every day with loads of tourists destined for the nearby National Park.

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