2024 Patagonian BaseCamp Season Recap Part 2

Patagonian BaseCamp, Chile Fishing the foam
Chilean trout love to feed in the foam

The second chapter of our three part series recapping the 2024 season at Patagonian BaseCamp.

The winter of 2023 was just what we needed, with lots of snowfall that melted and filled our rivers with cold, clean water that supported a rich biomass of insects. While the first weeks of December were challenging, with lots of rain and high water, January came in like a lion with absolutely beautiful weather and excellent water conditions – truly a dream start to the year. This gorgeous weather stayed with us right through March and the end of our season. The average temperatures in January were in the 80’s and the long summer days triggered the fish to feed voraciously – our fishing was spectacular!

Patagonian BaseCamp, Chile Cantaria beetle
Dinosaur Beetles
Rio Palena Overnight Camp

As soon as the Cantaria beetles showed up in big numbers, the dry fly action was off the charts on all our waters. These prehistoric-looking creatures are a significant source of protein for our trout, and put weight on them in a short time. Along with the beetles, the trout love to key in on the abundant dragonflies we see each summer, another major protein-grab for aggressive brown and rainbow trout. When the high waters of December subsided on the Rio Figueroa at our TempleCamp, the fishing kicked off big time. The scum lines and foam pockets on the edges of the river were full of surface-eating rainbows, gorging themselves on stranded bugs. If we weren’t throwing dries to surface-eating rainbows, we were bouncing big streamers off the rock walls and boulder-strewn banks and pulling out big brown trout. Our guide, Billy, one of our white water experts, guided many anglers through the rapids and into “The Temple”, having stellar days with guests both in size and numbers of fish.

Patagonian BaseCamp, Chile Brown Trout
Big Streamers, Big Trout

In the meantime, the Rio Palena – our home river which I have a special place in my heart for – was as solid as ever. The Palena (whom my daughter Elena is named after) is a large water that “fishes smaller” than it is. The river originates at the outflow of Lago Vintter in Argentina and runs in a westerly direction before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. We fish seven different sections of the Palena, and each beat has its own unique personality and subtleties. From banging streamers to subsurface structure to lure out huge browns, fishing big foam bugs on cutbanks, to presenting small mayflies to rainbows just under the surface, there is always something bringing trout to our flies.

Patagonian BaseCamp, Chile Solar Pannels
Off the Grid Project

The Palena is also where we conduct our overnight floats, with a one night stay in our extremely comfortable PalenaCamp. A favorite of many of our guests, this is glamping, Chilean-style: featuring a full bathroom with running water, shower, flush toilet, and comfortable beds in our domo tents with full linens. It’s the fishing that lures most folks to the Palena overnight, but sitting around the campfire watching the guides cook “disco” – while enjoying a cocktail and gazing at the Southern Cross – seals the deal. Special times.

In addition to the Palena and Figueroa, our other regional go-to-fisheries fished very well this past season. Sight-fishing to sipping trout on Rosselot, Yelcho and Verde lakes was a favorite of many of our guests. Fishing dry flies to electric-blue rainbows eating bugs in the scum lines of the rivers is so visual, and rewarding. And when these trout are hooked, they run wide open – so much fun! And of course our two most requested float fisheries – the Rio Claro Solar and Rio Pico – fished exceptionally well this year. These are special floats that have to be fished to be believed.

Back to work and projects at BaseCamp. This summer we installed 32 solar panels on our boat house, allowing us to run off-grid almost 100% of the time. We continue to make improvements to the infrastructure at the BaseCamp as well as our outcamps, with renewable energy, farm-to-table fare, and a continued commitment to reducing our footprint. Chilean Patagonia is too special a place not to be taken care of.

All in all, our 2024 season went as well as we could have hoped for. Wonderful friends and guests, beautiful weather, lots of big browns in the hands of anglers, and plenty of feisty rainbows.

Thank you, and look for my final installment of the 2024 Season Recap coming soon.

Marcel Sijnesael
The Patagonian BaseCamp Lodge

Patagonian BaseCamp, Chile Brown trout
A Brown from Heaven