To understand how much terrific fishing is available to the guests of Estancia Maria Behety Lodge, one must also understand the geography of the Rio Grande.
The fences of the Estancia Maria Behety surround 495 square miles of cattle and sheep grazing country, approximately 275,000 acres. All of these pampas border the northern bank of the Rio Grande opposite the Estancia Jose Menendez and Estancia Despedida. The three fishing lodges on the opposite bank alternate daily use of 32 miles of Estancia Maria Behety river frontage in a friendly, organized and harmonious relationship that insures a quality and private experience for everyone on the river.
From its promontory nearly 30 kilometers from the estancia entrance, Estancia Maria Behety Lodge is within minutes of more than 100 of the finest pools on the river and their location alone ensures one of the top trophy trout trips on the planet. The distinctive architecture of the historic turn-of-the-century ranches of Tierra del Fuego is incorporated in the design of the lodge. The view from the living room is a breathtaking panorama that encompasses the river valley and the remnants of the Andean cordillera to the west. The lodge is limited to only twelve anglers for each of the 14 weeks of the season. The large and tastefully decorated guest rooms are shared by two anglers and feature private baths and a spacious alcove for storage of equipment and tackle.
Everything about the Estancia Maria Behety Lodge revolves around the Menendez Family’s personal guarantee and total commitment to offering the finest fly fishing experience in the Americas. The guides are renowned for both their intimate knowledge of the Rio Grande and consistent success in bringing monster sea trout to the bank. All of the guides at our lodges on the Rio Grande are Argentines. In fact, the entire staff and management at both lodges on the Estancia Maria Behety are home grown; the chefs, hostess, maids, yard boys, every single employee is there to meet and/or exceeded your trip expectations.
Space for the short season at Estancia Maria Behety is very limited and if you are interested in going next year, call or email us as soon as possible.
2022 Weeks & Rates
Seasons at Estancia Maria Behety
The big sea-run brown trout start to return to the pools of the Rio Grande in significant numbers around Thanksgiving.
Less than a month later the river is loaded with fish and it is estimated that by the first day of each New Year, nearly 80% of the escapement has reached their annual family reunion. That translates into more than a thousand monster trout per river mile. The fish initially herd up in the
best lower river pools, though hundreds more of the silver sea trout continue to pour into the Rio Grande on every high tide, twice a day until sometime in May. The most sought after dates are February and March, the center and most pleasant part of the short, near-Antarctic summer.
Because the most productive week of the season shifts ever year and can't be consistently targeted on the calendar, the best time to be on the Rio Grande is unpredictable. But it's all good! Consider that thousands of these huge fish are caught each season, yet when population studies are compared to accurate catch records, it's clear that a surprisingly small number of the fish present (which don't actively feed after they return to the river) actually end up being hooked. What triggers their aggressive behavior and when it happens is arguable, but what can't be challenged is that every week on the Rio Grande can be, and usually is phenomenal.
Time your Trip for January, February, March, or the first two weeks of April. While mid-season offers the most pleasant weather, the best weeks ever recorded have been the last weeks of the season. Randy Berry and his friends from Teton Valley Lodge once averaged 53 fish per rod during what some consider to be the most difficult week of the Tierra del Fuego summer.
Early season fish are very aggressive, full of fight, and acrobatic. They move readily to dries, and three of the largest sea trout ever recorded were caught and released in January. The most productive weeks of the season shifts each year and can't be consistently targeted on the calendar. The best week to be on the Rio Grande is whichever best suits your schedule. In fact, when the weather cooperates, nearly every day of the season is good!
Geography of the Rio Grande:
Though most of the Rio Grande is on the Chilean side of the border, nearly 80% of the prime spawning habitat and all of the Rio Grande's best fishing is on the Argentina portion of the island, much of it in the first 45 miles above where the river enters the sea.
The fences of Maria Behety surround hundreds of square miles of grazing land and this huge estancia borders nearly 32 miles on the north bank of the river. The estancia alternates daily the use of more than 50 kilometers (102 pools) with the three lodges on the opposite side of the Rio Grande in a friendly and well-organized rotation that insures a quality, private fly fishing experience for everyone.
The lodges on the opposite, southern riverbank are Despedida, Kau Tapen, and Villa Maria (part of Kau Tapen). The upstream estancias separating Maria Behety and Kau Tapen from nearby Chile border increasingly shallow pools, more marginal spawning habitat, and fewer and fewer sea trout.
Resident brown and rainbow trout fishing in the tributaries and the Rio Grande headwaters is excellent.
The maximum combined occupancy of all the Rio Grande lodges between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chilean border is about 50 anglers. That's an average of nearly a mile of private water for every single fisherman.
Meteorologists officially classify the island of Tierra del Fuego as a subpolar oceanic climate. Summers in Tierra del Fuego are short, dry and relatively cool while winters are long, wet, and moderate. The northeast, where the Rio Grande resides, is characterized by strong winds and little precipitation while the south and west (Ushuaia) it is very windy, foggy, and wet for most of the year, and there are very few days without rain, slush, hail or snow. Regions in the world with similar climates to southern Tierra del Fuego include the Aleutian Islands, Iceland and the Alaska Peninsula.
Getting to Estancia Maria Behety
Getting to Argentina these days is relatively simple and painless with a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and New York.
Most flights are direct departing the States in the afternoon or early evening and arriving early the next morning. Airlines that service Buenos Aires daily include American, United, Continental, Delta, LAN Aerolineas
Argentinas, Air France, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Lufthansa and Varig.
Flying Times to Buenos Aires from; Los Angeles: 13 hours, Dallas: 11 hours, Houston: 10 hours, Miami: 9 hours New York: 11 hours, Chicago: 11 hours.
Almost all the international flights into Argentina arrive at the Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport of Buenos Aires, 35 Km from the Federal Capital. You are required to fill out a customary arrival form, which will be handed out to you on your flight down. First you will clear Immigrations (Passport Control) then you will retrieve your luggage, and clear Customs. The entire arrival process in Buenos Aires should take between 1 and 1 ½ half hours.
Specific flight details for Estancia Maria Behety
Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina, transfer to hotel of your choice. Arrive Ezeiza International Airport; clear Immigrations (Passport Control); retrieve luggage, and clear Customs. Auto transfer from the Ezeiza International Airport to your downtown Buenos Aires hotel. The rest of the day and evening is at your leisure to explore the old-world city center of Buenos Aires.
Remember, there are two airports in Buenos Aires, Domestic & International. The domestic airport is about 20 minutes from the downtown area, and the International is about 45 minutes. You will need at least two hours for auto transfer between the International Airport "Ezeiza" and the Domestic Airport "Jorge Newbery" Domestic airport taxis are about $25-$30 from your downtown hotel.
Arrival Rio Grande or Ushuaia, transfer to Estancia Maria Behety Lodge: You have two options for traveling to Estancia Maria Behety Lodge; flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and transferring by auto to the lodge (3 hour drive) or flying to Rio Grande and driving to the lodge a 45 minute ride. There are several daily flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia that make this routing extremely convenient, albeit the 3 hour drive, which traverses some spectacularly beautiful country. The advantages of the Rio Grande routing is the short drive from the airport to the lodge, however this is a once a day flight with a very early departure out of Buenos Aires. Either routing, we will coordinate meet and greet at the airport and auto transfer to the lodge.
After arriving at the lodge, you'll be shown to your private room, given a brief orientation and tour of the facilities, guides will be assigned, and you'll have a chance to organize your tackle for the fishing day planned to start the next morning. There is no fishing on the first day or evening.
Sunday – Friday:
The Fishing Week: Each of the angling days is spent fishing in both the morning and evening. The beats are rotated, and normally anglers will not have to repeat any pools during their stay. Fishermen return to the lodge in the heart of the ranch to enjoy a mid-day meal, and have the chance to relax for a few hours. The lodge is only a short distance from the river, no more than half an hour to the most distant beat on the huge ranch.
At the conclusion of the angling day, fishermen return to the lodge for a hot shower, cocktails from the fully stocked bar, hors d'oeuvres, and a wonderful Argentine meal accented by fine Argentine wines and desserts that will add a marvelous finishing touch to each day.
Saturday Return Home:
The Estancia Maria Behety will provide auto transfer to Ushuaia or Rio Grande to start your trip home or continue your travels in South America.
Make it easy on yourself. Alicia Regueiro and her expert staff at Holdy Tours (800) 446- 1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org are a full service travel agency. They've been our first choice for ticketing for years because Holdy professionals are intimately familiar with the intricacies of travel to Chile, Argentina and all South America. Holdy gets rave reviews from us for arranging reasonably priced flights as well as city tours, hotels, transfers, and optional add-on travel packages to our fly fishing trips. They know the best routes and connections for even the most complicated Patagonia angling destinations and they've teamed up with LAN to offer the best airfares and service to South America. Make it easy on yourself and contact Holdy Tours for your flight accommodations to, from and within Chile.
Lodging at Estancia Maria Behety
The Estancia Maria Behety Lodge sits on a promontory overlooking the Rio Grande with panoramic views of vast pampas and the remnants of the Andean cordillera framing the background.
The lodge was constructed during the summer and winter of 1999 and its architectural style is typical of structures built in Patagonia in the early 1900's with the addition of all the modern convenience and amenities you
would expect in a 21st century fly fishing lodge. There are 8 double occupancy rooms in the lodge that can accommodate a maximum of 16 guests, though we limit it to 12 anglers total. The extra rooms allow a handful of anglers to secure a private room for a nominal, additional cost. Each large guest room is attractively decorated and features two double beds with a shared nightstand, a full dresser, and ample closet space. A full bath with two vanity/sink areas and a walk-in glass shower complete each guest rooms. Each two guest rooms share a sizable common room which is a terrific space to store extra gear, get organized, tie some flies or sit and relax with a good book while anticipating the next fishing sortie.
The timber-framed great room features 20 foot plus high ceilings with banks of elevated windows allowing streaming sunlight to naturally illuminate the space and add warmth. A roaring fireplace anchors the main room and several sitting areas are the gathering spot to relive the fishing of the day and relax with wonderful appetizers and a cocktail. A full bar is well stocked with all the right libations including the finest Argentine wines and plenty of ice cold beer. Dinners are served in the main dinning room just off the great room and for those who enjoy a good smoke a special room at the front of the great room "The Bad Boys Room" is available. Additionally, there is a computer with internet service to check emails as well as a complete gift/tackle shop.
Meals at Estancia Maria Behety revolved around the two per day fishing schedule. Usually anglers are up at 7:00 a.m. and fresh coffee and hot tea is available to shake the cobwebs out. In the dinning room a sideboard is topped with fresh fruit, hand-squeezed juices, yogurt, cereals, toast and pastries. For those that prefer a more traditional American breakfast, cook to order eggs, omelets, potatoes, bacon and ham are available from the kitchen. As is typical in South America the midday meal is grand, a full sit down meal with great wines, delicious desserts and good strong coffee. Dinners are served later than what most are accustomed to in order to accommodate the late evening fishing secession typical on the Rio Grande Dinners are usually lighter than the midday meal and a perfect night-cap before getting some z'sss and starting all over again the next morning. Your days at Estancia Maria Behety are full.
Fishing at Estancia Maria Behety
Hooking up with a big sea run brown is an emotional fishing experience that defies accurate description.
Most fish grab a streamer or nymph on the swing and your first notion is you've hooked a snag. But there are damn few snags in the Rio Grande. It's about this time when the three-foot long "snag" starts violently shaking its head, and its time to plant your feet and get ready for a fight.
After weighing and measuring the length and girth of nearly 6,000 sea trout for three years in a row, University of Montana biologists have developed a very accurate formula for estimating their weight, without the use of a Boga or other accurate scale.
Weight (lbs) = 64.16 x (fork length (m) x girth (m)) 1.4676
These big brown trout are much like Pacific salmon and steelhead, in that they're most active in low light conditions. The scientists call them nega-phototropic, and as the sun gets higher, fish retreat to the deepest parts of the pools. Perhaps it's because they're used to the deeper sea, or they feel exposed to predators in bright sunlight, but it's a fact they're more aggressive and much more likely to strike a fly in the early morning, late evening, or when it's overcast. In mid-day, when the sun is at its highest, they're unlikely to respond to even the most perfectly presented fly. One of the reasons so many photos of the Rio Grande mega trout look like deer caught in the headlights is that most are caught early or late in the day.
Typical Fishing Day:
Fishermen start each morning with a light breakfast of fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, toast and coffee, as well as a full American Breakfast (if they have the room), followed by a full morning of fishing. Each two anglers share a guide and vehicle. Their beat usually consists of two to four pools, all for themselves. Fishermen typically return to the lodge by 1 o'clock in the afternoon where a delicious midday meal, perfectly complemented by local wines, is served, followed by a well-earned siesta.
Anglers, well-fed and rested, fish the evening session right up to (and sometimes beyond) the brilliant Tierra del Fuego sunsets. They'll then return to their respective lodges, in time to regale each other with tales of giant fish, then sit down to yet another meal that would put many five-star restaurants to shame. By this time you have been ridden hard and put away wet, only to rise the next morning and start it all over again. What a wonderful way to be treated... EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP...
Fishing and the Wind:
Much is said about the winds of Tierra del Fuego and it is seldom that any of it is good. The truth is that the Rio Grande isn't super wide, casts are seldom seventy feet, and almost never directly into the wind. Competent casters have little difficulty adjusting to the almost constant gusts and even those that struggle agree quickly that the results are worth every effort.
Tackle and techniques on the Rio Grande are not very complicated. Anglers choose from a broad range of lines, tips and terminal tackle according to the water conditions. Experienced steelhead and Atlantic Salmon fishermen immediately feel "in their element." Quartering downstream with streamers or dead drifting nymphs are the most common methods used, and skated dry flies are terrific when the conditions are right.
The Rio Grande is one of the easiest streams to wade in the Americas. The river is seldom more than thigh deep, and can be easily crossed between pools. There's no moss on a bottom made of nothing but perfect spawning habitat ranging in size from pea gravel to golf ball sized rocks. Leave your studded boots at home because there isn't a rock big enough on the Rio Grande to trip over.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• The Rio Grande offers the finest sea-run brown trout fishery on earth – with a run that exceeds 70,000 fish on average each and every season – January through March.! That translates into 1,000’s of sea-trout in every pool to swing your fly through, looking for the “grab”. Every cast you make, has the chance of hooking the fish of a lifetime.
• Our sea-run brown trout average and honest 12 pounds and one in 20 will tip the scales at better than 20 pounds. If you are a big fish-angler, the Rio Grande is the spot – these are the largest brown trout in the world, and there is no finer fishery to hook and land the largest trout of your life.
• The Estancia Maria Behety is massive (158,000 acres) and borders the lion’s share of the best water on the Rio Grande, over 50 kilometers of river and 102 named pools. No matter what the weather, river levels, or fishing conditions, this much water guarantees you will be swinging your fly over bright sea-run brown trout, each and every fishing session. No outfitter on the river has better or more productive water than Estancia Maria Behety!
• Our two lodges on the Estancia Maria Behety are the best value on the Rio Grande when compared to other lodges. You get more bang for your buck at Estancia Maria Behety – more water, world-class lodging, experienced guides, and a fishing program designed for hard-core anglers.
• Estancia Maria Behety offers a 100% Argentine Experience. The English speaking local guides grew up on the river and know every single inch of their home-waters. They’re veteran guides with decades of experience guiding anglers on the Rio Grande. Put that experience to work for you and let these pros help you catch the sea-run of your life – Argentina Style.
• Estancia Maria Behety Lodge is a comfortable and low key fishing lodge with a club like atmosphere. This is a destination designed for relaxation and an easy pace, with the emphasis on the fishing. If you want show up for supper in shorts and flip-flops, no big deal - it's all good... For those anglers wanting a totally chill lodge to fish from, with no stress, Estancia Maria Behety Lodge is the place.