There are probably half a dozen destinations in Northern Argentina that offer great fishing for Dorado, but recognized as one the best and most deluxe is Pirá Lodge, located on the southern shore of the Ibera Marsh. This is a world-class operation that offers more than great guides, great fly fishing and great accommodations. And if there is a nicer or more professional dorado fishing lodge in that part of Argentina, we don’t know about it.
The Ibera Marsh is an enormous National Park, roughly twice as large as the Everglades. In the native language, Ibera means sparkling water; and the massive spider web of lagoons and slow moving streams and rivers are exactly that. Sight fishing for these ultra-aggressive, acrobatic salmonids in aquarium clear water is the norm in the marsh, and what separates Ibera from the other, often muddy rivers in that part of the world.
Freshwater Dorado, pound for pound, are some of the meanest, hardest-hitting fish, on the planet. They range in size in the marshlands from 3 to 45 pounds, and it isn’t uncommon to land a large fish and find half of its tail already eaten by the cannibalistic Dorado it was swimming with. These fish will forever change your view of what a truly bad-boy fish is all about. The best time to chase Dorado in the Marsh and nearby Rio Corrientes is from January through April, though the lodge and season are open year ’round. Bigger fish are generally more common late in the season, but it isn’t unusual to hook up with a trophy Dorado during any month of the year
Pirá guests pursue these mean-tempered creatures with state-of-the-art Hell’s Bay flats skiffs that are ideal for skimming through the shallow basins and navigating the twisting, winding creeks of the marsh before it eventually flows into the Corrientes River. The guides at Pirá speak fluent English and are expert at their job. Every one of them is a dedicated fly fisherman, expert angler, and completely tuned into the complex fishery and rat maze waterway. Guests return to wonderful accommodations and fine meals late in the evening of every fishing day. And the fire-orange sunsets so common in that part of the world often highlight the daily migration of tens of thousands of shore birds and waterfowl.
If you love exotic fish that deliver violent strikes and athletic jumping displays, you need to venture south to the lovely 3000-acre estancia at Pirá and try your skills on Dorado. You will enjoy lovely accommodations and fine dining, all with a backdrop of one of the worlds most beautiful and unique landscapes.
Reservations & Rates
Season 2019 – 2020: October 2019 – April 2020
• 7 nights / 6 days fishing $ 6,300
• 6 nights / 5 days fishing $ 5,550
• 5 nights / 4 days fishing $ 4,750
• 4 nights / 3 days fishing $ 3,800
• 3 nights / 2 days fishing $ 2,850
Prices are in $USD
* Single room and boat: 60% surcharge.
* Non-fisher: $450 per night depending on availability.
Rates are per person based on dbl occupancy and shared guide.
Fishing license: $50 per person
Lodging, Meals, all wines, beer, and local spirits at the Lodge, Professional guide services & loaner fishing equipment (Rods, reels & Lines)
Transfer from Mercedes to the lodge, Fishing license, gratuities for guides and house staff, airfare and private charters, in-house laundry service.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses.
• Travel Insurance
Seasons at Pirá Lodge
The lodge is open year 'round but the prime season is January through April.
The best months for dorado at Pirá are December through April. By the time fall arrives in May, the water is too cool and the fish are less active. You can still catch a few fish in May, but as April stretches into May, the more common top water action of the peak season (January through March) gives way to sink tip lines and less active fish.
In the Argentina fall, you can expect much less than the usual 10-20 strikes per day (with 5-15 fish boated depending on skill level) of the peak season. During the peak season, it is often possible to sight fish for dorado (with floating lines and top-water flies) either by following wakes, spotting laid-up fish or seeing fish that are moving on lighter bottoms.
Getting to Pirá Lodge
Arrival in Buenos Aires:
Located nearly 400 miles north of Buenos Aires, the trip to Pirá is often the only uncomfortable part of the visit. However the fantastic fishing and wonderful outdoor experience is worth the trouble.
After clearing immigrations and customs, you will either transfer to your hotel in the city, or continue onto Corrientes or Resistencia, depending on
your schedule. If you are continuing directly on to Corrientes, you need to collect your luggage and transfer across town to the Aeroparque (domestic airport). We suggest you prearrange with a transfer company (Lopez & Associates) to do this for you - they'll be waiting for you as you come out of Customs, and direct you to their waiting vehicle. After the cross-town commute, they'll walk you to the correct gate, and get you on the plane to the town of Corrientes or Resistencia, about an hour and a half flight. A Pirá representative will be awaiting your arrival at the Corrientes or Resistencia airport, and will accompany you on the ground transfer to the lodge - this drive is normally four hours in length.
The commercial airline tickets (Buenos Aires – Corrientes or Resistencia via Aerolineas Argentinas) will run approx. $560 round trip, and needs to be booked well ahead of the trip by you to insure a seat (we suggest our travel agent, Alicia Rodriguez, to make this booking for you - she can be reached at 800-446-1111). The Corrientes/ Resistencia-Pirá-Corrientes/ Resistencia ground transfer fees ($450 round trip/vehicle) are paid in advance, included with the billing from The Fly Shop®. If you are spending a day and night in Buenos Aires prior to leaving for the lodge, let your chosen transfer agent know where you'll be staying, so they can arrange a pickup and transfer from the hotel the following morning.
Also, there is an option for a private charter (that goes from Aeroparque in Buenos Aires to Mercedes - a little town, where there is a one hour transfer, free of charge, from the Mercedes airport to Pirá) on a Fairchild Metro, which will carry 8 passengers. Flight time of this charter is one and a half hours, with a cost of $4,420.00. It is certainly more expensive (the price is the same, regardless of how many passengers there are), but does cut out a couple of the driving hours. Finally, there is also a comfortable overnight bus transfer from Buenos Aires to Pirá that costs about $100.
Many anglers prefer to spend a day in the city to acclimate and adjust to the time changes. There are a number of superb hotels in Buenos Aires, and the shopping and dining are the finest in South America. Our city hosts are thoroughly professional at coordinating travel arrangements and arranging transfers, tours and hotels. Information on Buenos Aires highlights will be included with your deposit receipt.
Departing the Lodge:
Typically, on departure from the lodge, you'll reverse the same procedure used to get you there. If you plan on departing the same day back to the States, please allow at least 2 hours once arriving in Buenos Aires, (better, 3 hours) for domestic airport to international airport transfer, luggage check-in and international check-in.
Lodging at Pirá Lodge
Lodging consists of five large rooms, each with a large private bath, two double-sized beds, ceiling fan, air conditioning, and a gallery with a marsh-front view. The rooms´ French windows open out to the shaded veranda with easy access to our 20-meter pool and a beautiful view of the surrounding marsh wilderness.
A separate building, attached by covered galleries, accommodates the spacious living room, bar and dining room, each with tall doors which open up to the wide veranda. The lodge was designed to respect the
traditional, local architecture while offering all the comforts of a contemporary hotel.
Gourmet dining with Argentina's famed beef traditional "asados" (BBQ´s), as well as delicious regional and international cuisine is served at Pirá. Fine Argentine wines are served with dinners and lunch. There is a full, bar stocked with local spirits, and a perfect gathering spot to share the day's fishing and wildlife experiences. The lodge accommodates a maximum of 10 guests.
Fishing at Pirá Lodge
A typical day at Pirá is a feast of sights, sounds, culinary delights... and some damn good fishing to boot. At dawn, as you throw open the curtains that cover the large French windows of your room, you gaze past the covered verandah to the magnificent Ibera Marsh. A short walk on the natural stone patios of the covered galleries brings you to the spacious dining room where tall doors open to a wide verandah. While you eat breakfast and gaze out at the marsh, you enjoy an amazing array of birds… from parrots to rails and from herons to kites. Even though their
warbles and squawks fill the morning air, you are only viewing a small percentage of over 350 species of birds that inhabit this vast wilderness. While you enjoy a cup of strong Argentinean coffee, the guides are cleaning the morning dew off the Hell's Bay skiffs and gassing up the Yamaha motors. By the time you walk the 200 paces from your air-conditioned room to the dock, the guides are ready and the morning chill has gone from the air.
After the guides quickly stow your gear, you're off. You may go left downstream to the Corrientes River or motor off to the right into the labyrinth that is the marsh proper. Whichever direction you choose, the views are stunning. Birds, startled by the boat, spring up like popcorn from the water's edge, while capybara and caiman sneak back into the water ending, at least temporarily, their morning bask. These capybara (the world's largest rodent and perhaps also the cutest) and caiman (a crocodilian growing up to 10 feet) are just 2 of the 85 mammals and 70 reptiles (including anaconda, otters and howler monkeys) that inhabit the marsh.
Ibera means shining or sparking water in the local Guarani Indian dialect and these waters do glow as they snake through fields of papyrus and rafts of purple-flowered hyacinth. The Ibera marshland is a vast wetland system of crystal-clear creeks, natural canals and shallow lakes. The Ibera covers some 5,000 square miles and is considered the largest body of pristine, totally uncontaminated water in all of the Americas. As such, the Ibera is more than twice the size of Everglades National Park.
If luck shines upon you this morning, you will catch a dorado, certainly one of the world's great game fish. Savage takes and relentless runs followed by a series of explosive jumps put this fish among the world's elite piscatorial performers. The beautiful, black-flecked, iridescent gold body of the dorado encases a fish that is a cross between a dyspeptic rottweiller and a tarpon (with a bit of a big brown trout thrown in). This radiant characin is known locally as the "tiger of the river". With a mouth like a vice jam-packed with a ripsaw's teeth, this exceptional sport fish averages around 4lbs and can get up to 20lbs in the Ibera. A 10lb dorado is a true trophy and is considered one of South America's greatest freshwater challenges.
At around 12:30, you decide to motor back to the lodge just as the heat of the day has begun to settle in on you. Fresh lemonade and a few preliminary treats on the shaded verandah quickly take any wilt out of your attitude.
"Lunch" follows, but seems too plebeian a term for these truly 5-star mid-day repasts. Expertly prepared soups, salads, meats and pastas followed by sumptuous homemade desserts could accurately be described as gourmet. All is accompanied by excellent Argentinean wines. Sated by perhaps the finest "lunch" you've ever had while fishing, you retire for a siesta during this, the hottest part of the day.
At around 3:00 (give or take depending on your wishes), you head out for the afternoon "session" (as the guides call it). You will not return until the sun has set. Fishing in the marshland while watching your shadow stretch into dusk is a magical experience. To hook a dorado at dusk is a sight you will not soon forget. Their frenzied jumps splash molten gold light into the dark evening waters.
You then head home buzzing back through the Ibera's pools, channels and secret passages. Hot showers, cold libations and fresh hors d'oeuvres await your return. Refreshed, maybe you tie a fly or two for tomorrow in the bar before strolling to the dining room for a late Argentinean-style dinner, usually served at 9 – 9:30 P.M. The evening meal is as incredible as lunch and no one walks away from the massive wood table without commenting on the wonderful meal they have just experienced. Sated, you walk to your room to the sound of crickets and bell frogs as the Milky Way shines brilliantly over the marsh. The best part is that tomorrow you get to do it again!
Pirá is truly one of the greatest experiences in the angling world. A week at Pirá has been described as more of a "sensory experience" than a pure fishing trip. Indeed, when you combine the wildlife and the awesome natural beauty with the sumptuous meals (and throw in the antics of "El Tigre" just so you'll remember you're here to fish), your senses will, at a minimum, have received a good "spring cleaning".
For South American adventurers, the freshwater dorado is the marquee player, but there are a few things you should know before you venture south. With an extremely strong jaw lined with sharp teeth, wire leaders and care when removing hooks is absolutely essential. Dorado like big flies (4-5" is best on usually 3/0 hooks), fast retrieves and an aggressive "grit your teeth" attitude. Your attitude must match theirs. If you hope to latch on to this bony-mouthed predator, you must cast well; retrieve fast and strip-strike with power. Use a delicate trout hook-set and the brute will jump once and be gone, leaving you with but a brief flash of gold (and an open mouth).
Unlike many remote fishing lodges, Pirá offers much for the non-angler, including hours of horseback riding along the edge of the marsh, where they will see an endless variety of birds and wildlife in unspoiled habitat. The marsh can be explored by canoe or sea-kayak and sunbathing and relaxing by the inviting pool is also a perfect way to unwind and enjoy the reliable, sunny weather.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• Pira’ Lodge is one of the first lodges designed and built specifically to target Dorado on the fly. Every facet of the facility and program is aimed at facilitating a world-class Dorado fishing adventure. That translates into a seamless trip, with no worries on your part. Relax and enjoy the ride, you can rest assure that the staff will look after your every want and need.
• Pira’ Lodge is uniquely positioned with direct access to the Iberá Marshlands – nearly three million acres of largely unexplored marshland, including creeks, rivers, lagoons and freshwater flats, all teeming with the feisty Dorado. No long boat rides here, you will be fishing within minutes of departing the lodge by skiff. The fishing locals are near endless – you’ll fish new and un-pressured water every day of your trip – which in the end, means more opportunities and better catch rates.
• Pira’ is the perfect angling and non-angling destination, suitable for couples as well as families with a variety of interests. A spectacular abundance of flora and fauna make for a naturalist and fisherman’s dream destination, with over 350 different bird species are seen regularly, and 85 mammals and 70 reptiles (including anaconda, otters and howler monkeys). The facilities, in ground pool, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, luxurious accommodations and world-class cuisine make this a wonderful retreat for every family member.
• Friendly and savvy, bilingual guides with years of experience stalking and fishing Dorado will make this trip that much more productive and enjoyable for fly anglers. Not only do the kinds live and breathe Dorado, and are willing to share their knowledge with you, they are local naturalist that will keep you pleasantly entertained and enthused with their interruptions of the natural splendors of the marsh. You will leave Pira’ a better angler and more informed lover of nature.
• Pira’ Lodge is a topnotch facility, deluxe by any standards, and will certainly sate those anglers and non-anglers looking for an opulent vacation. Gourmet food, world-class wine, deluxe lodging and Old World Service makes this holiday a special experience for guests and the reasons why so many folks return year after year. Make your next fly fishing holiday special and treat yourself to a week’s fishing Pira’ Lodge. You’ll return home with memories that will last a lifetime, energized, recreated and satisfied…