There are many wonderful reasons to choose Patagonian Chile as a fly fishing destination: a seeming endless array of creeks, streams and rivers, nearly all of which are full of beautifully marked brown and rainbow trout; IMAX scenery which is nothing short of jaw-dropping; locals who are friendly and pro-outsiders; and a very real feeling of having stepped back in time about 100 years to a period in our own American West.
There are also many wonderful reasons to choose Trouters Patagonia as your outfitter in the region. The owner/operator and head guide – Nico Gonzalez – has spent his entire life in the area, growing up in a wonderland of fishing opportunities which, until about 20 years ago was nearly devoid of anglers. Generations of trout previously lived out their lives in hundreds of streams, unmolested by the hand of man save the occasional “can fishing” local out to catch his dinner.
Nico and his guides are locals, so it only stands to reason they would have certain access privileges on some of the local waters – they grew up with most of the land owners! Too, they are all rabid fly fishermen themselves, guys who still fish on their own days off.
With this mindset, they are continually finding new and exciting rivers to fish, and fine-tuning techniques to catch the trout in those places.
One of the beauties of Trouter’s fishing program is the variety. On any given day you can walk and wade a small creek, casting traditional dries and nymphs to fast pockets and small pools; or choose to float down a larger river, tossing large foam dries or streamers to the banks; or prospect a remote meadow stream, drifting grasshopper patterns down miles of grassy, undercut banks. There are also some beautiful smaller lagunas, places where anglers cast #6 Chernobyl Ants against tule banks and watch as 20+-inch brown trout rise casually and inhale the dry off the surface.
Nico Gonzalez and his staff of talented Chilean professionals have top quality vehicles to transport their guests to the various rivers – quite a few of their destinations require 4WD for access – and state-of-the-art rafts to float the streams too large to wade. Their boating skills, personalities and work ethic have made Nico and his guides favorites in the Coyhaique region.
And Nico’s willingness to take guests for less than a full week sets him apart in the region.
Nicolas “Nico” Gonzales –
“It was nearly twenty years ago that I took my first trip down to El Saltamontes Lodge, the now venerable operation that was at the time a groundbreaking phenomenon – Chile’s first and finest exclusive fly fishing destination. Because there was so little cultural knowledge, interest or understanding of fly fishing in Chile back then, the lodge was largely dependent on importing North American guiding talent; not a bad thing, but in our partnership with the lodge, we both agreed a Chilean guide staff would be preferable. But where to find such a thing? Well, it turns out we had to start from scratch, putting out feelers in the local tiny communities for young men who might have the needed enthusiasm, and trainability to become skilled fly fishermen themselves, and then guides. And so it was on this, my inaugural trip down, I met our first candidate, one young, fresh-faced Nicolas “Nico” Gonzalez. Barely more than a teenager, he had only rudimentary angling skills, but I was immediately impressed by his infectious enthusiasm for the sport. He had a tireless work ethic, and seemed almost disappointed when, after 10 hours a day training on the water, we had to stop and head back to the lodge for dinner. Though he spoke only limited English and I knew almost no Spanish, we had a blast “working” together on the water each day, laughing and teaching each other – myself instructing him on the intricacies of fly fishing, and he unveiling the magical flora and fauna of his homeland to me. At the end of the week, I knew we had a winner with our very first Chilean fly fishing guide! Nico went on to become a favorite and oft-asked for guide at El Saltamontes, as well as a role model for the up-and-coming crop of young Chilean guides as the concept began to gain traction in the Aisen region.
Fast forward almost two decades, and Nico has now owned and operated his own successful guide service outside of the village of Coyhaique – Trouters Patagonia – for many years. He has become a master guide in his own right, helping pioneer many of the local streams and rivers that are now famous in the Chilean fly fishing lexicon; waters like the Emperador Guillermo, Rio Simpson, and Rio Manihuales. His English is now as impeccable as my Spanish continues to be abysmal, and he has lost nothing of that enthusiasm from years ago. We here at The Fly Shop® are honored and excited to be offering our clients his services.”
– Mike Mercer
Reservations & Rates
• 7 Nights/6 Days - $4,795 (double occ.) / $5,625 (single occ.)
• 6 Nights/5 Days - $4,100 (double occ.) / $4,950 (single occ.)
• 5 Nights/4 Days - $3,425 (double occ.) / $4,100 (single occ.)
• 4 Nights/3 Days - $2,750 (double occ.) / $3,295 (single occ.)
Included in your angling package at Trouters Patagonia is lodging, all meals, daily guided fishing, and transportation to and from the Balmaceda Airport, beer, wine, limited Pisco Sours, and your fishing license.
Not included in your angling package at Trouters Patagonia are flies and fishing tackle, hard liquor, gratuities, and items of personal nature.
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 Information
Seasons at Trouters Patagonia
Spring in Chile begins in December. Trees have dropped their blossoms and warm summer weather lands in Patagonia before Christmas presents have been opened.
Trout season in Chilean Patagonia swings into high gear by the New Year, and continues until leaves turn crimson and drop with the arrival of winter in late April. The summers of Patagonia are abbreviated, much like
those of Montana and Wyoming. Warm days often begin with cool mornings and can be punctuated by sudden thunderstorms. But for the most part, the best time to visit this fantastic part of the world is from mid-November through mid-April.
Opening day in Chile is in November, traditionally a time when North American fishermen are preoccupied with family and holidays. Schools in South America release their students just before Christmas and the rivers of Patagonia don't see much pressure until after the first of the year. The landscape is ablaze with a mind-baffling wildflower display, known locally as "Chocho" (Chilean word for "Lupine Season"). European Lupine carpet the landscape in an explosion of violets, reds, purples and yellows. Fish are on the surface, targeting caddis and mayfly emergences, as well as blizzard hatches of small creamy moths.
Their January is our June/July. Spring snow melt is gone, the weather's reliable temperatures are pleasant, and the hatches are predictable. Mosquitoes aren't a concern in most of Patagonia, but the Lake District of Chile can be plagued for a few weeks with Chulihuachos, a pest resembling a horsefly that has all but disappeared by the end of the month.
By the first of February trout begin to key on the caddis hatches and hoppers, stag beetles and other terrestrials that dominate mid-summer fly fishing action. Probably because of the weather, February and March are the most popular months to travel to and fish Patagonia. Too, our winter is a great time to escape to Patagonia's summer and trout fish for a week or so; something difficult to do when Michigan or Vermont is frozen solid.
April is the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Kids go back to school and the traffic is light on the streams and rivers of Chile. Like the Rockies, the weather is less reliable in the fall; days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. Dress for a full range of weather possibilities and plan on some of the best mayfly hatches (especially baetis on overcast days) as well as streamer fishing.
Getting to Trouters Patagonia
Getting to Chile these days is relatively simple and painless with a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and New York.
In the mid-60's, it took pioneer fly fishers, like Joe Brooks 22 hours to fly from Miami to Santiago and another twenty hours in the air with numerous stops along way to reach the trout infested waters in and
around Puerto Montt - now that's dedication!
Getting there is easy 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 in Santiago, the Capitol of Chile. Airlines that service Chile include LAN, Delta, United and American.
Arriving in Chile is simple, hassle free and safe. The flights are almost always on time, the new ulta-modern airport is clean, and the entire experience, from clearing immigrations and customs to connecting with domestic flights, is very smooth. Airfares from the U.S. to Santiago vary widely, with tickets from New York, Miami and Los Angeles ranging from $900 to $1,200 round trip. Usually the best fares can be had by flying LAN, the national airline of Chile. LAN is one of the largest air carriers servicing South America. Their modern, new air fleet has a superb record for reliability, safety and on time departures and arrivals.
When making your airline accommodations for Trouters Patagonia we ask that you arrive to Balmaceda in the early afternoon. On departing Balmaceda, please book a flight back to Santiago in the afternoon to allow plenty of time for auto transfer from the lodge.
Arrive Trouters Patagonia:
After a comfortable night in Santiago, guests arrive Balmaceda mid-day, where they are met by Nico Gonzalez and driven to his lodge. The trip to the lodge from the modern, regional airport is a little over an hour. After storing your gear, you'll have the chance to enjoy a great meal, and meet with the guides to discuss the next day's fishing adventure.
Full Fishing Days:
Very little of the water that Nico guides is heavily fished. Sportfishing is not part of Chilean national tradition and trout were not introduced in these waters until after the turn of the 20th century. There are few roads in the region and only a couple of drift boats in all of Chile. The water, tea-colored or clear, is full of fish.
The after-angling cocktail reception includes Pisco Sours, the Chilean version of a Margarita, appetizers, full bar and fine domestic wines. Dinner is served late in the evening to allow for a full day of fishing. Dinners, like all meals at the lodge are informal, superb, and accompanied by the finest Chilean wines.
Fishing Days: These are very full fishing days, with the exact schedule depending on the guests' wishes and prevailing conditions. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the lodge and fine midday meals are prepared and served in the field.
Trouters Patagonia is unique among destinations in Chile, in that it offers a number of trip options for less than a full week, ideal for anglers interested in adding some angling days to a Chilean holiday, or for fishermen who have spent a full week at another destination and want to add another dimension to their experience, without having to dedicate another full week. Honestly, though, there are so many fishing options here, a full week is probably the best choice!
In addition, there are many stillwater fisheries close by with monster Rainbow and Brown trout. This is all very good water and most of it is within an hour of Coyhaique.
Depart Trouters Patagonia:
Anglers will be transported to Balmaceda to connect with their flight to Santiago (or other Chilean destinations), and to begin their journey homeward. Flights bound for the United States usually depart Santiago late in the evening for an easy and comfortable connection.
Immigration Requirements for entry into Chile:
U. S. Citizens: When traveling to Chile, a valid passport is required with an expiration date occurring at least 6 months later than the day of arrival. Chilean Tourist Card: A Chilean Tourist Card Application will be handed out by your carrier during your flight to Chile. Please fill out the application and present it and your passport to Chilean Immigrations upon arrival into Santiago. Immigrations will take one copy of the Tourist Card and leave you with another which you must keep with your passport and present to Immigrations when you leave Chile. Loss of your tourist card may result in a penalty upon departure.
Inoculations and Health Concerns:
There are no formal requirements, or recommendations, for immunizations and very little risk of infectious disease in Chile. The risk would be about equivalent to what it would be for a trip to Colorado. You should check with your personal physician if you are concerned. We recommend that anglers be up-to-date on their Tetanus, Hepatitis-A and Hepatitis-B vaccinations.
Chile is a safe, pro-American country and has been a democracy since 1989. On March 11th, 2006 the new president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, took office. Michelle Bachelet is Chile's first woman president. Chileans are overall a very friendly people and welcome foreign tourists. The hospitality of the campesinos (country people) in rural Chile (where all the fishing takes place) is renowned.
Lodging at Trouters Patagonia
Trouters Patagonia guests stay at Nico's brand new lodge - La Reserva Lodge - located in the rural outskirts of the town of Coyhaique.
The lodge has a beautiful deck where many anglers take in the beautiful vista behind the lodge each night, enjoying a drink of their choice and a panorama of the surrounding countryside. One can also stay in the lodge's main gathering room, sharing fishing stories from the day with
other guests. Or, if you're beat after a long day on the water, simply enjoy the amazing dinner set out, then wander back your spacious lodge room for a good night's sleep. Regardless of your choice, the setting of La Reserva Lodge is wonderful and the atmosphere is warm, cozy and intimate – purposely designed to offer world-class service and personal attention.
La Reserva Lodge has four spacious guestrooms, each tastefully decorated and comfortable. Each of these rooms offers plenty of usable space to unpack and organize your kit, and feature two twin beds and a full bath. All linens are supplied in the guest rooms, along with bar soap and shampoo. Single occupancy options, though very limited, are sometimes available at additional cost.
The main lodge is a beautiful, timber-framed building with natural wood floors and a warm ambiance. The main room offers a view of the surrounding mountains, and is the gathering spot for hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and the chance to share your day of fishing with your fishing partners. There are sofas and chairs in the great room, with a small bar rounding out the room.
Dinner and breakfast are served in the main dining room, creations of the lodge's talented chef staff. The food is amazing, a delicious country Chilean cuisine mixed with modern fusion South America gastronomy, mixing locally grown fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs with range-fed beef, lamb and chicken as well as fresh seafood from the nearby coastal village of Aisen. Lunches are served stream-side, with entrees accompanied by fresh salads, fruit, locally made cheeses and sausages and finished with a tantalizing dessert. Great Chilean and Argentine wines are served with dinner, and plenty of cold beers, along with Chile's version of the margarita, pisco-sours.
The atmosphere at La Reserva Lodge is modest and warm, a reflection of the operators, Nico and Ilsie Gonzalez, who with their families have lived in the Coyhaique area for many years. You'll like it...
Fishing at Trouters Patagonia
The hardest decision you have at Trouters Patagonia is whether to do a wade trip or a float trip.
Float Trip Fisheries -
Rio Simpson (Los Torreones):
Pastoral valley with a meandering peat green river that is unmatched for
the amount of structure in the water and along the banks. Never is there a moment when there isn't a fishy looking spot to place a fly. Rainbow and Brown trout 13-18 inches are common, with occasional trophies to truly obese proportions.
• River Width: 50-130 feet
• Rods: 5 or 6 weight
• Flies: mayflies, caddis, midges, beetles & streamers
The Rio Aisen is the cumulative flow of the Simpson and Manihuales. Big eddies, structured banks and long runs make up the character of the Aisen. It flows into the fjords (ocean) several miles below our take-out, near the port town of Aisen. This is big water with huge panoptic vistas. Resident Rainbow and Browns to 20-inch plus class, with occasional Sea Run i.e. Chinook, Coho, Browns, Bows and Atlantics.
• River Width: 100-300 feet
• Rods: 5 - 7 weight
• Flies: mayfly, caddis, midges, beetles, stones & streamers
Rio Blanco & Tributaries:
Probably the most visually stimulating of all the rivers we fish, featuring glaciers, waterfalls, and impenetrable rainforest, although it's a tough call with so much water as our disposal. Some days our best fishing is in the mainstem itself. Other days, one or both of the tributaries we hit prove to be the most productive, another day and maybe the hatch is on the lower Aisen. In any case there are many options on this river and no way to explore them all in one visit.
• River Width: 100-300 feet
• Rods: 5 - 7 weight
• Flies: stones, beetles, mice & streamers
Mañihuales River: (2 beats):
Beat 1 (the pasarella):
This float commonly sees quite a lot of hook-ups per day. A bouldered upper stretch gives way to a more pastoral and larger river. Rainbow and Browns 13 - 23+ inches
• River Width: 70-150 feet
• Rods: 5 or 6 weight
• Flies: hoppers, stones, beetles, mice, streamers & eggs
Beat 2 (the classic):
The perfect size float river, with a walk/wade tributary stream in the middle of the float. Rainbow and Browns 15 - 23+ inches.
• River Width: 100-200 feet
• Rods: 5 - 7 weight
• Flies: hoppers, stones, beetles, mice & streamers
Walk & Wade Fisheries -
With the exception of the bottom 1/3 mile of canyon, this stream is open banked and pastoral. The water is absolutely gin clear and the Browns are all true trophies. This is New Zealand fishing, with the exception; you actually see the fish, and big ones at that! Getting in position and making the 60 to 80 foot cast necessary for a hook-up is quite another thing. If you enjoy hunting and stalking, this river is for you. The most difficult of all the waters we fish, it can also produce the biggest rewards. Browns to 25+ inches.
• River Width: 40-90 feet
• Rods: 6 - 7 weight
• Flies: hoppers, nymphs & beetles
Sister river to the Turbio (gin clear). Fishes at its very best when the hoppers are at their peak. Mainstem fish come up to feed on the hoppers and are a lot easier to catch than the resident fish. This stream terminates miles up from the mainstem in a series of gin clear 15 foot deep pools. The last of which (where the river flows out of the slot canyon) is as beautiful a spot as can be imagined. Rainbow and Browns to 23 inches +.
• River Width: 40-60 feet
• Rods: 5 - 6 weight
• Flies: hoppers, beetles & nymphs
Rio Emperador Guillermo (Bill Creek):
This stream has several beats, but the one we prefer is a several mile long stretch that is willow infested and to which we have near exclusive access. Of all the waters we fish, this stream is the easiest for the beginner and yet offers big rewards for the angler with advanced skills. It's not uncommon for the rank beginner to land 30 + small fish in a day and on a dry fly. Advanced anglers, using stealth, occasionally find fish to 24 inches +. Therefore, this stream is a must see. Walks on this beat are designed around the skill and physical abilities of the angler. From covering a very few pools that we can just about drive, working them thoroughly with different flies and techniques, to fishing the entire several mile beat, which turns into a lot of walking and a lot of fish brought to hand.
• River Width: 30-60 feet
• Rods: 5 - 6 weight
• Flies: hoppers, mayflies, stones, caddis, beetles, mice, nymphs & streamers
Several miles of semi-arid cut bank pasture land. With an increase of biblical proportions over the last half dozen years of the hopper population, and an exponential increase in the number of spawning king salmon, there is certainly no shortage of food for these trout. This stream is well suited to the beginner as well as the advanced angler. The beginner, with a short cast and a hopper/dropper rig can expect numerous small fish. As the anglers ability to make longer, more accurate casts increases, so does the size of the fish, some of which are well over 20 inches. During the summer season (until the end of February) this is hopper and Brown trout country. Starting the first week of March, the Kings move onto the redds and Rainbows come up out of the main stem (Manihuales). Using egg patterns, thrown at the tails of the Kings, it's a 50/50 Brown and Bow show. It's not uncommon to land fish over the 20 inch mark (size is increasing yearly due to both the increase in hoppers and Kings.)
• River Width: 50-80 feet
• Rods: 5 - 6 weight
In addition, there are many still water fisheries close by with monster Rainbow and Brown trout. This is all very good water and most of it within an hour of the lodge.
What Makes This Destination Special and Unique?
• La Reserva Lodge is a new facility, located on a scenic overlook near the local community of Coyhaique and specifically designed and built for anglers. Guests arrive quickly from the regional airport and stay in modern, well-appointed rooms with every amenity you would expect in a world-class fishing lodge. Travel to Trouters Patagonia is easy, simple and once you are in the capable hands of Pablo Badilla and the Gonzalez family, you won’t have to worry about anything, except catching trout, relaxing, and eating…now that’s a vacation!
• Unlike most local fly fishing lodges, Trouters Patagonia is happy to host anglers for less than full weeklong stays with no set arrival and/or departure days. This makes it the perfect destination to add to other lodge stays, or for those who are in the country for other reasons and simply want to add several fishing days to their travel schedule. Travel to and from Trouters doesn’t get much easier, which lets you concentrate on enjoying a wonderful fly fishing holiday.
• Trouter’s fishing program is famous for its diversity, and can accommodate angler’s wishes regardless of whether they prefer walk wading or float fishing. Guests can find themselves stalking big trout in a small stream on foot one day, and casting big foam dries to the banks of a larger river from a comfortable raft the next. There are no down days here; every day is a fishing day. No matter what the weather and conditions, the guides will have you fishing in productive water every day of your stay.
• Host and head guide, Nico Gonzalez, is a local, born and raised in Patagonia, and cut his teeth on fishing his local waters as a young boy. Nico is one of the original fly fishing guides in this part of the world, and he knows this country like no other…and can find you fish when others can’t. Put that local knowledge and experience to work for you, to insure some memorable catches.
• La Reserva Lodge offers top of the line rental gear – waders, wading boots, fly rods and reels. For those not wanting to pack their own fly fishing kit all the way to Patagonia, Trouters has you covered. Take the hassle out of packing and lugging all your gear down to South America and let Trouters outfit you head to toe.
• Trouters is a small operation, accommodating a maximum of 8 guests at a time. This is no big corporate lodge, but a family-run operation where personal attention and flexibility in the daily fishing program is the norm. Your fly fishing trip will be custom tailored to your wants and needs and you will go home with wonderful memories, and as a new member of the Gonzalez family.