The Area

The fishing in Patagonia is extraordinary in any of its well-differenced areas. The common characteristics that you can find when fly-fishing in Argentina (and it applies for every river in the whole country, not only in Patagonia) are healthy wild fish, clean water and low to very low fishing pressure.

The special features that make Northern Patagonia a special destination to every fly fisherman are the following:

The weather during the trout fishing season is warm, dry and the winds doesn’t blow so hard as in the rest of Patagonia.

This zone has the largest diversity of waters, offering freestone and steppe rivers of any size, as well as impressive lakes that hold enormous fish. You have also an extraordinary concentration of excellent trout streams (specially near junin de los Andes) and lakes that will satisfy the personal taste of any angler.

This area contains cities as Bariloche, Villa la Angostura, Junin and San Martin de los Andes where you can find well-fitted fly shops as well as many different opportunities of recreation for non-angler companions.

Here you have a brief description of many of the finest streams that you can find here:

Río Pichi Leufu: (pronounced pee-chee-LAY-oo-foo) This is small steppe river, but don’t let that its size fools holds lots of brown trout to 6 pounds. Fishing the biggies, however, can be really difficult because the river is really small; the water is usually clean (it becomes turbid when it rains though) and slow, giving the stream a spring-creek appearance in almost the whole river extension. This river is usually fished with small nymphs and dries (pheasant tail, Adams and deer hair caddis) although olive woolly buggers have proven to be almost the only fly when the waters are no so clear. Whit the first warm days using terrestrials is a good option, but when the summer becomes too hot in middle January and February days the water temperature and low waters don’t allow a productive fishing.

Río Caleufu: (pronounced kaa-LAY-oo-foo) A beautiful river that is usually fished drifting over most of its extension, but that can be fished from shore, specially on its upper and lower reaches, where you can access through public roads. The fishing here is almost always excellent, with lots of trout averaging three pounds, and a few browns that can reach 3+ pounds. There are, however, two extreme conditions, of too poor and too good fishing, that you can find, now and then, when fishing the Caleufu. Too poor fishing is something that every fisherman knows from his/her own experience and that seems to happen rarely on this river (in fact, the authors of this notes and owners of Trout Seekers never find such a thing the many times that they visited it). The too good fishing thing is a little harder to be explained because many of us tend to think that fishing can never be TOO good. We could say that it’s too good when the trout are so eager to take your flies, and there are so many of them, that you hook a fish virtually in any cast, regardless the fly that you use and the presentation that you perform. You can use dries and nymphs on this river, but white wing streamers and bucktails have proven to be the deadliest choice on the Caleufu. Deer hair mice have been used with great success to fish the biggest browns late in the evenings.

Río Traful: (pronounced tra-FOOL) This middle size river and the valley that surround it are so beautiful that a visit to this place is mandatory just due to this fact. If you also add excellent fishing and the chance to hook a good sample of Salmo Salar Sebago, you remain without excuses. This river can be wadded easily when the waters are low, but you couldn’t get farther from the bank than a few yards in the early season. This is a stream that calls to be fished with nymphs and dries, and you can do it with good success, but streamers like Matukas, and bucktails like Mickey Finns and Little Trouts (any of them) are the flies that more consistently entice the Traful’s fish bytes.

Río Limay: (pronounced lee-MY) This river is extraordinarily wide and long. It is usually fished with big streamers when the target is one of its enormous browns, but you can approach the Limay from so many different points, and the fishing conditions can be so different depending on the month when we visit it, that you will see that any technique is used here. The possibilities of the river are so many, and the river’s character is so unique that we need several pages to fairly describe it. As a main characteristic we have to say that the Limay is not an easy river, but it worth to give it a try because the reward can be unforgettable. A good guide here is a must, especially if it is your first time on these waters.

Río Aluminé: (pronounced ah-loo-mee-NAY) Another very big river that is better fished from a raft or drift boat. A float on the Aluminé usually takes fro two to three days and it is a highly recommended experience. While fishing pressure is insignificant in Patagonian rivers to American standards, this fact can be specially evident in a river like the Aluminé where you can see miles and miles of fisherman-free waters (in fact, is very likely that you do an entire float of three days and see a few or none fishermen!).

Río Chimehuín: (pronounced chee-may-WEEN) This name is synonymous of trout fishing and provoke to us such a reverence feeling that we are reluctant about writing a single line about it. This is the big favorite of many of the Argentine fly fishermen and can easily become your own. Starting in it famous Boca (the outlet of the Huechulaufquen lake, where the Chimehuin is born), a must for trophy trout seekers, and ending where it meets the Aluminé to form the Collón Cura, this river has fifty miles of the best runs, riffles and pools that you can find all over the world.

Río Collon-Cura: (pronounced coh-zhohn-COO-rah) Like the Aluminé, this river is better fished by floating it. Unlike the Alumine, this steppe river has a slow current and offers not so many features as a mountain stream can do. Additionally, the Collon Cura is not so long and its lower reaches are trapped in one of the several dams that have been built on the Limay, the river where the Collon Cura drain its waters.

Río Malleo: (pronounced ma-ZHAY-oh) The Malleo is, along the Chimehuin, the most famous trout river in Junin de los Andes area. As well as its bigger brother this river deserves as much respect that it becomes very difficult to write about it. You shouldn’t expect as many big fishes as in the Chimehuin, but you don’t have to forget completely about big fish here, or you will have a bitter surprise. The fish on the Malleo is, however, more delicate and relaxed than in most of the rivers in the area, and it will require to unpack every single fishing skill that you can be carrying with you. Small nymphs and dries and light tippets are the most important part of the required tackle here.

Río Manso: (pronounced MAN-soh) This river is near Bariloche, the biggest city in the area.

Río Quillen: (pronounced kee-ZHEN) Perhaps the best stream in Northern Patagonia to fish dry flies.

Fishing Conditions:
The fishing conditions in Northern Patagonia will vary according to many factors, among which the most important is the level of waters. As a general guideline, you will find three well-differenced stages during the season, plus an extended season in some limited places.

Early season (November December): Waters relatively high. In a normal season the level of waters make it difficult to get to many of the good fishing spots on big rivers unless you are floating them. If it was a drought year so the level of waters is lower than usual, it is the best stage to be fishing in. If the waters are normal to high, you can be fishing small creeks otherwise to low to be fished. Another advantage is the absence of fishing pressure that could have been disturbing the fish by months. For some streams like Río Correntoso, this is the only productive period of time.

Mid season (January February): The hottest part of the summer. If the waters are low there are generally too warm to be productive in small to medium streams. In normal water conditions you will have a good time fishing this stage. If you are planning to come in one of these months don’t forget to bring the box with terrestrials, and add some dragon and damselflies, nymphs and adults.

Late season (march-April): with high water this is the best time to fish (and perhaps the best with normal water too). You don’t have problems to reach any of your favorite pools, and the water is cooler than in the previous months so the fish are more active. Good time to fish the bocas (lake outlets) because the brown trout begin to enter the rivers to spawn.

Extended season (may+): Since a few years an extended season was established in a few places. Excellent occasion to fish big wild brown trout in the middle reaches of the Río Limay (when we say big brown we mean that nobody will be surprised if you catch a 10 pounder in a two-day trip, many fish about 16 pounder are caught every year).