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Fly Fishing the Aisen Region of Chile Photo Essay

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/08/2014 (1394 reads)
By Brian McGeehan

The Aisen Region of Chile is located about the same distance South of the Equator as Montana is North. On a recent trip to the Coyaquie province we targeted wild browns and rainbows while fishing a remarkable diversity of fisheries including large float rivers, huge crystal clear lakes, spring creeks and wilderness mountain streams. We stayed at the Magic Waters Patagonia Lodge which is tucked away in remote valley with 5 private lakes filled with wild trophy fish.

The lodge is right on the edge of the Cerro Castillo National Reserve and the wilderness lakes and rivers within but is also within easy striking distance of the fertile spring creeks and valley rivers of the dryer pampas region. The mountain rivers are free of sediment and are gin clear with an emerald green hue. The pampas areas near the Argentine boarder are dryer and it is a similar landscape to the Dillon Montana area (without other fisherman!). I have been hosting trips to Patagonia for the last five seasons and this area blew me away in every way: amazing diversity of fishing options, big trout, few other anglers (we didn’t see any), and exclusively fishing huge dry flies. As a Montana fishing outfitter I pride myself on a nice collection of big rubber legged attractor dry flies but when I showed up to the lodge and showed Eduardo Barrueto, our host, my box he asked “do you have anything bigger?”. We spent the entire week throwing the biggest dry flies we could handle including huge size 2 beetle patterns and even larger mouse patterns.

fly fishing chile


Big dries. One of the reasons the trout in the mountains of Chile love such big dry flies is because they love to eat Cantara beetles. These massive beetles look like hummingbirds when flying and are a huge meal for a hungry trout. A size 4 or 2 Gypsy King or black Fat Albert is a good imitation and a favorite fly of the guides.

fly fishing Aisen Region


Huge lakes are abundant across Patagonia and most are filled with huge trout. In the Coyaque province lakes like Lago Azul (or Blue Lake) are filled with big browns to 30”. They still love to each dry flies and a day spent rowing along the big cliff walls throwing mouse patterns over submerged timber is a unique experience that becomes even more memorable when a 25” brown inhales the rodent imitation at the end of your fly line!

big-brown


This big 25” brown ate a mouse pattern on Lago Paloma. We spotted it lying along a cliff wall above some down timber. I had to throw the mouse pattern inches from his head to entice him into an explosive strike. Sight casting on the big lakes was one of the highlites of our trip.

rio-paloma-float-fishing


The abundance of big lakes also helps to filter sediments out of the water and the rivers that connect the lakes are always gin clear. The Rio Poloma is a special fishery that connects Lago Azul to Lago Claro. A more beautiful trout river is hard to imagine.

spring-creeks


A 45 minute drive to the east took us into the dry pampas near the Argentine boarder. We fished a beautiful unnamed spring creek on a huge private estancia. Grasshoppers were in abundance and big browns were spooky but willing to aggressively take the flies on the first cast if it was well presented.

Niriguoa mouse


This big 22” brown clobbered a size 1 mouse pattern skittered across the surface of the Rio Niriguoa – yet another private spring creek on a huge estancia. The hopper fishing was incredible in the morning on the Niriguoa – so good that after lunch I “supersized” to the mouse which brought the catch rate down to 2 or 3 fish per hour but dramatically increased the average size. All of the fish caught “mousing” were between 17-22”!

lodge


Evenings were spent back at the Magic Waters Lodge enjoying good company and delicious local seafood, beef and lamb along with a great selection of Chilean and Argentine wines.

rio-magote-horse


The Rio Magote is a wilderness river that feeds the Paloma. We spent one day riding about an hour into the back country. The Magote looks like a lot of rivers in New Zealand and we spent time both site fishing and blind casting. I fished a mouse pattern again this day and landed several nice browns topping out at 22”

paloma-brown


We spent another day on the Paloma River, but this time on the upper portion which has beautiful braided sections and great holding water. We had about 30 minutes of cloud cover so I tried a streamer and within five minutes hooked this big 23” brown that was hiding in a backwater full of downed timber. I thought for sure I snagged a log at first. That was the only 30 minutes of the entire trip that I fished anything besides big dries but it certainly paid off!

Rio-Simpson


On our last day we accessed yet another private estancia. This time are target was the famed Rio Simpson. After making our way across several ranch gates we hiked into a small canyon to target the emerald green waters at the bottom. We saw both large browns and rainbows but failed to connect with any of the big boys on this day.

Rio-Blanco


The Rio Blanco is a gorgeous mountain stream. The lodge has private access to some great water that allows for site casting to some nice sized browns and a few rainbows.

Visit the Montana Angler blog for a full Chile 2014 trip report. Brian McGeehan is a Pennsylvania native but has been guiding an outfitting in Montana and the west for 20 years. His company Montana Angler Fly Fishing specializes in both Montana fishing as well as destination travel to Patagonia.


I want to thank Brian for sharing the details of his trip as I like to hear especially about his fly fishing trips to South America. I asked to put together a report with some more photography from the trip. One my bucket list some day to get that way. - Dave
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