The Lodge is located in the heart of Patagonia, Argentina. More specifically, in the fishing area known as the Comarca de los Alerces. This area is recognized internationally as one of the most important salmon fishing spots of the world. With its many glacial lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams, fisherman will find great variety and quality of both trout and salmon. These fish were introduced to these habitats over 100 years ago! Large specimens of Rainbow Trout, Brown, Brook Trout, Landlocked Salmon Pacific Salmon, Perch and Silversides are the delight of lovers of this activity.
The salmonidae, whose spawn and young were brought from different countries of the world, found excellent habitat conditions, specially along the Andeans at the mid-west point of Patagonia. The fly fishing and scenery of Patagonia-Argentina is very similar to the western states in the US, particularly Montana and Wyoming. The mid-summer weather is predominantly dry and hot during the day, and cool at night. The rivers are mostly freestone with some spring creeks. Particularly in the spring creeks, the trout rise during a hatch to mayflies and caddis ranging from size 10 to 20. Otherwise, the most common form of food is the pancora, a fresh water crab-imitated by a black or olive woolly bugger or similar, size 2, 4 or 6 wet fly. The trout of Patagonia (browns, rainbows and brook trout) average 12-20 inches. Intermediate fly fishermen can expect to land trout over 20 inches and experienced anglers have a good chance of landing 5-15 pound trout. Many rivers also contain landlocked salmon, which can exceed 10 pounds.
The appeal of Patagonia, after its landscape, is its offering of first class off-season fishing (November thru mid April). Here, in Chubut, there are plenty of excellent areas with lakes, rivers, and streams, already known worldwide as good fisheries.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss)
Brown Trout (Salmo Fario)
Brook Trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis)
Landlocked Salmon (Salmo Salar Sebago)
Perch (native specie)
While there are many more opportunities to go fishing in Patagonia, the above list gives you a good sample of what you can look forward to. Ideally, fishing may take at least ten days and preferably two weeks.
Spring-Early Summer: The trout fishing season opens on the second weekend of November. During November and December, the rivers are generally high from snow melt; however, the flow is moderated by the fact that most rivers flow out of lakes. High water may require the use of sinking lines, nymphs and streamer flies, but the fish feed aggressively, making this one of the most productive times of the year. The period corresponds with the months of May and June in the Western U.S. Expect spring time temperatures, cool to cold mornings and nights. Temperature range: 32-70F.
Mid-Summer: During January and February water levels stabilize, but there is still adequate flow to float most rivers. This period is characterized by a good combination of wet and dry fly fishing, generally depending upon the weather of the season. The weather can range from hot and dry in the daytime to cool morning and nights. At high altitude, it will be cooler and more subject to change. High winds are possible anytime. The months of January and February correspond with July and August in Western U.S. Temperature range: 50-85F.
Late Summer - Early Fall: During March and April the browns start to move from the lakes into the rivers, and water temperatures begin to reactive the trout. Good wet and dry fly fishing, particularly on the Rivadavia and Arroyo Pescado rivers. These months corresponds to September and October in the Western U.S. Expect autumn temperatures and cool to cold mornings and nights. Temperature range 32-70F.
The Esquel area has at least three fisheries worth your attention: the Futaleufu River, the Spring Creek Arroyo Pescado and Nant y Falls/Corintos/Percey Rivers.
Futaleufu River: It is the largest and the most beautiful river in the area. Challhuaquen Lodge is placed on the bank of the middle river, in a section believed to be the richest fishing area of theme. The Futaleufu is a large river containing lots of flat water, riffles, and deep pools; all of which give you a chance to catch good numbers of fish on dry flies. Like most tail waters, the river runs cold and clear and is rich with trout food and large trout. Fly fishing from the boat is authorized. Outstanding wading areas can be reached with catches of 3 to 6 pounds in browns and rainbows. There is excellent dry, streamer and nymphs fishing.
The famous Spring Creek Arroyo Pescado: Is easily one of the best spring creeks in the world! This stream is born in a private property, and runs 50 miles to join the Chubut River. Only fly casting is authorized, quality and quantity is a special characteristic of this fishery (2 to 5 pound rainbows). Some wide spots are very good for wading, but casting from the coast is another good alternative. Arroyo Pescado is located 60 miles from Challhuaquen (30 miles north-east of Esquel).
Nant y Falls River: Just 10 minutes away from Challhuaquen (30 minutes from Esquel), on a private estancia, it is located one of the most beautiful rivers in the region. It's a small stream (40 - 60 feet wide), choked with weed beds and teaming with fish. Rainbows in excess of 6 pounds and averaged 20 -30 fish a day, all on small dries have been hooked. Fishing is from the bank and you will be casting to fish cruising the edges of the weed beds. This river is a new place for fly fishing as it was closed until recently.
The Corintos and Percey Rivers: These two streams flow about 30 miles each before meeting and flowing into the Futaleufu River. They offer walk-wading opportunities for those wanting to get their feet wet. Not all the fish are large on these streams but the occasional fish over 18 inches can be caught on a large dry fly. The character of water is often times like that of a freestone, pocket water stream, and also spring creek like. These rivers are a nice choice for those that want to wade fish with a light rod and enjoy fishing in spectacular scenery.
Los Alerces National Park Area:
This park was created in 1937, and takes its name from the larch trees over 50 meters high which are the outstanding flora of the region. The Park was created with the goal of protecting this giant species as it almost became extinct due to the climatic setbacks and temperature of the ground. The Park is 263.000 hectares, and it is located 45 miles from Challhuaquen (30 miles southwest from Esquel). This is a world of lakes and rivers surrounded with imposing mountains and glaciers. The watershed is based in 12 lakes and hundred of rivers and streams that together carry their waters to the Pacific Ocean crossing into Chile.
All of these lakes and rivers are outstanding fisheries, and in this specific program, the alternative of fishing is offered in the most remote places of the Park, giving a taste of adventure and showing the non-traditional fishing spots of the area. Into the National Park you can fish in many rivers: Rivadavia, Arrayanes, Menendez, Frey, Desaguadero and Carrileufu. The favorite river is the Rivadavia. Only 6 miles long and absolutely packed with fish, an average day on this river can produce about 30 fishes, a third of which will be over 20 inches and all of them the hottest fish you'll find anywhere. Float this river from Lago Rivadavia to Lago Verde. Fishing is a mix of dry fly, wet fly and nymph fishing. Fish from the boat at the headwaters and wade the productive pools and runs downstream. The Rivadavia has a tributary spring creek, where conditioned 5-10 pound rainbows and browns will rise to sip a size 18 black gnat! The catch rate on this creek isn't high (about 2 fish per day), but few of these trout are under 5 pounds.
Corcovado River: The Corcovado is a fabulous fishery that stretches more than sixty miles in Argentina before crossing the border into Chile, where it is renamed the Palena. It is located 50 miles from Challhuaquen. It originates at Lago Vinter, one of the largest lakes in the region, which keeps the river cold and full of water for most of the season. It offers some classic trout water and contains some very large brown trout as well as average sized rainbows. The lower stretches around the town of Corcovado fish well with streamers, large dries, and nymphs. A day on the Corcovado provides a combination of white water and classic riffle pool water. You will also enjoy some wading in the many riffles in the river. Some of the largest brown trout of the season are landed on this river, and they are very strong and stocky due to living in this fast flowing river.
Rio Pico Area: Rio Pico area is located 120 miles from Challhuaquen (150 miles south of Esquel). Lakes Three, Five, Guacho and Engano are also very well known for Brookies, Browns and Rainbows with catches of 5 to 10 pounds. The best brookies fisheries of the region are Lakes Guacho, Los Ninos and Engano and Corcovado River. The best months for Rio Pico area are December to April; at the heart of the Andes, the access is very difficult during November, only possible by horse or tractor. Pico and Nilson rivers are the best rivers in this area for fly fishing. On a typical day anglers can expect 50 fishes with a good number in the 20 inch plus range. This river is excellent for dry, streamers and nymphs fishing.
Challhuaquen puts at the disposal of its clients a professional team of highly qualified fishing guides, and all the equipment and means necessary to successfully achieve beautiful fly-fishing days. All guides have the experience of working in the area for many years, especially in the Futaleufu river, and they all have had the honor of working and being taught by the great teacher Guillermo Sagun, who were recognized internationally as one of the most important fishing guides in Patagonia, and who practiced as the head guide in Challhuaquen until his last day of fishing.
In the Andes, weather varies suddenly, especially during November, December, March and April. Bring warm lightweight clothes for fishing, a jacket and sweaters, cotton socks, rain gear and 2 pair of tennis shoes. Neutral colors like tan and green provide the best camouflage. Bright colors can spook fish. Bring layered clothing, so you can put on and take off layers as the weather dictates. Many trout fishing areas in Argentina are at elevations of 2500 - 3000 feet, which can result in dramatic temperature swings. Please remember that Patagonia can also be windy.
All fishing is in rivers and streams, wading from the coast and sometimes on floating trips and float-tubing. One pair of fly weight chest waders and one pair of neoprene chest waders is recommended. The new waders non-condensation is the best for walking. The comfort of your wading shoes is very important also.
Bring 2-3 rods. A good combination is:
- 8-9 1/2: 4/5 weight for dry flies and nymphs.
- 9-9 1/2: 6/7 weight for Boca or streamer fishing.
- 8-9: 3-4 weight for spring creeks and small flies.
- Floating lines for each rod.
- Sink tip lines 5-8. (like Scientific Angler Ultra 2 wet tip IV 10 or Tenny Nymph Tip).
- Shooting head sink tip line 7-8 weight (like Teeny T200 or T300 or shooting line sink V).
- Optional: Intermediate sinking line.
- Baking 75 - 100 yards is sufficient.
- Leaders: From 4 to 12 feet long. Tippet material is extremely important in Argentina. The trout are very strong and powerful. Your tippet material should be sheer resistant as well as have the maximum breaking strength in small daymeters.
Polarized glasses are indispensable; you may want to bring an extra pair. Fishing vest, rain jacket, wide-brimmed fishing hat are also recommended. Insect repellent is sometimes needed as there are few mosquitoes or biting insects in Patagonia Argentina. Suntan lotion and lip balm are usually useful as well.