Tierra del Fuego Sea Trout – Estancia Despedida

Tierra del Fuego Sea Trout – Estancia Despedida

Big Sky Anglers is excited to be able to offer two open spots at Despedida Lodge during the prime time in 2019. 

This adventure includes 6 full days of fishing, from March 10-15.

If you’ve ever thought about sea trout, please feel free to get in touch, and we will be happy to tell you more about this and other opportunities.


I made my first trip to Tierra del Fuego in search of sea trout in 2008.  Looking back now, I’d have to  describe my understanding of anadromous fish at the time as somewhere between clueless and hopeful.  I had a set of expectations that were based on things I’d read and stories that I’d heard from friends who had chased sea trout and steelhead.  Now I often think back, comparing those initial thoughts and expectations that I had back then to what I’ve learned and experienced over the last 10 seasons.  And, if there is one statement I could make about sea trout and Tierra del Fuego, is that both defy expectations, and both have a beauty and complexity that are not truly apparent without experiencing them for yourself.

Not only that, but if there is one place and time to go to experience all the beauty and complexity of sea run brown trout in Tierra del Fuego, it is Despedida Lodge in early to mid- March.  Despedida is unique in that it offers access to so many different facets of sea trout water and sea trout angling.  The Lodge is located at the confluence of the Rio Grande, and a smaller tributary called the Rio Menendez.  It is this location that makes fishing here so unique, and interesting.  Because the Menendez is a critical spawning tributary for returning sea trout, the runs and pool on the Rio Grande downstream of the Menendez confluence are staging areas for huge numbers of sea trout.  My early March, these runs are stacked with fish, and new fish arrive each day, offering anglers the opportunity to fish over good numbers of fish, and also to experiment with presentations that will tempt both early returning and newly returning fish to grab.

Often it is the water conditions which dictate our initial presentation approach.  If rains have raised the river fish will often act aggressively toward larger patterns like leeches, swung on sink tips.  In low and clear conditions, presentations become more technical with smaller flies, lighter tips and floating lines taking center stage.  These are fairly “traditional” approaches to sea trout fishing, and they are proven over decades.  We fish both single and 2-handed rods on the Rio Grande, depending on conditions.

The Rio Menendez also fishes well.  While traditional approaches also work there, the intimacy of the water and unpressured nature of the fishing sets the stage for some angling that truly shatters expectations of sea trout angling.  I am talking about the ability to fish for double digit sea trout with the upstream dry fly, or dry/dropper methods like we use on the rivers of Montana!  For those willing to experiment, there is a complexity and uniqueness here that can’t be described with words.

What I really like about Despedida Lodge aside from the unique angling is the size of the lodge, and the quality of the guides.  The lodge setting is small and personal, catering to only six anglers each week.  The guides are knowledgeable, skillful, and speak both Spanish and English, and are some of the best I have ever worked with anywhere.  When it comes to sea trout, an experienced guide makes a huge difference in shortening an angler’s learning curve and deciphering the sometimes whimsical nature of the bite.  The wine and food aren’t bad either!!

Dispatches Volume 3 – Fly Fishing in Argentina for Trophy Brook Trout with Steve Hoovler

Dispatches Volume 3 – Fly Fishing in Argentina for Trophy Brook Trout with Steve Hoovler

Welcome to the third edition of Dispatches, a new series which reports on the Big Sky Anglers crew as they travel the globe in search of angling adventures. Each edition of Dispatches will feature an interview with one of our angling pros while they are on assignment or traveling for fun. Our crew might be hosting anglers in a remote destination, guiding clients on our home waters, or exploring new fishing territory at home and abroad.

This edition features BSA guide, Steve Hoovler who is reporting from the Brook Trout Base Camp in Argentine Patagonia. Steve spent a month in Argentina this Spring working with our good friends at El Encuentro Fly Fishing to help develop their late-season fishing and wingshooting programs. During his time in Patagonia Steve visited El Encuentro’s Brook Trout Base Camp on the Rio Corcovado to hunt for trophy brook trout. Give a listen to what Steve has been up to, and stay tuned for more reports from the BSA crew.

“Where are you right now?”

 

“How did you get there?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What is your target species? Why did you pick this location and time for that species?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“How are you targeting these fish?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What’s one thing that’s happened on your trip so far that you didn’t expect?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What are the conditions like?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What’s been your favorite piece of gear on this trip so far, and why?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What’s the best thing you’ve had to eat?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook trout in Argentina

 

“Have you learned any new words or phrases?”

 

Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“What’s your playlist been on this trip…what tunes are you listening to?”

 

Fly Fishing for Trophy Brook Trout in Argentina

 

“Where are you off to next?”

 

Wingshooting in Argentina

Dispatches Volume 1:  Fly Fishing in Chile with Jonathan Heames

Dispatches Volume 1: Fly Fishing in Chile with Jonathan Heames

Welcome to the first edition of Dispatches, a new series which reports on the Big Sky Anglers crew as they travel the globe in search of angling adventures. Each edition of Dispatches will feature an interview with one of our angling pros while they are on assignment or travelling for fun. Our crew might be hosting anglers in a remote destination, guiding clients on our home waters, or exploring new fishing territory at home and abroad.

This edition features BSA co-owner and head guide Jonathan Heames who is reporting from a remote island in Chilean Patagonia. Jonathan has been fly fishing in Chile for nearly 20 years, and his perspective and knowledge are impressive. Give a listen to what Jonathan has been up to, and stay tuned for more reports from the BSA crew.

“Where are you right now? How did you get there? Where are you off to next?”

 

“What is your target species? Why did you pick this location and time for that species?”

 

“How are you targeting these fish?”

 

“What’s one thing that’s happened on your trip so far that you didn’t expect?”

 

“What are the conditions like?”

 

“What’s been your favorite piece of gear on this trip so far, and why?”

 

“What’s the best thing you’ve had to eat?”

 

“Have you learned any new words or phrases?”

 

“What’s your playlist been on this trip…what tunes are you listening to?”

 

More thoughts on winter

More thoughts on winter

MT_SWE_17Feb16

The image above shows current snow water equivalent by river basin.  Notice the dates range, 1981-2010.  These percentages would actually be lower if the data included the 1970’s as Montana received more snow back then.  Earlier today, it was raining.  Yes, raining in mid-February at 6666 feet of elevation. Sure, it was snowing in the high country, but rain at this time of the year is a little alarming to most folks who call this place home.  In the early afternoon, the temperature started to drop and snowing began to fall once again around West Yellowstone.   in the matter of a few minutes, winter returned.  With any luck, we’ll continue to see moisture build up in the form of snow and not rain.  Most of us wold like to see the snowpack sitting around 110% right now, but we’ll take this as compared to a year ago.

Rain and warm temps make the snow pack form a crusty layer on top, thus providing a hard living for those animals needing to get down to the food below the surface. This layer will not simply go away, but will stay there as more snow falls on top over the course of winter.  While out in Hayden Valley yesterday, I watched a fox make several leaps into the air trying to break down through the snow and get the rodent it was after.  The fox succeeded, but only after busting the hard layer, digging with it’s paws through the icy snow and then pouncing once again.  It was a ton of work for the fox for such a small reward.  It got me thinking about this winter and the warm weather we’ve all been witnessing during “winter”.  The day time highs all around Montana have been very warm over the past couple of weeks and most, if not all, the snow at lower elevation is gone.  While this can happen and isn’t something to freak out about, it’s not normal what so ever.  There is plenty of time for more snow to fall, we just need the daytime temps to stay below freezing so that we don’t keep loosing the precious moisture that’s already accumulated this season. For those of you who are thinking about spring time fishing, pay attention to how warm the temps are over the next couple of months.  If things stay warm like this through February and March, fishing is gonna be very good in April and May.  If this season is anything like the past few years, spring angling opportunities  in Montana and eastern Idaho should be plentiful.

Pray for more snow!


Argentina bound in 2016; you should come next time

Argentina bound in 2016; you should come next time

The fish gods must be looking out for me, as I have managed to convince another group of anglers to travel down to the Argentina for a visit with the good folks at Pesca Patagonia.  Some of you know my buddy Justin Spence from his famed fly shop here in West Yellowstone – The West Yellowstone Fly Shop and some of you know Justin from our trips together here in Montana.  He also operates a top shelf outfitting company in and around Junin de los Andes.  Justin, his wife Rachel and their lovely little girls spend the entire winter and spring in Junin.  Half of the year in Montana and half of the year in Patagonia, what an amazing life!

In early April, five of us will make the big trip from North America to South America. We’ll all meet up in BA, take a ride across the city and jump a airplane to Bariloche.  From there we’ll meet up with Justin and head towards San Martin.  We’ll fish the Malleo, possibly the Chimehuin or Alumine, the Collen Cura for a couple and then who knows where we’ll end up for last couple of days.

Some folks give me a hard time about traveling that far for trout, especially when it’s a solid time frame for chasing salt water species, but Argentina gets in one’s blood and its hard to shake.  Their rivers are like our rivers, only different.  There are moments when when I wake up from day dreaming of fight with a big brown trout that had just tossed the hooked.  Those are memories from my time down south in 2013 and some of those fish were true giants.  But it’s not just the quality angling that makes me want to return; the fishing culture is more laid back, it’s the “let it happen” attitude when you’re submersed in fishing and everything is right in the world.  Getting after it and putting in day after day on the water is like Spring Training in the MLB.  Everyday spent on the river gets you prepped for the next day, if you’ve got the time, stay as long as possible.  And then there’s the locality of where you are fishing.  Argentine Patagonia is remote and not populous at all.  Some folks like to compare it to stepping back in time, to the old days of fishing out West when hardly a soul actually could point out the Missouri and it’s tributaries on a map of the United States.

Right now, I’ve got a busy couple of months ahead.  There will be late nights at the tying bench, picking over lines for the trip and the lovely little process of laying out all your gear as you prep for a world class fishing trip.  I’m excited about heading back down to Argentina.

Chchchchiiiiilllllly….

Late last night I woke to a chilly house and thought, for just a second, about getting up and tossing a log on the fire. That didn’t happen as I rolled over a little closer to my lovely wife and fell back to sleep.  This morning, at around 8 am, the temp was 32 below zero. What will tonight bring?  Well, it’s already 10 below, the north wind is cranking and the folks in Bozeman are calling for 20 below – they will be wrong.

The Arctic air has arrived from the North and it’s gonna stick around for several more days.  The only place worth fishing today, on December 4th, is Argentina.  It’s Springtime down south and our friends are chasing trout everyday.  My “to do” list this time of the year is long and getting longer by the day.  There are permits to fill out, log books to finish, clients to book for 2014, snow to plow, wood to split & stack, shotguns to oil, a new business that is trying to get off the ground, and of course there are flies to tie.   In just eleven days, Yellowstone National Park’s winter season opens as well.  Before we know it, the Missouri and Madison will beckon as the 2014 guide season begins.

I haven’t touched a fly rod since October 26th, besides the broken rods I sent back a few weeks ago.  Some might say, “what a pitty”, but honestly, some fishing guides need a short break from the fishing season to get right.   This season made 18 years in the business……I still love fishing and guiding……but not when it’s this cold.