For fly fishing anglers like us that love wild rivers, trout, scenery and Montana’s western style of angling, there is no better place to pursue our passion during the northern winters than the heart of Argentina and Chile’s Patagonia. Blending this love of trout fishing with the rugged landscape, wonderful culture, fantastic cuisine, and delicious wines results in a trip of a lifetime or a trip you’ll want to repeat every year until you can do it no more.
From giving basic overviews of Patagonia as a whole to helping you build the trip of your dreams, we are happy to be your first call in your search for a source of useful information. No matter what stage of planning you are in for a trip down south, we can help you get the most out of it. Our services include:
-Tackle and Equipment checklists for Patagonia, specific to where you’re going
-Access to quality and up to date information
-Up to date fishing reports from our staff on the ground in Argentina and Chile
-Sage advice on tackle that’s right for you and for your trip; which rods, reels, lines, and tackle
-Customized fly boxes designed for the exact region and time of year that you’ll be fishing
-Planning and organizing your Patagonian flyfishing adventure
-Hosted trips to all regions of Patagonia
BSA IN PATAGONIA
Sitting around a fire pit near the banks of the Malleo River in the heart of Patagonia in 2013, Joe Moore, Justin Spence, and Jonathan Heames had a conversation that would eventually change the course of their lives. It was here that the three independent outfitters first discussed coming together under one roof and building what is now Big Sky Anglers. In addition to being the scene for the seeding of this idea, Patagonia has played a major role in the lives of the BSA crew over the past 15-20 years.
Justin Spence has spent nearly two decades of Argentine summers living and guiding around the San Martin De Los Andes area of northern Patagonia. Justin and his wife Rachel first traveled to Argentina in the early 2000’s to do the trout bum thing, and realized quickly they wanted to make this special place a more permanent part of their lives. In the early years Justin and Rachel would work summers in West Yellowstone, MT, saving up every penny they could, and then head south to explore Argentina. After traveling the entire country north to south they decided to settle in the town of San Martin De Los Andes because of the diversity of nearby waters, the pristine surrounding area, and the wonderful and welcoming locals. In many ways, it reminded them of West Yellowstone.
The first years in Argentina were filled with pure fishing exploration that took them from the Neuquen Province south to the Tierra del Fuego. Over the years Justin formed many special relationships, with local anglers, guides, estancias (ranches), and lodges. Many of those relationships are now a part of what makes our Argentine partners, Patagonia Nomads, such a unique and special guide operation.
In 2008 Justin and Rachel became residents of Argentina when Rachel gave birth in Argentina to their daughter Ariela. With Argentine residency Justin was able to become a fully licensed outfitter in Argentina, one of only a handful of American-born guides/outfitters in the whole country. Over the next decade Justin guided and outfitted groups throughout the country from his home base in San Martin De Los Andes to all parts of Patagonia, from the far northern reaches of Corrientes Province in search of golden Dorado to the southern sea trout rivers of Tierra del Fuego. The guides he worked with during this 10 yr span became an integral part of the success of his business.
Jonathan and Sarah Heames had the opportunity to begin working in Chilean Patagonia in the 2004-5 fishing season at Isla Monita in the X Region of Chile. Isla Monita is located on Lago Yelcho, just where the Rio Futaleufu enters the lake. The fishing venue there also includes the Rios Palena, Yelcho, and Rosselot. This region of Patagonia is remote and rugged, most of the roads were still un paved and boat ramps had to be pioneered, sometimes hand-dug with shovels. The setting there is among the most beautiful in the world; fjord country, with steep mountains covered in a beech tree forest, glaciers atop the high peaks, and wild rivers flowing everywhere. This area is located in the Valdivian rainforest, a temperate rainforest also found in Tasmania, New Zealand, and small parts of Argentina that straddle the Andes. They worked together as the managing couple with Sarah handling the hospitality and Jonathan logistics and guiding during the Austral fishing season, November through April. John Hudgens and Robert Van Rensburg, both guides at Big Sky Anglers spent seasons guiding here as well.
After completing a successful 2007-8 guiding season, a nearby eruption of the Chaitén Volcano and following tragic burying of the town of Chaitén occured, causing them to close the lodge temporarily due to an increase in the difficulties of logistics. This closure led them to an opportunity to spend the 2009-10 season running and developing the fishing program for a start up lodge on the Argentine side, just outside of Junín de Los Andes, where flyfishing in Patagonia began. They had a great experience learning the roots of flyfishing in Argentina, gaining exposure and experience on many of the famous rivers on that side of the Andes: the Rios Malleo, Chimehuin, Collon Cura, Alumine, and Limay.
Upon finishing the season in northern Argentine Patagonia, Sarah and Jonathan returned to work on the Chilean side in 2011, where they continue to work today during the heart of the northern winters. These days they spend two months a year, joined by their two boys, Finn and Carson, on the island managing the lodge and guiding anglers on a now private basis. Jonathan has been leading hosted groups for years to different areas throughout Patagonia
Since their return to Chile in 2011, Jonathan began to work closely with their good friends at El Encuentro Flyfishing in southern Argentine Patagonia, a family-owned operation founded in 1981. El Encuentro is based in the area surrounding Esquel, Trevelin, Rio Pico, and Los Alerces National Park. This work included working to help further develop and modify their fishing program to something more comprehensive of the area and more suited to the evolving needs of the visiting international fly angler. This relationship has lasted many years and Big Sky Anglers proudly works with El Encuentro Flyfishing today with hosted trips and organizing custom angling adventures.
Steve Hoovler’s journeys in Patagonia began in 2011 when he organized and hosted a group of anglers to visit Justin in the area around San Martin. They fished the Collon Cura, Chimehuin, and the Malleo, rivers that exemplify the fishing in this area. The success of this trip was one of the first steps in connecting the dots that brought Joe, Justin and Jonathan together a couple of years later.
These days, Steve spends almost 2 months a year working with our friends at El Encuentro Flyfishing and provides us with our “boots on the ground.” He has most recently been working with the gang down there to help develop their wingshooting program and with the continual refinement of their fishing program. Steve also acts as host and guest liaison at El Encuentro Lodge from time to time to help ensure that visiting anglers are able to get the most out of their experience.
Joe Moore has been hosting groups to Argentina since 2013, fishing for both golden dorado in the north and for trout in the south. He has come to know the guides from both the north and the south as friends and co-workers. Joe has prepared a great deal of fly boxes and tackle for our Patagonia-bound customers and has become an excellent resource for customizing selections based on their destinations. He is the quartermaster of the business and maintains close contact with BSA staff on the ground in Patagonia, staying tuned into the sways and progressions of the seasons.
When you organize a trip to the Patagonia with Big Sky Anglers, we customize your itinerary and experience with our friends on the ground. We have guided for years on both sides of the Andes from early season to late season and have a deep understanding of the fishing and fisheries throughout the year. It is from this experience that we draw to help our customers find their way into the right places at the right times for them and to show up with the right tackle.