Hosted Trip Spotlight - Route 40 Road Trip, Argentina

Hosted Trip Spotlight - Route 40 Road Trip, Argentina

Over the past 20+ years, we have been fortunate enough to spend a good part of every year fishing and guiding in Argentina and Chile. We started off as young, 20-something trout bums escaping the northern hemisphere winter, cutting our teeth, exploring new, wild and uncrowded waters, all while forging deep connections with Argentine and Chilean friends and anglers along the way.

Today, Patagonia remains a foundational part of our personal and work lives. While we may be a bit older, it’s now about sharing that love of the region with friends, family, and whoever else is interested in joining our trips — Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fish Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming 50 years ago? That’s a little bit what it feels like out there — remote, beautiful, and full of healthy and wild brown, rainbow, and brook trout. Throw in delicious meat slow-cooked over open coals at a traditional “Asado” barbecue, a few Argentine Malbec Wines, Yerba Mate, and some Gauchos driving cattle down the road and it becomes something else entirely. 

That feeling — of being a trout bum on the move across wild, unbridled Patagonia, catching fish and experiencing Patagonian culture — is really what we tried to capture with our Route 40 Road Trip. While there are plenty of amazing self-contained fly fishing trips and lodges to be found across Argentina, we wanted to give our guests a chance to experience the vastness of the region, take in the landscape, and catch amazing wild trout in pretty much every conceivable way there is to target them with a fly rod.

While planning this trip, we decided to start with the basics — with “The Route”, or “La Ruta” in Spanish. Route 40 can be thought of as the Patagonian equivalent of our Route 66, connecting the entire Argentine side of Patagonia from North to South. Draw a line through the central-most bit of La Ruta from the town of Trevelin in the South, up through the town of San Martin de los Andes in the North and you’re looking at some of the juiciest trout country in South America — covering such famed rivers as the the Chimehuin, Malleo, Alumine, Limay, Futaleufu, Rivadavia, and Tecka to name just a few. In our opinion, there’s no better framework upon which to plan a multi-week trout fishing expedition in Patagonia — and it’s even (mostly) paved! With all of our relationships with fishing guides and lodge owners developed over the last two decades, we’ve been able to string together a phenomenal two-week adventure that takes place across multiple lodges and watersheds. 

The trip kicks off in the Chubut Province in early December — early Summer in Patagonia — just outside the town of Trevelin on the Futaleufu. The Futa is a giant tailwater that eventually flows into Chile and dumps into the Pacific Ocean. This shockingly deep, swift, aquamarine-colored river serves as a dramatic introduction to flyfishing in Patagonia. You can spend an entire afternoon casting dries to dozens of voracious trout eating in a back-eddy the size of a football field. If streamers are more your thing, you can also target the banks and dramatic drop offs permeating the entire river— In many places the river bottom drops down 20 or more feet from the relatively shallow, willow-lined banks, offering the perfect ambush spot for a 2-foot brown to inhale your streamer.

the ultimate adventure

route 40 road trip

From Trevelin we fish our way north through Los Alerces National Park and spend several nights in the breathtaking mountain town of Cholila. Los Alerces offers a variety of waters, from medium size rivers like the crystal-clear Rivadavia to large glacial lakes where you’re the only soul in sight. When conditions are right the dragonfly fishing on these lakes can be epic! There is nothing more fun than stripping a giant foam dragonfly imitation along the surface and watching fish come up and do cartwheels to eat them. On rivers like the Rivadavia, seeing another single angler or recreational Kayaker means it’s “busy” — take one look down into the deep crystalline pools while floating the Rivadavia, however, and you’ll see massive pods of healthy rainbows that far outnumber the surrounding area’s human population! 

Following six days of fishing in the Chubut Province we migrate north to the Neuquen Province where we fish for another six days. We’ll often take a day off from fishing just to “road trip” and take in the dramatic scenery. The journey from Chubut to Neuquen along Route 40 takes us through the scenic 7 Lakes region — marked by its chain of pristine glacial lakes surrounded by stunning landscapes and dense forests in the Andes. It’s a beautiful drive to Neuquen and a great chance to prepare for the second leg of our trip. Just like the Chubut Province, Neuquen offers an incredible diversity of waters and different angling experiences centered around the charming mountain town of San Martin de los Andes. Innumerable spring creeks, small rivers, lagunas, large rivers and glacial lakes dot the landscape of this amazing watershed and provide anglers with a dizzying array of fishing opportunities. From stalking and head-hunting selective trout on the Malleo under the shadow of the Lanin Volcano, to stripping streamers for bait-crazy browns on the Chimehuin, you really have the freedom to catch them any way you like. The early season is also especially fun in this region because many of the no-name rivers and lagunas are prime shape, and big fish are eager to take well-presented flies after a long winter. You’ll be shocked to see what kind of fish come out of water that looks like “nothing water” — at first glance what seems to be a series of puddles bubbling up from the ground.

Most of the time we end the trip back at the lodge with a traditional Argentine Asado. After two weeks of fishing, meat cooking over an open fire is a great excuse for us to all gather, share fishy tales, reminisce about our shared two-week odyssey, and enjoy a glass of Malbec. It’s often hard to put into words, but shockingly enough our friends and guests are often left wanting more. Despite being sun-burnt and gassed — there’s still just so much water out there and so little time. 

If a trip like this sounds like it’s up your alley, we'd love to share Patagonia with you!

Jonathan Heames Big Sky Anglers Co-Owner, Ruta 40 Road Trip Host

Patrick Johnson Big Sky Anglers Outfitting & Travel Manager

ready to go


DECEMBER 1-15, 2024

$13995 PER PERSON , all inclusive, based on double occupancy

Space is extremely limited. Contact us today to reserve your spot on the Route 40 Road Trip.

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