We have recently fielded a number of phone calls here at Big Sky Anglers asking about fishing in Argentina/Chile this upcoming 2020/21 season. The time is right for an update on travel to Argentina, including the Patagonia regions.
Due to COVID related restrictions, our groups that were scheduled to fish Patagonia this November and December and January have been rescheduled for late 2021/2022.
As of now, we are hopeful that we will be able to safely, effectively, and legally travel to Argentina from February through April. That said, there is a lot that has to happen internally in Argentina before this is an option. Rest assured, we are in close touch with friends and partners throughout Argentina on an almost daily basis, and we are keeping a close eye on what has been developing down south.
Argentina’s fishing season recently opened to Argentine resident anglers, but many provinces throughout Argentina are still not allowing Argentines to move from one province to another. There is a plan in place to allow Argentine residents to travel to Patagonia from other provinces, but this new plan is in its infancy. There is currently no official date in place for when foreign visitors can travel to Argentina, that we have been able to find. Any dates being published are based on speculation. For our friends down south in the fishing business these next couple of months will likely determine if Argentina will open its doors to foreign tourists in 2021.
We here at Big Sky Anglers will gladly visit with you about the current state of affairs in Argentina relating to foreigners traveling in 2021 and going forward. If things do look like they are opening up to foreigners there a number of outfitters/lodges that we work with who will be in a position to operate and provide the fantastic experiences they are known for. If you are interested in visiting more about fishing in Argentina please call Justin, Joe, or Jonathan at the Shop: 406-646-7801. And, we will be sure to provide another update on our blog when we have more solid information in hand.
In the meantime we will be sharing pictures of our close Argentine friends experiencing some great early season fishing with almost no angling pressure.
If you are interested in doing some research on travel restrictions on your own, the following websites may come in handy.
I have spent close to two decades fishing the waters that surround Estancia Tecka, but never experienced Tecka myself until this year. Estancia Tecka is a massive 400,000+ acre ranch located between Esquel and Rio Pico in the Chubut Province of Argentina. Over the years I had heard so many intriguing things about the hundreds of miles of spring creeks, the 30+ miles of the Corcovado River above the waterfalls, the many lakes and lagunas, the giant hoppers that appear during summer months that cause fish to feed violently, the 20 + inch brown trout that live in small waters and come out from under cut banks, the trophy brook and rainbow trout that move into the Corcovado River from Vintter Lake, and so much more. Joe Moore hosted a group there a couple of years ago, and he recommended it as a must-do stop for my trip this year. So, I found myself at Tecka for the first time just over a week ago with a great group of guys from back home – Dan V. from North Dakota, and Steve D. and Steve R. from Oregon.
We explored different water almost everyday. We fished several different spring creeks, lakes, lagunas, and sections of the Corcovado River. We caught brown, rainbow, and brook trout. During the week we just barely scratched the surface of fishable water. Dries, nymphs, and streamers all worked well, but dry flies were definitely the most productive. Foam beetles in sizes 8-12, small (12-16) purple, royal and peacock Chubbys, and especially JoJo’s Royal Ant in size 12-14, all took plenty of fish for us.
Why go to Tecka? Estancia Tecka is a wonderful place to experience for a wife variety of trout fishing with one base lodge. What makes Estancia Tecka unique is the vastness of the ranch, the lack of other anglers, and the consequent lack of fishing pressure. Wade fishing prospects on the estancia are endless. All of the smaller rivers and spring creeks provide plenty of action for 14-16 inch fish with chance of catching 22 inch or bigger fish. Trophy brook trout fishing is best in the fall-March/April, as brookies from Lago Vintter move into the Upper Corcovado River. During November/December one can target 25+ inch rainbow trout from Lago Vintter in the Corcovado.
One thing is for sure: I’ll be back! As far as destinations within Patagonia go, Tecka is top notch!
Gracias a todos en Estancia Tecka , especialmente a Pedro Ochoa, Federico Conesa, y Jorge Gonzalez, por mostrarnos tu magnífico lugar! Until next time!
Stillwater fishing with flies is, in some ways, the final frontier of fly fishing to the United States angler. Our rivers get all the attention and most people’s romantic mental images of fly fishing are of standing waist-deep in a trout stream, making long casts to rising trout. As such, many of our rivers are well known. Lakes are something we have in great numbers here in the US, but they are regularly overlooked, and solitude isn’t so hard to come by. Though I am still primarily a river angler, I have become more of a lake fishermen over the last 15 years. I owe much of this to my experiences in Patagonia, where the incredibly dynamic and exciting angling situations in stillwaters are numerous, eye opening, and in many ways, transformative.
In my years of guiding trout fishermen on the waters of Patagonia, I have often heard from guests that they “aren’t really into lake fishing” when they arrive. Nine times out of ten, though, anglers who are open minded enough to give it a go with me are converted by the end of the week after a few of the incredible experiences that I’m about to describe. Many of them learn techniques and gain enough insight and confidence to take this new perspective home with them and apply these methods to their home area. Their list of home waters usually grows significantly once they add their local stillwaters to their circuit!
In the Austral trout fishing zones, the lakes play an important role in the watersheds. Many of the rivers that hold large fish do so because they are connected to lakes both upstream and downstream. This allows for full range of movement of large trout, so they can choose the optimum environment depending on the food source and time of year. It is only natural that one chases these trout into the stillwaters when the larger specimens have retreated into the lake habitats.
In the parts of Chile and Argentina where I have spent a bulk of my time, most of the lakes are crystal clear, and the fish highly predatory in nature. Sight fishing situations abound, often comparing to angling scenarios one finds in a saltwater flats environment while fishing for bones, permit, snook, or tarpon. These Patagonian trout cruise in search of dragonfly nymphs, scuds, midges, caddis and mayflies. They can be found assaulting dragonfly and damselfly adults, snatching them out of the air, at times coming 3-4 feet out of the water to do so. The first time you experience this, a memory will be etched on your mind that will last your lifetime. On a calm day, they can be found sipping mayfly spinners or flying ants from the surface. Generally, if you can spot them, and you can make a good cast, you can coerce them to take your fly. If you are a hesitant stillwater angler, these situations can easily make a quick convert out of you as they bridge the gap between the sporty scenario of throwing dry flies to rising fish in a stream and the far less visual yet still challenging scenario of probing the depths with sinking lines in the search of willing participants.
Blind fishing methods are highly productive as well, of course. Throwing streamers and leeches on sinking lines is generally effective, as is skating large dry flies on the surface with floating lines. On some lakes, the scud populations are so large that the bigger trout will filter feed through clouds of scattering freshwater shrimp. In these situations, a slow retrieve with a scud imitation on a floating line or under an indicator can produce tremendous results. This type of lake produces trout with a body mass that can be astonishing. Some of the lakes around Esquel and Rio Pico are good examples of this. Perhaps the most well known lake of this sort is Lago Strobel (aka Jurassic Lake) in the arid steppe country of southern Argentina.
As for gear requirements, Patagonia Lake fishing is generally not very technical, but every part of the kit needs to be able to handle big fish, and big wind. I use the same line that I use in the big rivers for streamers, much of the time and its versatility is outstanding for both kinds of fishing. Hands-down, my preferred line for Patagonia sink tips is the Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 25 Cold in 200 grain. The running line has zero memory and hardly ever tangles and the head is just long enough to carry a loop tight enough to fire into holes in the willows when river fishing. If things get a bit more complicated and we need to slow down our subsurface presentations, I’ll use a slow sinking line like the SA Sonar Stillwater Hover line, primarily with dragonfly and damselfly nymphs over shallow weed beds.
For rods, I always favor versatility, and a faster action rod is what I recommend for casting in the wind and covering water. I really like to use 6 weight, 9 foot rods for streamer and lake fishing down here. In recent seasons, my two favorites have been the SAGE X and Orvis H3F.
If you do decide to try your hand at the giants of Strobel, you will likely want to pack some more specific kit to account for the sheer power of the wind and the trout, and because the fishing is done from shore! Justin has found the following kits to be very handy over the last two years at Jurassic:
Sage X Switch Rod 7wt 11ft 4 pc with Rio Outbound Short 9wt floating and Type 3 shooting heads for overhead casting.
As for flies, standard lake food sources abound, and baitfish are often important to imitate. Many of the imitative as well as suggestive stillwater patterns and streamers that have become famous in the States and Canada are perfect. On many lakes, patterns with a hint of burn or bright orange are absolutely deadly. But regardless of pattern or color, one thing is absolutely critical – make sure flies are tied on stout hooks. When you travel so far and hook the fish you came all this way for, you want the best irons available to give yourself the best chance of being able to email your buddies a photo like this…
12 days of Christmas – Day Three and Four – Dueling Lanyards
Over the years we have utilized and seen darn near every single way to carry one’s tools of the trade for attaching terminal tackle. What is really comes down to is that everyone has a different idea of what they need and how they want to access it. Are you wade fishing or are you in a drift boat? Do you wear a vest or just carry a small fly box and your rod? In the end, for a day of fishing, anglers need to carry hemostats, nippers, floatant and tippet plus flies, split shot and maybe an extra leader. The question is simple, how do you want to carry your gear? The vest is still a viable option, but we don’t really see too many anglers still rocking the vest. Most anglers complain that the vest is too heavy and allows one to bring too much gear. The next solution is to some kind of fishing pack, sling pack or messenger style fishing bag. But what about your hemos, nippers, floatant and tippet? For years most of attached the hemos and nippers to our shirts and rolled with it; however, I personally lost at least one set each summer while jumping in or out of the boat.
Enter the lanyard.
Most fishing guides spend a majority of their time in a drift boat or raft and carry boat bags for all their flies and tackle. I like to have a minimal amount of accessories hanging from my neck and the BSA Select Guide Lanyard (above) allows for just that. This is a simple way to carry exactly what you need for pinching barbs, removing flies from fish and for cutting tippet material. Heck…we’ve opened beers and pulled porcupine quills from bird dogs with the hemos and even used the parachute cord for a boot lace in a pinch. When we jump out of the boat on wade fishing trips this lanyard is perfect as well. If need be, for quick access to tippet, simply un-loop the hemostats and nippers and then slide a few spools of tippet on to the parachute cord. Floatant and a small box of flies can go in your back pocket. Whenever we are down south in Patagonia running hosted trips or guiding, we always give this set up to our guide buddies upon departure. They have hard time buying these in remote Patagonia and it adds instant fish karma to any trip.
The other side of the coin is the BSA Select Loaded Lanyard, pictured above. These are generally decorated with beads and carry all the essentials: tippet, hemos, floatant, nippers, fly patch, foam beads for drying flies and a small clip to keep it tight to one’s body when bending down to land a fish. I know a few guides who run this system when guiding on foot as it keeps everything close at hand. The only down side to the Loaded Lanyard is that you run the risk of Miles making fun of you if you forget to take it off before you go into Wild West for apres-guiding cocktails.
Check them both out in our on line fly shop as these make great gifts for the angler in your family.
For the Holiday Season we are kicking things off with a 12 Days of Christmas run here on the blog, Instagram, FB and on our online fly shop. If you’re looking for that hard to find gift for that angler in your family, look no further. We will be featuring a new product every day or two from December 4th until December 19th, 2019. These aren’t just any old items; while Justin was down in Argentina hosting anglers, Jonathan and Joe combed through the shop and packaged up some super dope products that we believe in and use throughout the season while guiding, traveling and fishing ourselves. Each item will come with it’s own little surprise, like Cracker Jacks from days of old! We will be pushing these items out via Social Media as well, but feel free to visit the blog for more information if you steer away from Social Media.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me….51 flies and the box is FREE!
After years of fishing and guiding in Patagonia, J3 (Jonathan, Justin and Joe) went through the fly bins here at the shop and hand picked their favorite flies for the rivers between San Martin and Esquel in Argentina and Region X in Chile. Time after time we have seen anglers show up in Patagonia with the wrong flies. Why travel 6000 miles and show up with a subpar box of bugs? This selection works throughout the entire season down south and is full of dry flies, tungsten bead heads and a solid selection of streamers including Jonathan’s tried and true Pancora Crab. For the past few years we have been putting together custom boxes for our travel customers, generally we send them along with a few more but this selection is a fantastic start. If you’re headed down to Patagonia this winter, or any winter for that matter, give us a shout and we will out line the gear you will need. Our selection comes with a total of 20 dry flies, 14 nymphs and 17 streamers for $150 including the box. Click here to buy the Patagonia Essentials fly selection on the online fly shop – It will not disappoint!
Flies – Left side of the box: (2) #4 Royal Water Walkers, (3) #8 Black & Tan Chubby Chernobyl, (2) #12 Fathead Cicadas, (1) #12 Swisher’s PMX, (2) #12 & #14 Jojo’s Chubbinator, (2) #14 & #16 Arrick’s Ant, (2) #14 & #16 Harrop’s PMD Paraspinner, (2) #14 Red Missing Link, (2) #16 Purple Haze, (1) #12 Red SJW, (1) #12 Tan SJW, (2) #14 AZ Hare’s Ear Dark, (2) #14 AZ Hare’s Ear Light, (2) #16 AZ Hare’s Ear Dark, (2) #16 AZ Hare’s Ear Light, (2) #16 R/L Tactical PT, (2) #16 BH Pheasant Tail. Right side of the box: (1) #4 Olive and White Barely Legal, (2) #6 Olive BSA Bouface leeches, (2) #6 Black BSA Bouface leeches, (2) #6 BH Olive Crystal Bugger, (2) Olive #4 BSA Best Fly Ever, (2) Black #4 BSA Best Fly Ever, (2) #4 Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow Sculpins, (2) #4 The Professor’s Pancora Crab, (2) #8 The Professor’s Pancora Crab