Truth be told, there are actually two Tierra del Fuegos, with the world at large knowing only of Argentina’s wide, windswept sea trout waters. But across the border in Chile, there is another Tierra del Fuego where the winds blow less fiercely and small streams with big brown trout meander through native forests. Here in this parallel world in Tierra del Fuego, Mark Kniprath, a true master of Chilean fly fishing exploration, finally settled and built his casual and comfortable family run fly fishing lodge.
Located 45 minutes north of the upper Rio Grande in Chile, Mark’s fly fishing program is perfectly suited to adventuresome anglers who cherish walk and wade fly fishing and casting flies to waters off the beaten path. The fly fishing options are vast and varied with countless fly fishing venues for resident brown trout that average 18 inches. Small walk and wade streams, beaver ponds with well rested lunkers, and several amazing lakes with big cruising brown trout are all part of this unique Tierra del Fuego fly fishing experience. Additionally Tierra del Fuego Lodge targets several low key sea trout fisheries including the upper Rio Grande and offers overnight trips to Fagnano Lake and the Azopardo River to stalk big brookies, brown trout, rainbow trout, and sea-run brown trout.
Tierra del Fuego Lodge is located in Chile close to Lago Blanco in western Tierra del Fuego. The lodge is approximately 2 hours from Rio Grande, Argentina.
Anglers travel to Chile’s Tierra del Fuego Lodge for big trout in a number of different rivers, small streams and lakes. The Rio Grande is 45 minutes from the lodge where dedicated, patient anglers can hunt for sea run brown trout. Resident trout are also present. Anglers also fish three upper tributaries of the Rio Grande River. These are small and quite easily wadable where the average trout runs about 18 to 20 inches and there is chance of finding a few sea run brown trout. The wade fishing is fairly easy to difficult depending upon the selected system. Anglers who really enjoy walking several miles a day have the opportunity to work the regions untouched streams; however, Mark has plenty of secret spots to satisfy less active anglers. Expect to find big fish in some fisheries, and good numbers of fish in others. Anglers should be prepared to bring their “A game” to contend with the Tierra del Fuego wind and sink tip lines.
After breakfast, anglers load up in 4X4 trucks with their guides and travel anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 ½ hrs from the lodge. Lunch is taken on the water to maximize your fishing time. Tierra del Fuego Lodge guides are a mixture of bilingual Chileans and a few gringos (North Americans). Guides are dedicated to putting in full days on the water. There are no set schedules for fishing hours and the lodge will cater to your wishes including fishing until dark (11:00 p.m. in January).
Fagnano Lake/Azopardo River,a two hour drive from Tierra del Fuego Lodge, hold big brookies, rainbow trout, brown trout, and even a good amount of sea-runs. This destination is an option for guests who would like to fish for two full days and overnight at the rustic cabin.
Fisheries: The Rivers
Although anglers do fish the Rio Grande, Azopardo, and another small unnamed river for sea run browns, the main emphasis at Tierra del Fuego Lodge is on the virtually unknown, fantastic resident fishing of Tierra del Fuego. The three main tributaries of the Rio Grande are home to large numbers of 18 to 20 inch resident brown trout and are very wader friendly. The bonus of targeting this fishery is that you never know when a sea run will put your tackle and fishing skills to the ultimate test.
Late spring and early summer (late October thru December) are prime months for these Tierra del Fuego rivers and many other spring creeks, lakes, and beaver ponds, with most of the fish being caught on dry flies. Although the hatches are very small or non-existent at this time of year, the fish are hungry and very aggressive and have even been known to eat a mouse.
Fagnano Lake and Azopardo River are two superb fisheries anglers can enjoy with use of the lodge’s jet boat. These areas are very remote, seldom fished, and only two hours from the lodge. Tucked in a tight valley with the 7,000 foot peaks of the Darwin Range to the south, the weather can be brutal. The fishing is demanding, but there are sea run browns in good numbers, fair numbers of brook trout and rainbow trout, plus a few sea run brookies and steelhead. An overnight camp is available and anglers can stay and maximize their time on the water. Close to the lodge, anglers can fish four different spring creeks with a total of 30 plus miles of water. This allows waters to be rested for a week or more.
Lago Blanco is Tierra del Fuego Lodge’s bread-and-butter lake, but anglers can also fish an additional seven other semi-secret lakes. Lago Blanco is over ten miles long and three miles wide and filled with countless bays, inlets, and weedbeds. This remote lake is home to predominately brown trout and some rainbows with most fish are in the 20 inch category. This is a big fish and high catch rate (40+) fishery using large dries skated above the surface or visually stripping streamers with most of the fish.
Accommodations and Meals:
Tierra del Fuego Lodge is tucked away on a bluff overlooking the vast hills of Chilean Tierra del Fuego’s Rasmussen valley. The casual yet comfortable main lodge takes eight anglers per week and provides tasteful, rustic accommodations. There is a cozy dining room and a lounge area with bar where anglers congregate. There is also a well stocked fly tying table for your enjoyment and a sauna room and wood heated hot tub for guests to enjoy after a hard day on the water. A generator provides power every day from 8:00PM to about midnight. Phone, internet, and laundry service are also available.
The lodge also has two log cabins designed for two guests each. Each cabin has a living room with wood heat, modern bathroom with shower and hot water, and a large bedroom equipped with two queen size beds. Across from the two cabins is a recently completed duplex designed for four more guests. Each side has a living room with a large wood stove, two separate bedrooms and a modern bathroom.
Meals are served according to the wishes of guests and since there is no fishing pressure on the water, anglers can get a late start if desired. An American breakfast highlighted with a few Chilean touches satisfies active anglers each day. Lunches consist of hearty sandwiches, hot soups, snacks, fruits, and all beverages, including a bottle or two of fine Chilean wine. Dinners are served family style with a blend of local Chilean and American dishes by the chef.
Day 1: Depart Home
Day 2: Arrive Rio Grande, Argentina and transfer to Tierra Del Fuego Lodge.
Day 3-7: Six days guided fishing on local rivers and streams including the Rio Grande as well as Fagnano Lake and outlet.
Day 8: Depart lodge and transfer to Rio Grande airport for Buenos Aires flight.