Aug 10th, 2012
Last summer Fly Water Travel was lucky enough to have Rex Bryngelson, a 24 year veteran of Chilean Patagonia outfitting and the owner of La Posada de Los Farios, work out of our Ashland office for four months. Anyone that knows or has fished with Rex will tell you that he is a 100% stand up guy who loves and understands all types of outdoor adventure. During his summer in the office with us we became close and he was able to substantially deepen our knowledge of the vast and diverse fisheries of Chilean Patagonia.
One of the things I asked him to do was to write out his thoughts about where Chile now stands in the world of fly fishing. His response follows:
“Chilean Fly Fishing has truly come of age and the country now boasts some of the World’s finest lodges and professional guides. The diversity of angling opportunities on Chile’s side of Patagonia is truly incredible and most anglers who make the journey to this remote and unspoiled corner of the planet find themselves yearning to return again and again. Chilean Patagonia is defined by it’s abundance of pure fresh water and posesses countless rivers, lakes and spring creeks all teeming with wild brown and rainbow trout. Combine this with a safe and friendly rural Patagonian culture and the spectacular glaciated peaks of the Andes Range, and you have designed the quintessential trout fisherman’s heaven.”
True the above statement is quite flowery but after spending time with him, reading this statement, and consequently spending three weeks with him visiting and fishing lodges all throughout Chile I can say his statement is spot on.
Due to the fact that for the past ½ dozen years I have spent my winters plying the flats of the pacific, Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean, I had not been able to make time to fish Chile for some time. However, my pale skin needed a break from the equatorial sun so invitations from Rex and various other outfitters to join them on their home waters combined with my yearning to toss large dries at big willing browns and rainbows sealed the deal.
My quest was to spend the better part of March meeting and fishing with as many operations on as many rivers and lakes as humanly possible. In-between talking shop and fishing I made a firm commitment to sample as much Chilean wine and cuisine as possible. I would worry about sleeping when I got home. And that is how it went. I hit the ground running and did not stop until I boarded the plane to head home. Early April found me at home, completely exhausted, with multiple CF cards full of images, pages of notes, and a deeper enthusiasm and respect for the lodges, guides and overall state of Chilean fly fishing.
To put the journey into numbers, I met with seven different outfitters and fished 14 different rivers and lakes. Starting from the town of Chaiten I fished just about every major river system down the coast through Coyahique and then headed south. The major rivers included the Yelcho, Rossolot, Figiroa, Cisnes, Simpson, and Nirehuao. Other smaller lesser known rivers and spring creeks as well as some utterly fantastic lakes were thrown into the mix as well. For those of you that cringed at the word lakes, you need to understand I do the same thing. When someone mentions lake fishing my typical response is sorry that is just not my thing. However, this is different as it is typically sight fishing to large fish and I would highly recommend giving it a try.
To say I was impressed with every aspect of the trip was an understatement. It was not that I had lights out fishing every day. However, the vast majority of my days were absolutely stellar, some because of sheer numbers, other because of size and just about all my fish were caught on the surface. I also had some flat out tough fishing where I worked quite hard to bring a handful of good fish to hand during the course of the day.
All this said, it was not purely the quality of the fishing that got my attention. I had gone down confident I would have a solid angling experience and that was more than true. What really got my attention was how impressed I was with the quality of the operations I visited. Everything from the quality of the lodging and the guides(almost all local) to the meals and the equipment was very impressive. Rex’s statement “Chile Fly Fishing has truly come of age” was fully sinking in.
Of all the places that I saw, three stood out to be truly exceptional.
Starting in the north was Chucao Lodge with their dual lodge program on the Yelcho and Rosselot rivers. Both of Chucao’s lodges are strategically located near the mouth of the Yelcho and Rosselot rivers and offer fly fishing anglers a taste of the real Chile, complete with warm native wood construction, wood fire cook stoves and hot tubs, stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, and spectacular Patagonia fishing.
My highlight day there was fishing with the owner Ganzalo. We were sight casting to fish averaging 20”-24” amongst the reed beds of Yelcho Lake on a crystal clear day surrounded by a 360 degree view of the snow capped Andes; then taking a lunch break and gorging on a Chilean style barbeque lunch on a pristine beach with the same view.
Then La Posada De Los Farios(The Inn of the Brown Trout); a charming farm-style lodge tucked out of the way on the banks of the Cisnes River. This diverse area offers fly fishing anglers wading and floating options on multiple rivers, streams, and lakes in the Patagonia region.
Another stand out day was with Rex on his “Home Water” stretch of the Cisnes. After a superb lunch prepared by Rex’s chef Nando, we simply walked off the front porch and hopped into one of his rafts. We fished downstream trading off between the oars and the rod and pounded fish in likely riffles and pockets. We also wade fished to visible browns that were hanging behind spawning Kings as though we were in Alaska!
Finally Coyhaique River Lodge; A perfect combination of a gorgeous modern facility and innovate hard working guides. In a word these guys have options. Creeks, rivers and lakes, wading and drifting, keys to private gates. You name it they have it and are introducing new programs all the time.
Potentially the day that stood out the most was on a little known small river, using my new Winston B3x 4wt catching medium sized trout at will. The reason this day stood out so much for me was two-fold. One, because the river was the absolute emulation of a river I grew up fishing with my father. Not too big not too small, easily wadeable, and chock full of fish. Two, because its banks and the nearby fields were overflowing with old growth sized wildflowers. It was March so the blooms were all gone but I could not get the vision of the same river with all the flowers in full bloom out of my head. To be there on a clear day in early summer with the sun out, all these fish looking up, and the place in full bloom would be absolutely mind blowing.
I could continue to go on in detail about numerous other highlights of the trip but I feel like I have made my point. I had a great time, made many new friends, caught plenty of fish and I will be heading back.
If you want to talk about making a trip to one of the great lodges above or maybe even a grand tour taking in all three please give me a call any time.
Fly Water Travel