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Los Plateados Lodge – Rio Santa Cruz, Argentina – Patagonia
While there are a great many appealing and productive steelhead rivers in the world, the argument for Argentina’s mighty Rio Santa Cruz being far and away the most unique is near bulletproof. The reasons are many; its massive size, the harsh and surreal Dali-esque landscape through which it flows, the subtlety of its lies and structure and the trump card that it is the only true Atlantic steelhead return in the world. We have no real idea as to how many fish it holds but what we do know is that after more than a decade of commitment to the system by some of Argentina’s top guides, that its secrets have been revealed exposing a consistent and viable gem that might possibly be the last major river to be added to the cannon of steelhead classics. Like many steelhead rivers the fish here average 9-10 pounds but what is unusual is that one in ten of these fish is likely over 20 pounds!

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Trip Report – Atlantic Steelhead on the Rio Santa Cruz at Los Plateados Lodge
Provided by guides Claudio and Pollo of Tres Amigos Outfitters

On the 18th of April we welcomed a group of Swedish anglers eager to try for the one and only run of Atlantic Steelhead.
Jim, Patrik, Ulf and Lars arrived to Los Plateados right on time for lunch, following a 4 hour journey from Rio Gallegos, and chef Diego was waiting for them with a traditional Argentine Asado. After lunch we set up our rods – putting on Skagit heads, weighted tips and classic winter steelhead flies – and headed stright to the nearby pools. The group started at “Guanacos” the closest pool.

After Jim and Patrik fished the run, Ulf the third angler through reached the middle part of the run and hooked up on a good one after a few casts. The hard fighting Steelhead was eventually landed. It was one of the prettiest male Steelhead we’ve seen this season! A solid 16lb buck.  In the meantime Patrik connected to one that quickly got off the hook on the upper part of the run.

Result for Day 1 (half Day): One landed (16lb) and one lost.

On the second day strong winds were expected, so we prepared for it and took the trucks instead of the boats to move along the river.  
The storm put the fish down and the water colored up slightly.  Jim hooked and lost the only fish of the day.  It was time to go back to the cabin for dinner and make a new strategy and plan for the following day while enjoying some Mexican appetizers and a proper dinner afterwards.

Result for Day 2: One lost.

The plan for Monday morning was to split into two groups. With much better conditions, Pollo took one group upstream with one of the jetboats and Claudio took the other by truck to cover the pools we tried the day before.  Both groups fished during the morning and joined up for lunch at the “Comedor” pool where Leandro and Pollo prepared pizzas on the grill by the riverside.

The morning session provided great results for both groups.  The guys who fished upstream brought three fish to the net with Jim landing a 7# hen in the “Power Plant” pool followed up with the first double and largest fish (22#) of the season coming out of the “Fence” pool!
double down
The group working the lower pools managed to get an 11# chromer at “Elephants” and got a massive pull at “Blacksmiths” pool that unfortunately didn’t connect.

After switching, it was time for Ulf and Lars to go upstream and Jim and Patrik to try lower pools. They headed straight to “Blacksmiths” in case some more fish reached the pool. In a matter of an hour Patrik had two good strikes, one broke off and landed one of 10# while Jim, trying the lower part of the run managed to land another large beauty and his second 20lb+ fish of the day!

Result for Day 3: Six fish landed (two over 20lb) and 3 lost.

The water level stabilized after the first few days, with the visibility improving and water temperature dropping to 5°C. Winter Steelhead patterns did just fine, with Orange and Blue combinations working best. We clearly saw the arrival of a fresh run of fish with a large average size.  We had great fun with this group of fishermen and friends. We’ll be looking forward to hosting them again.  The figures after 2 and a half days averaged just below one fish per day per angler, with most of the action happening on the second full day.