Aug 26th, 2020
Without question, the southern tip of South America’s mainland and the adjoining archipelago of Tierra del Fuego host the greatest returns of sea-run brown trout on the planet. The three best systems in the region vary greatly from one another, offering anglers a great deal of variety and a range of unique and rewarding challenges.
The Rio Grande offers relatively large water revered by Spey casters and is known for its high catch rates of large fish. The Rio Gallegos is broader, slower flowing and requires greater skill and finesse, earning the moniker of the “the angler’s river”. The Irigoyen is arguably the world’s most unique sea-trout river with lots of woody structure, shelter from the wind and technical single-hand fishing for handsome sea-run browns. Finally, the Santa Cruz River is home to the only known true return of Atlantic steelhead, and can be combined with late season visits to all of the sea-trout destinations we feature.
Below are our favorite sea-trout lodges in Argentina, and we are happy to work with you to find the one which best matches your specific preferences.
Despedida lodge is a family-run sea trout lodge with an intimate atmosphere which permeates every aspect of the place. Guests at Despedida have come to appreciate the incredibly warm and genuine hospitality that comes from the Lajous Family and their dedicated team of fly fishing professionals. The most distant pools on the ranch are only minutes from the lodge, minimizing drive times and maximizing time spent on the water. For hardcore anglers who appreciate long hours on the water, short drive times, and a great value, Despedida delivers! Limited to six anglers, this operation and its team of seasoned guides have a proven record of producing impressive catches from the waters that the locals refer to as the “heart of the river.”
Just north of the Straits of Magellan, in southeastern-most Argentina, flows the lovely and incomparable Rio Gallegos. For many a seasoned rod, this lovely low-gradient system and the charming Las Buitreras Lodge that serves it represent the pinnacle sea trout experience. The reasons are many, beginning with that fact that the international and eclectic cast of anglers that visit the lodge are essentially the only anglers on the entire system. Add to that huge beats of well-rested water, incredible wildlife, some of Argentina’s most skilled guides and a chance at some of the largest and best-fighting sea trout in the world and you will start to understand the loyalty of the river’s many followers.
Relatively unknown to the modern world of traveling anglers, the Irigoyen and its sister systems in southernmost Tierra del Fuego win top honors for the smallest systems with the largest sea-run trout. For trout anglers who enjoy small water, complex woody stream structure, solace from the wind and the chance to land multiple brown trout in the 10- to 20-pound class on their favorite 7 weight rod, no other systems even come close. It’s not a river for huge numbers, but every fish hooked is a reward and the next one could well be that fish of a lifetime, both in terms of size and memory. World’s End Lodge is one of the most unique and rewarding trophy brown trout fly fishing destinations we know of.
In terms of a sea trout property, the Estancia Maria Behety is the greatest brown trout fly fishing lodge in all Tierra del Fuego. Boasting 32 miles of the lower river’s prime water, easy wading, access to both sides of the river, skilled fly fishing guides, and high catch rates, it is no wonder that dedicated anglers from around the world covet their dates at Estancia Maria Behety. Rio Grande fish average roughly 14 pounds but bragging rights are reserved for fish of 20 pounds or more. Most seasons will see an angler reap the river’s ultimate reward, a husky ocean going brown trout in excess of 30 pounds. Built solely to facilitate anglers, the Maria Behety Lodge has set a new standard for simple elegance and efficiency.
Kau Tapen (“house of fishing” in the native Indian Ona language) is the original sea-run brown trout fly fishing lodge in Tierra del Fuego and the standard of elegance by which other fly fishing lodges are measured. What started as the brainchild of Jorge Donovan and Jacqueline De Las Carreras over twenty years ago has revolutionized the way in which the fly fishing world views big trout. Kau Tapen has made the Rio Grande a household name for fly anglers the world over with impeccable accommodations, plenty of elbow room on the Rio Grande, talented fly fishing guides, select vehicles and equipment, Argentina’s best wines and menus, and enviable fishing records since 1984.
There are many appealing and productive steelhead rivers in the world, but 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. While not, by definition, a sea-run trout destination, Los Plateados is certainly worth considering when exploring options to southern Argentina.
For more information on these sea-run trout lodges of Argentina, contact Fly Water Travel’s Destination Manager Jake Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 552-2729.