Fly Fishing in Patagonia, Argentina
Special to The New Jersey Angler
Patagonia in South America is a long way to go for trout
fishing. Itís worth it. Last January I made my second trip
to the border between Argentina and Chile. I flew
to Buenos Aires, switched planes to Bariloche and traveled
a hundred miles by jeep to El Bolson. After a few successful
trout fishing days on the Rio Puelo, I made my first visit
to Alerces Park.
The target was big trout.
Perhaps the best day was on Lake Menedez, a huge body of
water fed by glacier runoffs on both ends. The water is
nearly as clear as tap water which makes depth judgment,
deceptive. That also requires greater skill from the fisherman.
These are wild Patagonian brown and rainbow trout. They
see well and do not have many visitors. False casting must
be kept to a minimum to avoid "fining" the fish.
The slightest unnatural disturbance in the water or the
air above will be sufficient to spook them.
Just getting to Lake Menendez is a substantial enterprise:
An hour ride in a high-speed boat across two lakes followed
by portage half a mile to Lake Menendez. The run on Menendez
requires another hour.
At the end of Menendez,. where a glacial stream feeds the
head water, there is a place called "Rainbow Flats."
The sun was strong; the shelter of the mountains kept the
wind calm. The water was flat. I'd already taken a few nice
rainbows on Clouser minnows and dark green and black streamers
when I saw a dragonfly.
I asked my guide, Kent Schoenauer, about
dragonfly imitations in
Argentina. Kent is not one for long speeches. "Try
it," he said.
I had a few
Chernobyl ants in my vest and tied on a large
black one with a gray bottom (see article). After two false
casts, the Chernobyl, at about 70 feet, landed on the flat
The water exploded in five seconds. When that rainbow trout
jumped out of the water with the fly in his mouth, the entire
fish was in the air. I hadn't set the line tight, tried
to set the hook, yanked the fly out of the fish's mouth
and slumped back at the end of the boat. I'd never seen
a rainbow jump that high, that fast, in my life.
We repositioned the boat and tried it again. Ten seconds
In the next two-and-a-half hours I took fifteen rainbows
averaging twenty inches. Action was continuous.
Schoenauer has been guiding in Patagonia for about 25 years.
He watched the Chernobyls work on these rainbows and said,
"I've never seen anything like this."
As luck would have it, I only carried three Chernobyls from
New Jersey to Argentina. Now they were gone.
We broke for lunch; the wind came up so we switched back
Schoenauer said he knew a spot for large browns. By
the time we got there, the wind was blowing 15 to 20 miles
per hour. A sink tip with a 150 gram shooting head
and a number 6 gray
Clouser minnow was about
all one could throw with any hope of not getting stabbed
in the back of the neck with the hook.
We were getting pounded in front of a rock outcropping
in the open lake. It was getting late and we had
a long ride home ahead of us. Then it happened.
A fast strip of the Clouser, away from the rocks, teased
out the brown trout: 27 inches, nearly seven pounds.
We didn't want to hurt the fish, so we kept him in
the water and only lifted him out for a photograph.
He's still in Lake Menendez, in case anyone wants to visit
It's easy to get to Patagonia: Fly to Buenos Aires, connect
to Bariloche. Schoenauer will pick you up at the airport,
then on to Bolson. Patagonia Adventures will do all the
rest for you. For great scenery and comfort, fish
the Rio Puelo.
With only a little more effort, try the magnificent territory
of Alerces Park. You can fish every day for two weeks
and never cover the same water twice. The lodge is
rustic: Electricity is generated every evening for about
four hours. The Iast stretch of the drive is over
gravel for about 50 miles and past the real Butch Cassidy
ranch. Take a day off and visit the Patagonian Express.
I plan to do so Patagonia fishing with my friend, Kent Scboenauer,
again. He can be reached at the following address:
Patagonia Adventures, P Hube 418, El Bolson, R.N. 8430 Argentina.
Note: David R. Kotok is the Chief Investment Officer
of Cumberland Advisors, Inc., a Vineland-based financial
advisor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Vineland, NJ 08362-0663
or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.