Join our hosted trip to Esquel

Argentina 2019


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Join our hosted trip to Argentina, 2019!

Hosted by: James Anderson

Price $6,650: 9 nights lodging, 8 nights fishing

Dates January 1st - January 12th

Fishing days Jan 4 - Jan 11



Day 1:  (Tues Jan 1st, 2019) Depart for BA

Day 2: Land in BA in the morning, spend the night, dinner, etc.

Day 3: Fly into Esquel or Bariloche, transfer to El Trebol Lodge.

Day 4: Float a river in Los Alerces National Park.  Rivadavia or the Carleleafu.

Day 5,6 & 7: Float the Chubut for 3 days / 3 nights luxury camping.

Day 8: Fish the Gualjaina Spring Creek or Arroyo Pescado Spring Creek.

Day 9: Drive down to Rio Pico and fish Lago 3,4 or 5.

Day 10: Fish Rio Pico River and spring creek.

Day 11: Fish private lagoons outside of Esquel, Rio Pico area or Gualjaina.

Day 12: (Sat Jan 12th) Transfer back to the airport and home.


Rivadavia Brown

A colorful Rivadavia brown trout... 


Included / Not Included

Included:  8 full days of fishing, accommodations and meals, beverages including beer and wine, transfers between the airport and hotel in Bariloche (or Esquel depending where we fly into), guided fishing, fishing license.

Not Included:  International airfare, domestic airfair (from Buenos Aires to Bariloche or Esquel), meals in Buenos Aires, Bariloche/Esquel, airport transfers (from the international airport to the domestic airport and vise-versa upon your return if needed), fishing equipment, hard alcohol, and guide gratuities.  Also not included (but recommended) are trip insurance and global rescue.

Deposit Information:   Half the balance is due to reserve a spot.  The full amount is due 2 months prior to your trip.  

lunch time on Lago 3 

Lunch on the shore of Lago 3.


Join us for a real adventure next winter in the wilds of Argentina, catching big browns, rainbows, and brook trout from some of Argentina's finest rivers, spring creeks, and lakes!  There is no better way to beat the cold weather than to head south for a week or two... way south!

This will be our eighth trip fishing with Esquel Outfitters.  Although new outfitters have set up camp in the Esquel region, Esquel Outfitters remains the only outfitter that can book camping trips on the Chubut river, as well as the only outfitter who has private access to a large section of the Gualjaina Spring Creek.  This equates to over 80 miles of exclusive private water that is only fished by Esquel Outfitters!   Even better, they rest these fisheries appropriately, so the fish are always fresh and never pounded unlike many privately managed streams and lakes in Montana.

From our experience, these are some of the hardest working guides on the planet, much less in Argentina.  They are up early in the morning and working pretty much until midnight.  No siestas here.  Since it stays light out for so long, many days we'll be fishing 8-10 hours, and even 10-12 hours if you feel up to it.   The guides all speak excellent english and are great anglers themselves, making it easy to learn new tricks and become a better angler, all while fishing some of the most beautiful places in Argentina.  


If this was a trip to Montana, you'd be picked up at the airport by the guides, then taken to fish the Yellowstone, the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks, the Missouri, a private lake, plus 3 days camping/fishing on a privately owned Beaverhead.  It would also be like fishing these Montana rivers, lakes, and streams 100 years ago with far less fishing pressure and in general, bigger fish.  


The Lodging 

El Trebol Lodge

El Trebol Lodge - Cholila, Argentina.


Since we are moving from spot to spot, we'll have three main lodging arrangements.  The first lodge we'll be staying at is El Trebol, located in Cholila, Argentina.  The lodge is owned and opperated by our head guide, (and Esquel Outfitters part owner), Marcos Jaeger.  The El Trebol Lodge is close to the Los Alerces National Park, with two excellent rivers to within a 30 minute drive - the Rivadavia and the Carrileufu.  The El Trebol has been in Marcos' family for a very long time, hence his personal connection with many of the estancia owners in the area. 

El Trebol Lodge

 Jamming before breakfast in the El Trebol...

Electricity is 220 in Argentina.  The outlets they use are the slanted two prong type, or the two round prong type that are common to Argentina.  Bring adapters and a power strip if you have multiple cameras plus a phone to charge but be sure your powerstrip has a power surge function on it.  After fishing the Rivadavia, you'll want to re-charge everything as the next three days we'll be camping on the river and won't be able to charge anything until we get to the La Elvira Lodge.  


Camping on the Chubut River


Chubut Camp 

Niko taking down a cot from a single tent on the Chubut River.


Have you ever wanted to camp along the side a beautiful private river, without having to set up a thing?  If you like the sound of fishing all day out of a raft, and pulling up to a fully set up camp with drinks and hors d'oeuvres ready to serve then you will love the luxury "glamping" offered by Esquel Outfitters on the Chubut.

Chubut Camp

Story time around the fire...

Esquel Outfitters has set up a private arrangement with the owners of the estancia which allows them to float 60 miles of private water on the Chubut river.  Each day the gear rafts will head out ahead of the fishing rafts and completey set up camp so all the work is done when we get there.  To make matters even better, each person will have their own personal tent, equipped with a cot, sleeping bag, and pillow.  Dining tables, camp chairs, a dining wall tent, and even a hot water shower (with a curtain for privacy) will all be set up ready to use.  



Lago Tres Cabins

Logo 3 cabins

The Rio Pico cabins are simple yet nice and only a couple minutes from excellent fishing.

Our third home away from home will be the rental cabins near Lago Tres, (Lake #3) in the Rio Pico area. Nestled below the Andes and within view of the Chilean boarder, the Rio Pico area lakes are breath takingly beautiful.  Lago 3 has become the more famous lake in the area, however Lago 1 and Lago 4 are coming into good fish cycles as well, and offer excellent dry fly fishing to big rainbows and browns.  The cabins here are more simple than the other lodges, but are clean, nice, and roomy.  Usually we will rent 3 or 4 cabins so two anglers will share their own cabin, complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, and a small living room.  


The Cuisine 

Typical Dinner Plate
Asado night - lamb, steaks, sausages, salad, vegetables and desert!

Our meals will be tradtional Argentine cuisine.  Often for breakfast we'll have bacon and eggs, some type of sweet roll or bread and butter with coffee or maté (Argentina's answer to coffee, which is kind of like tea, on steriods).  Lunches range from empanadas to pork, chicken, pasta, mixed salads, excellent salami and cheese, all to be washed down with fine Malbec wine.  Dinners are usually served a little later than in the US, often we'll be eating at 9:00 at night since we will be fishing until 7:30-8:00PM each day.  Dinners often consist of salads, potatoes, vegtables, and serveral types of meat, (grilled over hardwood coals).  At least one night of the trip we'll have a traditional "asado" dinner, where they cook a whole lamb on a stick over hardwood coals, just like the real gauchos do.  We'll also get to enjoy gormet deserts such as chocolate cake, flan, and dulce de leche, even in the middle of nowhere while camping on the Chubut.



 A shady lunch spot on the Gualjaina.

Asado style desert


Fantastic Argentine wine (typically a local Malbec wine) is served at lunch and dinner as well as cold beers like Heinekens or Quilmes (Argentina's local brew).  Soft drinks are also available everyday, so if you pick up a bottle of your favorite booze at duty-free you can make your own cocktail drinks.  The crew also brings bottled water along everyday.


Our 2019 Itinerary (in depth)


Day 1 (Tuesday  1/1)  

Downtown BA from the sky

Buenos Aires from the sky.


Fly from your home to one of the international airports with flights to Buenos Aires - like Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston, New York, etc.  We typically fly Delta through Atlanta, although we have seen good deals from time to time through United with even more inflight movies available than Delta.  You will board an evening flight to Buenos Aires, usuall leaving around 10:00PM.  This works well as you can usually get some sleep after they serve an early dinner.  Since we are staying the night in Buenos Aires, you can get a flight that arrives anytime, often the night flights arrive to BA around 8:00-11:00AM.  


Day 2 (Wednesday 1/2)

Buenos Aires  
Downtown B.A.

We'll arrive in B.A. sometime in the morning.  Then everyone needs to do their own transfer from EZE over to our hotel.  The easiest and safest way is to take a "remise" (certified taxi) from the airport to the hotel.  As soon as you leave the sliding doors from the bagage area, you'll enter an area with counters that book bus tickets or remise taxi's for you.  It should be about $50 per cab to the hotel, which can be split with another angler if you arrive at the same time.  The advantage of getting the remise taxis is that you know they are legit and you will never have to argue with the driver about the meter price.  You simply pay at the counter, the person at the counter will give you a printed reciept, and they will have an employee escort you to your remis, eliminating the need to hale your own cab.  Unlike the US, tipping in Argentina is completely optional, so even a $5 tip is considered very nice.  



The hotel will have your name on a list, so checking in will be easy and painless.  We will try to set it up so our CC is holding the room, but you will pay for the room when you arrive.  Rates vary, but we'll try to stay at the Hotel Bel Aire or equivalent, which has been close to $100 a night in the past.  We’ll have double occupancy at the hotel unless specified ahead of time so you can plan on splitting the cost of a room.  We'll have time to relax in our rooms until everyone from the group arrives.  Then we will all go out for a walk around town and have a little lunch, saving room for an amazing dinner that night.  If you are looking to do a little shopping while you are in Argentina this is going to be an excellent chance to pick up souvenirs or gifts for your family and friends.  Popular items that we have bought before include soccer jerseys, custom goucho knives, maté calivasas (maté gourds), maté bombillas (maté straws), chocolate, cuban cigars, alpaca gloves and hats, slippers, wallets, ect. 

Las Lilas

Dinner at Las Lilas, sitting outside by the water on a nice January "summer" night...


Our favorite steak house in B.A. is called Cabaña de Las Lilas, which is one of the top rated restaurants in town.  Most locals don't go out to eat dinner until 10:00PM, so we can actually get in early around 6:00PM as this is a very unpopular time.  This works well for us however, as going early also allows us to finish eating early and get a little more sleep as we'll be tired from flying the night before.  If folks would rather eat sea food, one of the best seafood restaurants is locted next door called, Bahia Madero.


Day 3 (Thursday 1/3) 

Hotel Bel Aire offers a very nice continental breakfast.  Depending on the time of our flight we'll likely have breakfast around 8:00 or 9:00AM.  We’ll arrange for a large van to take all of us to the domestic airport.  Once we get to the domestic airport in Buenos Aries, we'll use the far right counter to check in as they speak english.  It is also the oversized luggage counter, which is perfect if people are bringing 2 pc rod tubes or spey rods.  Domestic flights in Argentina only allow for 40 pounds in checked luggage, so we will all likely have to pay an extra $8-15 for extra weight.  At this point they will make us check all fly rods, reels, and flies.   Not to worry, we have never had anything stolen or taken on any of our 20+ trips to Argentina.

Marcos standing in front of Butch Cassidy's hide out

Head guide Marcos standing in frong of Butch Cassidy's hide out.


We will fly into Esquel, typically landing by 4:00-5:00PM.  Here Marcos and the other guides will pick us up and take us to the El Trebol lodge in Cholila.  On the way we will pass by some spectacular mountain scenery, as well as pass by Butch Cassidy's old Argentine cabin hide-out.  We'll stop at one of the local stores in Cholila to fill out fishing licenses.  Once we get to the El Trebol we'll have another big dinner and get things organized to fish the Rivadavia or the Carrileufu the next day.


Day 4 (Friday 1/4) - Fish the Rivadavia or Carrileufu

George casting on the Rivadavia


George fishing the Rivadavia, near inlet of Rivadavia lake. 

Our first day of fishing will be floating down either the Rivadavia or the Carrileufu, both two of the most gorgeous rivers in all of Argentina.  Most likely we will all float the Rivadavia river, as it is a little more consistent, and also has two spring creeks which feed into it that are always a treat to fish.  Steep mountains tower above both rivers, but the Rivadavia has the lush forrests with huge trees and jungle like bushes with breathtaking glacial-azul water.  Both rivers have large fish in them as they are connected to lakes.  We will be catching mostly catch rainbows out of these rivers, although there are also some nice browns and even some land-locked Atlantic Salmon.

A nice Rivadavia brown

A nice Rivadvia brown on a black buggerlegs...


The Rivadavia starts at the mouth of Lago Rivadavia, traveling roughly 7 miles to Lago Verde.  The water is absolutely beautiful, and unlike the Yellowstone River, you can actually see how many fish are in the river, feeding mostly on small nymphs but also on streamers and dries like hoppers, ants, and beetles.  As we float through Los Alerces National Park, we'll come across two different spring creeks that feed into the Rivadavia. These creeks run clear and cool and hold some very nice fish in them.  

Lunch along the Rivadavia is one of the coolest places we'll have a meal on the entire trip.  The thick jungle looks like something out of Avitar, and has wild havali (pigs) that you can sometimes hear crashing through the tuffs of bamboo.  Here we'll get used to dining in style with gormet sausages and cheese served with Malbec wine everyday.    

Lunch on the Rivadavia

Lunch on the Rivadavia... 

From the banks of the Rivadavia

A view from the banks of the Rivadavia.


Rio Rivadavia

 Rick and Bill floating with Niko near the mouth of the Rivadavia.


Pato with a Rivadavia spring creek bow

"Pato" with a Rivadavia spring creek rainbow...


Rivadavia float
Like floating through a fly fishing calendar...


Floating down the Rivadavia feels like you are floating through a fly fishing calendar.  Even if you didn't even string up a rod you would have a fantastic day seeing the sights and enjoying one of the coolest rivers in the world.  The river is named after one of their favorite presidents, no question it is one of our favorite rivers. 

Carleleafu River near Cholila Argentina 

The Carrileufu river, close to our take out.


The Carrileufu is a little more of a "hit or miss" river than the Rivadavia.  If the big lake fish are in however, the Carrileufu can be outstanding, especially in the first deep hole down from the mouth of the lake.  Since the Carrileufu is so clear these fish can be difficult to catch and sometimes the fish are not there at all.  The Carrileufu is still very beautiful, but it is different from the Rivadavia and nesteld in a different valley, just outside Los Alerces National Park.  The mountains go straight up from the bottom of the river, which makes for a spectacular back drop for a release shot or a grip and grin.

Travis Volk release a nice bow
Travis Volk releasing a hot rainbow from the Carrileufu. 


Hot Day Cold Beer

A cold Quilmes on the Carrileufu.... 

Travis and Marcos Carrileufu bow Carrileufu river cholila argentina

Both the Rivadavia and Carrileufu have a few large swing runs, so anglers who enjoy fishing with a switch or spey rod may want to bring one along for these rivers.  For the most part we'll be fishing single hand rods out of the raft - a 9'#5 or 9'#6 weight rod with a dry fly line will be perfect.  If you enjoy fishing streamers then you might want to bring along a 9'#7 or 9'#8 weight rod with a sinking line.  

Bill swinging a run on the Rivadavia

Bill Hart swinging a run on the Rivadavia


Bill with his brown from the run

Got him! Bill Hart with a nice brown from the swing run above... 


We will return that night to the El Trebol Lodge for another nice dinner.  We'll have plenty of time to pack only what we will need for the following three days on out 3 day/3 night camping trip.  The guides will supply us with personal water proof bags that have enough space for our pillow (which they include), enough clothes for 3 days, toiletries, ect.  (They also include a roll of toilet paper in each bag).  These bags will go ahead of us in the gear boat, and will be set up in our individual tents, waiting for our arrival.   A 9'#5 or 9'#6 weight rod with a dry fly line, as well as a 9'#6 or 9'#7 streamer rod will be perfect for our days on the Chubut. 


Day 5,6,7 (Sat 1/5, Sun 1/6, Mon 1/7) Camp float / Fish the Chubut

The Chubut River

The Chubut, one of Argentina's finest and most private rivers.


Chubut River

Many anglers have caught over 50 fish on the first day of the Chubut float... 


After a good night's rest at the El Trebol we will make a quick drive a 30 minute drive to the upper Chubut river, where will we embark on a fishing and camping extravaganza.  As mentioned before, Esquel Outfitters are the only outfitters that are allowed to fish the upper 60+ mile section of the Chubut.  This exclusive relationship was developed with Marcos, (who's family grew up in Cholila) and the owner of the estancia.  Each year Esquel Outfitters makes a substantial donation to a local school, and in return the owner of the estancia grants them exclusive access to the Chubut.  Aside from the Esquel Outfitters crew and your fishing buddies, you won't see anyone else on this 150,000 acre ranch except perhaps for a goucho riding a horse.       


Mike and Travis on the Chubut

Lined by a haul of willows, the Chubut offers a unique experience similar to the Beaverhead - without any people that is!


going through the willows  lunch in the willows

Going through the willowsGoing through another willow tunnel


The Chubut is a heavily willowed oasis that runs through arid high desert terrain in Chubut province.  When compared to blue ribbon streams here in Montana, it most resembles the Beaverhead, near Dillon, MT. In some places the willows are so thick and tall that they cover the entire river, providing good shade for browns and rainbows that feed on insects an pancora crabs.  The Esquel Outfitters crew has taken the time to cut out intricate tunnels through these willows with handsaws and machetes, which makes for a cool experience in itself.  

Lil' green caterpillars

A Chubut caterpillar doing its thing... 

Aside from providing good cover, shade, and bank stability, the willows along the Chubut also act as a host to many green caterpillars.  These bright chartreuse green "inchworms" eat the willow leaves but often hang off the branches on a silk thread and are often blown into the river by a gust of wind, resulting in a fish frenzy below.  Anglers who are able to throw a tight loop under the willow branches can have some amazing dry fly fihsing with these little chartreuse dries, as the fish hang below the willows waiting for them to fall in.  

Travis Volk locked at lunch!

Travis Volk - locked at lunch!


Double Rick & James

You can expect to see a lot of doubles on the Chubut!


The Chubut has a plethera of other insect hatches as well.  We have seen a variety of caddis, mayflies, stoneflies, hoppers, ants, and beetles on or along the river.  There are a few grassy cutbanks along the river which provide terrefic opportunities of hopper fishing as gusts of wind will be blowing in natural hoppers from time to time.  Anglers who are able to mend well and acheive long, 50-foot drifts will be able to capitalize on some big hopper or Chubby Chernobyl eats.  

pancora crabs

Pancora Crabs from the Chubut.

Olive Zonker (after about 25 fish ate it)

An Olive Zonker, (after about 20 fish ate it)... 

Although the Chubut is a dry fly anglers dream come true, anlgers who like to throw streamers can really mop up after the dry fly only rafts have gone through.  The streamer fishing on the Chubut is about as good as it gets.  A size 6 black leadeye bugger, a black and coffee buggerlegs, a yuk bug, or a good ole' standard goldbead olive wolly bugger will crush fish left and right on the Chubut.  Certain sections of the Chubut are absolultely packed with pancora crabs, (Patagonia's version of a round shaped crayfish).  You can often feel these pancora crabs in the bellies of the beasts as their shells take longer to digest than hoppers, stoneflies, or other insects.

Chubut fire

Steaks on the fire...


One of the coolest parts about camping on the Chubut is laughing and telling stories around the fire.  Usually someone brings along a guitar or a harmonica for a little extra evening ambience.  The fire was also provides the perfect place to cook thick steaks over hardwood coals, as well as eggs and bacon in the morning, and of course heating water up for coffee and maté to get us up and at 'em.


Another Double 
Another double from the lower Chubut - Rick caught his fish about this far from the bank.  ;-)

nice brown Rick Hirsch brown 


The last few miles of our float on the Chubut opens up a little, with less willows and more deep cutbanks. Here the river bottom also changes and there are some deeper holes with large boudlers that make excellent pockets for fish to hide behind.  We have done the best in this section with hoppers, although if you were going to try to catch a big brown on the Chubut, this would be the section to try it.  The last couple miles of the float we typically "push out" as locals begin to hike up along the edge and fish with bait.  


Gualjaina Spring Creek

A calm evening on the Gualjaina  


Day 8: (Tuesday 1/8) Fish the Gualjaina Spring Creek or the

Arroyo Pescado Spring Creek

After eating a solid breakfast, we will have a few options of fishing, the best two being the Gualjaina Spring Creek and the Arroyo Pescado Spring Creek, both roughly a 45 minute drive away... 

Gualjaina Spring Creek

The Gualjaina Spring Creek.

The Gualjaina 

Grass lands of the Gualjaina...

Esquel Outfitters is the only operation that has access to the best portion of the Gualjaina Spring Creek.  Here we will have 17 miles of private spring creek to fish.  One year George started at the bottom and hiked and fished the entire 17 mile section, getting picked up at the top end.  On a normal day however, anglers will typically walk and wade anywhere from 2-5 miles a day.  There are some terrific PMD hatches on the Gualjaina, with some very nice fish feeding on dries.  Many of these fish are 16-18" rainbows, however there are a few nice browns as well.  We have personally seen a couple of these browns in the 24-28 inch range...  Ha - they were too smart and spooky for us however!  

Travis Volk Gualjaina

Travis Volk with a nice Gualjaina Spring Creek brown.

Gualjaina Spring Creek

A willowed section of the Gualjaina provides ample shade for wary fish.

Gualjaina brown

Another average Gualjaina brown.


One thing that is great about the Gualjaina is that it comes out of the ground at a much cooler temperature than other rivers in the area.  Like the Paradise Valley spring creeks here in Livingston, this translates to more consistent insect hatches and faster growing fish.  We will be here during January, which is like fishing the Paradise Valley Spring Creeks in July.  This means we will be fishing PMD's.  Hoppers, ants, and beetles will also be working well this time of year, as well as pancora patterns and streamers.  

Lunch spot on the Gualjaina


PMD Spinner Fall 

A PMD Spinner fall on the Gualjaina.

Gualjaina Spring Creek

 17 miles of private spring creek paradise... 

It was the size of my legs!


George with a big spring creek rainbow

To put things into perspective, DePuy spring creek has nearly 3 miles of spring creek and they allow 16 rods per day.  Armstrong's is about 2 miles and they allow 12 rods.  Nelsons is about 1/2 a mile and they allow 6 rods.  Imagine having 17 miles of spring creek and only 6 rods fishing the creek!  Then imagine the creek is only fished once or twice a week!  As you can imagine, the fishing on the Gualjaina is unreal and one of the most fun places to fish for good numbers of rising fish.  If you decide to throw a panacora pattern on, plan on fish literally racing eachother to your fly!   


James Anderson spring creek bow

"Jamito" with a nice Arroyo Pescado rainbow.

Anglers may also choose to fish the Arroyo Pescado on day 8.  The Arroyo Pescado is another private spring creek, located to the South of the Gualjaina and East of Esquel.  In the past we have caught some very nice fish here.  We always joke about catching 20 over 20 here in Montana, (20 fish over 20 inches), but one day we actually acheived it at the Arroyo Pescado! 

Jeff fishing the Arroyo Pescado

"El Jefé -  You da mon!"

Looking for hogs

Hog hunting... 


Like the Gualjaina, the springs on the Arroyo Pescado let out cool water, producing steady hatches and quick growing trout.  The Arroyo Pescado is also very clear, and the fish are very spooky accordingly.  Fluorocarbon 4X tippet works well here however, as it is strong enough to land most of the hogs and small enough that the fish can't see it.  On rare calm days however, you might have to switch to 5X.   6X would not be a good idea, unless you want to cry after hooking the biggest spring creek fish of your life.  These fish are big and fat and go straight for the weeds.  

Chubut Province Brown

A pretty brown from the Arroyo Pescado, this one ate once before lunch missed it, but ate it again after lunch!



The Arroyo Pescado has two sides of the creek, the "owners side" and the public side, (which remains public with a rod fee).  For some reason you are not allowed to step in the water, most likely because you could wade to the middle and easily fish the owners side.  The creek itself is not that wide however, so a good caster can throw a 90-100 foot cast and fish the owners side from the public side.  


Brent Nickerson 

Brent Nickerson with a nice bamboo brown!

Travis locked 

Travis fishing a deep hole on the Arroyo Pescado.


We have had calm days on the Arroyo Pescado but we have also had extremely windy days.  If we get lucky and have a calm day, we'll have some amazing sight fishing for big, spooky fish.  If we happen to have a windy day, the fishing can still be excellent, but we'll have to fish blind with buggers, hoppers, beetles, ect.  This is not a problem as the guides know where the lunkers like to hange out.  

There are sections of the Arroyo Pescado that have more current (towards the spring origin) and sections that are so slow they almost resemble a pond.  Depending on skill level there is something for everyone here, making it a great choice for all anglers.     


Travis Volk big Brook trout

 Travis Volk with a fat Arroyo Pescado brook trout.



Day 9: (Wednesday 1/9) Fish Lago 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5

 Lago 3 looking towards Chile

Lago 3, looking towards the Chilean border.


George and Patricio Lago 3

Lago 3, looking back towards Argeninta.


From the beautiful, wide open pampas of the Gualjaina valley we'll head south about two hours to Rio Pico. There we will be back in the Andes, looking at the high peaks along the border of Argentina and Chile.  The Rio Pico river winds its way through this hilly lake country on its way through the Andes to the Pacific.  Here we'll stay at a few comfortable, recently built cabins.

 Travis Volk nice rainbow

Travis with a nice Lago 3 reed line cruiser... 


In the past, our favorite lake has been #3, famous for its huge browns and Alaska sized rainbows.  However in recent years, larger fish have been found in all 5 lakes.  After talking to Marcos, we can decide as a group which lake we'd like to fish, or we can divide and concquer depending on what everyone would like to do.  For guys who are interested in going for a true monster, we hear the guides have found some even larger fish in Lago 4.  For dry fly anglers, the best fishing is likely going to be Lago 5, as the fish take big dries and the action is more consistent than Lago 3 or 4.  

James with a Lago 3 brown  Brent Nickerson Lago 3 brown

George giving them the "Anderson heat"

George giving a big bow a little "Anderson heat."

Here we will fish out of an inflatable Zodiak style boat with a v-hull and 35 hp Johnson on it, as well as another 25 HP Johnson hard boat and our rafts.  We will toe the rafts with the motorboats, to save time rowing to the areas we want to fish.  A ten minute run will take us to the west side of Lago #3 and the reed beds where big rainbows and browns will slam an olive, multi-colored wooly bugger with enough zest to burn us right into our backing, even using 2X tippets.  The water along the reeds is deep - a good 10-15 feet, so fishing a good sinking line a Scientific Anglers i/3/5 or a 24 foot 200-300 grain sinking line was the key to getting down.  Most of the fish are hot rainbows in the 22-24 inch class, but everyone will have a shot at some larger fish as well. 


Rick Hirsch Lago 3 Brown Big Jaw

Reed Line

Late evening light on the west edge of Lago 3.  


Day 10:  (Thursday 1/10) Fish the Rio Pico River and Spring Creek 

Cool mountain backdrop at the Rio Pico

Another beautiful place to fish, the Rio Pico area is a special spot.


After catching a handful of lake hogs the day before, we'll wake up and take a short, but bumpy 10 mile drive around Lago 3 to the Rio Pico river.  The rod fees on this private property include access to the Rio Pico river as well as two spring creeks that flow into the Rio Pico.  Depending on rain, sometimes the Rio Pico river itself can have a hint of glacial color to it, where the spring creeks that pour into it come directly out of the ground and always stay gin clear.  They also help pump colder water into the Rio Pico.  

The Rio Pico and one of the Spring Creek confluences

The Rio Pico and one of the Spring Creek confluences.

The mountains are spectacular in this area but the floral and fauna are also impressive with unique bamboo like plants, plenty of cattle, sheep, birds, and big fish.  The Rio Pico has both browns and rainbows in it.  Many of these fish will go over 20 inches and eat dries like hoppers, dragon flies, beetes, and ants.  Some of the bigger fish caught here have been over 24 inches, each very challenging and fun to fish to as we will be sight fishing.  This would be a great place to try to get some video footage of fish feeding or of a fish coming up to eat your dry fly. 


 Brent Nickerson fishing his bamboo rod

Brent Nickerson fishing one of his home made bamboo rods on a Spring Creek tributary of the Rio Pico.


In one of the Spring Creek tributaries, the moss builds up but there are open holes here and there that fish will be lying in.  It will take a good cast and presentation to land your fly in these holes.  Often we'd mess up a few times, slamming the dry fly down too hard, spooking the fish out of there.  But like a fish conveyor belt, as one fish would quickly spook out of there, in a few minutes another fish would move into the open hole.   Often the replacement fish would be even bigger!   This is some fun fishing to say the least.


Rio Pico

The Rio Pico. 


killer sight fishing

Incredible sight fishing... 

In one of the Spring Creek tributaries of the Rio Pico the willows build up and cover the stream, leaving open pockets here and there that are fishable.  One of these open areas has been nick-named "The Opera House" because of all the hooting and hollering going on when big fish comes up to eat a big dry fly but somehow gets off.  The encores continued however, as new fish would keep showing up, giving the next angler in line a chance at a big brown.  



Day 11: (Friday 1/11) Fish Rio Pico, Esquel Lagoons, The Gualjaina or Arroyo Pescado

Gary with a big lago 3 brown

Gary with a nice Lago 3 brown.


On our final day of angling we will keep our options open.  If the fishing in the Rio Pico area is red hot and anglers wish to stay, we can fish the Rio Pico and the spring creeks again, or one of the 5 different lakes in the area.  Or, if everyone had a blast fishing either the Gualjaina or the Arroyo Pescado, we can head back north towards Esquel for another spring creek day.  If anglers are interested in trying something totally new there are also some Lagoons outside of Esquel that hold some very large browns, rainbows, and brook trout as well.  Since we'll have multiple guides and vehicles we can easily divide and conquer again if people would rather fish different areas.




Day 12: (Sat January 12th) Transfer back to the airport and fly to B.A. 

At last, all good things must come to an end.  The guides will take us to the airport in Esquel.  We will then fly from Esquel back to Buenos Aires.  Depending on whether or not we can book a direct flight to the international airport or not, we may have to get a taxi from the domestic airport to the international airport. Most flights leave B.A. around 10:00PM and land back in the US the following day around 8:00 - 9:00 AM.


Day 13: (Sunday January 13th) Fly back home

The final stint ... after arriving to the US in the morning you'll have the rest of the day to fly home.  Then you'll have the rest of the year to show your family and friends photos of all the big fish and great memories you made! 




Limay Medio Add On...

big brown

Fred's fat Limay Medio brown.  

If anyone would like to extend their trip 2 or 3 more days, we can also arrange a few days fishing on the Limay Medio.  This is tough streamer and nymph fishing, as it is almost always hot or windy this time of year.  But the benefits for those who are willing and able are some very LARGE fish.  Even the resident browns that live in the river all year are 24 inches, with fat powerhouse 20-22 inch rainbows that will bend your rod making you think you've finally caught a 30" brown!  The larger migrating lake fish often push 30+ inches and are truely the fish of a lifetime.  For these big browns we like to use an 8-weight fly rod, or a switch or spey rod would also be fun.


Mike Nelson Limay Brown

Mike Nelson with a fat 9 pound hen. 

The Limay Medio is a tailwater and sits below a huge dam that feeds power to Buenos Aries.  CFS can be huge or "normal" depending on how much power B.A. is using.  (When they need more power, they let more water out of the dam).  The fish in the river have to swim hard when CFS increases, so they are very stout and strong.  We have had good fishing regardless of the flows, but the best seems to be when the river is dropping or steady.  Below the Limay Medio is a lake which is home to many large browns that will start entering the river as early as January.  These big browns will feed on bait fish, pancoras, hoppers, and smaller trout as they head up the river to spawn in the Fall (which typcially begins in March/April).

Chad with a big boy

Chad with a big boy...

We'll fish several side channels and braids on the Limay, many of which are big enough to be the same size as the Yellowstone in July.  Although it is very difficult to hook and land a 10+ pound fish here, you can be sure several will take a look at your fly or eat it.  The good news is that even if you don't hook a monster, catching more than ten very strong fighting 20 inch rainbows per day will put a smile on even the most seasoned angler's face.  They will also have us grabbing for a couple advil at the end of the day.  We will most likely stay at another camp below the dam and return to it each night.  The base camp here is very comfortable with large personal tents, dining tents, and showers, similar to our Chubut camps.

Most anglers will be too tired from already catching tons of fish to add on another few days of hard fishing, (or they may have to get back to work), but the option is there should you want to extend the adventure and try for a monster brown or two.  The Limay Medio is located north of Bariloche, so if you are interested we'll want to plan flights and logistics accordingly.