08-27-2010, 08:38 PM
Marty and I fished Northern Chilean Patagonia in the Spring of 2008.
We stayed at a lodge near Puerto Varas called Yankee Way (it's a play on words; it's located on the shores of a lake called LLanquihue, which in Chilean Spanish is pronounced roughly as Yankee Way. It's the second largest lake in Chile). We fished, primarily, the Petrohue River and its tribs; which are small freestone streams with plenty of current due to the steepness of the surrounding terrain. Once you get a little past the mouths of most of the small tribs, you start ascending at a pretty good clip.
For the tribs, like the San Antonio, a 3 wt. was plenty as the fish were plentiful, but they were smaller. All of our fishing on the tribs was walk/wade; with alot of walk.
The main river can be fished from the bank in some spots, but is best fished as a float. Here the fish are considerably bigger and we used 5 wts. for dries and 6 wts. for streamers.
If you're there when the King Salmon are running, then most of the people that we saw used spinning gear. We tried with our 6 wts.; but no takers.
We fished with guides, which I recommend if you don't know the water. Each guide had a good selection of flies that he had tied. There were, primarily, local variations of flies that you're already familiar with and that some of the other posters have mentioned. To my eyes, they were, generally, brighter than the corresponding patterns that we fish in the East.
Weather in February should be great; it's right in the middle of their Summer; the equivalent of our July, but the recommendations for layering, being prepared for early morning to mid-day temperature shifts of 40-80+ degrees and some rain (I don't think that you'll get a lot in February) are all good ones.
I hit the trout of my life just below the first set of rapids after leaving Lake Petrohue (which is the source of the River; it runs from the lake to the Pacific). Luck was definitely with me - I cast across 5 seams, hit a dead drift in a pool for about 10 seconds with dry/dropper rig and up came a 27" rainbow! I didn't want to leave - ever!
Plan to spend some time just walking around. The Andes are like nothing that we have in the US. These are young mountains, by geological standards, and when it rains hard, road wash-outs are the norm in much of Patagonia.
We were going to go down to fish Southern Patagonia last Spring; below Balmaceda (Torres Del Paine National Park region), but we had some family issue that kept us closer to home.
You'll love Patagonia and I think it's a fantastic idea for a retirement vacation. We will be going back - soon.