Trip Diary: Winter Getaway to Argentina's Northernmost Patagonia Region

WNCtroutstalker

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I recently traveled to Argentina for 6 days of fishing and thought I'd share some photos of the waters I fished (I will paste them in subsequent posts below) and some details about the trip in case others may want to consider a trip there. My destination was a bit unusual, and really off the beaten path, as I was about 6 hours by car north of San Martin de los Andes and Junin de los Andes, which seem to be frequent home bases for trout trips in northern Patagonia.

Where Was I?: I stayed in a house on a large cattle ranch. If you care enough to look at a map, I think the nearest town, and it wasn't large, is El Cholar and I was basically due east of Los Angeles, Chile. As mentioned, it was about 5 1/2 hours from the "local" airport, and the last 2+ hours were on a dirt road.

Weather: Spectacular, especially given what I left behind at home. I would guess the daytime highs were in the upper 70s to low 80s and I never wore a jacket while fishing.

Rods Used: 9' 5 and 6 wts

Leaders: 3X

Methods: Dry-dropper; double dries; streamers

Primary Dries: Large terrestrials - Fat Alberts, Chubbies, PMXs; Small terrestrials - beetles and ants

Nymphs: Pheasant Tails or something similar; red Copper Johns

Estimated Number of Fish Caught Per Day: 25

Species: I caught one Brown and all of the others were Rainbows

Could You Do a DIY Trip?: Not to the waters I fished. Even if you could find them (most were well off the main road), I doubt you could rent a vehicle that would be up to the job. The "roads" often resembled dry streambeds with softball-sized rocks. A 4-wheel drive with off-road tires is a must and the driving is at times very slow.

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My home base for the week

Some pictures of the terrain....

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WNCtroutstalker

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Day 1 - Wading a Small Creek Through a Meadow

I really enjoyed fishing this creek, which ran through a meadow/pasture. It was pretty easy to wade (the deepest parts were to about mid-thigh) and there were lots of submerged boulders, bends and drop-offs that created good holding areas.

Estimated Number of Fish Caught (I don't count): 18 (I fished mainly a dry-dropper and would guess than about 1/3 took the dry and the other 2/3 took the dropper)

Typical Fish: 12-13" Rainbow

Largest Fish: 20" Rainbow

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Day 2 - Wading a Lazy Spring Creek

This water was tough to get to, but well worth it. The current was slow and steady and the bottom was comprised of small, flat stones. Because the water was largely flat and featureless (in terms of no submerged boulders, trees, etc.), when not targeting rising fish I focused on bends, short drop offs, current seems (when visible) and other promising-looking spots.

Estimated Number of Fish Caught: 65+, all Rainbows (I'd guess that about 40% were on a dry and the other 60% took the dropper)

Typical Fish: 8-9"

Largest Fish: 13" (I probably caught only 4 fish that were 10"+)

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Day 3 - Before Lunch, Wading a Medium-Sized River

This river was probably the easiest to access as it flowed parallel to a highway (a wide dirt road). It had a stronger current and was more challenging to wade than the other waters I fished (though not difficult). It looked great and there were lot of bugs hatching (mainly caddis from what I could tell), but the fishing was slow and so we only spent a half-day there.

Fish Caught: 5, including my only Brown on the trip

Largest Fish: 14"

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Day 3 After Lunch, Wading a Tight, Overgrown Creek

This water was extremely challenging to fish. It was difficult to find access spots because the banks were often lined and blocked by thick, thorny bushes, and the overhanging trees and other surrounding vegetation allowed for only very short casts, often with less than a foot of line out. It actually reminded me of a lot of the small mountain streams I fish at home. While the fishing was great from a numbers perspective, the bushwhacking and difficult casting conditions diminished the experience IMO.

Estimated Number of Fish Caught: 20 (in just 3 hours, probably evenly split between a dry and dropper)

Typical Fish: They seemed to come in 4" increments, being mostly 4", 8", 12" or 16"

Largest Fish: 17"

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I think I landed 8 fish from just behind and to the left of that large rock. It was amazing how many fish held in such a small spot
 

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Days 4 and 5 - Floating the Trocoman River

I've always wanted to fish Montana's Smith River, but have never been lucky enough to draw a permit. While I obviously can't really compare the two waters, I'm not sure that at this point I need to. This river was absolutely gorgeous. The photos below don't do it justice. The two-day float on this river was easily the highlight of the trip for me. In part because of the scenery, but also because it was ideal for fishing streamers, which I really enjoy. Just so many ambush zones--large boulders, deep pools, overhanging trees along banks, tall cliffs for shade, etc. I had two rods rigged in the raft, one with a steamer and one with a dry-dropper. Only the streamer rod got used.

Estimated Number of Fish Caught: 12 the first day, 15 the second (all Rainbows and all on streamers)

Typical Fish: 16" (I suspect the average fish is much smaller, I got plenty of follows from fish that looked to be 6-12", but obviously fishing streamers typically results in catching larger albeit fewer fish)

Largest Fish: 24" (four others between 20-23")

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My largest or second largest fish
 

WNCtroutstalker

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Day 6 - Wading a Small Creek Through a Meadow

On my last day I fished a different section of the creek I fished the first day. The water/conditions were largely the same, easy wading, plenty of promising lies, etc.

Estimated Number of Fish Caught: 12 (one on a dry, the rest on the dropper)

Typical Fish: 10-12"

Largest Fish: 16"

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The last day ended with a special dinner...

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