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  1. #1
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    Default Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Good Morning everyone from cold, snowy, 0 deg. Illinois, what a shock to the system from sunny and 85 deg. Argentina

    I would like to post a trip report from the San Martin de Los Andes region of Argentina. This trip we worked with Chocolate Lab Expeditions (more on them later) and fished the Chimiuein, The Collen Cura and the Limay rivers. This will be a pretty positive trip report as everything was about as good as it could be. I am really starting to get a love for the Patagonia region, its people, food and culture are wonderful and at no time did I feel unwelcome or uncomfortable. The service and the willingness to help, usually when there was a steep language barrier, in both the big cities of Buenos Aires and Santiago and the smaller towns that we wandered thru was truly special. People are just people, right
    The town of San Martin de Los Andes was the jumping off point and the end point of the fishing trip and is a really neat town. Imagine Steamboat Springs or maybe Aspen 30 years ago. It stood in stark contrast to the rest of the towns I went to and is a major tourist hub for foreigners and Argentines alike with its stunning lake, world class golf course, ski hill and access to every outdoor activity you could imagine. Very, very busy small town with great food and drink and innumerable lodging opportunities.

    As a side note, many time over the years I have seen posts on the forum asking about DIY fishing in this area and can tell you that there are many opportunities for public access in the region and many fine streams to fish. So if that is the kind of thing you like I would do more research, I'm sure you can find what you need.

    We fished with Chocolate Lab Expeditions (CLE), from San Martin. A quick web search will provide all the info you need on them and they also are a big Yellowdog flyfishing outfitter. First class, World class is how I would describe them Every single person representing them was friendly and efficient, all time schedules and transfers were spot on, the fishing guide knowledge was superb and for 9 days you felt you were part of the CLE family not just a client. A typical day; 830 breakfast and on the water by 930-10. Fish till 1-130 and then take out for a tasty shore lunch and a bottle or two of Malbec followed by a siesta on the streamside grass or in the supplied hammocks. At 3ish, quick cup of Cuban coffee and back on the water and fish till around 8 and back to the lodging. Dinner at 9 with more Malbec and then off to bed around 1130. Repeat......
    One of the many selling points of CLE is their private access to many streams and nearby lodging that make drive times to and from the river very short. You have a wide variety of fishing locations to choose from and the 3 rivers and lodges we chose had an average drive time to the river of about 20 minutes or less. On the first night we selected to overnight on the Chimiuen and arrived at 830pm to a set up campsite and warm food. The camping options are a great way to maximize you time on the water and the campsites are set in places to allow for wade fishing by the clients if you just didnt get enough fishing that day. CLE is a very forward looking company not comfortable with where they are at but making constant improvement to their access and facilities to shorten drive time and increase angler comfort. I love these guys!!

    The fishing? Outstanding!!!! We had 2 boats in our trip and the guys in the other boat did alot of dry/dropper fishing but in our boat for the 7 days we threw dry flies all day. Started out the mornings with size 16-18 Purple Haze's and finished the days with big Chernobyl ants and Fat Alberts. What a fun way to fish. The days on the Willow lined Chimeuin were spent throwing to the willows and the pockets between them. Big, fat fish everwhere. The Collen Cura was a much more open river with amazing bank fishing from the boat and these awesome 50 to 100 yard wide riffles with huge browns sitting in the tops of these riffles, barely in deep enough water to cover their backs, waiting for lunch to float by. And the last river was the Limay. This is the river I looked forward to the least. I am a small river guy but I was sure wrong. This is a special place and the river has it all. Wide Riffles, long deep runs along the cliffs and rock shores, willows along the banks and dotting the river on the many islands, a dizzying amount of smaller braids that take off thru the willows and then reconvene downstream and then long flat stretches of river that seem to go on forever.

    The fish? Unbelievable!!! I dont know how you quantify "fight" in a fish but I sure as heck know these fish rank up there with the best. These fish grow up in fast water, they are unpressured and they are bruisers. We caught many fish over 20" but the incredible part was how much fight the 16-18"s put up, it was astounding. We didnt see any of the Big Limay browns, we topped out at 23-24", but I can hardly imagine what one of the 30" behemoths they have there would do to my arm and shoulder And again, this was all on top water with some of the most memorable strikes I have ever had. On the Limay you fish a little different than the first 2 rivers and are told to not react to the strike until you feel the tug. Sounds easy right? But you try to watch your Fat Albert skittering across the surface and a 24" brown is circling it and then hitting it or nudging it 3 or 4 times before you feel the tug. Or better yet he rockets up from the depths and breaks the water, somersaulting with your fly in his mouth and you are supposed to "flatline" until you feel him pull, not the easiest thing to do I assure you
    The last and maybe the best part was the pressure or lack thereof. Our 7 days on the river we saw 3 other boats fishing, 2 wade anglers and 1 sightseeing raft and that was it. We had these waters to ourselves. The fish were healthy and not leader shy which allowed us to use 2x and 3x leaders and reduce the fight times.

    About the pics, you ever return from a great trip and excitedly look at your pics and are underwhelmed? Me too. But I have selected the best from the bunch and hope you like them. I tried to intsil a "keep em wet" attitude but afraid I was fighting the culture a little bit. We did our best to encourage it but had a few quick pics up high but please know that they were quick shots and back in the water as quick as the guide allowed. I have a couple of pics showing the typical water types, 3 or 4 of the big Brownies, 1 of the dinners and the reason why i gained 11 pounds and the final pic is my favorite, out the window of the plane going over the Andes on the way to Santiago from Buenos Aires. A little unnerving looking out and seeing the mountain peaks seemingly higher that you are

    Well thats the report, thanks for reading.

    kevin





























































    Last edited by k_e_v; 01-27-2019 at 04:05 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Kev

    Looks like an awesome trip, congrats!
    Larry


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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    I have to continue reading the report but I stole a look at the pictures, what a beautiful place! You could always add more pictures and no one will be angry about it

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.


    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Ard View Post
    I have to continue reading the report but I stole a look at the pictures, what a beautiful place! You could always add more pictures and no one will be angry about it
    Okay then, a couple of more

    A shot from a beer garden in downtown San Martin. A little touristy but very nice



    What happens when you cast a little sloppy in 40 mph winds. Fishing was still good in the wind but painful



    These are the driftboats they use here. The boats are from RO in Bozeman and Chocolate Lab has the rights to manufacture these and sell them in Argentina. These boats are low sided, do well in the wind and fish very well from a seated position which the guides prefer due to the wind



    A picture of the Mighty Limay, the river seems to go forever



    And another showing the willows lining the Chimuein. imagine all those pockets formed by the willows stuffed full of wild trout



    and finally the last trout of my 2nd South American adventure


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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    One of these days Kev, one of these days I'll take a trip outside Alaska. As things are right now my fishing buddy (Boss) has become too old to travel and leaving him behind after 13 years of faithful service is not an option. I may be silly but I'm as loyal as a German Shepherd

    Last summer I had to pass on a chance to guide and fish over on the Nushagak, Boss isn't up to a 2 month camp life and there was no way to leave him here at home for that long. I have no doubt he would waste away and die had I tried it. But it isn't all bad, he and I have made memories that I'll take into the great beyond with me when I go, there is no way to explain the bond we have developed through the years I don't think.

    I read posts like yours and I think, I could do that, and then I have to consider what would precipitate my being able to set such a plan into action and I just think about the next six months. I can only hope that one of these days I'll be leaving for a trip worthy of a report on my return. For this year I'll be helping my old friend into and out of the boat, maybe having a game of get the stick on some sand bar and feeding him a bag of beef jerky. Those have come to be his favorite things late in life

    Fantastic photos, I even like the town! And the river! OMG what a beauty that is, you are very fortunate to have done this buddy.

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.


    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Ard, thats a great post. You are a lucky man and I will leave it at that

    Thanks for the kind words

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  12. #7

    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Makes one want to save up for a Patagonia trip. Thanks for sharing.


    “If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago.”
    ~Zane Grey

    " . . . shouldn't a man stand on his own two feet and catch his own steelhead? Maybe put out some effort and find his own fish just for the fun of it?"
    ~Syd Glasso

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  14. #8
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    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by flytie09 View Post
    Makes one want to save up for a Patagonia trip. Thanks for sharing.
    Thanks fly....

    Thats one of the things I didn't touch on and its certainly subjective but I didn't think the prices were out of line and dare I say "reasonable". If you take out the cost to get there the prices for what's included is comparable to going out West and cheaper than some of the Canadian and other destination fly fishing trips I have looked out over the years. That being said I will be fishing locally the rest of the year and eating Ramen noodles

    kevin

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  16. #9

    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by flytie09 View Post
    Makes one want to save up for a Patagonia trip. Thanks for sharing.
    Ha. That is for sure. What an epic trip!

    I see these type of trips like an alcoholic sees a bottle. I yearn for them, but knowing myself, I know I will not be satisfied with going once.

    I would love to fish the water down south; however, I will never convince my wife that we need to spend a few months a year in Argentina.

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  18. #10

    Default Re: Argentine Patagonia 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Redrock View Post

    I see these type of trips like an alcoholic sees a bottle. I yearn for them, but knowing myself, I know I will not be satisfied with going once.

    ....

    LOL I have no idea what an alcoholic sees in a bottle thankfully but fishing in Argentina does make you want to return...at least it works that way for me.

    The cost of air fare is higher for me to travel to Patagonia vs Alaska but everything else is actually less expensive than Alaska. My second visit to Patagonia is coming up soon and a third is in planning...you can't take it with you.
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

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