In the winter of 2024, we will be returning to the Chilean region of Patagonia. Based upon the popularity of this trip, I will again be hosting two groups. This trip is one that will certainly create lifelong memories of the land, the fish, and the people. If you've traveled to Montana with me, you have probably been guided by my dear Chilean friend, Juan David Vera. J.D. will meet us in Chile and accompany us during the week as our head guide and local expert. This trip is based in the Coyhaique Valley and Cerro Castillo watershed of Central Patagonia. The area's remoteness and beauty evoke images of the American West in the 1800s. Coyhaique is the largest town in the region and serves as its cultural and trout fishing hub. The valley is situated in the dry grasslands between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, presenting a wide variety of angling options ranging from diminutive spring creeks to large glacial rivers to azure lakes surrounded by high peaks. We will be staying outside of town at the Vista Patagonia Lodge, hosted by its owners, Diego and Macarena Guerrero, where you are treated like family as soon as you arrive.
Dates: December 31st - January 6th, 2024
January 7th - 13th, 2024
Vista Patagonia is a small, intimate lodge with a maximum of 8 guests.
Cost: Either week - $4,475.00 based on double occupancy. This includes all ground transportation from Balmaceda, all guide fees, lodging and meals, and activities. I’m happy to help arrange your airfare to ensure the best rates and arrival times.
Between Coyhaique and Cerro Castillo, there are over twenty streams and lakes with both rainbow and brown trout. In addition, the fjords that barricade the mainland from the Pacific Ocean serve as an entrance point for migratory trout and salmon. These valleys offer excellent fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.
The trout/salmon season in the Aysén region starts the first weekend of October, and by the time we arrive, most snow-fed rivers, creeks, and small tributaries are gin clear. Aquatic insects on the surface, predominantly mayflies and caddis are active this time of year in the morning and early afternoon into the evening. The fish are hungry after the winter and usually take the imitations with little hesitation. By this time of the year, you can also experience big terrestrial insect fishing in the Cerro Castillo area by imitating the Cantaria beetle. Cantarias belong to the Stag or Darwin beetle family and, under the right conditions, are taken aggressively by trout. They are huge, ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 inches long, and it's a thrill to imitate them with a fly as the naturals are clumsy fliers, usually landing on the water with a distinctive 'plop'. After hitting the water, Cantarias remain still for a long time. This is the best part, as you can watch from the boat as hungry trout slowly swim toward the fly to inhale it.
We will be fishing on a number of different rivers and lakes, offering a varied menu of fly fishing experiences. In the Valley of the Moon, the Rio Ñirehuao offers excellent hopper fishing opportunities like no other in Patagonia as it meanders through the plains. It is a good-sized spring creek with many smaller spring-fed tributaries entering it along the sections that we fish. Like any spring creek, it puts a premium on presentation and matching the hatch when fishing aquatic insect imitations. . The Ñirehuao flows into a larger freestone stream, the Rio Mañiguales. We both wade and fish this river from rafts, and it typically offers some great Cantaria beetle fishing, Streamer fishing can be very productive here as well since this river holds some quite large browns who prefer big meals. In another drainage, we'll walk/wade fish the Rio Emperador Guillermo. This is a classic smaller, steeper, freestoner and is perfectly suited for nymph fishing as well as dries. The largest river that we'll visit in the Aysén region is the Rio Simpson, also one of the longest in the area at 55 miles; it offers some fantastic sight fishing opportunities. While we float certain sections, most of our fishing on the Simpson is walk/wade. We'll be swinging soft hackles through the riffles, casting terrestrials along the undercut banks, and drifting nymphs through the runs. With some luck, we may even encounter a salmon or two in one of the deeper pools. During the week, you'll also have a chance to fish some of the region's lakes, such as Lago La Paloma and Lago Azul. We'll use the motor to access one of the channels connecting the lakes or one of the sheltered inlets, then slowly row along the bank, casting Cantaria imitations or streamers to some of the biggest fish you'll see on the trip.
I suggest bringing your favorite 5 or 6-weight rod for most dry fly and nymph fishing and a 7 or 8-weight for bigger terrestrials and streamers. Floating lines are preferred, and we can get them down in the water column, if needed, by adding a sinking poly leader.
The weather in Patagonia in December and January is very similar to that which you would encounter in Montana in June and July. Daytime temperatures will range from the low '60s to the upper '70s, dropping into the '40s and '50s at night. Layering is the key, as conditions are changeable, and some showers are possible.
As with most of our destinations, fishing is not the only option. We will plan to spend an afternoon in Coyhaique, visiting the markets and having dinner at a traditional restaurant. The Aysén region of Patagonia near Coyhaique offers fantastic hiking in the nearby Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. If you feel adventurous, Guillermo Valdés, one of the multi-talented guides, will lead you on a challenging mountain biking trip. Horseback riding is available on one of the nearby estancias with a local gaucho.
You will be flying into Santiago, then taking a two-hour flight south to the airport in the little town of Balmaceda. From there, it's a 40-minute drive to Vista Patagonia. The flight to Santiago is a long one, and I always recommend staying a day or two in Santiago before flying down to Balmaceda. Santiago is a historic and beautiful city, and the nearby Maipo Valley wineries are well worth the trip. I'm happy to help you with planning a day or so of relaxation before fishing.
**Anyone joining us on a destination trip is welcome to attend our Two-Day Intro Clinic or any of our Special Clinics free of charge.**