DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Steelhead and Sea Run Brown Trout

Each year, I receive a handful of inquiries regarding anadromous fishing in southern Patagonia.  To date, 100% of the inquiries goes something like this:Hi Mark.  We are planning a trip to southern Patagonia.  We would like to DIY fish f…

Each year, I receive a handful of inquiries regarding anadromous fishing in southern Patagonia.  To date, 100% of the inquiries goes something like this:

Hi Mark.  We are planning a trip to southern Patagonia.  We would like to DIY fish for Sea Run Brown Trout, on the Rio Grande.  Can you please help us, and what are your rates?

After reading their emails/questions, my initial thoughts are:

  • If the Rio Grande was an affordable and accessible DIY fishery, I would have written about it.
  • I don't service the Rio Grande, so I can't offer rates.
  • Why are anglers so fixed on fishing the Rio Grande? 

My reply to the inquiries goes something like this:

Thanks for contacting me.  Unfortunately, I do not offer DIY services on the Rio Grande.  This is a great anadromous fishery; however, due to total cost and inaccessibility, it is not my first choice for southern Patagonia anadromous DIY fishing. Have your consider either Rio Gallegos or Rio Santa Cruz.  Are you aware that you could easily combine a Sea Run Brown Trout and Sea Run Steelhead trip?

That being said, the purpose of this post is to bring attention to (2) great DIY rivers, that offer incredible anadromous fishing opportunities, in southern Patagonia.  And, guess what?  Both rivers are only two hours apart from each other.




The Two Hour Swing

That's right, only a two hour drive separates these fisheries. This might be the only place in the world where you can DIY swing flies for Sea Run Brown Trout and Steelhead.  For me, the possibility of combining such a DIY fishing trip, trumps all interest in fishing one river, for one specie (i.e. the Rio Grande).

What's Next - How to Plan?

I have written in detail about DIY fishing the Rio Gallegos and Rio Santa Cruz.  Rather than copy/paste or re-write, I think it's best to simply provide you the links.

Part 1 of a three part series, Rio Gallegos:

http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio.html

Part 1 of a three part series, Rio Santa Cruz:

http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_18.html

Final Word

If you are a DIY angler, and if you are willing to travel this far, I wold highly recommend extending your trip, to include both rivers.  In southern Patagonia, and in my opinion, they offer the best DIY angling opportunities.

Thanks for reading.

Gone Fishing,

Mark


DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Rio Santa Cruz, Steelhead, Part 3

Thanks for reading part 1 and 2 of our three part series, DIY fishing the Rio Santa Cruz for Steelhead. If you missed part 1 and 2, here are the links:Part 1: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_18.ht…



Thanks for reading part 1 and 2 of our three part series, DIY fishing the Rio Santa Cruz for Steelhead. If you missed part 1 and 2, here are the links:

Part 1: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_18.html
Part 2: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_1942.html


We love to walk-wade, but in some parts of the world, to increase your success rate, hiring a guide is a good option.

DIY vs. Hiring a Guide on the Rio Santa Cruz

We ended part 2, on purpose, with a highly loaded question:

  • Are you prepared to travel half way across the globe, attempt to speak another language, arrange transportation and lodging, walk-wade a 380 kilometer river, find the best spots to catch a Steelhead, and perform a successful DIY trip...without hiring a guide?  
  • If you have two weeks or less, and if you answered yes, in my humblest opinion, you are pathologically insane!  

If you have read my bio, you know that I am a veteran DIY adventure traveler and fisherman (Alaska, British Columbia, New Zealand, and more). You also know that I 100% encourage you to do your own DIY adventures.  But sometimes, especially in far away places, when time is limited and English is not spoken, a full-on DIY trip does not make sense. Here's a personal account of a personal DIY experience, without the assistance of a guide:

Rio Grande- Tierra del Fuego (TDF):  In 1999, I spent one year hiking and fishing from Ushuaia, TDF to Columbia.  In that time, I hired a guide only once to take me into the Amazon for 2 weeks; not for the purposes of fish guiding.  Early in my trip, I DIY fished the Rio Grande for a few days. Looking back, I deeply regret not hiring a guide on the Rio Grande. Truth be told, I had the money to stay at the finest lodge, but my DIY values would not allow me...it was 100% DIY or bust.  Well, I caught a few small fish; nothing worth mentioning or posting a photo...it's somewhat embarrassing to admit this, but as they say, "live and learn."  

I share this experience with you because I do not want you to make the same mistake.  In your entire life, you may have only one chance to catch an 'Atlantic' Steelhead.  So my advice is to create a plan that balances your personal DIY needs, yet maximizes your chance to catch one, or two, or three Steelheads! 

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Hire a local guide via First Cast Fly Fishing.  We have several partner guides who were born and raised in Piedra Buena...they know everything about non-fishing things in PB.  They know the river like the back of their hands and they have access (via motorboat) to places far away from the public access spots.  If you are on a budget and would only like to hire a guide for a 1-3 days, and then fish on your own = no problem.  
  2. If you have little or no desire to camp, I would recommend staying in town, at one of the hotels suggested in part 2 of this series.  The hotels may not look like much, but the rooms are clean, quiet, safe, hot showers and extremely affordable. I hand picked these hotels because they are conveniently located to resources that DIY anglers need: Grocery Store, Restaurants, Banks. Regarding camping, if the weather kicks-up (wind-rain), trying to cook your dinner, or sleeping in gail force winds, after 10 hours of fishing, might not be the best idea (you need to rest your body each night). 
  3. If you would like to camp, either free or paid, you can still work with us.  Bottom line, we are flexible and our program is 100% designed to meet your needs.

When to Fish Rio Santa Cruz?


The Steelhead festival celebrates the arrival of the fish, at the end of February.  Fishing during the festival enables you to be part of a unique cultural experience.  The public access/walk-wade areas will be crowded, but with our guide/boat, you can easily fish areas with little pressure.   
We boat up river, we walk-wade primo chrome spots: lock-load and get ready for the silver bullet train!
It would be nice to say that we catch a handful full of these per day.  If we catch one per day, we are doing GREAT...that's how it is fishing for Steelhead.
April-May-June = COLD and WINDY!  I am very fortunate to have the time to fish Patagonia waters.  I am also very fortunate to have the time to research all the other things to make our DIY trips very successful.

Final Word

The fishing season starts early December 01 and ends June 30th.  The Steelhead come into the river at the end of February.  Local says the best chance to catch a HUGE Steelhead is in May.  April-May-June are very cold and windy, but I have caught large fish in March and April.  If you add it up,  let's face the facts...the window to fish Rio Santa Cruz really does not jive well with the North America lifestyle/holidays. Most importantly, when the fishing is HOT in Rio Santa Cruz (March, April, May), most anglers, in North America, are preparing for their opening day of fishing season (way to sell it Mark...your FIRED!).  All that being said, fishing the Rio Santa Cruz is an amazing experience, and if you are in the area, you should consider giving it it try.


Our goal with any blog post or information posted on our pages/tabs = no BS keep it real and 100% dedicated to creating a DIY program that meets your personal needs.  That being said, I hope you enjoyed reading our three part series. 

Looking forward to working with you next season and please feel free to contact me with questions.

Saludos y Abrazos Amigos

Mark

PS.  In March, if you are fishing the Rio Gallegos with us, you may want to combine a quick trip to the Rio Santa Cruz.  Sea Run Brown Trout + Steelhead = Amazing Anadromous Fishing Experience! Read more at the follow link: coming soon 

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Rio Santa Cruz, Steelhead, Part 2

Big-Bad and full of Steelhead!Our mission at First Cast Fly Fishing is to provide no B.S. Do-it-Yourself (DIY) information and to also host trips for DIY anglers.  That being said, and as you probably know, there are thousands of DIY places to fis…

Big-Bad and full of Steelhead!

Our mission at First Cast Fly Fishing is to provide no B.S. Do-it-Yourself (DIY) information and to also host trips for DIY anglers.  That being said, and as you probably know, there are thousands of DIY places to fish in Patagonia. We strongly encourage you to do your own DIY trip, but if you don't speak the language and your time is limited, then maybe working with us is a good idea.  Regardless of your decision, let's talk about one of my favorite species: Steelhead.

If you missed part 1 of this three part series, please click the following link: http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_18.html  we

Most anglers don't come to Patagonia targeting Steelhead.  Anglers are consumed with float trips targeting wild Brown/Rainbow Trout.  Other angles are driven to catch Sea Run Brown Trout.  But what about Steelhead?  Is it possible to DIY walk-wade for Steelhead, in Argentina?  Without any hesitation, the answer is YES-YES-YES!

Great fish, but they get bigger-stronger-faster!


How to DIY Rio Santa Cruz and Piedra Buena

One of the key features of this fishery and DIY opportunity, is the surprisingly pleasant town of Piedra Buena.  I have been traveling South America since 1999, and I must say, Piedra Buena is one of the nicest towns I have visited.  Well established tourist towns like San Martin de los Andes and Junin de los Andes, would be wise to follow PB's lead.  Seriously, this town has a movie theater and a raceway! Bottom line, this place is clean, civilized and there is an obvious effort to make this an oasis in what would otherwise be flat barren desert.


Population approximately 5,000 people.  Founded in 1859.
Guanacos and Santa
Throughout the town, there are dozens of sculptures. 

Lodging in Piedra Buena

If you work with First Cast Fly Fishing, we don't make money of your lodging.  We give you a choice of DIY lodging options and you sleep where your budget and personal comforts allow you.  However, we do visit and review each lodging option offered.  In the end, we pick the best DIY hotels; those that are safe-clean-quiet and close to grocery stores, restaurants, public transportation.

Walking distance to everything, and only 1/2 block away from the grocery store, the Hosteria El Alamo is the place to stay for those looking for convenience and value.  Cost $400 pesos for (2).  The owner also owns the hotel Alamo, further up the street, closer to the main highway (noisy-far away from everything)

Camping Paid vs. Camping Free


It's a bit cramped, and might be a bit noisy with larger groups, but it's your only option for in-town camping.  Hot showers, WiFi, and more.   Tent cost $50 pesos.
Camping Vial...Quincho = a place to cook, entertain, and eat.  This quincho is impressive!
Camping Vial...Dormis = a room with beds, nothing more.  Don't have a tent or want to find shelter from the wind, this will be your cheapest option in PB. Cost is about $75 pesos/per person, 4 beds per room.
Camping Vial...water front views!
Your other option for paid camping is the municipal camp ground located on Isla Pavon.  This is located across the bridge, about 35 minute walk to town.  Tent camping fee's are more than camping Vial.  FYI, you can't fish on the island.  They also have cabanas for rent and a hosteria; both modelty priced. 
If you are self-sufficient, on a tight budget, you have a few good options just outside of town.  Just before the bridge, heading south, take a right and head upstream to the town Chacra or the old blown out bridge area (see above).  You can grab a hot shower at YPF for 10 pesos.  

DIY or Hire a Guide

At First Cast Fly Fishing, within our hearts we are true DIY anglers.  We encourage every one to experience a DIY angling vacation; however, from our experience, there are times that doing it alone, is simply not worth the hassle. Bottom line, in far away places such as Piedra Buena, it's best to hire a local guide to help you achieve the ultimate goal = catching a Steelhead.  So, if you have doubts about flying across the globe, attempting to speak a foreign language, and figuring out the secrets of a river that is 380 kilometers long, you may want to read about our DIY Rio Santa Cruz guided programs, in Part 3.

Thanks for reading Part 1 and 2. To read part 3, please follow http://firstcastflyfishing.blogspot.com/2014/04/diy-fly-fishing-patagonia-argentina-rio_2237.html

Saludos y Abrazos Amigos,

Mark