Last summer Curtis and Cheech from Fly Fish Food spent a week with Andes Drifters. Below, their experience in first person.
Fly Fish Food´s visit to Patagonia
“Curtis and I arrived at the airport in San Martin de los Andes and were met by the Head Guide Gustavo to be driven directly to the river to fish for a few hours before dinner (which is usually at 9:oo pm each day). We were met with both eager fish, and some picky larger fish that really tested our presentation skills. After a few fish, we went back to the pickup to eat an impressive layout of cured meats and cheeses along with my favorite… Coca Lite (Diet Coke). The best part about this day was that it was just a bonus fishing day that wasn’t even on our itinerary!
We checked in to the Spring Creek Lodge later that night and it exceeded our expectations for the entire time we were there. The rooms were warm and comfortable, the food was beyond excellent, and the staff treated us like family to make sure you were comfortable. One night it had been raining, and the power went out, so they made sure that there was a fire started in our casita so we would have a warm place to come to when we were finished fishing. You will get to know Coye (pronounced Co-Shay), and she will make sure you are well fed and comfortable.
The next two days were spent floating the Chimehuin river chasing rainbow and brown trout with dry flies, droppers, and streamers. I think we floated 12 miles on day one and 12 miles on day two, with a luxury camp set up in the middle of the float. We each had our own tents, comfortable cots, warm sleeping bags, and more food than we could imagine eating. At our request they prepared an asado (which is basically like a whole cow worth of meat on a grill) and nobody went to bed hungry that night. The best part is that they send down their “camp crew” to set up camp ahead of the anglers so everything is ready when you get there. The fishing on both days was lights out! In the mornings we would start out with hatch matching mayflies, and later in the day we would switch to larger dries with a dropper. Jig style nymphs were the ticket, and there were runs where we would just stop and catch fish after fish. The vast majority of the fish were rainbows in the 15-20 inch range with the occasional big brown. These fish are respecters of a good presentation, so the better your cast and drift were, the more likely you were to catch fish. I ended the final day of the float by throwing the baby fat minnow in some likely spots, and the fish played along nicely.
At the beginning of the next day, we met up with Gustavo and Danny, and Gustavo told us that we would love him and hate him all in the same day. We opted to go along with him to find out what he meant! we ended up hiking through some of the most pristine terrain that I have ever seen before. The part where we’d hate him was the hike that involved crawling over downed trees and huge lava rock boulders. It really wasn’t too bad at all, but I’m in worse shape than I thought! We quickly realized the part where we’d love him as we crested the trail and it opened up into a meadow with amazing views of mountain on each side, and a crystal clear stream full of large brook trout. All the fish we caught that day were caught stalking them closely with short casts, and watching the fish eat streamers. The water was very very clear, and everything was super visible!
Our guides decided to have mercy on us the next day, so they took us to a lake to chase big brown trout and perca (Andean perch) from a boat. There was a little bit of weather coming in, so we had to get out quickly and make good use of our time on the water. The lake we targeted collects water from some of the major river systems in the area, and there is a famous minnow migration that we would hopefully be able to target. The good ol’ baby fat minnow was tied on and Minnow Eater
ready to go. It wasn’t long before we found some disturbance along a cliff wall, and we were “excitedly” persuaded to cast to said disturbance. It wasn’t long after that we hooked into a few nice browns, and some cool looking perca. We spent the day chasing likely holding spots for predators, and caught some pretty memorable fish! They also told us that earlier in the year you can cruise the edges of the cliffs and sight fish to big browns that eat hoppers. Yup… Sign me up for that one!
For the final two days of fishing, we decided to head north to the Casa de Campo lodge about three hours north of the Spring Creek Lodge. We were met by gracious camp hosts that had a warm fire glowing next to a welcoming dining area. They made sure that we were well fed, and I mean REALLY well fed… We hit two different spring creeks in very remote areas that held large, and very selective trout. We had to employ all of our trout catching skills to catch fish on these streams, and it was really rewarding when we finally hooked up. If you are in to picky trout in crystal clear spring creeks, this is the spot for you!”
Article reposted from Fish Patagonia with Fly Fish Food