Roddy Hall discovers some exceptional trout fishing during a short stay at a superb Patagonian lodge.
Taking the two hour flight from Buenos Aires to Esquel delivers you into an entirely different environment. BA in February is hot and humid but at the tiny Esquel airport there was a refreshing chill to the air although it was sunny – and the scenery stunning! In fact, it is probably one of the most relaxing airports in the world with the Andes as a backdrop, a landscape dotted with wild flowers and interesting trees and only one or two flights a day.
Tres Valles Lodge is located close to Rio Pico and it has access to fishing on several medium-sized rivers, large lakes, small spring creeks and freestone rivers. In fact the fishing has so much variety you could do what many guests have being doing for years and spend a couple of weeks at a time down here, indeed every client I met makes an annual pilgrimage.
The lodge itself is one of the most comfortable and luxurious places I have stayed. The bedrooms and bathrooms are all huge with views of the lake in front of the lodge and the snow-capped Andean peaks as a backdrop. The meals are superb and as the lodge is set on a large working farm there are no other buildings to be seen. In fact, there is very little pressure on the fishing in this part of Patagonia and it is certainly less heavily fished than northern Patagonia.
The fishing itself was exceptional. Although this was a short trip I managed numerous brown and rainbow trout between 12in to 20in on both the dry fly and nymph and saw much larger fish including wild rainbows in inaccessible lies that certainly topped 10lb. there were also salmon and browns hanging in the current that set my pulse racing.
These fish fight surprisingly hard and my six weight was certainly tested and the size of the fish was not related to where I found them, so I caught large trout in channels only a few feet across. The variety of the type of water was endless and it seemed that even fishing blind if you could read water you would pick up fish after fish. Some guests return to target the larger fish and I can see why, having lost a large brownie in the weeds at the end of the first day I will certainly be returning.
Overall this trip offers great trout fishing with superb English-speaking guides in beautiful surroundings. Although Argentina is a long way, it is certainly closer than New Zealand and offers a similar trout fishing experience; although the average size of the fish might be smaller they are certainly numerous and very free taking.