Chinook Salmon Fishing in Patagonia Chile

In the mid 1970's Chinook salmon eggs were planted in a few rivers in the Lakes Region of Chile with the intention of starting commercial ranching of kings in the southern hemisphere. This entreprise was abandoned but the salmon survived and flourished. Today there are wild runs of king salmon in virtually every river along the austral coast of Chile, from Tolten to Tierra del Fuego.

Chinook salmon fishing in Chile on the Rio Petrohue.

For many reasons our favorite river for salmon fishing is the Rio Petrohue, one of the rivers where the austral kings were first planted. It's our home river, only 15 minutes from the lodge, the runs are large and consistent, the salmon are fresh, heavy and healthy, and the salmon stay in the lower 20 miles of river, in Chile, rather than continue upstream into Argentina as they do in some watersheds e.g. Palena/Corcovado.

King salmon fishing in Chile on the Rio Petrohue.

Chinook salmon are known to be moody, sometimes ignoring everything presented to them, and then at other times they'll give you a tiring workout that leaves you wondering why you made that last cast. Petrohue king salmon will take a fly, cast on either single-handed or two-handed rods. We get more Spey casters each season. Our guides are experienced with all techniques and you can fish for them in the manner that you prefer; spin, Spey, or single. There may be a few more takes per day with spin fishing over fly fishing, and the battle to land the salmon will be less exhausting, but there is a special sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you land a Chinook salmon fly fishing. But you don't have to chose one or the other, you can do both. We'll get you in the right place, at the right time, with the right gear and years of experience to help you get that fly or spinner in the face of a chromer.

Chinook salmon fishing in Patagonia Chile on the Rio Petrohue.

There are king salmon in rivers we fish on the Road Trip as well. Rivers Yelcho, Futaleufu, Palena, Rosselot, Cisnes, Manihuales, Ñirehuao and others have salmon at different times during the season. Although Road Trips are usually in pursuit of trout and Patagonia scenery, there is the option to extend the experience with fishing for salmon, even if just briefly.

We can also take you to fish for kings in the Rio Vodudahue south of Hornopiren, a river that has been getting a lot of attention of late. It can take a day to get there and another day back by road and boat, but we would fly there by helicopter and camp. Splitting the cost among 4 fishermen and getting 2 days of fishing for the round trip, this could be an interesting option when conditions are good in the Vodudahue. If a chopper ride is not in the budget don't worry; fishermen that have fished them both, always return to the Petrohue.

Chinook salmon fishing in Chile on the Rio Puelo.

Everyone has their favorite, and we have seen a large variety of flies eaten by black mouths, but you'd better be prepared when you fish a guitar minnow in the zone. This fly was introduced to us by our frequent fisher friends from Maine who tie it for striped bass. It looks like a bait fish but we've caught jurel in salt water that took it for a squid, and big browns pounce on it, too, maybe taking it for a salmon fry.

King salmon fishing in Patagonia Chile on the Rio Petrohue.

King salmon up to 72 pounds have been caught spin fishing in Chile (33 kg), but it's more common to catch fish from 26 to 40 pounds (12 to 18 kg). We've had days averaging a hook-up every hour. We find salmon starting as early as November, and they will continue to enter the rivers from then until a peak in March. The best months to come for dedicated salmon fishing would be February and March. To combine primarily trout fishing with a shot at salmon one could come any month from November through April.

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