Fly Fishing in Patagonia Chile

It's well known that Chile has some of the best rivers in the world for trout fishing. The brown and rainbow trout introduced early in the twentieth century are now naturalized in virtually every one of the thousands of streams flowing west from the Andes from north of Santiago right down to the tip of Cape Horn. The southern half of the country has over 1,200 miles of the Andes range where rainfall is abundant and fisheries plentiful. Large trout, and decent numbers of trout, are possible on guided fishing trips in the Regions of Los Rios, Los Lagos, Aysen, and Magallanes, but there are differences in geography, climate, ecosystems, and, hence, fly fishing techniques in each.

With the cataraft drift boat beached on the gravel bar, Rick holds for the camera a nice atlantic salmon that he caught on a fly while fishing the home pool on the Petrohue river with guide John Joy.

Lakes Region Fishing

The Regions of Los Rios (The Rivers) and Los Lagos (The Lakes), until recently all one region of The Lakes, is characterized by a series of natural glacier-carved lakes at the base of the Andes range. Streams entering the lakes from the mountains as well as the clear flowing rivers exiting the lakes are ideal for fly fishing with their healthy populations of wild resident trout and seasonal runs of salmon. These rivers run far from roads, and fishing pressure is low since access is limited to a few public bridges or negotiated permission over private property.

In general, they flow at the bottom of deep winding ravines with steep banks covered with dense temperate rainforest. In contrast to pampa fishing, here you float at a good pace with structure providing challenging and entertaining fishing among deadfalls, rapids, runs, pools, rock walls and undercut banks. Too deep to wade, too brushy or too steep to walk, the only practical way to fish these rivers is by guided float trip.

Rivers Enco, San Pedro, Calcurrupe, Bueno, Pilmaiquen, Rahue, Maullin, Petrohue, and Puelo are a few of the major streams where an angler has a chance for a trophy trout on each outing.Fly Fishing the Lakes Region will give you more information about these fisheries and the advantages of experiencing this area of Chile.

Trucha con muchas pecas rojas y guata bronze
An angler holds an incredibly beautiful copper colored brown trout with an amazing number of red spots that he caught in a secret stream in northern Chilean Patagonia while heli-fishing.

Patagonia Fishing Road Trip

South of the Rio Petrohue the Andes rise up right from the ocean, the central valley disappears under water, and the peaks of the coastal range become an archipelago. This landscape of fiords and steep granite mountains has impeded land travel southward. With limited infrastructure, virtually no agricultural land, scant pasture, and no industry, the southern Lakes Region is sparsely populated. Fortunately for tourists and anglers, it's now connected to the rest of Chile by the recently paved southern highway, albeit by ferries in some stretches. Below the magnificent mountain ranges all around there are important fisheries in the valleys including rivers Futaleufu, Yelcho, Palena, Rosselot, Figueroa, Quinto, Pico and many others. The Rio Figueroa watershed is actually just south of the Lakes Region border with Aysen, but the fishing and scenery is more similar to the Lakes than Aysen.

South of the next natural barrier at Queulat N.P. is considered central Patagonia. The important watersheds in this area include the Cisnes, Manihuales, Nirehuao, Simpson, Paloma, Heinimeni, Baker and Cochrane, to name a few. And there are many unnamed smaller streams, oxbows and spring creeks. If you like the idea of flexible nomadic fishing look here for more information on Patagonia fisheries and how the road trips work. We'd be happy to customize one for you.

The guide stands by as a deliriously happy fisherman can barely lift a heavy king salmon that he caught on a fly while fishing the Petrohue River in Chile.

Chinook Salmon Fishing

Chinook salmon are present in virtually every river down the coast of Chile from Tolten to the Cape. Their arrival varies with each watershed but, in general, there's a November run, and a February run, although you can find them at other times. Runs in Chile number in the hundreds, perhaps thousands, but nowhere near the hundreds of thousands or more in the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand we don't have combat fishing, legal netting, or flotillas of boats trolling the mouths of the rivers.

While a licensed fisher is permitted to keep one salmon per day in most fisheries, salmon fishing in Chile seems mostly motivated by the sport rather than the meat. Certainly for the Spey casters the tug is the drug. And it's quite a tug when you have a 40 lb chromer running down a stiff current. If single-handed fly fishing, you can expect a 70-90 minute battle, maybe a quarter of that with spinning gear.

Rivers that have an early run include the Toltén, Yelcho, Palena, and Manihuales. Most of these will also have a second run around February. The bulk of the spawning occurs in April and May. Runs starting in mid-February occur on the rivers Petrohue, Puelo, Yelcho, Palena, Aysen and others. In rivers further south such as Serrano, Baker and Exploradores king salmon can be found a month earlier.

Fishing guide Edgar S. rows against the current of Rio Yelcho as his sport fights a rainbow trout, all with shear rock face peaks of mountains in Corcovado National Park in the background.
Howard lifts a magnificent brown trout before the fishing guide's camera after catching this surprise on the Rio Pico in water you wouldn't expect to find a trout like this 24 incher.