Fly Fishing in Patagonia

Los Alerces National Park is one of Argentina’s most scenic mountain parks. Founded in 1937, this park borders the Republic of Chile and covers an extension of 263.000 hectares in the Western region of the Province of Chubut. A large part of its territory, which includes the Rivadavia and Kruger Lakes, as well as Torrecillas glacier, the Cisne waterfalls and the Alerzal, has been declared an intangible area. The Alerzal is a forest packed with Alerces, a slow growing tree which in this region can reach 60 meters in height and live to be 3000 years old.

Los Alerces is home to a complex lake system, where many rivers and streams flow in and out. The lakes in this area are surrounded by thick woods of Coihue, Cypress and Lenga. In the Western section of the park, the persistent rain feeds the formation of the only Valdivian forest in all of Patagonia. Another element unique to this territory, are the populations of endangered species such as the Huemul and the Pudu, indigenous deer of the Southern Andes.

For those fly fishermen who choose to journey into this exclusive corner of Argentina, their adventure begins in Cholila. This is where the snow from the Dos Picos mountain melts to form the Tigre river. The runoff then descends the Andean hills to fill lake Cholila, which in turn gives birth to the Carrileufu river and later pours into Rivadavia lake.

The river which bears the same name continues South until it reaches lake Verde, which after a short journey arrives at Futalufquen lake by way of the Arrayanes river. The Futalaufquen then spawns the Frey river, which kindly deposits its waters into the Amutui Quimei lake, where the Rio Grande begins. Our journey finishes about 100 kilometers South, where the waters from the Corcovado flow towards the Pacific. Rio Rivadavia

The most beautiful river I have ever seen in my life! The river is located in the heart of Los Alerces National Park. Truly jewel of Argentinean Patagonia. The Rivadavia is born approximately 30 kilometers south of the town of Cholila and after its crystal clear waters flow through a never ending sequence of pools and riffles, it drains into lake Verde. Although this river runs inside the los Alerces National Park, the riverside vegetation complicates its access. The best way to fish the Rivadavia is by floating it and often disembarking to take advantage of its best sections.

The Rivadavia is a fly fishing only, catch & release stream. It holds mostly rainbows, but realy beautiful population of browns are also present. The river is large and powerful but quiet short, only seven kilometers. So, the whole river can be fished in one day, but a long, hard day. Both banks of the river are wooded, but the trails are easy to follow. Considerable walking is required because much of the river is too deep to wade, and you must often come ashore to get around the many deadfalls that line the stream. Good runs and riffles are widely separated. Your best fishing positions will be on long gravel bars that lie upstream from deep pools, but be careful – the pools are well over your head!

Lots of caddis flies flutter along the river and fish do rise for the adults. If you cast precisely, you’ll have attractive dry fly action, indeed. Browns and rainbows in the Rivadavia are completely wild, strong and they are great fighters.

The river’s transparent waters allow for sight fishing, which means you can appreciate what the trout are eating before casting your fly. During the months of January and February the flyfisherman will notice that as he wades through the river, he will kick up nymphs from the bottom. The same nymphs will be consumed downstream by the mid-sized rainbows which are the predominant species in the Rivadavia.

An interesting fact to keep in mind when choosing your rod, is its length. The fact that most of the river forces you to roll and switch cast means that your 4 wt to 6 wt rod, should not be less than 9 feet long. In addition, your leader for dry fly fishing should be no less than 4 meters long with a 5x to 7x attached to it.

This river allows for the use of all three kinds of flies; I recommend the following, depending on river conditions: dries, # 8 -16 (Adams, CDC paterns, Terrestrials ); nymphs, #10-14: Prince, Bead Head Pheasant tail, Dutch nymphs, Czech nymphs; streamers, mostly Wooly Buggers & marabou paterns (see pictures). There is very important keeping in mind that shorter leaders (up to 6 feet long) are much better for streamering in a fast currents of Rivadavia river. In my opinion, the best fly lines were Rio Density Compensated , DC 150 & DC 200, with 24feet sinking tip, with sink rate quiet enough to match your needs on this magnificent river.

Scenery around Rivadavia river is just impressive; simply magnificent. Fishing is outstanding. Accomodations are attractive, rustic as well as comfortable. And not so expensive! People and guides are very honest and friendly. As you can see, there are many reasons why I strongly recommend this river.

Dr. Alexandar Ivanovic

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