Sight Fishing in Northern Patagonia
Co-Founders Corinne and Garrison Doctor fish Ambassador Santi Dall'Acqua's Home Water
We first met Santi Dall’Acqua at Sécure Lodge in Bolivia in 2018 where he was our guide for Golden Dorado. Since those first days together, we have been talking about fishing his home water in the Neuquén Province, in Northern Patagonia in Argentina. He had told us about walk-wading along spring creeks spotting fish to show your fly to and floating larger rivers looking for rising trout. As trout fanatics, this sounded pretty idyllic and would only be made better by his epic homemade shore lunches with a steady flow of Malbec wine or local beer and being able to celebrate a second summer instead of the chilly winter up north. Sure, we live in trout country here in the Rocky Mountains, but there is something special and unique about fishing new water in one of your favorite countries with good friends especially while snow flies back home.
For our first day on the water after a long 28 hours of plane and car travel we headed to an idyllic spring creek where the water stayed cool even in the heat of summer and we expected that the fish would be looking up. The water was crystal clear and we were able to spot fish from the dusty bluffs above for the angler below. Garrison managed to land a few beauties while I broke off the one nice rainbow I hooked in the afternoon. Santi was sure we would have a chance at redemption later that week on the same stretch, and after seeing so many fish sitting happily in riffles and pockets, I set my sights on a chance to land one later on during the trip.
The next morning on a larger river in the area was made up of mostly smaller fish when the water was a bit cooler while the smarter, bigger fish hunkered down waiting for the temperatures to come up a bit. Shortly after lunch and the obligatory shore nap roasting in the sun, we started spotting risers in every seam. We threw every type of dry fly at them from technical CDC mayflies to giant foamy beetles. The fish came up aggressively to almost every cast that was properly placed. We finished out the day by trading off 2 fish each in a single run and happily headed towards the truck and a cold beer.
Spring creek redemption day came just a few days later. All three of us positioned ourselves up on a high hill with a perfect view of 3 nice-sized trout happily feeding and none-the-wiser to our presence. While the wrens chatted behind us, we got Garrison set up for the first shots. After a few refusals from the three and a necessary fly change he hooked and landed a beautiful brown out of the group. The other two fish that had been in the same feeding lane weren’t bothered at all by the action so I stepped into the water. After just a few casts I watched as a head confidently broke the surface and took my fly. This rainbow was easily the best fish I had ever landed on a 4 weight. Vengeance was already mine. A few pools later I was up to bat again. We saw a riser under a bush and after one cast that didn't get an eat, the boys spotted a really nice brown happily settled in front of a rock. The first cast was just short. The second was just out of his feeding lane. The third cast put the PMX right in the zone and he took it almost immediately. After a few quick photos I released the brown and he slipped back into the cool water.
Our Patagonia adventure continued with float trips and a return trip to the famed Jurassic Lake. Stay tuned for more stories from Argentine Summer.
To follow any of us on Instagram:
Corinne Doctor @csd817
Garrison Doctor @garrisondoctor
Santi Dall’Acqua @santidall
My friend, Eric Huffnagel (sp.?) Used to guide down there. Do you know him?
Thanks for the two entertaining (wish we were there) posting about your trip to Argentina. Sight fishing on the spring creek was almost breath-taking even for those living vicariously through your blog-Bruce
P.S. Those shore lunches of grass-fed steak and Malbec aren’t bad either.