Yellow Dog in the Field: Argentina – Patagonia River Guides South – John Hudgens (Part II)
From Martin Pescador, Yellow Dog client Jerry Hall and I made our way from Martin Pescador to the Chilean border and entered Argentina on March 8th. The border crossing we used is located along the Rio Futalafue in Chile, a famed whitewater river on the Chile side. Moving upstream and heading east into Argentina, the Futalufue is then called the Rio Grande at the border, and becomes increasingly fertile, holding more insects and a solid trout population. These are the home waters of Patagonia River Guides South, located just outside the small Welsh town of Trevelin.
Jerry and I were meeting with an additional 10 anglers who were heading south for the Yellow Dog Hosted week with Patagonia River Guides South. Bruce Mackay, Brant Smith, Gary, Michael, Chris Cortina, Dennis Munson, Jim Hoesely, Bruce Turner and Chip Grundy were scheduled to arrive that afternoon into Esquel on a flight from Buenos Aires. Though Jerry and I arrived worn out from our recent week of fishing in Chile with full intentions for a siesta, we couldn’t help but sit down for a few cold liters of Schneider with our hosts, Rance Rathie and Travis Smith the owners of Patagonia River Guides. Travis and Rance are my longtime friends, dating back from our early years as fishing guides in Montana, Idaho and Patagonia.
As the rest of the crew arrived, the lodge erupted with handshakes, smiles, and laughs. Rance welcomed everyone with a drink, showing them to their rooms while giving a quick rundown on the PRG fishing program for the week ahead. Everyone was fired up and excited to be in Patagonia, and we sat around PRG’s new whiskey bar and pool table late into the evening, sharing fishing stories.
On the first morning, Rance, Travis and I met in the kitchen to discuss the current fishing conditions over mate, the traditional bitter tea of South America, typically sipped through a straw from a gourd and shared with friends. After breakfast everyone made their way to the wader room to find their name hanging from an individual closet or cubby, each of which was stocked with a pair Simms Waders, Simms wading boots, Simms dry bag, Winston Rods and Hatch Reels, sized correctly for each angler. PRG provides all the finest tackle and equipment for their clients, making the trip incredibly simple to pack for and easy travel. The guides were lined up alongside their 4×4 pickups, all immaculately organized. It was great to see the finest guide staff in the Chubut region, a team that has been together from the beginning for more than 12 years.
The rivers and lakes fished well enough throughout the week, despite the strong winds and changing pressure systems. The guides worked hard to make it happen, and everyone experienced some incredible fishing days. In the end, there were four fish landed measuring over 25 inches, including a 10-pound brook trout caught by angler Chris Allick. Some of the best fishing took place on the spring creeks and wade-able freestone rivers, which offered incredible sight fishing and high number days on large attractors. Fish that exceeded 20 inches were landed daily.
I’ve been fortunate to travel all over Patagonia, and for that matter, all around the world with Yellow Dog, becoming familiar with various destinations. I can honestly say that there are few lodges and guide services out there that match the quality of Patagonia River Guides South. The food, accommodations, diversity of waters, equipment, and level of service of the guide staff just can’t get any better. Yellow Dog has hosted numerous trips to Patagonia River Guides South in the past, and we are already looking forward to our return in 2015!