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The Backstage Pass

The Large Brown Trout of Patagonia and Where to Find Them

May 03, 23

There’s no question that Patagonia is one of the premier freshwater fly fishing destinations in the world – a productive, one-of-a-kind region in South America that is home to dozens of world-class lodges, experienced and professional guides, and more rivers, streams, and lakes than can possibly be fished in a lifetime.

And in many of these rivers swim some VERY large brown trout. With over two decades of experience exploring Patagonia, our knowledge of the fisheries is intimate. From float fishing trips to walk-and-wade waters to sea-run brown trout, if big brown trout are desired, then Yellow Dog can help find them.

This list includes locations in Chile and Argentina. Both of these countries offer unique opportunities for trophy brown trout. Choosing between the two can be difficult—this blog post will help. Now….onto the big trout. Editor’s Note: For the massive sea-run brown trout of Tierra del Fuego, visit our dedicated post: TIERRA DEL FUEGO: FLY FISHING & LODGING OPTIONS. 

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Patagonia, Chile Trophy Brown Trout Options

“Chile,” wrote Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda, is a country that was “invented by a poet.” Situated south of Peru and west of Bolivia and Argentina, Chile extends for more than 2,880 miles in a serpentine ribbon stretching along the western coast of South America.

Here at Yellow Dog, we love the lodges, guides, and outfitters in Chile, and we consider the operations that we work with to be among the very best in the entire world of freshwater fishing. For Patagonia’s big brown trout, especially on big dry flies, choosing any lodge in Chile is a good decision.

Martin Pescador
With a plethora of waters to fish, anglers here enjoy the owner's years of experience. The lodge employs professional, well-trained and experienced American guides and utilizes first-class fishing equipment and boats to access the variety of different waters throughout the region. The primary target species are rainbow and brown trout and depending on the time of season occasionally salmon and sea-run brown trout.

Patagonia Basecamp
With one of the hardest working guide crews in all of Patagonia, the big fish here are found regularly. Being blessed with innumerable rivers, creeks, lakes, and lagoons, the fishing options are almost unlimited. The trout all throughout this area – both browns and rainbows – are not stocked, having found their own natural balance in both numbers and sizes. There are lots of strong, wild fish in the 12 to 20-inch range and fish over 20 inches are often caught daily and fish over 23 inches are caught weekly.

Cinco Rios Lodge / Estancia del Zorro
Several of the lodge’s private rivers and streams are fished exclusively by Cinco Rios guides and clients and are home to some very big brown trout in Patagonia. The Lodge also fishes the area’s best public waters, including the Rio La Paloma, the upper, middle, and lower sections of the Rio Simpson, the Mañihuales and Aysen Rivers, and the lagos and bocas of the Azul, Desierto, Elizalde, Frio, Castor, and Pollux. Some of the excellent small, freestone streams in the area include the Megote, Guillermo, De Leon, and a handful of unnamed streams. Big brown trout lurk on the Estancia’s two private rivers and on a 15-mile spring creek that holds Patagonia brown trout up to an astonishing 10 pounds. All of these waters are totally private and within the Estancia’s boundaries. If you love small-water, spring creek fishing, then you will love the Estancia’s fishing program. 

Magic Waters Lodge
Offering one of the most diverse fly fishing programs in Patagonia for an abundance of large brown trout. With several private lakes, spring creeks, small creeks, big rivers and horseback trips to fish remote waters, there’s truly something for every type of angler. Magic Waters fishes some of the most famous rivers in the greater Coyhaique area such as the Simpson, Paloma, Azul, Huemules, Mogote, along with numerous private access smaller unnamed creeks and spring creeks.

Estancia de los Rios
The fishing program here focuses on wading and floating the 60 miles of rivers, spring creeks, and numerous lakes spread across the private ranch’s 360,000 acres for large, wild, Patagonian brown trout. Because the ranch limits its capacity to 12 anglers per week, there is limited pressure and anglers can fish miles of this diverse fishery without seeing a soul…perfect ingredients for producing plenty of grip-and-grins with large brown trout.


Patagonia, Argentina Trophy Brown Trout Options

In fishing circles, Argentine Patagonia is often referred to as the “Montana of 75 years ago” due to the similar topography, an abundance of productive trout water, and fishing pressure that is considered extremely light by modern standards. The country is noted for its rich culture, friendly people, an abundance of excellent food (the finest steak in the world), amazing Malbec wines, and a variety of freshwater fish that are wild, strong, and fast.

Chocolate Lab Expeditions
The cornerstone of Chocolate Lab’s operation is the amazing variety of estancias, and over 200 miles of private access waters throughout northern Patagonia. Brown trout in the 15-20+ inch class dominate the area rivers, streams, and lakes; and steady hatches of mayflies, caddis, and various stoneflies play a role throughout the entire season. The waters around the San Martin area are famous among trout anglers and include legendary rivers like the Traful, Collon Cura, Limay, Filo Hua Hum, Chimehuin, Malleo.

Patagonia River Guides North
For pursuing big brown trout, these custom trips are unique because every fishing day features a different river, spring creek, or lake; even if the same river is fished for a couple of days, there probably won’t be a repeat the same stretch. PRG North utilizes both private and public waters. Some waters are floated, some are waded, and some offer a combination of the two depending on conditions and angler desire but all offer the shot at some seriously big brown trout on the fly.

Patagonia River Guides South
Patagonia River Guides utilize both private and public waters and they have miles of streams and access points under lease for the exclusive enjoyment of their guests. Some waters are floated, some are waded, and some a combination of the two depending on conditions and desires. Most Argentine brown trout here are in the 16 to 23-inch range, with many exceeding 23 inches. Trout species, size, and numbers always vary depending on the watershed fished. Some waters produce numbers, some produce size, and some produce both! Want to learn more? Check out this WAYPOINTS podcast with Travis and Rance, owners of PRG, about the ins and outs of fly fishing throughout Patagonia.

Las Pampas
Big fish are found here and found here often. Las Pampas Lodge provides access to reed-lined trophy stillwaters, freestone rivers and spring creeks that can be floated, waded, or both. Trout range from 16 to 22 inches or larger. Species, size, and quantities vary greatly depending on conditions and waters fished. The core focus of the Las Pampas Lodge fishing program is for anglers to experience a different piece of water every day in the most productive waters of both private and public fishing areas. The fishing day begins shortly after breakfast each day, with a 1:1 guide to guest ratio to ensure the best-personalized guiding. Casting dry flies is the preferred technique, but dry / dropper rigs, nymphs, and streamers are also used in certain conditions.

With a litany of excellent fishing options provided by experienced and reputable lodges, guides, and outfitters throughout the various regions of each country, Chile and Argentina are both great choices for those looking to hunt for trophy-sized Patagonia big brown trout.

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