Yellow Dog In The Field: Chile - Martin Pescador Lodge – John Hudgens
The trip began the way most things do in South America: with coffee. Our group met at a cafe at the Santiago Airport the morning of February 28th while we awaited our flight to Puerto Montt, Chile, located to the south. Robert and Michael Kovich, Keith English, Brett Cravett, Jerry Hall, Doug Worden, Tony Fuller and I were on our way to Martin Pescador Lodge
to fish trout-filled waters near Puerto Cardanas and La Junta, places that I know well from my days as a guide here throughout my 20s.
Puerto Montt is a working town set along the Pacific Coast and surrounded by mountains and fjords. The town serves as a major hub for the surrounding communities and is where most anglers, kayakers and rafters arrive to stag for the next leg of the trip to head further south. From Puerto Montt, we took a short ride to the nearby town of Puerto Varas to stay the night, a community situated adjacent to the entrance of the Lakes District National Park. The streets are busy, offering nice shops, restaurants and coffee joints.
After a dinner of mariscos (that is, seafood. . . Chile’s is nothing short of incredible), we found our way to the blackjack tables of a casino in the town center. The Yellow Dog boys were up most of the night, so much so that a large crowd formed around the table and dealers were switched out regularly. I tried my best to persuade everyone to cash in and move along to the next bar, but as usual, these things seem to always play out ‘til there’s not a chip left on the table. We made our way over to a great little bar and immediately made friends, drinking wine and Kuntsman’s, a locally-brewed beer made by a German family that settled in the region.
Early the next morning, we boarded a commuter flight and headed 30 minutes south, down the coast and running parallel to the Andes. The mountains are wickedly steep, rugged with glacial peaks, and the temperate rainforest is nearly impenetrable due to the thick bamboo undergrowth. Luckily we had just enough sun breaking through the clouds to see that morning, and the group got a feel for the wild country we were heading into.
As the plane came to a stop on the dirt runway, I saw the fishing guides chatting up a few ladies that appeared to be leaving on the next plane out…a universally sad moment for any guide stationed in the fishing outposts of the planet, from Mongolia to Alaska. Frans Jansen, the owner of Martin Pescador, greeted everyone as they disembarked and we were soon on our way to the Puerto Cardanas Lodge on the banks of the Rio Yelcho. After a hearty lunch, we fished the entire afternoon, a real treat as most lodges don’t fish their anglers on the arrival day.
We spent the next three nights at the Puerto Cardanas lodge and fished the waters of Rio Yelcho, Lago Yelcho, and Rio Futalafue. Everything fished well on both dries and streamers, and Lago Yelcho produced some incredible sight fishing. The weather was clear, but wind crept in during the afternoons. The fish in the lake were schooled up chasing small eels and crashing them on the surface, a very unquie and foreign thing to see trout do. The river fished best in the riffles and drop-offs using a big chubby and dropper, and the streamer bite was steady.
Three days later we moved further south to Martin Pescador’s La Junta Lodge on the banks of the Rio Rosselot. I was reminded why the Rio Rosselot is one of my favorite rivers in all of South America, as the golden stone hatch was going strong, and everyone had a high volume day fishing large single dries. The group also had good fishing on the Rio Palena, Rio Figuraua, and Lago Rosselot. Overall everything fished well, and the weather became cooler and overcast through the week.