Ron and Vanessa Sorensen’s Chocolate Lab Expeditions, based in San Martin de los Andes, offers anglers a combination of exceptional fishing, classic Argentine estancia accommodations, private access, and the authentic culture and hospitality of Patagonia. This area is famous within trout fishing circles as home to such legendary rivers as the Traful, Collon Cura, Chimehuin, Malleo, and several others. The estancias (ranches) that hold private access rights to many of these hallowed waters are the very ones that Chocolate Lab Expeditions has partnered with to offer the best lodging and fishing packages available in the region. Guests stay in comfort at a variety of estancias located throughout the region and enjoy colorful local meals and the best Argentine wines. Camping trips are offered as well, and Chocolate Lab has more than 10 years of experience hosting guests in Patagonian camps. Every trip with Chocolate Lab is 100% customized, meaning that your itinerary will be totally based around your fishing desires, expectations and budget.
LOCATION: San Martin De Los Andes, Argentina
SEASON: Late November through mid-April
CAPACITY: Groups of all sizes can be accommodated
CLOSEST MAJOR AIR HUB: Buenos Aires, Argentina (Ezeiza Ministro Pistarini International Airport/EZE and Jorge Newbery Domestic Airport/AEP)
TARGET SPECIES: Wild rainbows, browns and brook trout
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Valid passport. No visa required for citizens of most countries.
CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO 888-777-5060 INTL 01-1-406-585-8667 info [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com
With these totally customized itineraries, guests have access to a number of the area’s famous estancias (ranches). These classic estancias perfectly balance the comforts of Argentine hospitality, history and culture while offering access to some of the best waters in the region. Many of these estancias are steeped in fly fishing tradition, discovered and made famous by some of the most notable anglers in the world. With the addition of first-class accommodations and gourmet food, this region has quickly become recognized as an ideal destination for breathtaking scenery, heartwarming culture, and fantastic fly fishing. Ron Sorensen and Chocolate Lab expeditions have spent the last decade building relationships with the finest estancias and prospecting the region’s best fisheries.
Estancia Arroyo Verde (Green Creek Lodge)
This stunning estancia sits on the upper section of the Traful River, surrounded by expansive lawns, flowers and pine trees. Arroyo Verde is a first-class lodge of international repute that can accommodate up to ten people.
Estancia Tres Lagos (Three Lakes Lodge)
Private access to the Filo Hua Hum and the area’s surrounding lakes. The estancia itself is a beautiful ranch surrounded by national parklands and breathtaking scenery.
One of the nicest estancias in the area, this operation is very popular for couples and non-anglers as well as focused fishermen.
Estancia Collon Cura
Ted Turner's estancia offers clients access to four different day floats on the Collon Cura. Good food and accommodations along with amazing wildlife, including red stag and Russian boar.
Estancia San Huberto
The Olsen family are the owners and operators of San Huberto, a legendary operation that offers private access to 30 miles of the Malleo River.
Quillen River Lodge
This lodge provides accommodations overlooking the Quillen Valley and loads of private-water fishing. This is a 45,000-acre ranch with exclusive access to over eight miles of the Quillen and the Malalco Rivers.
Food and Beverages
Where you eat while fishing with Chocolate Lab Expeditions will depend on where you are staying. Options include everything from the classic Argentine estancias to small, boutique restaurants in heart of San Martin de los Andes. All of the area's estancias pride themselves on offering gourmet food and the finest Argentine wines. In fact, the only aspect of these trips that can usually match the quality of fishing is the quality of meals! If you are staying in the towns of San Martin or Piedra de Aguila, then you will typically eat at one of the local restaurants, which of course will specialize in great steaks and great wine.
Typical Length of Stay
All packages are completely customized, and trips of any length can be arranged
Non-Angling Activities and Options
Patagonia has much to offer the non-angler, and there is a great deal more to explore than just trout streams. Some of the many activities include flora and fauna tours, horseback riding, hiking, and scenic raft trips, as well as golf in the San Martin area at a Nicklaus golf course. More relaxing pursuits include as wine-tasting, bird-watching, local shopping in San Martin, massage, cultural tours, and photography safaris.
Internet / Communications
Wi-Fi is available free of charge at most estancias and at all San Martin area hotels. Please bring your own laptop or PDA to access the internet. Depending on your service plan, some cell phones may also work in this part of Argentina.
The cornerstone of Chocolate Lab’s operation is the fact that they can access an amazing variety of world class estancias and over 200 miles of private access waters. Large browns and rainbows dominate the area rivers, streams, and lakes, and steady hatches of mayflies, caddis, and various stoneflies play a role all throughout the Patagonian fishing season. From the crystal-clear, slow-moving waters of the Upper Malleo to the large, narrow currents of the Traful, this region of Patagonia offers unmatched diversity for the angler. Whether your interest lies in fishing small waters with attractors or sight-fishing to large, trophy trout, anglers have a number of options to choose from. Each of the estancias that Chocolate Lab Expeditions fishes employs the English “beat” system of sectioning a river to ensure solitude on the water and an overall first class experience. With a maximum of 10 rods at any of these exclusive estancias, the water is rotated and fish are rested on a regular basis.
The Traful River (Estancia Arroyo Verde)
There are over 10 miles of private access on the world renowned Traful River, a fairly difficult river, but well worth the effort for the angler pursuing the fish of a lifetime. Narrow and clear, the Traful is big fish water with many browns and rainbows in the 25 to 30-inch class. With such incredible water clarity, the river is most often fished using New Zealand style sight-casting techniques.
The Filo Hua Hum River (Estancia Tres Lagos)
There are another 10 miles of private access on the Filo Hua Hum, a small freestone stream that offers excellent opportunities for both beginning and experienced anglers. A short river located between two lakes, the Filo offers very consistent action for rainbows and browns. Experienced anglers can enjoy sight-fishing for trout in the 20 to 27-inch range with mouse patterns and other large dries.
The Chimehuin River (Estancia Tipiluike)
A large freestone river similar in many ways to Montana’s Madison River. It is a perfect fishery for float fishing, sight-fishing, and prospecting with streamers, nymphs, and large attractor dry flies. This river fishes the best from late December into early February, and late March into April.
Collon Cura River (Estancia Collon Cura)
Perhaps the most prolific trout fishery in all of Patagonia and a must-fish river for anglers visiting the area. The water is similar in appearance to Wyoming’s Snake River, but lined with willows and high sandstone cliffs. The river is fairly large, with a mild gradient and broad gravel riffles that make for easy wading. Collon Cura trout are exceptional fighters, with fish averaging in the 14 to 20-inch range. During the Argentine autumn, fall browns can run up to 28 inches.
Malleo River (Estancia San Huberto)
Located in the northern portion of the San Martin fishing area, the Malleo is a very consistent fishery with solid, hard fighting fish. The river is well known throughout the region for spectacular caddis and mayfly hatches, making this lodge a haven for dry fly enthusiast.
Quillen River (The Quillen Lodge)
A mid-size spring-fed stream that has been called “the best dry fly stream in the Northern fishing zone” of Patagonia. Riffles, weed flats, and deep pools provide a variety of fishable water for the angler. The Malalco, a tributary to the Quillen with prolific hatches and large trout, is another incredible spring creek on the estancia.
Boats and Equipment
For float trips, Chocolate Lab Expeditions utilizes a small fleet of top-of-the-line RO Skiffs - the same hard-sided, fiberglass skiffs used on numerous rivers throughout the U.S. This operation also carries plenty of back-up rods, reels, lines, waders, boots, etc. available for rent if you choose to travel light. As far as transportation goes, the rivers and estancias are accessed with 4x4 vehicles - a mix of Isuzu Troopers and Toyota Land Cruisers (roomy and comfortable).
How To Get There
Getting to Patagonia is not difficult. Take an easy overnight flight to Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) from one of several major cities in the U.S. and awake in Argentina. Chocolate Lab Expeditions is based out of San Martin de los Andes, which makes access fairly direct and easy. Guests can either fly directly in to San Martin, or into the larger airport in nearby Bariloche. You will be met upon arrival at either airport and transferred to where you will be staying to begin your trip.
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
A two-hour flight from Buenos Aires brings you to San Martin de los Andes, home to the most famous fishing estancias in Patagonia. Your guides will meet you at the airport and transport you to the best waters in the region. Due to the flexibility of the Chocolate Lab Expeditions program, you can arrive and depart on any day of the week. That said, it is important to try and book your flights on the days of the week when the airlines fly in and out of San Martin.
Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and other Western European nations do not need a visa for tourist trips of up to ninety days. You will need a valid passport and will have to fill in a landing card on arrival and you will be given a stamp for stays of thirty, sixty or ninety days. Staple your duplicate of the landing card into your passport, next to your entrance stamp, as you'll need it to leave the country. If you do lose it, it's rarely a serious problem, but you'll have to fill in a new form at the border control. On entering the country, you will also be given a customs declaration form. Duty is not charged on used personal effects, books, and other articles for non-commercial purposes, up to the value of $300. Make sure you declare any valuable electronic items such as laptop computers, as customs officers can be suspicious that you may be bringing them into the country to sell.
Yellow Dog offers a full in-house travel and reservations system, and can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers, and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact us at 888-777-5060 or travel [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurance.
Remember that Yellow Dog's services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices listed below are per person, based on double occupancy, and quoted in US dollars. Trips of any length can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.
Private Estancia Package*
7 Nights / 7 Fishing Days = $4,885.00 to $5,520.00
*Transfer to airport on Day 8
Private Waters / Public Access Combo Package
3 Nights Estancia Lodging / 4 Nights San Martin Lodging = $3,625.00
Public Access Package
6 Nights Town Lodging / 1 Night River Camping = $2,800.00
Day Trip Rates**
1 or 2 anglers/guide/boat = $650.00 /day
**All CLE Day Trips embark from the town of San Martin.
- The number of nights lodging specified in your package
- All daily guided fishing
- Three meals per day (except in San Martin de los Andes, where dinners are not included)
- Daily transportation to and from the river
- All river beverages
- A meet-and-greet upon arrival in either Bariloche or San Martin de los Andes
- Estancia packages include access to private waters
- Open bar tab and all alcoholic beverages with all estancia packages
What's Not Included
- Airfare to Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Airfare to either San Martin de los Andes or to Bariloche
- Transfers, meals, hotel costs and incidentals in Buenos Aires
- Alcohol at some locations (Estancias offer a full bar, all-inclusive)
- Dinner is not included for nights spent in San Martin
- Gratuities for guides and staff
"I just wanted to tell you -- and I can speak for the entire group -- that we all had the trip of a lifetime. Everything, from accommodations, transfers, meals, drift boats and of course the guides, was top notch. Ron, Diego and Eduardo all did a fantastic job. I’m already planning another trip to Argentina!"
- Doug H.
"Thank you so much for one of the best trips I’ve ever been apart of. Everyone was more than pleased. I promise this won’t be my last."
- Steve S. (Salt Lake City, UT)
"Now back in London after the most fantastic fishing trip ever - and I mean better even than New Zealand. Amazing rivers and scenery, gorgeous food, wonderful places to stay - and trout everywhere! I've seen 55 countries and counting, and I have rarely been so knocked-out by a destination. Patagonia is perfection, and Ron is the best guide to show it at its peak.'
- Andy A. (London, England)
"Thank you for all of your efforts in making my trip to Argentina so wonderful. It was a marvelous experience filled with great memories that I’ll cherish. Argentina to me will always be a rare combination of great fishing, good times, great cuisine, beautiful scenery, gracious hosts, and above all, good company. The selection of the estancias gave me a great sampling of the waters available and made for an engaging week of fly fishing."
- Dennis T.
"I wanted to write everyone at Yellow Dog a quick note and thank you for your guidance and for putting together such an extraordinary trip. I had pretty high expectations going in (given the distance traveled) but Ron and his team Chocolate Lab as well as the fish far exceeded all of my expectations. The entire team at CLE are professionals in every way and their dedication to their profession comes through loud and clear. The trip had a lot of moving parts and several venues, but everything went off without a hitch. I fished with both Ron and Diego and found them to both be incredibly skilled putting me on a lot of fish in both good and very difficult conditions. They were also great teachers, great hosts, and a lot of fun to be around. I did not have a chance to fish with Shaggy but understand he is quite accomplished as well. Again, thank you for leading me to CLE and for putting a terrific agenda together. If you ever need a reference for CLE or Patagonia for any of your clients who are on the fence making the journey, please don’t hesitate to call on me."
- Darrell H.
"We had an excellent time and enjoyed each day on the river. The CLE team, from our guides to the cooks and shuttle drivers, were all fantastic and we felt like we left with new friends in Argentina. The fishing was excellent with no shortage of opportunity to quality fish both in number and size. Every cast was a potential big fish. The guiding team was extremely attentive and clearly enjoyed sharing the river, their knowledge, and the experience of the day with us."
-Clay L. (Boise, ID)