During the course of a trip with Chile West, anglers fish a variety of rivers and the Rio Palena or Palena River is just one of the many.
Flowing out from the east end of Argentina’s Vinter Lake, the Corcovado River makes a huge 180 degree turn northwest and crosses the border into Chile where the river changes its name to the Palena River. From the Argentine border, the Palena river meanders its way west some 120 miles before it reaches the Pacific Ocean.
Approximately 7 miles from the border, the river passes along the town of Palena. From here the road leaves the river and there are few access points until the river joins back up with the Careterra Austral at the Rio Frio confluence, some 40 miles downstream.
From the town of Palena and below, the river is classified as a class II – III with a low gradient as the river elevation at Palena is only around 650 feet. The average drop is about five and a half feet per mile over the 120 miles of river in Chile. Any real whitewater is above the town of Palena and into Argentina where the gradient is an average drop of around 25 feet per mile.
Characteristics of the river around Palena range from classic freestone runs, willow trees and farm land to dense forest, high canyon walls with waterfalls streaming down into the river. With little public access, floating the river is the most effective means of fishing.
The river is home to rainbow trout, brown trout, Chinook salmon and even an occasional brook trout. With a variety of insect life such as stoneflies, mayflies, caddis flies, midges and terrestrials such as the famous Cantaria beetle, the trout fishing methods vary from run to run – bangin’ the banks with streamers, swinging a bar, nymphing and dry fly fishing are all in play here. Every corner on this section of river offers something different from the fishing to the scenery, which is why we like it!