Here’s our Chile West Trip Report for the trip we ran from November into December of 2010. Two anglers from Alabama and two from Ireland made for some great times!
Day 1: Rio Tigre
After arriving in Palena on Day 1, everyone was antsy to get fishing so Team Alabama – Everett and Dick – got wadered up and went with Chris to fish the lower end of the Rio Tigre. On the other side team Ireland – David and George – went higher up on the river with Trevor. David had fished with Trevor at Alaska West and both loved talking rugby so it was a good reunion.
The weather was sunny with a good wind to keep the casting honest. We were fishing a stream that has been mostly a brook trout fishery, however it would be a rainbow day as George, who owns a hunting and fishing shop, started off by catching a couple nice bows on his double nymph setup. George is an avid fly tier who is also a skilled nymph fisherman. David and Trevor walked downstream after a slow start to a small side channel and after watching a nice fish come up for David’s orange indicator, the switch was made to an orange Chubby Chernobyl. The next cast was comical as George watched from above as the rainbow came up… and refused, however they could see the fish swimming in circles underneath the large dry. The fish seemed to be torn whether or not to eat it. At the end of the drift the 16” rainbow slammed it.
Walking down further they came to a big drop off. Trevor watched as George fished below and David acquired “style points” hooking 5 fish on 5 casts while sitting a top a rock. After seeing this Trevor finally talked George into using a dry fly. Focusing on pocket water behind large boulders, George stuck 3 more while the others watched. It was a good start to the trip using Chilean trout tactics – something out of the norm from Irish trout tactics which were explained to be finer, more delicate tactics than slapping a giant stonefly dry for aggressive trout.
Day 2: Rio Palena
Both boats took off from the launch rigged up with streamers and big dries. The pairs switched guides with a off and on breeze they embarked on the float. The streamer and chubby Chernobyl were tied neck and neck until Trevor pulled Everett and Dick into a large drop off. Everett casted his large dry and a big brown came up. “Nice” Trevor yelled as the brown gave 3 good jumps before finding the bottom of the net. After a few pictures they started fishing the drop off. Dick had switched over to his dry/dropper rod chubby Chernobyl and 20 incher stone fly nymph. As both anglers were on their feet, Dick tied into about 5 nice rainbows most of them coming up to the dry and a few others on the nymph. Everett hooked 2 more fish below him.
The weather changed quickly and the temperature dropped. George found one of Chris’s chartreuse streamer patterns to be very affective. Streamer fishing was something David and George rarely did back home as they enjoyed different tactics in Ireland.
The two boats met for lunch and the banter between the 2 groups carried on well. Winding down the Palena river, canyon waterfalls spilled from both sides. George and David finished their day strong, with a few nice browns before hitting the take out. Later that night the group dined at Altas Cumbres, a small restaurant in the town of Palena. Pisco sours, wine, and endless meat and a Chilean salad was on the menu.
Day 3: Lago X
Today’s drive encountered a traffic stops. The road was blocked by some locals pulling lumber out from across the river. Two teams of huge steers used to pull the lumber cart were blocking the road. This was quite a show for the guys to see how the Chileans still use the old ways to move heavy loads.
After the show, we continued on to the lake. Upon arrival the groups decided to fish together again, today switching back to the first days pairing. Fishing a small private lake, George started off strong landing a 19” rainbow on a chartreuse streamer. David followed with a good size brown on a smaller black leech. Trevor pulled the boat into a small bay with reeds and weeds surrounding – this place was notorious for good damsel fly fishing. There were a couple browns coming up eating the damsels that were hovering over the weeds and water.
George cast deep into the weeds and looked down to untangle some fly line as a brown came up and sipped his damsel dry. “Set it” Trevor screamed as George pulled a “Ray Charles” – the no-look presentation. The brown eventually ran down deep and broke off in some weeds. Chris and the Alabama boys made their way around the other side of the lake as they pulled a couple fish on streamers and eventually switched over to Chernobyl patterns which seemed to work well as 10 fish came up for their dries. In the other boat George put on some of his own mayfly patterns, and pulled 2 good Browns. David followed and ended his day by hooking 2 nice rainbows on a sinking line and stripping large nymphs back from the reeds.
Later that night we shared the restaurant with a group of teachers from the local school celebrating the end of the year. All were serenaded by the sounds of a student with exceptional skills with his violin.
Day 4: Parting Ways
After making the drive and arriving in La Junta the groups split ways. Everett, Dick, and Chris went to float the Rio Claro. They were 15 minutes into the float and Dick landed a big Rainbow on a Chernobyl, a beautiful fish and a perfect way to start the day.
The other guys decided to do a horseback trip up the Rio Qinto. They were accompanied by Dube, a gaucho that took them up the river. Riding through the forest and crossing the river, they stopped where Dube would cook an asado. There was a beautiful gin clear stream but the fishing was tough as David landed 2 Rainbows. We returned to our horses where the smell of the fire and a small goat was being prepared over an open pit. This was not Dube’s first rodeo, he cooked the meat to perfection as George, David and Trevor drank wine in relaxation.
Back in Chris’s boat Everett ended strong by catching a few bows in a giant back eddy before the takeout. Dinner at the hotel Espacio y Tiempo was exceptional, fantastic food and service in a cozy setting. Drinks and banter ensued as the group examined and criticized Everett’s flies that he tied for the trip. They were all good, Everett!
Day 5: Lago Verde
Making the scenic drive to Lago Verde as the sun began to heat things up. This was starting out to be the most pleasant day of the trip so far for both groups. Sunscreen and buffs were useful today in the Chilean sun.
Chris took David and George on a walk and wade to the upper Rio Pico as Trevor floated with Everett and Dick on the lower stretch. Javier and Joaquin, the two Chilean drivers helped Trevor set up the boat. The sun kissed their skin as they began the day.
Chris, George and David worked their way up the river, dries and nymphs working well for a mixture of both browns and rainbows. The first two runs produced countless fish. David working his dry fly and George fishing his tight line nymphing technique he had perfected in Ireland. After lunch in the warm sun, they fished their way up to within sight of the Argentine border.
Trevor’s group started off with a bang – both Everett and Dick had on Chubby Chernobyls. Two browns came up for Everett, followed by a bunch of eager rainbows who seemed to hang out in pods. Half way through the day Dick switched to an “El Camino” pattern and immediately hooked a nice brown in front of a large rock. Towards the end of the day they came to a rock wall with a foam line that was about 40 feet long where 3 rainbows worked the foam eating small bugs. Trevor tied on a small mayfly nymph below the El Camino, you could just see the blue backs of the Rainbows 2 feet under as they swayed with the current and foam. Dick and Everett pulled every rainbow out of the run, all taking the nymph.
At the end of the day both George and David commented that “this is what they came for”. What a day!
Day 6: Picaflor
After the drive from La Junta to Cisnes, Everett opted to hang back today after the long day before. We were situated in Cisnes at the farm house where he caught up on some sleep. The rest of the gang fished together doing a walk and wade on the Picaflor.
This river is small and runs gin clear, with deep sections full of rocks and logs where the fish seemed to be located today. Standing up high you could make out shapes down close to the bottom. Casting was very challenging as the banks were lined with trees. Chris spotted a pod of fish in a deep bucket and it took a bit of work for David to get into position to make a cast. After climbing over a few log jams, David was in position as Chris coached from the high bank. The first few cast with the Dry fly had no results. Chris had David make a long cast up to the high bank where Chris grabbed the line and tied on a nymph dropper. After a bit of patience a couple fish come up for his dark bead head pheasant tail nymph.
George took off up river where he hooked 5 browns on a larger, heavier stonefly nymph. Dick had a mixture, with a couple fish coming up 5 feet for his El Camino, the small, orange stonefly dry. Dick managed to find a few fish on the Stonefly nymphs as well. Some fish were too deep to coax up from the depths. A relaxing walk and wade followed by beers and some Crisco’s.
Day 7: Rio Cisnes
Both boats launched to float the Rio Cisnes with cloudy weather and light rain. This is a larger river that ran through the mountains with logs and rocks lining the river bank. The anglers switched partners as George and Dick went with Chris. David and Everett went with T.
George had good action on his streamer, landing a nice brown and missing some other eats. Dick had steady action on the Chernobyl. Everett had a fish eat his large Chernobyl right off and David followed by getting 2 Browns on the 20 incher Stonefly nymph. Around lunch time the weather changed. The sun came out and really began to warm things up. Another layer of sunscreen was in order and a layer of clothes off. Everett had a few more fish come up on the El Camino before Chris and Trevor pulled over to scout a rapid.
Back at the boats, life jackets on and rods buckled down, both guides rowed through the fast drops and heavy water. It was short a drop, over in a matter of minutes and ending in a spectacular canyon with high rock walls while floating over huge submerged boulders the size of houses! The sounds of the Chucao, a small bird with some serious lungs echoed throughout the canyon walls. David went back to a streamer, marinating it deep on a large drop off hooking 5 nice browns and regaining his confidence in the streamer and Dick missed a fair brown on a mouse.
The takeout was steep, the guides and drivers pulled the boats to the road by pulley towing them up the bank by truck. A mixture of meat was prepared that night over an open fire on a metal disc – a perfect combination with bottles of red wine.
Day 8: The Emperador Guillermo
The group traveled a couple hours from La Junta on their way to Coyhaique to fish a small river for a walk and wade. Chris took Everett and Dick to the lower river. Walking through the fields of the multi colored Artic Lupine, they arrived at the river.
The first run was small so the guys played baseball taking turns – 3 strikes and you’re out. Everett was up to bat first. He worked his way up the inside seam, sticking his first fish on a Chernobyl – a nice Rainbow of a healthy 16 inches or so. A couple of jumps and he was gone. Dick was up now as Everett filmed. Just a few yards up Dick hooked and landed another nice Rainbow of equal size. Dick still at the plate continued casting and struck out with a couple more swings.
Moving on up to the Cable Hole, Everett missed his first couple takes and finally hooked up and lost yet another fat rainbow. Dick now at the plate immediately nymphed up a healthy brown in the exact same spot. Everett followed through and caught a rainbow.
Trevor took George and David to a canyon section up the river – rock walls and endless pocket water holding nice rainbows and browns. David casted upstream as we watched his dry/dropper rig drift right in front of him. A large rainbow dug nose down like a bone fish for his nymph. The fish was hooked and lost, what a sight!
The nymphs were on today as David and George started heating up. David landed 3 nice fish in a small rocky run. George fishing his nymphs hooked and landed some nice rainbows followed by a brown that was his largest of the day. The rocks were slippery but the sun was shining. The rainbows seemed to get darker and more pretty the higher they walked.
Both groups met up at the end of the day in the hotel. El Reloj is a nice hotel with a great restaurant downstairs. The usual of wine and pisco sours started the meal off right as they laughed – the life of the restaurant was at their table.
Day 9: Final Act
Chris took David and Everett to the Spring Creek X, a small, meandering stream lined with reeds, a favorite brown trout fishery of Chris’s . This was a very easy walk and wade which runs through a pasture land. Flamingos, ducks, pheasants, sheep and cows are the typical life about. It’s usually windy here but today was exceptionally windy and quite cold.
Blue Chubby Chernobyls were on the menu, tied to imitate the numerous Dragonflies that in habit the stream. Casting was challenging and the guys had to plan their cast in harmony with the wind. David and Everett persevered through the wind and at times even a few snow flurries! David missed a few fish and Everett stuck a nice fish that came unbuttoned after a good tussle. David landed numerous quality browns. Everett must have cheated at cards the night before as his luck ran dry. It was all David today – he must have paid the fish gods.
Meanwhile closer towards Coyhaique Trevor took George and Dick to a different section on the Emperador Guillermo. The weather was cold! Fresh snow lined the mountain tops and the water had risen a few inches. Fishing was tough but Dick hooked a few fish and had one rainbow take off downstream in the current, eventually bending out the hook on his nymph . George went to some small leeches, landing 5 good rainbows. Trevor drove the guys upriver to another spot and fishing got better – Dick landed a few more nice ‘bows on the 20 incher and Copper John duo.
A hot meal at Café Ricer capped the trip off, everyone ordering something different in a great setting. Jokes and fishing stories were exchanged. What a fun group! George brushed up on some Spanish with Javier’s help.