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Trout Species of Patagonia

Fly Fishing Patagonia Trophy Trout

Fly Fishing Patagonia

Though Patagonia is not home to any native trout or salmon species, several salmonids have been introduced to the lakes and rivers of Argentina and Chile to provide an additional protein source for local communities and build a now thriving fishing tourism industry. The picturesque landscape provides the perfect backdrop for anglers visiting some of the most prolific trout streams in the world. While rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout are the most prolific sportfish of Patagonia's rivers and streams, Chinook/King Salmon, Coho/Silver Salmon, and Atlantic Salmon can all be found entering the rivers each year.  Seasonal rhythms dictate where anglers can find these fish. Different rivers offer anglers a variety of challenges and opportunities to meet their skill levels and goals. Whether you're a DIY traveling angler looking for world class fly fishing or  looking to plan a guided single or multi day guided expedition with experienced local guides such as those with Achala Outfitters, this guide to Patagonia fly fishing will inform visitors what trout and salmon species are available and the best rivers and lakes to find them in.

Fly Fishing Rio Limay

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Limay River Fly Fishing in Autumn

The Rio Limay is the largest river system that hosts fly anglers from around the world. From the massive tailwater fisheries to the smaller, wade friendly headwaters which begin high in the Andean peaks. The diversity of trout waters on the Limay offers both wade fishing in its flat sections of the tailwater as well as excellent float fishing. Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout are the main attractors to the river. Below Lago Nahuel Huapi, the upper tailwater section of the Limay is home to countless trophy browns and rainbows. Here, lake run trout move into the river from Embalse Alicura each fall (March and April) to feed on smaller baitfish and spawn around the smaller tributaries. Below Alicura, the river is a vast as it winds through the high desert. The big water here would take years for any angler to cover thoroughly. Wading anglers are better off opting to head for the the higher elevation tributaries of the Limay where smaller waters are still capable of holding large trout. 

Fly Fishing The Collon Cura River

Collon Cura Brown Trout

A northern tributary of the Rio Limay, Rio Collon Cura offers a similar fishery to that of the uppermost section of the mainstem Limay. Shiners moving upstream from Embalse Alicura provide a massive protein source to trout in the river as well as the lake run fish entering the river as early as February. Streamer fishing during these fall months is absolutely incredibly. While early season trout may focus on bigger bugs in the river during the late spring and summer 

months, their appetites become fixated on these small fish in the fall.  This trout runs don't end in the Collon Cura though. They continue into the rivers largest two tributaries , Rio Chimehuin and Rio Alumine, that also boast trophy sized trout and even better wading opportunities for anglers looking for a more intimate experience. 

Fly Fishing the Chimehuin River

Chimehuin River Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout Rising to Green Worms

Rio Chimehuin may be the most unique stream of the upper Limay River system. Rainbows and browns are found in the river with rainbows being the most abundant. The Chimehuin provides excellent wading opportunities for visiting anglers throughout the fishing season. Access found along highways 40 and 61 off easy access to the water. Big stoneflies and pave the way for an excellent dry fly bite from late Spring into the Summer. An interesting bite of green worms also exist in the summer months bringing many fish to the surface for an easy meal. The most unique method used to target the trout of the Chimehuin, more particularly the large brown trout that roam the river, is imitating the freshwater crabs that crawl along the bottom of the river. These flies trigger aggressive strikes from predatory browns looking to add some additional protein to their diets. While the trout may be the same in Patagonia as other places in the world, the fly boxes of local anglers are sure to have some obscure flies to choose from. 

Fly Fishing the Alumine River 

Lake Run Brown Trout of Rio Alumine

Lake Run Brown Trout of Rio Alumine

The Rio Alumine is the Northernmost tributary of the Collon Cura. Another smaller tributary like the Chimehuin, the Alumine holds a dense population of hefty trout. While mayflies, and stoneflies still create excellent dry fly fishing in the Spring and Summer months, the Alumine truly shines in late Summer and Fall when the lake run shiners and trout make their way to the smaller water in big numbers. These late season trout regularly push the 30" mark on the tape measure and are very well fed. In the late season, April and May, brown trout on their spawning run stage before moving onto there redds creating some of the best streamer fishing for trout in the world. The cooler fall temperatures cant deter anglers from hitting the water with the promise of being warmed from a burning drag that follows and enthusiastic eat from a trophy brown. 

Caleufu River Fly Fishing

Rio Caleufu is one of the more southerly tributaries of the Rio Limay. Big dry flies are the ticket in the Caleufu River with even dragon fly patterns making their way on to the trout's menu. One of the Caleufu's largest tributaries, Rio Filo Hua Hum, also sees hatches of these larger bugs from the Spring through Fall. Like many of the other Limay tributaries, lake run fish move in and out of the Filo Hua Hum River seasonally in search of additional food resources and spawning opportunities. 

Brown Trout of the Caleufu River

Brown Trout of the Caleufu River

Rainbow Trout of the Malleo River

Rainbow Trout of the Malleo River

Brown Trout of Rio Filo Hua Hum

Brown Trout of Rio Filo Hua Hum

Rio Malleo Fly Fishing

A small tributary of the Rio Alumine, the Malleo River is easily accessible from Highway 60.The Rio Malleo receives much less traffic than many of the larger streams in the area. With similar hatches to the other streams of the Upper Limay River watershed, dry fly fishing is excellent year round. Faster water can make fly fishing more technical in areas of the river deterring many anglers. Those whiling to tackle these stretches can however be rewarded with often undisturbed trout. 

Rio Manso Fly Fishing

The Manso River lies just south of the Limay Watershed. Unlike the Limay which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, the Rio Manso meanders westward through the Andes into the Pacific Ocean. A smaller river in the Argentinian region of Patagoinia, the river is fast. Rainbows and browns occupy the river. While trophy sized trout can be found in the Manso, it does not have the influx of giant lake run trout that it's neighbors see during the shoulder months. 

Brook Trout Fishing Patagonia

Brook Trout of Patagonia

Brook Trout have been stocked in many of the high elevation lakes across Patagonia. While some are tucked away in the southernmost regions of Patagonia, a handful can be found closer to civilization. The Lanin National Park contains a few small alpine lakes where anglers can find trophy sized brook trout exceeding 20'' in length. More northward Rucachoroi Lake also possesses healthy populations over hefty brook trout.  In Lago Rucachoroi, or Ruca Choroy, and its tributaries, much of the brook trout's diet consists of  smaller baitfish. Small streamers can be incredibly effective when trout are found. 

Much further south brook trout can be found in the small lakes and streams of the upper Corcovado River System. Similarly they can also be found in the uppermost lakes and streams of the Rio Grande  system, which runs through Tierra del Fuego even further to the south. In each of these areas, brook trout can reach enormous sizes as the abundance of food is tremendous.

Fly Fishing for Salmon in Patagonia

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King Salmon of Patagonia

Many of the coastal estuaries of Patagonia see runs of Salmon throughout the year. Few are as prolific as the Rio Yelcho and forementioned Rio Corcovado. Atlantic Salmon, King Salmon, and Coho Salmon run these rivers each season. These runs begin as early as late February and last throughout the fall months (March and April). Swinging streamers is the ticket to landing these behemoths and are guaranteed to put up the fight of your lifetime. The well known Torres del Paine National Park is a Mecca of sorts for fly fishermen looking for salmon in Patagonia. While many of these salmon runs occur on the Chilean side of Patagonia, several runs can be found along the Argentinian side of the border. Rio Las Vualtas sees annual runs of King Salmon each season and can be access via Highway 23 north of Lago Viedma. 

Atlantic Salmon can be found in one a southern tributary of the Rio Limay, the Rio Traful. Here Atlantic salmon in the 6 to 10 pound range with move in and out of the terminal lakes to feed in the river when food is more abundant. As you would guess streamers are again on the menu for the transitory salmon as well as the rainbows that occupy the river throughout the year. Access to the Traful can be found along Highway 65.

Atlantic Salmon of Patagonia

Atlantic Salmon of Patagonia

Fly Fishing Jurassic Lake

We would be remiss in not mentioning the famous Lake Strobel, also known as Jurassic Lake when discussing the trout fisheries of Patagonia. Certainly one of if not the most renown stillwater trout fishery in the world. The enormous crustacean fed trout of Jurassic lake are numerous and quite girthy to say the least. While Patagonia can brag of numerous lakes that produce monstrous rainbow trout, most still pale in comparison to that of Jurassic Lake. 

Best Fly Patterns for Patagonia

Best Flies For Patagonia

Throughout this article we have mentioned several more obscure fly patterns such as the freshwater crab flies, chenille of foam green worms, and dragonfly patterns, but several standard patterns will fish well throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. Larger stimulators and adams variations are great for matching the hatch for the larger insects. Bigger nymphs such as a double beaded stone and pats rubber legs are great at getting down on slower days. Your standard dries and nymphs will also catch the nonselective trout, but many of the guides prefer the bigger imitations as they pull fish from farther and are much better at keeping big trout on the line. 

Streamer patterns are also essential for anglers looking for the biggest fish that roam the rivers, especially in the fall. No need to throw the monstrous streamers you see in tailwaters here in the United States. The migrating baitfish that comprise the bulk of the piscivorous trout's diet range from 3"-6". Dense or heavy weighted streamer can help anglers get down faster in deeper water though sink tips are used more commonly with neutrally buoyant baitfish imitations.

Learn more about the trout species of the planet in our articles on Trout, Salmon, and Char of the World, Trout Fishing Morocco, Trout Fishing Turkey, Trout Fishing Ireland and Trout of North America. Our detailed articles on What Do Trout Eat, Fly Fishing a Hatch, and Fly Fishing Streamers will give you a great idea on how to target each of these species.

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