Patagonia Trout 2019 // Updated - Through Day 3

February 20, 2019

This is going to be a fun project. Every couple of days I'll post a new blog entry and a NEW VIDEO that shows you what each day of fishing was like in Chile.  Stay tuned to follow along!

Joe Rotter @ Red's

Hosted Trips to Patagonia 2020

Travel and Arrival at Cinco Rios Lodge, Chile

Fly fishing in Chile has been the #1 international destination on my bucket list for a long time. Since I first started guiding at 20 years old, this has been the place I've dreamed about.  As a young guide, a few friends of mine were guiding there during our winters, their summer season, and would come back with stories about the most beautiful rivers, big Brown Trout on dry flies, and many wild adventures.  It will always be sort of that phantom destination that always sounded to good to be true. Fast forward nearly 20 years and here I am on a flight from JFK to Santiago, binge watching spy movies trying to pass the time.  The flight was no problem.  I thought 10 hours on a plane would be miserable but it was a piece of cake.  

guy and joe in santiago chile at the airportAt this moment in Santiago Guy is very happy.  This was before LatAm Airlines lost his bag en-route to Balmaceda haha.  We checked our bags side by side, but when we landed his wasn't there!  It took a couple of days but they eventually recovered his bag and all was still intact.  The lodge took him into town so he could buy some underwear, and since we're the same size he borrowed some extra clothes. The lodge owner said he has never seen a guest so patient, relaxed, and enjoyable despite a lost bag!  

Chile is easy to get into, no Visa required and customs anymore is a breeze with all the automation.  One more short flight from Santiago to Balmaceda and we were there.  Some folks elected to overnight in Santiago, the group I was with elected to take the red-eye and it worked out great. Even coach on the LatAm flight was very comfortable.

Sebastian and Joe Rotter in Balmaceda ChileMy friend and owner/operate or Estancia Del Zorro and Cinco Rios Lodges, Sebastian Galilea greeting us at the Balmaceda airport.

The airport in Santiago was easy to navigate and the flight from there to Balmaceda was about 2 hours.  We arrived mid-day and Sebastian met us there himself which was great. Part of the group was already at the Cinco Rios Lodge, about 45 minutes away.  We got in the van and headed for the lodge.  Upon arrival we were greeted with cocktails and a spectacular lunch!

lunch at cinco rios lodge chileJust after arrival, we sat down to a spectacular lunch with salmon, amazing Chilean wine, and a local beer "HAPPY TROUT ALE" which the lodge has on tap. Best part its "serve yourself"!


Day 1 - Lake Elizalde, Paloma River, Desagüe River

Vital Stats:

Date:  January 13th

Guide:  Lalo

Weather:  Sunny with Mixed Clouds - highs near 70 degrees

Strategies:  Dry fly fishing on the rivers, and sight casting with dry flies on the lake.

Flies:  We primarily used beetle patterns, with the top fly of the day being the Double Parachute Post Flying Ant.

Rods:  I fished a Winston NIMBUS 6 Weight all day.  It was nice to have a number 6 rod for casting in the wind, but its a fairly relaxed action so false casting and dropping a dry fly on the trout's nose was possible.

Catch Summary:  We caught enought fish to keep us busy, but it wasn't easy.  You had to be on top of it working hard and paying attention.  Biggest fish was a 21" Brown.  We had a mix of Rainbows and Browns.

Most Memorable Moment:  Joe hooking Stanley in the mouth trying to cast left handed at a fish that fed near the boat, 15 seconds later Stanley hooks Joe in the back trying to do the same thing. It was a hot mess!  "Eye for an Eye!" haha.

I fished with Stanley from Driggs, Idaho and we got paired up to fish with Lalo, the head guide.  Angler extrordinaire, comedian, and one hell of a fly fishing guide.  The drive was about 1:10 minutes from the lodge to the put-in on the Paloma River, and the scenery was amazing!  The drive was really great.  We fished the Paloma River for about an hour, then motored up the Desague River into Lago Elizalde (Lake Elizalde).  The video speaks for itself.  The dry fly fishing on the lake was awesome.

Other anglers fished various lakes and rivers, most had a really good day except for a couple that fished the Simpson River. They had tough fishing for whatever reason, but overall most anglers reported good action.  

Top Fly Used:

We were able to catch fish on a big variety of beetle type patterns, but the fly that seemed to get the "picky ones" was this parachute post flying ant.  It was "fly of the day". 

parachute post flying ant

Double Parachute Post Flying Ant

Day 2 - Simpson River Canyon Float

Vital Stats:

Date:  January 14th

Guide: Rodrigo 

Specific Destination:  We fished the Simpson River Canyon, the launch was only about 20 minutes from the Cinco Rios Lodge, the takeout was about an hour or so.  

Weather:  Sunny with Mixed Clouds - highs near 70 degrees.  Short sleeves were fine for me.

Strategies:  Dry fly fishing 90% of the time with Streamers 9% of the time... we nymphed for the first few minutes but gave up. The guide strongly suggested nymphs for pure numbers of bigger fish.

Rods:  I fished a Winston Kairos 690-4 for streamers and a Sage X 590-4 for dry flies, but caught my largest fish on a Winston PURE 490-4.  All rods were great and was grateful to have the right rods for the various situations.  

Flies:  The Purple Haze and the Split Wing Adams were very productive, and we also fished the Parachute Post Flying Ant.

Catch Summary:  We caught plenty of fish, lots of little fish were available early in the float.  the video makes it look like the catching would have been easy, but you had to really focus and be attentive all day.

Most Memorable Moment:  Sight casting a #12 Split Wing Adams to a suspended 24" Rainbow feeding just under the surface in a foam line along a cliff wall.  It was either that, or Guy catching a nice brown in an isolated pond.

Day 3 - Lower Manuhales River Float

Vital Stats:


Date:  January 15th

Guide: Rodrigo 

Specific Destination:  We fished the big section of the Manuahales River downstream to its junction with the Simpson River.  Big water! I personally requested to float this section as this is where the guides target Atlantic Salmon later in the year, so it was a bit more of an "exploratory" trip for me to say I've been there. The guide did NOT want to do this float. He wanted to hit the Simpson, which turned out to be on fire.  So.... in conclusion. Don't guide the guide if you want to catch fish.  

Weather:  Mixed Clouds with a little drizzle - high was around 60 degrees.  Wore a sweatshirt and jacket most of the day.

Strategies:  We threw streamers pretty much all day looking for a big giant Brown Trout.  We nymphed a fair bit trying to generate some action, but caught most of our fish on streamers.

Rods:  I fished a Winston Kairos 690-4 as my light rod, and a Winston Air SALT 790-4 for my sink tip rod.  The Kairos was great all around, but the SALT threw monster casts in the open water. It would have been way too much rod for a small river though.

Flies:  JJ Bugger (most fish), some huge streamers the size of a Quail that Rodgrigo tied.

Catch Summary:  We caught about 8 fish or so, the biggest landed was an 18" Rainbow at the very start of the float.  I didn't even turn on the camera as I thought we were going to have a whack fest.  That was 5 minutes into the float, saw a couple of big ones follow but didn't catch another fish over 12" haha.

Most Memorable Moment:  Probably fishing over the hundreds of dead logs in crystal clear water or actually rowing for about 3 hours. The mountains were beautiful, but the river was even more so.  Very cool float over all that downed timber.