Patagonia Trout Fishing // Cinco Rios Lodge and Estancia Del Zorro Trip Report
March 4, 2020
To view more information on traveling with Red's, check out this link:
First off, this trip is great for ALL skill levels. While there are certainly windy days and challenging scenarios, don't be afraid of this trip. There are plenty of streams that offer ample numbers of aggressive trout willing to tackle dry flies! Next, if you are considering a hosted trip please join us. We take anglers from ALL OVER THE WORLD on our trips! Your host will enhance your trip, simplify planning, and insure that your trip runs efficiently once at the lodge.
Trip Dates: February 22 - 29th, 2020
This trip is a long ways from my home in Washington State, but international travel runs pretty smooth anymore. I left Seattle, WA at 12 pm, did a short layover in Dallas, and then flew 9 hours overnight to Santiago, Chile. I slept a few hours on the plan and binge watched "Better Call Saul". Not a bad flight at all!
After clearning customs which is a snap, we had a short layover and a short flight to Balmaceda, Chile which is near Coyhaique (trout mecca). This is a routine flight of about 2.5 hours on a nice Airbus or Boeing jet. No propellers here.
Arriving at the Lodge:
Our group was all on the same flight in, so we grabbed our checked bags and met up with the lodge staff. We rode in one van and one car to the Cinco Rios Lodge about 45 minutes away. We were greeted with Pisco Sour drinks, Chile's national drink, and got settled into this luxurious lodge! Each room has double KING sized beds with fantastic furnishings and linens. It's an open bar, great view, and locally crafted "fish art" adorns the walls. The owner, Sebastian Galilea, gave us a fantastic orientation while we sipped locally crafted beer and Chilean wine!
Dinners here are no joke. The chefs put out some incredible dishes, with a carnivore theme haha. No shortage of protein. Filet Minon....? Yes please.
Guide and Anglers: Joe, Keith, and Fena'
Location Fished: Paloma River, Lake Desierto and Lake Azul. Drive was about an hour through the country, we used a cataraft boat with a jet pump outboard. Fena both motored the boat, rowed it some, and we wade fished.
Weather: Sunny, breezy, and a bit cool on the Paloma River in the morning. It sits at the foot of some glaciers so the wind was chilly in the morning but warmed up nice.
Gear and Rods Used: Sage X 590-4, Lamson Speedster Reel, SA Amplitude Infinity Line 690-4 G Loomis Asquith and RIO Grand Line (can't remember what reel Keith used)
Flies Used and Hot Fly: Patagonia Beetle (hand tied by my son) - Check with email@example.com before you go and I'll see if we can set ya up!
Most Memorable Moment of the Day: Lunch at the waterfall. We traveled so far and fished so hard on day 1 it was just go, go, go, and there was hardly a break. Time to take a breath. Finally we sat down about 3 pm for lunch at one of the most beautiful spots I've ever been. It reminded me how nice it was to just "be".
Moments From Day 1:
We started Day 1 doing some wade fishing before jet boating up the Paloma River.
First Trout of the Chile 2020 Trip!
Day 1 Fishing Summary:
We fished the "glacial" area on this trip and utilized beetle patterns the entire day and got to hold and handled the famous "Cantaria Beetle"!!! This is a big male beetle in the image above. The trout had moved onto preferring the smaller females as they are easier for the trout to pass. The guides are outstanding. It was fun to utilize a jet, oars, and our wading boots all in one day.
Guide and Anglers: Keith, Joe, and Mandigas
Location Fished: Simpson River. Not far from the lodge, we used a raft and drifted about 12 miles through a box canyon! The drive was about 15 minutes or so to the launch, about 40 minutes back.
Weather: Chilly and windy in the morning, sunny and nice in the afternoon. Waders, jacket, and a light insulating layer was perfect.
Gear and Rods Used: Sage X 590-4, Lamson Speedster Reel, SA Amplitude Infinity Line 690-4 G Loomis Asquith and RIO Grand Line, Sage Maverick 790-4, Lamson Litespeed Reel, and RIO Perception line (too much rod for the short casts on the Simpson, better rod for lakes)
Flies Used and Hot Fly: I personally used my hand tied beetle most of the time as I much prefer fishing dry flies, but Keith used some nymphs which are very productive in the Simpson River as it is VERY fertile with many hatches. He used a variety of Prince Nymphs and Pat's Stones, it didn't seem to matter much. For the sight casting with dry flies, the Purple Haze was the hot ticket!
Most Memorable Moment of the Day:
Sight casting to BIG Rainbows!
Mary with a nice one on a different section of the Simpson River!
Day 2 Fishing Summary:
I fished with dry flies the majority of the time, Keith nymphed. I fished a few streamers but was much more interested in getting a few nice trout on dries. We did some fabulous sight fishing to big Rainbows 20 - 25" sitting suspended under foam lines! It was awesome. For me, this is why you go to Chile! While nymphing can certainly uncover a lot of big fish, the dry fly fishing is what its all about. Be a good caster, be patient, and you'll have the time of your life.
Guide and Anglers: Joe, Keith, and Lalo
Location Fished: Paloma River Canyon Walk 'n Wade. The drive was about an hour, Keith and I wanted to fish exclusively on foot one day so requested to stay out of the boats and stretch our legs. We hiked deep through a bamboo forest into a remote canyon. It was awesome!
Weather: Sunny and warm. Light jacket, waders, and a wind breaker were fine in the morning.
Flies Used and Hot Fly: Patagonia Beetle #8, Rainy's Box Canyon Streamer, Purple Haze, Wiggly Worm (while we tried many different flies, the beetle was most effective)
Most Memorable Moment of the Day:
Keith hooked this fish a few casts later but I didn't get it on film. Watching this trout feed on tiny dry flies was just too mezmorizing!
After fishing on Day 3, we made a seemless transfer about an hour's drive up into the high pampas near the Argentina border to Estancia Del Zorro for a variety of additional fishing opportunities. EDZ is a beautiful rustic lodge with the same quality of accomodations found at the Cinco Rios Lodge. Dinner at EDZ was spectacular of course and everyone loved the genuine Chilean herritage found here.
Guide and Anglers: Joe and Hector
Location Fished: "Camp Out" This was not part of the scheduled program, but I needed to check it out as I'm trying to learn EVERYTHING about their operation. We fished 4 lakes (with trophy trout!) about 2 hours north of Estancia Del Zorro. I spent one night fishing solo to check out the "out camp" offered by this outfitter. Their glamping yurts combined with the "Gamechanger" RV's made for a spectacular camp. The camp is located on a small spring creek full of small brown trout! While I didn't cast a line, the trout were rising all evening. The camp option allows you to fish the lakes and a couple of other creeks late into the evening maximizing your shots at trophy fish.
Weather: Windy with mild temps, a good shell is crtitical in the mountains.
Gear and Rods Used: Sage MAVERICK 790-4 - this was a GREAT lake rod! Perfect for big wind, long casts.
Flies Used and Hot Fly: Thin Mint Bugger, Jimmy Legs (makes a killer dragon fly nymph), Black Scupzilla #8, and a few hand tied micro leeches by the guide. The guides wanted SMALL leeches. Like #12's and #10's.
Most Memorable Moment of the Day: Catching my first fish of the day after struggling against the wind and tough fishing on exploratory lakes. Felt good to connect after about 1,000 casts into the wind!
Exploratory fishing Day 4. I test fished several new lakes with my guide @cincorioslodge and we had mega wind, tough conditions, and the lakes we fished were new to the guide team as they had only recently acquired access. I do know the lakes we explored do have some enormous Brown Trout though! At 6 pm Hector took me to a more familiar spot and BOOM! Fish on like it was no big deal. #guideknowledge #redsflyshop #flyfishpatagonia #chile #flyfishchile #browntrout
Guide and Anglers: Joe and Hector
Location Fished: We fished the same 4 lakes and caught 3 big brown trout on the lakes, and a few small trout on a spring creek that we hiked into which was beautiful! Maybe the prettiest place I've ever fished.
Weather: Sunny, light breeze. No rain.
Flies Used and Hot Fly: I used a Jimmy Legs Black #10 on the lake as a Dragon Fly Nymph. What a great hack! The guides in Chile feel that is among the best patterns on earth for Dragon nymphs and I must aggree! Super great piece of lake fishing advice.
Most Memorable Moment of the Day: Picking up a nice brown along the weeds on a very slow retrieve using the Dragon Fly Nymph! Grande Brown Trout!I caught a few others along weeds, this isn't a big numbers game unless you are measuring the fish haha! The lakes have the largest trout in Patagonia.
Meanwhile at Estancia Del Zorro...
Day 4 the other anglers went to Argentina, rode horses, and fished a variety of small waters! There is a great option for folks that want to ride horses and combine it with small stream fishing.
Guide and Anglers: Joe (unguided)
Location Fished: Estancia Del Zorro Spring Creek... this is the creek that has made this lodge famous. Celebrity anglers from all over the world have stalked the banks for this fine creek. Brown Trout ranging 16" - 28" grow fast feeding heavily on scuds, leeches, and the ample food sources available here!
I casually walked from the lodge to the creek, and fished DRY FLIES ONLY all day. The strategy was make 4 casts, leaving each of them 30+ seconds in the water.... taking a step... making 4 casts. Stalking like a hungry predator.
Weather: Warm, sunny, and beautiful. 70 degrees in the afternoon.
Gear and Rods Used: G Loomis IMX Pro 590-4 (I like this rod at $525 but it's no Sage X). The casting here is so precise I wish I had strung up my X rod.
Flies Used and Hot Fly: Stalcup's Hopper #12 and #14, Bloom's Caddis #14 - Hoppers and beetles should be tiny at Estancia Del Zorro. These trout have LOTS of food and don't react to big giant flies as well. They are lazy and want easy food, easy to catch, and easy to digest.
Most Memorable Moment of the Day: Self guiding success is great. I love quiety stalking fish and do find and hook good sized brown trout on a spring creek is very rewarding. This trip offers just the right amount of DIY and guiding. The best moment however was having lunch back at the Estancia with a guide Phillipae, and Tommy, Kayla, and Susan. Lunch was absolutely outstanding and Phillipae is among the funnest, most personable, and knowledgeable guides I 've been around!
Meanwhile at Estancia Del Zorro...
This was the last day. Bitter and sweet! Anglers again went to Argentina to fish spring creeks, rode horses, AND went to a lookout nearby with a local to see the famous Andean Condors! Many said it was among the coolest experiences of their lives!
Birdwatching is an adventure!
Breakfast and coffee on the mountaintop
No big deal, we'll just drive a herd of Al Pacas across the river haha! #patagoniacattledrive
The Last Night at Estancia Del Zorr
Chilean BBQ - a whole lamb traditionally cooked over the fire!
Empanada factory. Hand pressed nightly at Estancia Del Zorro.
The last night was an amazing dinner and we had a great time celebrating one of the best weeks of trout fishing you could ever have!
Our group was great and was composed of buddies, couples, and single anglers as well. We bonded well and the fishing options offer so much variety that everyone was delighted. You can long hard days, or mix in some touring and wildlife watching. Up to you!