An enormous variety of rivers are found in Chile’s geography, of characteristics, size and shape that are splendid habitats for different species of trout and salmon brought over to Chile almost a hundred years ago. It’s why Chile is considered one of the best venues for enjoying fly fishing – the quality of the fish, the purity of the waters and the awesome natural surroundings in each fly fishing area are a still clarion call to all lovers of this sport.
Fly fishing can be practiced from the 2nd Region up until the limits of Tierra del Fuego. However, it is Patagonia that is deservedly famous worldwide among the practitioners of this art. Its waters have captivated fly fishermen from all over the world who traverse the planet to be photographed with a fish, then throw it back into the river, in the modality called “catch and release flyfishing.”
Some of the species normally caught in Chile are rainbow trout, from the Central Zone to the south; brown trout, from the 5th to the 12th Region; Coho salmon, in rivers and lagoons from the 10th to the 12th Region, and finally, with luck, you can fish Chinook or King salmon, a true monster of Chilean waters that mainly inhabits Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
Rivers and Fish
Lonquimay: The spectacular natural surroundings of this municipality offer many possibilities for practicing fly fishing. There are diverse alternatives within a radius of 100 kilometers – the lakes of Galletué, Icalma, Mariñanco, Jara and the Bio-Bio, Rahue, Polul and Lonquimay rivers.
At the start of the season, streamers and nymph imitations are most effective. From mid-December onwards, dry flies take the lead, a more technical style of fishing that puts the fisherman’s knowledge and experience to the test. At all times, the very powerful fish struggle to get free of the deception.
There are several areas where wading in can be done without difficulty. However, to access the best fishing spots, it is necessary to use a catarraf, a comfortable boat that nimbly navigates in difficult places, where the best specimens are hidden.
Lonquimay is located 156 kilometers from Temuco, along the Lautaro-Curacautín Highway, and 186 kilometers along Victoria-Curacautín Road. Both routes are completely paved up to Lonquimay.
Valdivia: The Folilco area is ideal for dry fly fishing and for using emerging patterns, excellent for lovers of the classical style. The transparent waters are very pleasant for deep wading; there are rivers with constant hatchings aside from good-size trout, very selective, not easy to fish since they have already seen many lures in the channels through the years.
Río Maullín: This is the only drainage of enormous Lake Llanquihue, in the heart of the Lakes District. It is a long river that winds through the region’s grazing and farmlands. Sometimes it is entirely covered up on its shores by the vegetation, of myrtle forests and other species that thrive in an aquatic environment.
The river has a large population of extremely healthy and feisty trout, mostly brown or brown trout and, to a lesser extent, rainbow trout. Sometimes it is also possible to fish salar salmon and the rare and showy peladillas or farionelas. One of this river’s greatest attractions is the possibility of fishing trophy browns without having to travel to remote sites. It is not uncommon to catch fish weighing 5 or more kilos in the deeper parts of the river.
Fishing is mostly done with large streamers and to a lesser extent with nymphs. As for dry fly, it can be done at dusk and from the same beach.
Coyhaique: The city of Coyhaique is surrounded by innumerable bodies of water, most of them with excellent fishing. The fishing areas are on average one hour away by land.
Río Simpson: This river is 40 kilometers long and is probably the best known in the Region. Its population of brown and rainbow trout varies between 35 and 55 centimeters in size. The river is famous for its large hatches of caddis and mayflies. In January, February and mid-March, large backs of Chinook salmon are observed, most of them over a meter long.
Río Emperador Guillermo: This river has an incredible stock of trout, possibly more than a hundred a day.
Río Ñireguao: Has been catalogued by experts as “the best river for fishing resident non-migratory fario trout in South America.” Their average size varies from 40 to 45 centimeters, even reaching 60 to 70 centimeters.
Río Cisnes: More than 80 kilometers long, the river originates on the Argentine border and flows out to the Pacific Ocean. A large population of fario trout is found in its upper reaches. Chinook salmon swim up its waters in February and March.
Río Paloma: This river is born in Lago Desierto or Desert Lake and flows into Lago Caro. Beautiful Coho salmon and rainbow trout are found here, with average sizes between 35 and 55 centimeters.
Los Fiordos: Offers fascinating fishing. In the zone of the fjords there are numerous rivers that flow out to the sea where large rainbow trout can be fished that normally weigh 2 to 3 kilos. There are also beautiful brown trout.
Tierra del Fuego: Rio Grande is considered the best river in the world for migratory brown trout fishing. Each year hundreds of fishermen from around the world fill the guest lodges along both sides of the Chile-Argentina border. The river is born in Las Turbas and is also fed by Lynch Lakes, Rio Rivero, and Rio Blanco. It is 220 kilometers long and its waters are a clear light brown. The first half of the river runs through Chilean territory in the interior of the enormous Cameron Ranch.
Since John Goodall introduced eggs in the early 1900s, and thanks to a successful conservation policy in both countries, the trout that migrate each year to the sea in search of food return and climb the river from September until May to spawn. Thousands of enormous brown trout swim up the curves of this typical steppe river, and hover in the pools with pebble bottoms to mate and breed.
The prevailing winds in this part of the Island are an ally for fishermen, since calm, sunny days usually are not accompanied by good catches.
Rio Grande has deservingly earned its international reputation. It suffices to recall that the largest migratory brown trout ever captured there weighed in at a record 16 kilos. Resident brown trout can also be caught, the juveniles that don’t migrate and that retain their characteristic color.
Wading into a river during a normal day of fishing, it is possible to catch resident trout that weigh between 500 grams and 2 kilos. Most of the catches are brown trout. Rainbow trout are rarer but can be found in Rio Grande.
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