Above and beyond the sheer variety of fly fishing opportunities on offer in Patagonia, visiting anglers are most often taken aback by the serene solitude of fishing in this vast wilderness.
“You can fish in Patagonia for days without seeing another fisherman,” Mauricio Salazar, cofounder of Fly Fishing Encounter, told ThisisChile. “I think the magic of fly fishing in Chile is the purity of the water and wilderness. The trout streams of the south are so clear, and we do it the wild way, without fisheries. The environment is amazing, you’re fishing in streams surrounded by volcanoes, native forests, and bird life.”
Fly Fishing Encounter is an annual event held in the Los Lagos Region in southern Chile. It aims to promote the sport, train people in the technical aspects of the pursuit, and to educate them on aquatic wilderness preservation best practice.
The 2012 event was held on October 20 at the Fundo Santa Inés de la Vega lodge near Puerto Varas, and attracted over 130 fly fishing guides, fans, and industry members – the event’s biggest turnout in its four year history.
“Fly fishing in Chile began in earnest in the mid 80s so it’s still relatively young here,” Salazar said. “It is growing all the time. Each year more fishermen come to our event, and more and more equipment and tour companies show up each time, which just shows how much the sport is thriving.”
The event holds eight different expert led workshops ranging from casting and tying techniques, to children’s classes, and training of all different ability levels. Salazar said that there are over 100 fly fishing guides that operate countrywide, yet because Chile is such a young fly fishing destination companies offer great value for money.
“The quality of the streams in Chile, the variety of wild trout and salmon species, the spectacular wilderness areas – there’s nowhere like it in the world,” Salazar said. “When people from abroad come here to fish, they are amazed by both the purity of the environment and by how inexpensive it is comparatively.”
We asked Salazar about his favorite places to fly fish in Patagonia:
Río Petrohué, Los Lagos Region, Patagonia
“The Petrohué River runs through Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park and this has to be my favorite place to fish just because of the scenery. You have the Petrohue Waterfalls and the Petrohue Volcano – it is stunning, and the amount of lagoons in proximity of each other make it a must visit location for fishermen.”
Río Maullín, Los Lagos Region, Patagonia
“Maullín River borders Llanquihue Lake and I love it because of the little lodges you can stay in all through the native forest. You are also quite close to Puerto Varas which is convenient, yet a lot of the river actually goes under the forest so it remains pure and protected from pollution.”
Coyhaique Province, Aysén Region, Patagonia
“Coyhaique is not one location – its a network of hundreds of streams and lagoons, and I include it because of the variety it offers. You can do pretty much every type of fly fishing here, and the amount of trout species is fantastic. There is something for everyone in Coyhaique.”