Chile – Patagonia – El Saltamontes Lodge
It is with great pride that we represent famous El Saltamontes fishing lodge, located on the banks or the Rio Nirehuao, the Chilean Mecca of dry fly fishing. El Saltamontes simply means “the grasshopper”… I have discovered this bonanza in 2014 and have had the great fortune to guide a group of costumers there in 2015.
As the first river in Chile to be managed as a “catch & release” only fishery, the Rio Nirehuao is benefitting from scientific research that confirms an incredible fish density of about 6000 trout per river mile.
José Gorroño, owner of the vast estancia (2000 hectares) through which meanders the Rio Nirehuao, has been managing the fishery, which is a real angling treasure for about 12 years.
The river is easily accessible and can be fished wading (gravel bottom) to reach all the great holding areas and fish lies. Anglers of all levels can have success here. Brown trout, introduced in the 1930s, dominate but you can also fish for ever increasing numbers of rainbow trout, with larger specimen to about 24 inches.
Brown trout average about 18 inches, or 45 cm, but there are numerous fish that break the 20- to 22-inch barrier (50 to 55 cm). On great days, anglers can manage to take over 30 trout on dry flies with an average size between 14 to 20 inches.
I believe this fishery ranks among the very best in the world when it comes to fish for wild brown trout. Grasshoppers are legion in the meadows along the banks, and when blown onto the water, get the trout’s full attention as the fish have specialized on this protein source. Fishing is great fun and done with rather large (foam) flies so surface takes are rather impressive. Watch your hook set!
There are many different angling scenarios found on the Nirehuao: other than in the main river, fish can also be found in the so-called “lagunas”, interconnected spring fed lakes with crystal clear water with all sorts of aquatic weeds. The “lagunas” are linked to the main river through a separate stream. Dry fly sight fishing for trophy browns is a unique experience here: there are huge fish haunting these waters which, at 27 /28 inches are quite impressive.
There are also some spring creeks that feed the main river and that harbor some nice browns. Fly fishing these creeks is superb angling, whether you fish blind or sight fish along the cut banks… the surprises can be very rewarding! Fishing with terrestrials, hoppers and beetles truly is world class here. A Dave’s Foam Hopper, Fat Albert and other similar Chernobyl Ants are excellent imitations and will seduce the wily trout that, once hooked, put up a violent fight and will do the utmost to break you off on underwater snags.
El Saltamontes also has access to sublime Rio Manihuales, where the Nirehuao drains into. Fishing is done with large 2-man pontoon boats (NRS Cataraft), run by an experienced guide. Anglers either fish from the boat or stop to fish productive water on foot. Trophy brown and rainbow trout can be caught this way using dry flies and streamers.
The last angling paradise found here are the mountain lakes. The lodge has access to three jewels, Lago Norte, Lago Misterioso and Lago Los Juncos. All three are fished from a boat (oars & motor) and pontoons, mostly with dry flies along the structure on the banks: dead wood and aquatic vegetation are home to big fish. The drop-offs along the rocks are hot spots as well. These lakes are home to real trophy trout, some of which exceed 30 inches. The latter two lakes also have a healthy rainbow trout population. El Saltamontes guides (North American an Chilean) prefer surface fishing, preferably sight fishing, but according to your technical level, personal preferences and targeted size of fish, streamer fishing the depths of the lakes can be particularly productive and yield the trout of a lifetime!
El Saltamontes lodge, located in the heart of the Estancia Adelaida consists of a main building (kitchen, dining room, sitting room and bar) as well as of 4 cabins with apartments/doubles (8 rooms altogether) and can cater for up to 10 persons at a very upscale level, considering both the quality of the rooms as the fabulous cuisine.
Do not forget the extreme beauty of the Chilean Andes (Province of Aysén). You will be immerged in these great landscapes from your arrival at Balamaceda airport (Coyhaique) to the lodge and back. Wildlife is extremely rich with numerous species of birds (birds of prey, geese, ibis …) pleasing the naturalists among the lodge’s visitors. The estancia, in fact a cattle ranch operation, does also offer horseback riding stays, which can be reason enough to bring along a non-angling but horseback-riding companion.
In partnership with Planet Fly Fishing, I will organize exclusive trips (5 to 8 days fishing) to El Saltamontes and will assist the customers as a “tour leader” and fishing guide for groups of 3, 5 or 7 anglers.
From the departure in Europe, I will assist the group in matters of transfers, translation, and matters of technical advice, in collaboration with the local guides and the people at the lodge. All my accumulated knowledge of trout fishing and will help you prepare your trip; make tackle choices, flies, etc…