Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: The Malleo River.

Before I start, I would like to mention that you may experience a few format and grammatical errors. Due a broken right finger, I have limited use of my right hand and I am now using a pre-installed Mac voice dictation application. So, I am doing my best to put my best English forward, but I simply do not have the time to thoroughly edit/review everything I would take too much time.  In advance, thanks for understanding.

Rio Malleo Facts

Location: Junin de los Andes, Argentina.  Approximately, +/- 1 hour from Junin.
Province: Neuquen
Fishing Season: Generally, November 01 till May 31st.
Licensed Required: Yes, general fishing only.
Floating:  Floating the Malleo is prohibited.
Entrance Fee:  Currently $30 pesos (per day) to enter the lower section or Mapuche reservation.
Camping: Yes, only on the Mapuche reservation, $15 pesos per night.
Length: 64 Kilometers or 40 miles.
Origin: Lago Tromen (third major lake tributary to the rio Alumine).
Termination: Alumine.
Fly Rods: 9ft/4wt through 9ft/6wt. Switch = 11ft/5wt.
Fly Lines:  Floating for dry flies and nymphs.  Seasonal use of sink tips for faster-deeper water.
Flies:  Sorry, but we only share this information with our guest.

In 1999, I spent one year hiking and fishing the Andes mountain range; from Tierra del Fuego to southern Columbia.  I enjoyed fishing all the waters (rivers, lakes, creeks, ponds, and the Pacific Ocean), but the region and body of water that pulls me back year after year, is Patagonia and the Malleo river.  Why?  I have fished amazing waters, both in Patagonia Chile and Argentina, but the Malleo river has what every fisherman dreams of: size, diverse structure, wild brown and rainbow trout, accessibility, and a dynamic landscape that embodies much of what people expect to see in Patagonia.  As a result of these characteristics, the Malleo river has come to be known as the crown jewel of northern Patagonia.  Also, based on my extensive fishing experience throughout Patagonia, this is one of the best walk-wade fly fishing rivers.  Why?

  • Size: compared to the big rivers surrounding the Malleo (Alumine, Collon Cura or the Chimehuin), this body of water is a smaller sized, yet charming river.  The size of the river, particularly in the upper reaches, lends itself to short cast, with precise presentation.  As a result, at least for me, within a short amount of time, you'll feel connected to this river; with your mind, body and spirit. Though this river has big fish, my day spent on the Malleo is about my moment of zen.  In fact, time after time, clients tell me, "I now know why you come here...I get it...I understand why you consistently say that you could fish this river for the rest of your life and not be bored."  It's a feeling that is not easily explained, especially by a blog hack such as myself.  But do not be mistaken, what this river lacks in size, it more than makes up for it in heart!  This is one of the many reasons why FCFF focuses heavily on DIY walking-wading the Malleo.   
  • Structure:  some of the waters in Patagonia produce great fish, but they lack structure.  If you were to close your eyes and picture the perfect trout stream filled with classic riffles, pools, flats, pocket water, and cut banks; then you would soon find yourself dreaming about the Malleo.  
  • Fish:  it's about the fish, but not really. We don't fish the Malleo for the trophy mount; however, we regularly catch fish over 20" and over 2 kilos.  The Malleo is all about how we catch them...just makes a better, and more memorable life experience.  For example: during mid summer we are using either 3wt or 4wt rods, with long leaders and fine tippet.  We might use a #18-#22 caddis.  To get the right drift, you'll have to place this fly in a spot about the size of bagel.  If this fish gods are pleased with your efforts, you may pull a +20" trout from a heavily wooden log jam.  Next, I am not sure you'll be fighting with your foe,  or dancing with your partner.  But, as you bring this beauty to net, you'll soon realize this Malleo thing that I am speaking of, touches your soul, in its entirety.
  • Scenery:  the Malleo has three distinct sections, each displaying a unique Patagonian landscape. The upper section is notable characterized by the towering 12, 293 foot (3,747 meters) volcan Lanin. On clear days, which are often during the summer months, you can see the snow covered glaciated peak...the views, while fishing in a serene trout pool, are stunning. Another feature of the upper section are the ancient araucaria trees (monkey puzzle trees).  For the angler, the combination of these trees, along with bamboo forest and other exotic vegetation, makes this section an avatar like experience.  The middle section is noted for its willow tree (sauce) lined banks, and offers up stunning panoramic views of volcan Lanin.  The canyon of the middle section offers the intrepid angler/hiker a chance to explore parts of the river that many anglers never see.  And the lower section, is an arid desert valley, featuring sculpted rocky cliffs that will be sure to amaze you.
  • Accessiblity:  with the exception of a few private ranches, such as Estancia San Huberto, much of the the Malleo is accessible to the DIY walk-wade angler.  The upper section is located in a national forest and access is free of charge.  Via the 'yellow bridge' the middle section is a great spot for those who like to 'hike' and wade.  And the lower section, once you pay the $30 pesos fee, much of the river is yours to fish.  Lastly, the Malleo river is only an hour or less away from Junin de los Andes.  In other words, within minutes of leaving Junin, you enter a different world...a world where time is measured by the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon. Lastly, the proximity of the river to Junin de los Andes, offers the DIY angler the option to camp stream side, while having immediate access to in-town modern conveniences. This opportunity makes for a great guided DIY, 1-3 night camp/fishing adventure.  

A fine example of a large Malleo Rainbow.  

Fishing the Malleo with FCFF

On the Malleo, we offer guided DIY trips. During the summer months, and if you like to fish the early A.M. and late P.M. hatches, we also offer overnight guided DIY camping trips on the Malleo.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post.  If you have questions or comments, please feel free to do so. Many thanks and hope to see you next season in Patagonia.

Gone Fishing,


Guided DIY camping on the Malleo.