Thursday, April 17, 2014

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Rio Gallegos Sea Run Brown Trout, Part 2

You have read Part 1 at  and you have come to the conclusion that you would like to fish for Sea Run Brown Trout in Argentina. But, you might still be wondering whether to fish the Rio Gallegos or Rio Grande; or maybe both. You might be wondering whether you would like to stay in a lodge, hotel, or camp. You also might be wondering whether you can 'effectively' DIY fish either river; or, would hiring a local guide be your best option. If you have these thoughts floating in your head, then read on!

Rio Gallegos vs. Rio Grande 

For any angler that works with First Cast Fly Fishing, our goal is to meet your personal needs.  So, we are not in a position to say that one river is better than the depends on each angler.  But, we have walked a lot of rivers in Patagonia, and for our own personal DIY walk-wade style of fishing, we favor the Rio Gallegos. Why?

  • Length:  We love to explore and fish untouched waters.  At +300 kilometers, you'll have miles and miles of river to explore.  
  • Access:  We'll talk more about this below, but there are plenty of access points which allow you to walk up and downstream for miles.
  • Structure:  This not a traditional trout river, peppered with rocks, tree's, pools, runs, etc.  The river has a gravel bottom, it's shallow, and without features (though there are some areas with small tree's/bushes along the banks).  The multitude of snake like bends offer the greatest form of structure, providing key areas to target both resident and SRBT.
  • Water Flow:  Crossing this river, even at points with the fastest currents, should never be an issue.
  • Location:  We find it less expensive to travel (fly, bus, drive) to Rio Gallegos.  
  • Anadromous Fishing: The location offers the ability to jump in the car, drive 2 hours north and fish for Steelhead, in the Rio Santa Cruz (read separate post).  In fact, we do this a lot and there is no other place in the world that offers this convenience.
  • Lodging:  We like the flexibility of being able to camp on the river or stay in town. 
  • Small Stream Fishing:  By nature, we are small stream technical fisherman.  We love being able to walk-up the smaller tributaries such as the Rio Gallegos Chico, Rubens and Penitente.  These rivers hold mostly resident Brown Trout, and some have known to reach 3-4 kilos. 
  • Brook Trout:  A short drive, according to Patagonia standards, brings you to the Rio Coyle.  This is one of two rivers in all of Patagonia that holds trophy sized Fontinalis. 
  • Wild-Open:  The combination of rolling hills, flat grass-lands, volcanic rocks/cliffs, big blue skies, and wild animals, offers an amazing Patagonia experience.


Our mission at First Cast Fly Fishing is to offer fishing programs for the DIY angler; an angler who loves to walk-wade, or combine walking-wading and floating.  That being said, we have nothing against lodges, but we don't actively promote them.  So, let's talk about your lodging and camping options in Rio Gallegos.

Rio Gallegos Hotels

Forgot something at home...step outside your 5 star DIY hotel and negotiate with a local street vendor

We typically stay at 5 star DIY hotels, hostels, hosteria's (i.e. anything with a good bed and hot shower).  If you would like something a bit more fancy = no problem.  The prices in Rio Gallegos range from $30 USD to $200 USD per night.  The best five star DIY hotels in the Rio Gallegos are:

  • Hotel Punta Arenas.  The best overall value = safe, quiet, clean,  parking, great cafe and fair pricing.
  • Hotel Paris = less expensive that Punta Arenas, clean, safe, parking, rooms w/without bathrooms.
  • Hotel Covadonga = about the same as hotel Paris, but with more graffiti. (see pic above).

Camping and Hotel:  Non City (Rio Gallegos) Options

Great location along the river, but high prices and horrible service.

If you choose not to stay in town, thus, eliminating your daily commute to the river, your only option for lodging is the tired and expensive Hotel Bella Vista; located in the tiny town called Bella Vista (not to be confused with estancia/lodge Bella Vista).  Hotel BV is located approximately 50 miles from the rotary on route 3 (about 1.0-1.5 hours from downtown).  They also offer camping. Forewarned, a cup of coffee will cost more here than in the USA; but, your within walking distance of the Rio Gallegos and Gallegos Chico.  If you stay here, and to cut cost, bring plenty of your own food/beverage with you.

Free Camping at Public Access Points

5 miles from the route 3 rotary is the public access point called, Toma Palermo Aike or locally known as, Toma Agua.  This is an extremely popular fishing-camping spot.  In other words, be prepared for lots of anglers, swimming, drinking, eating, and trash.  But sooner or later, every SRBT passes through this area!  

If you are prepared to camp, you can camp at all the public access points.  The public access points start just beyond the route 3 rotary and end at Puente Blanco.  The first public access point from the rotary is 2.5 miles. The second is 3.5 miles from the route 3 rotary.  How do you know what a public access point looks like?

When you see an open gate without an estancia's name on it = it's a public access point
It is 105 miles from the route 3 rotary till Puente Blanco.  The drive from downtown Gallegos is about 2 hours.  There are no services at this location.  Rio Rubens and Rio Penitente are a short walk up-stream.   If you go beyond the bridge, the next town, about 1.5 hours away (traveling on a pure Patagonia dirt road), is 28 de Noviembre = a small town with gas and food.

DIY or Hire a Guide

At First Cast Fly Fishing, within our hearts we are true DIY anglers.  We encourage every one to experience a DIY angling vacation; however, from our experience, there are times that doing it alone, is simply not worth the hassle. Bottom line, in far away places, it's best to hire a local guide to help you achieve the ultimate goal, catching a Sea Run Brown Trout.  So, if you have doubts about flying across the globe, attempting to speak a foreign language, and figuring out the secrets of a river that is + 300 kilometers long,  you may want to read about our DIY Rio Gallegos guided programs, in Part 3.

Thanks for reading Part 1 and 2. To read part 3, please follow

Saludos Amigos