Friday, April 18, 2014

DIY Fly Fishing Patagonia Argentina: Walk-Wade Rio Corcovado

Do you like to fish for big WILD Brook Trout/Fontinalis?

Our mission at First Cast Fly Fishing is to provide no B.S. Do-it-Yourself (DIY) information and to also host trips for DIY anglers.  That being said, and as you probably know, there are thousands of DIY places to fish in Patagonia. We strongly encourage you to do your own DIY trip, but if you don't speak the language and your time is limited, then maybe working with us is a good idea.  Regardless of your decision, let's talk about one of my favorite species: Fontinalis - Brook Trout.

Most anglers don't come to Patagonia thinking wild Brook Trout.  Anglers are consumed with float trips targeting wild Brown/Rainbow Trout.  Other angles are driven to catch anadromous fish such as the Sea Run Brown Trout.  But what about the Brook Trout?  Personally, Brook Trout are special to me because at the young age of 9 years old, my first fish caught on a fly rod, was a Brook Trout.  I will never forget that moment; it's the whole reason why I fly fish and why I like to fish small technical streams.  So, here in Patagonia, whenever I get the chance to fish for wild Brook Trout, I jump on it.

Your options for Brook Trout fishing in Patagonia (not Tierra del Fuego) are:

  • Many of the small lakes or mountain ponds hold Brook Trout.  There are hundreds of these lakes and ponds throughout Patagonia.  Some are easy to get to, while others are very challenging. You'll need a belly boat to effectively fish these waters.
  • Rio Corcovado and the surrounding small lakes/ponds.
  • Rio Coyle: located in the Rio Gallegos area, this is extremely far from traditional northern Patagonia trout fisheries. 
  • Spring creek located inside Los Alerces National Park: easy access, but extremely technical fishery.  

Regarding an anglers ability to DIY walk-wade for wild Brook Trout in Argentina, in my opinion, there is no question, it's the Rio Corcovado.  Let's review the facts that makes the Corcovado a great DIY fishery: 

  • Location:  Between the towns of Corcovado and Rio Pico = easy access.  Rio Pico is closer to the river and the dirt road is well maintained. Coming into to Pico, a newly paved road now exists. 
  • How to Get There:  Esquel to Tecka to Gdor. Costa to Rio Pico to the river.  Or, Trevelin to Corcovado to the river.  Traveling via Gdor. Costa offers more pavement.
  • Public Transportation:  There are no buses to the river.
  • Fishing Season: November 01 till April 15th. 
  • Licensed Required: General fishing only, good for all of Patagonia, except TDF.  
  • Floating: Upper Stretches = No.  Lower Stretches = There is rafting on class 4 rapids on the lower stretches, near the town to Corcovado.
  • Public Access Points:  The land surrounding the river is 100% private; however, at the boca or RP 44 bridge, there is public access. 
  • Length: 120 km total; but for fishing purposes (upper section only), and if you like to walk, there are many miles of fishable water. 
  • Species:  Brook Trout and Rainbow Trout.
  • When:  You can fish the river anytime, during the regular fishing season.  However, most anglers come at the end of the season.  They do so because they are targeting large migratory Brook Trout and the fall colors are exceptional.  
  • Origin: Lago Vinter, 3,000 ft above sea level.
  • Termination: Pacific Ocean.  Oddly, this river crosses into Chile and changes name to Rio Palena. 
  • Walk-Wade Difficulty:  This is mostly a free-stone river, with limited structure.  Early season flows may provide extreme challenges for most anglers. Late season (March 15th - April 15th) There are many places to cross the river, in shallow riffles. 
  • H2O:  Water is extremely cold and clean.  Be extremely cautious not to spook fish.
  • Where to Stay:  A) in-town at Rio Pico or Corcovado.  B) free camping at the mouth. 
  • Fly Rods: Depending on the angler, single hand 9ft/5wt-8wt.  Two Handed Switch Rod 5wt.  
  • Fly Lines:  Single Hand: WF Floating and an array of poly-leader tips.  This is a fantastic river for two handed switch rods. If you use a switch rod = I use a Skagit head suited to the grain window, and various poly-leader tips.
  • Specific Flies:  The fly selection is not complicated, but we only share this information with our guest. 

Tips and More

Fish the boca/mouth at first and last night.  If the water levels are low (as seen in the photo) the use of a belly boat will put you within casting distance of larger fish.
My 1st Corcovado Fontinalis of the season.  The boca/mouth, no joke, has millions of small rainbow's and brookies.  Because the water was very low, I chose to experiment with my tango (czech) nymph rig.  I used #20 flies and I probably caught 100 of these little beauties.
Camping is free; within walking distance of the boca/mouth. But come prepared for all types of have been warned!  In the background is friend and long time Corcovado fisherman, Raul de Rossi. Raul has been coming here for the past 30 years.  During siesta, I love sitting with him and listening to his fishing tales (all true tales...he's a living legend).
From the boca/mouth/free camping area = If you follow this dirt road along the lake, you'll find more camping opportunities.  Just remember where you are or where you take your car = if you have car problems here, you have a BIG problem.
From the free camping area, by foot, cross the road; there is a white gate = climb over the gate and follow the road.  You'll come to a second non-painted gate = climb over the gate and walk-fish for miles and miles. 
On many occasions, I have walked up to 3 hours downstream.  On a windless day, all you can hear is your heart beat and breathing rhythm's; inhaling and exhaling.  Walking up to 3 hours does not mean the fishing is better, but if solitude is your thing, then you're in the right place.
As I said above, this is a very good river for a switch rod.  However, in many pools be careful of slapping the water with the head = fish are very-very spooky here.  Many anglers here use a single hand rod with a WFF and they use traditional 'wet fly' techniques = very effective with spooky fish, but getting deep, in some pools, can be problematic.    
There are some spots of the river, higher on the banks, where you will see dozens of large Brook Trout lying low on the bottom. Step #1: close you gapping mouth...your are drooling.  Step #2: think about how you will approach these monsters; you casting angle is critical to a good, natural presentation.  Step #3: when they are frozen (not moving) it is very difficult to catch one.  Be patient, keep your cast as stealth as possible and don't give up.  My last cast produces a beautiful Fontinalis.

Final Word

There are spots/pools on this river, where the big fish definitely hold.  Finding those spots could take you days, if not weeks.  Fortunately for me, I have had the time to learn about this river and I have been fishing it for years.  If you would like First Cast Fly Fishing to host you (put you in the best spots), please feel free to contact us.  Many thanks for reading and good luck on your next DIY adventure.

Saludos y Abrazos Amigos,