Patagonia Trout Odyssey 2024 -Trip Report, Part 2

San Jose Lodge

Leaving Estancia Tecka Lodge, we flew to Tierra del Fuego to fish for Sea Run Brown Trout on the Rio Grande at San Jose Lodge.

There is really nothing like San Jose on the Rio Grande.  The warm hospitality, superior cuisine and luxurious single guest rooms make this 4-rod lodge feel like you stay at someone’s home. And well, you actually are. It was Ted Turner’s house/private fishing estate, before it was recently purchased by an Argentine who is no stranger to Fly Fishing Patagonia.


Drive times to the river are about 15 mins and they have over 20 named pools within their 12 km of river of which none of it is shared with another lodge.  From a bluff over the river valley, you see the river running for miles and what’s remarkable as that you have random groups of trees scattered up and down the river banks on the property. Simply gorgeous.


Our week of March 16-23 is historically a great week at San Jose but conditions did not favor us, however. We arrived with perfect water levels but a river of chocolate milk. When the Rio Grande does turn muddy, being higher up at San Jose is ideal because it will clear faster than the lower river. As it started to clear on day 2, we had some afternoon action. Great action, actually with big fish.

Then the water temps plummeted, the clouds were scarce and we had many still days with very little wind. This was the trifecta that that made for challenging conditions on this relatively shallow and narrow stretch of the river.  The veteran guides assured us that if we could snorkel the pools we’d see they were full of fish. We knew that was that case and we indeed saw them porpoise.

Nevertheless, Sea Runs were caught each day, just not in numbers that would be considered a normal week in the peak month of March at San Jose. We did catch plenty of 20-22 inch resident Brown Trout and even a couple of Rainbows that migrated down from Chile.


Despite the slow fishing, everyone felt pledged to be in such a private lodge. Half the anglers have rebooked and others are still trying to make it happen for 2025.  With only 4 rods, weeks at San Jose fill fast so don’t hesitate to contact us for space!

Rio Manso Lodge

After San Jose, we made a 2-night stop to visit some friends at Rio Manso Lodge. I honestly had forgotten just how stunningly beautiful the views are from the lodge overlooking the Hess Lake and the snow covered Tronador Mountain. I only had time for one day of fishing where I caught 17-18 inch Brook Trout on Fonk Lake.

This trip was special for me because I took our previous and beloved office manager, Maluly to enjoy the lodge and to put a rod in her hand. She surprised me with a very special gift -a small handful of Oscar Dono’s ashes, who was our dear friend and my partner in FFP for 20 years. Since his death in 2018, she had saved some of Oscar’s ashes knowing that I’d return to Bariloche someday.  We scattered his ashes in the small creek that enters the far end of Fonk Lake, a spot that Oscar took me to when we first fished together in April of 1999. For those who knew Oscar, you’ll be happy to know that his ashes are scattered in the places he loved, Esquina Corrientes, Estancia Quemquemtreu, in the Limay River and now in Fonk Lake as well.

Out of luck, the owner of Rio Manso Lodge was there and shared with me more info and recent photos of his private property in the Chubut province. It’s a fishing side excursion he does not want marketed openly, but rather shared quietly with those particular anglers looking for remote, uncharted trout waters. It looks like something you’d see in New Zealand but has much higher catch rates.  Even today, there are still places in Patagonia where few anglers have ever cast a fly.

Reminder!  Join our Zoom call with Rio Manso Lodge Thursday April 18th at 8pm.  Maybe we can get him to talk about their private fishing property in Chubut.

Estancia Quemquemtreu

Next stop was visiting more friends and clients at Quemquemtreu and do a little bow hunting for Red Stag. For free range stag hunting with a stick and string, there is no place in Patagonia that tops it. We will post a review in the coming weeks, but any hunter interested should call us. 434-249-1783.

Any hunters interested in getting one or two of the coveted tags should contact us right away. We might be able to get you in this 2025.

After Quemquemtreu we made a quick stop at San Huberto Lodge. I got to catch a few fish in the Malleo River but the highlight was long one-on-one time with the owner Ronnie and our long time guide and my friend Alex Plaza. Many of you will remember Alex! He is doing great!


Limay River Ranch

The last 4 nights of our 2024 Patagonia Trout Odyssey was spent fishing the Middle Limay at the new Limay River Ranch run by Ron Sorenson. A good analogy for this river would be the Missouri River with the addition of summer Steelhead and minus the boat hatches. This is a destination for any angler seeking line stripping rainbows and 5-15 pound Brown Trout – on dries.

This middle section of the famous Limay exits from the Piedra de Aguila dam and flows about 35 miles into the Chocon Reservoir. It’s a complex and extremely productive tailwater with consistent temperatures but fluctuating water levels due to dam release. Ron started guiding and outfitting in Patagonia a couple years before we did and for the past 20 years he and his team of loyal guides have been methodically learning how to fish the Limay Medio River. While they admit they are still learning, it’s safe to say they have cracked the code.  While most guides still attempting the river are chucking sinking lines and streamers, Ron and his team of guides put their guests on fish using only floating lines and rarely a streamer.

 

The river holds powerful resident Rainbows and Browns but the biggest fish are the migratory Brown Trout coming up from the Chocon Reservoir. Unlike migratory Browns in other parts of Patagonia, these bruisers are present in the river system all season long. What’s more, the best way Ron and his team have found to catch them is by staking a big dry fly. One can expect to get land 1-3 big Brown Trout per day and have many more attack the fly, leaving you crushed and totally addicted. My first 2 hours on the river Ron and I fished together, landing two beautiful 7 and 8 pound Browns and missing another 3 each.

The quick growing, ass-kicking resident Rainbow Trout thrive with the unusually heavy insect activity. These Rainbows take longer to land than most Rainbows we’ve seen in Patagonia and demand your respect.


Ron has leased 30 miles of the right side of the river and ensured that the river remains relatively private and protected from trespassers and even outside guides. His new lodge is super comfortable with private cabins, a very creative chef and highly dedicated and talented team. A nice touch is that the wines get higher in quality each day of your stay.

The word is out on this new lodge with 800 bed nights booked this season. Early booking is highly recommended!

Thank you to all anglers who joined us on a spectacular fishing voyage across Patagonia. We hope to see you and many more friends on our next one!

About the author

Comments

  1. Justi,
    I’m so glad to see that the business is thriving! The pictures and the Odessa story are outstanding. And to see familiar faces — you, Alex, and Maluly— were wonderful, and brought back wonderful memories of time spent with FFP. Be well.
    Jim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *