The Patagonia region of Argentina has been referred to as a trout fishing Mecca, so when my friends at Gotfishing.com invited us to check out Estancia Laguna Verde lodge and film in Southern Argentina it was a prompt response of “when do we leave?”
Patagonia has always been known for wonderful trout fishing, but Lake Strobel, aka “Jurassic Lake“ is the ultimate place to chase the biggest rainbow trout of your life! After a long and arduous 8,200 mile journey by air, we arrived in the small airport of El Calafate, Argentina where our guides for the week were waiting for us. That, as it turns out, was going to be the easy part.
Revived by adrenaline from talk of 15-pound rainbow trout and the pure excitement of being in this remote part of the world, we headed out across the high desert. We had anticipated a fairly long drive, but after about four hours of rugged dirt road we started to question if we were ever going to be there. Just 15 minutes from our destination of Estancia Laguna Verde the vehicle behind us blew a tire! As it would come to be known this is a very common occurrence with the abundance of volcanic rock that makes up the roads. When we arrived at the lodge we were greeted by the staff and shown around the rustic, but quaint, facility and our base for the next week. We strategically planned fishing spots on Jurassic Lake according to the wind, which in Patagonia seems to always be a factor.
The first day the crew was filming and getting back into the groove of things along with hooking and landing the biggest rainbows we have ever seen. Floating lines with olive crystal buggers stripped painfully slow, coupled with natural wave action, was the trick for these beautiful chrome and spotted rainbow slabs.
The fish living in Jurassic are getting to be so big due to the abundant population of scuds or freshwater shrimp, so much so they appear to have small heads and disproportionate bodies. Very similar to what I would look like on a diet of all donuts, I think! The third day of our trip we awoke to find the wind had laid down to nothing, and the stars were aligning to make for an unbelievable day.
As we approached our destination of “dry fly bay” on our quads, we witnessed giant fish chasing bugs and swirling aggressively on the surface. The crew dismounted and started rigging our 8 wt fly rods with the giddiness of 15-year- olds. We waded out into the bay laughing and giggling at the sight of these fish feeding just a short cast away. The fish were starting to fall victim to the olive woolly bugger again as we chased swirls and bug hatches along the bay.
A couple hours into the morning my buddy Dreu had landed multiple large rainbows with one around 10 pounds. He had a large fish working the top just off to my side of his presentation. He called out with laughter, “He is headed for your fly.” I started in with the commentary, “He sees it, he likes it, he is on it,” and with that a vicious strike followed by the hook set and our producer just behind us rolling – the fight was on.
The biggest fish of the day had eaten my fly and was skipping across the top of the water with the speed of which I haven’t seen from any other fish on this trip. It was a fresh “migratory” rainbow and with that I was into my backing, palming the reel and trying to slow him down. I worked on him for some time, but every time he would act like he was starting to wear down he would be gone again into the backing for a total of 4 times. As Raul positioned himself within the giant boulders to land this fish I gently tried to steer him, but this fish was the largest fish I had seen on the trip and wouldn’t move easily. After several attempts we finally tired him out enough to get him in the net and in hand for the camera!
This day was an anomaly for us starting with no wind, but the entire day was full of giant rainbow trout. Between Dreu and I, we must have landed 50 fish with 20 of those between 10 and 15 pounds. What an amazing fishery and Only in South America!