After my first trip to Argentina last year to chase sea-run browns on the Rio Gallegos in Southern Patagonia, I absolutely fell in love with the place and couldn't wait to return. Fortunately, I was able to make that a reality this year again, with the added bonus of having a great group of similarly-obsessed kiwi fly anglers. Argentina is an incredible place, and although the turbo-charged sea-run trout are the main draw for an addict like myself, the scenery, wildlife, culture, food, wine, and friendships all add up to make it a truly world-class experience.
Our week at Estancia Las Buitreras consisted of fishing from dawn to dusk, punctuated frequently with brief respite for incredible bbq'ed meat and bottomless glasses of Malbec. The seatrout are like chrome rockets on the end of your line, and the resident brown trout of the Rio Gallegos are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful in all the world. The end of the week arrived far too soon, immediately planting the desire for future return trips.
This year, Jason Cochrane and I transferred a few hours North to Los Plateados Lodge on the Rio Santa Cruz for an additional few days of swinging flies for chrome-bright steelhead. Gone was the technical fishing and small, clear water of the Rio Gallegos, replaced instead with the massive, glacier flow of the Rio Santa Cruz. The steelhead of the Santa Cruz are the only known population of Atlantic steelhead in the world, making them a truly unique specimen set in a landscape that is indescribably beautiful. Heavy skagit heads, fast-sinking T-tips, and big intruders were the recipe for tempting these incredible fish, which we both had the privilege of coming in contact with by the end of our short-lived three day stint.
As usual, it's the peripheral experiences from this recent Argentina sojourn that will be forever remembered - the sunsets the set the sky on fire, the puma tracks on the river bank, the thick, juicy steaks cooked over wooden coals and washed down with a bottle of Malbec, and the incredible guides and Argentines that shared their home with us. And without a doubt, the fish are some of the most beautiful in all the world.