IF YOU GO: The Chubut Province, Patagonia
The Chubut Province is in the north-central area of Patagonia, spanning the region south of sprawling Bariloche and centered on picturesque Esquel. Air links are available to both Bariloche and Esquel, with the Esquel flight being more convenient. Lodging is available within the towns of Esquel as well as Trevelin, which both also host ski travelers in the winter. Because Patagonia’s seasons are flipped from North America’s, trout fishing begins on November 1 and ends on May 1 for most waters, with a few closing in February, and a few others open year-round.
Anglers should expect to pay a reciprocal entry fee of $160 in order to enter Argentina from the United States, as well as a weekly license fee of approximately $90. Bring lots of U.S. currency; the Argentine peso fluctuates widely, and guides and staff prefer tips in U.S. dollars.
Most lodges prefer to work through a travel outfitter, although local guides typically also run independent services. Hemispheres Unlimited (hemispheresunlimited.com) is run by an American named Justin Witt, who lived and guided in Trevelin for several years and is now an Argentine citizen. Hemispheres offers bookings with a variety of lodges with four-star accommodations and exquisite dining (including Lago Rosario Lodge in Trevelin, where we stayed) as well as outfitters (including a “dirt bag” semi-DIY trip package). Patagonia River Guides (www.patagoniariverguides.com) hosts trips in the Trevelin area, farther north in the famous Lake District, as well as in the Rio Pico region in the south. They, too, offer access to a number of private estancias. Tres Valles Lodge (tresvalleslodge.com) on the Rio Las Pampas, near the Rio Pico as well as the Rio Nilson, is a good choice if you want to penetrate the true hinterlands of central Patagonia, far away from any air links.
Cast and Blast
One of the most unique things about northern Patagonia is the wide variety of bird-hunting options, which it also offers. California quail are exploding in numbers; coveys of over 100 birds are reasonably common. Quail season begins March 15, near the end of the fishing season, so it’s possible to mix cool-weather trout fishing with unsurpassed upland bird hunting. Many lodges can arrange to have 20-gauge double shotguns on hand, as well as trained gun dogs, eliminating the need to fly with your firearm. The cast-and-blast option is especially appealing for fly casters unaccustomed to casting in roaring winds—on an especially windy day, you can just go bird hunting instead and wait for better weather.