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Estancia Río Pelke season report 23/24

The trout destination of south Patagonia

As a surge towards immensity, we arrive at Estancia Río Pelke to begin our trout flyfishing season in the most productive spring creeks of southern Patagonia. We know that no two days will be the same, that no two trout will tell the same story, that the anecdotes and shared moments will be, from here until the end of the season, unique moments, and that motivates us because like any good angler, we are curious about all those moments that will come and that we cannot fully control. That surge towards immensity is also a surge towards enjoying freedom. And that’s what we’ve come for.

“Our perspective on the Rio Pelke Experience”

"That awe that the immensity can instill is diluted by the flow of these small rivers that shelter us between their banks and keep us watchful because they hide surprises."
Juanchi
fly fishing guide

Our fly boxes are filled with sure bets and bets yet to be confirmed; we are explorers, with hundreds of miles of 5 different rivers to discover and everything we need to traverse them safely and confidently. We know that at the end of the day, in that cozy lodge awaiting us, we’ll have a place to rest. We’ll have something delicious to drink, while indulging in even more delightful dishes, and then we’ll have a moment of reflection, sometime during the day, that makes us ponder how far we’ve come.

We are at the end of the world, in the land of the endless steppe, of the wind, of mythical trout, and with a smile, we’ll know that perhaps many think reaching this point is madness, but there’s something that pleases us. We know, in our angler’s heart, that it’s not a rational project since it springs from an immense desire.

As the days pass, we are confirming many things; we are doing a great job. We are happy to see our clients satisfied with the experience of having visited us, of having given us the opportunity to show them our place in the world. They are fishing well; our catch reports don’t lie, and the smiles of the fishermen even less so. We are even enjoying the adverse moments when the wind blows, when the cast doesn’t go as expected, when we scare away a trout. That’s how we learn, and at Estancia Río Pelke, that is one of the fundamental pillars on which we base our experience. We want to teach, and we want to learn. We all have a thirst for improvement that is not exhausted with the passing of weeks and of all the groups of fishermen who visit us, many of them, year after year, and who are already true friends.

“Month by month, how the season developed”

Looking back on what this past season has been, we can talk about some concrete facts.

The rivers started at a perfect water level, high during November and December due to good snow and water precipitation during the winter/spring. Despite being high, most of these rivers always maintained very good visibility and trout very willing to take our flies.

Streamers, nymphs, and of course, our favorites, large dry flies as terrestrial imitations.

By January, we already had optimal visibility levels in all the rivers we fished. Brown trout and brook troutaveraging 17 inches, and depending on climatic conditions, these catches ranged between 7 and over 20 per day per angler. One of the things I most appreciate about fly fishing at Estancia Río Pelke is the versatility of the places we can fish. We can walk miles and miles per day, fishing every corner we find, with adventurous anglers and in good physical condition. We can also take things more slowly, walking less and taking our time with more technical fishing. Advanced anglers, beginners, and everyone in between have exactly the same chances of fishing very well and enjoying a true high-level Patagonian experience in a place with a lot of indigenous history at a wonderful and familiar lodge.

February gave us unbeatable weather throughout the month, with lower rivers and at times more technical conditions due to the complete absence of wind. These were days of approaching the water slowly, of careful movements, and of presenting the line and the fly very well. Out of all of the different phases we go thru the week the most surprising of all is the passive phase of silence, when all movement ceases, which makes us cast with the subtlety of shyness.

Exclusively fishing with dry flies during February resulted in the highest catches of the season, both in sizes and quantities.

From February until the end of the season in late March, we can observe a change in the behavior of some trout, many of them, especially the large brookies, becoming more aggressive towards our flies. It’s always wonderful to be able to see the detail of the design of these fish, especially their colors which by this time of the year are already well pigmented. One of many stories I can remember happened on my 40th birthday on late February, when Mark landed 40 brook trout in that single day!

Our mid-week alternative program in the domes deserves a paragraph of its own; this is where we go in search of the largest brook trout that Patagonia, and perhaps the entire world, has to offer us.

The lower part of the river maintained very good catch numbers and brook trout averaging 15 inches throughout the season. The upper part of the river is where the true monsters dwell, and although there may be periods where these trout seem inactive, we are always surprised by true trophies for those who have patience and perseverance. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed unforgettable catches of these salvelinus fontinalis weighing up to 6 pounds.

In this place, the atmosphere is special. The domes bring us together as people. Things are shared in a very intimate way, with the magic of a campsite in the middle of nature under an endless sky but with the comforts we need to feel comfortable and be able to rest peacefully.

Till next season

Having finished the season a few weeks ago, I can only think of those sensations at Estancia Rio Pelke, with the fading light after having had a great day. Thinking of being there again, guiding curious fishermen who will have left me as many things as the experience of fishing in Pelke has left on them. And at night, when on the steppe the sky and the rivers become one, we all dream of the immensity of a new day, and knowing that there will be no two alike.

Juanchi Acqua is an experienced 40-year-old Argentine guide that has worked in destinations around the world such as Tsimane  (Bolivia), Alphonse (Seychelles) and different parts of south Patagonia, both Chilean and Argentine.

 

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