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Lago Yelcho, in great weather during the dry dragonfly season, early January. Brian O’Keefe puts the camera down and casts for large trout, and fishing buddy Kevin Jurgens flies the drone and produces this great shot. The scenery here is mind boggling. We caught large brown trout, rainbows and one brook trout. Also, accessed the lower Rio Futaleufu where it enters Lago Yelcho.

Chile’s ‘Quiet’ Waters – Part One

We have all heard the people who describe Chile’s southern trout streams and lakes as Montana 50 years ago. To a degree, this is true, except there are some watersheds that are more like 100 years ago. Rainbow and brown trout have only been in Chile for a little over 100 years, so some wiggle room is required for the perfect analogy. In any case, I can look back at a dozen or more trips to Patagonia and recall over 60 float trips, and I have yet to see another guide or angler. I fished Montana 50 years ago and there were people on the Madison, Yellowstone, Jefferson, Blackfoot, Clarks Fork, Bitterroot and Big Hole.

Not many, we gave another angler a five-mile cushion back then. So today, when you fish and float a variety of rivers in Chile and still never see another boat, or bank angler, you understand the significance. Fingers crossed that it stays that way for a long time. My last trip was between Christmas, 2021 and New Year’s, 2022. My base camp was Martin Pescador Lodge, their Puerto Cardenas Lodge on the Rio Yelcho and their La Junta Lodge which has access to several rivers with stoneflies, mayflies, caddis, streamer fishing, something for everyone.  

Lago Yelcho.
Lago Yelcho.
Martin Pescador’s  Puerto Cardenas Lodge on the banks of Rio Yelcho. Easy boat ride to Lago Yelcho or to the hatches on Rio Yelcho. Very good dry fly fishing. Plus, some great scenery from your room and the decks, and incredible food.
Martin Pescador’s Puerto Cardenas Lodge.
Martin Pescador’s La Junta Lodge, which has quick access to the Rio Rosselot, Rio Figeuroa and Rio Pico watersheds. Wild rivers, chalk full of browns and rainbows. All techniques work, but dry fly fishing can be an all-day pleasure. Rafts and jet boats, launched at strategic spots, make the angler feel like the first person to fish these waters. It is extremely rare to ever see another angler. The fishing, the incredible food, great guides and location/location/location, make the Martin Pescador Lodge experience world class. Built by fly fishers for fly fishers. But, the steaks are worth the trip. Photo by Kevin Jurgens.

Anglers can customize itineraries to suit their favorite fly fishing technique, streamers, big lake rainbows and browns, dry dropper, dry dragonfly, etc. Or try it all and fish new water each day. Some of South America’s best scenery is just outside the lodge windows and is continually distracting from the boat.

As in, I missed a lot of dry fly takes while gazing at the Andes, glaciers, waterfalls, etc. Combine all of that with some of the best steaks in the world, carne asado cook outs, fresh salmon from nearby Puerto Montt and the national drink of Chile, the pisco sour. While there, if you don’t feel lucky and a little humbled, there is something wrong with you, seek counseling!

Martin Pescador’s Puerto Cardenas Lodge.
Lago Yelcho.
Martin Pescador’s Puerto Cardenas Lodge.
Lago Yelcho.
Martin Pescador’s La Junta Lodge.
Lago Yelcho.
Martin Pescador’s La Junta Lodge.
Martin Pescador’s La Junta Lodge.

Contributed By

Brian O’Keefe

If shopping and searching for the next best restaurant is part of your fishing vacation, you can still do Martin Pescador Lodge. On the way south, overnight in Puerto Varas (the Bozeman of Chile) or stay a few days. You will find the coolest town, full of Patagonia and North Face dealers, pubs, restaurants (incredible seafood, I’m serious), eye popping scenery, and all walkable. PV is lakeside, with volcano views, quaint gardens, and a slight German homesteader influence, so try the beer, sausage and studdle. Information for Martin Pescador Lodge is at: www.elevenangling.com

Email me for more info: brianokeefe54@gmail.com. The season is December through March. Tackle is the same as in the Rockies; 75% dry lines. Rainbows and browns average 17 to 20 inches, with bigger fish daily and some monsters. Ask about ‘eeling’ and suspended rainbows. Great guides and every imaginable kind of watercraft ensure that every piece of fly water can be accessed.

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