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SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES AREA RIVERS


The northern Patagonia region around the towns of Junín and San Martin de los Andes has the largest variety of trout streams in Argentina. You can fish 15 rivers and 20 lakes within a two-hour radius of San Martin de los Andes. And although the area contains all of the country’s famous trout waters, it is sparsely populated. You can find peaceful solitude here.

Andes Drifters’ custom-tailored fishing packages will allow you to fish the very best waters in ways that match your preferences perfectly. From long days fishing to evenings enjoying splendid dinners and relaxation at the lodge, you’ll experience the very best of Patagonia with us.

MALLEO RIVER

The Malleo River (Rio Malleo) is one of the most famous rivers in Patagonia because of its dry fly fishing. This midsize freestone river forms out of Tromen Lake at the base of the Lanín Volcano and flows for 32 miles before joining the Aluminé River. Its meandering course takes it through steep canyons, large meadows and big stands of willows. The Malleo has the best and most predictable hatches throughout the season.

A main road follows this river for most of its length, allowing easy to moderate access. It is not large enough to float, so you will be wade fishing here. While you might encounter a few fishermen on Malleo, it is never crowded.

This river can be divided into two sections, upper and lower. The upper section is characterized by fast flows and large boulders, and it is heavily lined with willows. The lower section flows through the Mapuche Indian Reservation. Here the river slows and becomes a bit more canyon like, featuring large rock outcroppings with willows lining only one bank at a time, making it easier to wade and move around.

CHIMEHUIN RIVER

Housing the largest trout population in the region, the Chimehuin River is the icon of fly fishing in northern Patagonia. It is a classic large, free-flowing trout stream. You could spend the entire season here and still not have enough time to discover all of its pools, runs and willow-lined banks.

This river starts in Lake Huechulafquen at the base of the Lanín Volcano and runs for about 30 miles until it joins the Collon Cura River.

The Chimehuin flows through the town of Junín, and you’ll find the best fishing between the town and where the river joins the Aluminé to form the Collon Cura. In this lower section, the Chimehuin slows and creates spectacular dry fly fishing, especially during caterpillar season. You can wade or float in this large, gentle-flowing segment of the river.

Although the Chimehuin is very popular, most of the lower section is secluded and accessible only through our negotiations with private ranches. You’ll have these waters largely to yourself with little fishing pressure.

COLLON CURA RIVER

Home to very large trout, The Collon Cura is the largest river system in the region. It is formed by the confluence of the Aluminé, the Chimehuin and Catan-Lil Rivers, and then flows nearly 50 miles until reaching the Piedra del Águila Reservoir.

The Collon Cura is a great dry fly river early in the season, makes a major change to a unique minnow fishery from mid to late summer, and then transitions back to a great dry fly fishery during the fall.

By late January, massive numbers of minnows migrate from the lake upstream to spawn. Once the migration starts, the trout stop feeding on insects and concentrate solely on eating the minnows they find trapped in the riffles. The swarm of migrating minnows is so heavy that the riffles, eddies and shallows turn black.

We float nearly 20 miles on the Collon Cura over three days, camping on islands and fishing parts of the river where you will see no other anglers.

ALUMINE RIVER

This river is one of the longest rivers in northern Patagonia. Most of its 80 miles is great water for trout fishing and can be floated. It presents countless fishing opportunities.

The Aluminé is a freestone river that forms out of Aluminé Lake and flows until it joins the Catan-Lil and Chimehuin to become the Collon Cura River. Access to many sections of this stream is limited or very difficult, so you won’t find many people around. Fishing pressure is very low.

In addition to daily floats, we take island camping float trips so you can experience the best of what of this great stream offers.

In January and February, the annual inchworm hatch creates spectacular fishing on the Aluminé. Even the large, wily brown trout will get downright stupid during this time of year, allowing you to sight fish for them.

CALEUFU RIVER

This is probably one of the most beautiful streams in northern Patagonia. Starting from the junction of the Meliquina and Filo Hua-Hum Rivers, the Caleufu River begins as a mountain stream running though a unique Rocky canyon with spectacular rock formations. It becomes a medium-size river and flows for about 60 miles to the Collon Cura River and the Alicurá Reservoir.

Most of our trips on the Caleufu are done by floating. Although the water level drops dramatically each season, this river can be floated until mid to late January. Our multi-day float will take you through spectacular scenery and steep rock formations as Andean Condors soar overhead.

After the water drops too low to float on the Caleufu, we concentrate our fishing on the lower portion of the river, where a minnow migration similar to that of the Collon Cura River takes place.

QUILLEN RIVER

The Quillen River is a tributary of the upper Aluminé is a great stream for dry fly fishing. It forms from Quillen Lake in the Lanín National Park.

This freestone river flows for about 16 miles until its junction with the Aluminé River. While the upper section of the river runs slowly and winds through a beautiful valley, the gradient on the lower section becomes steeper and presents the angler with classic pocket water.

The Quillen is too small to float and is fished by only a handful of wade fishermen per year.

SAMPLE ITINERARY

Saturday

  • Arrival at local airport direct from Buenos Aires.
  • Andes Drifters meets you at airport, transports you to lodge.
  • Tour San Martin de los Andes, followed by time for shopping.
  • Attend Argentine wine tasting.
  • Welcome dinner.

Sunday

  • Breakfast.
  • Head to Caleufu River to begin 25-mile, three-day float trip.
  • Full day of fishing for rainbow and brown trout using hopper and big attractor dry flies.
  • Reach camp (set up in advance by trained crew) at last light of day.
  • Dinner ready and waiting upon arrival. Enjoy Argentine asado (traditional barbecue made with different cuts of beef and lamb, sausages and served with a variety of salads) accompanied by Argentine wine.

Monday

  • Breakfast.
  • Second full day of catching rainbows and brown.
  • Arrive at preset camp with the last light of the day.
  • Another dinner ready and waiting upon arrival. Enjoy chicken on the disco (cooked in a heavy iron wok with onions, peppers and a unique wine sauce).

Tuesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Third full day of catching rainbows and brown.
  • Reach take-out point.
  • Drive back to San Martin de los Andes for dinner, hot shower and comfortable bed.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Leave San Martin de los Andes to fish Malleo River, one of region’s most famous dry fly fishing streams
  • Wade stream in different sections, enjoy catching rainbows and browns, including sight fishing conditions under willow tree branches
  • After evening hatch, return to San Martin de los Andes for a wonderful dinner, hot shower and comfortable bed.

Thursday

  • Breakfast.
  • Leave for adventure float on Chimehuin River (a must-fish river in northern Patagonia).
  • Enjoy complete day of float.
  • Enjoy great mayfly hatches.
  • Arrive at preset camp with the last light of the day.
  • Dinner ready and waiting upon arrival. Enjoy entire lamb cooked Argentine style on the iron cross against the fire, accompanied by fine wine.

Friday

  • Breakfast.
  • Fish and float two different rivers by floating the Chimehuin and reaching the junction of the Collon Cura River by afternoon.
  • Reach take-out point.
  • Drive back to San Martin de los Andes to enjoy fine goodbye dinner.

Saturday

  • After breakfast, to airport for departing flight.