World Wide Fishing!

Welcome to Argentina

Part 4: Neuquén Province

by Alejandro Martello, Buenos Aires, Argentina
My thanks to Diego Flores (guide and outdoor writer) for helping me in this
article and to Tornillo (casting instructor and outdoor writer,) for the pixs.

Well this week I will start with the second part of the report. In this part I will divide Patagonia in its provinces (5 provinces) and will make a brief description of each of the best rivers and lakes of each province.

This week I will talk about Neuquen Province. It is in the northwestern Patagonia and is the smallest province in Patagonia region.

Neuquen is characterized by its majestic landscapes. It is really a paradise of lakes, mountains, fishing of trout and winter sports. The cultivation of apples and pears and in smaller degree grapes and peaches is of great importance for its economy. There are three important rivers in the province, which flow across it from the mountainous area of the west to the east. In the north and as a limit with the province of Mendoza: the Colorado river. In the centre: the Neuquén river. In the south and as a limit with the province of Río Negro: the Limay river.

The following species of salmonids can be found in its lakes and rivers. They are of international sport interest:

  • Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss.)

  • Perch (Percichtys spp.)

  • Landlocked salmon (Salmo salar)

  • Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

  • Brown trout (Salmo trutta)

    As regards its natural resources, Neuquen is one of the largest size of the country, is the most important among all the other reservations of oil. Besides, it has 55 % of the reservations of natural gas in the whole country.

    Neuquen is the greatest province generating hydroelectricity, through the 6 power stations that are located on the Neuquén and Limay rivers, supplying the 35 % of the whole national production.

    Neuquen has 4 national parks and 5 provincial natural reservations, more than 30 lakes and a great mountainous cord (Los Andes range) where volcanoes and hills of great height are plentiful. They are suitable for climbing and skiing (on snow). Two international centres of ski are outstanding among them: Chapelco and Bay Hill.

    The capital city of this province, Neuquén City, has an important airport just 1.5 hours away from Buenos Aires and in the same airport you can rent a car and travel to your favorite river.

    Ok, now let´s talk about fishing.

    This province has huge difference between the northern and central-south region. So I think is really useful to divide the province in Northern and Central- South region.

    The northern section of Neuquén province, has the characteristic of a very low fishing pressure. The low pressure is the result of a really difficult access but if we can reach the stream we will find the same scenery like others well known rivers many decades ago.

    Many of these rivers born in the high mountain and don´t have lakes at their heads. Almost all these rivers are away from the roads for normal vehicles so a 4 WD truck is a must here to reach the best spots and sometimes we will need the help of our old friends, the horses.

    In this zone we can find the Trocoman River, Nahueve River, Alto Neuquen River, Varvarco lagoons, Agrio River and Hualcupén River.

    Trocomán River (approx. 50 miles long)

    Pretty large river of medium dimensions. Has no lake at its head and is the best river in the northern Neuquen region. The higher section of this river is really close to the Andes, has a big slope and has no access, so is not recommendable for fishing.

    The middle and lower sections, with a lower slope, smooth runs (this allows an easy wading), large and deeps pools, shore with vegetation, turn this section into an excellent trout spot.

    The scenery of this section, due to really few rains, is arid. The waters of the river waters are a bit green. Trocomán River has a great population of fish, almost all rainbows with an average weight of 1 to 3 pounds but if we do every thing with extreme care, we can hook fish up to 6 pound trout. So this river is an excellent place for the lovers of light gear (2-5 wt. are the best). 15 miles of the middle section are in the lands of Ranquil-Co ranch. This ranch has a lodge and many facilities for fishermen.

    This river, well known for its excellent rainbows of good size, has the inconvenience that almost all the year it drags sediments from Domuyo Volcano (15,420 ft). So if we find the waters clear, an excellent fishing is insured.

    Varvarco Lagoons:

    These lagoons have blue, gin clear waters. The access is only recommendable with 4 WD trucks because the road in some parts are impossible for a common car. Here the trout population of medium size (1- 3 lbs) is really amazing, so this makes this place into an outstanding place for the novice angler. The trouts of these lagoons are in a big competition for food so they take a great variety of flies and we don´t need a polished technique to have a great fishing day.

    The central and southern region, in difference with the previous one, have an easier accessibility to the rivers. This factor turns this region in the most visited region in Patagonia by anglers. The roads are better, there are a lot of camping places, the weather is more favorable and there are a lot of hotels in big cities as in smaller towns like San Martín de los Andes, Junín de los Andes, Villa La Angostura, Aluminé and Villa Traful. There are also plenty of lodges and huts.

    In this region we can find the most known rivers like Aluminé, Chimehuín, Limay, Quilquihue, Traful, Pulmarí, Collon Cura, Malleo, Caleufu, Curruhé, Bonito and lakes like Tromen, Nahuel Huapi, Alumine, Paimun, Huechulafquen, etc.

    As you can see in this region there are a lot of excellent rivers, so the description of each of them will be really long for this article, so I will start with Aluminé River in this article and next week will add other rivers.

    Aluminé River:

    This is born in Aluminé lake and after a long run, it joins to Chimehuín river to form the Collon Cura river. The Aluminé is a big-sized stream, that receive the contribution of a big number of rivers with great sportive value like, Pulmarí river, Ruca Choroi, Quillen and Malleo.

    Its large length and the different environments that it runs through, make impossible to talk about this river like only one, so to study it better, I have to divide it in three sections. Upper Aluminé, Middle Aluminé and Lower Aluminé.

    Upper Aluminé: (20 KM. Aprox)

    This is from the lake Aluminé to where it joints with Pulmarí river. The Aluminé´s mouth, has a funnel shape with many aquatic vegetation and its width is about 90 ft. It is common to see big sized fish, mostly rainbows from the lake but the fishermen that live there say that this is not a good fishing spot, because you can catch really few fish and have to fight against the strong wind predominant in the zone. 1.5 mile downstream from the mouth, the river gets in a cannon and its characteristics change completely. The shore vegetation is poor so the steppe scenery is dominant here with some huge araucarias. Here the river has few aquatic vegetation and little rainbows inhabit it. The average size of them is between 0.6 to 1.3 pounds, but there are some possibility to catch fish to 2.2 pounds.

    Middle Aluminé: (35 km. Aprox.)

    This is from the Aluminé joining with the Pulmarí to its joining with the Quillén. Here the flow is bigger than the upper Aluminé and the river slope is lower, so the river is very different. There are more pools and the stones in its bottom are smaller. Here the river is easier to wade and the possibility of a floating fishing trip on a raft in a 2 day trip is a very exciting option. The shore vegetation, mostly willows, increases and the willows give shelter and cover to aquatic insects and trouts. The color of the river is a light milky green. The fish are very numerous and their size is between .6 to 3 pounds but the possibility to catch a brown of more than 4 lbs are really high.

    Lower Alumine: (95 km. Aprox.)

    Is from Quillen river to Aluminé´s joining with Chimehuin River. Here, the water from a lot of creeks make the Aluminé a big river, The pools are larger and with more depth and the water is a bit darker. Here a fisherman can catch up to 30 to 40 trouts (rainbows and browns) between 3 to 5 pounds and the possibility to catch a brown up to 8 pounds is really high.

    Gear and flies for the Aluminé

    Even being a wide river, you can use a great selection of gear and techniques. The ideal gear is a fast action #5 or #6 rod, 8´5´´ to 9´ long. The best lines for this river are a WF-F for nymphing and dry flies and a type III or IV Shooting taper or a 130 or 200 grains Teeny line to fish streamers in the deeper pools where bigger fish are hidden. At the end of the season and with the waters low, is possible to use a 2 or 3 weight rods. The best flies are:

  • Nymphs: #8- #12 Montana Stone, Bitch Creek and Black Stone.

  • Streamers: #4- #8 Woolly buggers and marabou muddlers.

    You can add many other patterns (specially dries) but please don´t forget to carry those flies if you want to have a great fishing day.~ Alejandro Martello, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    For more on fishing South America visit Ale's website!

    More South American Fly Fishing:

    Peacock Bass in Brazil (Brasil)
    Dorados in Argentina
    Argentine Patagonia - Introduction
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 2
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 3
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 4
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 5
    Argentine Patagonia - Part 6
    A True Chilean Adventure
    Futaleufu, Chile, Part 1
    Futaleufu, Chile, Part 2

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