World Wide Fishing!

Welcome to Argentina

Part 5: Neuquen, Part II

by Alejandro Martello, Buenos Aires, Argentina
My thanks to Diego Flores (professional guide and outdoor writer) for his help and Tornillo (casting instructor and outdoor writer) for some pictures.

In last article, I started talking about Neuquen Province, I divided the province in two regions, northern Neuquén and central-south Neuquén. Now I will continue talking about central-south region and particularly about rivers that are close to Aluminé River, which a talked last week.

Malleo River: (Approx. 60 km. - 37 miles)

That Malleo river is considered by the lovers of the subtle variations of fly fishing as one of the most formidable river is not a coincidence. Its accessibility, its great scenery, its conformation and over all, its excellent fishing characteristics, made that this river has earned international fame and was considerated (sadly many years ago) one of the best trout rivers of the world.

Is a medium sized river, very productive. It begins in Tromen Lake and after 60 km. (37 miles) it pours its waters into Aluminé river. Because its length and for a better analysis, we have to divide it in 3 sections.
1. Upper Malleo(from its mouth in Tromen Lake to the international bridge to Tromen International Pass aprox. 30 km.- 18.6 miles).
In this section, the river has a bigger slope, in many places it runs in canyons. This fact with the addition of the dense shore vegetation, limit a lot the performance of the angler. But places like this, hold true trophies like the place called "Red Gate."

Almost all upper Malleo has a characteristic that turns the quality and quantity of fishing in something amazing and significantly superior that lowers sections. That characteristic is: a private fishing spot. This carry us to some conclusions:
There are many more trophy size trouts in the upper section, thanks to a strict catch and release rule.

In lower section there are less trophy size fish, but they are more easy to be fooled and once in our hook those fish are more combative and wild.

The average size for this river is 1 to 2 lbs. but we can find fish over 2.8 lbs. and the "Big Boys" over 5.5 lbs, give a chance to us if we use the right technique.

2. Middle Malleo (from the international bridge to the bridge that takes us to Aluminé town, Approx 10 km.)

This section is a mix between upper and lower section (the morphology, the fishing pressure and the fish). There is not shore destruction made by the cattle as in lower section and the access is free over all its length and easily accessible by the road.

3. Lower Malleo (between the bridge to Aluminé town to its joining with Aluminé river, approx 20 km.-12.5 miles.)

Here the river is slower, with less riffles and a many pools appear. Shore vegetation is less dense and the bottom is made of small stones, making this section easier for wade fishing.

The access to Malleo is done over Nº23 Provincial Route from Junin de los Andes. We have to do 15 kms. (9.3 miles) to the first bridge that takes us to the Aluminé town. After that bridge we turn to the left and we reach the Nº60 Prov. Route which bring us to the upper and middle section of the Malleo.

For early season (November and December) and with high waters, the best rod is a #4 or #5, 8´5´´ to 9´. A WF-F line, a full sinking, Wet tip or Wet Cell (type II) for streamers. In this period is good to make some shots in sections near Tromen Lake or near Aluminé river with lines like Teeny 130 and big streamers, because there are big chances to catch fish up to 6.5 lbs. or more.

From January, with low waters, we can use ultra light tackles like #1 to #3, 6´5´´ to 8´ rods. Also a WF-F and long leaders (9 to 15 ft.) with a tippet between 5x to 7x.

Early season flies:

  • Streamers: Marabou muddlers, wolly buggers, zonkers and Black Noce Dace tied on #4 to #8 hooks.

  • Nymphs: Stone flies, Zug Bug, Soft Hackles, Montana, Casual Dress, Red Squirrel Fox, Prince and Hare´s Ear #8 to #12.

  • Dries: Specially tied with deer hair or elk hair. Elk Hair Caddis, Delta Wing Caddis, Goddard Caddis #14-#18. Also great too are attractor patterns like Wulff series, Royal Humpy and Irresistible tied on #10-#14 hooks.

    Middle and late season:

  • Streamers: The same for early season.

  • Nymphs: Pheasant Tail, Soft Hackle, A.P. Black, Hare´s Ear #14 to #20.

  • Dries: E.H. Caddis, Adams, Ants, Beetles, Black Gnat, X Caddis, Thorax Flies and CDC patterns on #14 to #22. Midge like Griffith Gnat or Palomino´s #18 to #24. Grasshopper #8 to #14.

    Caleufu River: (45 km Approx.)

    This river is from the joining of Filo Hua Hum river and Melliquina River and after many kilometers it pours its waters in the lake of Piedra Del Aguila (Eagle´s Stone) dam. Is a river of medium size dimensions with big differences between its upper section and its lower section. Upper Caleufu has a big slope with a lot of runs, big rocks in the bottom and a dense shore vegetation, so this section is really difficult to practice fly fishing.

    Lower Caleufu has a lower slope and the river forms too many side channels and curves, and the vegetation starts to disappear handing over the scenery to the steppe. The size of the gravel is smaller than in upper Caleufu and in some parts the bottom is made of sand. The water is darker than the upper section but the fish population is bigger. Here we find rainbows and brown trouts, although the firsts are more abundant. The average weight is 1.8 to 3.3 lbs. in big quantities and we have good chances to catch trouts up to 4.4 to 6.6 lbs. This river is special for beginners because there are great quantities of fish.

    Gear and techniques:

    The ideal tackle is a #5 or #6 wt. 8´5´´ to 9´ long, a full sinking or wet tip fly line (Type II), and a WF floating fly line. The best technique here is to fish with light colored bucktails #4 to #10. Other good streamers are marabou muddlers and fuzzy-guzzy, being better for slow moving waters and deep pools. With low water is possible to use #3 - #4 rods, to practice dry flies and nymph fishing. To see which kind of dries and nymph you can use, see the Malleo river "gear and techniques."

    Pulmari River (30 km- 18.5 miles)

    This is the first important tributary of Aluminé river and it is born in Ñorquinco lake. Is a medium sized river, very productive and it width is between 7 mts. (23 ft.) to 15 mts. (50 ft.) but in many places its width is up to 25 mts. (82 ft.). The water is gin clear and the proportion between riffles and pools is balanced. The shore vegetation is really dense and in some parts is difficult for the fisherman performance but the size of the river is enough to have a comfortable fishing. The insects population is high so we can find great hatches all over the seasons. The fish are between 1 to 3 lbs. but the chance to catch browns over 5 lbs. is good. The lower section of the river is recommendable for its accessibility and conformation.

    We can reach the river by Nº 11 Provincial Route. This route borders the right shore, the access is easy. The river´s course is interrupted by 2 small lakes, the bigger one called Pulmarí. Both lakes hold big quantity of rainbows up to 6 lbs. Those rainbows give us a chance to catch them in summer months with damsel patterns (nymphs and adults). For the tackle and techniques,see the Malleo River tackle and technique section

    Quillén River: (Approx. 25 km.)

    This is a river with the same characteristics of Pulmarí River. Its morphology, the minimum fishing pressure and a great fish population turn this river in one of the best light tackle river in our country. It has many curves with grass shores where terrestrials are abundant, flat waters with slow current and aquatic vegetation and a great proportion of riffles and pools turn this river in a real jewel.

    I recommend the lower section but is in private hands so the access is limited by the owner and the quantity of anglers in the river at that moment.

    We can find browns and rainbows trouts and their average weight is between 2 and 4 lbs. We reach it driving by Nº 23 Prov. Route from Aluminé town and after 16 km. We find Rahue´s bridge. There, we have to turn to the right on Nº 47 Prov Route and we reach the Park Guard´s hut on Quillén mouth after 29 km.

    For the tackle and techniques, see the Malleo River tackle and technique section

    Before you leave to fish our country, please remember that Patagonia is a whirling disease free area, so if you have fished in infected waters please buy or try to borrow new waders and boots. ~ 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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