World Wide Fishing!

Welcome to Argentina

Part 6: Neuquen, Part 3

by Alejandro Martello, Buenos Aires, Argentina
My thanks to: Diego Flores (professional guide and outdoor writer) for his help in this article. Mr. José Luis Lopez Reale (President of Neuquen fly fishing Association).

In this article I will talk about the most famous rivers in Neuquén Province and perhaps in all Patagonia. These rivers are: Chimehuín River, Correntoso River and Collón Curá River.

All these rivers are close in distance but the most important coincidence between them is the great fishing history in its shores and waters. The most recognized fly fishermen in the world have fished in their waters and many of them have hooked the fish of their dreams in these waters.

Chimehuín and Correntoso rivers hold the Argentina´s records for brown and rainbow trouts in a fly and nowadays is still possible to dream of those monsters and our chances are higher specially in early or late season.

This is a medium sized river that is born in Huechulafquen Lake and after 60 km. (37 miles) it joins to Aluminé River to form Collón Curá River.

This river is one of the most important and renowned rivers in our country, and many famous anglers fished it every season many years ago, like Joe Brooks, Billy Pate, Count Radziwell and Winston Churchill among others.

This river has the typical riffle-pool conformation. Its shores are densely bushed, being the willows and michay the more abundant species.

You can catch rainbows and brown trouts. Their average size is 1 to 6 lbs. Bigger catches, specially brown trouts, are easy to see.

For a better analysis we have to divide the river in three sections:
1) Chimehuin´s Boca: From Lake Huechulafquen to Garganta del Diablo (Devil´s Throat).
2) Upper Chimehuín: From Garganta del Diablo up to Junín de los Andes town.
3) Lowere Chimehuín: From J. de los Andes town to its joining with Aluminé river.

1)Chimehuín´s Boca: The big quantity of huge size trout fished in this spot and the spectacular scenery around it, give to this place the name of "Fly fishing Meca."

Joe Brooks defined the passion for this river and specially its mouth as "Boca Fever," and he used to say that the only cure against this illness, is to take out from its water its fantastic treasure, the exceptional Chimehuín trouts.

Among the monsters fished in this river, are renowned the 10 kg (22 lbs.) brown caught by Eliseo Fernandez, 9 (20 lbs) and 10 kg (22 lbs) by Charles Radziwell, 9.6 kg (21.2 lbs) brown hooked by Luis "Chiche" Aracena (see Fishing Patagonia part 3 for the complete story) and the 11 kgs. (24.2 lbs) lbs. hooked by José E. Anchorena.

Apart from those trouts, the average size in the Boca is between 2 kg and 4 kg (4.4 –8.8 lbs). being really often 5 kg to 6 kg trouts (11 to 13.2 lbs.)

We can divide the Boca in 2 sections:
a)Upper Boca: From Lake to the bridge.
b)Lower Boca: From the bridge to Garganta del Diablo.
1 a) Upper Boca: The ideal tackle is a #6 to #8 wt. 9 ft. rod, Teeny line or Fast Sinking ST (type III – IV), 4 ft. leader and big flies like Matukas, Rabbits, Zonkers, Woolly Buggers or Marabou Muddlers tied on #2- #6 hooks, heavy weighted.

You have to cast upstream, let the line gain maximum depth (this section is over 4 mts.-13 ft.) and with short strips twitches, we try to pass the fly naturally and as deep as possible.

That´s why we want the fish there to take the fly with a minimum effort. Downstream there is a huge flat stone named is El Tranvía (The Tram) and always in its shadow, medium-sized trout find shelter.

From there, there is less depth until the river reaches the riffles below the bridge.

2 b) Lower Boca: After the bridge, the river turns to the right and gets between high ravines. This is difficult for many anglers so that exclusive use of the roll cast is a must here.

The next difficulty is that we need to do the roll cast with a sinking fly line due to the depth so experienced casters have a great advantage in this section. Here we have "La piedra de los 11" (Eleven´s Stone). The name is because over this huge rock Mr. Anchorena hooked an 11 kilos brown (24.2 lbs.) in 1961.

Here the river runs slow, deep and with huge rocks and logs, so this place offers excellent shelter for really big trouts but the possibility of a broken leader or line is high. This section ends with the "Ultimos bushes" (Last bushes). In this place, lake run browns stop to have some rest so this is an excellent fishing spot, generally from April´s first days.

2) Upper Chimehuín: Driving from La Boca to Junin de los Andes by Nº 61 Provincial Route, the first important pool is "Las Viudas pool" (The widows pool).

This great pool has this name, because one day fishermen caught an enormous quantity of fish but all the fish were males.

Studies made by technicians of C.E.A.N (Neuquén´s ecology center) showed that this pool with "Manzano´s pool" and "Balsa Vieja pool" (Old raft pool) are the pools with the bigest amount of big sized fish, specially at late season when lake run trout start their run for the annual spawn.

In this section the river is very accessible from the road but in some sectors we have to ask to the owner of the ranch if we can pass to do some fishing.

Downstream and really close to the road is "La herradura pool" (The horseshoe pool). This place is not one of the best but its conformation is one of the most beautiful of the river. Downstream the river is divided in many channels. Here in early season we can catch 1 lbs. to 5 lbs. trout, using ultra light tackles for nymphing and dries.

3)Lower Chimehuín: This section is almost all in a private ranch but until Quilquihue river joins it, it has plenty of public access. From that joining, downstream, if you want to fish you have to pay the ranch owner.

Technique and tackle:

If you want to catch big trout, you have to use the same equipment you use to fish "La Boca". As an all terrain tackle, you can use #5 or #6 8´5´´ to 9´rod, WF-F line and a ST head (type II or III). With WF-F you can fish with nymph and streamers and with the ST is best to fish streamers, being the best the same we can use for La Boca or Malleo river with high waters.

Correntoso River:

The mouth of Correntoso River, where it flows into Nahuel Huapi Lake is one of the more famous fishing spots in Argentina Republic.

This fame is due to the quantity of big sized fish and because this place holds the Argentina´s Record on a fly for both rainbows and brown trout.

The brown trout record belongs to Luis Peirano that in 1969 caught a 11.100 kg. Brown male (24.47 lbs.) only 100 grs. (0.2 lbs.) heavier that Mr. Anchorena Brown trout. Mr. Luis "Chiche" Aracena holds the rainbow trout record with a great fish that weighted almost 9 kg. (19 lb.)

The river, depending of the level of the lake is between 165 mts. (180 yards) and 260 mts. (284 yards) long.

The river´s shore is covered by a dense vegetation and this makes it impossible to fish, but if the river´s level is low and the caster´s skills are good is possible to fish in some places.

The river, in almost all its length, is a riffle and flows into the lake with violence, forming some kind of gravel balconies in each side that fall abruptly into the lake. In this place, like in all rivers mouths, the best time to try to catch a big trout is early morning or late evening, because in these moments the bigger fish get into the river searching food, specially little baby trouts that drift over spawning beds in the upper section of the river.

Nowadays this fishing spot is not as good as in its golden age, when it attracted foreign celebrities like Ernie Schweibert, but we can catch good rainbows in an average weight of 1.5 to 3 kg. (3 to 6 lbs.) and regularly 4 or 5 kg. (8 to 11 lb.) trouts are caught.

Big sized browns, that were a great attraction, have mysteriously disappeared after the construction of a bridge over the river.

The modifications in the course after the construction of the bridge, inhibited the browns to use this place as a spawning spot. Today this place is used only by the rainbows. So the opportunities to catch a big brown are really low.

The best chances of a good strike are higher in November and December because in that time the rainbows are finishing their spawning.

In late season (April), the water temperature is low so that the chances are good too. You can reach this river from Villa La Angostura town by Nº 231 National Route after 4 km. (2.5 miles).

The best tackle to fish the mouth is: Fast action, 9 to 9.5 ft. #6 to #8 rod; Fast II Shooting taper and 10 ft. Leader with a 2X or 0X tippet.

The best flies are those tied on #2 to #6 hooks, mainly streamers in dark colors, like Woolly Buggers, Matukas, Matuka Marabou, Rabbits, Black Leech or big attractor nymphs with rubber legs like Bitch Creek, Leonis Barbarus.

The best technique is cast as far as possible to the joining of waters (river with lake waters) and let the line gain depth. Then we have to recover the line, trying different retrieving speeds and depths. Other chance is to cast to the both sides of water´s joining.

In these days, we are having a problem because in this place in December 1999 will be done ´99 Eco Challenge competition (organized by Discovery Channel) and in one part of the race the competitors must navigate along Correntoso River in kayaks. The big deal here is that navigation is not allowed by rules stated in government disposition Nº 442/99 : "Navigation as well as other aquatic activities which may disturb sportfishing throughout the whole length of the river are prohibited."

In addition, just in that time of the year, the rainbows are finishing their annual spawning so it can be dangerous for the fish and its litters too.

So many fishing associations, fishermen and ecological associations are fighting together against this, trying to change the competition's itinerary to protect this short and beautiful river.

Mr. José Luis Lopez Reale ( President of Neuquén´s Fly Fishing Association) wrote these words: "... As a serious angler and respectful of all the regulations, I consider this as a run over to sportive fishing. We respect and want to be respected. To make regulations thinking in not to respect them later is own of ambitious and selfish interests. I speak in representation of 460 members of the Association. From environmental point of view, pretending non or low impact is a no sense because the Eco Challenge advertisement tells that this river has enough power to flip over a 14 ft. raft. I believe that all of this make no sense the name of the competition, Ecological Challenge." Please, support us against this....

After this letter and many others written by fishermen to many associations and to the organizer of the event, last Tuesday (11/2/99) in a very important meeting, Discovery Channel people and organizers from Argentina changed their mind and the course of the competition after the explanations of FSA (Angostura Salmonid´s Foundation) and APMN (Neuquén´s Fly fishing Association) of the risks that that kind of event could carry to the environment and spawning trouts. All fishermen in Argentina are very happy and pleased with this decision.

Collon Cura River (40 km.)

Is a river of big dimensions and a wide river bed due to the joining of Aluminé river and Chimehuín river. This river flows through a nice valley with a north-south direction. Its average width is between 15 mt. And 35 mts. (49 ft. to 115 ft.) with long riffles and wide and deep pools that in late season, with the running of migratory browns from Piedra del Aguila dam´s lake, hold really good fish.

The shore in some places is clean and free of any object and in other places the willows are very dense. The river has a good population of rainbows and browns, being the first easier to be caught. The weight of the fish is between 800 grs. and 2.5 kg. (1.7 to 5.5 lb.) and the average is 3 lb. aprox. Frequently bigger sizes are hooked (6 to 8 lb) but bigger fish are rare. Despite it size and current , the river can be waded easily with very little risk to the angler.

One important thing is that the best spots are accessible only by raft, so a guide can be really useful in this river.

The best tackle is a 5 wt. to 7 wt., 8.5 to 9.5 ft rod and fast sinking lines like Teeny or ST (Type III and IV). It is specially recommended to fish the riffles with bucktails (#4 to #8) and impressionist nymphs.

The places with more depth are better with streamers like Woolly Buggers and every kind of rabbits.

In the lower section, there are many channels that allows to use #3 or #4 rods and floating lines for dries and nymphing.

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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