Chilean rivers are other worldly. It is hard to put your finger on it, but these are not your everyday trout rivers. It could be the lush jungle environment, or the blue-green water usually reserved for tropical saltwater paradise. Add in Summer temperatures in January, epic views and the fishing is a bonus. Exploring the rivers in Chile brought with it the excitement of the unknown. Just driving over a bridge could provide a passing glance at a beautiful trout river that seemed so foreign. The most striking feature of the rivers in Chile was there were so many of them. We passed rivers daily, of all size and variety, and all held trout. We passed spring creeks so small you could straddle, or so big you could use a drift boat. We drove over cascading streams high in the mountains. We saw where rivers entered lakes, and where lakes narrowed into rivers. The first river we fished was the one above, and yes, that is a massive waterfall thundering down behind Alex. We climbed down some rough terrain to get to the river’s edge. I looked down and noticed a big brown (22-24 inches) slowly swim over to the vine ridden far bank. The three of us spread out, and started fishing caddis pupa and rubber legged nymphs. I managed to catch possibly the smallest rainbow in Chile, a three inch fingerling. I kept dredging the spot where I saw the big brown take cover. There was a sense of urgency, because we had to cover a few miles to reach the road again. I decided to try a few more drifts and changed my dropper to a hot pink San Juan worm, a wild brown trout favorite. The next drift along the wall got a hit immediately, and I set the hook. The fish dove to the bottom, and I started putting pressure on what felt like a huge fish. Six seconds later the fish began head shaking, and threw the hook. I was hoping to at least see the fish, but it remains a mystery. We tried using the high banks to spot fish from a distance. The river was very low and clear. The trout were not visible in pools that usually hold fish. Pipo thought the three weeks without rain, and the bright sun caused the trout to take cover. We worked the deep holes and riffles, and caught small rainbows. We found where a big spring creek entered the river, but the four of us couldn’t spot any trout amongst the cressbeds. I switched to a streamer and covered a section of river littered with huge logs. I never got a single hit, and after two hours we decided to relocate to boats in a lake.
The second river we fished was four days later, and it was only two hours in the afternoon. Our plan to access a lake was thwarted by the trail being completely overgrown, so we started throwing out other options. I suggested trying the Gol Gol river (above) that we passed over minutes ago. It was moments later I realized my waders and boots were not in the truck, since I was expecting to fish in the boat. We found a nice section that offered me the chance to fish from the shore. I put numerous drifts through this pool where the river diversions flowed together. I quickly hooked and landed a nice seventeen inch bow. Many drifts later a big head surfaced and a trout ate my Thingamabobber. Out of reflex I lifted the rod, and the fish held on for a few seconds, but eventually let it go. When 9:00 p.m. rolled around we hiked back to the truck. It seemed the trout could be as elusive as the rivers were beautiful. We took advantage of the last hour of daylight by eating a riverside tailgate dinner of pasta with Chilean red wine.