Fly Fishing Chile:Mountain Lagoons

Chilean Lake Brown Trout
A few days after the New Year, Alex and I boarded a plane bound for Chile. The plan was to meet up with Max, who was visiting family over the holidays, and drive into the mountains to fish some lagoons (lakes). Our guide, Pipo, who fished with Max and Alex the previous year, picked us up in Osorno. We bought the supplies, gas, and packed our gear, while he offered us transportation, the use of boats and float tubes, and shared his secret spots for an extremely reasonable fee. The boat and truck were loaded to full capacity, and we drove for hours off paved highways onto narrow dirt roads. Snow capped volcanoes loomed over us as we snaked our way through a jungle type atmosphere with seventy degree air temperatures. We passed many incredible rivers and streams with only a passing glance, because there just wasn’t enough time to stop. We arrived at our mountain lodging, an empty ski resort, and unpacked the gear and groceries. The sun didn’t set until close to 10 P.M., so we had a few hours of fishing. Once the boats were in the water and we rowed toward the tall reeds, it finally sunk in that I was fishing in Chile. I laid a cast up against the reeds with a Polar Zonker on a sinking tip line. Slow strips from the reeds to the drop offs brought hard strikes from the rainbows in this lake. The majority of the bows were 11-16 inches long, but thick and beautiful. The three of us quickly got into fish and sated the itch to put a bend in the rod. We took turns rowing, and watching the casts land in prime spots. We waited as fish began to rise to small caddis, but no major hatch frenzy materialized. The air became cooler as the sun dropped behind the mountains, and we pulled ashore in the dark.
Max and Alex Dinghy Fishing
The following morning we checked out a sweet looking river in a lush forest (more on that in another post), but found ourselves bushwhacking with one boat and float tubs in the afternoon to reach another lake. This lake was the only one nearby with a good mix of bows and browns, but it was hard to reach. I was a little apprehensive about fishing the still water again for trout, since we only had so many days to fish, and the lakes didn’t beckon with the roar of falling water. The intrigue was there though, and only grew as we witnessed no tracks and tight, brush choked trails. Pipo and I worked the dinghy down a long steep incline, while Max and Alex readied the float tubs at the lake’s edge. The reeds were almost impenetrable, but we hit open water once Max and Alex cleared a path. This particular evening was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The trout were holding along the reeds, and thick weed beds. Damsel and dragon fly shucks covered nearly every reed above the water’s surface. Splashy rises, and watching the reeds sway as trout swam through in search of food made for easy targets. I rigged a large olive Girdlebug with rubber legs on 2X and cast the sinking line into the reeds. A few quick hook ups on chunky rainbows confirmed they were eating nymphs instead of the larger streamers I fished yesterday. I was hoping for a nice brown and wasn’t disappointed when after a hard strip set, one fish dove deep. I brought the thick brown to the net, and after that fished without much interest in filming or photos. There was no doubt that these moments would not soon be forgotten, even without the aid of technology. The next few hours passed quickly with laughter and the whining of our drags echoing across the lake. The last hour of light neared and if we weren’t doubled up, one of us had a fish on the line. The trout were a consistent 12-16 inches, and hungry. Before nightfall arrived we already decided we would scratch our plans to fish a river the next day, and return to the lake again. We recounted the highlights of the day while our dinner cooked over red hot embers. The latest video post features fly fishing lagoons in Chile.