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Things are changing on the Uruguay River, in that famed tailwater that has come to be known as “La Zona.” Not only is a second outfitter operating there now—the Uruguayan company River Plate Dorados—but lure fishing is on the rise there, as is the number of anglers accommodated on a daily basis.

Some background will help explain these developments. La Zona was developed in 2005 by Argentinean Marcelo Perez of Untamed Angling (, who has leveraged his success there into a much larger company. Until recently, Perez had the famed tailwater and its huge dorado all to himself. He operated mostly as a fly-fishing destination, accepting only four anglers at time for a limited number of days each week.

The new kid on the block is Uruguayan outfitter Luis Brown, who is known to readers of this publication primarily as an outfitter of peacock bass trips to the Brazilian Amazon. His company is River Plate Anglers, and he has carried that name over to his new destination, River Plate Dorados (Tel.: 786-879-8215; Web: Given Brown’s background as a peacock bass outfitter, it’s not surprising that many of his clients are primarily—or exclusively—lure fishermen. Trolling with lures below the dam is emerging as the primary technique employed by his clients. We have inquired about lure fishing among Marcelo Perez’s clients, but as of press time, we’ve received no response, although we understand that lure fishing is growing in importance among his clients, too. Any fly fisherman who is considering a trip with either outfitter should clarify the role that lure fishing will play in his trip.

The other new development, on the Uruguay side at least, is the scheduling of eight clients a day rather than the usual four. The first group of four clients is sent out in the morning in two boats and brought back in time for a second group of four to go out before midday. The process is then repeated in the afternoon. This effectively doubles the pressure put on the resource and reduces an individual client’s fishing each day. It is unclear if Untamed Angling is following this procedure. We have asked and will pass along what we hear. In the meantime, interested clients should ask about this when booking trips.
Mind you, lure fishing and doubling the number of anglers has not had a negative effect on fishing below the dam on the Uruguay River. If anything, fishing there has been wilder and crazier than ever. The following report from subscriber Shad Goldston is indicative of what has been happening. Goldston fished below the dam this past January with River Plate
Dorados. He writes:

“My wife and I booked a peacock bass fishing trip to the Amazon this past winter with River Plate Amazon Adventures through J. W. Smith of Rod and Gun Resources (Tel.: 800-211-4753; Web: www.rodgunresources .com). Unfortunately, high water in the area we planned to visit made the trip not worth taking at the last minute. J. W. asked us if we’d be interested in switching to River Plate Dorados instead. With the time already taken off from my dental practice and the airline tickets already purchased, we were pleased J. W. arranged this for us. The trip was incredible!

“Angler/guests are accommodated in Uruguay at the Horacio Quirogoa. This would be a four-star hotel here in the US. It has thermal pools (i.e., hot springs) and River Plate’s guests have an exclusive VIP area. They eat all their meals there, have an open bar, and are able to watch Direct TV away from the rest of the guests at the hotel. The food was outstanding.
“The host for the week we were there (four days of fishing from January 21 to 24) was Luis Brown’s son, Patric. He was excellent, energetic, and very accommodating. He was also the only translator that we had. There wasn’t a lick of English spoken among the locals.

“Moving on to the main event—the fishing—it was simply the best. Although I’m an avid fly fisherman, the water flow out of the dam was just too heavy to allow us to get down where the real trophy dorado feed. My wife, Shaynna, who is good with a fly rod, had never used a bait-casting outfit before this trip. On her first afternoon, she landed the fish of the trip—a 44-pounder! I personally landed four fish in four days that were 30 pounds or better, 10 fish over 20 pounds, and many fish that were in the teens. All of this was by throwing locally made, balsa-wood lures.

“The cost of this trip was a little over $1,000 per day, per angler. The cost doesn’t end there. Anglers are charged $10 per lure, and we used 21. Also, tips are steep due to the necessity of leaving gratuities for guides, waiters, and maid service. That said, this trip was well worth it.

“As far as fly fishing goes, the first morning our guide took us next to the dam where the water is released. Two- to seven-pound dorado were blitzing and crashing the surface just like striped bass. This made for easy sport and fun with a fly rod for a little while. After that, the call of trophy fish was just too tempting. Long story short, I would recommend the trip to anyone, and I can’t wait to go back.”

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