For live and premium content, sign up for our email newsletter and we'll send reports directly to your inbox
Honor Roll Subscriber Mike Sadar is very unhappy with his trip to “La Zona” on the Uruguay River in Argentina this past May, handled for him by Untamed Angling (www.lazonalodge.com), booking agent Fishing With Larry (www.fishingwithlarry.com).
The problem was the huge amount of water being released from the dam, below which anglers fish for giant dorado. He says he caught a total of only six fish in four days, all of them weighing between three and 20 pounds.
“All 19 flood gates on Salto Grande Dam were wide open and the river was at flood stage and dangerous,” Sadar writes. “Because of these conditions, we were only able to fish the very edges of the river, most of which had the appearance of class 5 rapids. Another way of looking at this was that 95 percent of the ‘La Zona’ water was un-fishable. We still fished, but it was difficult to even maintain balance, as there were constant standing waves of three to five feet in the river. Water clarity was less than one inch. We did catch a few dorado, but we earned every one of them. The water was so dangerous it was difficult to cast. These conditions were reportedly known for some time, and I wonder why the outfitter did not notify us ahead of time so we might consider any other options.
I was told by the guides we had the worst trip ever, but that was little consolation. What bothers me most about this is that Untamed Angling no longer reports on the tougher trips; they only rave about the fishing being excellent all the time. It would be nice for outfitters everywhere to be consistent in their reporting on fishing results.” Sadar goes on to note that there has been a lot of staff turnover at “La Zona.” He says the new staff are very nice and professional but are still on learning curves. The guides are experienced but have very limited English, he says. His final concern was the presence of poachers on the river.
“The guides did not seem concerned, nor did the police,” he writes. “Maybe they felt the water conditions were so dangerous that poachers could not harm the resource? It was sad, to say the least, to see this kind of thing happening at a place like ‘La Zona.’” Sadar gives the cost of his trip as $4,000, and he is ambivalent about recommending “La Zona” after his recent experience. “Before this trip, I would recommend ‘La Zona’ to anyone. But with the turnover of staff, plus the possibility of the river being blown out, I’m more wary. Yes, when the water is normal, the fishing here is as good as it gets. I will still go back, but I will do all I can to determine the condition of the river ahead of time.”
Guy Schoenborn of Fishing With Larry was on the same trip as Sadar, and he has this to say: “I knew nothing of the high water levels until we arrived at the lodge the day before we started fishing.”
Rodrigo Salles of Untamed Angling writes: “Untamed Angling always tries to provide the best service and the best fishing possible, but sometimes nature and weather conditions catch us and there is little we can do. We have had an overall excellent season at ‘La Zona’ this year, although a few groups did have some bad fishing moments, mostly due to off-color water and unexpected cold fronts. What happened with Mike Sadar’s group was completely unexpected since the water was in good shape, a little bit darker than normal, but not at high levels. The 19 gates opening was completely unexpected. Normally they do this when the lake is high, which wasn’t the case in this instance.
The surprise opening of the gates and the high water occurred as Sadar’s group was traveling to Argentina. Normally, it’s not hard to find out when the gates on the dam will be opened, and we try to be up front with clients about any high-water surprises. Typically, this happens once or twice per year, and we offer anglers the chance to cancel their week and reschedule their visit. We have done this since 2005.
Regarding daily fishing reports, we try to keep them updated, but it is very difficult sometimes to keep on top of everything. We think Mike Sadar’s recommendation about posting fishing results is a good one, and we are going to try to improve our performance in this area. Fishing at ‘La Zona’ is excellent 95 percent of the time in terms of the average size and number of fish taken. Our 90 percent re-booking rate speaks for itself. All of us at Untamed Angling are sorry about the bad fishing Mike Sadar’s group had. Our guides tell us it was indeed one of the worst weeks ever at ‘La Zona.’”