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Editor note: In many past issues (including the May issue) we have brought you stories and reports from the Golden Dorado River Cruiser, and though this story is also partly a review of that same operation, the other half details a nearby and contrasting operation that angler Danny Simms was fortunate enough to fish with on back-to-back trips. This story gives us a unique comparison of two outfits, two experiences, and two different sections of the same river. Though the two share water and target the same species, you will soon see that the fishing, lodging, and results were very different. Danny writes:
I recently completed a trip to two locations in Argentina with emphasis on fishing for golden dorado. The first location was Amokagni (Pinti’s Lodge) located at Itá Ibaté, Argentina, which is a ninety-minute drive east of Corrientes. Itá Ibaté is on the Paraná River. The shoreline of the river is essentially jungle, which means that the water along the shoreline is full of trees and limbs that have fallen into the water. This setting greatly impacts the fishing, as the fish hold in the structure. The most common approach to fishing for golden dorado is throwing large streamers around the structure. It is physically demanding fishing.
The main attraction of this location is the potential to catch a really big golden dorado on a fly. I landed both a 20-pounder and a 28-pounder on this trip. I also hooked three other very large fish that I lost when they managed to get into the structure. Landing a large golden dorado is partially skill, but it definitely takes a lot of luck as well. Just hooking a large golden dorado was one of the greatest thrills that I have had in fishing. They typically take the fly close to the boat and immediately go airborne. Consequently, I have great memories of all of the large fish I hooked, even if I only had them on for a few seconds. In addition to the large fish, I also caught numerous golden dorado, which ranged from about three to 12 pounds.
Another attraction of this location is fishing for pacu and pirá pitá. Pacu are called the permit of Argentina because they are difficult to hook and look a little like permit. A major portion of the diet of pacu, are the nuts that fall from the trees along the shore. The fly we used was essentially a piece of foam shaped like one of these nuts. The difficulty in fishing for pacu is hooking them, because their take is so deliberate. At times, we would grow impatient watching a fish slowly approach the fly; waiting until the fish actually ingested it was challenging. Let’s just say that I took the fly out of the mouths of a lot of pacu. The largest pacu I caught was eight pounds, but they easily get to over 20 pounds. They are very strong fighters. One of the nice things about fishing for pacu was that it provided a break from throwing large streamers.
While I didn’t target pirá pitá, I caught several while fishing for golden dorado and pacu. They are very aggressive and probably the strongest fighter of the three species on a pound-for-pound basis. They get to over 15 pounds, but the largest I caught was about eight pounds.
Having success at this location requires the ability to throw a large streamer 50 feet or more on a consistent basis. When I first arrived, there was an American in camp who was very frustrated because he couldn’t cast very far and had had little success. This definitely isn’t a location for a beginning fly fisherman.
The lodging at Amokagni was quite adequate and the food was very good. One of the strengths of their program is the quality of their guides. They were extremely knowledgeable and spoke good English. Since I fished as a single, having a guide that I could visit with was appreciated.
I booked Amokagni through Pescador Solitario (www.remoteflyfishing.com). Mark Cowan from their operation has fished this location numerous times and was helpful in providing information on flies and other equipment. In addition, they did a good job of setting up in-country travel arrangements.
After fishing at Amokagni, I flew to Buenos Aires, where I was picked up by the shuttle from the Golden Dorado River Cruiser. This operation was described in detail in the May 2018 issue of the Angling Report. Consequently, I will concentrate on the major differences between these operations.
The Golden Dorado River Cruiser is also located on the Paraná River, but in a section called the Entre Rios delta. In this area, the river consists of numerous channels and lagoons. The banks are typically grass, with very few trees. There is some structure in the water, but sinking lines were the norm when I fished there because the water was very high. The water was also colder than normal, driving the fish lower. In more typical conditions, floating lines would be used.
The golden dorado at this location are much smaller on average than the fish at Amokagni. However, they were numerous and aggressive. For example, on the first morning, I landed about 20 fish ranging from two to 10 pounds. The fishing was hot on the first day and half of the next. Then a cold front moved through. The water level in the river rose, and the river became even colder. As a result of these changes, the fishing slowed on the last day and a half of fishing. On the last day, I probably landed only five fish.
I had been told that the golden dorado in this fishery could be caught readily on poppers, so I came prepared with numerous poppers. However, the guides indicated that poppers work very well in January and February when the water is warmer. My fishing partner did throw a popper to try it, but he didn’t get much action.
As with the fishing at Amokagni, the technique was to throw streamers to the shore; however, the streamers used tended to be smaller. While species other than golden dorado were occasionally caught, essentially the entire focus was on golden dorado. The largest fish caught by the group I fished with was about 16 pounds, but there were only two caught that were this large. Most of the fish were in the two-to-five-pound range.
The guide I used spoke no English. However, he knew where the fish were and was excellent at positioning the boat. Thus, I was generally pleased with the guiding. The rooms on the boat are small, especially for two people, but, to make up for it, the food on the boat was the best I have had at any lodge in my numerous travels.
After we arrived at the River Cruiser we discovered that there was no cell service. We had not been advised of that, so we didn’t think to let our families know that we were alive and well before traveling there. We were told that the boat will have cell service in the near future.
I booked the Golden Dorado River Cruiser directly with Luciano Alba at [email protected] He can be reached at 850-253-7192. For more information, visit http://estancialagunaverde.com.
After fishing at both of these locations, I think combining them makes a great trip. It is easy to travel from Amokagni to the Golden Dorado River Cruiser in one day. Both locations appeared to be very flexible with respect to arrival and departure dates. This trip provides the excitement of targeting a truly trophy-size golden dorado in addition to pacu and pirá pitá at Amokagni with the potential for large numbers of golden dorado on the Golden Dorado River Cruiser.—Danny Simms