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- Southern Chile Expeditions
Chile, Puerto Montt and surrounding areas
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For the recent Thanksgiving holiday, my husband Eric and I left behind the cold and snowy winds of Maine and headed south to the lake district of Chile. The lure of trout fishing in November and early December wearing tee shirts and sun block was more than we could resist.
This was our second trip to sister lodges Yan Kee Way and El Patagon, run by Southern Chile Expeditions. Yan Kee Way is located on Lago Llanquihue (the largest lake in Chile). It is a first class fly-fishing and adventure sport resort. El Patagon is a remote fishing-only lodge nestled in the shadows of the Andes at the gateway to Patagonia.
Late November in Chile is comparable to June in North America, prime trout season. We spent the first four days at El Patagon. Fishing here is primarily from drift boats as there is no easy access to the pristine rivers. Occasionally, we were able to do some wading where there was a stretch of river rocks or gravel. During a full day on the Rio Claro, Rio Figueroa, or Rio Pico, you never see another boat or any buildings on the shore, except the rare ranchers cabin.
The wild rainbows and browns that fill the rivers are aggressive and naïve. All the fish here are fat, healthy and brightly marked. The fishing pressure here is so low, you really have to work to spook the fish. Using streamers and stimulators with floating line, Eric and I each averaged 10-12 fish per day, all over 12 inches with many 18-20 inches. Thats not counting the many we lost. While fishing the Claro on our first trip in February of 2002, I landed a 27-inch brown using a dry fly and 5-weight rod. He was chasing a 12-inch rainbow that was jumping out of the water like a baitfish when we spotted him. Amazing!
The glacial rivers are surrounded by snowcapped peaks and majestic canyons and the water is so clear, you can watch a rainbow charge at your fly from 30 feet away. I can only compare it to the aquarium-like clarity that you see on bonefish flats of the Bahamas. Here is a real opportunity to observe trout behavior that we rarely witness in the heavily fished waters of the east. What I have learned in Chile has vastly improved my fishing success in other places.
One day, our guide Victor Sorenson, packed up out pontoon boat, gear and lunch on horses and we rode to the put-in through a breathtaking valley that is owned by a gaucho who raises cattle. The experience brought to mind the cowboys life in the Wild West. All the guides at El Patagon are skilled and a pleasure to spend the day with. They work hard and know the rivers well.
The accommodations at El Patagon are top-notch. Four private cabins that sleep two people each feature private bathrooms that are new and modern, a woodstove, down comforters and very comfortable mattresses. A large yurt serves as the dining and social area. The meals are gourmet the chef is very enthusiastic about his craft. You can always count on a festive barbeque in the traditional Chilean style during your stay. Food is abundant; so dont plan to diet while at El Patagon. The service is excellent the entire staff is friendly and helpful.
Our last four days in Chile were spent at Yan Kee Way Lodge. The compound sits directly on a lake and beneath snowcapped Osorno Volcano. Accommodations range from chalets and bungalows to hotel-size rooms. The quarters are well appointed with art and furnishings by local craftsmen. Every detail of the resort is unique and exquisite, from the architecture and decor to the extensive wine cellar and hot tubs overlooking the lake. There are many activities to choose from at Yan Kee Way including hiking, sailing, horseback riding kayaking and bird watching, but we were there to fish and were not disappointed. We spent our days exploring different stretches of Rio Petrohue that meanders from the Lago Llanquihue to the Pacific.
On our first day out at Yan Kee Way, our guide Renee Yefi treated us to one of the best fishing days of our lives. With Renee,
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