Sea trout in Rio Gallegos
Disrupting sea trout fishing in Patagonia!
Great fishing for large sea trout is a wet dream for many fly fishermen. It’s also a limited resource.
The big demand and limited supply have led to high-end operations, offering great fishing, luxurious accommodation and fine wining and dining. At high-end prices.
If you have a thick wallet, go! If not, read on.
Camp Karku isn’t about luxurious accommodation and fine wining and dining. It’s about great fishing, authentic accommodation and good food in a friendly atmosphere – and less rods on the water.
We fish four-five rods per week on the first 40 kilometres of Rio Gallegos, and for 2024 we are currently taking bookings at almost half the price of the neighbouring operations.
Yes, you got that right: Almost half the price!
Camp karku ITINERARY
SEASON: Late December-April.
FLY TO: Rio Gallegos (RGL) via Buenos Aires.
PRICE: From $4000 without flights.
Arrive in Buenos Aires and overnight at hotel.
Fly domestic to Rio Gallegos and transfer to the estancia. Short fishing session possible.
Six days of fishing, two sessions per day.
Short morning session possible. Transfer to Rio Gallegos airport, evening flight home or overnight in Buenos Aires and fly out the next day.
Rio Gallegos, a favourite of flyfishing notability Mel Krieger, is a river that rewards good angling skills. Because of its rather shallow water, it is a more technical and less forgiving fishery than some of the deeper rivers in Patagonia. On calm days and in clear water, delicate presentation and smaller flies and nymphs on long, light leaders are key. At other times, if the water gets coloured, the wind is up or the light gets low, flies will get bigger and leaders heavier. Adaption is the key to success here.
Wading the river is super easy, and we almost always stay in the shallows in order not to spook the fish. On most of the beats we fish, we start by casting slightly downstream, ensuring the fish sees the fly before the line, swinging the fly while it sinks and as the swing slows down, and to help trigger a take, we start stripping the fly, and fish it all the way into the shallows. Small adjustments can make a big difference so always listen to your guide. Each pool is fished differently and they know how to optimize your chances.
Find more information about the beats, the fishing and life at the estancia.
Practising your double handed cast before going will give you a big advantage on the water. You should be able to cast delicately, without splashing the water. The latter doesn’t work well on a shallow river.
Sea trout are moody characters and suddenly an otherwise dead pool might come to live when the light or the weather changes, or new fish enter the area and stir things up. Strikes from sea trout can be quite violent and is a big contrast to the delicate presentation, often with small flies. When hooked, they frequently jump out of the water and make for some pretty spectacular fish fighting!
The wind in Patagonia is famous – for a reason! The are no obstructions to break the wind as it blows across the open plains, and at times there can almost be waves on the shallow water of Rio Gallegos. But most of the time, the wind is your friend. The prevailing wind is westerly and allows for longs casts with little effort, and the broken surface makes the fish much less wary. During such conditions even big fish can be caught in bright midday sun. As the light fades in the evening the wind usually drops.
The estancia is located a five-minute-drive from the river, offering the perfect location for commuting back and forth between the beats. Driving dirt tracks across the Patagonian plains is an amazing experience with its unique nature and great wildlife. You might be lucky to encounter guanacos, foxes, armadillos and the hog-nosed skunk (don’t get too close!), and you’ll see plenty of fast running rheas, the South American ostrich, and flocks of flamingos.
The recently refurbished building at the estancia that is now the base of Camp Karku’s guests currently consists of three bedrooms, two bath rooms, kitchen, dining room and lounge area in front of the fire place.
There is nothing fancy about it but for most guests, it’s the perfect base for a week of fishing. We enjoy home cooked meals, beer and wine can be purchased at very fair prices and the highlight of the week is the asado, the Argentinian barbecue, prepared on a fixed outdoor stone grill.
After breakfast, we head to the river for the first fishing session and then take a break during the middle of the day. Lunch is the main meal of the day, and the hearty servings might call for a nap before we head back out for the evening session, to fish the most productive hours.
Gear for Rio Gallegos
The ideal setup for Rio Gallegos is the combination of a single hand rod for gentle presentations on calm days or in shallow water and a double hander for anything else. The single hander should be from 9’-10’ for a 7-weight line, and the ideal double hander would be 12’-12’6”, also a 7-weight. Because of the wind, medium-fast to fast action rods are the better choice for these sometimes demanding conditions.
A quality fly reel with a solid, adjustable drag and enough capacity for your fly line and 100 metres of backing will do the job. There is no need for reels with heavy drag system – the fish are usually fought with relatively low drag pressure.
Rio Gallegos is a shallow river, meaning there is normally no use for sinking lines. A floating shooting head, or a F/I shooting head (a floater ending in a shorter intermediate section) of around 7 meters with a 10 feet clear intermediate poly leader or Versi-Tip to get a little below the surface works great.
Only in case of lots of rain and a high river do Sink 2 shooting heads occasionally come into play. As an alternative to cover such a rather unlikely event, you could bring a couple of Sink 3 tips instead of a sinking shooting head.
Most of the time, a tapered leader of 9 to 12 feet will do the job. During the day, they fish tippets from 0,22-0,26 mm and during the night 0,30-0,33 mm.
THE KARKU FLYBOX
We fish a lot of different flies, depending on the prevailing conditions, with Copper Johns, Girdle Bugs and Sunray Shadows in various sizes being some of the most popular choices.
Basically, you need flies for anything from low water and clear conditions to high murky water. Large leeches, zonkers and similar will have you covered in low visibility. At dusk, a Sunray Shadow is fished close to the surface is one of the coolest ways to catch a Patagonian sea trout.When the river is low and clear, nymphs with rubber legs or smaller streamers are the keys to success.
Most of the time you can get away with fishing just a few different flies for the majority of your time on the river. But once in a while, you need something completely different which is why Camp Karku stocks a good selection of different patterns, in case you need that special fly that’s not already in your box.
If you like to tie your own flies our extensive Pre-Trip Planner will explain in detail what you should consider bringing.
12-13’ #7 two-handed rods
9-10’ #7 or #8 single-handed rods
#7-8 reel with minimum 100 m 20 lb backing
Scandi versitip kits (floating and float/intermediate) with 10’ tips in different sink rates,
such as float, intermediate, sink 3 and sink 6.
Tapered leaders 9-12’ 12-20 lb
0,22-0,33 mm tippet material 9-16 lb