I recently had the opportunity to travel to Argentina with Flylords photographer Jesse Packwood for a South American adventure. I spent the few weeks prior to the trip tying various Andino Deceiver patterns in hopes of alluring the target species Golden Dorado.
It wasn’t until I stepped off the plane in Buenos Aires did it hit me that my lifelong dream of chasing golden dorado would become a reality. The following morning after arriving Jesse and I set off on a luxury bus for a 5-hour ride to the remote Don Joaquin River Lodge.
As we drove through Argentina, I watched the city of Buenos Aires, fall away to reveal hours of stunning grasslands. Upon our arrival, the lodge owners and staff eagerly awaited to welcome us.
Family-owned and operated, The Don Joaquin River Lodge exudes Argentine Hospitality. Nestled along the bank of the Corrientes River it is a true hidden gem that offers world-class freshwater golden dorado fishing.
The lodge was absolutely stunning, with luxurious amenities and spacious rooms overlooking the Corrientes River.
It provided the perfect balance of comfort and yet luxury. I typically ended the evenings watching the sunset at the pool and a glass of the finest Malbec. Reminiscing on the day and reliving the moments my fly connected with a Golden Dorado.
The food in Argentina was spectacular as the sister lodge Estancia Don Joaquin is a working ranch farming for beef. Argentine culture is known for its “beef and wine” and it was nothing short of delicious during our stay there.
Throughout the fishing day, we snacked on empanadas and lunch was often a feast. The guides would prepare the steak over an open fire – it was surely such an incredible experience.
Golden dorado are often compared to tarpon in the way they jump after being hooked, so watching a dorado soar through the air will easily get your heart racing. They can even reach up to 60 pounds in some locations.
The ideal equipment for golden dorado fishing is 6-8 weight rods, with floating and sinking lines, varying between streamers and poppers depending on the location. For dorado flies, I found having various dorado muddler patterns, poppers, surface rats… all will work great.
Be sure to have bite wire, as you’ll come across a Parana or two while fishing – not to mention the set of teeth the Dorado have.
Targeting Golden Dorado was unlike any species I’ve fished for, the explosive takes, powerful fight and the flashes of golden beauty soaring through the air was enough to leave me wanting more after every catch.
Aside from dorado, you also get the chance to target other species like Pacu, wolffish and Surubi.
We also had the opportunity to visit Don Joaquin’s Sister lodge Estancia Don Joaquin. An authentic, family-owned working gaucho Estancia. There we met with Angie the lodge owner, to explore the countryside on horseback.
We rode through stunning grasslands, beautiful lagoons, and wetlands. As we rode, we enjoyed the abundance of wildlife that surrounded us, just hoping to potentially sight a caiman alligator.
It being my first experience riding a horse, Angie (pictured below) seamlessly guided me through the entire journey. Her patience, kindness, and ability to exude so much excitement while sharing her passion really touched me. Once the tour ended, I knew it was such a beautiful experience that I would cherish for a lifetime.
My time at Don Joaquin River Lodge was an experience of a lifetime and I’m already eager to head back. The Argentine hospitality, stunning scenery, and world-class fishing added an element to the trip that has no comparison.