Introducing the Staying Afloat Series, where we take an inside look into the lives of many different fly fishing guides, shops, brands, and lodges across the world in hopes of finding out how the COVID is affecting them, what they are doing to help, and how we can do our part to help them.
Flylords: Who is Juan Manuel Biott and Tres Amigos Outfitters?
Juan: I’m a fishing guide and lodge owner. We are a Patagonian company located at the bottom of Santa Cruz province, very close to the mighty Gallegos river. We own Los Plateados Lodge at Santa Cruz river and a trout program called Route of the Spring Creeks which I run with my own family at our ranch, we also manage Solid Adventures Patagonian programs as Las Buitreras Fishing Lodge and Glacier King. We fish for steelhead, brook and brown trout, sea-run brown trout, and king salmon.
Flylords: How has the CO-VID outbreak impacted your business?
Juan: It impacted very hard on our own Steelhead program at Los Plateados (Santa Cruz River). We work very hard to operate 6 weeks in this place and we basically had to cancel the whole season. Just to mention that this program means a year of work (together with agents) to fill these spots. Also, we lost part of the other lodges weeks.
Flylords: Are you still operating?
Juan: On the 17th of March we basically finished the season and locate every single employee back home. The quarantine started right after. Our country did not allow for tourists to enter and all local flights were canceled. So basically we didn’t have an option and accepted the rules right away as we saw the effects and how contagious the virus was.
Even though we don’t know what will happen our first program to open is the Route of the Spring Creeks. November 2020 we open this program that runs till March. Before that, we always take our time to scout new waters and fisheries.
Flylords: Have you lost a lot of revenue?
Juan: Fortunately, working with professional travel agents like Fly Water Travel & partners help you work on a rebooking policy that is both fair for your client and that also helps you stay on your feet. But some others just choose to cancel the trip and get refunds, money that is always invested in the structure I spoke before, this is where the problem affects you deeply. We lost some and find ourselves working hard to keep clients traveling next season.
Flylords: How can your customers help support you through these hard times
Juan: Our message to the fly fishing travel industry and to every single client is that you can truly help us and many other locations by postponing your trip for the next season. We are the only lodge in 400km of water from Santa Cruz river, 5 families that make a living on this program, you have to adapt to survive, exactly like steelhead. We are lucky at the moment that we don’t need donations (other cases are much worse and will need them).
Flylords: What are you doing to pass the time?
Juan: First thing is enjoying family, we are at home after a long working season so in my particular case my kids and I are catching up with every single game you could imagine. Also using every channel to keep working with my partners on every aspect of the company. There are so many things to consider at the moment rather than just watching Netflix haha. And also at last, I’m training my rusty voice. I used to sing more frequently and had my band, but all the work and family kept me busy, so that is really cool for me.
Flylords: Can you tell us a little bit about the singing?
Singing is something that I’ve done since I was a kid. I love Queen but I’m also very keen on the 80’s and love some singers of the 70’s. I like all kinds of music but mainly before the 90’s except for some of the classic Grunge bands. While I was studying at University I had my own Glam band with long haired partners, dressed in leather and make up all over my face haha. Those were memorable days! Nowadays with all these social media stuff you can easily show what you do to anyone in the world and that is really cool. I’m planning to make my own record at some point during the next two years.
Flylords: Anything exciting in the works for Tres Amigos?
There is always something exciting going on in Tres Amigos. We are developing a new steelhead program that will operate downstream to where we are now (a few miles from the ocean). We fell in love with this boutique style ranch hotel and its waters located right in front of Monte Leon National Park. This place will give every single fishermen that travels to Jurassic Lake, Gallegos River or even Rio Grande from mid-March until the end of April the opportunity to chase some steelhead in our prime time with us and enjoy a very pleasant stay. It will be called Santa Cruz River Lodge.
Another exciting thing is that we are adding some really awesome creeks with the most picturesque scenery to our trout program and also building a new private room with a bathroom. This will give us the chance of having 4 guests the whole season. It’s a very exclusive program and we want to keep it that way.
Flylords: Are you still going fishing, what’s it like right now in Patagonia?
At the moment not a single sport activity is allowed. The only activities that are permitted have to do with health and the food industry. So it’s hard to think that a massive school of steelhead is running at our location and we are here.
Flylords: Anything else?
We want to thank you for letting us tell the fishing community how they can collaborate with our companies, guides and everyone involved. We truly appreciate it.
Juan Biott is an experienced fly fishing guide down in Patagoina. Himself, Claudio Martin and Pollo make up @tresamigosoutfitters. Be sure to check them out.
Cheers to Fat Tire and New Belgium Brewing for making this series possible. Throughout the “Staying Afloat Series,” we will be sending beer to people who are really in need of a “pick me up”. If you have a good story for someone who deserves some beer shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.