This article is presented by Estancia Maria Behety and Una Patagon1a. We had the pleasure of spending an incredible week at Maria Behety and could not speak highly enough about the staff, guides, accommodations, food, and fishing. If this is a trip on your bucket list definitely give them consideration, and feel free to send us an email for any questions.

Considered the finest trout fishing in the world, Tierra del Fuego’s Rio Grande River and the Sea Run Brown Trout is without equal. A bucket list is never finished without experiencing the catch of one of these giants. The migratory Sea-Run Brown trout has the beauty of a brown with the ferocious fighting of a saltwater fish.

Anglers from all over the world make the annual pilgrimage to the end of the earth, Tierra del Fuego. Remote rivers, formed in the Andes eventually reach the South Atlantic where plentiful food supplies attract the trout. 

The Rio Grande, a river located in Tierra del Fuego is home to Sea-Run Brown trout. The fish average 8 to 12 pounds. The river is renowned for producing trout exceeding 20 pounds and records of 30 pounds or more.

The History: Well let’s say John Goodall wanted to do a bit of fishing. The Englishman stocked two tributaries of the 75km Rio Grande with brown trout in 1935. The world at the time was a much different place than it is now. Travel to Argentina was by steamship that took weeks instead of hours. Even though there were formidable challenges, Goodman arranged for a delivery of 100,000 brown trout eggs, from Puerto Montt Chile. The cans were packed with water and moss when exported to Goodman’s estancia in Tierra del Fuego.

Sixty thousand of those planted eggs survived. The trout that did survive found the waters to be devoid of any substantial food. The fish moved their way to the mouth of the Rio Grande and discovered fertile fields of krill, where they flourished.

The Sea-Run Brown trout remain in the waters of the Rio Grande for up to four years after hatching. The trout then head back out to sea. The trout remain in the Atlantic for up to a year before heading back to the Rio Grande for their first spawning. On their initial run, the fish will average around six pounds. One of the greatest gamefish, after spawning the Sea-Run Brown trout heads back out to the Atlantic for feeding. In contrast, the Pacific Salmon spawn and die. Some of these aggressive trout will return to the Rio Grande four to six times. Many of these fish can weigh up to 20 pounds and world records are 30 pounds and more.

Chromed Sea-Run Brown trout start to enter the lower pools of the Rio Grande in December. Peak fishing times are unpredictable as the fish maintain their aggressive spawning into the initial part of the year. April is often overlooked as a peak-fishing month. However, the month can bring the angler a world record catch. The trout have now migrated into the Rio Grande and are at their peak weight. Tierra del Fuego winds are diminished, water is at its lowest level, and the Sea-Run Browns are concentrated in pools all along the Rio Grande.

Genetics and metabolism play a vital role in the Sea-Run Browns migratory patterns. In the extensive waters of the Rio Grande, the trout have no natural predators. Studies have indicated that the Sea-Run Browns of the Rio Grande are 17% bigger than other trout of the same length. It is believed a robust population of around 80,000 thousand adult Sea-Run Browns inhabit the Rio Grande. The aggressive catch and release program has produced trophy trout up and down this extraordinary river.

Tierra del Fuego is at the tip of Argentina and gained its name from Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. The “Land of Fire” is home to an incredible array of wildlife that survives and thrives the ever-changing weather patterns. Warmer months allow visitors to hike Tierra del Fuego’s National Park. Visitors can also visit one of the great natural spectacles, the Martial Glacier.

When it is time to confront the Rio Grande and the Sea-Run Browns there are numerous lodges and guide services available.

Una Patagon1a is a lodge union looking to promote and develop the region of Patagonia. They have partnered with the best 14 lodges in the region so far, including Maria Behety – whom we fished with on this recent trip. We had the pleasure of fishing with the Una Patagon1a founder on this trip to learn more about tourism in Patagonia, and how they are working with these lodges to bring more people to this region. 

The Lodges:

The Estancia Maria Behety fishing lodges are 2 of the premier fishing lodges at the Rio Grande and stand as one of the best fishing destinations worldwide. These two lodges accept a combined maximum of 18 anglers and alternate daily use of more than 35 miles (102 pools).

Most fly fishermen rate the trophy sea-run brown trout on this river the ultimate angling experience. On any other river in the world, the average brown on the Rio Grande would be considered the fish of a lifetime.

There are a handful of other lodges located on or around the Rio Grande watershed: Kau Tapen, Estancia Despedida, Villa Maria Lodge, and Worlds End Lodge. However, if these giant sea-run browns are what you are after look no further than the 102 pools of Maria Behety.

When it is time to book your adventure and make the excursion to the best trout fishing in the world, be prepared. First-time anglers can have a tremendous time with experienced guides helping every step of the way. Experienced anglers will discover the Sea-Run Brown trout a tough fish to bring in. From your initial cast to setting the hook aggressively, there is no fiercer fighter than the Sea-Run Brown.

Techniques: The Rio Grande is an immense river with water levels changing continually. In the latter part of the season, water levels are at their lowest and pools are full. Sea-Run Browns move upstream during the early mornings. The trout seek out cutbanks and faster riffles. Begin each swing as close to a cutbank as achievable. Presentations should be downstream and across, upstream and straight across. Varying presentations, flies, and retrieval are fundamental.

Equipment: Remember you are fishing a fierce rugged fish. To land a trophy Sea-Run Brown takes expert equipment and intelligence. These trout average over eight pounds and a 20-pound Sea-Run Brown is not unusual. Spey style presentations are the experienced angler’s tactic of preference. Single or two-handed rods work well in specialized occasions. Choose rods in the 13 to 15-foot range with line weights of 8 to 11 pounds. Always bring one or two backup rods when fighting Sea-Run Browns.

Reels should have exceptional quality and allow a long smooth drag. The reel should be ready to take 100 yards of 20-pound test line.

Lines on the Rio Grande should be singled out with considerable care. Choose a weight forward line for best results. When the Sea-Run Brown is more surface oriented, a floating line is a great choice in those situations. Have complete set-ups for single-handed and two-handed rods. Polyleaders are a prerequisite when fishing the Rio Grande. The best polyleaders are tapered and act as an essential extension to your line. Warmer water conditions call for a delicate presentation, cast your line carefully in this instance. Southwest winds can be used as an asset. Weight forward lines; cast 35 to 50 feet downstream and across.

Pack an abundance of flies in varied sizes. Be ready to change presentations quickly depending on weather conditions and wind patterns. The Sea-Run Brown can be a puzzling fish. What worked yesterday may not affect the next day. Most recently, larger Sea-Run Browns have been taken with dry flies and nymphs. In the latter parts of daylight, choose a black or purple leech. Do not leave home or the lodge without a complete selection, in all sizes and colors.

When you start to pack clothing, recognize you are heading to the end of the world. Tierra del Fuego can change in a matter of minutes. Winds can be gentle or strong gusts — pack for varied climates and conditions.

Every adventurer should acknowledge the legendary Englishman John Goodall for giving future anglers the finest trout fishing in the world.

Charles Darwin wrote; “we had a scene of savage magnificence, well becoming Tierra del Fuego. There was a degree of mysterious grandeur in mountain behind mountain.”

Goodall understood the mystical grandeur of the Rio Grande. It is impossible for the present day person to imagine the struggle of what John Goodall sought to carry out. In 1935, the Englishman wanted to do a bit of fishing.     

To learn more about or visit these fisheries check out Maria Behety and Una Patagon1a.

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