Rio Irigoyen – The hidden threasure in Patagonia

Text & images by Helge Dahlen – Guideline PowerTeam Norway

To fish sea trout in Argentina had been a dream for me as long as i can remember, so when the question came if i wanted to take a test trip to a newly opened river in Tierra del Fuego i said yes immediately, even though it was on a short notice. Two and half months later I was there, at the end of the world in Rio Irigoyen.


The Irigoyen is quite different from the more well known rivers in Argentina, its a lot smaller so its no point in bringing anything else then singlehanded rods here. It also runs through a forestry landscape so its a bit more sheltered from the massive wind that Patagonia is so well known for, but the old forrest also creates a lot of logjams in the winterflods that is characteristic for the rivers and the pools. It´s not a river you go to land plenty of fish per day, but its a river you go to to be challenged. Challenged with your casting, challenged with cracking the right codes about the flies and when you face those challenges the right way you get rewarded with the sea trouts of your dreams! Its a river for the feinschmeckers in fly fishing.


The primetime which is in January and February was over when i got there,  I started my first day of fishing the 12th of march. So i was prepared on having not the best conditions. I hoped for rain, but didn’t get it. Instead we got low and clear river and frosty nights. As challenging as possible in other words. The fish are hidden underneath the logs and in the deeper pools when its like this, and very shy as the sea trout is known to be in the rest of the world as well.   I spent the first days adapting to the river and the pools, and having the guide Patrick «Packet» Green there to give me the right advices was the difference between failure and success. He knows this river better than anyone.

I use a 9ft #7 LPXe RS v2 with a Bullet wf floating line for nymphing and a 10ft #8 Lxi with a Ultra compact shooting head and a short sink-tip in the front for the large weighted streamers. I always cover the pools as light as possible first as that is the most memorable way of succeeding, and then i go heavier and deeper afterwards.


The first few days i enjoy the river and seeing new stretches every day. And i do catch some nice trouts already from day one.  The first real nice fish is a 7 pound colored male that hits my enormous streamer with full force. By judging of the aggressive take the trout is angry and provoked when the streamer comes swinging in front of it. It had started to get quite colored. Another sign that the autumn was setting in.


It took me 3 days to brake the 10 pound bounder, but when it happened it was all worth it. I was fishing high up in the system together with Packet, and on a nice run it took my small bullethead nymph and went straight in the air when the hook was sett. When back in the water again it started running downstream in high speed. The run was shallow so i think it panicked cause of that. I had to run a bit after it to get control. Fortunately it stopped, rested for a few seconds, but i was quick with putting pressure on it again. One more jump and then it started going up again. That is more struggling for them so it tires itself out more.  In this shallow water with fish on these since I am happy that I am using strong leaders with fluorocarbon. After a few more runs from the fish it gives up and i am the winner. A beautiful golden sea trout is in my hands.


I keep on enjoying life at the end of the world.  The conditions stay the same the whole week, and I even had some minutes with wet snow coming down. But with the calm atmosphere at the lodge, good food and wine, and with a few trouts every day taking my flies I feel that I have the trip I have dreamed of.


The biggest fish of the trip came on the last day of course. We where fishing one of the most famous pools in the river, the «Black eyes pool». It´s a real holding pool, one of the deepest in the whole river with both a nice run into it and a classic tail which is perfect for the sea trouts.  We went trough it first with the nymphs with no result, but halfway trough it the second time with a big streamer my rod is almost ripped out from my hands. A classic sea trout take followed by a classic sea trout fight. The fish stayed in the pool the whole fight but i still had moments when my heart almost stopped as it had full speed towards the tail. Fortunately it turned every time and went either to the top to the run in or down in the deep middle part. In the end though it had to surrender and i had won the fight. This fish was almost fresh and a real silver beauty. And the memories it gave me at the end of the world gave me a smile on my face the long way back home again.


I have to say thanks to Packet for the days we had together there, and off course the rest of the staff at Worlds end lodge. Together with the wildlife, the surroundings and the big tricky fish at the Irigoyen you made the trip to something i will never forget.

For more information about Rio Irigoyen press the link 


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