Early in February 2015 we spent two weeks fishing with our outfitter in Chile, Kaweskar Expeditions. This trip was a smashing success. We did however have consistently poor (read, five days of rain, then sunshine accompanied by 30 mph winds!) weather. In spite of the weather, we enjoyed tremendous fishing with large numbers of fish contacted daily and big fish caught by all members of our group. Our Chilean outfitter, Cristian Effa and his partner, Gabriel Benoit, have taken over Picacho Lodge from the previous owner, Bill McKeen. We are sorry to say that Bill suffered a severe stroke that resulted in a fall and consequently, Bill is no longer able to be actively involved. Bill is a delightful fellow and we hope for the best for him. Cristian and Gabe have renamed their business Kaweska Expeditions, to keep alive the memory of the Kaweska Indians who populated this area of Chile a couple of hundred years ago. Our ten fishing-day adventure began with 6 days in the “Domos”, geodesic domes sitting on raised platforms, on the banks of the famous Manuelas River. We spent six days there and then transferred in a beautiful older lodge, which was simply elegant, in Coyhaique, called Minchos Lodge. While we were based in either location, we visited many of Chile’s blue-ribbon Rivers, including the Manuelas, the world famous Simpson, the Picaflor, Toqui and several other rivers and lakes. This area of Chilean Patagonia offers endless numbers of rivers and lakes to fish, with either browns or rainbows, in some instances, both species, in great supply. We caught browns to 26” and rainbows nearly as big, with bigger fish hooked and lost by many of us. Much bigger fish were spotted but big Chilean trout are like big Maine Whitetail bucks, they didn’t get that way by being stupid! As an added attraction, very large King Salmon were present in some of the waters and Don Foster and Steve Forrest actually managed to catch a couple of these! Steve’s fish was estimated to be in the area of fifty-pounds! Steve finally confessed that he really didn’t catch this fish on his four-weight, instead couldn’t resist temptation and used spinning gear! Last but not least, Cristian and Gabe now offer their Chile fly-fishing adventure at any of three locations; the Picacho River Lodge, the Domes on the Mañihuales River and at the Mincho Lodge in Coyhaique, where we spent the last four days of our stay this year.
Food on our adventure was superb, with Chilean recipes and native vegetables, with pork, beef and chicken as the main course. As is always the case, Cristian’s delightful staff catered to us and kept us provided with fantastic meals and the typically excellent Chilean wines. Perhaps the highlight of our meals was the lamb, cooked over hot coals for hours, that was simply out of this world! Cooking lamb over an open fire is a tradition for the Chile outfitters and is always much anticipated.
Much of our fly-fishing was done with terrestrials and dry flies. Sad to say but between the first days of rain and cool temperatures, followed by sometimes gale-force winds, enjoying insect hatches was a rarity. Many of the river bottoms were covered with caddis cases, but the wind really put a damper on any chance of fishing in a serious hatch. We did very well with floating lines and Chernobyl ants, Fat Albert’s, hoppers and even enjoyed some nymph fishing as well. The fish in Chile are aggressive and voracious feeders, and fish numbers are staggering. Two of our group came back after a day on the Simpson and reported catching something on the order of a hundred trout!
We are planning a return to Chile and Kaweskar Expeditions with another group of fishermen in 2016. If you have interest, please make us aware and we will get information to you.