Fly Fishing: Patagonia's small rivers

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Editors Note: The following is from Issue 5.
By Rodrigo Sandoval
The Futaleufú, Baker, Petrohué, Serrano, Limay, Grande, these are rivers that stick in the memory of any fly fisherman that has ever enjoyed, or dreamt of, visiting Patagonia. Many of these rivers have also won prestige for being among the most sought-after rivers for fly fishing anywhere in the world. And it is precisely nearby many of these imposing rivers where other small and medium tributaries hide some of the very best fishing secrets in Patagonia.
Your first instinct may tell you that the bigger the river, the bigger the fish. But past experience and science demonstrate that this isn’t always so. The size of a trout depend more so on the abundance of food in relation to the quantity of mouths there are to feed, and the effort involved in surviving in the river environment.
But it’s not only about size. Many foreign visitors come here as well for an unforgettable fishing experience. In my past working as a fishing guide, I had the privilege of accompanying clients who valued the complete experience: enjoying wading a river, observing the flora and fauna, admiring the scenery, and launching small flies to precise spots after seeing one or two trout-like shadows taking possession of a corner. 
I remember once visiting Los Alerces National Park, in Argentina, with two fantastic young guides who suggested that I try my luck in the Rivadavia River. Once I moved closer to the bank, I recognized a trout´s repeated presence on the surface of the water. A quick throw of an imitation grasshopper triggered an attack disproportionately aggressive for the size of the trout, accompanied by an equivalent fight. Unforgettable.
On another occasion, a fishing day in the renowned La Paloma River, near Coyhaique, brought us to a side canal that you almost couldn’t see from the principal water course. Our guide knew of its existence and of the resident trout that live in the deep and calm pools that mark it. A careful, five meters launch from the bank produced a unique and voracious bite that was hardly consistent with the mere two meters of canal width.
The rivers that flow into the sea in the Aysen fjords provide the most striking examples. Enormous trout, various of them with a life that alternates between the hunting for food in the estuary with stays in fresh water rivers upstream, provide really surprising fishing opportunities.
But perhaps the most interesting example is in remote Tierra del Fuego, especially nearby the world famous Rio Grande. This river, renowned for its enormous migratory browns (Sea Run Browns), seems to take away all of the prestige from the small spring creeks, streams twisting and turning slowly through the pampas. It is in these rivers, a few of them widened thanks to beavers, that occurs some of the most intense fishing experiences on the entire island. Here, where a fisherman succeeds in presenting a small number 14-sized nymph, just inches below the surface, and an aggressive trout attacks it without doubt.
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