Fly fishing in Magallanes

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Editors Note: The following is from Issue 8
 
If you were thinking about visiting Magallanes, and especially Torres del Paine National Park, you are probably going for the trip of your life. If you were also thinking about leaving your fly rod at home, think again.
 
Granted, when you read about fly fishing in Magallanes, the southernmost region of Chile, it was most likely to read about Tierra del Fuego, especially the Argentinian half, and maybe, just maybe, about Río Serrano and the fabled sea-run browns and chinook salmon yearly runs.
 
Besides the stunning vistas and impressive wildlife, the northern part of the Magallanes region offers an incredible array of waters that can surprise any angler. Just start by floating Lake Sofia, just 19 miles (30 km) north of Puerto Natales, and you might be fighting a 30 plus inch brown trout, or even some of the coho and Atlantic landlocked salmon also sharing these waters. Patagonian Grand Slam anyone?
 
You might continue your trip stopping by some of the smaller rivers flowing through the omnipresent pampas, within the estancias. Occasionally you might be sharing river banks with some sheep and cattle, but also with a variety of wild animals, including foxes, rhea —the Patagonian ostrich—, prey birds, and colorful water birds like flamingoes and small ducks. Mostly, you will likely be after the aggressive browns that roam each deeper hole and weed bed. Small flies will not trigger their feeding habits, but a big flashy streamer, such as the Hot Head Mohair Leech, stripped frantically downstream might do the trick for resident trout, which are also surrounded by the lake-run big bullies that arrive late summer from nearby lakes such as El Toro y Maravilla. 
 
I definitely suggest you include the Serrano River on your bucket list. Flowing downstream from Lake El Toro, on the southwest border of Torres del Paine park, the Serrano is famous for the strong resident browns and yearly runs of chinook salmon and sea-run browns, that can easily reach the 20-pound weight class. Again, big flashy streamers, cast with a fast-sinking tip and shooting tapers, is the best strategy. Even better if you are a good caster, because on the often windy days here long casts might be needed to efficiently cover the most productive runs of the river.
 
A well-balanced 5-weight rod with floating and sinking lines is a good recommendation for the smaller rivers, while a 7-weight is best suited for casting those big streamers long into the Serrano currents or larger lakes. Having the assistance of a good fly fishing guide is also highly recommended, especially to float the lakes, gain easy access to the estancias’ rivers, and to reach the best spots on the Serrano. 
 
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