Prime Week

Rio Grande | Argentina

Bariloche to
Rio Grande

In the fall of 2011, I decided spontaneously to book my next fishing trip to Argentina for February 2012. None of my fishing buddies could join me on such short notice, so I decided to go alone. A week was almost too short for South America, so I planned to spend a few days fishing for trout in the crystal-clear rivers and lakes of Patagonia before flying to the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego. Fortunately, I managed to grab a last-minute spot during one of the Prime Weeks.

Rio Grande | Argentina
19. - 24. February 2012

First Day

The Destinations & the Lodge


Bariloche, nestled in a southern Andean valley, offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including fly fishing. The name Bariloche comes from the Mapuche word Vuriloche, meaning "people behind the mountain." I was picked up from the airport and driven to the Rio Manso Lodge, which is situated in the Nahuel Huapi National Park, offering breathtaking views of Hess Lake and stunning natural landscapes.

On the first evening, I fished the Rio Manso, floating about 3 kilometers down the beautiful river. However, the conditions were not ideal due to a recent heatwave, which had raised the water temperature to 23°C, making the trout less active. Over the next three days, I fished deeper waters, including Hess Lake, Lago los Moscos, and Fonk Lake, catching numerous brown trout, rainbows, and brook trout up to 60 cm in length. Fishing in such a picturesque setting was truly enjoyable, and the organization, accommodations, and guiding were top-notch.

Despite the strong Patagonian winds, I also had a memorable encounter with a special fish: my friendly guide, Martin from Flyfishing Patagonia, accidentally got an ear piercing with a Fat Albert fly. He took it in stride, and after a successful operation, all was forgiven. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate during the last two days, with continuous heavy rain.

Rio Grande

As for the Rio Grande, it's renowned worldwide as the ultimate destination for sea-run brown trout fishing, where you can catch sea-run browns weighing up to 16 kg (35 lbs).

From Bariloche, I flew with a stopover in El Calafate to Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego province and the southernmost city in Argentina. Ushuaia is often referred to as "The End of the World." From Ushuaia, it was a three-hour drive to the Maria Behety Lodge on the Rio Grande.

Maria Behety Lodge

Maria Behety Lodge offers top-notch accommodations, rooms, dining, and service. The guides are highly professional, some with international guiding experience, and they are skilled fly fishers themselves. The lodge has a maximum of 16 rods and access to the 100 best pools along 32 miles of the lower Rio Grande on both riverbanks, a unique feature not offered by any other lodge on the Rio Grande.

The lodge also boasts a fully equipped fly shop stocked with all essential fly fishing gear and accessories, ensuring that you're well-prepared for your angling adventures.

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    At the harbour
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    Maria Behety Lodge
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    Nice Little Accommodation
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    Perfekt Fishing-Basecamp
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    Have a look inside
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    Little Neighbors
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    Around the Lodge

Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing Friends & Fishing

My Fishing Friends

The team consisted of a South American angler, John Travis, and otherwise all American anglers. There were also Americans and the owner of "The Fly Shop USA," Mike Michalak, Ken, Ten, Bruce, Benson, and Kenneth.

The Fishing

At the Rio Grande, I made my first acquaintance with a two-handed rod. At home, I had purchased a Sage TCX #8 Switch rod with a Skagit floating shooting head and matching sink tips, and I had practiced on my own. However, I still lacked formal casting instruction. The often very strong winds made using a two-handed rod advantageous. The wind was sometimes so strong that casting with a single-handed rod was challenging to reach the opposite bank's drop-offs and channels. Mendings were also more effective with the two-handed rod.

The water level was relatively low, and the water was clear. The deepest and hence the best spots were usually in the outer bends on the opposite bank. To avoid standing too deep in the cold water and getting too close to the fish, casting distances of 20 to 25 meters were necessary. This was easily achievable with the two-handed rod. Casting 30 degrees downstream, making a large mend, and then letting it sink and swing, often without stripping. To impart movement to the rubber legs, I stripped back and forth. This allowed me to stay in contact with the nymph or streamer. In areas with little current, I stripped slowly, which also proved successful.

The Nymphs - The most common nymphs could be bought on-site. Otherwise, depending on the water level and color, nymphs in hook sizes 6-12 worked best during the day: Prince, Montanas, Stoneflies, Copper John, Girdle Bug, Yuk Bug, mostly with rubber legs. After sunset and in the dark, we switched to fishing with Black Leech, Crystal Buggers, and Woolly Buggers.


Having Fun

First Days in Argentina


07:15 AM: Wake up, breakfast, and departure to the Rio Grande. Today, I'm fishing with guide Andrew, and we're heading to Pool 11 Nirvana. The guides fish whenever they have a free moment, so there's a lot to learn from them. After a few hours, everything was casting pretty smoothly to the other bank. Learning by doing!

Around 10:30 AM, we spotted some fish on the surface. Our excitement grew. At 11:00 AM, I caught my first Sea Run Brown, weighing eight pounds, and I was thrilled and highly motivated. Unfortunately, my partner Ken had no luck in the morning. // Around noon, we returned to the lodge for lunch and the daily siesta until 6:00 PM, which, as a hardcore angler, felt a bit too long for me. Two hours of rest would have been sufficient. // At 6:00 PM, we were back at the water at Pool 32 Banghero. I caught four Sea Runs and lost two. At 10:10 PM, during the last cast in the dark, I caught a 16-pound Sea Run measuring 80 cm. I was overjoyed! What a first day of fishing on the Rio Grande.


On the second day, I'm fishing with guide Hernan at Pool 25 Alejandro, where I landed two Sea Runs and a superb brown trout. // There are also huge resident brown trout in the Rio Grande that don't migrate to the sea. I caught several of them during the week, mostly in the evening when we switched from small nymphs to streamers. In the evening at Pool 21, it was quiet for me. No bites. Bruce caught a small Sea Run.


"Potato day" or "Papas" - that's what the Argentine guides call it when you have a day with no fish. We're out with Sunnyboy Genaro. Besides teaching me some good tricks and losing two fantastic fish in the process, I can't land any fish. Bruce isn't doing much better.

In the morning, we went upstream where I lost the two fish. In the afternoon, we fished near the lodge. Fellow anglers had warned us that the pool hadn't been very productive in recent days. However, this can change daily because the fish are constantly moving, and a bad pool can quickly turn into a top pool.

On and on


Today, I'm with Lucas, who happens to be a very good photographer, at Pool 24 Julio, which should prove to be an exceptional spot. Since we have two cars, there are four anglers at Julio. Bites come almost exclusively at a specific spot. Initially, it was challenging for me. Everyone was catching fish, and I had a bit of a dry spell!

Eventually, I caught three Sea Runs and hooked a fourth, which I lost during the fight. Benson caught a 22-pound male, beautifully colored like a brown trout. An amazing fish! Unfortunately, in the excitement, I forgot to take a photo. A fantastic morning for everyone at Julio. // In the afternoon, we drove to Pool 26 in extremely windy and freezing conditions. After the third or fourth cast, I hooked a 14-pound Sea Run. Then, two more brown trout on the streamer, one of them measuring 55 cm! It was bitterly cold, I was freezing, and nothing more was happening. Bruce also had no success.


With Diego, we head downstream to Pool 24. Mike Michalak, the owner of The Fly Shop USA, immediately catches a 16-pounder!

I go nearly three hours without a bite, and there's no fish activity in sight. Fortunately, Diego decides to change pools. We go to Pool 31 Horseshoe. It's an intriguing spot. The bank is slippery and muddy. Three to four meters from the bank, there's a steep drop-off where the water is three to five meters deep. Very promising! Fish are showing themselves in the pool! It's challenging to get the nymph down because the water is backwashing, and the current is swift.

After a few attempts, I figure out a way to fish the passage. In the 50 minutes before siesta, I catch three fish: 6, 11, and 15 pounds. And finally, the first male with a true spawning hook. // In the afternoon, we're at Pool 16. - Mike hooks and loses a fish. I have a "potato day"! Upon returning to the lodge, I learn that on the last morning, we'll be fishing the top pool of the week, Andrew. Anticipation and expectations are high.


The day starts cold, with no wind, the water is frozen at the edges, and the river is like glass. The night was clear.

Our guide, head guide Federico, gives us a target: we must catch 10 fish at the first pool; anything less is considered weak. Well, in the morning, with calm winds and sunshine, we catch 18 fish, and I personally land 11! I'm very proud because on this day, I caught more fish than John, the South African, who usually outperforms us all. A fantastic day! We had two double strikes. To top it off, at 11:00 AM, I catch a 26.5-pound female Sea Run!

In the afternoon, I don't catch anything else, but John catches three fish, putting him back in the game. I'm genuinely happy for him.

Great Catchs



I had an amazing week on the Rio Grande. The conditions were good, the weather was a bit cold but manageable, and most importantly, the fishing was a dream! I developed a real bond with my two-handed rod and learned a lot. What can I say: I immediately decided to come back in January 2013, perhaps with a friend – the photos will surely be convincing.

Weekly Performance – In this fantastic week, I caught the following fish in six days:

  • 25 Sea Runs
  • 18 fish between 5 - 15 pounds
  • 5 fish between 15 and 20 pounds
  • 1 fish weighing 26.5 pounds

All images of the trip