Fly Fishing Chile: Behind the Scenes

The video about fly fishing in Chile probably gives the impression of a successful fishing trip, but let us have a look behind the scenes.


After travelling through Argentina and Chile with Philippe for three weeks, I planned one more week in South America for fly fishing. Having looked for advice on Instagram, I decided to go for Coyhaique. As usually I rented a car to be independent to explore the places I wanted. However, even renting a car was kind of difficult, but more on that later.

The lovely town of Coyhaique makes a good base to explore the countless rivers around.
The lovely town of Coyhaique makes a good base to explore the countless rivers around.

As soon as I got the car, a Nissan Duster, which was not a 4×4, I drove to some remote places to fish. I had met some Chilean dudes in town with whom I spent the first evening at the river. We fished the Rio Simpson from the banks, a famous river to float, and as soon as the evening rise started at about 8 o’clock, I caught my very first fish in Chile.

The Rio Simpson is famous for float trips and they are offered by various guides and lodges.
The Rio Simpson is famous for float trips and they are offered by various guides and lodges.

Yet, the fish were rather small even if I had caught them in Switzerland. The following days, I looked for larger fish but it seemed that everywhere I went, there were only small fish up to 35cm (14 in). If I had caught a 35cm trout in Switzerland, I would have been happy – but this is Patagonia. There should be larger fish somewhere!

So I stepped into the good old trap of the itinerant angler: Rushing it.

Instead of focussing on just one river and fishing it thoroughly, I was always on the run for the next section or even river. Always haunted by the belief that other parts might hold larger fish, I even forgot to eat. This led me all across the Aysen Region of Chile and I fished about a dozen different waters within one week without catching a large fish. But this was not the only issue.

The average sized fish I caught while fly fishing in Chilean Patagonia
The average sized fish I caught while fly fishing in Chilean Patagonia

On the second evening – the first being on my own – I drove to a campground of a farmer next to a river. The lovely old woman told me in Spanish that there are two possibilities to camp: Either next to their farm-house a few hundred meters away from the water or down by the river. Obviously, I opted for the latter and the her son accompanied me in my car to find the place.

First we drove down a gravel road, then it became a meadow, we crossed a small creek next to some sheep and then he opened a gate for me to pass. As soon as he had opened it, he walked back up to the farmhouse.

The following stretch of the “road” was just sand, very steep and the slight curve to the left had a drop-off to the right. This sandy gravel road di not convince me at all. I did not know if I would ever make it back up to the farmers house by now nor if I could make it even any further down.

So, I pulled the hand brake and stepped out of the car to see how steep it is. I walked down about 40 meters and thought to myself it is better to stay by the farm, when an awkward sound of crushing sand made me instantly turn around.

The car started to move towards the edge.

Hastening back to the car, I run as fast as I could, but it was too late.

The mighty Nissan Duster the vehicle I used for fly fishing Chile
The mighty Nissan Duster the vehicle I used for fly fishing Chile

There was no possibility I could reach the car before it went down the drop-off. It was only when the wheel got stuck in the small bump before the drop that the car stopped. You cannot imagine how glad I was. When I entered the car, I saw why it had rolled down the hill: The gear was not engaged.

Yet, the car had moved down the steepest part of the road so that I decided to drive it down. This was a bad idea too. I made the best of it and enjoyed camping and fishing down by the river. Needless to say, I only caught average sized fish.

Down by the river I was pretty worried about getting back to the street. Behind the Scenes
Down by the river I was pretty worried about getting back to the street

The following day, I had to get up this windy road. After three attempts where I did not manage to get the car up on the sandy road and the drop off was again dangerously close, I realised:

I need help.

Hence, I left the car in gear and pulled the hand brake as strong as I can. Additionally, I put some stones under the rear wheels to prevent it from rolling. Then I went to the farmer’s house. With sign language I explained to them that my car drive up the road and I need help. Yet, the old farmer couple did not even have a vehicle to tow my car up the hill. So they came down to the river to help me pushing.

Down by the steep windy road, the old farmer told me to drive on the tufts of grass. But these were just centimetres away from the edge of the road. It was the only possibility. With the help of the couple and their niece we made it to bring the car up the steep windy road.

Lucky, to be back on track I hugged all of them and said ‘Muchas Gracias’ many times.

The Virgin Falls between Coyhaique and Puerto Aisen at the Rio Simpson
The Virgin Falls between Coyhaique and Puerto Aisen at the Rio Simpson

When I left farmers, I drove about 3 hours southwards, only to realise that I had forgotten the wading boots. I left them outside of the car to dry. So, I drove all the way back.

Another thing that annoyed me, is the access to rivers. For me as non-Spanish speaker it was difficult to find suitable access points. There is a fine line whether it is fine to cross land or not and sometimes I did not want to risk anything. Therefore, the millions of fence posts began to stress me.

Always and everywhere: fences.
Always and everywhere: fences.

Last but not least, when I booked the car, I had mistaken the 470.000 pesos for 470 USD. In Chile, they use the dollar sign as well for pesos. Therefore, I paid almost twice as much for the car than I expected. However, by doing an do-it-yourself fishing trip, I was able to keep the expenses for food and accommodation very low. Nonetheless, it bugged me that I did not see this before.

 


Summary about behind the scenes

A serendipitous happening lead to the video you saw at the beginning. On the very last fishing day, I finally found a spot where there was hopper action and – larger fish. I had driven by that place about 3 times, but due to some fishermen there I did not fish it though. Yet, this places would have been my best bet. But this took me 7 days to figure out.

Thus, you can see that not everything went as well as it might seem in the video.

Nevertheless, I gained many experiences and learnt the importance of leaving the car in gear – always.

Wonderful colours of the Rio Paloma.
Wonderful colours of the Rio Paloma.

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