Rio Grande Trip Report Feb 2018
By Charlie White
What do you want from a fishing destination?
We are all different but if you want reliability, big fish, excellent guides, supremely comfortable lodges, a week of varied fishing techniques and fabulous food and drink then you really shouldn’t look any further than the Maria Behety fishing on the Rio Grande in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
I have fished the river since 2003 and I can genuinely say that the operation now is as good as it ever has been and more to the point, it offers the best sea trout fishing in the world – absolute fact.
I fished the week with Phil D who managed to land a fish in every one of the 12 sessions. When we say fish, these are only counted when they are over 3lbs – the average weight of our fish in the week was 9lbs – simply astonishing.
The “No Blank Session Club” was set up as a bit of a joke by Federico, the old head guide on the river but it is fair to say that as the sessions were ticked off and still the elusive target was in play, the tension mounted for everyone. When Diego finally slipped the net under a 7lbs fish during the last session it really did feel like a major achievement.
That is the thing about the Rio Grande – there are times when you have to tough it out, there are times when the fish are difficult to catch, there are times when you see plenty rolling on the surface but for some reason they won’t take – there are also moments of pure joy.
It is impossible to overstate how good the logistics, the guides, the lodge staff and the all round experience actually is. They have thought of everything and everyone knows their role ensuring a seamless week from start to finish.
The two Maria Behety lodges rotate their water so regardless of which lodge you fish with, you will fish the upper, middle and lower stretches which is a crucial difference to other lodges down there. In high water the fish will push through the system but lower water holds them up at the bottom – not being “stuck” at one extreme or the other is a huge bonus.
Our team of five rods at La Villa landed 92 fish up to 20lbs with 20 of those weighing more than 15lbs – these are written in a special book which all rods aspire to feature in. This was an “average” week which goes to show you what you can really expect.
Everyone always asks about the wind down there, in awed tones as if you have just pulled a sledge to the South Pole – the reality is very different. The river meanders along a very wide basin and the guides are experts at knowing their beats and as a result, I cast into the wind a sum total of once during the week – very often you won’t at all.
It is a long way to fly but any trip that takes me through Buenos Aires gets my vote – it is the most wonderful city and a night either side of the weeks fishing, bookends it perfectly.
The Rio Grande lodges are as far south as you can get without bumping into an iceberg and yet have the highest repeat rate of practically any worldwide fishing lodges – that should tell you all you need to know. If you can, go.
Our top rod at Estancia Maria Behety lodge last week was Dave P with 22 fish to hand whilst Mike R landed the fish of the week, a lovely 22.5lber. At La Villa, the fishing was a bit slower with 88 landed to the 6 rods. Read on for more detail and photos...