There’s great fishing at two lodges in southern Chile. On two lakes – Lago Rosselot and Lago Yelcho – the fishing is excellent and there are two very comfortable lodges, both called Chucao. (The chucao is a pretty little bird with a happy, chortling song that’s found near lakes and rivers in southern Chile.) I’ve fished Rosselot twice, in 2010 and 2011, and Yelcho many times over the years.
First of all the fishing. Lago Rosselot is not as well known as Lago Yelcho but is an excellent fishing destination, with lots of trout in the lake itself and in tributaries (Rio Figueroa and Rio Bordali) as well as the Rio Rosselot that runs from the lake to another large stream. The trout range in size from small/medium (10 to 18 inches) to quite large. My largest on a recent trip was a thick-bodied brown the guide and I estimated at 23 inches long. The fishing is with dries cast toward the shore of the lake and the rivers when it’s sunny but you may need to use streamers on a sink-tip line if it’s raining (something you have to be prepared for). There are also chinook salmon (called Kings in Alaska) that can reach 60 or 70 pounds. (These sea-run fish have been getting larger every year.) I haven’t hooked one myself but a couple of years ago a woman in our party caught a 15 pounder that took most of her backing and all of her strength to bring to the net.
Lago Yelcho is probably known to readers either from experience or by reputation. All of the record-size trout caught in Chile have come from this lake. It’s almost 20 miles long and very deep; it’s main tributary is the Rio Futaleufu that runs into Chile from Argentina. The erruption of the Chaiten volcano some years ago caused a good deal of ash to fall on the lake and especially on the Futaleufu but the effects of this have disappeared and the fishing is as good as it every was. The fishing is along the shores of the lake, casting toward reed beds or the shore with large chernobyl attractor flies if the weather is dry and the trout are active, and also on the Rio Yelcho that runs toward the Pacific ocean.
Fisherpersons who know the lake are familiar with great spots like the Bahia de los Leones, where the trout launch themselves clean into the air trying to catch the dragonflies flying over the water. The river offers fishing to structure along the shore as well as some unique spots. In one major bay to the side of the river, the current brings a rich supply of food (insects and small fish) that swirls around in a large, deep eddy. Large trout wait for this feast to come to them and feed actively – the fish visible just below the surface – on the abundant food. The best technique is with very small dries (I found that 18s or even 20s on fine tippets worked best: caddis emergers, white Wulffs or parachute Adams, for example). The same method works even in the rain and I got drenched (but happy) the day I fished this “remolino” recently.
If one stays a number of days and wants more variety, there are various small lakes (lagoons) as well as streams: the Pico and Quinto nearby; the area of the Rosselot lake. Needless to say the landscape surrounding these lakes is some of the most beautiful in southern Chile.
The Chucao lodges are owned by Gonzalo Cortes, a very experienced lodge operator who has condensed his years of experience into these two lodges. In both the design is oriented toward the fisherman. On covered terraces of each lodge there are comfortable places to hang waders and keep boots, chairs to sit on while dressing and places where you can sort flies, etc. Inside the decor is a combination of casual and elegant, with panelling of native Chilean woods, fireplaces with stone chimneys and handsome, comfortable furniture. In each lodge there is a living room beside a dining room. Almost all bedrooms are upstairs and all have a lake view. The beds are very comfortable and long enough for a tall person. There is heating when necessary.
Cortes has assembled a team of skilled guides and experienced support staff that have worked with him for many years, know the waters of both lakes intimately and can guide a newcomer in the choice of flies and methods of presentation. The cuisine in both lodges is outstanding, with creative and delicious dishes at every meal.
There are two ways of reaching the lodges. The visits usually begin at Lago Rosselot, which is the farther south of the two. One flies to Balmaceda airport near Coyhaique, is met by a staff person and driven about five hours north from Coyhaique. From Rosselot the trip to Yelcho takes some two hours. The usual arrangement is then to fly to Puerto Montt on powerful and safe nine-passenger planes, landing at La Paloma airport, and then proceeding by taxi to Puerto Montt´s main El Tepual airport to fly on to Santiago. The taxies can be arranged in advance and are accustomed to transporting fishermen with bulky luggage.
If you love to fish, a visit of several days to both of these outstanding lodges is a delightful experience. The cost of my most recent trip was approximately US$4,000. (There can be minor variations depending on the dollar exchange rate.) This covered everything except tips for the staff and a US$85 charge for the light plane to Puerto Mont. Reservations are through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patagonia Road Trip: Part 3 – Chucao Lodges – Chilean Patagonia Feb 11th, 2012 by Rex Bryngelson
In Late December I had the good fortune of making a short road trip up to fish in what I consider to be Northern Patagonia out of the Chucao Lodges. These two gorgeous lodge facilities are located on the famous Chilean lakes of Lago Rosselot and Lago Yelcho and owned by well know Chilean angler and shop owner, Gonzalo Cortes of Santiago. Gonzalo took tremendous care in selecting some of the most incredible settings imaginable for these two first class lodges and each detail has been painstakingly thought out to insure that everything an angler could hope for is right there at their finger tips. Not only are the two lodges fully equipped and spectacularly situated, I also don’t believe I’ve seen a fishing operation anywhere with a more impressive fleet of boats than what they have there at Chucao.
My first stop was at the Lago Rosselot lodge located near the village of La Junta in what is perhaps the most spectacular setting I have seen for a fishing lodge anywhere in the world. The second Chucao lodge on Lago Yelcho is equally impressive located 1.5 hrs. drive to the north of the Rosselot lodge.
The two Chucao lodges are presently being managed by Hernan Barrientos and his lovely wife Soledad who rules the kitchen. Hernan and Soledad are from Puerto Varas, Chile and Hernan is recognized as among the countries most experienced guides. During my first afternoon with him on the water I quickly learned he is virtually a living encyclopedia on the history of Chilean angling.
During my stay at Rosselot in late Dec. there was a massive sedge hatch taking place which I have also witnessed in the Coyhaique area at this same time of the season.
Hernan and his guides were referring to the clouds of bugs as caddis but, I’d consider the tiny cream-colored sedges to be more a type of moth rather than what I’d call a caddis. Whatever the case, that fact of the matter is that there are millions of them flitting around on the water at dusk at this time of year and the fish do key in on them in a big way. On my first evening at an eddy just a stone’s throw from the lodge, I hooked and released a half dozen rambunctious rainbows using a small elk hair caddis skated through the foam lines.
The Rosselot lodge has access to several rivers and stillwaters in the La Junta area including the well known Rios Figueroa, Rosselot, Palena and Pico.
The Chucao lodges fishing program is based on the ability to utilize both the Rosselot and Yelcho lodges during a typical week’s stay offering a huge variety of fishing options. The weather was excellent during my short visit and Hernan suggested we should get up to the Yelcho lodge as the conditions were ideal for fishing the famed dragonfly hatch there.
His suggestion turned out to be an excellent one and we experienced a great morning there casting a Gypsy King to large receptive rainbows leaping for dragonflies outside the reed beds just minutes from the lodge.
The Yelcho dragonfly hatch is one of the classic angling events to experience in Patagonia and I feel very fortunate to have caught it just right that day. December and January are what the guide’s suggest as the very best times to catch it.
I spent some time later that afternoon with local guide Luis fishing a couple of large eddys down the Yelcho river just a short distance from the lodge. There we had a fantastic time sight fishing with small dries to large rainbows sipping in the foam lines.
Two and a half days wasn’t nearly enough time to experience these two amazing locations but, I was very fortunate to see the area when the conditions were at their best and was able to get a solid feel for what the Chucao lodges have to offer. This is a great destination offering a tremendous amount of angling diversity in a jaw dropping remote setting.
Getting to the Chucao lodges typically involves flying to Puerto Montt, Chile by commercial jet and then on to the town of Chaiten by way of air taxi. For more information on booking a trip to the Chucao lodges http://flywatertravel.com/destination/ChucaoLodge or anywhere else in Patagonia, please contact me at: email@example.com - Rex Bryngelson from Chile