Fly Fishing Chile:The Rio Puelo

Camping On The Rio Puelo, Chile
The Rio Puelo is a unique color of turquoise. The volume and surge of the river is impressive, especially during the boat runs up river. The amount of water to fish was overwhelming, so we used the boat to reach the best riffles. The gusting wind and the biting Tabanos created a challenging fishing scenario. We discovered while we were protecting ourselves from the Tabanos, and knocking them into the water, fish would occasionally eat them. A splashy rise would erupt in the steady stream of Tabanos floating down river. The hard part was locating a trout willing to rise more than a few times, and we found very few of those fish. Max did catch a brown on a big foam dry in a side channel to start the day. I was fishing nymphs under an indicator on my Sage TCX 11’9” 7 weight switch rod. I quickly hooked and lost a decent bow on a rubber legged nymph. I began cycling through flies and working the same drift. Big trout were known to hold on the inside edges (inches deep) of the shallows. I was still surprised when a big fish rolled in shin deep water with my nymph in its mouth. I started to chase the fish downriver, as the big rainbow jumped in front of Alex and Pipo. I watched as the backing started to go through the guides, and the fish took me into the main river current. Moments later I felt the line go slack, and checked to find both flies still there. At the time I shrugged off losing the 20 inch plus fish, but the rest of the day I only hooked one small fish.
Deep Run On The Rio Puelo
The river was huge, but the three of us drifted different flies through the best looking water. It always felt like a fish was just another cast, or fly change away. We fished big nymphs on heavy tippet, small midges on light tippet, and all variety of weighted caddis patterns. We abandoned one technique for another when nothing produced. I quickly switched to streamers, while Max and Alex tried dry/dropper rigs. We even got dropped off at an impasse for the boat, and hiked up river to a hard to reach section. I took a gamble and decided to stick with streamer fishing until dark. I changed spools to a sinking tip line for the deep holes, and used the floating line in the shallow riffles. In a few hours of swinging flies I had one hard grab, a large fish flash in the shallows, and a big brown chase the streamer to the rod tip. I tried Zonkers of all variety, color and size. A size 4 white Polar Zonker produced the best results, and closely matched the Chinook Salmon smolts in the river. Alex snapped us out of our funk when he hooked into a big rainbow. I filmed while Max chased the rainbow down with the net. This fish reawakened our urge to keep fishing, and set off a chain reaction. I had fished a streamer all day in the hopes of catching an early Chinook Salmon, but that honor was bestowed on Max. I heard him yelling down stream of me and Alex grabbed his net. I just switched back to nymphs, and a huge rainbow nosed my indicator twice, so I wasn’t moving. I eventually started filming when I noticed the bend in his seven weight. The fish was within twenty feet of the me, and easily over thirty inches. The fish took a tan Zonker on 15 pound tippet. The latest video post features fly fishing on the Rio Puelo, Chile.