Fall in Patagonia: Big Trout, Big Meals, Big Country
For those who love fly fishing, northern Patagonia is certainly on the bucket list, and if it’s not first on your list, it should be. The world just feels larger there—the country, the rivers, the meals, and, most importantly, the fish. The allure only increases when you consider that it’s on the other side of the equator. Outside’s Grayson Schaffer and Nick Kelley, along with New Mexico-based photographer Ryan Heffernan, crossed one off the bucket list this April and got a taste of fall a few seasons early.
Photo: Schaffer trying his luck under one of many overhanging willows on the Chimehuin river.
Much of the area around Bariloche, Argentina, still had ash on the ground from the Puyehue eruption in June 2011. Several inches of ash blanketed the region again in May, 2015 when Calbuco erupted just across the border in Chile.
Crystal clear water and hungry trout make for another great day on the Chimehuin.
Charrua, a local gaucho’s dog, looks out in search of anything worth chasing. Loving and eager to climb in any lap, Charrua is also trained for hunting and working around horses, sheep, and cattle.
Patagonia’s sharp and thorny vegetation more than makes up for the lack of snakes and things that can bite you.
A small hunting shack, built to keep firewood dry through the winter, made for the perfect campsite.
Unlike some larger trout in the west, larger brown trout often hang out in just inches of water in the northern Patagonian rivers. You either have to tediously fish every section of the river or take the chance of stepping on the catch of the day.
In the summer months, fishing can stay hot until almost 10 p.m. During fall, the skies are dark by 8 p.m., which leaves plenty of time for eating, drinking, and chatter about missed fish.
Schaffer with his a big brown trout, which he was lucky to catch in his first ten minutes on the water.
Andres Sorzana, who has spent much of his life in northern Patagonia as a polo player, avid hunter, and horse trainer, tested his aim with some targets on the hillside.