I hope you read last week’s Fly Fishing in Argentina with SET Fly Fishing post. I tried to capture the uniqueness of our heli fly fishing in Patagonia and more importantly, the people and overall experience. This week, I’ll share fishing Pajarito Springs and Trocoman River with SET Fly Fishing.
We fished a diversity of water during the week of January 28 – February 4, 2023, experiencing spring creeks, pocket water in streams, and larger rivers where huge boulders lined the water. We even fished a slow-moving, brackish creek flowing into a lake.
I shouldn’t be surprised at the variety of water, because we were able to cover so much territory with the helicopter flying to different locations many miles apart, all within the thousands of acres available to us.
Using a helicopter opens up so much water to fish in this remote region. There are few roads and what is there have twists and turns. The only roads I saw close to the Lodge were gravel.
To obtain a little perspective about how the helicopter changed our fly fishing options, I asked Danny, our head guide, how long it would take to fish one of the locations if we didn’t fly in the helicopter. He thought for a few seconds and told me it would probably take about a 3 1/2 hour drive and another 45 minute walk to the river we fished that day…EACH WAY! It took us 9 minutes to fly back to the Lodge!
Can you imagine taking 8 hours out of your day for a truck drive to and from the water only to be able to fish for a couple of hours at most? I don’t know many who would.
The image below shows the helicopter taking off after we got out with the guides and our gear.
Here is a short video I created with the hopes of capturing the helicopter around the water.
Our first day in Patagonia found us on the upper reaches of Pajarito Springs, an interesting piece of water. Slow moving and full of weed beds, it certainly looked challenging.
As we flew closer to our fly fishing destination for the day, we could see a multi-channel stream flowing through green vegetation bordered by the brown valley fields.
Flying closer, we had a bird’s-eye view of the water with the channels showing themselves through the weed beds.
After landing a short distance away, our guides Danny and Juan strung rods and tied on some flies. This is a very strange feeling for us because we fish so much and do everything ourselves. We seldom use guides anymore and it’s a helpless feeling watching them do what we normally do. Nevertheless, we stood back and let them do their jobs.
We had two guides assigned to us all week, and we usually switched at lunch.
Above, Pablo is attaching a screen on the helicopter. He stayed there all day long as we fished. We returned to the helicopter for lunch and then walked back to the location where we stopped fishing and continued our way upstream.
Dancingtrout began her Argentina fishing with a few short casts to open water between the weeds where we spotted fish working.
A beautiful Brown Trout was the reward.
Our first Argentina fish! My Rainbow Trout is on the right.
A short time later, I hooked and landed my own Brown Trout.
More fish came to hand as we moved upstream. Our guides spotted fish working between the weed beds and we cast to willing trout.
And another nice Brown Trout…
I think our guides wanted to take us farther apart so each of us could fish at the same time. But we enjoy watching each other fish and hopefully hook, play, and land trout. After all, I need a few fish pics for my posts!
So, we’d take turns as we walked upstream to a different run and watch each other. After a fish or two were caught, we might go up to the next pool and catch up with each other a short time later.
I tied a box of flies for our trip to Argentina, which you might have seen in the List of Flies for Patagonia Fly Fishing post.
Danny sat down with us the first day we arrived at Chochoy Mallin Lodge to determine what our fly fishing preferences were. We talked about dry fly fishing, but would fish dry/dropper setups if needed. In addition, I said I brought a box of flies and had a goal was to catch at least one fish with on a Beetle Bailey I tied (far left flies above). They advertise about furnishing all the flies we’d need for fishing, so I didn’t really expect they’d use many of the flies I brought. Once I showed Danny and Juan my flies, they said we’d use some.
With that background, Juan and I fished this section below, but the fish refused several of his flies. I asked him if I could try a Beetle Bailey and this Brown Trout rose to the fly on one of the first casts.
Needless to say, I was pleased Beetle Bailey worked!
Walking upstream, our guides located a trout rising in the red circle of this riffle. Juan tied on a caddis imitation, and I placed a couple of casts above where the fish was feeding.
We really enjoyed Pajarito Springs on our first day fishing in Argentina. We found willing fish, but needed accurate casts to hook up.
Walking back to the helicopter at the end of the day, we loaded up and headed back to the Lodge.
Our second day found us landing in a wider valley below a rugged canyon.
Tomy, our helicopter pilot for the day, landed in a field close to the river and below the canyon in a wide valley.
I have to say, it’s interesting putting your faith in someone else for a day of fly fishing. We waited for our guides to string rods and tie on flies, not knowing if we were walking upstream or down. Did it matter to us? Not in the least, but as I mentioned above, it’s a different feeling for us.
Upstream we went into the canyon, leaving the open valley where we landed. It was much more rugged as we walked up the river.
Notice the overhanging trees…
…we stopped below them and Dancingtrout began to cast upstream to fish Danny spotted.
We were fishing with a hopper/dropper setup. Much of the time, a PMX Royal was the indicator and nymphs were changed out constantly if fish didn’t eat them. A dark perdigon nymph dropper might do the trick in this hole.
It was one of the prettiest fish of the whole trip!
The copper colored gill plate was amazing!
It was a little less than 20 inches.
Then it was my turn…
We walked downstream about 100 yards and continued fishing. We’d fish the runs like this, and fish just appeared out of nowhere, eating the dropper and occasionally the dry fly.
After lunch along the riverbank, we started to fish our way upriver to the tree where Dancingtrout caught her nice Rainbow. Danny had walked upstream while we finished eating lunch and had seen trout eating green worms.
That’s right…green worms.
Actually, they call them Gusanito, or the green willow worm. It’s the first time we’ve ever fished the green willow worm hatch! In fact, SET Fly Fishing wrote about the phenomena in The Famous Willow Worm Hatch.
These worms are not quite 3/4 inch long and eat the leaves on trees along the river, leaving almost nothing but branches. Look closely at the trees and you’ll see very few leaves. The trees aren’t dead, and they told us it doesn’t kill the trees either.
The wind blows and the green willow worms fall into the water and guess what happens?
Yup, fish rise to them…BIG fish!
Danny had a whole box of these green worms…variations of dries as well as weighted imitations. In fact, we used a dry/dropper of green worms.
The green worms form a cocoon and a small fly hatches, looking similar to a size 16 Caddis in a tannish/yellow color. One landed on me, but quickly flew away as I tried to get my camera ready.
While we did find a few, most of the worms were gone and vegetation on the river as well. There was a telltale sign something had happened because all the rocks below the branches were shiny and sticky from sap falling.
We kept walking upstream into the canyon and found a herd of goats along the hillside.
They were close as we waded to the other side. Look at the red circle in the center of the picture.
We continued to raise a few smaller fish and missed a couple larger trout. Seems the warm temperatures in the mid to late afternoon had put the fish down.
The larger fish spotted along the shore under other brush were spooky as we tried a dry fly, green willow worm, and even Beetle Bailey.
I enjoyed the Trocoman River, with its unique (at least to us) green willow worms.
Next week, I’ll continue with the last few days in Argentina.