On two of our days at Rumbo Patagon, we ended up fly fishing the Rio Penitente in southern Chile. This was a terrific river to walk and wade as we fished for Brown trout.

Ready to Fly Fish the Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

As you can tell from the image above, the river flows through a wide valley, which made it quite easy to wade. We began our day by walking a few hundred yards upstream.

What we found was a river full of Brown trout in a variety of sizes, mostly on dry flies!

Just like the Rio Tres Pasos, both sections we fished (on two seperate days) were on a private estancia.

Estancia Rio Penitente Sign | www.johnkreft.com

What I find interesting is the words on the sign are in english…”cattle brand” should read “marca de ganado”!

Here is how we began each day of fishing. I’d give our guide for the day, in this case Nathan, the tippet spools and flies I brought with us to Chile.

Fly Selection on Tailgate | www.johnkreft.com

If you are interested in the flies we used, here is a link to These Flies Will Catch Patagonia Trout post I wrote back in December after completing my own fly order. For the most part, these fish were eager to eat my flies!

Here is my first fish of the day.

First Brown on Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

But we found larger Browns as well.

Dancingtrout with Rio Penitente Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

As you can see from the image above, the river was quite wadable. Notice the gravel bar below. As we moved upstream, we’d find fish holding in the shallow water close to shore.

Lower Rio Penitente Run with Grassy Bank | www.johnkreft.com

Dancingtrout worked ahead of me and I was able to wade out farther and pick up fish next to the grassy shore on the opposite side.

Fat Rio Penitente Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

After lunch, we found a section of deeper water with large submerged rocks and Brown trout.

Lower Rio Penitente with Submerged Rocks | www.johnkreft.com
Riffle Water on Lower Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

We were surprised to catch these fish in the riffles.

Rio Penitente Brown At Day's End | www.johnkreft.com

And another…

Nathan Holding My Brown on Lower Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

We really did have a wonderful day of fly fishing.

Rio Penitente Double Brown | www.johnkreft.com

At the end of our day, we met up with the other guide, Maxx and Jim. Both were beaming and we knew something was up. The previous day, Jim caught his largest Brown trout, somewhere around 23 or 24 inches as I recall. Well, today he landed this beauty!

Jim Doyle and Rio Penitente Brown | www.johnkreft.com

I thought we had landed our share of really nice Browns, but when I saw this picture, I was blown away. Maxx taped the fish at 29 1/2 inches! Our guides guessed it was a sea run Brown that didn’t return to the ocean. And he caught it within eyesight of our lunch spot…on a hopper! Yes, a dry fly!!

We packed up and hit the road home…passing this galpon de esquila or shearing shed. I’d seen it on the way in and wanted to capture an image.

Sheep Shearing Shed | www.johnkreft.com

I mentioned how large the estancias were, but it’s difficult to understand the immenseness of their land. The second trip to Rio Penitente was our last day fly fishing in Chile and we travelled with the other guide Maxx and his guest, Jim. Yup, he was the one with the BIG fish! After an hour drive south from Puerto Natales, we turned off the paved road and began our trek through 11 gates where our guides got out of the truck to open and close each one. A couple of 4 X 4 compound low treks and over an hour later (roughly 6 miles) we finally arrived at a dead end, donned our waders, and walked down the hill a few hundred yards to find the our water for the day.

It was beautiful…

Upper Rio Penitente Field of Flowers | www.johnkreft.com
Upper Rio Penitente with Dead Tree | www.johnkreft.com

Did I tell you about our new rod? Perhaps not…

The last day fishing on Pajarito Springs, I broke my rod.

Broken Rod at Pajahito Springs | www.johnkreft.com

I’ve broken rods before and after the initial “oh s**t”, I’m not too worried because I have others in the arsenal. But I was in Argentina, not home where I could select another rod. I’d planned to use it during our week in southern Chile where I knew the wind would be a factor. I usually fish a 5 weight, but this 6 weight had come in handy in Argentina. My backup plan was to fish the 5 weight and use my 6 weight line for a little more power.

Well, walking the streets during our down time in Puerto Varas, we happened by Huellas. Turned out they sold fly rods! The owner, Mariano Peppi Arancibia, helped us select a faster action TFO Axiom II-X 6 weight rod that Dancingtrout ended up using. We had talked about purchasing a faster action rod for her to use instead of the Winston BiiX we normally fish.

The new rod worked well when fishing with a dry/dropper and weighted nymphs.

New Rod on Upper Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

It was one of the very nice Brown trout we landed that day, almost exclusively on dry flies.

Average Brown Trout from Upper Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

The colors of these fish were amazing!

Dancingtrout with Colorful Rio Penitente Brown | www.johnkreft.com

Beautiful Rio Penitente Brown from Upper Section | www.johnkreft.com

Here is a typical run we fished before pausing for lunch in the grass.

Upper Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

Below is one of my favorite runs on the upper Rio Penitente.

Favorite Run on Upper Rio Penitente | www.johnkreft.com

I found a nice Brown just below the gravel point in shallow water and more on the far bank next to the grass and down tree branches.

Rio Penitente Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com

We caught a lot of fish that day. The one below is my last fish in Chile.

Last Brown Trout in Chile | www.johnkreft.com

I was sorry to see the day end. We hiked back to the truck for the two hour plus drive back to the house.

The scenery on the estancia was spectacular. Dancingtrout took the shot below of the trees during one of the 11 stops for gates.

Estancia Rio Penitente Trees | www.johnkreft.com

I loved fly fishing the Rio Penitente.

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Wow, that looks amazing! Out of curiosity, do you ever catch any of the native perch in those rivers? or are they fairly out competed?

    Such a cool trip!

      1. Sorry, but price isn’t something I plan to blog about. Just click on the links I provided and you can easily find the info you’re looking for.

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