The Golden Dorado River Cruiser
In keeping with our policy of never adding a destination to the catalog that we don't know first hand, or that we can't keep our fingers on the pulse of, when we were invited to take a look at a couple of new ones in Argentina even though they are both offered by already trusted partners, we went ahead and checked them each out on our own.
The first one is a completely unique operation that is fairly new but developed by folks who definitely know what their doing. The Golden Dorado River Cruiser is actually not just a boat as the photos from outside might make it seem, but an actual mobile lodge, complete with all of the amenities and comforts one might expect from any of the other lodges on the Parana. Except this one moves! As such, there is never any reason to fish the same water twice, and we have the ability to always be located in whatever stretch of the river is fishing best at any given time. Add in the fact that the program starts and ends in Buenos Aires with no additional flights required, and you've got a perfect bolt-on destination for any of our other programs in Patagonia to the south. A total win-win and at a very affordable price point to boot.
The fishing on the lower Parana is not something we sell as a search for trophies; it's more of a numbers game. Average Dorado in this area weigh around four pounds, but each week fish are landed that are over fifteen, and the main attraction is the almost constant action and the fact that in the evenings we are often fishing dries. Did I say dries? I meant mice. No joke. There are fish to be caught all day long on the standard streamers but the action at dusk on the mouse patterns is almost always what can only be described as a blitz.
Our writer friend Zach Matthews and photographer Rebecca Shaneyfelt and I were literally astounded our first evening in one of the skiffs that are fished out of off the mothership when the guide couldn't even keep up with the landings and unhookings as Dorado after Dorado after Dorado smashed our flies. Luckily this is not normally a problem since there are usually only two anglers in the boat (I'm a bit of a tag-along). On top of the Dorado we also caught plenty of the saber-toothed Payara, and even Piranha up to three pounds. Food was spectacular, guides were excellent, and it was an obvious and enthusiastic Yes! for us to offer it to our guests. Check out details on our website here and consider booking some days with the Golden Dorado River Cruiser as an add on to your next Argentina adventure.
Lago Strobel Lodge
Next on the list of new destinations to check out was the newly opened Lago Strobel Lodge, situated on a far shore of the lake that I had explored on foot years ago when no one else that I knew of had even fished it with a fly. The new lodge was built from an old estancia house in a protected spot that is actually surprisingly lush compared with the surrounding lunar landscape. A natural spring provides water to this little alcove in the rocks, and as such there is quite a lot of greenery and even flowers, providing a very different view than those seen out the windows of the few other buildings that exist around the massive lake. Our friend Zach Matthews was along for the ride on this one as well, and in fact already has an article on the trip coming out in this next issue of Gray's Sporting Journal - check it out once it goes to print; all of the photography in the piece was shot by
Rebecca Shaneyfelt, who was also with us those days. Fishing conditions were tough with high winds and a cold front moving through, but on Lago Strobel it hardly matters. The lake is just plain full of massive trout. For those of you who aren't yet familiar with the body of water in my now home country that is often referred to as "Jurassic Lake", it is a naturally occurring anomaly even within the trout-rich country we inhabit south of the 40th parallel.
What makes it such is a combination of chance conditions: a lake so full of scuds the trout can graze on them like cattle on grass, the right water chemistry and temperature for rapid sustained growth of healthy fish, and a relatively short stretch of spawning water in the Rio Barrancoso (the only river that enters the lake, which also has no outlet) that keeps the fish from overpopulating and as such experiencing the inevitable shrinkage that always accompanies that occurrence. It's just a perfect system for what it produces, which are all day action numbers of ridiculously massive trout. The lodge was comfortable, the food was good, and this section of the lake is truly still being explored and revealing its secrets to those who are willing to walk, although there is also an easily accessible and wind protected bay just below the lodge. As such, we were happy to add it into the catalog as well, and look forward to spending more time there with clients as the years go by.