Shayna Theys

Day 1-2 Traveling to Pinti’s Dorados on the Fly


On December 31st, 2022, we began our journey from Michigan to Corrientes, Argentina. We departed from Chicago, Illinois, and flew to Atlanta, Georgia then boarded in Atlanta for the 10-hour flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Due to the transfer time between the international airport to the domestic airport, we had to stay one night in Buenos Aires. We stayed at ARC Recoleta, which was recommended by our travel agent, Alicia at Holdy tours. The hotel was clean and located within walking distance of restaurants. Our only issue was that we landed on New Year’s Day and most places were closed for dining. Luckily McDonald’s was a few blocks away. The next morning a travel guide/ translator, met us in the hotel lobby and took us to the domestic airport. I highly recommend getting a guide for domestic airport check-in. Especially if you are not fluent in Spanish. Our guide, Gaia with LOL Transfers, made the check-in and baggage payment go extremely smoothly as we had “Fishing Gear” that MUST be checked and was overweight. After that, we had a quick hour-and-a-half flight to Corrientes. When we landed in Corrientes Pinti’s Lodge was waiting to take us on the hour drive to Ita Ibate where the lodge is located. They had two very nice Toyota Hilux trucks that accommodated 6 anglers very comfortably. The views on the way to the lodge were very interesting with rice fields and farm fields most of the way.


When we arrived at Pinti’s we were greeted by the other guide and were assigned rooms. The rooms had a wonderfully homey feel. Most of the rooms have 1 King bed with an attached bathroom. The other room option is a double queen room with a double sink bathroom.



The main building where meals were served and enjoyed also had a pool table, TV room, and porch that overlooked the Parana River and Paraguay. You are served 3 meals per day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.



Every meal will leave you feeling 10 pounds heavier than you arrived. Lunch and dinner have up to 3-4 courses and breakfast has a family style spread out across the entire dining table.



Days 3- 7 Fishing the Parana


We started each day at 6:30 by eating breakfast. At 7 o’clock we met the guides down by the water where they waited at their 20 ft Panga boats. We fished two anglers per boat and switched guides every day or two. This way every person in our group was able to fish with every guide. Robin, Rami, and Ciro were phenomenal guides, some of the best I have been privileged to fish under. You either ran upstream or down, no more than an hour each way. We fished structured shorelines, flats, and rocks. You fished the morning from 7- 11:30, then had lunch between 12 and 1. After lunch, you had time for a “siesta” and were to be back at the water at 4:00 to fish until dark. Dark is approx. 8:30 p.m. during this time of year.



Shoreline Structure Fishing:


The guide would position the boat so you were always fishing off the same side. Sometimes you would be facing downstream and other times upstream. This was very convenient so the angler did not have to switch sides of the boat and you were never casting over the guide. The guide would be crunched down at the very front controlling the speed and position of the boat with the trolling motor. One angler would fish off the bow and the other at the stern. There were no obstructions for your fly line to get caught on. The boats are long enough therefore it is very rare to have a fly hit the other angler. The guides also press down the barb to prevent injury since you are fishing two at a time. When fishing the structure, you want to cast as far and fast as possible to hit all the structure well. Looking 45 degrees downstream to find the pockets. Long fast strips in while keeping your rod tip always facing your fly. Depending on the shoreline structure, baitfish prevalence, and how the dorados were acting, you would fish a shoreline moving downstream anywhere from 10 minutes to more than 1 hour. You are casting and stripping in constantly. This is why they recommend a 7-9 weight rod due to how much casting you are doing.



I brought an Orvis Helios 10 weight while my husband brought a 9 weight. We were both extremely happy with our decision due to the size of the fish we were angling and the streamers we were casting. But if you are not used to casting constantly for 4+ hours... bring a lighter rod! My suggestion is to bring a lighter 6-7 weight for the dry flies, and an 8-10 weight for the streamer fishing. Shoreline casting was the most productive method out of the three. You will have many strikes and follows. The most important thing to remember is the strip set… not once, twice, but three to four times to ensure you have punched the hook into the dorado’s indestructible mouth. If you trout set, say “goodbye” to everything you have hoped for! On the low-light days, we definitely had the most action. On bright sunny days, you found the most fish during the renowned “last hour”. On the bright days, it is sometimes more productive to switch over to dries during the first part of the afternoon. When fishing dries you will be able to see some aggressive and mild takes from “Pira Pita.” A fish that resembles the Dorado with a much smaller mouth. The Pira Pita has an amazing fight as well, sometimes being more powerful than a dorado of the same size.



Swinging Flies on Rock Riffles:


The guides would position the boat upstream of the rock riffles. You can see the disturbance in the water behind where the rocks are. Casting out as far as you can and slowly allowing the current to swing your streamer across the rocks until it was straight behind the boat, then you would slowly strip in. This method was very successful as well. Many Dorado school up in this setting and come at your fly swiping left and right until one becomes lucky enough to get the set.



Flats Fishing:


The flats fishing was awesome! This was one of my favorite types of fishing offered here, but what’s to dislike about any of them?  Although, you do not see as much action, what you do see is quality-sized fish in the 15+ pound range. The Guides would set up a casting platform at the bow and they would push pole from the stern, just like any saltwater flats fishing. You would see schools of bait fish swimming and the guides would position the boat to push the bait from shallow to deep water, this would bring the dorado onto the flat to ambush the bait. Then, you would cast out and move the fly as quickly as possible to allow the dorado to spot the fly and take it.



Final Thoughts:


Pinti, Robin, Rami, and Ciro could not have been more accommodating, welcoming, and helpful. They were patient and knowledgeable. All the qualities you would want in a guide. Their English was fluent as well. We fished for four days, some of us 4 and a half since we arrived early on our first day. Some of the anglers in our group were ready to be finished on day 4 and needed a break. But the anglers in our group that fished more salt water were better suited for the pace that this river requires. I would not recommend anything less than 4 fishing days, just so you have a chance at a very active day. The weather was wonderful for us. We had one day with extremely light showers, and this ended up being the most productive day overall. We had 85- 90-degree days, but the humidity was low so it was not overwhelming. We did not experience many bugs. They only came out at dark and most of the time you were back to shore by the last light. The scenery was breathtaking! The lodge is heavily wooded with all types of trees from palm trees to even some cacti. Howler Monkeys frequented the lodge. You would wake up in the morning to their belching noises in the distance. Toucans and parrots flew all around along with many egrets, spoonbills, and cranes. Capybaras would run as fast as they could down the shoreline and blast into the water disappearing into the depths like a giant beaver. Caiman lay up on the shoreline very spooky to any humans and never came close. The wildlife is abundant and thriving!



Due to this our non-angler on the trip had a fabulous time in the boat, taking videos and pictures, swimming in the pool, and eating gourmet-style meals. This is a trip I would do over again year after year. The possibility of a 30+ pound dorado is possible here. Out of our 6 anglers, my husband landed a 37-pound dorado, being the fish of the trip. Our group landed a few others in the 15-pound range. Many dorados in the 6–10-pound range were landed daily, along with many pira pitas in the 4-8 pound range! Dorados are some of the most acrobatic fish I have ever fought, reminding you slightly of tarpon or snook. Although while fighting you do not “bow to the fish”. Always apply strong and constant pressure while trying to tire them by keeping their head up. This is one of the most difficult and technical types of fishing I have encountered. My salt experience did help a ton, but anyone has room to grow as an angler and this is the trip that you will leave being better than when you came. The large dorados, especially those over 10 pounds, run straight upstream burning your fingers and running you straight to your backing if you don’t crank your drag and hold your reel. Bring gloves if you can tolerate them. These fish run so fast and so hard that your fingers will be burned. For reference, the 37-pounder burned right through the leather glove when it made its initial run.


Justin made booking the trip seamless. Alicia at Holdy Tours took care of everything… I mean everything! From flights to transfers to translators. Don’t try this without her, there are just too many factors that you would not think of when trying to plan yourself.


Overall, I could not recommend this lodge more or say anything negative about our experience. If you are interested in Dorados, do not waste your time anywhere else. Or maybe you should- that way they will have an opening for me next year!

~Shayna Theys


Feel free to comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *