The Three Rivers Package
Malleo, Collon Cura, and Chimehuin Rivers
Chocolate Lab Expeditions
This package is a good example of a moderately-priced Chocolate Lab package, with a mix of three rivers, day-fishing public access waters, camping, and one estancia.
Flyfish Three Rivers in a Week
The Malleo River
The Malleo River: A mid-sized freestone river with caddis and mayfly hatches that surface an unbelievable number of 16-19-inch fish. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you can fish this river with a dry and nymph dropper system. The rainbows, browns, and brook trout average 14 to 20-inches, with decent numbers of fish in the 21 to 24-inch class landed each year.
Malleo Season and Skill Level
Season: The lower half of the Malleo is easily accessible from San Martin for day trips, with December, early January, and April being the best timeframes for the public access water.
Skill Level: Most moderately skilled anglers can wade out a bit and comfortably fish the Malleo's far bank. The numerous willows often hold the biggest trout, testing the skills of the best anglers.
Collon Cura River
The Collon Cura River is one of the most prolific trout fisheries in Patagonia. Action-packed angling in a remote setting, with very few anglers. The Collon Cura resembles the Snake River near Jackson Hole with its expansive high desert valley, but the river is willow-lined with high sandstone cliffs. The river's mild gradient and broad gravel riffles makes for comfortable floating and wading. For about 80 percent of its length, the river is contained within a canyon before flowing out into a broad valley, making it a great river for overnight trips. The river fishes very well throughout the season and is one of the favorites among beginner and expert anglers alike.
Collon Cura Fly Fishing Methods
Collon Cura Methods: All forms of fly fishing can be effective. The most productive form of fishing the Collon Cura is with streamers which are effective throughout the season. Large dry flies such as chernobyl ants, madam x's, and rubberlegged hoppers can be extremely effective when fished off the banks and twitched through the riffles and runs. On calmer mornings, rising trout can be found in the tailouts, eddies, and soft water feeding on mayfly spinners. Guides often carry an extra rod to target these fish. Usually, there is a good evening caddis hatch. An elk hair or goddard caddis skittered across the surface produces explosive strikes.
For anglers with physical restrictions, the guides walk the boats to work the more productive runs.
Collon Cura River - Vimeo Video.
The Chimehuin River: This is a classic big freestone river with willow-lined banks and large brown trout. The Chimehuin, with its true pools and runs, is similar to the Madison River. In places, the river braids into a maze of willow-lined channels with the feel of small water. Rainbows and browns range between 15-20 inches, with good numbers of trout up to 24-inches.
Chimehuin Fly Fishing Methods
Chimehuin Methods: All methods can be effective--streamers, nymphs, large attractor dry flies, spot fishing, or matching the sometimes prolific hatches. The caddis hatch kicks off in early December, peaking later in the month and through early January. Hatches typically run through January, with scattered cahill mayfly hatches tailing off in early February. During this same timeframe, a large size 8 & 10 yellow drake hatches most evenings and can bring out some big browns. Afternoon terrestrial fishing is effective throughout the summer, with the best time falling between late January through early March. With fall's cooler temperatures, the mayfly hatches start up again with mahoganies, a speckled-winged grey, and BWOs keeping the fish tuned to the surface. Streamer fishing is effective on the larger fish throughout the season, with the spring and fall the best peak time for stripping for big browns. Every year a few fall browns in the 10-pound range are landed.
Hotel Day #1: The group arrives at the Chapelco Airport near the town of San Martin de los Andes and are welcomed by the Chocolate Lab Expeditions team. Forty-minute ground transfer to the Malleo River for afternoon wade fishing and riverside picnic. Take-out and one-hour drive to Casa de Eugenia Hosteria, an air-conditioned hotel in San Martin de los Andes with free Wi-Fi, BBQ facilities, and a swimming pool. The Lacar Lake is about 100 yards away. Dinner on your own in town. Night at the hotel. Dry bags are provided to put your gear in for the next day.
Hotel Days #2 and 3: 8:30 am: Continental breakfast at the hotel. 8:30 am: Chocolate Lab Guides pick you up from the hotel and drive you to either the Malleo River for wade fishing, float the Collon Cura, or fish dries on one of the nearby lakes. Riverside picnic lunch. Wrap up the day. One-hour drive back to the hotel in San Martin de los Andes. Dinner on your own in town.
Camping Day #4: 8:00 am: Continental breakfast at the hotel.
8:30 am: You'll leave your luggage in the lobby it will be transferred to the Sorensen's home, the owner of Chocolate Lab Expeditions. Guides arrive at the hotel and pick up the group. Twenty-minute ground transfer to the Chimehuin River put-in. Float the Chimehuin. Riverside picnic lunch. Arrive at a fully-assembled camp. Enjoy appetizers and wine before dinner. You'll overnight in camp along the river under the Patagonian stars.
Estancia Day #5: Float the lower Chimehuin down to the Confluence with the Collon Cura. Take out and 20-minute ground transfer to east Collon Cura. Stay overnight at an Estancia. Your bags will be waiting for you in your rooms. Open bar, dinner, hot showers, and a night at the ranch.
Estancia Days #6 and 7: 8:30 am: Breakfast at the Ranch, then full day float on the Estancia's private waters on the Collon Cura River. Dinner and lodging at the ranch. Chocolate Lab utilizes the 65,000 acre ranch, Estancia Collon Cura, which offers 40 miles of private access to the Collon Cura River.
For All Three Rivers:
Group Size: A maximum of eight anglers per week.
Boats: High-end fiberglass drift boats. They are the only outfitter in South America with a new fleet of boats every season.
Guides: Excellent English-speaking guides are experts in all aspects of fly fishing.
Equipment: Guides provide all flies. Upon request, they can supply fly rods and reels. Plan on bringing waders, leaders, and tippets. A detailed tackle list is included in our confirmation packet.
Fishing License: Your fishing license is not provided in the package.
Meals: Great meals and wine at each location.
Communications: Wi-Fi internet and cell service are available at most locations. Be sure and check with your mobile provider for coverage details and fees.
Testimonial: "The thing that impressed me the most about Ron’s operation is the network he has developed over twenty years of guiding Patagonia and the private access he has. Logistics are one of the toughest things to negotiate down there with limited public access, and Ron has it all dialed. His guide staff is excellent as well. They are all well versed in English, and there are not any communication problems.
- Dane Huzarski