Golden Dorado River Cruiser Recap
by Brad Staples
In the last three years, I have spent five weeks fishing in Argentina on the Paraná River hosting clients on the Golden Dorado River Cruiser. This is a one-of-a-kind operation in Argentina, where anglers stay on a very nice liveaboard and fish for golden dorado.
Travel Day to the Liveaboard
Buenos Aires is a ten-hour flight from Houston. For the dorado angler, it’s time well spent. Most people like to arrive a day or two early to rest-up and sightsee in
Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is a huge city with interesting architecture, excellent restaurants, and quaint neighborhood cafés. Should your non-fishing spouse desire to tag along, Buenos Aires
is a fantastic city for them to explore. The outfitter can set up hotels and arrange tours for you.
Saturday morning, a shuttle van, arranged by the outfitter, picked our group up at the International Airport. (They can also pick you up at your hotel of choice.) From Buenos Aires, we took a three-hour van ride north to a marina near the town of Rosario. From here, we took a 60-to 90-minute shuttle boat ride across the main Paraná River and through the maze of channels, back into the expansive marsh area where the Cruiser was moored. The Paraná is the second largest river in South America, the Amazon being the first.
About the Golden Dorado River Cruiser
The Cruiser, a two level liveaboard, comfortably accommodates eight anglers a week, plus a host. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Wessel, our very personable English-speaking host. We also met Dario, the Captain. Dario grew up fishing these waters and knows the area very well. All of the fishing guides on the Cruiser are skilled, with many years of fishing for dorado.
The Liveaboard Cabins
Double-occupancy rooms are on the lower level. Each cabin has two twin-size beds. No bunk beds on this liveaboard! Plus, there was plenty of space to store our gear. Each cabin has an ensuite bathroom with a shower large enough to turn around in.
After we settled into our rooms, we walked up one flight of stairs to the main floor lounge and dining area. After a nice lunch, we rigged up, then got in a half day of guided fishing.
The Fishing Boats
We fished from 17-foot fiberglass North Carolina center-console skiffs with 90 HP four-stroke Yamaha engines and a remote-controlled bow-mounted electric trolling motor. There are two casting platforms,
one in the bow and the other at the stern. The guide slowly moves the boat downriver while you cast to structure and the bank, where the dorado hold, looking for baitfish.
The guides use a trolling motor to get you into plenty of unfished water, a very effective way to fish for dorado. You don't have to be in great shape for this trip. There's no wading, and all fishing is done from the boat.
Dario, the boat captain, typically moves the Cruiser once during the week for anglers to access different water. At times, you’ll fish five minutes from the Cruiser; other times, it’ll be a 45 to 60-minute run, depending on where the guides are finding fish. While you're out, you may see some subsistence fishermen and a few sport anglers. Then again, you might not see another angler during the day, except for your friends from the liveaboard.
Golden dorado are an amazing game fish. They strike very aggressively and jump multiple times when hooked. They don’t make long runs like a bonefish. They are trophy fish, a gold-plated hunting machine.
I find golden dorado fishing to be very similar to my two other favorite species—peacock bass, and baby tarpon. For all three, you’ll cast toward structure or the bank (most of the time), because that’s where they hang out, looking for baitfish. As you’re stripping the fly back to the boat, the dorado will strike very aggressively and, the second they’re hooked, they jump out of the water multiple times. Always very exciting. Most dorados average 3 to 8 pounds with some up to 18 pounds.
Bob with nice dorado
Longtime FWL clients, Dr. Woody and wife, Laurie.
Because golden dorado have lots of sharp teeth, you’ll need to use a 6” to 18" section of 40-pound test wire leader. During the week, you’ll go through about 18 to 24 flies that are 3" to 6" long. You’ll tie these flies onto strong hooks—3/0 to 4/0 in size, with a large gap to get around the golden dorado’s powerful jaw. Depending on where you’re fishing and what the water temperature is, you will use floating or sinking line.
The Magic Hour before dark is usually great fishing.
Each day we fished until almost dark, getting back to the cruiser right at dark. During peak fishing months—October through April—it gets dark between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. These months are South America’s warmer months.
A Typical Fishing Day:
7:30: Breakfast is served.
8:30: Meet up with your guides and head out fishing.
Noon: Choose between lunch on the riverbank and relaxing for a while or return to the Cruiser for lunch and a siesta.
2:30-3:00: Return to fishing.
7:00-7:30: When it’s almost dark, you’ll return to the liveaboard. After you freshen up and enjoy excellent appetizers and beverages of choice.
8:30-9:00: Dinner. Always delicious.
Using Poppers is an exciting method for dorado.
Fishing large poppers or big mouse patterns are also exciting methods for dorado. Lures are welcome on this trip.
Steve Sakamaki and guide with a nice dorado
At 86-years-young, Steve has fished in many areas of the world. He really enjoyed this trip and is looking at returning with me next year. Next to Steve is Enzo, who is holding a nice dorado. Enzo speaks English and is a popular and longtime dorado guide.
Fabulous meals and desserts
Chef Alan and Chef Lucas’ desserts are tough to turn away. I will upset some of my lodge owner friends (all over again) by saying this, but I’ll repeat last year’s sentiments...
The food on the Cruiser is the BEST I have ever had at any fishing destination. It is an amazing culinary experience!
Our hosted group at dinner
Nightly appetizers range from nuts, chips and dip, ceviche, empanadas, to smoked trout and crackers. Dinners feature fish, beef, pork, or chicken teamed with rice or potatoes and salads. Once during the week, they did an asado (barbeque) with lots of meat. With advance notice, they can accommodate any dietary needs. Excellent desserts were paired with a dessert wine. Wessel did a great job of keeping our wine glasses filled with fantastic Malbec wine from Argentina.
A birthday to remember
Ira Drogran celebrated his 85th birthday on the Cruiser. Lucas, the chef, made a delicious chocolate cake with a dorado on the top. Ira’s birthday celebration was a very special evening for our group.
Charlie Swett with golden dorado
Charlie Swett has been on many adventures with me through the years, and he said that his trip on the Cruiser was the BEST trip that he has been on. Ever!
Variety of Species
When fishing on this section of the Paraná River, there are several other exciting species available. The fish above is a Vampire fish - note the fangs. You can also catch Pira Pita, Sabalo, Wolffish, Boga, and a few others.
The Liveaboard's Great Crew
The Liveaboard's crew and guides gathered our last night for a closing picture and good camaraderie.
Doug with a catfish called a Surubi.
"Brad, I truly loved the trip. The food was outstanding (gained a few pounds). The fishing was great, and the camaraderie with the guides and fellow anglers was fantastic.
I would gladly repeat the trip some day. Of course, you had a lot to do with this, so good job."
- Doug Rigg
2020 and 2021 Hosted Weeks
I'll be hosting here again in 2020 and 2021.
7-nights and 6-days guided fishing
$4,800.00 per person
2020 Hosted Weeks with Brad:
• March 20-28, 2020
• March 31 - April 8, 2020
• March 27 - April 1, 2020: SOLD-OUT
2021 Hosted Weeks with Brad:
• March 19-27, 2021
• March 26 - April 3, 2021
You are not limited to our hosted weeks, provided there are openings, we can book the Golden Dorado River Cruiser for the time that best fits your schedule. Prices are subject to change. Please contact me with any questions you might have about this fun fishing adventure.
Click here for our main page for Golden Dorado River Cruiser.