Are you ready for yet another destination fly fishing trip story from our Fishwest Ambassador Chad Agy? Because we are! Chad actually took over our Instagram while he was on this trip and gave a live feed of his adventures. If you followed that than this is definitely worth a read! This week we have a photo heavy blog (you don’t want to miss seeing these) of Chad Agy Presents: Jurassic Lake Lodge Trip Report.
During May of this year, I had the privilege to visit Jurassic Lake Lodge, one of the classic freshwater fly fishing destinations in the world. Located on the banks of Lago Strobel in southern Argentine Patagonia, the lodge is world famous for its unmatched access to some of the largest rainbow trout in the world. Descending from the McLeod River strain of rainbow trout in California, many of these fish look and fight like steelhead. While there are several operations now providing access to Lago Strobel, Jurassic Lake Lodge has access to the best beats near the inlet of the Rio Barrancoso, and it also holds rights to the best sections of the Rio Barrancoso itself. I journeyed to the lodge during mid-May, when some of the biggest, chrome fish stray close to shore and within reach of an 8 weight fly rod. What follows is a description of the beats owned by Jurassic Lake Lodge and my experiences at this one-of-a-kind destination.
Without hyperbole, the shoreline where the Rio Barrancoso meets Lago Strobel may be the best trout fishing hole in the entire world. Known as “the Boca,” or in English, “the Mouth,” any visitor to Jurassic Lake Lodge will spend hours fishing this incredible spot. Two of the four traditional beats at the lodge involve the Boca, known simply as Boca left and Boca right. While the spots closest to the river inlet seemed to be the most productive overall, at times the lake shore fished well hundreds of yards away from the Boca. During our trip, balanced leeches in dark colors produced the most fish. But rather than hanging them under an indicator, we fished them below a large terrestrial like a chubby Chernobyl ant. Thrillingly, the fish would take the dry fly with regularity. Additionally, the predawn mousing at the Boca was spectacular. Particularly during calm mornings, chironomid hatches resulted in incredible surface action. The Boca beats produced the greatest volume of large fish during our trip, as is typical of most weeks at Jurassic Lake Lodge. Our group caught fish over 30 inches and 20 pounds with some regularity while fishing the boca.
The only tributary to Lago Strobel, the Barrancoso enters the lake about 100 yards from the lodge itself. The lodge has access to many miles of the river, and I’m told it can fish well much further upstream during the higher flows of spring. But with the low flows of early winter during our trip, the fish seemed limited mostly to the lowest mile of river. Nevertheless, fish packed this section of river, creating almost a comical scene in places. During winter, with flows at perhaps 100 cfs, hundreds of 8-20 pound trout still flooded the waterway, waiting for higher flows to return when they could make it back up to more suitable spawning habitat. The river also contains plenty of beautiful, speckled resident trout, ranging from 10-24 inches. The large, prespawn fish differed greatly in appearance from the chrome fish of the lake, instead exhibiting deep red hues and aggressive kypes. Not all of these fish fed aggressively, but plenty did. A mouse or terrestrial fly with a dropper did the trick. Using a squirmy worm was so effective it seemed like cheating, and plenty ate smaller dark nymphs and leeches as well. Honestly, the Barrancoso was almost too easy, and while I enjoyed my time on the river, after a few sessions it was less attractive to me than the lake. But for some of the less-experienced anglers on our trip, the river was a true highlight.
Bahia de Cochinos
My personal favorite, “the Bay of Pigs” is a large bay with an adjacent peninsula located several hundred yards to the west of the Boca. Calm conditions can fool an angler in to thinking that the Bay is nothing special. But when the wind kicks up, the Bay of Pigs showed its true colors. Waves breaking on the shoreline stir up the scuds and the other insects clinging to the rocks. When this occurs, the fish move in very close to shore, igniting world-class sight fishing opportunities. The Bay of Pigs seems to be a hunting ground for many of the lake’s largest fish. Most of the lodge record fish come from this beat.
During our first afternoon at the lodge, shortly after arrival, we were given a bonus opportunity to explore the area prior to initiation of the formal beat system the next day. While the rest of the group sprinted for the Boca (not a bad choice), I noticed the wind blowing straight in to the tip of the peninsula on the Bay of Pigs. With lessons learned from my time on Pyramid Lake, I knew this would be a favorable situation. As I walked up to the lake edge, I could already see silhouettes of massive trout in the waves breaking on shore, mere feet from dry land. Five minutes later, I landed my first fish at Jurassic Lake. The overfed 30 inch female engulfed my balanced leech in plain view, maybe 15 feet from shore, and then took me to my backing before meeting the net. Sight fishing opportunities are what make this beat special. Any time the wind started kicking up, I made my way over to the Bay of Pigs.
Lago Strobel more than lived up to its reputation. It is simply the best rainbow trout fishery in the world. Furthermore, Jurassic Lake Lodge is a marvel of logistics, and provides the premier experience on the lake. The rooms were comfortable, and ours provided a great view of the nearby lake. The food was next level, with every meal cooked by a professional chef. I realized I had not truly lived until tasting a homemade honey-crusted Argentine croissant. It wouldn’t be a trip to Argentina without ample steak and multiple bottles of Malbec, and the lodge provided plenty of both. We even ate a delicious meal of guanaco (an abundant wild Argentine animal similar to a llama) in traditional Argentine Milanesa fashion, which proved to be a culinary highlight of the trip. The guides are a group of great guys, who excel in matching the experience on the lake to each angler’s skill level. I encourage anyone reading this article to take the leap, and book a trip at Jurassic Lake Lodge. Feel free to contact me on Instagram @chadagy if you’ve got a trip planned to Lago Strobel or if you have any questions before committing to the trip!