When people say King Salmon, one mostly will think about the Pacific Northwest, the huge Columbia or Skeena river watersheds, they are the famously renowned salmon bonanza and rightly so. Only a select few will think about South American Patagonia!
Sea trout, awesome browns, sure, but salmon fishing? Well, over the years, Patagonia has become the new Mecca for Spey rod aficionados.
However, in the maze of the World Wide Web one can read all over some fancy names of Patagonian rivers, that don’t exist in the first place nor will offer adequate opportunities to wield a two-handed rod after Pacific salmon.
One thing for sure, though, is the fact that anglers were able to find King, Silver and Cherry salmon in Patagonian rivers for many years. You can generally distinguish between two types of fly fishing for King salmon:
The runs that enter from the Pacific ocean from the Chilean side, that were due to escapees from the salmon-farming net pens offshore and which have established a population of large-growing specimens.
The other fishery is based on King salmon that originate from long gone fish stocking programs terminated in the 1980s in with ova from the North American West coast.
Serious Salmon anglers certainly won’t settle with the occasionally caught Chinook while fishing for sea trout in one the more famous Argentine sea trout waters, the salmon runs are just too thin to make it worthwhile. Other rivers emptying into the Pacific are more suited for spin anglers as the holding pools are really deep. Most of said pools are best fished from a boat, which is not really the ideal place for a two-handed rod.
Really interesting are ideal rivers with the appropriate features: accessible banks and under-water structure with nice holding pools that can be covered with Spey tackle. The current should also not exceed what can be handled with a fly line and a proper presentation thereof.
The Rio Serrano, located in the Torres del Paine National Park is one of those few select places. The run of King salmon is constantly increasing in numbers in the Southern Chilean fjords and the populations are stabilizing: salmon fishing has become very remarkable and the fishing can be out-of-this world.
The river is offering some very interesting and promising spots, depending on the season and water levels, to experience a good variety of salmon fishing. The absence of sediment-laden tributaries and river mouths with glacier drift guarantees din clear waters and seasonally stable water levels.
We use two-handed rods of the heavier kind: fly lines in the 9- to 12-weight range in lengths up to 15 feet with Skagit setups are required to control matters. Lighter tackle can be used earlier in the season, but during the peak of the run during the Austral summer the real big fish are in the system. Fish way beyond 40 lbs will then nail the flies and heavier tackle is a must.