Last December, I had a talk with guide Gianni Juncal in order to organize a fly-fishing trip during late February: one day on the Uruguay River and another one on the mid-section of the Arapey River.
When the date approached, I got terrible news: Gianni told me that the high waters that came from Brazil had completely flooded the lodge. Nevertheless, nothing stopped his desire of working. As soon as the water came down, he fixed the lodge up for fishermen to come. It is located downstream from the Salto Grande dam, on the Uruguay River. From there, one can fish for huge golden dorados, and also for blue wolf fish on the Arapey River.
The Arapey River has 240 kms of length before it goes into the Uruguay. It is believed that its name comes from "Arapé", a cacique (aboriginal) name, plus the "y" that means river or stream. So it would mean "the water that bathes the domains of the Arapé indian chief."
We headed to the river from the city of Salto in a pickup truck, and an hour later we got to the starting point. 12 kms of floating the river were awaiting. The water was low, clear and with good temperature. Everything looked like it was going to be a great fishing day.
In my opinion, this river combines interesting aspects for those who like adventure: it is not very busy as it is really hard to get there, it has good plants and vegetation on the coasts, varied animal life, fantastic volcanic rock formations, runs and ponds of clear water that enable wet wading and sight fishing for wolffish that grow up to 7kgs (being 2 to 3kgs the norm).
After fishing some kilometres, we got to a branch of the river Gianni knew well. A slightly smaller stream. Some minutes we later we saw a run formed by a reddish rounded rocks formed by floods. My first feeling was that of arriving to a place where nobody had stepped in a long time. There were carpincho (huge rodent), birds and other unknown footprints. Some meters ahead a large local bird flew away and broke the silence of the place. I wade in the pond, the fresh water reaches my waist and I can see my boots stepping on the bottom rocks. Thousands of fry fish swim around, proving the water is in good healthy state. I see an unmissable being in the distance! It waits one meter away from the bank waiting for an inattentive prey. My fly falls close to it, one short strip was enough to make it move like lightning towards it. Between the jumps and runs other fish get near to see what is going on. What follows was a frenetic strike period that felt like the best dream one can have and won't want to wake up from. After one hour of fishing in dream conditions and getting several fish out, we can only keep on exploring!
If you'd like to book a fishing outing with Gianni, please go to Arapey Fly fishing. The service is outstanding, exclusive accesses, in and out logistics, special boats for low waters, and impressive camping facilities. And the lodge on the Uruguay river (Best Dorado Fishing), has private access to the river and fine fishing right there.
I recommend organizing at least one fishing day on the Uruguay and then two on the Arapey.
Special thanks to Toyota Argentina that joined us Fly dreamers on another trip with the Hilux, un unstoppable machine that can take us anywhere.