The town of Esquina brings me back time after time. Its surroundings and peacefulness are a refuge for my mind and soul.
History of Esquina started in 1806. City was burnt and destroyed in 1839 and then rebuilt in 1846. It was declared city in 1940 and now it has 30,000 inhabitants. Its old colonial houses could be admired while slowly walking in the streets lined with enormous lush trees. The Parana and Corriente rivers fuse themselves in a vast delta that is 50 miles wide and 75 miles long. Views from the city are breath taking.
The Corriente river is a small river that born deep in the Ibera marshlands at Itati lagoon, draining an area of 10 thousand square miles while flowing to the Parana river. The sandy banks are populated with an enormous diversity of trees and plants. The area is also great for birdwatchers who will find several hundred species.
Among all the species I’ve fished for, Golden Dorado is my favorite. No trout can get on my nerves but I never remain calm in front of a dorado. Its changing moods could make the most seasoned angler nervous. When feeding, it is one of the most aggressive fish species on earth, demolishing flies with furious anger. When shy, there’s basically nothing the angler could do to turn it to strike.
The Parana and Corriente rivers have different baitfish runs during the season; the last one occurs through the months of October and November and consists of millions of small fish of the genus Astyanax migrating upstream in the Parana river. Dorados harass them at every point where water accelerates which makes them more vulnerable. It isn’t hard to locate the hot spots because of the birds: cormorants, crested caracaras, black vultures, green kingfishers and a variety of herons also feast on the easy meal that the river offers.
We arrived right on time to fish during this marvelous time of the year. Our friend Fernando Gonzalez Vicens, Owner and Manager of Hook & Gold Outfitters, invited us. He is a seasoned professional and a good person. Fishing with him, having a good time and a great experience is guaranteed.
The day we arrived we ate asado, it was easy to sleep after devouring 11 pounds of meat between the four of us. My friend Martin is one of the best grillers I’ve met in my life.
Fishing was good during the two days, but even more important was sharing the experience with good friends. Jokes and laughs started early every morning and ended late at night. Top fish of the trip was a 9 pounder landed by Fernando. During the second shiny day, we stopped at noon on a sandy beach. While wading, he had the strike in a back eddy, the least expected place. Either knowledge or luck, only 10 minutes of fishing were enough for him to make the difference. I will pay more attention to this kind of water in the future, just in case…
Other remarkable moment was when Luis tried a Titanic slider I gave him. The vicious strikes will always remain in my memory. This pattern imitates and injured baitfish moving on the surface. It has a special appeal since it triggers dorados to strike on top like no other fly.
One frequent question about golden dorados is which gear to use. I prefer fast rods, ranging from 7 to 10 weights. I’m still in love with my old SAGE XP rods. A reel with a good and reliable brake system is enough. I prefer floating and intermediate lines over sinking heads, although sometimes they are a must. Season goes year round in Esquina, during the cold months a regular coating works fine, but during the warm season (Mid October through Mid March) a tropical line is better.
Saltwater anglers have an advantage since golden dorado fishing implies using large flies, 3 to 10” long on 1/0 to 4/0 hooks. Muddler head streamers, deceivers, poppers, titanic sliders and many baitfish imitations are frequently used. You should use at least 8” of wire; the best is American Fishing Wire Micro Supreme 7x7 20 pound test. I build my own leaders using Maxima Chameleon; 40 pounds for the butt section, 30 for the mid section and 20 pound test for the tippet. Length will depend on the king of line, ranging from 4 feet for sinking heads to 9 feet for a floating line.
While I’m finishing writing I’m already dreaming about the next trip. Golden dorado on a fly is the most addictive fishing I’ve experienced.
Please practice catch & release.