Ten days have passed since I returned from Lake Strobel and I still have dreams about the strikes by the rainbow trout that live there. A cast towards a visible school of fish followed by a very slow stripping of the fly. Then, the line tightens, the hook is set, and boom! A big silvery fish breaks the water surface and then starts running and running...
I visited the Estancia Laguna Verde lodge to fish Lake Strobel (or Jurassic Lake, as it was marketed years ago), the Barrancoso River and the Moro Creek together with Nick Reygaert from Gin Clear Media, as he was making a new film about this forgotten land in the deep south of Patagonia, Argentina.
The first assignment of the trip was to film in the Barrancoso River, a fast-flowing mountain stream that feeds the lake. Together with the great guide Martín Robino, we left the lodge after a good breakfast, and some minutes later we were on the bank of the river. The Barrancoso looked like a classic medium-sized mountain stream, with the slight difference that you could see dozens of huge rainbow trout in every pool.
The plan was to walk upstream while fishing those great pocket waters. Nick got his cameras ready as Martin and I rigged up. We started by using mouse patterns to try to make the trout rise, but after several attempts we decided that nymphs and streamers would do the work in those first pools. Some instants later, we had caught our first trout of the trip. I had made a cast upstream and stripped the fly slowly. Instants later, I was struggling to hold a huge fat rainbow that the guys considered to be an average fish over there.
We continued trekking uphill making stops in gorgeous spots framed by stone walls where boulders and waterfalls marked the steep trail of the river. We would find massive trout in pretty much all of the waters we approached. Martín was trying to make some of these giants rise for his Chernobyl-like dries, and he managed to do it several times (those strikes will surely look fantastic on the big screen, as they were being caught on film by Nick).
Later on, further ahead, we got to a well-known spot called Long Pool, which is followed by an extended run. There, we caught a couple nice fish and relaxed for a while. Then Martín pointed me a nice eddy before a huge rock. I had a Prince nymph he had given me. I cast and let it drift, got some subtle strikes on it, so I repeated the cast a couple more times until the line suddenly stopped in the current. I lifted the rod to feel the fish and sure enough the nymph did not surface that time. The fish was hooked and sped downstream right away. Then it hurried across the river and along the whole run, and after several –endless- minutes (that included serious team work with Martín in order to net the fish while Nick filmed), we had her. A 16lb rainbow trout.
We were amazed by that fish. I kept looking at it, wondering how a rainbow trout could grow that big. It was astounding and it marked the end of an amazing first day.
Day Two was great fun as well. We started off by catching some fat ones on dry flies a bit higher upstream in the Barrancoso, and when the afternoon arrived we decided it was time to visit the Arroyo Moro, the beautiful meandering creek located just a few minutes away from the Estancia.
We fished the lower Moro on a dark afternoon. The sky was covered by menacing clouds but we were glad to find big surprises in small pockets and shallow runs. We took turns between the three of us and also made some breaks for “mate” (the traditional infusion in Argentina) and pastries the ELV chef had prepared for all of us anglers staying in the lodge.
The Moro is good fun for those moments when one wants to relax from the 8-weight rods and tough winds and switch to lighter gear. Still, over there as well, it seemed that there was no relation between the size of the waters and its fish. In those deserted lands of Patagonia one had the feeling that someone had mixed up the proportions.
We still had some time of the afternoon ahead. Nick had gotten great footage from the river and the creek, so we decided it was time to hit the lake. I had been hearing stories for two nights during dinner in the lodge, everybody kept telling tales of enormous fish and crazy numbers, so I could not wait to be there.
The chosen area to start fishing was Dry Fly Bay, one of the classic spots in Strobel. The game in the lake was really different: stronger winds, heavier gear, some waves, and tiny flies.
We could see a school of fish in the center of the bay, the water of Strobel is impeccably transparent. I started wading when I realized Martín had already caught one. A bright, fresh, silver rainbow that ran like crazy. I cast a small orange scud imitation with my #8 GPX floating line, stripped it really slowly (8-figure stripping works very well too), and caught my first chromers too. Right away, I could tell those trout were different from the ones I had caught elsewhere. The power, the stamina, of those fish were unbelievable. They ran like hell, in long runs most of the times. They jumped repeatedly and even included tail-walks in their repertoires.
You can easily understand why the lake got its fame after landing a couple of these fish. It is certainly not the typical lake fishing experience. Furthermore, most of these rainbow trout look beautiful when they are finally landed, especially the chrome ones.
The following days we visited different bays of the lake. Finger, Tazmania, El Puesto, Cocoon… All of them had these silvers that could be chased in different ways. We caught plenty on small scud imitations, but we also tried classic nymphs, small streamers, big ones in the deep splashy coasts, and even dry flies for the fish patrolling in shallow areas. That, to me, was one of the charms of Strobel. You could choose how to catch your fish. And once you made your pick, you were probably going to catch a really good-sized fish.
The last day of our week in Laguna Verde arrived after other wonderful fishing days. Martín, Nick and I decided that we would fish different bays of the lake and then head on to the Barrancoso River to film some last takes to finish our work there.
The fishing in the lake was good as always and we were able to relax and try different rods and lines. It was just another beautiful sunny day in primitive Patagonia. During our week in Strobel, we had caught huge trout in the lake and in the Barrancoso; we had enjoyed the pleasures of the lodge and shared the week with a fantastic group of people. That last day, being under the sun in the middle section of that lovely mountain river, catching small rainbows with a 5-weight rod, I realized I could have stayed there for a long, long time.
Rod: 8 wt. SAGE Method. Reel: SAGE 6080. Line: #8 GPX floating line by Scientific Anglers.
About the lodge:
Estancia Laguna Verde is located in southern Patagonia, in Argentina. A flight from Buenos Aires takes you to Calafate (home of the famous Perito Moreno glacier). A truck picks you up in the airport and some hours later you arrive to the lodge. The lodging and services of ELV are first class, and the guides and staff form a group of really friendly people. ELV has exclusive access to miles of Lake Strobel, the Barrancoso River, the Moro Creek and over 12 smaller lakes and lagoons (in a walking distance from your room) where the fishing is honestly non-stop. It is a contemporary fly-fishing treasure. You can find more info about the lodge and contact them, right here: https://www.flydreamers.com/en/travel/lodge/estancia-laguna-verde-l-16
Special thanks: Luciano and Roberto Alba, Nick Reygaert, Martín Robino, the whole ELV staff.