A Chile Day Of Fly Fishing
A highlight of our Southern American cruise was a river float trip near Puerto Montt
By Larry Larsen
Our real "activities" highlight while cruising South America
aboard the Royal Princess recently (see Cape Horn, Glaciers, Trout & Penguins article) took place when we arrived at Chile's
Lake District. Puerto Montt, the prettiest town of the entire trip, was our port of disembarkation for the day. After tendering to the dock, we were met by Rene Yefio, the head
flyfishing guide at the Yan Kee Way Lodge. A one hour drive through some of the country's most beautiful scenery led to
the first class lodge strategically located on Lake Llanquihue at the base of the Osorno Volcano. After a tour of the new lodge with owner Michael Darland and general manager
Paul Kinney, we headed for the nearby Rio Petrohue for a couple of hours of fly fishing for trout.
Yefio launched our 15-foot pontoon raft as air temperatures began
to climb out of the 40's and I began my challenge of the 15-knot wind, the whitewater and the trout. My fly soon fooled a battling
trout of about 3 ½ pounds and we quickly took a few photos of the angler, guide and fish with the backdrop of the snow-capped volcano. Five minutes later, I landed another slightly smaller
rainbow. In the following hour, we drifted through rapids and pools surrounded by scenic canyon walls and mountain peaks.
From the raft's bow casting platform, I landed and released another three rainbows from the glacier-blue, snow-runoff waters of the Petrohue. A hatch occurred on one bend and
several trout rose to the occasion. One mistook my fly for the real thing. In another area, five fat rainbows
come to the surface to feed in a deep, fast-flowing pool and raced for my presentation. I battled one for five minutes before it escaped and
tossed my fly back to the same spot and hooked up with another.
Best Timing For Maximizing The Catch
We were a little late starting that morning for the best wet fly and
streamer action. We were told. the early 7 am to 11 am time period has less wind and more feeding action in the 48 degree waters. Browns up to
5 pounds are a good possibility then and many daylong float trips include an aggregate per person catch of 25 or so rainbow and brown trout. Four
guides at Yan Kee Way Lodge handle up to 8 anglers per day as they fish for trout and salmon in a variety of nearby waters including the rivers:
Petrohue, Puelo and Maullin, and Lago Todos Los Santos.
The November/December and March/April time periods are reportedly best for visiting fly fishermen who mostly come from the U.S. Fishing in
the warmest summer months (January and February) can also be excellent, and water temperatures are slightly warmer, reaching 54 degrees on some
stretches. Loaner equipment is available but most week-long anglers bring their own gear and flies. Rods of 6 and 7 weight and floating and sinking fly lines are the norm for these waters.
After a scrumptious lodge lunch of Chilean wine (from their
wine cellar selection of 200), appetizer, conger eel and salmon laced "baskets" stuffed with crab meat, and topped off with creme brulee for dessert, we had time for a quick
visit to the magnificent Petrohue Falls before returning through the picturesque countryside back to the ship. A series
of catwalks and stone steps take visitors to the edges of the falls adjacent a backdrop of mountain cliffs, massive boulders, roaring rapids and plunging falls. Several of the Royal
Princess shore excursions include a visit here, and it is perhaps the main scenic highlight of most cruise ship passengers.
Editor's Note: For more information on the Yan Kee Way Lodge, contact Quest Global Angling Adventures at 888-891-3474. Check flight and/or cruise fares and availability!
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