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Ron and Vanessa Sorensen’s Chocolate Lab Expeditions, based in San Martin de los Andes, offers anglers a combination of exceptional fishing, classic Argentine estancia accommodations, private access, and the authentic culture and hospitality of Patagonia. This area is famous within trout fishing circles as home to such legendary rivers as the Traful, Collon Cura, Chimehuin, Malleo, and several others. The estancias (ranches) that hold the private access rights to many of these hallowed waters are the very ones that C.L.E. has partnered with to offer the best lodging and fishing packages available in the region. Guests stay in comfort at a variety of estancias located throughout the region and enjoy colorful local meals with the best Argentine wines. Every trip with Chocolate Lab is 100% customized, meaning that your itinerary will be totally based around your fishing desires, expectations and budget. C.L.E.'s season runs December through April, and early reservations are recommended.
All packages are completely customized, and trips of any length can be arranged.
Guests stay in world class comfort at private estancias (ranches) located throughout the region, and enjoy gourmet meals of local flavor. These classic estancias perfectly balance the comforts of Argentine hospitality while offering access to some of the best waters in the region. Patagonian estancias are huge, family-owned cattle ranches that boast incredible trout fishing within their private borders. Many of these estancias are steeped in fly fishing tradition, discovered and made famous by some of the most notable anglers in the world. With the addition of first-class accommodations and gourmet food, this region has quickly become recognized as an ideal destination for breathtaking scenery, heartwarming culture, and fantastic fly fishing. Ron Sorensen and Chocolate Lab expeditions have spent the last decade building relationships with the finest estancias and prospecting the regions best fisheries.
• Estancia Arroyo Verde (Green Creek Lodge) - Estancia Arroyo Verde sits on the upper section of the Traful River surrounded by expansive lawns, flowers and pine trees. Arroyo Verde is a first-class lodge of international repute that can accommodate up to ten people. The main lodge is beautifully decorated with regional fishing collectibles and historical memorabilia from the estancia.
• Estancia Tres Lagos (Three Lakes Lodge) - Estancia Tres Lagos offers private access to the Filo Hua Hum and the area’s surrounding lakes. The estancia itself is a beautiful ranch surrounded by national parklands and breathtaking scenery. There are two well-appointed cabins offering accommodations for six anglers. The dining at Tres Lagos is always great, and the estancia is well known for their asados (Argentine BBQ’s.)
• Estancia Tipiluike - Estancia Tipiluike means “upside-down heart,” a reference to the prominent rocky peak that is constantly visible as you fish the Chimehuin River. The lodge has a full-time staff, an on-site manager, and a river keeper who coordinates the daily beats with the guides. The light pine interior of the lodge is beautiful, and there is a wonderful bar and sitting room for relaxing and sharing stories from the river.
• Estancia Collon Cura - Ted Turner's Estancia Collon Cura offers clients access to four different day floats on the Collon Cura. Good food and accommodations can be found at Collon Cura, a well as amazing wildlife, including red stag, Russian boar, and the flightless bird, the Nandu.
• Estancia San Huberto - The Olsen family are the owners and operators of Estancia San Huberto, and they do a fantastic job of bringing all the comforts of home to their lodge. Their daily picnics are first class and dinners are gourmet. Estancia San Huberto is a very popular operation, and reservations are required well in advance. The estancia offers private access to 30 miles of the Malleo River.
• Estancia Quemquemtreu - An option that is ideal for non-anglers and non-fishing significant others. Great fishing for the angling-focused as well on the Collon Cura River and Quemquemtreu Creek. One of the region's finest operations for both food and accommodations.
• Quillen River Lodge - Quillen River Lodge offers great accommodations overlooking the Quillen Valley, and loads of private-water fishing. This is a 45,000-acre ranch with exclusive access to over eight miles of the Quillen and the Malalco. Guests will enjoy a comfortable stay, incredible angling, and true privacy.
Where you will eat while fishing with C.L.E. will depend on where you are staying - from classic Argentine estancias to small, boutique hotels in heart of San Martin de los Andes. All of the area's estancias pride themselves on offering gourmet food and the finest Argentine wines. In fact, the only aspect of these trips that can usually match the quality of the fishing is the quality of the meals! If you are staying in San Martin or Piedra de Aguila, then you will typically eat at one of the local restaurants, which of course specializes in great steaks and great wine.
The cornerstone of Chocolate Lab’s operation is the network that they've built that offers a wide variety of premier, world class ranches and over 200 miles of private access waters. Large browns and rainbows dominate the various rivers, streams, and lakes found throughout the area, all rich in aquatic life and undisturbed by the pressures of people. Hatches of mayflies, caddis, and various stoneflies offer anglers exciting dry fly fishing, while nymph and streamer fishing is almost always productive. From the crystal-clear, slow-moving waters of the Upper Malleo to the large, narrow currents of the Traful, this region of Patagonia offers unmatched diversity for the angler. Whether your interest lies in fishing small waters with attractors or sight-fishing to large, trophy trout, anglers have a number of options to choose from. From spring creeks to large freestone rivers, these Patagonian packages truly offer nothing but options!
Each of the estancias that Chocolate Lab Expeditions fishes employs the English “beat” system of sectioning a river to ensure solitude on the water and an overall first class experience. With a maximum of 10 rods at any of these exclusive estancias, the water is rotated and fish are rested on a regular basis.
• The Traful River (Estancia Arroyo Verde) - Estancia Arroyo Verde has 10 miles of private access on the world renowned Traful River, a fairly difficult river, but well worth the effort for the angler pursuing the fish of a lifetime. Narrow and clear, the Traful is big fish water with many browns and rainbows in the 25 to 30-inch class. With such incredible water clarity, the river is most often fished using New Zealand style sight-casting techniques. While the Traful is fantastic dry-fly water, the river is not necessarily a “hatch-matching” river and is usually fished using large attractor patterns such as mice, Madam X's and Chernobyl Ants. There’s nothing better than fishing big dries to big fish! Nymphs used in some of the deep runs and riffles also produce large fish, as do streamers presented in the traditional style. The periodic presence of large landlocked Atlantic Salmon can be an added seasonal bonus as well.
• The Filo Hua Hum River (Estancia Tres Lagos) - Another 10 miles of private access to the Filo Hua Hum, a small freestone stream, offers excellent opportunities for both beginning and experienced anglers, especially during the months of December, January and later in the month of April. A short river located between two lakes, the Filo offers fishing for rainbows and browns. Experienced anglers can enjoy sight-fishing for trout in the 20-27 inch range with mouse patterns and other large dries. Migrant fish from the two end lakes also move through the river, adding to the resident population. The upper tributaries of the lakes can, at times, offer fishing for huge lake dwelling rainbows. This is a fishery that offers opportunities for both the trophy trout hunter and first timer looking to learn. It is a highly recommended fishery for anyone looking for a great Patagonian angling experience.
• The Chimehuin River (Estancia Tipiluike) - The Chimehuin River lies just north of San Martin de los Andes and is a popular stop for those interested in visiting the area’s small mountain ski towns. The Chimehuin is a large freestone river similar in many ways to Montana’s Madison. It is a perfect fishery for float fishing, sight-fishing, and prospecting with streamers, nymphs, and large attractor dry flies. This river fishes the best from late December into early February, and late March into April.
• Collon Cura River (Estancia Collon Cura) - The Collon Cura is perhaps the most prolific trout fishery in all of Patagonia and is a must-see river for anglers visiting the area. The water is similar in appearance to Wyoming’s Snake River, but lined with willows and high sandstone cliffs. The river is fairly large, with a mild gradient and broad gravel riffles that make for easy wading. Streamers are effective throughout the season, as minnows are an important food source in the river. The river also offers excellent dry fly fishing with large attractors. January is an excellent streamer month, as the river is usually full of minnows. Collon Cura trout are exceptional fighters, with fish averaging in the 14 to 20-inch range. During the Argentine autumn, fall browns can run up to 28 inches.
• Malleo River (Estancia San Huberto) - Located in the northern portion of the San Martin de los Andes fishing area, the Malleo is a very consistent fishery with solid, hard fighting fish. The river is well known throughout the region for spectacular caddis and mayfly hatches, making this lodge a haven for dry fly enthusiast The Malleo can be broken down into three very different sections, with spring creek water on the upper river, canyon fishing on the mid-section, and classic riffle-and-run fishing on the lower region. This layout offers anglers the opportunity to fish a variety of very different water on a single river. San Huberto is in high demand, and for good reason too, so book this one early!
• Quillen River (The Quillen Lodge) - The Quillen is a mid-size spring fed stream loaded with aquatic life which runs 8 miles through the 45,00 acre ranch, and has been Quoted as “the best dry fly stream in the Northern fishing zone” of Patagonia. The Quillen in January offers wonderful hatches of caddis, mayflies, stoneflies, and a January bonanza of dragonflies. Riffles, weed flats, and deep pools provide a variety of fishable water for the angler. The Malalco, a tributary to the Quillen with prolific hatches and large trout, is another incredible spring creek on the estancia.
For float trips, Chocolate Lab Expeditions utilizes a small fleet of top-of-the-line RO Skiffs - the same hard-sided, fiberglass skiffs used on numerous rivers throughout the U.S. These boats are designed specifically for fly fishing and are a pleasure to fish from. C.L.E. also has plenty of back up rods, reels, lines, waders, boots, etc. available for rent if you choose to travel light. As far as transportation goes, the rivers and estancias are accessed with 4x4 vehicles - a mix of Isuzu Troopers and Toyota Land Cruisers (roomy and comfortable).
Patagonia has much to offer the non-angler, and there is a great deal more to explore than just the trout streams. Some of the many activities include flora and fauna tours, horseback riding, hiking, scenic raft trips, and horseback riding, as well as golf in the San Martin area at a Nicklaus golf course.
More relaxing pursuits include as wine-tasting, bird-watching, local shopping in San Martin, massage, cultural tours, and photography safaris.
Getting to Patagonia is not difficult. Take an easy overnight flight to Buenos Aires from one of several major cities in the U.S., get a good night’s rest, and awake in Argentina. Chocolate Lab Expeditions is based out of San Martin de los Andes, which makes access fairly direct and easy. Guests can either fly directly in to San Martin, or into the larger airport in nearby Bariloche. You will be met upon arrival at either airport and transferred to where you will be staying on the first day of your trip.
A two-hour flight from Buenos Aires brings you to San Martin de los Andes, home to the most famous fishing estancias in Patagonia. Your guides will meet you at the airport and transport you to the best waters in the region! Due to the flexibility of the C.L.E. program, you can arrive and depart on any day of the week. That said, it is important to try and book your flights on the days of the week when the airlines fly in and out of San Martin.
All rates are per person and based on double-occupancy. Rates will vary based upon type of package, waters fished, time of year, and choice of accommodations. Due to the customized and personalized nature of these packages, Yellow Dog will quote each trip based on length, expectations, and desired itinerary. Please call for details.
Private Estancia Package --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- $4,700 to $5,310
(7 nights / 7 fishing days with 8th day transfer to airport)
Private Waters / Public Access Combo Package ------------------------------------------------ $3,320
(3 nights at an Estancia and 4 nights in San Martin)
Public Access Package with one overnight float trip ----------------------------------------- $2,425
(6 nights in town, 1 night out on the river)
Day Trip rates from the town of San Martin ------------------------------------------------------ $525
(One or two anglers)
* Remember that Yellow Dog's services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter.
Yellow Dog has a full in-house travel and reservations system, and can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers, and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact us at 888-777-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurance.
Located on the shores of Lake Lácar, within the Lanín National Park, the town of San Martín de los Andes is a paradise of peace and quietness, immersed in an environment of rivers, waterfalls, mounts and magical forests. Originally a military settlement, today this typical mountain village dazzles visitors with its particular buildings, raised in wood and stone, which provide its characteristic warmth and charm. Among the area's many exciting excursions, which range from beholding unique landscapes during pleasant strolls to the adrenaline generated by adventure travel, the Seven Lakes circuit, Villa la Angostura, the Lanín Volcano, Lake Meliquina and Filo Hua Hum, Lakes Currhué and the Lahuen Co hot springs and Lakes Paimún and Huechulafquen are all worth mentioning.