I have lived and fished in this area for a couple of years. I keep a canoe on the Pepacton Reservoir where I paddle and fish for trout and smallmouth bass. It is a lovely here with mountains, reservoirs, rivers, and abundant streams that sometimes have fish in them just waiting to be caught.
Thank Ted with the trout and Len with his Bass for their cooperation. All fish taken in the East Branch of the Delaware above the Pepacton Reservoir.
Villa Manihuales is found at the confluence of the Rio Niriguao and the Rio Manihuales.
Villa Manihuales has a population of 3000 inhabitants. The primary income-generating activities of the area are mining, ecotourism, sport fishing, secondary activities include logging, dairy, farming, and livestock.
The town is located along the Carretera Austral which is also called the Ruta del Los Parques and is close to the cities of Puerto Aysen and Coyhaique in the region of Aysen Patagonia.
I found it a peaceful small town with plenty of markets, restaurants, hostels, cafes, and two great little parks. Backpackers, campers, and touring bicycle adventurers plus the usual auto and bus tourists are everywhere in February. The town’s cell service is 4G and first-class plus the hostels in town have fast WiFi.
January can be rainy but in February the weather starts to improve but both months are notoriously windy. In March the weather moderates, the wind eases, and for fly fishermen, the hopper season hits high gear. Hoppers, Chernobyl Ants and Foam Beetles, and Attractors are in order plus anything else you can cast because the trout are hungry and will eat anything.
The Rio Manihuales at Villa Manihuales is the upper course of the river, it is not a white water flow here but it does run fast and deep. The Rio Manihuales is not the largest river in Patagonia but it has a moves and is cold, clean, and has healthy populations of Rainbow and Brown Trout plus runs of King Salmon. Its tributaries are the Rio Picaflor and the Rio Nirehuao and the Rio Manihuales itself is a tributary of the Rio Aysen.
There is no one on the river but me, and there are miles and miles of water all to myself. I have not found many posts on Facebook or in Web searches about fishing the Rio Manihuales which makes it good for me as there are lots of uneducated and trusting trout. The river has runs King Salmon and very large trout but I had to look for them. I found plenty of access and no one seemed to mind if I crossed through their property as I always closed the cattle gates on the trails. The river can be wide so I needed to be able to fly cast for a distance which not my strong point, and there is the wind in January and February, sometimes lots of it, but I hear it lessens in March and April. Despite all this, I managed to land large fish.
My Guide working. I hooked a rather large trout in this lagoon and it fled for the bottom like a rocket and then hid under a submerged tree. Federico swam for it but we didn’t retrieve the fish or the Fat Albert. The picture of me is with one that I managed to hook.
The Parque Lavadoras is large for such a small town. It has gentle trails wandering through the park with pleasant views and benches to enjoy them while sitting. The lower section has custom wooden toy rides for the children and gazebos in case of inclement weather. The park is named because there is a small rill or creek running through it. In the past the washerwomen of the town came to do laundry, scrubbing the clothing in the stream and then hanging it on the trees in the park. One Sunday I was lucky to have been there to watch a performance art piece, that is where the picture up top is from. I also took a video and it is posted below. Here are the credits.
This is an iPhone movie that I made that Sunday afternoon.
I gained an understanding of why the park is named as it is. The performance art was about the spirit of the washerwomen, las lavenderas, who used to work along the stream that runs down from the mountains and through the park.
I was in Bogota Columbia and had just ordered my lunch at the Albahaca Restaurante, it was 1 PM Thursday, March 19th. While I was waiting for my food I took out my cell and opened the NY Times app which headlined the US government advised that all US Citizens should return home immediately or be prepared to stay where they were overseas indefinitely. Wow! Next, I called my friend Marc who works in the American consulate in Juarez Mexico and asked him what was happening and his only answer was for me to leave immediately for home.
My original return flight back to New York was on April 7 with American Airlines. When I called AA to re-book the flight I went right into a hold and when I tried their website it was not functioning. Chase Travel who booked a flight for me put me on indefinite hold also and was not much help either.
What am I supposed to do, wait?
It was smart to move that fast and I was very lucky to make it home before everything shut down. From my understanding, the Bogota airport closed Thursday, March 19th at midnight which was three hours after I departed. JFK closed March 20th.
My travel insurance company will not pay for anything, not the new return flight home, not for the Bogota rent that I paid in advance, nor the food I left in the refrigerator in Bogota, nada nothing. American Airlines told me yesterday April 18, 2020, that they will refund me 15 dollars for the canceled return flight from Bogota to Miami to JFK which originally cost over eight hundred dollars.
The point is that for 2 days I had to completely rely on myself with no support or assistance from any of the airlines, travel agents, backup or insurance systems I had in place. I paid through the nose for everything and when push comes to shove the people I engaged and who were supposed to look out or assist me did not answer the phone.
Note, eventually my return ticket on American Airlines was refunded to me.
Heading back to Bogota on Tuesday morning, it’s a 8 to 10-hour bus trip through the mountains and the suburbs of the city. There is more to do in Bogota than in the campo especially if I am not fishing. I also want more Spanish tutoring, even though it’s expensive it does help my confidence with the language. Additionally, in Bogota, I am better able to manage my diet as there are more restaurants and markets with healthier food, I am limited to tourist fare here in Salento.
Valle de Corcora; The creeks and streams are running clear up in the mountains even with all the heavy rains. The steep mountains are forested or grassy, and although there are places where there are cattle herds, the streams run clean
I have noticed here in Salento in the Department of Quindio, Colombia, that there are many small properties with well maintained barbed wire fences between them, which gives me pause. I have not found that in Chilean Patagonia. Properties there are much larger, and the barb wire fences maintained with only a couple of wires that are easy to slip through. In this area of Colombia, the locals are catching the trout to sell to the restaurants.
My stomach has settled down, it makes life so much easier when I do not have to be located near a head.
I am lining up my to-do’s when I arrive in Chile. Hopefully, my Entel Telephone SIM card will still work, and I only have to add data to get the phone up and running. I also need to buy a fishing license. In the past, I purchased my fishing license in Puerto Montt, at the main commercial and sport fishing office; buying a license in Coyhaique will be a new experience. It was easier.
I am still trying to rent a car, and I found a few very good prices. It would be a great advantage for a week or two when exploring and looking for Chinook in Aysen Provence.
None of my Facebook friends in Coyhaique will tell me where they catch salmon. They post impressive pictures with great stories of the humongous fish they caught, but when I ask “WHERE,” I get nada, nothing, totally ignored, they are guides after all. You know me and my where’s, “where did you catch that”? Next winter, I will stay upstate for the winter, or most of it, and I will try and get a guide’s license. It would be great to guide on the Pepacton and its tributaries for bass and trout. What do you think?
I strongly suggest that voyagers use travel insurance. The policies I purchased have paid for themselves a couple of times on past trips. Travel Insurance makes life much less stressful. If you happen to get sick or hurt, they could save your life or even a small fortune. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you will be covered for additional charges, delays, meals, and hotel rooms. Remember to keep every single receipt; copy them on your cell phone scanner app.
It has been a really good summer of fishing on the East Branch at Thayer Hollow. Earlier in the season I hooked a humongous Trout while swinging a flashy Woolybugger. A few weeks later, after a big rain, I went out to the same area. The river was up but not so much that it was uncomfortable to wade. The special sauce of the day was that the river was cold and muddy, visibility in the water was only about 6 inches. Once again I was swinging a flashy woolly bugger with rubber legs and a brass conehead on a fast sinking tip.
That morning I caught and landed three large trout. The first one had to be over 18 inches, it was a big fish, the second fish was a monster Between 22 and 24 inches long. The third was 18 inches confirmed. I hooked it in the gills and it was bleeding so I gave it to Ted. Ted took it home and measured it. It was an epic day on the East branch.
Once again I was using my trout spey rod made by Robert Meiser. The learning curve for Spey and Scandi casting is slow for me, but I’m getting there. The lines were made by Steve Godshall, SGS.
I have a hard time taking pictures of the fish that I catch when alone. This is a picture of the 24 inch fish, once again don’t be fooled by the net that net is gigantic it’s really really big. If you have suggestions on how to accomplish this Photorgaphy feat, I’m all ears.
Yesterday was hot, hot, and sunny. I didn’t make it to the River until about 11 AM, after coffee with Lenny and Bocchi at Jacks. The East Branch water was not low, but neither was it too high; I couldn’t see the riffles at the usual spot. But, before I entered the water, I noticed the carp; they were everywhere spawning, tails thrashing, stirring up the mud, splashing up and down the riverbanks.
There were packs of carp, like groups of dogs chasing bitches in heat. There were many groups of them all fighting and thrashing for a spot next to a female. I remember seeing this behavior a few years ago while canoeing in the place where the Tremperskill flows into the Pepacton Reservoir.
I didn’t see any trout yesterday; I did get a couple of rises while searching with an attractor pattern. I wonder if the carp chase or scare the trout away? Could it be the water is too warm?
It has been a cold spring but for the past week the weather has been warm and sunny during the day leading me to believe the rivers will warm. Because of the warming, yesterday, May 15th, I saw significant insect activity on the East Branch of the Delaware above the reservoir. They were clouds of midges and caddisflies and many mayflies, some of them quite large.
At 2PM the water was high at my favorite spot. The river was wadeable, but the shoreline had only a few dry areas to rest in. When I arrived, I did not see any rises and started casting a small streamer with the 11’3″ Meiser trout spey. After half an hour of observing the river, the fish began to rise to a hatch. I changed the fly from a streamer to a dry fly, and immediately the fish started to go for it. I could not hook up the line so long and so switched to my 9′ 5wt Winston Air and a tan caddis fly. I missed again, and the river went quiet.
I chatted with a fellow fisherman and his son to pass the time. We exchanged tips on fly casting while I watched the water and moved downstream. The insect activity increased as the afternoon progressed. By five, there seemed to be several insect hatches going on at the same time, the river was coated with bugs, and the trout started to rise again.
I spotted one rising trout that I could reach. I started casting to it with a large dry fly similar to a live Mayfly I had seen floating downstream earlier. Here’s a picture and the movie of the result.
It’s tough to make a movie with no one there to help. I didn’t really want to take this fish out of the water, but I did anyway and took a picture really fast. The trout swam away with vigor; hopefully, he still alive. I fell down, backing up to the shore, trying to net the fish and make a movie. The water came over the top of the waders, and I dropped my iPhone. The phone was completely submerged for about 10 seconds, with no damage.
I fished Thayer Hollow on the East Branch of the Delaware River yesterday morning, arriving at 9:30; no one was there.
I had the water to myself and proceeded to swing a nymph across and down the river with my Meiser trout spey rod starting from just below the parking lot.
Later at about ten, a couple of fishermen showed up. One started in up river of me spin casting with light tackle and proceeded to work around me and then down the river and out of sight.
I continued casting my way down the river and had a tug but nothing much else. Later another fisherman came by with spinning gear and gave up pretty quick. I switched to a little size 10 sparkly woolly bugger replacing the nymph dropper rig I had been using.
All had left the river now; it was about 12:30 PM. I was alone on the river and hooked into a large trout. The Robert Meiser rod is stout, and I brought the 18-inch trout in quickly to my net and released it.
I had enough for the day, so I climbed up out of the river back up to Route 30 and the parking lot. There were five people in the parking lot standing around talking. I asked if anyone saw the huge trout I had caught and released, they turned away; one said he thought I lost it, and it broke off. Sour grapes!
The borders to Chile opened in November 2020 but there are rules that were not in force a year ago.
Flights to Santiago from JFK are exceptionally cheap on Copa Airlines, my new favorite. There are several choices for flights from Santiago to Balmaceda in Patagonia but my suggestion is to stick with LATAM Airlines.
Flight and quarantine policies change unexpectedly! To travel to Chile you need to have a clean covid test taken 72 hours before leaving the USA. To get back into the USA one must do the same 72 hours before the flight.
In Chile there are local curfews and you are not allowed outside during certain hours or days. You may be told to add an app to your phone so you can be tracked.
I wouldn’t travel this year, not even to New Jersey. This year I am staying home and getting fat.
The best information is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Chile, see below.
I am making progress with editing my posts as I’m sure you can see. I’ve corrected grammar, spelling, and general sentence structure so it is more readable. I’ve also added pictures
When entering the United States from a foreign country, it is now required to have a Covid test three days before you arrive at immigration in the USA, possibly even before you enter the plane from the country you are leaving. This was in the news on January 18, 2021. From what I’ve read, you can get tested at the hotel that you’re staying in before flying back to the US. I don’t know how this works in Chile.
I had my first Covid vaccination yesterday, and in three weeks, I will get the second shot. It’s a great relief to know I have some protection. I have the CDC paperwork/card I received when. I got the shot.
I have assumed that I’ll be able to travel to Patagonia next January for three months. The reality is I don’t know what the international situation will be like next year.
It was quite an afternoon on the lower Esopus Creek in the Catskills today. I used my light spinning rod with quarter ounce Al’s goldfish lures and had a bit of luck. In the first hour, I pulled out these two beauties. One trout was an 18-inch rainbow and put up a good fight, and the other was a much larger brown that came right to the net. After I caught the brown, I noticed fish spawning all around me, some only 6 feet away. I decided that it was not a good idea to disturb them, and moved further upriver. The water was not that cold. It had to be in the mid-’50s, and the air temperature was about 65 or 70. It was a cloudless and warm fall day. Crazy weather because just a few days ago, we had 6 inches of snow up here in Roxbury.
On my next visit to the Esopus a few days later I carried my Robert Meiser trout/steelhead spey rod with an OPST Commando intermediate sinking Skagit line, 10′ T8 Leader and 3′ floro tippet. I had very good luck and caught a couple of large browns on the streamer and big nymph, sorry no pictures of the fish.
I am trying to get the hang of the Skandi line but its taking a lot of time and I tend to prefer the OPST Skagit head because it is easier to cast out there. Next year I will put more effort into Skandi. The lines I have that were made by Steve Godshall.
Today, November 30th, was the last day of trout season on the Esopus Creek. Yesterday I made it over to the river just above the Ashokan Reservoir. The weather was spectacular, with temperatures in the high 50’s and sunny skies, it was one of the better days this fall.
Ted came along, and we fished small Al’s Goldfish spoons on a light spinner rod and reel setup. I am sorry to say we both got skunked, totally skunked, but some young kid pulled out a giant, 27″ monster. He had to show us all through walking up and down the shore several times, carrying the fish. It was a nice walk in the woods and a great day to end the season.
Originally Published March 8th 2018 for trip 2017-18,
Edited November 3rd 2020
This trip I brought too many rods for trout fishing. I carried a 5/6 switch and a 5 wt nymph rod that I never used so my Winston 9 foot 6 weight BXIII did all the work. The Winston was good in the wind, cast the lighter streamers, and nymph rigs with indicators, a great all around rod. A softer 4 or 5 weight to play fish was on my wish list.
Remember it’s a good idea to have a backup rod and in case you have to make an insurance claim photograph everything before you leave on the trip.
My 9’4 piece rod tube fits into a large suitcase so there is no need for separate rod case luggage. This is a reminder for the future to get all my rods into a suitcase, rods have to be 9′ or less and come in 4 pieces, if they are longer than 9′ then they will have to be in 5 or 6 pieces to fit. The benefits if everything is in a suitcase is that no one can see your stuff, it’s easier to keep things organized and keep track of, there is less risk of accident, 30 inch hard plastic suitcases with wheels are easier to move around and they cost a lot less to bring on airplanes. You can buy a well build large hard plastic suitcases for 100 to 150 dollars on Amazon.
November 2020 update. My feelings now are that if I ever get to make a trip like this again these are the rods I will bring; 9′ 5 weight Winston Air, 9′ 6 weight Winston BXIII, 9′ 7 weight Winston BXIII, and the Meiser 11’3″ trout spey with both the Skagit and Scandi Heads and if I want to cheat a little I will buy and bring a Santiam Fishing Rod. Santiam makes long travel spinning and center pin rods in 4 to 6 pieces that will fit in my 30″ suitcase which will be great for exploring larger rivers.
This is an update on the travel situation for South America, Chile, and Columbia.
The border into Chile is still closed to foreigners. Only Chilean nationals returning to the country are allowed in at this time. Occasionally on Facebook I see posts by Chilean fishing guides and lodges claiming that the border will open soon, and fly fishing tourists will book excursions for this summer fishing season, December 2020 to April 2021. I’m not sure where they’re getting their information; according to the United States Department of State website the Chilean border is closed. Same with all the news that I can find while searching on the Internet on this topic.
I am in isolation here in the Catskills alone on the top of a mountain. Once a week, I go shopping for food at Adams in Kingston. Three or four times a week, I go swimming in the Catskill Recreation Center pool. The pool has only six lanes, and usually, there’s a swimmer in each. I go early in the morning, make my swim, and then leave; this is all the exposure to others I’m willing to tolerate. Oh, wait I almost forgot I voted last Monday at the election office center in Delhi, NY.
I am still considering a steelhead fly fishing trip up to Buffalo tomorrow or Monday. I have found a few Airbnb’s for $20 a night with private bathrooms but when I read the news, which is all about the coronavirus and Trump these days, I get very hesitant to leave my home.