Chile Tourism Fishing Fly Fishing Salmon The Patagonia Travel Trout

Villa Manihuales

Villa Manihuales is found at the confluence of the Rio Niriguao and the Rio Manihuales.

Map of the Tributaries of the Rio Aysen

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.

La Lavanderia

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.

Sleepy guide

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.

La Lavanderia Goddess of the Manihuales

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.

Chile Tourism Fishing Fly Fishing The Patagonia Travel Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Again

Where is our trout?

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.

Fishing Fly Fishing The Patagonia Travel

la soledad

Rio Nireguao, El Gato

Looking Down

A crystal clear bright day, no rises.

Water 54, air 70’s, little clouds and low humidity, very windy.

Since we are in a gorge, there is a venturi or wind tunnel effect. Therefore any breeze is amplified. If I am out in the water, casting is not difficult, but the line goes more or less where it wants. If I near shore, then it’s a bit more tricky.

After this, I started to fish with nymphs and a small plastic float bobber, my catches increased dramatically. It was nice to watch that bobber dip.

No me importa la soledad

The Patagonia

New Friends

Such a lovely day on the La Dificultad Road

And I made new friends

Hello I am friendly will you rub me?

Hello human

This is my baby brother

Smile and say cheese.
The Patagonia

To Futaleufu

The following maps are my new route to Futaleufu. Because of the landslide in Villa Santa Lucia, the road is blocked to the south of the small pueblo; also, it is very questionable if the road from Chaiten to Futa is open. I bought a bus ticket from Puerto Varas to Esquel. The trip takes a lot less time, about 8 hours, and is very scenic. I will spend a couple of days in Esquel before crossing the border and getting to Futa. Here are maps of the trip and where the interruption is.

The landslide was a disaster for town. About fifteen people died and about the same are missing, the town was wiped out.

Villa Santa Lucia
The landslide through the town and across the Carretera Austral.
Fishing The Patagonia Travel

Travel and Transportation

To find and access great fishing having a car is a must unless you have the money for a guide or a lodge.

I was driving to a large river that reported having a good population of Brown Trout. On the way, I spotted a small stream on the right that looked just lovely, and it wasn’t on any maps. I had to stop, and sans waders or boots, I walked the stream bank catching rainbow trout for a couple of hours on bead head nymphs. No one in sight, no houses, or farms, only one car passed.

Use the Kayak website and App for car rental special deals.

In Puerto Montt, an economy subcompact car starts at $30 a day and a diesel 4 wheel drive extended cab pickup at $75. In Coyhaique, it’s at least $75 and $125 a day if you can find one to rent. If you are thinking of renting a car in Puerto Montt and driving down, there are a few things to consider; the roads are crushed rock, and you will wear out tires, it is a long drive, is the Carretera Austral open all the way down to where you want to go, what is your responsibility to the car rental company, and is it allowed to drive the car that far south?

Not all car rental companies are the same; some have better cars than others but always be sure the spare tire is good and all 5 tires inflated properly.

Do not run out of gas. Keep the tank filled.

Except for the Carretera Austral, most roads are graded crushed rock and dirt, the main routes are about 2 lanes wide tertiary routes are 1 + (narrow).

Be sure you drive carefully and slowly, especially at night.

Mainline buses are high quality and have different seating classes; Cama, semi Cama, and upright. Your stuff will be safe but always keep an eye on it, just like in the USA.

During summer months, everyone is on the road, prices are high, and rooms can be hard to find; book ahead on the Airbnb app or call hostels and campgrounds days before you expect to arrive to be sure there is space. I generally reserve one to two weeks out; you can get someone to translate for you when booking on the telephone if you do not speak Spanish.

One of the things I noticed is if you travel by bus from one large town to another, the coaches are generally full between larger or popular stops. If you get off between the larger towns, like at a park, you might not find space on the next bus when you want to get back on. I will revisit this issue later in my journey and report back.

You can save time take a flight. I fly from Santiago to Balmaceta in Patagonia. Traveling by air cuts several days off of travel time and expenses for food and lodging on the way south.

Fishing The Patagonia Travel

When To Go to Patagonia

The height of the tourist season is January and February, it is South America’s summer vacation, and it seems every young adventurer is on the road in Patagonia. A good book is Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia.

Never forget that during summer in Patagonia, the weather is highly changeable. It can be a lovely day, then the next moment, a sunny day becomes windy, rainy, and cold with snow in the high country. Bring wind and rain gear made of synthetic fabric or wool. One of my better choices last year was waterproof above ankle hiking boots. I was initially thinking of saving weight and only carrying sneakers but thought better of it. Occasionally it was very wet and muddy, and sneakers would never have dried out; my feet would have been freezing. Another good piece to bring along are gaters, not only for the mud but also for the spiny plant burrs that will coat and destroy your sox when hiking along roads or through the brush.

A few words on lodging. During Patagonia’s summer season, from January to March, many hotels are booked in advance. Hostels can be full, AirBnB prices rise, and pickings are slim. My suggestion is to know where you are going and make reservations in a few month’s advance.

If you stay in an Airbnb, your meals might not be included, and you will have to shop or bring food with you. Is there a supermarket or bodega nearby where you can get the necessities for cooking meals or local restaurants?