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Destinations Editor's Notebook

 Rio Grande Sea Run Brown Trout

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  September 30th, 2016 0
Jessica DeLorenzo photo

Author Ross Purnell with a sea-run brown trout fresh from the ocean. Jessica DeLorenzo photo

There are many places in the world where the fishing isn’t nearly as good as it used to be. Most places actually.

Steelhead runs in the Pacific Northwest are a shadow of their former glory. Atlantic salmon have been decimated in the U.S. to where wild populations are just barely hanging on in a few streams in Maine. Guides in the Florida Keys have been scratching their heads over a lost generation of bonefish. The oceans are depleted by 90 percent in terms of large gamefish, and you have to walk far and work hard to find a single native Eastern brook trout due to habitat loss and acid mine drainage.

On a planet where fish habitat everywhere seems to be constantly downgraded, and every year opportunities get worse and worse, it stokes your soul to find a river winding through open ranchland that is untouched and unchanged, and both scientific studies and angler results show brown trout fishing is getting better and better with every passing decade. Argentina’s Rio Grande is that place.

The most recent scientific research shows returns of 45,000 to 70,000 adult sea runs annually to a watershed that stretches 200 kilometers into its headwaters. When the water is exceptionally high, the fish disperse throughout the watershed, but early in the season (which starts in January) and whenever the water is low, the fish are stacked mostly in the lower pools in Argentina, which are all on the site of the original Menendez Ranch. Quick math says that with 55,000 fish in the river, there is an average of more than 500 fish in each of the 102 named pools.

While you can catch big brown trout many places in the world, there’s no other place where you’ll have this kind of solitude and opportunity. The wading is easy, the pools all have drive-up access, and the Malbec is the best in the world. Your only obstacle here is the wind. Learn how to beat the wind, find silver sea-runs, and fish the night bite  in my story “The Silver One” in the Oct.-Nov. Issue of FLY FISHERMAN (on sale now).


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