September 25, 2023
Follow along on a journey deep into the Argentine Yungas forests to explore the country's most challenging fishery. Watch as gorgeous golden dorado rise to huge dead-drifted dry flies, as a crew of hard-core Argentine anglers share their affection for this incredible place.
From the feature article from the same adventure in the Oct-Dec 2023 issue:
There are many ways to catch dorados, but the techniques familiar to anglers on fisheries like the Paraná River and the Iberá Marshlands are less effective on the Río Dorado. The fish that swim here inhabit a spring-fed river less than 50 feet wide in most sections. The river flows with luminous clarity much of the year and is flanked by dense jungle. These fish are hyper-aware of their environment. Streamers catch some dorados, but more often the noisy presentation and the vibration of the line spooks the fish here. Even a splashy dry-fly cast can shatter an opportunity.
Augustin Bastons developed a new technique for the Río Dorado during a horse-packing trip into Estancia San Fernando many years ago. When he arrived at the river, Bastons noticed a dorado holding in the current. “I saw the fish and take a piece of wood and drop in the water, and the fish come and eat it,” Bastons said. “I said, ah, okay, the cast is upstream, it’s like a surprise cast, and started to fish upstream with mouse or dry fly and start to catch really big fish.”
The “surprise cast” is most effective when you can spot a dorado in advance. Sight-fishing techniques familiar to those anglers who have targeted brown trout in the New Zealand backcountry are appropriate on Río Dorado, as are the requisite camouflage clothing, sun, and insect protection. But there are added challenges. Unlike trout that hold their positions in seams, riffles, and pools, dorados are always on the move. They are apex predators that feed primarily on a prey fish called sábalo. Where there are no sábalo, there are no dorados. And those sábalo, of which there are many in Río Dorado, multiply the number of eyes watching you by an order of magnitude. Spook the sábalo and the dorado will vanish like a flake of gold washed downstream in the current.
To read the full story, grab a copy of the October-December 2023 issue of Fly Fisherman at your local fly shop, magazine stand, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, or major book retailer.