Dorado: A Trout Guide’s Dream Vacation

What do trout guides in Patagonia do to wet their appetite for the coming season? Dorado…

Written by Gustavo Hiebaum, owner of Andes Drifters

I came to the art of casting the fly, as did all of the other guides at Andes Drifters, because I loved trout fishing. Over the years, we learned to read the waters and understand the most intimate behaviors of the beautiful rainbow, brown, and brook trout.

Trout fishing in Patagonia Argentina presents the fisherman with a vast array of water, and things to learn. Large fast rivers, hidden spring creeks, and deep valley lakes all require specific fishing techniques. And as the seasons change, the migratory and feeding patterns change along with them. There’s always something to learn about fly fishing for trout; but there’s another freshwater fish species in Argentina that can capture the imagination, Golden Dorado.

Golden Dorado Golden Dorado, Patagonia Fly Fisherman

I first started chasing the magnificent dorado when I was just a teenager, but they don’t exist in my home waters, and it was only an occasional pleasure. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have the opportunity to fish in many different watersheds and travel to several countries to fish for them. Along the way, I met fishermen and guides who have learned about the behaviors and feeding patterns of dorado, and pioneered successful fly fishing techniques that were unknown in years past.

The dorado (Salminious Maxilosus) lives only in South America in warm tropical waters, and the most prolific population is in the Parana River system of northeastern Argentina, which is the 4th largest water flow in the world and a magnificent ecosystem for wildlife of all variety that thrive in the marshlands.


dorado fly fishing in Argentina, Patagonia Fly FishermanMost of the Parana River is cloudy, due to the sediment brought from the diverse upper reaches of the system, but there is a section that we know as the “Upper Parana” which is a huge stretch of tail water below the Yacyreta Dam that enjoys the perfect filtration of sediment. The water clears below the dam down to its junction with the Paraguay, and creates a paradise for anyone who dreams of landing a large dorado on the fly.

For the past eight years, a collection of trout fishing guides have gathered near the town of Itati in the Corrientes Province during the month of October, for a ritual frenzy before the trout fishing season opens in Patagonia. We’ve learned over the years of chasing these beautiful giants, that this is the friendliest destination for fisherman who travel a great distance and need months of advanced planning. The dam creates a consistent dorado fishery that is nearly impossible to find anywhere else in Argentina or in other countries.

As I write this, I’ve just returned from another incredible two weeks on the Upper Parana, and yet again the experience proved capable of fulfilling a fly fisherman’s dreams. Only a few years ago, it was the seldom realized ambition of an avid dorado fly caster, guides included, to catch just one fish over twenty pounds in their lifetime. Now this group of guides have mastered techniques that regularly land dorado over forty pounds on the fly!

It’s a dream vacation for the born trout guides from Patagonia. Taking a fantastically powerful fish, the dorado, on the fly in an amazing setting. The jungles and marshlands of the Upper Parana River, and from the comfort of a well-run lodge, Parana on the Fly. Maybe taking this stunning fish is a dream for you too?

Click on any photo to open the gallery…