Argentina Part Two: Las Pampas Lodge
In our previous newsletter I described the incredible first portion of our Argentian trip that brought us to Buenos Aires. This is Part Two when we go to Las Pampas which was our main destination. Our party divided in Buenos Aires for a few days. Some angler chose not to fish and instead explore this beautiful city while the others went off on a two day/two night adventure on the Delta to target Golden Dorado. It was mind blowing for both groups who had nothing but positives to say about the difference experiences. The entire party rejoined at the airport to get a flight to Esquel where we would be picked up by Las Pampas staff and driven a little over 2 hours further south into Rico Pico in the Chubut Region of Patagonia, Argentia. This is where the lodge was located and the area we’d be fishing for 5 day/6 nights. It is an extremely small but welcoming town and Las Pampas Lodge owners and staff are connected to everyone there.
Our accommodations at Las Pampas can be best described as “rustic indulgence”. The rooms all have private baths and the common/dining area has the charm of a classic Argentian estancia (ranch). It is small and quaint and the staff quickly become your friends. Making you happy seems to be what makes them happy. It’s just that kind of place. Although you are welcome to bring your own gear, if you prefer not to deal with traveling heavy, they provide you with everything you need – including tenkara rods if you choose to go “reel-less”. The guides and owner, Oggy, are comfortable and skilled in both methods. In fact, Yvon Chounard frequents LPL to fish tenkara (and occasionally with a reel too).
It is a place of beauty on land and in the water. Rainbows and browns are the ticket and the rivers are about as wadable as you could ever wish for. In most instances we got into a truck at the lodge, drove a short distance on dirt roads, crossed through a number of private access gates, then got out and fished. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
This was the perfect destination for the mixed bag of anglers that we had. Fish were plentiful, wading and river access easy and the guides and staff were indulgent. Every one of us had their own guide. For those hardcore fishers, you could work and fish the river all day and every minute. For others in the group that were new to the sport, they received individualized instruction, their own guide and could fish as much or as little as they wanted.
Each day we explored different areas, rivers and lakes. An incredible lunch table was laid out each day, complete with table clothes, wine and spectacular food. There even was a “mobile full bar” that occasionally showed up with white cloth service. Craving a gin and tonic with fresh lime after lunch, no problem….maybe a martini? Las Pampas staff make it happen. It is the most luxurious “rustic” fishing camp I have ever visited…without being flashy or ostentatious. Simple, indulgent, warm service by people who really enjoy providing it.
How was the fishing you ask? Excellent. But the wind made you work for it. Patagonia can be a windy place in general. The week we were there happened to be very windy. That’s just fishing. We can’t control the weather. We book trips and then hope for the best. We had sunny days and mild temperatures so two out of three isn’t bad. Some days the wind wasn’t bad, other days it was really tough.
I brought several rods since tenkara rods take up such little room. I like to be over-prepared. Plus, I wanted to try the Zen Suimenka since that rod wasn’t designed the last time I went down. I brought a few extra tips, both the Standard Tip and the Performance Tip and of course the Nymphing Tip that comes included with this rod.
I started out with the Sagi because it’s my favorite rod. While I didn’t really need 13’6″, it’s nice to have length. With 25-30mph winds though, this rod was curved before I even cast it. There were white caps on the river’s surface and at times it was hard to discern which way it was flowing. Downstream was directly into the wind. I was having issues setting the hook with the Sagi – even with the Performance Tip, since the rod is so long and lean. The occasional 40mph gusts made holding the rod into the wind even tough so setting the hook was even more difficult. I need a stiffer rod that could punch a heavier line through the wind. The Suimenka. I was so glad I decided to bring it along. This rod was perfect for these tough conditions. Tough whether you were fishing tenkara or a reel set up. Wind is hard.
The faster action rod and heavier line gave me what I needed and I kept the line at 15ft with about 7ft of a leader/tippet set up. For the nymphs we were casting this was perfect. I was able to keep control of the line is the choppy water and get solid hook sets. Even the Las Pampas
guides who were new to tenkara were having sucess.
The fishing was incredible, but I have to say, returning to the lodge was just as incredible. After a hot shower and fresh change of clothes, cocktails and hors d’oeuvre were always ready and waiting. And when I say we enjoyed great bbqs, I am referring to authentic Argentinian Asados that would bring tears to the eye of any meat lover. It’s not only an eating event, but also a social event with conversation, laughter, music and drink. And of course, our boinas – the traditional 100% wool beret that gauchos wear (and are actually great for fishing because they stay secure on your head even in the strongest winds – who knew?).
Now this is the good life. Excellent fishing, incredible scenery, spectacular food, sweet accommodations, warm and authentic people. What more could you ask for? If you are considering Argentina, then Las Pampas Lodge is a must. You will return with joy in your heart, fish on your line and stories and friendship that will last a lifetime.