Program Overview - Lago Yelcho & Rio Futaleufu

The Palena Province that Matapiojo Anglers is based out of has the highest diversity of possible fishing options. This includes large to medium sized rivers, small streams, vast lakes and countless ponds and lagoons (many of them still unnamed). Due to the fact that there is not too much distance between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the watersheds in our area exhibit a diverse behavior and life history of both trout and salmon.  This will allow you to have many options in the methods and styles of fishing as well as many choices in the species you can target.  During your stay you will be able to fish from boats while floating in both rivers and lakes, as well as wading the banks and gravel bars of rivers to thoroughly fish productive waters during the most productive times.  While both floating and wading on rivers you can expect the surprise of a strong strike from the trout on your fly as our guides navigate you between clear rushing waters and mirror like conditions.  This place and the memories you make here will make you wonder if you ever really want to leave this beautiful place. If you desire to get off the beaten path and you want to plan a more adventurous fly fishing vacation we can arrange guided horseback day trips to the hidden places surrounding the Matapiojo operations in Chilean Patagonia.


Target Species- 

Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and the occasional monster Brook Trout.  In addition to trout you can also have the option to target anadromous species that inhabit our waters such as Chinook Salmon, Sea-Run Brown Trout, Atlantic Salmon, and Coho Salmon. The number of fish you catch and the species you can target will depend on the time in which you choose to travel and fish with Matapiojo during the season as well as your preferred angling methods.  Our travel advisors will guide you through the process of choosing the best time to travel to fish with Matapiojo based on your schedule and angling desires and the lodges availability.  

A Paradise for Dry Fly Anglers-

The area surrounding the Matapiojo Anglers operation has a long history of having some of the World’s most spectacular dry fly fishing. Since the end of the 1960’s, this part of the Patagonia has been recognized worldwide for its reputation of quality angling opportunities. This is not only because of the number of fish that can be caught by fishing flies on the surface but also because of the sheer size of the trout and their aggressive nature that they strike your fly. Catching trout here using a dry fly will result in an unforgettable experience that can only be replicated in very few places in the world. Big brown and rainbow trout will not resist the temptation to attack and eat the different dry fly imitations that we use here that often imitate terrestrial insects as well as the adult Matapiojo (Dragonfly) imitations.

Lago Yelcho-

The expansive and scenic Lago Yelcho has its origins beginning from numerous glaciers as well as more than a dozen other rivers and streams coming from both the Chilean and Argentine sides of the international border. Its watershed has an area of roughly 116 km² area that is surrounded by some of the rugged peaks of the Andes Mountains that are covered in snow and ice all year around. On the southern portion of the lake in the immediate area of the Matapiojo Anglers operations, the Futaleufú River enters Yelcho and there the lake is divided by many islands into two parts of the river mouth.   These areas of the lake are known for forming long food lines where our anglers can sight fish for big rainbow trout on dry flies. This zone of the lake is characterized by its shorelines that are lined with tall reeds as well as deep and clear waters.  This kind of habitat results in a perfect place for trout to seek shelter while feeding on abundant aquatic and terrestrial insects. In these areas you will be fishing on board a boat as the waters can be deep and the boat is the best place way to present big dry flies such as dragonfly imitations as well as streamers to this very fishy looking water. Large and aggressive brown trout, rainbow trout, and occasionally brook trout will jump from the water to eat your presented fly. These aggressive strikes will keep you on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the next rise!  In the middle of this large lake you will find the mouth of a smaller river where when the conditions are right you can fish from a boat or wading to some truly trophy trout.   Here it is recommended that you use sinking lines with streamers on stout tackle, these techniques will allow you to hook and fight these giant trout that grow extremely fat in these waters.  This area is called the Bay of Lions and it has a geographic location that is often protected from winds and can result in spectacular fishing and it excellent reputation due largely to the lack of fishing pressure and remote setting.  In the northern zone of Yelcho Lake the Yelcho River is born and flows out of the lake where it continues downstream flowing to the ocean, in the Yelcho River there are large lake run rainbows and browns that can be caught as well as a variety of Salmon depending on the time of year that you fish.  Fishing in Lago Yelcho and the Yelcho River will be done by boat and you will see many bays that are lined with reeds, as well as rocky shorelines lined with sunken logs and trees that make excellent trout habitat.  Over all Lago Yelcho is a spectacular fishery in itself and more often than not you will be caught off guard when a huge trout eats your fly while you are starring off at the dramatic vista of peaks and glaciers that surround this clear blue lake.

Rio Futaleufu-

The Rio Futaleufú that is translated from the “The Big River” in the native Mapuche language is a binational river that flows from its start in the Andes, downstream to Lago Yecho where it becomes the Yelcho River before entering the ocean. The river starts across the Chilean border in Argentina and there it is known as Rio Grande where it flows to the west to the Chilean border. This river is known for its turquoise waters and the possibility to see condor’s flying overhead.  The Futaleufú River is known worldwide for having some of the best white water rapids with a large section upstream of the our operation that contains dozens of Class IV and V rapids, some that are runnable in whitewater rafts and kayaks. Matapiojo Anglers operates in more than 50 kilometers along the river that makes up the Chilean segment downstream from its border crossing with Argentina. 

The rivers Chilean section is divided into three different fishing zones: the first zone begins in the Andes Mountains and starts literally on the border between Chile and Argentina.  Here fishermen will find brown and rainbow trout averaging between 1 and 4 kilos (2.5-10 pounds) and occasionally trout reaching 6 kilos (Over 13 pounds), with thelocal records of trout being caught weighing in at 12 kilos.  Fishing in this place can be spectacular and the methods often vary due to its freestone nature with abundant aquatic insects.  This section will allow you to fish productive riffles as well as deep pools, and long runs from both the boat and while wading on foot.  Trips on this section will consist of floating and fishing from the boat while going from spot to spot to wade fish.  In this section there are some smaller whitewater rapids that can be safely navigated before taking out above the start of the extreme white water section just upstream of the village of Futaleufú. During this float you will be able to fish with streamers, dry flies as well as nymphs depending on your skill and angling desires.

The second zone is the extreme whitewater section; this zone is shorter and is very beautiful with its deep and powerful waters that have been called the most beautiful sight in Patagonia. This section can offer some excellent fishing in select places between the large and frequent rapids.  If white water rafting is of interest to you and your party it can be arranged to change a day of fishing for a guided whitewater trip. 

The third zone starts below the heavy whitewater rapids and ends where the river enters Lago Yelcho providing roughly 15 km of fishable and floatable water. This part of the river is the closest to the Matapiojo Angler’s operation and is also is one of the best places for fishing.  The river right above and below the Matapiojo Angler’s lodge is very scenic and offers both good float and wade fishing with a variety of techniques.  As the river flows downstream to the lower section upstream of where it enters Lago Yelcho it becomes slower and wider and is constantly changing year to year.  In many places it is divided into various channels that are ideal for exploring on foot where you can use floating or sinking lines with dries and nymphs.  These channels start from and end in a wide main channel of the river that has lots of large woody debris that is ideal habitat for large brown trout.  We have found that the main channel is most successfully fished with big streamers to attract the aggressive strikes of trophy brown trout that are waiting, hidden in the structure along the riverbanks. In all sections, at certain times of the season you can fish migratory species such as Chinook salmon as well as sea-run brown trout if that is of interest to you.

Rio Pelena- 

The Palena River also runs through Argentina, and crosses the border into Chile where it flows to the Pacific Ocean.  The Palena watershed has an area of 12,867 square kilometers of which 7,281 square kilometers belong to Chile. The river along the Chilean territory is 100% navigable and it can be floated starting at the Chilean border until it reaches the sea in approximately 4  full days.  While fishing the Palena you will enjoy wonderful sights of mountains and dense forests, for some people this is one of the most beautiful rivers in the area.  The lands surrounding the Palena River basin have abundant native forest with dense understory vegetation that protects the bank of the river and its tributaries from erosion resulting in very clear water.  In the highest reaches of this river a variety of dry flies and streamers are used allowing a big number of rainbow and brown trout to be caught as well as brook trout in some places. Following the river downstream you will see deep pools and long gravel bars that are ideal for wade fishing to large trout that are hiding in its cold waters.  At certain times of the season you can also fish for Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and Atlantic Salmon.

Lago Espolon & Local Lagoons

Espolon Lake is about 15 kilometers long and is very productive for fly fishing.  This lake is located directly between two mountain ranges and it offers spectacular views of many mountain peaks that are both rugged and remote. Along its shores stretch very long sections of reeds and two feeder streams, the Ash and Tigre rivers. Lago Espolon has incredible dry fly fishing because of both the abundance of aquatic insects and its energetic rainbow trout.  These hard fighting rainbows will not hesitate, even for a second to literally shoot up from the depths of the lake to grab a fly just touches the surface or is being twitched like a popper. On warm summer afternoons (January-February) large hatches of caddis and other aquatic insects make attracting trout to a surface imitation very productive. The abundant vegetation on Lago Espolon is perfect habitat for large and the insects that the trout constantly feed to grow to healthy and fat sizes. Lago Espolon will provide you with a day of fishing in which you catch so many fish you might lose count during an experience that you will not soon forget.

There is several excellent fishing lagoons inhabited with good variety different sized trout reaching at times even 5 kilos or more depending on the time of year in which you visit with an average of 18 to 20 inch fish. You can use floating or sinking lines to fish dragonfly imitations of adult stages and different fly patterns such as large attractor dries and even mice. These lagoons are a great alternative when wind conditions occurring in the area.