Many years ago we discovered El Saltamontes on the Gorrono Ranch in the Patagonia Region of Southern Chile. El Saltamontes is, arguably, home to one of the finest resident Brown Trout streams anywhere. Testimony to its excellence is the fact that the lodge is completely booked consistently year after year.
Also, at the conclusion of each season, many of the guests are already making plans to return the following year. However, despite the number of guests rebooking each year, excellent dates remain.
El Saltamontes is exclusively a brown trout fishery. Most fishing is done in the Nireguao River and its oxbow lagoons, and some of the best water is only a few feet from the door of the new lodge facility. In addition to the many miles of 4-wheel drive accessible river that flows through the ranch, El Saltamontes also has the fishing rights to all of the best off-property water, including some beautiful canyon stretches accessible only on horseback, as well as oxbow lagoons and lakes for larger brown trout and smaller, remote spring creeks with fish rising eagerly to large dries.
Each season, each year, week after week, from January through the end of March, the dry fly fishing on the Nireguao is remarkable and, for the most part, lives up to the outlandish claims made about it. The Chilean government has even designated the Nireguao as the first “catch-and-
release”, “artificials only” river in Chile. The browns gorge themselves on grasshoppers, and the grass bordering the stream is loaded with them throughout the season. Even the name of the lodge (El Saltamontes) means the grasshopper.
As in most of Patagonia, breezes range from light to strong and occasionally, a heavy rain spate may briefly cloud the water, making streamers as effective as dries. Even in unseasonably cold or wet weather, or if the wind picks up, the lodge has such a diverse fishing program, there is always some place to go to avoid the heaviest winds.
Most experienced anglers hook impressive numbers of fish in the 3 to 6 pound range during their week and nearly everyone finds the river “user friendly” and full of non-stop action with smaller fish. No other resident Brown Trout fishery in North America, South America or New Zealand is as consistently productive and the fishery continues to demonstrate their claim to being the finest resident Brown Trout fishery in the Americas.
While much of the water is on the ranch, the river flows through bordering estancias and there are other nearby regional water anglers might wish to visit. That is not to mention the new “pristine, off-property” angling opportunities that have blossomed as the guides continue explore new fisheries that, in many cases, have never seen a fly. Each two anglers share a guide and transportation; choices to the stream include horses, jeep or on foot.
The superb new lodge, nestled in a beautiful valley, is luxurious by any angling standards. The lodge is constructed completely from local timber and river stones, the furnishings and final touches reflect the Gorrono family commitment to make this the finest fishing lodge in South America. Each of the five guestrooms have private baths and all have magnificent views. El Saltamontes remains a small, intimate experience by continuing to allow only 8 fishermen and two non-anglers each week of its short season.
The guides at the lodge are a combination of talented North Americans and native Chileans. All are excellent instructors, experienced anglers and understand the intricacies of regional fly-fishing. The seasoned staff at El Saltamontes will all be returning, and no other anglers can lay claim to being more knowledgeable or familiar with the Nireguao than these veteran guides.
El Saltamontes’ talented chefs deliver meal after meal of gourmet and regional specialties and, owner, Jose Gorrono stocks the lodge cellar with a fine selection of domestic wines for each season to accent these his chefs’ wonderful meals. This superb facility along with the experienced guides and staff, has to rank among the best angling experiences and fullfill’s Gorrono’s plan: to make El Saltamontes the standard of angling comparison in South America.
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El Saltamontes 2019 Rates
Anglers will be picked up and returned to Balmaceda for their trip to El Saltamontes. The 6 day/5 night package can be dovetailed with any number of other South American lodges or angling destinations.
The 2019 package price (subject to change) for fishermen for a 6 night/5 day (Sun.-Sat.) package is $4,150 per person and a 7 night/6 day (Sat.-Sat.) package is $4,575 per person. The El Saltamontes season stretches over a short thirteen week span of January, February and March.
El Saltamontes’ package price includes: All licenses; Meet and greet at Balmaceda airport; Round-trip ground transportation; Accommodations (dbl occupancy); Meals; Daily guided fishing (2 anglers per guide); fishing permits/license; wine, beer, spirits and mixers.
El Saltamontes’ package price not Included: travel to Balmaceda; gratuities; tackle and equipment; items of a personal nature are not provided.
Non-angling companions are welcome! El Saltamontes has a variety of interesting “non-fishing” options:
- Bird Watching: Condors, parrots, kingfishers, ibis, woodpeckers, to name a few.
- Cultural Visits: A visit to some of the neighboring farms and villages is a fascinating day trip. It is often the most memorable part of a guest’s trip to Chile. The local rural people live a lifestyle like one would imagine it to have been like in the Western U.S. a century ago.
- Horseback Riding: The area around El Saltamontes is horse country and endless trails lead off in all directions through spectacular mountain vistas and virgin forest. The Gorrono family are all expert horse people, and keep a wonderful stable of well-mannered, sure-footed horses appropriate for any skill level of rider.
El Saltamontes Itinerary
DAY 1 (Saturday) -Travelers usually arrive in Santiago, Chile in the morning, however the trip to the lodge from the States can be done in a single day, but much more comfortably by allowing a night en route in Santiago. Most of our guests transfer to the historic and lovely Carrera Hotel, adjacent to the Governor’s Palace in the city center to relax for a day and acclimate. It is authentically Chilean and the accommodations are located near Santiago’s cultural center, best shopping, excellent bars and restaurants, and nightlife. There are other hotel options.
DAY 2 (Sunday) – After a comfortable night in Santiago, guests fly (jet) to the newly constructed Balmaceda Air Terminal, where they are met by hosts Jose and Erica Gorrono and taken to the lodge. The trip to El Saltamontes by van is about a two and half hours and is accented by beautiful roadside streams and waterfalls.
Upon arrival at El Saltamontes, you’ll be introduced to the staff and accommodations. The Gorrono’s impressive, single story lodge and ranch house is in the shadow of the snow-capped Andes. After the brief orientation and a chance to settle in and organize tackle, anglers are free to fish with their guides for the remainder of the day.
The browns actively feed on grasshoppers and other terrestrials throughout the Patagonian summer months of January, February and March making dry flies are very effective and anglers seldom have to resort to subsurface patterns while fishing at El Saltamontes. Anglers often release trophy Browns during the week.
The after angling cocktail reception always includes Pisco Sour, the Chilean version of a Margarita, a complimentary bar and fine domestic wines. Non-alcoholic beverages are available. The first evening’s dinner is a little later than usual to allow for a full afternoon of fishing. Dinners, like all meals at the lodge are informal, superb and accompanied the by finest Chilean and Argentine wines.
DAYS 2-6 (Monday thru Friday) – These are full fishing days and the exact schedule will depend on the guests wishes. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the lodge and fine mid-day meals are served in the field.
An asado, the traditional South American lamb barbecue highlights the last night at the lodge. Neighbors often attend and music and native folk songs provide a memorable accent to the trip.
DAY 7 (Saturday) – Anglers will be transported to the local airport and begin their journey home starting with the flight to Santiago via Puerto Montt.