01-12-2012, 02:46 PM
I am planning a trip for either early spring or summer 2013. Torn between Alaska or Patagonia. Cost is about the same, including airfare. I prefer dry flies, but don't mind streamers if fishing for big fish. Would nice to be able to do some of both. I can only go one place! I've always been afraid of paying for a trip to Alaska and having cold rain every day. In Argentina, I guess I'd likely go to the Bariloche/San Martin area (although Tierra del Fuego would be tempting!)
Anyone have perspective on both areas, weather, fish size and numbers? Is Patagonia getting more crowded these days? Thanks for any help!!
01-16-2012, 09:48 AM
The first thing you need to consider is when you want to go. Patagonia is southern hemi and summer is Jan through March, not June-Aug as in Alaska. You also want to consider your tollerance for travel time. From most places in the lower 48 you can be in Anchorage in 6 or 7 hours. For Patagonia expect 13 hours plus on an overnight from Miami. Both places there will be an additional leg from the big cities and then typically another leg to get to your destination. All in, Patagonia can be 24 hours or more before you even put your waders on. Both also often require an overnight stay in a major city.
Alaska offers dryfly fishing in June and early July, but once the salmon are in they really key in on the eggs and it becomes difficult to catch them on anything else. The silver salmon are a lot of fun in Alaska as well so if you want to mix it up Alaska is a great choice. Alaska is also much more wild if that is something you are interested in. When I think of Patagonia, at least where the lodges are located, it feels more like Montana 60-75 years ago, lots of ranching, cattle, dirt roads, etc. I fished Patagonia from Chile and my understanding is that Argentina gets much more pressure so expect to see other anlgers in Argentina. We did not see another soul in Chile at any location we fished. Unless you go with one of the higher priced flyout lodges in Alaska, expect to see a few other anglers around.
Day to day, if you choose a lodge, expect a more relaxed atmosphere which is not easy for an eager angler. Fishing will be centered around meals, flights if you do a fly out lodge, and other anglers who might not be as eager as you are.
Patagonia, due to our timing in Alaska was more of what I would consider technical fishing. A lot of stalking, sight fishing to trout with dries. Spending a lot of time getting into position and making tough casts in tight areas. A good day in Patagonia was a dozen fish 18-22 inches on dry flies between two anglers. The dries were huge, including big dragon fly dries on the lakes and beatle patterns on the rivers. The rivers are very nutrient poor so they look to terrestrials. The fish always seem to be looking up in Patagonia. Alaska during the salmon run is crazy, but you are also fishing eggs under an indicator. The fish are big and there are lots of them. A good day in Alaska was 20 plus fish 18-24 inches for each angler. The casting was easy, but there is often wind to contend with. In both places the guides indicated that those numbers were the upper ranges of success for our timing.
Both places are amazing so you can't go wrong either way you choose. I loved Patagonia for it's culture, gorgeous scenery, technical dry fly fishing, great food and wine, and we were in a comfy lodge which is not our normal routine. Patagonia was mainly wild browns with a few rainbows mixed in.
What I loved about Alaska was that it is truly wild (you will not be the top of the food chain here). The fishing was to native rainbows, there were lots of them, and they were big. Alaska also offered silver salmon and other species. On that note, try to avoid a year when pinks are running. You will be sick of them the first day.
Good luck in your planning.
Very nice summary!
Are you dissing the stinky pinkies? Seems like there's no off year anymore for those things. On both Kodiak and Prince of Wales, two islands I have the great privilege of fishing regularly, the pinks show up in gargantuan numbers every year. To me, they are the bluegill of the salmonid world -- training wheels for aspiring anglers.
Chums are fun. Many places you can catch them right in with the Silvers. If you do decide to go to Alaska, Jeff, be sure to try fishing for salmon rather than focusing exclusively on trout.
Also the point about "leisurely lodge fishing" is very well taken. Sitting around eating and drinking when you could be fishing drives me nuts. Pick a lodge where you can walk to the fishing or make sure that you can be granted "release time" from the lodge's structured activities that compromise your fishing. A week lasts about a second. I can eat and drink at home.
01-17-2012, 08:22 AM
I hate to dis any fish, but the pinks did get to me and the others eventually, mainly because they were packed in so tight that we seemed to snag just as many as we hooked in the mouth. With that big hump on their backs they really became a chore to fight in the current. There were lots of break offs too.
During our time in Alaska we were lucky enough to have the salmon dropping eggs and the rainbow fishing was on fire. Each time a pod of salmon was located, the next good holding area below them would be full of rainbows. Since we were fishing from a moving boat, a hooked or snagged pink would take you out of the rainbow game. In the upper sections of the river where the pinks were not as thick and they were eating they were fun. We had mostly pinks, silvers, and some sockeye during our stay. The silvers were by far my favorite because of their explosive jumps and runs.