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Rio Dorado is a Dream

The following day we woke up very early, we had about an hour drive to get to El Dorado River. We drove along a sort of main road until the town of Las Lajitas, and from there we had to follow a series of narrow, private lanes.

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The further we drove, the more we got into the jungle and we could really see and feel La Jungla Salteña, the typical jungle of Salta province. It had been raining early that morning and the previous day, making the vegetation a lush green color, but also making the streets very muddy and making the access through the gravel roads difficult. 

The feeling of getting into the rainforest is not easy to explain with words. In Argentina, it is located in an area of higher altitude, so as you start climbing up, you get the feeling of being immersed in nothingness. I guess it’s mainly because of the silence and how sounds are absorbed by the vegetation.

It was just us and nobody else around. It took us about 40 minutes more to get to San Fernando Lodge, which is located in a small valley about 17 km from the Dorado River. Once we got there, we had to take some time to organize the rods, all the fihsing gear, our luggage, etc. and then get ready to go fishing. Since the lodge was 17 km into the forest away from the river, we still had to cross the 17 km of rainforest to get to the river to fish. We had to do this way by quads, the only way to get to this river, and that was going to take us about an hour. Each quad was driven by the guide and carried two of us. We left together and this part of the experience was very exciting and unique. We had this feeling that we were getting into a pristine, secluded area. I was a very exciting experience to go after the fish to such remote and unspoiled place. Again, the remoteness and uniqueness of this upper part of the river can only be appreciated and accessed through San Fernando Lodge and Alejandro Haro’s operation. 

The weather was not giving us any chance, it was cold and cloudy. At least it was not very windy, or if it was, the jungle was a good barrier against it. This helped in terms of the casting, but the biting was not facilitated. The water was about 4 degrees below the expected temperature. Despite all this, what’s good about dorados is that a well presented fly, well streamed lines, and aggressive flies passing by can be bitten. 

We were divided into two groups. One went upstream and the other one downstream. David went with El Pelado Maidana, his guide. They had a pretty rough day, but managed to get into good pools and get quite beautiful fish. With Blake and Juan we went upstream but we werent any lucky with the pools we tried. So after a few attempts we decided to move on, and we had better luck and better bites. I got a couple of Dorados and Juan captured them in great pictures. We helped Blake and coached him in his first experience with Dorados. He had some fish bite, and he even got the best fish of the day on the hook. About 10 pounds. Unfortunately, when he was fighting the beast, it went down under some stones cutting the line. He could not have it, but to see that fght and to see the Dorado was quite a consolation prize. 

At 5 pm the guides decided to call it a day. It took us about an hour to get back to the quads, and then about an hour more to the lodge in the quads. We drove, fished and walked along a scenery that left us speechless. We were so focused on the Dorados before the trip that it didnt cross our minds that the surroundings were going to be so impressive, unspoiled and picturesque. The Dorado river, narrow, windy and sandy runs in between this lush green rainforest. It’a paradise. If you’ve never experienced being in such a pristine, unspoiled place, you should because the emotions are unique.

Alejandro, Blanca and the rest of the San Fernando Lodge staff were waiting for us with pizzas and cold beer. The menu for that night was another signature meal, so typical from Argentina that you cannot leave this country without trying it. Bifes de chorizo a caballo, which literally translates as sausage steak riding a horse, which of course makes no sense! This is just a very thick piece of meat, of about 1 pound, grilled, with scrambled eggs on top. Some bakes potatoes as a side, delicious as well. This lodge is very cozy, it offers and intimate atmosphere where no more than 5 people are hosted at the same time, surrounded by amazing rainforest.

The days we spent at San Fernando Lodge were completely immersed in nature not just because of the surroundings but because there’s no wifi or internet connection. We were completly isolated in those terms. Nowadays, knowing before hand that the place you’re going to has no internet connection can be a bit of a shock. However, you will not take longer to realise that this is a plus. You will engage in conversation. Learn more about the area, the fishing, the country, get to know the rest of the people staying with you. Dinners and after dinners were spent listening to amazing stories told by the guides and Blake and David’s annecdotes from their trips to Africa and South America.

The lodge is not luxurious, it’s more like a fishing camp than a hotel. It’s simple but comfortable, clean and tidy. It’s very minimalist, with a small dining room with a grill to cook our famous barbeques. Electricity is another aspect to consider in this lodge. It runs only from 6 pm to 12 am. There’s no electricity the rest of the day. This contributes to the connection with nature, with this feelling of being more than a thousand kilometers away from other towns. It contributes to developing stronger bonds with the rest of the people you’re sharing the experience. 

We concluded that Dorado River is among our top 5 rivers to fish in Argentina, and one of the best options for fly fishing Dorados, for anglers with some experience and castings raging from good to very good. This will allow anglers to enjoy the experience to the greates extent possible. The river can be really mean to non experienced anglers or those who find it hard to put the flies in the right spots. This is even more the case in places with clear water, where fish can see us and are more aware of artificial flies into the water. 

The next day the weather was just amazing...Read the following report to check how it was!

To be continued...

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