Estancia Despedida Lodge
Estancia Despedida Lodge
Hooking up with a big sea run brown is an emotional fishing experience that defies accurate description. Most fish grab a streamer or nymph on the swing, and your first notion is you've hooked a snag. But there are damn few snags in the Rio Grande. It's about this time when the three-foot long snag starts violently shaking its head, and its time to plant your feet and get ready for a fight.
After weighing and measuring the length and girth of nearly 6,000 sea trout for three years in a row, University of Montana biologists have developed a very accurate formula for estimating their weight, without the use of a Boga or other accurate scale. Weight(lbs)=64.16 x (fork length (m) x girth (m))1.4676. The problem with that formula is most of the elephant fish landed bottom out all but the largest of scales. However, using the proven UM formula, it's safe to say that around a dozen browns over thirty pounds have been caught by anglers on the Estancia Maria Behety each season for the past eight years. Each and every season!
These big brown trout are much like Pacific salmon and steelhead, in that they're most active in low light conditions. The scientists call them nega-phototropic, and as the sun gets higher, fish retreat to the deepest parts of the pools. Perhaps it's because they're used to the deeper sea, or they feel exposed to predators in bright sunlight, but it's a fact they're more aggressive and much more likely to strike a fly in the early morning, late evening, or when it's overcast. In mid-day, when the sun is at its highest, they're unlikely to respond to even the most perfectly presented fly. One of the reasons so many photos of the Rio Grande mega trout look like deer caught in the headlights is that most are caught early or late in the day. Most anglers arrive shortly after first light and will see dozens of fish rolling on the surface of the pools in the blush of the dawn. Action is usually red hot for a couple of hours and then begins to taper off. The reverse is true at the end of the day, and it's maddening to leave the river when the light has disappeared and the fish are still exploding all around.
The fishing schedule at all of our fine lodges on the Rio Grande is designed around the best fishing times. Really, the Argentines have mastered the art of squeezing two fishing days into one.
Fishermen start each morning with a light breakfast of fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, toast and coffee, as well as a full American breakfast (if they have the room), followed by a full morning of fishing. Each two anglers share a guide and vehicle. Their beat usually consists of two to four pools, all for themselves. Fishermen typically return to the lodge by one p.m. where a delicious midday meal, perfectly complemented by local wines, is served, followed by a well-earned siesta. Anglers, well-fed and rested, fish the evening session right up to (and sometimes beyond) the brilliant Tierra del Fuego sunsets. They'll then return to their respective lodges, in time to regale each other with tales of giant fish, then sit down to yet another meal that would put many five-star restaurants to shame. By this time you have been ridden hard and put away wet, only to rise the next morning and start it all over again. What a wonderful way to be treated... EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP...
Much is said about the winds of Tierra del Fuego and it is seldom that any of it is good. The truth is that the Rio Grande isn't super wide, casts are seldom seventy feet, and almost never directly into the wind. Competent casters have little difficulty adjusting to the almost constant gusts and even those that struggle agree quickly that the results are worth every effort. Tackle and techniques on the Rio Grande are not very complicated. Anglers choose from a broad range of lines, tips and terminal tackle according to the water conditions. Experienced steelhead and Atlantic Salmon fishermen immediately feel in their element. Quartering downstream with streamers or dead drifting nymphs are the most common methods used, and skated dry flies are terrific when the conditions are right. The Rio Grande is one of the easiest streams to wade in the Americas. The river is seldom more than thigh deep, and can be easily crossed between pools. There's no moss on a bottom made of nothing but perfect spawning habitat ranging in size from pea gravel to golf ball sized rocks. Leave your studded boots at home because there isn't a rock big enough on the Rio Grande to trip over.
Estancia Despedida Lodge lays at the head of the Rio Menendez Valley, tucked tight behind an undulating pressure ridge, and is a short drive from the river.
The inviting, spacious log lodge was shipped by rail and sea from Montana seven years ago replacing an exhausting schedule that had previously shuttled sea run trout fishing addicts to the nearest lodging in Ciudad Rio Grande. Despedida Lodge accommodates only a half dozen fly fishermen each week during the 14 week long season. The lodge features four tastefully decorated and spacious guest rooms each with two double beds, nights stands, dressers and a full closet. Each guestroom has its own private and full bathroom complete with sink and vanity, shower and toilet.
The great room at Despedida Lodge offers panoramic views of the countryside and is the gathering spot for cocktails and hors'dourves after a full day of fishing. The dining room sits right off the great room and as does the bar and Wall of Fame where if you land a sea-trout over 20 pounds you will get your framed picture put up. Great detail has gone into the design and decoration of the lodge, a reflection of the owners' deep history in the country, love of Tierra del Fuego and admiration of the sea-trout that draw fly fishers from every corner of the earth to fish the Rio Grande.
The team at Despedida Lodge is unique on the Rio Grande.
This is a family run operation with an intimate atmosphere that permeates every aspect of the place. Danny and Helen Lajous, along with their side-kick Ozzie have been hosting fishermen on the Rio Grande and Rio Menendez for nearly two decades. They are committed and serious fly fishermen, fly tiers and dedicated sportsmen, preferring and encouraging guest to switch to surface flies, lighter lines and small streamers whenever appropriate. Returning guests at Despedida have come to appreciate the club-like atmosphere of the lodge as well as the incredibly warm and genuine hospitality that comes from the Lajous Family and their dedicated team of professionals.
Meals at Despedida Lodge center around two fishing secessions per day fishing schedule. Usually anglers are up at 7:00 a.m. and fresh coffee and hot tea is available. In the dining room, a sideboard is topped with fresh fruit, hand-squeezed juices, yogurt, cereals, toast and pastries. For those that prefer a more traditional American breakfast, cook to order eggs, omelets, potatoes, bacon and ham are available from the kitchen. As is typical in South America, the midday meal is grand, a full sit down meal with great wines, delicious desserts and good strong coffee. Dinners are served later than what most are accustomed to in order to accommodate the late evening fishing secession typical on the Rio Grande. Dinners are usually lighter than the midday meal and a perfect night-cap before heading off to bed and starting all over again the next morning.
The angling package at Estancia Despedida includes meet and greet at the Rio Grande Airport, round trip auto transfers to the lodge from Rio Grande, all meals, accommodations (dbl. occ.), liquor, wine and beer is included (there is no hard liquor at the lodge - you must bring your own), and daily guided fishing (two anglers per guide).
Traveling to Argentina is relatively simple. There are a wide choice of convenient, daily flights from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and New York. Most flights are direct departing the States in the afternoon or early evening and arriving early the next morning. Airlines that service Buenos Aires daily include American, United, Continental, Delta, LAN Aerolineas Argentinas, Air France, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Lufthansa and Tam. Almost all the international flights into Argentina arrive at the Ministro Pistarini (Ezeiza) International Airport of Buenos Aires, 35 Km from the Federal Capital. You are required to fill out a customary arrival form, which will be handed out to you on your flight down. The entire arrival process in Buenos Aires should take between 1 and 1 1/2 half hours.
Friday: Arrive Buenos Aires, Argentina and transfer to hotel of your choice. Arrive Ezeiza International Airport; clear Immigrations (Passport Control), retrieve luggage, and clear Customs. Auto transfer from the Ezeiza International Airport to your downtown Buenos Aires hotel. The rest of the day and evening is at your leisure to explore the old-world city center of Buenos Aires. Travel Note: Remember, there are two airports in Buenos Aires, Domestic & International. The domestic airport is about 20 minutes from the downtown area, and the International is about 45 minutes. You will need at least two hours for auto transfer between the International Airport Ezeiza and the Domestic Airport Jorge Newbery. Domestic airport taxis are about $25-$30 from your downtown hotel.
Saturday: Arrival Rio Grande or Ushuaia, transfer to Estancia Despedida Lodge. You have two options for traveling to Estancia Despedida Lodge: flying from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and transferring by auto to the lodge (3 hour drive) or flying to Rio Grande and driving to the lodge a 45 minute ride. There are several daily flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia that make this routing extremely convenient, albeit the 3 hour drive, which traverses some spectacularly beautiful country. The advantages of the Rio Grande routing is the short drive from the airport to the lodge, however this is a once a day flight with a very early departure out of Buenos Aires. Either routing, we will coordinate meet and greet at the airport and auto transfer to the lodge. After arriving at the lodge, you'll be shown to your private room, given a brief orientation and tour of the facilities, guides will be assigned, and you'll have a chance to organize your tackle for the fishing day planned to start the next morning. There is no fishing on the first day or evening.
Each of the angling days in your fishing week is spent fishing in both the morning and evening. The beats are rotated, and normally anglers will not have to repeat any pools during their stay. Fishermen return to the lodge in the heart of the ranch to enjoy a mid-day meal, and have the chance to relax for a few hours. The lodge is only a short distance from the river, no more than half an hour to the most distant beat on the huge ranch. At the conclusion of the angling day, fishermen return to the lodge for a hot shower, cocktails from the fully stocked bar, hors d'oeuvres, and a wonderful Argentine meal accented by fine Argentine wines and desserts that will add a marvelous finishing touch to each day.
Saturday Return Home: The Estancia Despedida Lodge will provide auto transfer to Ushuaia or Rio Grande to start your trip home or continue your travels in South America.
Immigration Requirements for entry into Argentina: A current passport is required with or without visa depending on your nationality. For all U.S. citizens, passports must be valid for a minimum of three months beyond the visitor's proposed date of departure. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 90 days for tourism and business. All visitors must be in possession of a return passage to a country for which they have a right of entry. Generally, foreign tourists (especially tourists carrying fly rods) are not bothered by customs officials upon entry. You are allowed to bring personal items such as clothing, footwear, toiletries, etc., as well as any fishing equipment needed during your stay and personal medications.
You are allowed to enter Argentina with 2 liters of alcoholic drinks, 400 cigarettes and 50 cigars. Expensive camera and video equipment should be declared and you will have to bring it out with you when you leave.
There are no formal requirements, or recommendations for immunizations and very little risk of infectious disease in Argentina. The risk would be about equivalent to what it would be for a trip to Colorado. You should check with your personal physician if you are concerned. We recommend that anglers be up-to-date on their Tetanus, Hepatitis-A and Hepatitis-B vaccinations.
Argentina is a safe, pro-American country. Argentineans are overall a very friendly people & welcome foreign tourists. The hospitality of the country people in rural Argentina (where all the fishing takes place) is genuine and warm. Contact us for additional details if interested in booking.
Seven (07) Night / Six (06) Day angling package (shared room, shared guide) $5,000 per angler. (six (06) anglers maximum)
A 50% deposit is normally due within two weeks of deposit. Final payments for Estancia Despedida Lodge are due 75 days prior to arrival. Deposits and final payments can be made with either a credit card (Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover) check, or wire transfer.
Travel Insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses and warrants your careful review and consideration.