Golden Dorado Fishing on the Parana River Delta in Northern Argentina
Golden Dorado had been on my list to catch on a fly rod for many years. Their aggressive nature, one of a kind gold appearance, and fly shredding teeth had inspired me and I finally was able to plan a trip to Argentina for myself and a few of my clients.
Below is a detailed review from our trip:
Day 1 – Arrival at the Mothership
Lucas picked me and Brett up from the airport in Buenos Aires and we had about a 2 hour drive north followed by an hour boat ride to the mother ship.
Arroyo Seco is the town where we boarded the gear boat at the Private Marina that would take us to the mothership.
On the drive in we saw lots of horses near little ranch houses on stilts along the river. We motored back in different channels making our way to the mothership. It was quickly apparent we were getting further and further from civilization and into good fish country. Mine and Bretts excitement level was rising the further we got from the town.
We had a huge chicken Caesar salad for lunch and some sort of pudding dessert.
Then Federico our guide has us bring out our rods and gear to help get set up before we headed out on the river.
We fished sink tips and big streamers. I had some I tied and Brett had boxes of stuff he had tied for the trip. We quickly were breaking in our casting arms fishing to structure and casting tight to the banks.
I soon landed my first dorado after missing two. After three fish my fly was shredded. Brett had missed a few and caught a piranha that cut his fly in half!
I got on a hot streak and landed three dorado in a row. There is no question when a dorado decides to hit your fly he is doing so in a way to “kill it”. They about pull the rod from your hands and you have to simultaneously strip set as hard as you can to pierce the bony mouth and bury the hook. These fish are excellent fighters and jump multiple times.
After a few more fish any feeling of groggy/jet lag from the travel to Argentina was quickly forgot about. I’m alive and catching golden dorado on the Parana River!
As expected we enjoyed an excellent 5-star dinner with Argentine wine and one of the best chocolate cakes with dulce de leche and homemade peanut ice cream.
Day 2 – A Forty Fish Day!
We started the morning with coffee and a traditional light Argentine breakfast. We decided to opt for a full day with lunch out on the fishing skiff vs coming back for lunch. This allows for us to go further up or down river and fish a little more during the day.
Brett had a big chafolte or vampire fish in the morning. Unfortunately after a few jumps the hook shook loose. I really wanted to see one of these up close as they have very long fang like teeth. Together we landed multiple dorado each before lunch.
After lunch we hit a bank and hammered fish for a few hours. It was incredible action. It was a matter of time until one of us hooked a grande. Federico’s excitement and fist pump when that fish hit my fly and jumped out of the water was priceless. I love to see a guide so passionate about the fish he is guiding. After several jumps and some drag pulling runs we tailed him and got some photos. Federico figured my fish went about 16 pounds of fierce golden dorado. After that fish I cracked an Imperial beer and toasted to the fish gods.
Overall it was a stellar day and Brett and I were both blown away with the fishing. We had 40 to 45 fish between us and just as many missed or lost after the first jump. We figured it was time to head in for a refreshment and relax on the back deck before dinner.
Day 3 – MORE SET!
Our third day was windy with clouds and slower overall but we still managed a dozen fish. We even caught a few on a big popper too which is as intense as it gets seeing those fish eat. They are so incredibly fast. You can be almost in a trance just casting and day dreaming then quickly be shook back to life as a dorado explodes on your fly!
We also had a few times we would see sabalo jumping from the water and a big boil below. A quick cast into the area and usually the first strip bam! there is one on the line! They say that a large school of sabalo will often be controlled or pushed around by a few dorado so if fishing with a buddy this is a good time to get a double!
Brett had the biggest fish for the day but together our hookup rate was very low. Many fish got away before we could get a good hook in em. I can’t reiterate how important the hook set is and the guides will tell you too and help you with it. We heard many times from our guide “more set! More set! Set!”
We did see one other boat today fishing with spin tackle and being guided. They were locals and it is Saturday so I suppose that is normal, however to only have seen one boat is nothing for a river of this size and this is the key advantage of having the mothership parked out here so far from town. This river delta is huge and to have virtually no outside pressure is simply incredible.
Day 4 – Calm Days are for Golden Dorado Fishing
Last night it rained a bit and the morning is overcast and cooler but calm. The guides like the calmer days for Dorado. My thought is the dorado can hear/feel your fly better and will move further to attack. This morning we headed out for wolf fish to start and it was very cool seeing them eat poppers!
You think a trout and a mouse are cool you owe it to yourself to see these fish eat a popper! It is incredible how aggressive they are. These dorado and wolf fish have a mad killer instinct! Brett and I landed 20 wolf fish a piece and maybe 20 dorado between the two of us. We had an epic morning before heading back to the mothership for a well prepared lunch.
After lunch and about an hour siesta we headed out for the afternoon. It was hot and the fishing was just ok. Brett and I landed about a dozen fish between the two of us on poppers and streamers with a sink tip. Although it was “slow” the morning session made up for it.
Tonight we are grilling out on the boat with all traditional Argentine meats with beef flank steak, short ribs, chorizo, pork sausage, blood sausage and appetizers were sweet bread and fried cheese.
Each night when we return to the boat I get excited to see what is for dinner and dessert. They really do an awesome job out here with the food, service, and fishing guides.
Day 5 – One More Cast…
This morning as we eat breakfast the ship putts down the river to a new location. This is pretty cool that we are moving down river and this will allow less boat time to some of the fishing and also open up more water for us. They move the mother ship a few times each year depending on water levels and fishing.
The morning was good however our hook up percentage was very low I landed 2 fish and missed close to 20! We had lunch in the shade on the boats and met up with Jay one of the guys I booked on this trip. He landed a few nice ones before lunch and lost a big one that jumped multiple times but the hook popped out at the boat. Jay did land a vampire fish and got a great photo of it.
The afternoon was much the same, I landed a few piranha and about 8 dorado but missed many more. Brett had a few and actually broke his fly line on a big dorado that jumped a few times before everything but the fly and dorado came flying back at us. I ended the week with about an 8 pound dorado that gave me at least a dozen jumps before subduing to the boat. Or so we thought, we said we were content with the day and our guide Federico said one more fish. Brett caught back to back fish and the second was his best of the days fishing at about 12 pounds. We said alright we can’t beat that! Federico says 1 more 1 more, a few casts later we were into a double and after releasing them he smiles and says “ok, now we go”.
This trip has been nothing short of amazing. We leave in the morning and I fly south to Patagonia as I am lucky enough to get to fish Strobel Lake aka Jurassic Lake again for a week with some friends and clients. This will be a great combo of golden dorado and rainbow trout in Argentina.
Our outfitter offers great boats to fish from we move around a lot to find fish. Can go up river an hour one day and down river an hour the next day. We went over some very shallow spots to get into different back channels, sometimes our prop would dig into the mud but we always made it through.
Watching a golden dorado take a surface fly ranks up high for me and this trip as a whole has been one of my favorites I have done in recent years. If you like throwing streamers and big flies to aggressive fish this trip chasing golden dorado is a must!
Bring plenty of flies!
On average it was four fish per fly I can’t believe how easy they tear them apart. The most I caught was seven fish on the same fly and finally a piranha ate the last of it!
With the mothership being mobile no matter when you show up to fish you can expect the boat to be parked close to good fishing!
Year round fishing season with December to April being the best times.
The fishing in general can be unpredictable with water levels changing however there is no rhyme or reason as to how it affects the dorado. One week can see 30-40 fish per day for a good angler and the next you may only see five to ten fish per week.
Sabalo began to show up and move around starting in December. Sometimes you can see a school or sabalo with four or five dorado controlling the school and if you drop your fly in they attack!
May through August Wingshooting Combo
We offer a cast and blast option for golden dorado and ducks. Hunt in the morning and fish the afternoons. We have 12 different species of ducks with very liberal bag limits in Argentina. Hunting is done from different blinds with decoys, dogs, and guides to call for you.
*Watch for our next newsletter with the reports from our recent hosted trip to Strobel Lake Argentina for huge rainbow trout*