Located near the brawling Santa Cruz River in Monte Leon National Park in southern Patagonia, Estancia Monte Leon is ideally located for fishermen pursuing one of the world's most unique and untoched fisheries - Atlantic Steelhead. Harboring the only known run of Atlantic steelhead in the world, the massive Río Santa Cruz is a nascent fishery only recently beginning to draw international attention within the steelheading community. Not until the early 90’s were the first attempts made to catch these fish on fly tackle, and in a river of such size and isolation, much of its water has yet to see a fly. Granted, fly fishing for steelhead is a challenging proposition the world-over, but the allure of an exotic run of extremely well-proportioned and hard fighting steelhead, set in an equally exotic location, has nonetheless compelled a few determined fishermen to brave the elements. Fortunately, they have proven that catching Santa Cruz steelhead is anything but impossible.
Fishing the Santa Cruz is not for the faint of heart. The second largest river in Argentine Patagonia, the glacial-fed Santa Cruz begins high in the Andes as the outflow for the expansive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest freshwater reserve on the planet. The area is also the site of the stunning Perito Moreno glacier, which draws thousands of tourists from around the world each year. From its source, the Santa Cruz courses 380km eastward through one of Patagonia’s most wild and remote regions before emptying into the South Atlantic near estancia Monte Leon. Wildlife such as guanacos, foxes, rheas and even pumas are abundant, and in some sections, it’s not entirely uncommon to go days without seeing another person. Further lending to the land’s haunted quality are ancient Tehuelche arrow heads which litter the banks in many places.
Casting all day for only a few bites is considered a successful outing on the Santa Cruz, so if you’re new to steelhead fishing, this probably isn’t the best river to cut your teeth on. Anglers proficient at casting spey rods and sink-tip lines will have much better chances. and a variety of large marabou or rabbit leech patterns in purples, blacks, reds and oranges are standard fair on the river.
Given its immense size and milky coloration, the most challenging aspect of the Santa Cruz is simply reading the water and deciding where to fish. Luckily your guide will be intimitely familiar with the river and take you to the best holding lies, though many anglers new to this river will understandably still feel intimidated and get caught up in the idea that the fish must be somewhere way out in the middle, necessitating hero casts and absurdly cumbersome sinking lines. While it’s true that fish can hold anywhere, don’t overlook the fact that they could be surprisingly close to shore in quiet water. As unlikely as it may seem, the river’s turbidity allows steelhead to feel comfortable holding in shallow water where a fly can be more easily presented.
Given the various challenges mentioned above, not everybody will find the Santa Cruz to be their cup of tea. Steelheaders are often of a different breed, however, and many of them will find heaven on the Santa Cruz. Nowhere else the world can one catch an Atlantic-run steelhead, moreover from a challenging river system set in an exotic corner of the world. Despite its many challenges, or perhaps precisely because of them, the Santa Cruz remains one of our personal favorites in all of Patagonia.
The season runs from early March– late April.
The lodge facilities are located within Monte León's 150,000 acres of unspoiled Patagonian steppe and its 30 mile coastline within the national park, which teem with an array of wildlife such as sea lions, penguins, guanacos, rheas and pumas.
The Lodge functions in what once was the ranch manager's house. It is a completely refurbished century-old Victorian style estate with four rooms and two spacious bathrooms which provide accommodations for nine. Excellent meals are served in the cosy dining-room. A small museum displays artifacts from the Estancia, as well as archeological and paleontological pieces from the area's wild past.
The menu consits of local argentine meats, wines and organic vegetables which are grown on the estancia. Regional fruit preserves (rhubarb, cherry, pear, raspberry, black currant and red Corinth) are aslo made in our kitchen.
2011/2012 Prices: 3,450 USD per person per week. Based on double occupancy.
Please feel free to ask us any questions you may have by dropping us a line at info@FarawayFlyFishing.com, or you can call or chat with us instantly and we'll start planning your fishing trip right away: