Published Jun 7. 2017 - 6 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 28. 2021

Salmon fishing in south Patagonia

When you say King Salmon, most people will think about locations in the Pacific Northwest and the famously renowned salmon bonanzas - and rightly so. Only a select few will think about South American Patagonia!

Patagonian salmon
Trophy midsummer salmon
Patagonian salmon
Patagonian salmon
Patagonian salmon
Heiko Schneider

When people say King Salmon, one mostly will think about the Pacific Northwest, the huge Columbia or Skeena river watersheds, they are the famously renowned salmon bonanzas and rightly so. Only a select few will think about South American Patagonia!

Sea trout,

awesome browns, sure, but salmon fishing? Well, over the years, Patagonia has become the new Mecca for Spey rod aficionados.
However, in the maze of the World Wide Web you can read all over about some fancy Patagonian rivers that don't exist in the first place nor will offer adequate opportunities to swing a two hand rod for Pacific salmon.
One thing for sure, though, is the fact that anglers were able to find King, Silver and Cherry salmon in Patagonian rivers for many years.

Water and mountains
Heiko Schneider
Patagonian salmon
Colored salmon
Bitg fish
Nice settings
Massive fish
Heiko Schneider

You can generally

distinguish between two types of fly fishing for King salmon:
The runs that enter the Pacific ocean from the Chilean side, that were populated by escapees from the salmon-farming net pens offshore, and which have established a population of large-growing specimens.
The other fishery is based on King salmon that originate from long gone fish stocking programs terminated in the 1980’s in with eggs from the North American west coast.
Serious salmon anglers certainly won't settle with the occasionally caught Chinook while fishing for sea trout in one the more famous Argentinean sea trout waters. The salmon runs are just too sparse to make it worthwhile. Other rivers emptying into the Pacific are more suited for spin anglers as the holding pools are really deep. Most of these pools are best fished from a boat, which is not really the ideal place for a two hand rod.

Patagonian landscape
Heiko Schneider
Two hand casting
After a long day
Hearty meals are a must
Resting and fishing
Heiko Schneider

Ideal rivers

with the appropriate features are the most interesting: accessible banks and under-water structure with nice holding pools that can be covered with Spey tackle. The current shouldn’t exceed what can be handled with a fly line and give a proper fly presentation.

The Rio Serrano,

located in the Torres del Paine National Park is one of those few select places. The run of King salmon is constantly increasing in numbers in the Southern Chilean fjords and the populations are stabilizing: salmon fishing has become very remarkable and the fishing can be out-of-this world.
The river offers some very interesting and promising spots, depending on the season and water levels. You can experience a good variety of salmon fishing. The absence of sediment-laden tributaries and river mouths with glacier drift guarantees gin clear waters and stable water levels during the whole season.

Fishing with a view
Fishing with a view
Heiko Schneider
Wheels and reels
Gear ready
Two hand rods
Heiko Schneider

We use two hand rods

of the heavier kind: fly lines in the 9 to 12-weight range and rod lengths up to 15 feet with Skagit setups are required to give control. Lighter tackle can be used earlier in the season, but during the peak of the run, during the Austral summer, the real big fish are in the system. Fish way beyond 40 lbs will then nail the flies and heavier tackle is a must.

The tail
Massive fish
In the water
Tails, heads and fins
Heiko Schneider
Snowcapped mountains
Heiko Schneider
Fish on
Nice backdrop
The mountain range
A good size chinook
After the spawn
Angler and guide
Magnificent settings
Heiko Schneider
Sun behind the mountains
Heiko Schneider


big salmon...

The world record Coho Salmon was caught in New York State, and many hefty Chinooks also. Not as pretty as Patagonia, but airfare and lodging is considerably more reasonable - and the money stays in the States.


Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.

Since you got this far …

The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.