Villa Maria fishing 5

VILLA MARIA LODGE – Season’s End Report, 2017

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Season’s End Report, 2017 

When we stepped into the river for the first time in 2017, it was eerily similar to how we left it back in April 2016. There were no signs of the usual spring flooding caused by rain and snowmelt. We found our same rutted truck paths from last year. And the runs were flowing smoothly through their heads and crept slowly along their mid-sections. Wading and crossing the river was as easy as ever.Villa Maria fishing 9

what we found, we scrapped the traditional early-season setups—13-14 ft double-handed rods and dense sinking-tips—and replaced them with lighter speys, switch rods, and even single-handers. Lines, too, were adjusted accordingly: light sink-tips and floaters found their place. Of course, tippets and flies were also downsized, and Green Machines, Prince Nymphs and small rubber-legged were typically the first options fished through a run.

During January the river steadily dropped, giving us some of the most impressive fly-fishing experiences I’ve witnessed in many years guiding this river. Imagine casting a single hander, floating line, and a long, supple leader 40 feet to catch a double-digit chromer. This amazing fishing reached its pinnacle when Axel W. hooked a beast using a similar setup. It was 30-pounder… attached to a trout tippet!Villa Maria Lodge

This unreal fishing spanned the month of January and lasted until the first week of February. By then, rain had found the Rio Grande valley and its headwaters. The weather events that followed produced slight bumps in flows and, on some days, killed the water clarity.

Add rising water to a low river stacked with trout and the fish start running upstream, as fast as possible, so they can spread out along the river’s full length. This scenario came to define the last weeks of February. Fishing was more challenging, but it remained interesting as the fish actively motored from pool to pool. Again we adjusted our tackle and techniques as the river grew in size. The single-handed rods were eventually stowed and heavier tips were put to use. We still fished smaller nymphs, but during days when the water clarity was compromised we switched to bigger streamers, tubes, and intruder patterns.

Compared to January, February’s total catch numbers dropped. The average weight, however, was higher. Why? Easy. When the river suddenly rises but remains relatively low, the smaller fish are the first to bolt, while the bigger ones wait for more water. And these larger fish became our regular targets. February also ushered in some heavy wind. Our prevailing wind comes from the west, which blows downstream. This persistent easterly, on the other hand, felt like a three-week head-on collision.Villa Maria fishing 6

In March the upstream wind stopped (thank you!) but some heavier rains arrived. The river spiked and colored up. With the change, the big guns made a comeback: 14 footers and heavy sinking-tips allowed guests to throw longer distances, wade deeper, and use bigger, heavier flies. Jean Daniel had the right attitude for grinding through the surly conditions, and he was rewarded with a 26-pound female sea trout followed by a surprising, and stunning, 14-pound steelhead.

Like I said at the start, 2017 was a peculiar season. The weather and the river showed us something unique. But it never stopped us from enjoying the best sea-run brown trout fishery in the world.

– Alejandro Martello, Villa Maria Lodge Fishing Manager

KauTapen Fishing Guides

KAU TAPEN LODGE – Season’s End Report, 2017

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Season’s End Report, 2017 

Sitting down to write the final report of the season, what first comes to mind are the beaming faces of ecstatic clients and the furious fights off all the sea-run browns we hooked and landed. There were a lot of those moments to distill, considering that the 2017 season was officially the best we’ve seen in the past decade. What’s easier to forget are the more challenging times. But success—no matter how great—doesn’t come without its struggles.Kau Tapen Fishing 2

The season started in January, with some atypical conditions. Water levels were extremely low and water clarity was the equivalent of high-end crystal—without a spec of turbidity. These factors did not deter the fish from entering the system. Quite the opposite, actually. But they did force us to be better guides, working with our passionate clients to find the right formulas for consistently fooling wary fish. At times that meant using long, supple leaders, Scandi lines with intermediate tips, and small nymphs.

We faced similar conditions through the month of January and into the first two weeks of February. And despite some great results, we were all praying for kalue (“rain” in the native Ona tongue), because we knew that by mid-season fresh fish would require more water to reach the upstream pools of the Rio Grande. Finally kalue came in the form of twelve days of short but intense rain events. The micro-storms watered our Kau Tapen pastures and the cordilleran zones. Additionally, all the basin tributaries swelled, which caused the Rio Grande to fill out.

With the rain came the usual muddy water scenarios. We switched from light setups to our heavier Skagit-style rigs and commenced our deep-dredging program. The river felt the surge of two significant floods during this period. The first pulse brought it up eight inches; the second resulted in a two-foot spike. And as the river increased in size our catch rates continued rising as well, with more fresh and a few darker fish coming to hand.KAu Tapen fishing 1

By March, high and fast flows had become the norm. And full-sinking lines, T14-17 tips, and big flies were the everyday mainstays. It was stretch on the Rio Grande we’ll never forget. Let’s just call it: The Month of 20-Pounders. Fishing on the Menendez was unreal, too. This technical, intimate tributary produced some of our best days of the season. And the fishing there was a highlight for many of our new and returning guests.

Walking the gravel banks along the Grande these past couple of days, already without clients, fishing solo, it’s fun to think back on the experiences and the truly mind-blowing numbers that help illustrate them. Overall, 1,342 fish were landed and 629 fish were lost during the fight. The average weight of caught fish was 9.2 pounds—extraordinary considering that a 4 -pound trout is a “trophy” in most other parts of the world. Ratcheting up that average were the 47 fish that clients tallied weighing between 20 and 26 pounds. And on the next rung down, we saw 275 sea-run browns weighing between 15 and 19 pounds.

Congratulations to everyone we had the pleasure of guiding this summer. You all contributed immensely to this special season at Kau Tapen Lodge. I hope to see you again next summer and to continue building the history of the best fishing lodge ever to grace the Rio Grande.

I’m already looking forward to making a return next season, to see some familiar faces and get to know some new ones.

—Gastón Guglielminetti, Head Guide, Kau Tapen lodge

World's End Lodge

Worlds End Lodge -Rods Available!

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Worlds End Lodge  – Great weeks now available in 2018!  Only 4 rods max per week.
Avoid the waitlist and book one of these weeks ASAP!

World’s End Lodge  -7 nights/6 days in single occupancy
Dec 29-Jan 2 (4 rods)
Jan 5-12 (4 rods)
Jan 12-19 (2 rods)
Feb 2-9 (4 rods)
Feb 23-Mar 2 (4 rods)

Dec 15-Jan 5       $5,790/rod
Jan 5-Mar 2         $6,290/rod

Click here to read more or just email us,  or call 888-486-8972

La Villa Lodge de EMB

La Villa Lodge, Mar 3-10, 2018 -2 rods now sold

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The two rods that became available yesterday at La Villa Lodge de EMB,  Mar 3-10, 2018 have been sold. As expected they sold quickly.

Ask about availability at any Sea Run Brown lodge today!


Villa Maria Mar 4-17

Villa Maria Lodge Report Mar 4-16

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Weeks 9 & 10
Mar 4-16, 2017 

The last couple of week in Rio Grande, especially the lower section, have been as challenging as ever. February has been quite particular, as it rained for the whole month. Not very intense rain, mostly just drizzle close to  town, but there were 3 or 4 days of very strong rains, especially in the headwaters what changed the game. These rains made the Rio Grande and its tributaries, like Radman, Menendez, and  Ona to change levels and water clarity constantly. This scenario made the fishing very challenging as we had to change where and how we were looking for the fish. Instead of the deep channels we started fishing the tails and shallower waters as this is where the fish like to sit and rest during those conditions.
We also had to adjust our lines and the typical 10ft of T11 sinking tip we used along the season was replaced for longer and heavier tips like 15’ of T17 and the nymphs and leeches were replaced for heavy bushy tubes, colorful intruders and most of the time, we had to stack 2 or more flies to get a size and silhouette required for those water conditions.
The takes were sparse and very unpredictable so the fishing was demanding and the fishermen were pushed to do their best to seduce the fish as casting big flies and heavy lines for many hours is not the easiest task.
But our guests did a great job and had tons of patience to follow our suggestions for catching that dream fish that everybody has in mind when they step into the river every day.
The river is starting to stabilize, drop and clean, so next week we will be up to another new challenge.

Largest fish of the week, 26 lbs.
Fish over 20 lbs: 4
Fish over 15 lbs: 19