Location, location, location – that is a saying in the world of real estate, but it should be applied to the fishing world as well because with Magic Waters Patagonia, the adage fits. This lodge, owned by Eduardo Barrueto and his wife, Consuelo Balboa, is south of Coyhaique in a great location to fish rivers like the Rio Paloma, Rio Magote, and the Rio Blanco, and also the productive lakes like Lago Azul, Lago Paloma, and Lago Elizalde, to name but a few.
Now I was back and shaking hands with Eduardo in front of his completed lodge. I was impressed with its construction, the large guest rooms, the comfortable living room with the terrific views of the lake and mountains; it all came together for him. I could see him bursting with pride when he showed me the exposed roof beams hewn from locally sourced logs and the round river stones that were collected to create the fireplace. The aroma from the kitchen smelled terrific, and the music playing from the lodge’s eclectic vinyl record collection (picked by the guides and guests) put everyone in a great mood. The atmosphere at Magic Waters is very warm and relaxed, and I think that is a reflection of Eduardo’s demeanor and attitude coming through.
Eduardo was not overly concerned about all the rain the area had gotten in the last few days. When I told him I saw that the Rio Manihuales and Rio Simpson were raging torrents of muddy water on the drive to his lodge, he told me not to worry. He said that he would have ample fishing spots for me and my colleague Nick; he was right. Eduardo and the guides came up with a plan for where we would fish for the next few days.
The following morning Nick, our guide Noah, and I drove a short way from the lodge to a spring creek called the Pantanelli. We parked, and Noah said that there were trout in the water a few feet away under some weeds but hardly anyone ever caught them because they were very spooky. Clouds of midges and then mayflies appeared in the morning sun, and we spotted a feeding rainbow and two large sullen browns. But the trout were wary in the clear water. It took a while, but finally, the rainbow fell to a #16 parachute Adams from one of my casts that admittedly missed the mark. But the rainbow unbelievably left its feeding lane and moved a foot to the right to take the Adams. Sometimes you just get lucky! Later, we fished a nearby stream that Noah called the Arco. It wound its way through the valley and offered me shots at trout holding in the riffles, pools, and pockets. The water was slightly off color – unlike the crystal clear spring creek that I fished in the morning. I did pull out some trout on a foam grasshopper pattern, and Nick caught a nice brown on a streamer.
The fishing area in which Magic Waters operates is incredibly beautiful, but I do not think any could be as scenic as the drive down the Paloma River Valley. The Andes tightly brace the valley, and you wind along a graded dirt road past amazing vistas. There is one spot in particular that I make it a point to have the guide stop the truck so that I can take a few moments to take the view in. I first came to this spot with Eduardo a few years ago, and it captivated me. It is here you that you must wind your way up a mountainside on a narrow switchback dirt road. At the top of the mountain, you look down the valley and see how the Paloma River snakes its way along the green valley floor. It’s a stunning sight as it cuts islands and splits into channels past small farms that you can make out in the distance.
Fishing the Rio Paloma and Lago Elizalde, into which the river flows, can be very productive. The river is not terribly wide, but it can be deep in spots. The sunken trees and rocky shoreline offer great ambush points for trout, and Nick and I caught some nice fish on streamers in the river. Lago Elizalde has some rather large weedbeds that run along the shoreline, and there are some sunken trees there as well. Our guide, Hayden, rowed us along keeping us close enough to tuck a good cast to the edge of the weeds. We picked off fish here and there with streamers since large dry flies were not getting any looks at all. But the best spot lay ahead. We got lots of action around a thumb-shaped point running from the shore to 50 yards out into the lake. The trout were in 3-4 feet of water and were aggressively hitting our streamers. We had several double hookups and released some 16-18” trout. All too soon, the fishing day was over, and it was time to drive back out of the beautiful Paloma River valley.
Despite the adverse conditions on many of the rivers in the Coyhaique area, the location of Eduardo’s lodge allowed us to fish some great waters that were unaffected by the rain. That not only indicates the strength of the fishery, but also the vast fishing knowledge of Eduardo, who has lived his entire life in this part of Chile. So no matter what Mother Nature can dish out, I know that Eduardo and his skilled guides will always get me on the water fly fishing for hungry trout.