Hidden on a small peninsula in the majestic Los Glaciares National Park located in the Southwest of Santa Cruz Province, Argentina, the beautiful Rio Caterina River runs for over 10 kilometres. Beginning its journey in a high plateau lagoon called Lago Anita, it cuts its way through the spectacular Patagonian landscape before emptying into Argentina’s largest freshwater lake, Lago Argentino. The sacred headwaters of the river are home to the only known run of Atlantic King Salmon in the world, and it’s these monsters that attract travelling freshwater fly fishing anglers from around the globe.
With their unmatched strength and stamina, King Salmon are widely considered the spey fishermen’s ultimate dream, and the fish found in the Caterina are some of the biggest on the planet. Fish from 30lb to 45lb are widespread, and fish between 60lb and 70lb get caught regularly. The biggest King Salmon landed on the river was during the 2018 season, when a giant fish was measured and estimated at 90lb. In the same week, following just a few days later, another monster of 88lb was also landed.
It’s no secret that Argentina and the Patagonian region especially, is well known for their sport fishing, but due to its location, fishing, and the size of the fish, fly fishing for these glacial kings on the Rio Caterina River is an extraordinary experience.
The Rio Caterina River in Argentina is a truly mesmerising river. Carrying a glacial blue and green tinge, it runs for over 10 kilometres, is deep, powerful, and home to vast numbers of hard fighting Salmon. The Salmon face an incredible journey to reach the river, migrating from the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the whole of the Santa Cruz River and even Argentina’s largest freshwater lake, Lago Argentino. This journey isn’t for the faint-hearted and ensures that only the strongest fish arrive in the Rio Caterina.
From the end of December through to mid-April, huge numbers of Kings, also known as Chinook Salmon, fill the river. This run of fish usually peaks from February to mid-March, and by this time, the sheer number of fish is quite spectacular. During the first part of this run, the fish are fresh silver colours and can be witnessed moving through the rivers deep channels. Although the river is deep, it’s not deep enough to be inaccessible to fly anglers, and the fish can get targeted with intermediate lines and sink tips, rigged with big intruders.
Come mid-March, as the number of fish in the river increases, they start transitioning to a darker colour, become more aggressive, and can be observed fighting over territory in the river’s shallow fast runs. During this latter part of the season, intermediate lines and intruders or even floating lines with bombers and surface flies all work well. It’s even possible to sight cast to fish in the clear shallow water.
The Rio Caterina River in Argentina doesn’t hand out dividends without expecting a level of perseverance from the angler. However, those willing to put the time in could find themselves hooked into that fish of a lifetime. When you finally bank one of the rivers true giants and cradle that prize, all those blank rod hours will soon seem a distant memory.
As well as having a certain level of dedication and perseverance, if you wish to land one of these monsters, you must tackle the river with the correct equipment, as fly fishing for King Salmon is no joke. Double-handed or switch rods matched with a smooth drag large arbour reel, loaded with plenty of backing, is essential. These fish swim thousands of miles to spawn and won’t mind swimming another mile to get rid of your fly. Skagit lines with an assortment of tips are very practical to have; this will ensure you’re well equipped for all the different water types you might encounter. For the deeper pools on the river, fast sinking shooting heads are best.
Flies in black, blue, fuchsia, and red make a great contrast with this glacial blue water, and regular King Salmon patterns such as intruders and articulated leeches will do the job just fine. We recommend that all anglers bring various sizes of flies tied on substantial, strong hooks.
If you’re not familiar with this style of fishing and want to learn to spey cast or improve your technique, all guides are keen instructors.
The team of guides at Estancia Cristina Lodge on the Caterina River in Argentina are dedicated professionals and know the waterway like the back of their hand. Their profound knowledge and experience will enhance your fly fishing days on the river, but most of all, their passion for Atlantic King Salmon, fishing and friendly approach is what see’s anglers return year after year. Rest assured, all the guides will go the extra mile in search of your fish of a lifetime.
The fishing on the Caterina sees two distinctive seasons, early season and late season. The first run of Salmon commonly hit the river towards the end of December, and these fish are generally in peak condition with clean, silver flanks and bristling fins. This first run peaks from February to the middle of March. By the middle of March, the vast numbers of fish already in the river are joined by even more and slowly begin to transition to a darker colour and become more aggressive.
The fishing for the glacier kings runs over the Patagonian summers months of February and March, and at this time of year, the climate is primarily dry. The temperature gets heavily influenced by Argentina’s biggest lake, Lago Argentino, which helps keep the extremes of hot and cold moderated. The weather is dry, sunny, cool and windy; the average temperature is around 20 degrees but can reach up to 30 degrees on bright, clear days, but can also drop way down to just 5 degrees at night.
Estancia Cristina Lodge is a beautiful old Estancia founded in 1914 by English settlers. A charming lodge with a warm rustic atmosphere that offers luxury accommodation embedded deep within the heart of Patagonia’s Glacier National Park; It’s regarded as one of the finest and most authentic lodging experiences in the region and is part of the Best Of Patagonia (BOP) programme.
Stunning in its remoteness, Estancia Cristina has a natural lookout point to the Upsala Glacier, which is the largest in South America. It’s the perfect destination from which you can enjoy Patagonia’s incredible surroundings and understand the history and culture of the area.
Warm woods run throughout each of the five lodges and 20 rooms, adding a delightfully rustic touch to the tranquil setting. Each spacious room is naturally lit through the large picture windows and provides guests with spectacular views. All rooms come equipped with a private bathroom.
Sleep in plush beds each night, stretch out on comfortable lounges, soak in the beauty of Patagonia and enjoy everything that Estancia Cristina has to offer.
The cuisine is particularly exquisite – all of the dishes are crafted from traditional recipes, flavours, and locally sourced products, including quality meats and vegetables; this, coupled with some of the finest wines in Argentina, makes for a fantastic dining experience.
For either travelling non-anglers or anglers who don’t wish to fish on every session, you can explore the thousands of stunning acres of the surrounding countryside on either foot or by horseback, and the guides can take you to the best sightseeing spots.
To find out more about the Caterina River Argentina and Atlantic Salmon fishing, visit our YouTube channel.
Although the fishing days are fixed, the below itinerary is still flexible should you require additional free days to explore at the beginning or end of your holiday; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
Arrive Buenos Aires
On arrival, you will take a taxi to the domestic airport for your flight to Calafate (taxi not included).
On arrival at Calafate, our staff and transport will be waiting to transfer you to the lodge.
Overnight Accommodation: Calafate Hotel (Twin Rooms) B/B
Early in the morning you will all be picked up and transferred to Punta Bandera Port. From there you will board the ferry for the transfer to Estancia Cristina, which will be your home for the next few days. You will arrive at the Estancia around 11:30 am and once everyone has checked in and settled, it will be time for lunch.
You will then depart around 1:30 pm for the first afternoon of Salmon Fishing on the Caterina River. Fishing is based on 3 rods per guide. You will fish until around 8:30 pm and then return back to the Estancia for dinner around 9:00 pm.
Overnight Accommodation: Estancia Cristina (Twin Rooms) F/B
Over the next 5 days of fishing, you will depart to the river at around 08:30 am and fish until around 8:30 pm. Lunch will be supplied and taken on the river bank around 1:00 pm and dinner will be served back at the lodge at around 9:00 pm.
Overnight Accommodation: Estancia Cristina (Twin Rooms) F/B
At around 8:30 am you will depart to the river for a full morning of Salmon Fishing. Lunch will be served on the river bank and you will aim to be back to the Estancia by 2:00 pm. At 4:30 pm you will depart and transfer back to Calafate by ferry, this time it will be a direct cruise back taking approx. 2 hours.
On arrival at Port Bandera in Calafate, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Overnight Accommodation: Calafate Hotel (Twin Rooms) B/B
In the morning transfer to Calafate Airport for your return flights back to Buenos Aires.
On arrival in Buenos Aires take a taxi to your Buenos Aires Hotel (taxi not included).
Overnight Accommodation: Buenos Aires Hotel (Twin Rooms) B/B
In the morning you will taxi to the airport
Depart Buenos Aires
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 92%
"Fishing with a group of like minded people in a beautiful location, we all caught fish and laughed lots. The guides were excellent particularly Christian. A huge thanks to King Salmon Kevin for his flies do not know what we would have done without him. The only issue was the repetitive menu at Estancia Christina which was saved by the two guide evenings with the BBQ night and Pizza night. Would love to return one day for an even bigger KIng."
"King Salmon at Estancia Christina Simply wild stunning fishing in a turquoise river paradise in the foothills of the Andes. Cruising through glacier melt icebergs under Condors circling above just to get there. Fishing was fishing seeing fish but not getting a take was frustrating on the first day and first blank. No fish for anyone. Second day Bingo great take strong fish played well hugely strong ..I can only relate it to feeling like but stronger than a 100lb Sturgeons fight...no jumps no dramas in the fight...fish holding steady neither myself or guide glimpsed the fish..ping line parts...heart in boots. Fish of a lifetime gone...gutted. Third day long walk through the park a hike of around 90 mins....not for the unfit it's a good walk, past Puma and cub tracks, both exciting and nerve wracking... Get to the lake wow, Peter sets up six casts in, huge female jumps fish on!...I had little hope casting in alongside but second cast bang huge cock fish jumps and cartwheels and it's on my line...knees are shaking. Drama was to follow, my fish takes off and gets tangled with Peters, had to slacken off ...Peter lands his huge fish, after what seems like 10 mins clears my line from around his fish and screams at me reel in !. Reeling in the line it knots around the top eye of my rod, but the fish is still on. I shout for Peter who runs up to the rod by this time it had parted and I was praying for the fish not to run...Peter untangles the line and pushes the rod together, fish is still on!... It's landed and I shouted loud enough to wake the dead...My fish of my dreams a cock fish of approx 50lb, looking prehistoric. Me looking extremely happy, job done! Two amazing fish!. Be nice to see them on the web page together??.. Last day boom big fight and lost a fish after about 20 mins walking down river the line rubbed on the rocks and eventually parted. As Peter says inexperience lost me the fish should have tightened the drag up more..trouble is they are so strong you just are nervous of snapping off.. Although the fish were difficult to catch a true wild experience and when you look around you at this place you say "how lucky am I, just to be here, never mind catch fish!" The lodge staff and guides were really great too, a lovely place and We will return that's a promise."
"My work colleagues always tell me i am “lucky” to visit such places as diverse as Christmas Island to Cuba,Alaska and now Argentina (I think it’s all the overtime myself). I could put on this review I was disappointed not to catch one of the 50lb monsters this place is famous for but how can you not enjoy standing surrounded by the snow capped Andes, condors circling overhead and being able to sight fish and watch 30 lb fishing chasing down you’re fly. A big thanks to Peter to who even though was struck down with illness kept everything running smoothly, to the excellent guides for their assistance and invaluable advice, to my travel companions, some old friends and some new and finally to Abraham(Lam Kin Wai) whose enthusiasm and attitude raised everyone he meets spirits and was a joy to fish with. And the question my colleagues always ask on my return, would you go back?.Yes in a heart beat, but Peter has already tempted elsewhere next with tails of gold in the Bolivian jungle and monsters in the reserves of Brazil, but one day I will return for that Caterina monster(luck permitting)."
The season runs from End of January to Mid March.
Season: January to March
Weight: 5LB to 70LB
Average Weight: 30LB
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two adults sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharge.
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