The Santa Cruz River in Argentina is located amongst Patagonias expansive plains and offers some of the last untapped steelhead fishing on the planet. Flowing for approximately 386 kilometres from Argentino Lake towards the Atlantic Ocean, this mighty river is home to the only Steelhead run on the whole of the Atlantic Coast. From late February to May chrome, bright Steelhead enter the river from the ocean in huge numbers. The Los Plateados River Cabin, home to the travelling freshwater fly fishing angler visiting Santa Cruz, is ideally situated on the water’s edge by some of the most productive water due to its structure and spawning water.
Steelheads often get credited with being one of the hardest, if not the hardest, fighting migratory fish globally, and the specimens in Santa Cruz are no exception. They are super aggressive and hit hard, and once hooked, they will often put on a lavish aerial display, using every inch of their muscular frame and the river’s powerful flow to try and strip your fly line down to the backing. Chasing these fish is a profound experience, and the magnificence of the river and landscape will make you feel its magic.
The exciting thing with the Santa Cruz River in Argentina is no one knows precisely how many fish it holds or what size they grow. Like many other Steelhead Rivers in the region, the fish average 9-10lb, but what is unusual is that one in ten of these fish is likely to be a trophy fish exceeding over 20lb in weight.
Every aspect of the Santa Cruz River in Argentina is enormous, from the river, currents, tides, wind, surrounding landscape, wildlife and most importantly, the fish. It carves its way for over 380 kilometres through the harsh and surreal Dali-esque landscape and, with its milky blue appearance, creates a striking impression and a Steelhead fishery like no other. Home to the only run of Atlantic Steelhead in the world, this vast river didn’t capture the attention of the freshwater fly fishing community until the early nineties, when the first attempts got made to catch the fish on fly fishing tackle. In a river of such size and isolation, most of its water and inhabitants have never seen an angler, let alone a fly. Fortunately, after more than a decade of commitment to the system by some of Argentina’s top guides, its secrets have been revealed, exposing a consistent and viable gem, proving that catching Santa Cruz steelhead is anything but impossible.
As much as the mystique of the river attracts fishers and captivates their imaginations, it also deters them. However, those willing to brave the elements and hardcore fishing conditions have been rewarded with some of the most extraordinarily well-proportioned and hard fighting Steelhead found anywhere in the world.
Despite being one of Argentina’s largest rivers and appearing intimidating, at first sight, you don’t need to rely on deep-wading and long casts when fishing the Santa Cruz, as many of the migrating Steelhead get found close to the shore. An 8-weight or 9-weight double-handed rod and a reel to match, loaded with Skagit lines with an assortment of tips appropriate for the different types of water on-site, is perfect for the job. Having a range of fast sinking shooting heads is also recommended for the real fast runs you occasionally encounter.
In terms of actually fishing your fly, we recommend a slow approach, working downstream along the massive runs and pools found on the river. Swinging flies can work very well, but we don’t recommend a hesitate to strip as this motion can trigger a fierce strike by a steelhead. Considering the river conditions, water level and weather, the guides will always be on hand to advise the best way to fish.
While anglers have 30 proven pools and stretches of river to fish, Los Plateados Lodge was built to only host four anglers per week, ensuring all guests the best shot at quality water every day. This intimate riverside lodge offers both boat and vehicle access to prime runs and exceptional guides.
To find out more about the Santa Cruz River in Argentina and the Atlantic Salmon Fishing it has to offer, visit our YouTube channel.
The Santa Cruz River in Argentina was pioneered by Claudio Martin, one of the longest standing guides on the Rio Gallegos. His handpicked team of fishing guides look after all the anglers fishing at the Los Plateados River Cabins and are as enthusiastic about the river as the fish. They all speak good English, are ardent fly-anglers and casting instructors and will happily help you improve your casting as much as the fishing itself. As standard, you can expect professional service, dedication, good company and rest assured, someone who will go the extra mile in search of your fish of a lifetime. Each week the guides will rotate among paired anglers, allowing guests to fish with multiple guides throughout their stay.
While all beats and pools are accessible by boat, beat two and three are also accessible via truck, just a short ride from the cabin. Anglers get transported to the chosen fishing spots by either 5.2 meter Zodiac boats, equipped with 70hp engines, or by pickup trucks. All the vehicles are insured and approved to transport tourists.
Fish begin to run up the river in February at the end of the summer, with the peak of the migration occurring in late March or early April. The average Atlantic Salmon weighs between 4lb and 15lb, notwithstanding juvenile “half-pounders”, although a few 20lb behemoths do exist. Exactly how many fish return to the river in a given year, however, remains a mystery.
The Los Plateados River Cabin, located 50 miles upstream from the Rio Santa Cruz estuary, is strategically situated right on the river bank overlooking some of the best pools in the region.
The accommodation is based on four anglers in two double rooms and is simple yet practical, with everything you need for a comfortable stay.
It features a lovely covered veranda overlooking the river, cosy dining and a living area with a fireplace. Hot water is always available for showers, and a generator supplies electricity and power around the clock.
Both breakfast and dinner get served in the cabin. An Argentine chef will take care of the meals, consisting of some of Argentinas finest beef and lamb and a whole host of fresh vegetables grown in the lodges’ very own greenhouse. Lunch is served by the riverbank, meaning anglers get maximum time by the water.
After a day of fishing, you can head back to the cabin and enjoy a nice glass of house wine, beer on tap and the warmth of the fireplace.
Due to the remoteness of the lodge, it does not have WIFI or phone signal; however, there is a satellite telephone in the lodge for outgoing phone calls.
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.
The below itinerary is flexible should you wish to lengthen or shorten your trip with additional or fewer fishing days; we can tailor the below itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart Any international Airport (See Details)
Arrive Buenos Aires
On arrival take a taxi to Jorge Newbery Airport where you will take a flight to Santa Cruz. A member of the team will be waiting to transfer you to your overnight hotel.
Overnight Accommodation: Rio Gallegos Hotel (Twin rooms) B/B
Around 8:30 am you will be picked up and driven to Santa Cruz (3.5 hours). On arrival, there’s a short briefing about the coming weeks of fishing. Once everyone is ready, it will be time to hit the home pools with your guides for an afternoon fishing session.
Overnight Accommodation: Los Plateados River Cabin (Twin rooms) B/B
For each day’s fishing, we suggest you bring double-handed rods – fly rods in 8 or 9 wt. We also recommend you bring Skagit lines with an assortment of tips for the different types of water and flies in black, blue, fuchsia and red as these make a great contrast with this milky glacier water. You will fish slowly whilst working your way downstream along these massive runs and pools. Swinging flies work very well, but don’t hesitate in stripping, as it can trigger some fierce takes.
Overnight Accommodation: Los Plateados River Cabin (Twin rooms) B/B
On your last day, you will fish until lunchtime after which our staff will transport you to the domestic airport.
Depart Rio Gallegos, Arrive Jorge Newbery
On arrival, you will take a taxi to your hotel.
Overnight Accommodation: Buenos Aires Hotel (Twin rooms) B/B
You will take a taxi back to Buenos Aires International Airport
Depart Buenos Aires
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 84%
"If you're looking for some wild and remote Steelhead fishing then I'd definitely recommend the Santa Cruz River. I've been fly fishing to a few places in Argentina but the fishing, guides and staff at the Los Plateados River Cabin take some beating. I'd certainly go back and hopefully next year I'll be able to do just that."
"I booked a weeks fishing on the Santa Cruz River with the hope of catching some monster Steelhead. To cut a long story short I wasn't disappointed... I think I landed 3 fish over 10lb, 1 fish over 15lb and one absolute monster a few ounces over 20lb. It was a truly incredible week and fishing like I've never experienced before."
"What a place! I can safely say it's the best fishing I've ever experienced! That's without mentioning the stunning scenery, brilliant guides, cosy lodge and fantastic food. Thanks to everyone at the Los Plateados River Cabin who made me feel most welcome."
The season runs from End March to beginning May.
Season: End March to beginning May
Weight: 5lb to 29lb
Average Weight: 12lb
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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