Villa Maria Lodge is nestled on the world-renowned lower sections of the Rio Grande and was established in 1994. Only six lucky customers per week who stay at Villa Maria Lodge have access to over 10 miles of fly fishing on both banks of this very famous Rio Grande River. Due to the lodge’s location, which is lower on the river, customers will get the first crack of the whip at fresh chrome bright Sea Trout as they push into the system. With gravel bars, deep cut banks runs, and pools mean today, a twenty-pound fish is, on any given day, now classed as the norm for the lodge.
Villa Maria Lodge Argentina is a paradise for serious spey anglers who like long casts and expansive pools. Fishing is based on only two anglers and their guide per beat, with three to seven pools per beat. Villa Maria’s veteran guides will rotate with you through all beats offering expert advice this way, you learn more and enjoy more. One nice touch we like about Villa Maria is each week starts with an evening warm-up session as there’s nothing better than blowing off the cobwebs of one’s casting. It’s not unusual that customers will catch a Sea Trout or two the first night they arrive. Another great advantage is to maximise time fishing on the river; there is a cabin on the river bank for lunch and siesta, all in a stunning setting of the wilds of Tierra del Fuego, which allows you to fish more and drive less.
In Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the Rio Grande flows from west to east, coming down from the Andes and flowing out into the Atlantic Ocean and approximately 60 miles of Argentine territory. The stunning but sparse landscape of Tierra Del Fuego is reminiscent of something you would find in Scotland’s low lands. In 1953 an Englishman named John Goodall first introduced Brown Trout to Tierra del Fuego, and some 60,000 Salmo trutta eggs were dispersed into two tributaries of the Rio Grande. These Trout have since found their way into the open ocean, where they grew large before returning to the river to start the whole process again.
Studies show that the Sea Run Browns in Tierra del Fuego’s Rio Grande are about 17% heavier than other sea trout of the same length. Their size and high return rate are low predation factors, biologically rich salt waters and a strict Catch and Release policy employed by all lodges. Rio Grande’s Sea Run Brown Trout population was last estimated at around 75,500 adult fish. Today, the average daily catch rate on the Rio Grande is an impressive 3-6 fish per rod. How many places can you go fishing in the world that can boost these catch statistics?
Standard days fishing on the Rio Grande will see you leave the lodge around 9 am after a good hearty breakfast with your guides, and you will head to the river in the lodges 4×4 vehicles. You will fish the various pools in your given zone until around 1 pm, where you will return to the day lodge for lunch and a well-earned siesta.
You will return to the river late in the afternoon to fish a new beat and its various pools with a new guide until dark. Actual fishing hours will change depending on the time of year.
Staying at Villa Maria, you have the benefit of fishing the lower portions of the Río Grande, where its braided waters are home to some of the freshest, fiercest sea-run Brown Trout in the system. This section is ideal for Spey casters due to its longer and broader pools that cater beautifully to the swing. Generally speaking, the Rio Grande Sea Trout will move upstream primarily early morning, favour cutbanks during the midday, then carry on with their upstream movements during the evenings and night-time hours. In low water areas, you should target the riffles as the Sea Trout prefer this well-oxygenated area. If you are targeting the cutbanks, then a well-presented swing as near to these as possible will be the preferred method; whether this is an upstream and across, straight across or downstream and across, you will need to work this out as each day could well be different.
You will need to vary your presentation from pool to pool until you have worked out the right formula of fly, fly line, drift or swing, and your retrieve speed. This fishing style is very technical, and great importance must be given to working it out, but once you have achieved this, things will start to fall in to place. Lastly, always listen to the guides; they spend most of their time on rivers like these and are experts in the style, dedication and finesse that it takes to fish big windswept rivers like the Rio Grande.
For fly rods, double-handed multi-piece Spey-style rods are the No. 1 choice, although single-handed rods also work well during specific lower water times. Light two-handed switch rods are increasingly popular. They allow you to cast longer distances with less effort, particularly when the wind blows. Two-handers mend and control line effectively because of their longer lengths. Use rods 12 to 14 feet for 8- to 9/10-weight lines. If you are new to two-handers, the lodges expert guides will help hone your skills. We also recommend 9- thru 10-foot single-handed rods in the 8- to 9-weight class. These rods simplify fishing when casting downstream with the prevailing southwest wind at your back. When casting into the wind, 8- or 9-weights also have the muscle to punch large flies through heavy gusts. Given the river’s moderate flow and generally even gravel bottom, these rods are capable of battling large sea trout up to 25+ pounds while ensuring good action with smaller 5- to 12-pound fish.
Reels need to be of good quality with solid and smooth drags are essential for playing big sea trout. Reels (and spare spools) should have the fly line’s capacity and 100+ yards of 20+ pound backing.
For fly lines, weight-forward is the go-to choice for single-handed rods on the Rio Grande. For low-water conditions, use floating lines during early morning and evening hours when fish are more surface oriented. Also, combine floating lines and heads with poly leaders and other intermediates to extra fast-sinking tips. A full selection of poly leaders is key. For single-handed rods, 5 to 10-foot tips are preferred. Use longer 10 to 15 footers for two-handed rods. Complete sinking/shooting taper lines also excel here: Teeny T-200 and T-300 lines, for instance. Pack at least one or both of these. Also, we recommend RIO’s Outbound floating lines. We suggest packing a range of heads for two-handed rods, including Skagits, Scandis, and even tweeners. Skagit heads load the rod with less line, quickly turn over heavy tips, and effectively chucking big, heavy flies…, or casting into the wind. Scandis, on the other hand, are great for low, warmer-water conditions that call for more delicate presentations. Good running lines are available from Loop, Scientific Anglers, RIO, and Airflo.
Prevailing southwest winds can be used to your advantage by roll-casting or Spey-casting, eliminating the need to backcast into heavy tailing winds. In many cases, simple roll casts can move large streamers 35 to 50 feet across-and-downstream or far enough to cover good holding lies. Weight-forward lines also roll-cast well by hauling and shooting during the cast.
For leaders, Rio Grande sea-run brown trout are not particularly leader shy. More important is the need for diameter and strength to turn over large flies and to play large fish fast without breaking them off. Pack spools of monofilament and fluorocarbon in 10-15 lb breaking strengths Seaguar, Maxima, RIO. Check leaders, tippets, and their connections regularly for wind knots and abrasions. For floating lines, use knotless tapered leaders from 9 to 12 feet with 0X tippets (13-15-lb). You can also use two-piece leaders built from straight Maxima.
Pack a range of flies in various sizes to address changing conditions on the river. We recommend using barbless hooks for both the fish and your safety in high wind conditions. Double and treble hooks are not permitted. Sea-run brown trout can be puzzling. Trout that smashed small salmon patterns yesterday may require flies with white rubber legs tomorrow. Over the years, most Rio Grande fish have been taken on large streamers. However, recently, more large sea trout are taken on smaller wets, nymphs, and even dry flies. Don’t leave home without a well-rounded fly box. If you don’t own the proper selection of flies for the lodges beats, don’t worry, the lodge has got you covered. They keep a vast selection of the best flies in the world on hand at the lodge.
A question that gets asked many times is it possible to extend my stay? The simple answer is yes, you can stay at Villa Maria Lodge for as long as you wish; however, the fishing is sold in set weeks. Sportquest also has many additional destinations in Argentina to offer either full or half week add ons. We can arrange for you to fish different rivers for Sea Trout, fish smaller rivers for wild Brown Trout, Chase monster Chinook Salmon and even Golden Dorado fly fishing. Being the UK leading specialist in fishing holidays to Argentina, we can tailor your itinerary to suit. Please feel free to ask, and we will always work something out for just you. View all tours in Argentina
Villa Maria Lodge was designed to house angling guests while offering a very comfortable stay. The main lodge features six en-suite double and single rooms decorated in modern furnishings and handcrafted from local woods. As the lodge only caters for six anglers each week, each person gets their own space, plus some rooms are suitable to bring along your non-angling partner. Each room has bedside cabinets with reading lights, a dressing table and chair, and large windows, making the rooms feel very spacious. Inside the main lodge, you can sit and share stories in a communal, spacious living area. There will be a roaring fire ready to greet you from a longs days fishing and the bar will be well-stocked during the evening.
You will find a well-stocked tackle shop at the lodge with all the items you may need during your week from, Sage rods, quality reels, flies, lines, clothing, and other items that you may need. In addition to the tackle shop you will also find a fly tying station and a room to store your gear.
If the main lodge wasn’t enough, you also get to make full use of the riverside day house to augment the fishing rotation. Returning to the day house for lunch, there are three cosy warm rooms perfect for a quiet midday siesta after a big meal and lots of wine.
The kitchen at Villa Maria Lodge comes to life through fresh, and locally sourced produces such as fresh, locally grown vegetables and stunning meats. Each plate of food is carefully created using delicious flavours by the top-notch team of experienced national and international chefs trained in classic and avant-garde techniques. The chefs, each day, will produce fresh pasta and fire-roasted meats like their famous Patagonian Lamb, which is slow-roasted gaucho-style over charcoal embers; alongside the meat dishes, there will be daily ocean-fresh flavours such as King Crab.
Don’t forget to save room for one of the delicious desserts on offer, such as fresh homemade ice-cream and classic sweets and pastries.
To wash this all down, the lodge serves some fantastic wines from Bodega Catena Zapata, which are the perfect blend and renowned wines that compete globally. They hold a special place in the Argentinian culture, and they are very proud to serve them to you.
One thing is for sure you will be spoilt all week and are never going to come home hungry.
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 airports available)
Arrive in Buenos Aires
Once you have arrived and collected your bags make your way out of the terminal building and arrange a taxi to take you to Jorge Newbery airport for your small flight to Rio Grande. (Taxi not included)
Depart Jorge Newbery, Arrive Rio Grande
Once you arrive at Rio Grande you’ll need to transfer to the Rio Grande Hotel. Once there you’ll be free to enjoy the local area, grab some food and generally rest before your week of fishing.
Overnight accommodation: Rio Grande Hotel (Single Rooms) F/B
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up at approximately 12.30 by a representative from Villa Maria. They will then transfer you to the lodge, where you will be welcomed with cocktails and the entire Villa Maria team. (Transfer approx. 30-minutes)
Overnight accommodation: Villa Maria Lodge (Single room) F/B
Every day your Argentinian fishing guide will drive you to and from the Rio Grande in a comfortable 4-wheel drive truck fitted with rod racks and VHF radios. Each day you leave the lodge around 9 am after breakfast and fish until around 1 pm. After lunch and a siesta, (the hours of which will depend on the season) you will return to the river and fish through until dusk. Fishing hours will change slightly depending on the time of year.
You’ll enjoy Sea Run Brown Trout fishing in 30 pools on 15 km of both banks on the Rio Grande, where easy wading can be found on a gravel bottom.
Overnight accommodation: Villa Maria Lodge (Single room) F/B
At around 8.00 am will be transferred back to Ushuaia airport for your journey home.
The journey time to Ushuaia airport is around 3.5 hours.
Depart Ushuaia, Arrive Jorge Newbery
Once you have arrived back at Jorge Newbery, collect your bags and take a taxi to your overnight hotel. (Taxi not included)
Overnight Accommodation: Buenos Aires Hotel (Twin Rooms) B/B
In the morning you will need to arrange a taxi to take you back to the international airport for your return flight. Speak to the hotel reception who will arrange this taxi for you (Taxi not included)
Depart Buenos Aires
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 75%
"I was in VM lodge for a week looking for seatrout in Rio Grande. All the service was excellent and the fishing too. Amazing fishes, great food, very nice people. A MUST"
"Some places are ok, some are good and every now and then you find one that you know you just will return again and again. Thanks for making our dreams come true."
"Hi, we have just returned from our first and defiantly not our last trip to Villa Maria Lodge. Having the whole place just to ourselves was amazing, the lodge staff and fishing was way above our expectations, big thank you to everyone who is involved in organising and running this superb operation."
The season runs from November to March.
Season: October to April
Peak: January to March
Weight: 5lb to 30lb
Average Weight: 8.5lb
Season: October to April
Peak: January to March
Weight: 1lb to 6lb
Average Weight: 2.5lb
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.
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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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