south america trip report part 1

FLy Fishing jurassic Lake

Author: Rebecca Milne

Photography By: Lawson Fish

Welcome to Estancia Laguna Verde

Jurassic Lake Fly Fishing

A nickname like Jurassic Lake carries a level of gravitas that could never live up to the expectations. The wild, inhospitable terrain is an impossible feat for any high-end fly fishing program.  And then there’s the weather.  But Estancia Laguna Verde delivers a first-class fishing and cultural experience to guests each week as easy as the wind blows in this part of the world.   Put this one on your bucket list now.

Read on for Becca and Lawson’s trip report from Estancia Laguna Verde. 

It’s Not Exactly Easy, But It’s Worth It

Traveling to Jurassic Lake

It’s a long flight to get to Buenos Aires - ten hours from Dallas, Texas.  And once we arrived at Buenos Aires Airport (EZE), we took a private transfer approximately 40 minutes to a smaller airport (AEP) for our regional three-hour flight to Calafate, Argentina. Upon arriving in Calafate, it was a short drive to our hotel for the night, passing through the main road that is lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and adventure tour companies.  It would be easy to spend a couple nights in this super walkable, ski-town-esque city - but after a great meal in town, we were ready to head on to the lodge the following morning.  

The driver arrived promptly at 7:30am to begin our last leg to Estancia Laguna Verde.  About an hour and a half in, where the blacktop ends, we were met by our guide in a 4x4 pickup truck for the remainder of the transfer (in total, it’s about a 4.5 hour drive from Calafate to Estancia Laguna Verde).  The rocky terrain made the final thirty or so minutes a pretty bumpy ride, but it was a good introduction to the elements we would be challenging all week at Jurassic Lake.  Stoke levels were high and the anticipation continued to build.

The Vibe

Accommodations at Jurassic Lake

The lodge checked all the boxes for maximum comfort in an extreme environment.  Situated right on a smaller lagoon, Laguna Verde, with views of the grass-covered plains surrounding and Jurassic Lake in the distance, the main building is a traditional estancia house that has been modernized with thoughtful updates.  Upon walking in, we immediately saw an impressive display of some of their wine collection (the larger wine cellar is in a separate building), a sophisticated dining room and bar, and comfortable seating areas where we will come to enjoy morning coffees and evening cocktails.  The lodge also has a small pro shop, fly tying station, and library.  Rooms are connected to the main building, but housed in a new, L-shaped addition.  Guests are provided large, private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, and the lodge also offers a spacious changing and drying room for guests to gear up and down each day.  It’s more than enough to feel spoiled. 

The meals and special events during the week’s stay at Estancia Laguna Verde were also a highlight.  After fishing, guests congregated in the main building for cocktails and appetizers.  Dinner traditionally started around 9pm.  And every night felt like we were having the best meal of our lives, with presentation on par with any 5 star, New York City restaurant.  The lodge coordinates wine and cheese tastings, an asado night (traditional Argentine barbeque), and an empanada night as part of their standard program.  These special touches provide a cultural authenticity to the week, and gave us the opportunity to really get to know our fellow guests in a social setting.

Where Fish are Measured in Pounds, Not Inches…

Fishing at Jurassic Lake

Lago Strobel

Truth be told, our first few minutes fishing Lago Strobel (the true name of Jurassic Lake) was unusual.  Bright sun, low wind, and fish within a five-foot casting range.  What’s the big deal with this place?  Then the weather changed to the standard variety.  

Lago Strobel is more like an ocean - massive, bright blue, and with swells higher than we are tall.  Twenty knot wind is considered an ice cream day out here.  But we learn that the lake fishes better when it’s a “little windy.”  Our guide for the week, Esteban, set us up on volcanic rocks mostly submerged in the lake and told us to zip up our rain jackets all the way.  The first wave crashed into the rocks, completely soaking us in water, and we understood why.  The wind was blowing 3x beyond what we would normally consider extreme fishing conditions.  And as each wave crested before us, we spotted the lurking shadows of massive rainbow trout looking for a meal.  It’s a rodeo, and we were all for it.  This is Jurassic Lake.  

Three techniques are primarily used on the lake: indicator fishing, streamer fishing, and dry fly fishing.  The most important factor for all techniques is the strength of your fly’s hook.  We fished a variety of Balanced Leeches under an indicator, Chubby Chernobyls, Dolly Llamas, and even mice.  But our guide mentioned that they change their tactics often as the fish “wisen up” to overused patterns.  Pro tip: request and purchase flies directly from the lodge - the guides will custom tie the latest “hot” flies with hooks that won’t straighten out.  

This is not a lake where you will get bored fishing day after day.  It’s addicting.  The terrain, wind, and advanced casting requirements make you earn the trophy fish and leave you wanting more.  We racked up several “personal bests” that don’t even scratch the surface of the monsters this lake holds.  They’re haunting…and the reason why we will both come back for another shot.

Rio Barrancoso

Once the Lago Strobel bug took hold of us, it was hard to pivot to fishing the river.  Would we be missing out on trophies in the lake?  But midweek we committed to checking out the Rio Barrancoso and it turned out to be one of our favorite days.  The Barrancoso is one of the most scenic freestone rivers anywhere; and as the only tributary to Lago Strobel, there’s no sacrifice in size of fish.  For most of the day, we hiked from pool to pool.  At each stop, we sighted at least one big rainbow trout to sightfish.  It’s unbelievable.

But it’s no walk in the park; while there are sections easily accessible, hiking multiple beats of the river (like we did) is strenuous.  A trail runs along the river, but getting into fishing position often means scaling cliffs, maneuvering over boulders, and multiple river crossings.  We were sucking wind most of the day, but with sizable rainbows to hand for both of us, we would have been pleased to spend a few more days exploring the river.

Chain of Lagoons

As if Jurassic Lake and the Rio Barrancoso weren’t enough, Estancia Laguna Verde also has over a dozen smaller lakes and lagoons on their 45,000-acre property.  The amount of fishing water they have access to is unreal, and simply too much to experience in just one week.  We never made it to the lagoons, but the reports back from other guests demonstrated that each of these bodies of water are chock full of fat, healthy rainbows, browns, and brook trout. 

Takeaways: Pack Smart and Practice Your Cast

Preparing for Jurassic Lake

This is not your typical trout fishing program.  There’s volcanic rock and boulders everywhere with a fishing program that is exclusively walk-and-wade. You have to embrace the weather, including gale force winds.  And there’s the possibility of hooking into a twenty-plus pound fish at any moment.  Make the most out of your week by reviewing our top tips below.  

GoreTex and Vibram

Because the weather and terrain is relentless at Jurassic Lake, you need gear with max durability and breathability.  Each day, you will be stepping along volcanic rock to get into fishing position.  One misstep and it would be easy to rip a hole in thin waders.  And with waves repeatedly crashing into you, a high quality rain jacket is a must.  At the top of our packing list are GoreTex waders, a GoreTex rain jacket, and thick Vibram wading boots.   During our stay, we tested the new Simms G4Z Waders and G3 Guide Boots - both stood up to the harsh environment and provided ultimate comfort all week long.


Eight Weight and Six Weight Setups

Two setups will get you by fishing all the water that Estancia Laguna Verde has to offer.  An 8-weight, fast action rod with a complementing reel with a good drag system would be the perfect combination for fishing Jurassic Lake.  The action of the rod will help counter those “little windy” days, and the reel’s drag will keep fish from taking off into the middle of the lake or getting hung up in underwater rocks.  A floating line is the go-to for most of the fishing, but spare tink tips to tack on when streamer fishing would maximize your subsurface fishing.  An integrated sink tip would also be a good choice on a separate spool or reel.  For the Barrancoso, a six weight setup with floating line (and sink tips for streamer conditions) would be an ideal combination.  While it can still be windy, anglers typically make shorter casts with lighter flies.  


Flies with Strong Hooks

This is not the place to repurpose your Colorado flies.  It is essential to have strong hooks on your flies to ensure you aren’t the guy/gal reminiscing on the “one that got away.”  Invest in higher quality flies, tie your own, or let us contact Estancia Laguna Verde in advance of your trip to have the guides on staff tie you some custom “hot” patterns with appropriate hook strength.


Walk-and-Wade Essentials

As a full walk and wade program, having a good waterproof pack or backpack is essential in keeping your gear safe, dry, and close to you while fishing. While you can store extra gear and layers in the truck, we learned if you can dial in your fly selection, fly boxes, and an extra layer, you won't be tired of carrying it around all day. Small difference makers like the Yakoda Streamer Stash and their razor sharp Nippers kept us organized, well-equipped for quick fly changes, and without the unnecessary weight of a big fly box or pliers. 


Casting Practice

Start mentally preparing yourself to cast in conditions you would typically stay home in….with a dry fly!  It’s bonkers, and so awesome.  A strong double-haul goes a long way in cutting through wind and giving you distance to reach the trophy fish.  And once you’ve got that down, try practicing your double haul with a sink tip and heavy streamer.  Working on these two techniques will set you up for success at Jurassic Lake. 



Estancia Laguna Verde delivers across the board - fishing, food, accommodations, and staff. It's an experience we can't stop talking about, and know will wow our travel clients. Give us a call to book your trip, and make sure to pack your wallet for the following year’s deposit - it is highly likely that you will become addicted to their fishing program and want to come back for more.  It certainly was the case for us.

#Texas Fly Shop