Trophy Chinook salmon on the fly in one of fishing’s last frontiers
The Austral Kings Story
Finding a genuinely “undiscovered” fly fishing destination isn’t easy these days. In fact, we’ve been scouring South America from the Bolivia to Patagonia in search of one for years. In February of 2015 we made an exploratory trip to a number of rivers along the Chilean coast chasing rumors massive King Salmon colonizing the area. Not finding much initial success, we landed on the last river of the expedition and instantly knew that this could be “the one”. Blown away by the jaw-dropping scenery and unable to catch a single King under 25 lbs, we had finally found our fishing Shangri-La.
We returned in April to further scout the area and confirm if the run size was indeed as impressive as we had first thought. Most of the pools and tributaries were full of spawning salmon, nearly all of them in the 25-50lb class. It was then that we decided we had to share this incredible river with other adventurous anglers next season and set up a proper camp.
Our inaugural 2016 season was met with such success that we opened up a second location on the river to provide anglers with both a rustic “camp”, and an intimate lodge experience depending on their preference.
The River runs through a green valley surrounded by glacier-capped granite mountains. Even after heaving rains, the river runs a deep turquoise color and has a variety of fishy structure, from gravel beaches, big boulders, classic tailwaters, and deep runs.
The bulk of the salmon run seems to arrive in mid-January – mid March.The chosen location for Austral Kings Camp is right on the river and we will be able to access five kilometres of water by foot, and 20 more by jetboat. Fishing will be done mostly from the bank swinging flies.
The weather in summer is generally quite friendly, most of the time 10°–20°C. Due its closeness to the marine environment we might have occasional rain or fog.
The first king salmon enter the river during December and our season starts in early January and run well into March. Austral Kings is all about fishing for fresh king salmon so we end the season well before the fish start to color up.
Based on the 2016 exploratory season all our weeks are peak season. We could probably start a few weeks earlier and surely finish a few weeks later but for 2017 we are only offering prime weeks. On every tide new fresh king salmon enter the river and at any given week in season you will be fishing over a remarkable number of fish that will often show while rolling.
What makes good weeks turn into great weeks is therefore not based on the number of fish in the river but rather on the best possible weather conditions. Very clear water and blue skies makes for tougher fishing than when a bit of rain or melt off help color the water a bit. And with the surrounding granite mountains a being blown out isn’t possible.
In short, pick any week in season that suits your calendar and you will have the chance of hooking a chrome-bright king salmon of a lifetime.
Arrive in Santiago and catch connecting flight to Puerto Montt. Overnight at your
elected accommodations in either Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas (independently arranged, not included).
At 6-7 AM you will be picked up at your hotel and transported to Caleta la Arena to
catch a ferry across the fjord, continuing on by land to the port of Hornopiren. From there you will board a private boat to take you the remainder of the way (~2hrs) to Austral Kings. Total travel time is 5-6 hrs. Upon arrival the camp/lodge, you will get settled in, have something to eat, and fish the nearby home pools.
Monday – Saturday :
Six full days of guided fishing at Austral Kings!
Depart camp around 1pm in time to catch private boat back to Puerto Montt, arriving at approximately 7pm. Catch late flight returning to Santiago, or overnight in Puerto Montt and return the following morning.
Austral Kings Camp
This wilderness camp is Chilean “glamping” at its finest. Guests will stay in two spacious double occupancy luxury canvas tents equipped with comfortable Twin XL beds, chairs, and equipment storage. Guests will use a bathhouse with two bathrooms – each with a shower (and hot running water), sink and flush toilet. All meals will be prepared in the fixed camp kitchen and served in a large dining/lounge tent. While it would not be fair to call this camp five-star, it has been thoughtfully constructed and is very comfortable by camp standards. It is located in the middle of the upper river’s most productive reach in a spectacular setting near the river.
The camp accommodates four anglers
Austral Kings Lodge
The lodge, which overlooks the fjord into which the river empties, is the most comfortable of the accommodation options. Here anglers will enjoy single occupancy rooms with attached shower and bath as well as easy access to power and even cell service (potentially) beginning in 2017. The lodge is built in Chile’s classic rustic style featuring local hardwoods and natural finishes. There is a wood burning stove, a common sitting area and relatively easy access to the lower tidal reaches of the river and estuary.
The lodge accommodates four anglers.
Austral Kings Camp:
5280 USD per rod, 7N/6D (based on double occupancy)
Austral Kings Lodge:
5975 USD per rod, 7N/6D (based on double occupancy)
Whats Included: Accommodations and meals, transfers to/from Puerto Montt and lodge, wine and beer, alcohol, guided fishing, and fishing license.
Whats Not Included: International and domestic airfare, food/hotels in Puerto Montt, transfers, fishing equipment, and staff and guide gratuities.