Kau Tapen

The Original Lodge on the Rio Grande

Undoubtedly the most productive sea trout river in the world, the Rio Grande needs little in the way of introduction. Nestled at what is commonly referred to as the “end of the earth”, the Rio Grande begins in the rugged Andes across the border in Chile, and then quietly meanders east across a rolling prairie reminiscent of Wyoming and teeming with wildlife such as llama-like guanacos, Andean condors and Patagonian foxes. Of course, the main attraction to anglers who ply the storied waters of the Rio Grande is the explosive sea-run brown trout, which ascend the river each summer in the tens of thousands to spawn and range between 4 and 30 plus pounds. An average fish on the Rio Grande is the fish of a lifetime most anywhere else, and every discerning angler should experience this unparalleled fishery at least once in their life.

World-class fishing deserves a world-class lodge, and there is no better way to fish the Rio Grande than where it all began, at Kau Tapen Lodge. Kau Tapen (“house of fishing” in the native Ona language) is the original fishing lodge in Tierra del Fuego and the standard of elegance by which other lodges are measured. What started as the brainchild of Jorge Donovan and Jacqueline De Las Carreras over twenty years ago has revolutionized the way in which the fishing world views big trout.

Fishing Program

Located on the sprawling sheep ranch, estancia la Retranca, Kau Tapen has private access to 16km of river on both banks in the middle reaches of the river. It is staffed by an expert team of international and Argentine guides equipped with 4×4 Toyota vehicles to get you to the rivers edge and give you all the instruction necessary to tie into these elusive behemoths.

Somewhat of a misnomer, the Rio Grande really isn’t all that grande. Even though it’s the biggest river in Tierra del Fuego, a proficient caster can easily reach the opposite bank in many places. Low gradient, relatively shallow, and with a riverbed of fine gravel, the Grande is also extremely easy to wade under most conditions.

The fishing schedule typically includes 9 hours of fishing time. The day is comprised of two fishing sessions, one in the morning and another in the evening, separated by a gourmet lunch and siesta during midday. During the height of the austral summer – December and January – it is often possible to fish until nearly midnight, so the afternoon session starts later during these months to take advantage of the “magic hour” at dusk. Kau-Tapen is a strictly catch and release fishery. Guides are equipped with nets and will assist guests in weighing and releasing fish without damaging them.

Most fishing is accomplished with a series of the classic “down and across” swing, the same technique employed on other anadromous species such as Atlantic salmon and Steelhead. 7-9 weight single handed rods or a variety of double handed rods are ideal for this style of fishing. Lines range from full floating to heavy shooting heads, depending on river conditions. The flies used on the Rio Grande are even more varied, and range from small nymphs and dries to giant leeches and tube flies.

The season runs from December – mid April.


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