from Debra Carr Brox for Patagonia Baker Lodge
Nothing speaks louder than a personal testimonial. Debra Carr Brox and her husband, Eric, visited Patagonia Baker Lodge through Orvis Travel. Here's what she had to say about their experience at Baker Lodge:
Last December, my husband, Eric, and I made our third fishing trip to Chile. This one took us to the heart of Patagonia, the famous Coyhaique region, where we fished with Patagonia Baker Lodge. On this trip, all the variables worked in our favor. The skies were clear blue without a drop of rain for six days. Temperatures ranged from 72 to 80 degrees. The wind was a minor factor only on one afternoon (practically a miracle in Patagonia). The hatch was on, too, with caddis covering the dining room windows in the evenings. Perhaps the best aspect of the trip was the opportunity it provided to wadefish. I love wadefishing, and it seems that is what we did the whole time we were at Patagonia Baker Lodge. Most of the areas were easy to wade, too. They did not require lots of stamina or long hikes. The fishing was just plain good, too. We caught more than 15 fish apiece each day, averaging from 12 to 24 inches. Eric caught the biggest, which was about 27 inches. Some of the fish I lost were trophy size – one brown I had on for only a minute was about 30 inches.
Our trip began with our landing at Balmaceda airport, where we were picked up for the five-hour journey to the lodge. The drive was made bearable by the most spectacular scenery I have seen in South America. The road to the lodge winds through the countryside and a national park. Around each bend was another jaw-dropping vista. In mid-December, the lupines and other wild flowers are in full bloom and line the road in a profusion of color. Mountains, lakes, rivers, ravines, volcanic landscapes and glaciers were all part of the view. We even stopped high above a lake to view a nest holding a baby condor.
Patagonia Baker Lodge owns three Zodiacs of various sizes and a drift boat – all in excellent condition. A typical day would start with breakfast at around 7:30 am. We’d load into the boat by 8:30 or 9 o’clock. Within 15 minutes, we would arrive at the selected run and start fishing immediately. Many times we were in sight of the lodge. The lack of long rides to go fishing each day was a big plus in my book. We’d return to the lodge for a hot lunch and a bottle of wine about 2:30 pm. After a siesta or some fishing in front of the lodge, it was back in the boat around 4:30 to fish until 9:30 or 10 o’clock. We fished the gravel bars in the middle of the Rio Baker where the wading was easy and fish of 18 inches and larger could be pulled out of water only eight inches deep. Within sight of Class III and IV rapids, we fished the edges where slower pools, boulders and fallen logs created outstanding trout habitat. Down river, gravel beaches and lagunas gave us a different experience, which was equally exciting and productive. In one of the small lagunas created when the river receded, I saw some decent sized fish rising and threw a few casts into it. I was using a stimulator with a nymph dropper. A good-sized fish, 16 to 18 inches, took the nymph, and while I was fighting him, a much larger fish flew out of the water and took the stimulator. I had two rainbows on at once! As the two took off in opposite directions, the fish with the nymph broke off. But I landed his big friend. Only in Patagonia...
On our fourth day, our guide, Esteban Osorio, treated us to a day on the Rio Cochrane, near Coyhaique. This river is famous and revered by the fishermen of Chile for holding very large trout that are extremely difficult to catch. Osorio said that landing one fish a day there is an excellent day. The river is as beautiful as any I’ve ever seen in my travels. The trout that call it home are all over 20 inches with the biggest I saw at over 34 inches. The Cochrane is very deep. The pool where Eric caught his big fish was easily 35 feet deep. But the water was so crystal clear that you could see the bottom and watch as the lunkers cruised and fed.
The Cochrane trip requires an hour’s ride to the put-in, but was the only location that required travel. Our guide was knowledgeable about the rivers and how to fish them. He was also a purist. We had always been told that the only flies that work in Chile are big foam beetles, Chernobyl ants and huge woolly buggers. Osorio insisted on nymphs size 18-24 and dries, including size 12-16 caddis. I had much more success and fun using these flies. Osorio spoke excellent English and was a joy to be with 13-plus hours per day.
Patagonia Baker Lodge has six double rooms, each with a private bath. All rooms have a view of the river, a woodstove, a radiator for heat and modern bathrooms. Five rooms have two double beds and one has a king-size bed and an extra-large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, a good choice for couples. There’s a dining area and full bar just inside the main entrance. A well-appointed lounging area is placed under the big windows that face the river. Double doors in the lounge area open on a large deck that hangs over a huge eddy in the river and offers views of the snowcapped mountains in the distance.
The dock is placed to the right, below the deck, and you’ll usually find a staff member or a guest there casting to big rainbows. There is also a loft above the dining area with sofas, satellite TV, a fly tying table and a table for cards and games. The lodge has telephones and Internet access for guests.
I was so impressed with the entire staff at the Patagonia Baker Lodge that I can’t say enough good things about them. They were warm and friendly and spoke English fluently. We had so much fun with them that I was sad to leave. This was the first season for Operations Manager Manuel Reyes, who was efficient, accommodating and anticipated our requests. He was dedicated to our comfort and enjoyment. Esteban Osorio is the head guide and has decades of experience fishing all over Chile and Argentina. He’s one of the best guides I have ever fished with anywhere in the world. The head chef, Anita Dias, trained at INACAP, at the time Chile’s largest and most well-known culinary arts school. Meals were family-style, and at least one staff member would eat with us. I found the menu varied and the food excellent. Beer and wine were included.
The flexible scheduling at Patagonia Baker Lodge was wonderful. We were not forced into a restrictive routine. Dinnertime was determined by our fishing day. Since it did not get dark until almost 10 pm, it would have been very frustrating to pack it in at 6 pm in order to be home in time for dinner.
Something to consider when planning a trip to Rio Baker is that as the season progresses and temperatures rise, the level of the river rises in response to snow melt. The lower water levels allow for wading. Otherwise, drifting may be the only way to fish most areas. Talk to the booking agent about water levels. I suggest mid-October to early January, then mid-March and April for the best fishing. According to Osorio, the very best time to fish the Cochrane is mid-October to mid-November.
Something to consider when planning a trip to Rio Baker is that as the season progresses and temperatures rise, the level of the river rises in response to snow melt. The lower water levels allow for wading. Otherwise, drifting may be the only way to fish most areas. Talk to the booking agent about water levels.
We booked our trip through Orvis Travel (Tel. 800-547-4322. Web: www.orvis.com/travel).
Arrival at Balmaceda Airport, a lodge staff member will pick you up and drive you to the lodge. It’s a scenic five hour drive through some of the most breathtaking mountains in Chilean Patagonia. Although you may choose to take a charter flight, the drive is spectacular and we recommend it to all visitors. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you.
A brief stopover will be scheduled about halfway through the trip so you can get a hot coffee, soft drinks or a snack. You will be welcomed at the lodge with a traditional Chilean Pisco Sour cocktail. If you feel like fishing right away, you will only need to walk a few steps.
If you choose to charter an airplane to get to the lodge earlier, the lodge’s guides will be ready to take you out in a zodiac for your first encounter with the Rio Baker’s trout. The sun sets between 8 and 10 pm, with great hatches at dusk.
During these full fishing days you will have the chance to fish many of the Baker’s most productive spots. You will also spend time on the Rio Cochrane, whose upper stretch resembles a large spring creek. As the river gets closer to the Pacific Ocean it starts to look more like a typical Pampas river.
Several other smaller rivers and streams will be visited, depending on the time of the year and fishing conditions: the Maqui River, Maiten River, Bertrand Lake, and Cochrane Lake, are some of the options that this unique part of the world has to offer anglers lucky enough to visit.
Departure day. After breakfast one of the lodge’s vehicles will return your group to the airport in Balmaceda. This is another chance to see the magnificent mountain ranges, lakes and forests from a different perspective. Don’t put your camera away just yet. If you are flying out, you will have enough time for some morning wade fishing near the lodge.
Although daily schedules are prepared according to the angler's preferences, the following is a typical routine:
This is a remote and pristine fly fishing paradise. Patagonia Baker Lodge was built by fly fishers, for fly fishers. It offers all thecomfort and amenities that any angler may need and then some. All of the guides are p rofessional, properly trained, English speaking guides with several years of experience in the region. This experience, combined with first rate vehicles and boats, will ensure safe access to even the most remote fishing spots.
Patagonia Baker guides have access to a wide variety of watercraft, including four different zodiacs, a McKenzie style drift boat and a cataraft. The lodge and its staff is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and rewarding fishing experience. The fishing program includes 12 km of the Baker River, the Cochrane River (about a 50 minute drive from the lodge), other smaller rivers, streams and some lake fishing. Bertrand, Carrera and Cochrane Lakes all produce incredible fly fishing for stillwater anglers. However, the focus at Patagonia Baker Lodge is primarly on fishing the area’s numerous rivers and streams. Although boats are used for fishing as well as transportation, most of the rivers are wadeable, providing opportunities to get out and stalk wild trout. The rivers around Patagonia Baker Lodge support one of Patagonia's most abundant and interesting populations of wild rainbows and resident browns. Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of acrobatic rainbows and colorful browns averaging 2-8 pounds. Virtually every season really big fish, up to 18 pounds, have been landed by skilled anglers. And just in case you just can’t get enough, there is a very active dry fly pool only a few yards away from the lodge.
Bertrand, Carrera and Cochrane Lakes all produce incredible fly fishing for stillwater anglers. However, the focus at Patagonia Baker Lodge is primarly on fishing the area’s numerous rivers and streams. Although boats are used for fishing as well as transportation, most of the rivers are wadeable, providing opportunities to get out and stalk wild trout. The rivers around Patagonia Baker Lodge support one of Patagonia's most abundant and interesting populations of wild rainbows and resident browns. Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of acrobatic rainbows and colorful browns averaging 2-8 pounds. Virtually every season really big fish, up to 18 pounds, have been landed by skilled anglers. And just in case you just can’t get enough, there is a very active dry fly pool only a few yards away from the lodge.
A number of recreational activities can be coordinated for the enjoyment of accompanying non-anglers. Examples include things like horseback riding, bird watching, rafting, kayaking, trekking, sightseeing, motorboat tours in Lakes General Carrera, Bertrand and Cochrane. These are unforgettable half-day or full-day experiences that include transportation and lunch. Non-fishing activities are subject to advance planning and weather conditions.
The lodge is located 170 miles south of the airport in Balmaceda, about 2 miles from the small and picturesque town of Puerto Bertrand. The lodge has ample room so guests can relax in comfort and take advantage of the well thought out floor plan. Built specifically for fly fishermen, Patagonia Baker Lodge features six deluxe double rooms with electric heat, a fireplace and private bathrooms.
Each room has a view of the turquoise green waters of the Rio Baker just outside the window. The Club House has two great rooms with fireplaces, full sized bar, dining room, and a fly-tying and leisure area. If you need to stay in touch with the rest of the world during your vacation, Patagonia Baker Lodge has all of the modern conveniences including telephone, fax, email, Internet, and satellite TV. This is all topped off with superb gourmet dining that anglers will enjoy after a long day on the river. Read our Chile fly fishing trip reviews to learn more about this Patagonia lodge.
2013-2014 Season & Rates: mid October through mid April
|double occupancy||accompanying an angler||traveling alone|
|7 nights, 6 days||$5390||$3730||$5980|
|4 nights, 3 days||$3420||$2390||$3690|
Deluxe accommodations with private bathroom. Local transportation. Guided fishing (fly fishing only, catch and release). Ground transfers between Balmaceda airport and lodge. Breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Meals include selected Chilean house wines, domestic beer, or soda. One excursion for accompanying non anglers per stay. Fishing license (issued directly at PBL). Satellite TV at Club House, Internet and Email (unlimited Wi-Fi usage time on your own portable).
Air charter transportation between Balmaceda airport and lodge (optional charter flight, approximately $1,600 each way for up to 7 guests), trip insurance, fishing equipment, flies, phone calls, laundry, extra activities, extra meal or beverages and gratuities.