Best Dorado Fishing
Argentina has a long history of exceptional freshwater dorado fishing. And from the massive Rio de la Plata system to the unpressured wilderness expanses of the Ibera Wetlands, Nervous Waters has been pioneering these diverse fisheries since the beginning.
The characiformes order, found in Central and South America, as well as Africa, consists of more than 2,000 individual fish species. Most are small—less than an inch long. But some reach much larger sizes, including golden dorado and the goliath tigerfish. Probably the most well known species within characiformes is the piranha. At least among the non-angling set.
In exceptional cases, dorado (Salminus maxillosus or brasiliensis) can weigh up to—or more than—30 kg. Generally speaking, however, a 4 to 5 kg dorado is considered a great fish on the fly. Golden dorado should not be confused with saltwater dorado, also called mahi-mahi and dolphin. The two species are unrelated. Golden dorado have also been grouped with salmonids over the years due to the spread of misinformation. This too is simply untrue.
Small dorado populations are found in select parts of the Amazon Basin, but the sprawling Rio de la Plata shines as a massive, multifaceted stronghold for the species. Flowing through parts of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, the basin is the second largest drainage system in South America, and one of the biggest in the world. Its diverse ecosystem envelops freestone rivers in the mountains, as well as marshes and lagoons in the lowlands—a system that goes from freshwater to freshwater, as opposed to the sea.
The Rio de la Plata was once called “The Sweet Sea”—a reference to its oceanic size. And today, dorado rule this diverse environment; an apex predator with a wide range of behaviors and moods influenced by seasons and habitat. Dorado can be complex, and deciphering the challenges is what keeps anglers coming back. That, and of course, the dorado’s beauty, ferocity and acrobatic tendencies. Combined, these prized attributes make freshwater dorado one of most distinguished gamefish you’ll find anywhere.
Today we specialize in providing expert guides, premier accommodations, and great dorado fishing at these three world-class operations.
Dorado exhibit predatory feeding behaviors, mostly attacking minnows (sometimes not so small), frogs, mice and other creatures that are best represented by larger than average flies and lures. Appropriate tackle is key. And fly fishers used to trout or salmon fishing will do fine with well balanced rods, fly lines and leader. The standard dorado outfit ranges from 6- to 9-weight rods—depending on conditions, river size and the average weight of the dorado you will be targeting. Typically, 7- or 8-weights make the best all-rounders.
Throughout the system, we fish both floating and sinking fly lines. Tropical rated lines are the best. The basin also offers a mix of boat- and wade-fishing opportunities. That said, wade fishing rarely involves wearing waders. Wet wading is the rule. Specific exceptions are usually announced in advance.
Dorado fishing is not a numbers game. Generally, success comes with patience and practice. Dorado may have a reputation for attacking anything unlucky enough to swim into striking range. But in truth, those feeding frenzies can be few and far between. The thrill of fooling these smart fish, on any given day, across an array of conditions, is what makes fishing the Rio del la Plata so special.
In recent years, dorado fishing has become increasingly popular. The internet has also helped spawn many spontaneous experts—some credible, and some not so much. We recommend doing your homework in order to separate the good, the bad and the ugly. With dorado there’s a deeper meaning lying under the layers of commercial noise. When you find it, you’ll know it.
For more information on the technical aspects of fly fishing for dorado, visit the Nervous Waters website today.
NERVOUS WATERS DORADO OPERATIONS
Nervous Waters owns and runs a trio of benchmark setting dorado programs that can be experienced individually or as part of a combo package.
In 1999 Nervous Waters built the first fly-fishing lodge specifically dedicated to dorado. Strategically located in the Ibera Wetlands, near the headwaters of the Corriente River, Pira raises the bar when it comes to high-end accommodations, experienced guides and staff, phenomenal food, and quality equipment.
The fishing is done both in small to medium size river channels either in the marsh or on the upper section of the Corriente River. Water flows crystal clear in this natural reservoir, offering sight-fishing opportunities and chances to fish both floating and sinking lines. Depending on conditions, floating patterns like mice and frog imitations can be used to tempt unpressured dorado. Fishing is done from immaculately maintained Hell’s Bay flats skiffs. Some areas can also be wade-fished. In addition, for those who appreciate a subtle approach to intimate waters, the area is an ultra-light fishing paradise. From the lodge dock, for instance, avid anglers can catch a range of exotic species, such as dientudo, tararira, piraña, cabeza amarga and more, using micro poppers, dry flies, nymphs and small streamers.
Based out of a classic estancia on the upper section of the iconic Parana River, Alto Parana Lodge is another dorado fishing must-see. Casting from custom made skiffs to bankside structure in the main river and across intimate tributaries is the standard. Considered slightly more technical than the waters of the Ibera, experienced casters will enjoy using floating lines and, sometimes, dry flies. A trophy-size dorado is the reward for flawless executions… and not just a random casualty. Our waters typically run clear/green and the fishing is done mostly casting under and right next to logs and near-shore structure—both prospecting and sight-fishing. In addition to dorado, these are some of the best waters in Argentina to experience two of the most interesting native species in the basin: pirá pitá and pacú. Both grow large, fight hard, and can be taken on dry flies.
DELTA LODGE & DAYTRIPS
Managed by co-owner Noel Pollak, both the lodge and the daytrips service represent our closest fly-fishing operations to Buenos Aires. The lodge is located 1 hour from the city—split half by car and half by boat run—and there’s no trace of an urban feeling once you step into the area. Instead this last section of the Parana River is a wild expanse of braided streams and rivers pouring into the spectacular Rio de la Plata. The natural landscape is far from what most people would expect to find such short distance from the epicenter of Argentina. (UNESCO made this section of the basin a “Biosphere Reservoir” in 2000.) Here we mostly target dorado and tararira (wolf fish) on flies. Ultra-light fishing is an option, too. The fishing is done with floating lines and often floating patterns like mice imitations and poppers. You’ll fish from custom skiffs. Tackle, flies and lures are provided. Also, binoculars for bird lovers.
The daytrip program is ideal for those visiting or passing through Buenos Aires, giving you an opportunity to add another fly-fishing experience to your schedule. The Marina is located 35 minutes from the city center.
Dorado fishing in Argentina has many faces. Via Nervous Waters, you can now sample an array of country’s best dorado fisheries. These top-tier operations are geared for exploration and adventure, as well providing quality experiences both on and off the water.