Kau Tapen
Lodge

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Sea-Run Brown Trout

Kau Tapen Lodge - Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Rio GrandeKau Tapen was the first fishing lodge on the Río Grande, opened in 1984. Kau Tapen means “House of Fishing” in the Ona Language and here, at the heart of the Río Grande, live the best pools of the river. You’ll fish most days with the wind at your back and over your shoulder for prime casting angles, while short walks and shallow wading are the norm. Single or two handed rods are both effective. Skate a bomber over a resting lie, or float a nymth next to a cut back for Sea- Run Trout you’ve only see in your dreams.

Why Choose Kau Tapen Lodge?

  • Located in the heart of the Rio Grande – the best trophy Sea Run Brown Trout river in the world.
  • The first lodge on the Rio Grande, over 32 years ago, and the standard of excellence by which all other lodges, worldwide, are measured.
  • Five world records have been set at Kau Tapen. 27-35 pound trout are caught each season. 20 pounders are caught every week.
  • The most pools per angler per day- only two anglers and their guide per beat and four to eight pools per beat- different beats every morning and evening–that’s a lot of water to cover each day!
  • The best lodge services and hospitality—over 80% of our anglers are repeat guests.
  • The easiest river you’ll ever wade, with a gravel boeom and an even flow.
  • Easy to read pool and riffle sequences on each beat.
  • Kau Tapen can easily be fished with a 7 or 8 weight rod or with a two hander.
  • Fish are generally easy to reach, holding on current lines or against cut banks within casting range.
  • It’s not just the Rio Grande that Kau Tapen overlooks, but also the Menendez River, which hosts its own run of Sea Trout with over 22 river miles.. This river offers some of the best floating line fishing for sea runs, many of them over 20 lbs. Here, technical fishing is the norm.
  • Extensive beats make it possible to find a pool where wind is a help -not a hindrance.
  • Each week starts with an evening warm up session -most anglers will catch a trout or two the first night they arrive
  • A mix of the world’s best guides, both local and international, to make sure we combine local knowledge with world class technique. Guides rotate each day-you learn more and enjoy more.
  • A la carte menu, true five star accommodations and excellent equipment means you will be fishing in both style and comfort.
  • It is not all sinking line dredging many trout are caught on floating line and even floating flies each season.

Location

Coordinates: 53° 53´ 57.82” S 68° 22´ 7.42” W

The lodge is located on the banks of the Rio Grande, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The success of the fishery on the Rio Grande is a modern-day fisherman’s Cinderella story. In just a decade, through access control and catchand-release regulations, average catch rates have risen from less than a fish a day in the early ‘80s to multiple fish per day, per person, today. In the modern era, starting with the opening of Kau Tapen Lodge in the early ‘80s, the Rio Grande has become the most productive sea-run brown trout fishery in the world. However, trout numbers fluctuate with ocean variables, tides, water levels, and a host of other natural factors. The Rio Grande flows from west to east, from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean, through approximately 60 miles of Argentine territory. The landscape of Tierra del Fuego is reminiscent of Wyoming or the Scottish low country. It includes sparsely populated wilderness, large sheep farming estancias, and wild herds of llama-like Guanacos, as well as plentiful red fox populations and condors.

Getting There

Guests fly into Buenos Aires, Argentina, and typically overnight there, with a day to spend touring this wonderful city. Arrival day at Kau Tapen is set for Saturday, so the following morning guests depart Buenos Aires for the flight south. Commercial airlines fly from Buenos Aires to the airport of Rio Grande (3-hour flight), where a lodge representative will meet you. The transfer from Rio Grande airport to the lodge takes 50-60 minutes. On arrival at the lodge, guests are welcomed with cocktails by the entire Kau Tapen staff.

 

Facilities & Services

The Lodge

Built in 1984, Kau Tapen Lodge was designed to offer rods maximum comfort during their fishing trips, as well as easy access to the best pools on the world famous Rio Grande. It accommodates up to 10 guests (and occasionally 12) in en-suite single rooms to ensure privacy and comfort. The lodge has Ten en suite single rooms; some offer a king bed, while some have one queen, and others are furnished with two doubles. A large living room opens up to peaceful vistas of the Menendez and Rio Grande valleys and includes a roaring fire and a well stocked bar. The lodge also boasts a tackle shop with an excellent selection of Sage rods, quality fly reels, flies, lines, Patagonia clothing, and other fishing essentials. In addition, guests have full use of the lodge’s fly-tying table and equipment. Additional Kau Tapen highlights include two wading/fly gear rooms, a full spa with jacuzzi, a sauna and Finnish steam bath.

Food & Drinks

At Nervous Waters, our kitchens come to life through the use of fresh and regionally representative meats and produce. By combining these elements, we create delicious flavors and varied textures that harbor hidden stories and package traditions on each plate. A top-notch team of experienced national and international chefs, trained in both classic and avant-garde culinary techniques, execute our food. With an artisan’s touch, chefs prepare every dish by scratch to be served at a minute’s notice. In addition, our inspired lunch and dinner menus are paired with some of Argentina’s—and the world’s—best wines; Bodega Catena Zapata. In addition to our focus on fresh food with organic origins, we also celebrate our Argentine heritage with a wine partnership that brings truly world class wines to our lodges. We feel that the food we present and the wines we serve should mirror the sporting opportunities we offer—and be the very best available. While our vast country offers many options for traditional activities such as riding, hunting, eating good meats, and drinking good wines, we have chosen to blend fine food and outdoor activity at an even higher level. We feel our offerings from Bodega Catena Zapata blend perfectly into our harmonious niche in the sporting environment. Boasting many accolades from the wine community at large, a Bodega Catena Zapata wine recently received a “number four in the world” icon ranking from Wine Advocate. These are truly great wines that compete on the world stage and in addition to enjoying your sporting holiday and our excellent menus, we also hope you will also take note of our wines. They hold a special place in our culture and we are proud to serve them to you. At Kau Tapen and Villa Maria lodges our kitchens are characterized by both classic preparations and contemporary flavors. Enjoy fresh pastas and fire-roasted meats like our famous Patagonian lamb, roasted gaucho-style over charcoal embers, alongside ocean-fresh flavors such as King crab and savory sea bass or black hake. And don’t forget to save room for dessert. From homemade ice creams to classic sweets and pastries, we have you covered.

The Fishing

Although most of their lives are spent in the ocean, sea-run brown trout seem to retain more of the eccentricities of resident browns than, for instance, steelhead do of resident rainbows. Moody fish, they must be shown flies the way they want to see them at the precise time that they’re ready to take. The Rio Grande isn’t a big river.

Thus, it’s compatible with a wide range of techniques; critical since a large sea-run brown trout may demand that a fly be fed to it on the bottom one hour but rise to a skating fly the next. Water levels can change from week to week and they generally drop as the season progresses.
Vary your presentations in each pool fished until you find the right formula of fly, line, drift or swing, and retrieve. Also heed the advice of your guide, whose primary aim is to recommend methods that will help you hook and bring more fish to the net.
Generally, the Rio Grande’s sea-run brown trout seem to lie near cut banks during the middle of the day, though in low water they will also lie in the faster necks of pools. They typically move into these areas during early morning, evening, and nighttime hours.
Generally, “tails in the morning and heads at night” is a good rule. Also look for fish distributed throughout pools on calm, overcast days. On sunny days, one theory holds that sea-run brown trout will take best if they don’t have the sun in their eyes, although this theory, like others, is often affected by the number of fish in a particular pool and the number of “takers.”

The Daily Program

Guests will leave the lodge around 9 o’clock after breakfast, fishing till around 1 o’clock. Following lunch and a siesta (the duration depends on the season), guests return to the river in the late afternoon and fish until dark. Fishing hours will change slightly depending on the time of year.

About The Sea-Run Brown Trout

The first Brown Trout were stocked in Tierra del Fuego by English angler John Goodall in 1935. Shipped from Puerto Montt, Chile, 60,000 salmo trutta eggs survived the arduous journey to be planted on the Candelaria and McLennan rivers, both tributaries of the Rio Grande. These fish eventually found their way to sea, likely attracted by the rich nourishment found in the brackish estuaries.

Sea-run brown trout now complete annual migratory cycles similar to salmonids, spawning during the fall in freshwater. Juveniles remain in the river up to four years until their first ocean migration, where they will feed and grow for about 6 months before their first return to freshwater, weighing approximately 3 to 6 pounds. Researchers have found searun brown trout that have spawned more than 6 times. A trout that has completed 4 cycles of returning to freshwater can weigh more than 20 pounds. The frequency with which they return to freshwater is also an indicator that the fish face few threats. It’s also an example of the benefits of catch and release.

Season

Specie Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sea-Run Brown Trout
Dorado
Pacú
Pirá Pitá
Brown Trout
Rainbow Trout
Doves
Perdiz
Ducks
Pigeon
Wild black buck
Axis deer
Red Stag
Fallow Deer
Wild Boar

Bahamas

Specie Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Bonefish

Fishing Equipment

Fishing EquipmentThe suggestions that follow are drawn from over two decades’ experience fishing the Rio Grande under a wide variety of conditions.

  • Rods: The Rio Grande features a natural design an instream architecture perfectly suited for Spey rods. Mending and controlling line is also easier with a 2-hander. Use 7- to 9-weights from 12 to 15 feet long. If you’re new to Spey casting, our guides are expert instructors and will help you learn quickly. Lighter switch rods are increasingly popular and allow anglers to cast a comfortable line with less effort, particularly on windy days. Single-handers in 7- to 9-weights—and up to 10 feet long—can also be effective in light-wind conditions on the Grande or for technical, close-range nymphing on the Rio Menendez tributary. Longer rods make casting easier with the normal downstream southwest wind, while an 8- or 9-weight helps you to drive your line into or across the wind when necessary. Given the Rio Grande’s moderate flow and generally even gravel bottom, you’ll find an 8 or 9 capable of doing battle with even the river’s largest sea trout (15 to 25+ pounds), while it ensures the most action with smaller sea trout (4 to 10 pounds). Sage produces many of the best rods we use regularly on the water. In addition to a stalwart lifetime warranty, the company engineers several high-performance options perfectly suited for this fishery.
  • Reels: choose a quality reel with a powerful, adjustable drag. Reels (and spare spools) should have enough capacity for your fly line and 100+ yards of 20-pound backing. We recomment reels from Sage that produce several options perfectly suited for the Rio Grande.
  • Lines: To be well prepared for Tierra del Fuego, anglers should include at least three lines to accommodate varying water levels and wind conditions. Weight-forward fly lines are generally used on the Rio Grande. Floating lines are most useful during low-water conditions and in the early morning and evening hours, when sea run brown trout feed near the surface. Integrated sinkingtip lines also work great, while intermediate lines are also effective in some conditions. For Spey rods, we’re mostly using shooting heads, from floating to fast-sinking (S4). Most shooting head can also be used with sink-tips so you can target different depths. RIO AFS are easy to cast and effective, whether fished floating or sinking. RIO offers sinking poly leaders for those lines. If you’re fishing a Skagit-style set-up, also check out RIO’s MOW Tip system in varying weights and sink rates. Fish Skagit heads for easy rod loading, for casting larger flies on heavy tips, and for effectively casting into the wind. Use 400- and 700-grain heads, depending on your rod. Even experienced anglers often find their running line snarls when buffeted by wind. Prevailing southwest winds can be “harnessed” by roll casting or spey-casting, which eliminates the need to back cast—difficult to do with a trailing wind. We found that a simple roll cast carries even large streamers 35 to 50 feet across and downstream, or far enough to cover the holding lies. Weight-forward lines can be rolled effectively by stripping and shooting line during the cast.kau-tapen-lodge-1
  • Leaders: Experience on the Rio Grande indicates that sea run brown trout are not particularly leader shy. While reasonable stealth should be exercised, your chief concern is to bring monofilament in sizes that will turn over the array of fly sizes and patterns you’ll be using. Spools of monofilament should include 10- to 15-pound test weights. While fishing sinking lines, a few feet of straight (not tapered) monofilament will do fine. Maxima Ultra-green is a good choice as it has plenty of stretch, a factor worth considering when the sea run of a lifetime hits your fly! While fishing, be sure to check your mono regularly for casting knots and abrasions. After each fish caught test your leader knots. For floating lines it’s good to have knotless tapered leaders from 9 to 12 feet, with 0X tippets.
  • Flies: Plan to bring a good selection of flies, however, some fly patterns, as well as a modest supply of back-up tackle, will be available for purchase at the lodge. Sea run brown trout are mysterious fish. The only constant in their tastes seems to be a penchant for black. The trout that accepts your small Salmon patterns today may demand flies with white rubber legs tomorrow! Historically, most Rio Grande fish were taken on large streamers, perhaps because those were the patterns most commonly used. In low water conditions, more large sea trout are taken on smaller wet flies, nymphs, and drys. We suggest packing a range of flies in various patterns and sizes, and urge frequent changes when one combination isn’t working. These combinations will be determined based on light conditions, water levels, and especially on your guide’s advice. Barbless hooks are strongly encouraged. Double and treble hooks are not permitted. Catch-and-release is mandatory.

General fly list:

  • Collie Dog tube flies (31/2 -41/2” long, both aluminum and copper bodies, with hard plastic tubing and #4 wide-gape hooks)
  • Sunray shadow in different sizes.
  • Bunny leech, Zonker, Woolly Bugger (black/olive), articulated string leech types, with electric blue flash, on #2-4 hooks
  • Peacock (now a staple on Rio Grande, tied on #2-4 hooks)
  • Girdle or Yuk Bug rubber legs (#4-12)
  • Bitch Creek nymphs (orange and black for preference, #4-12
  • Bead head nymphs (Prince, Hare’s Ear, etc. #10-14)
  • Traditional Atlantic Salmon flies
  • Bombers or other waking dry flies (natural deer hair, black&green on #4-8 hooks), for use drifted or with a Portland hitch
  • Include 1- to 2-inch tube flies if you have them, as tubes can be effective on the Rio Grande. Also, take any large dark trout or salmon fly in which you have confidence. Fishing a fly that has worked for you in the past, and in which you have confidence in is half the battle. Note that larger streamers should be weighted and should be tied on heavy hooks with good gapes.

About The Sea-Run Brown Trout

The first Brown Trout were stocked in Tierra del Fuego by English angler John Goodall in 1935. Shipped from Puerto Montt, Chile, 60,000 salmo trutta eggs survived the arduous journey to be planted on the Candelaria and McLennan rivers, both tributaries of the Rio Grande. These fish eventually found their way to sea, likely attracted by the rich nourishment found in the brackish estuaries.

Sea-run brown trout now complete annual migratory cycles similar to salmonids, spawning during the fall in freshwater. Juveniles remain in the river up to four years until their first ocean migration, where they will feed and grow for about 6 months before their first return to freshwater, weighing approximately 3 to 6 pounds. Researchers have found searun brown trout that have spawned more than 6 times. A trout that has completed 4 cycles of returning to freshwater can weigh more than 20 pounds. The frequency with which they return to freshwater is also an indicator that the fish face few threats. It’s also an example of the benefits of catch and release.

Kau Tapen Lodge

Weekly Rates

Season 2021: January 2 – April 10, 2021

January 2 – 9                     $ 9,250 *
January 9 – March 6        $ 10,350 *
March 6 – 13                        $ 9,250 *
March 13 – 20                      $ 7,950
March 20 – 27                     $ 6,950
March 27 – April 3             $ 5,950
April 3 – 10                           $ 4,950

Rates are based on 7 nights ad 6 days fishing, and include single room (based subjected to availability) and shared guide.

Non Fisher Rate: $650 per person per night

* Saturday to Saturday weeks within January 4 and March 14 include:

  • 1 night at Delta Eco Lodge (shared rooms), with one day of guided dorado fishing (subject to availability; first-come first-take basis) with lunch, dinner and breakfast included – open bar.

Does not includes transfer Ezeiza (EZE) Intl. Airport to Marina – Marina to Aeroparque (AEP) Domestic Airport (based on 2 pax min. at $ 150 p/person)

Rates per person based on shared guide.

  • Included: Transfer from Rio Grande Airport to Kau Tapen, Lodging, Meals, all wines, beer, and local spirits at the Lodge, Professional guide services & loaner fishing equipment (Rods, reels & Lines).
  • Not included: Gratuities for guides and house staff, international and domestic airfares, fishing license ($495 approx. per person), laundry service and day-room ($200 p/ person) based on single occupancy at Rio Grande Hotel on arrival date to Río Grande.
  • Payment terms: A deposit of 50% confirms a reservation. Deposits are Non-Refundable unless client replacement is found. Final payment is due 60 days prior to departure. At this point participants are responsible for total land costs and no refunds will be made for unused land transportation, accommodations, or included meals.

*Prices are in USD

Videos

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Posted on December 24, 2014 by Nervous Waters Get ready for a 6th. season of adventure, as the iconic cast of anglers – along with a few new frie..[...]

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Bob Gino had left his comments about Bair’s.

Posted on December 23, 2014 by Nervous Waters After his visit to Bair´s Lodge, in South Andros, Bob says: “I like to ffer constructive criticism..[...]

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Spectrum of Emotions

Week 5 insights from Kau Tapen Lodge, Patagonia There is a phrase commonly used back home by anglers on the big western trout loughs (Irish lakes) ..[...]

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Fishing for Memories

Having graduated from university in late 2008 and being well and truly hooked on the notion of guiding internationally I set about the intricate ta..[...]

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