PRO melds one of Argentina’s most renowned outfitters with some of the finest Golden Dorado guides worldwide. Situated in the middle section of the Río Paraná—South America’s second-longest river and watershed —this subtropical winter fishery (from June 20 to November 5) targets the peak of the river’s legendary Dorado migration.
The annual inflow of Sábalo brings the season to life. Aggressive Dorado gorge on the baitfish, growing to sizes of 10 to 40+ lbs. After two full years of scouting, our guides are keyed in on the habits and habitats of these formidable and complex fish. You’ll sight-fish to monsters prowling the river’s long sandbars, explore remote backwater creeks, and you’ll cover everything from woody structure to cut-banks and deep channels. We at PRO and Nervous Waters are thrilled to introduce you to a new season on this truly special fishery.
As a PRO guest, your comfort, on-and-off the water, is our priority. Accommodations for the duration of your stay will be at a 5-star hotel in the riverside haven of Bella Vista, where we have the capacity for up to ten anglers. All room rates are based on shared occupancy, although single rooms are available for a small surcharge.
Hotel amenities include a dining room and “Asado” area, as well as a swimming pool and a fully stocked bar, with beer and top-shelf spirits. Lunch is served during your fishing day on the water, and you’ll enjoy breakfast and dinner at the hotel restaurant. Savory main courses include traditional Argentine dishes accompanied by top-shelf wines from the renowned Catena Zapata collection. Just be sure to save room for our exquisite desserts.
We divide our season into two segments: Winter and Spring, spanning the months of June-November. During each of these, air temperature, weather patterns, water levels, and bait movement dictate what techniques and strategies we use to find and land these trophy Dorado.
June marks the beginning of our season at PRO and when the majority of the Paraná’s fish species begin their annual migrations into the upper reaches of the system. We time our season to intercept the bulk of these migrations as they pass through the middle Paraná River. As Dorado move upriver following their favorite baitfish, they feed with reckless abandon, desperately working to pack on as much weight as possible for their eventual spawning events later in the year.
As the water begins to cool down, the Dorado’s favorite baitfish, Sábalo, and Mojarra, leave the shelter of side-channel lagoons, marshes, and “bañados” to the main artery of the river, where large predators lay in wait.
Once in the main river, the baitfish gather into massive schools, seeking safety in numbers. This schooling events mark the prime time to find Dorado in the rich structure of the middle Paraná. Our favorite areas to look for holding Dorado are:
It is common to watch Dorado as they hunt along the sand bars, as well as on the shoreline. During this time, sight casting for large mature dorados happens often.
During late August and September our region gets what we call “false summers”, abrupt changes in temperatures for a few days, reminding us that winter is about to end and warm weather is on its way.
Our water begins to slowly warm-up and during these changes, our seasonal rains begin. Shifts in weather and air temperature normally translate into windows of phenomenal fish activity, especially when there are changes in the barometric pressure.
This time of the year temperature starts to come up, the days start to get longer, and our Dorado move into their favorite ambush points. It is very normal to fish more structured water like sunken logs, heads of islands, and well-defined, rocky shorelines.
By this point in the year, Dorado are very well fed, often reaching the peak of their size and strength during these months. Now is when we truly see how large these fish can get, especially the females who outgrow their male counterparts by tens of pounds, as they begin producing eggs and building mass for the coming spawn.
Daily flights are available from Buenos Aires Aeroparque Domestic Airport (AEP) to Corrientes (CNQ) or Resistencia (RES). These 2 neighboring airports are located 25 minutes from each other. It is a 1-hour nonstop flight to either of these airports, from there it’s a 75-mile drive to the hotel, a 1.45 to 2 hours´ drive.
PRO hosts its clients out of a high-end hotel in the small town of Bella Vista, located on the Paraná River. The river here marks the border between Corrientes and Santa Fé provinces, inside Argentina.
This section of the Paraná flows clearer on the Corrientes side and murkier on the Santa Fe side, both sides fish well depending on fish movement and feeding patterns during the migration. The river is full of beautiful fishy banks, long sandbars, and numerous islands that create deltas and smaller “riachos” (streams).
This section of the Paraná River is a land of plenty when it comes to varied fish-holding structure. From downed logs and steep cut-banks to sandbars and deep edges, it has it all.
When targeting Dorado in woody structure, we typically use full-floating or intermediate-sinking lines to swing flies in and around the obstructions. Although mends are sometimes needed to alter the speed or depth of the swing, the trick is to always maintain control of the line, keeping in constant, direct contact with your fly. Another effective tactic is to slap the fly close to the structure. The “noise” or “commotion” on the water’s surface is often enough to wake up a dormant Dorado and prompt it to aggressively move for the fly.
In the lagoons, bays, and smaller black-water (tannin-colored) side channels the fish can be warrier and when that’s the case, it’s best to present the fly gently. If there are baitfish around, on the other hand, it’s more about stripping and ripping the fly in order to provoke a strike.
The final key to the puzzle of the middle Paraná is its abundant sandbars, where we find some of the river’s best sight-fishing. These zones can be explored on foot or by boat, depending on where the Dorado are patrolling. To avoid spooking fish in skinnier water, floating lines and long leaders are the norms here. Depending on the situation, these cruising Dorado can be spooky, or they can shed all inhibitions and get crazy during a feeding frenzy. Fish can be found in singles, pairs, and schools, and where the water clarity is good you’ll see them. In deeper water scenarios, the game changes, and reading the water and covering it thoroughly become essential to success.
The sandbar edges can be fished with floating or sinking lines. Large Dorado are often found either prowling these areas or lying in wait in the shadows, ready to ambush incoming baitfish. Dorado are one of the most exciting species anglers can catch on a fly, and this is the best section of the Paraná to land a monster during our spring season. You’ll also find good sight-fishing opportunities when our Dorado are located on the river’s banks, where they ambush cruising sábalo. Guests will be fishing mostly from our new fleet of 21-foot Skiffs. The custom designs have two decks (one on the front, another one on the back), so both anglers can fish simultaneously.
The Paraná is a structure-rich river system. Most of the time we “drift” the boats with trolling motors in order to cover as much water as possible—from sunken logs and boulder gardens to small bays and side channels. Other times, the fish are concentrated on sandbanks, where they corral baitfish. If this is the case, we’ll often drift-fish the sand zones or wade in search of action on foot. Your PRO guides are trained, professional, shallow-water specialists. All will be able to offer tips on how to best fish each area, as well as which fly and presentation should work best depending on the conditions. Do follow their advice; they are a first-class team with an impressive knowledge of Dorado fishing. They are there to make your fishing more productive and enjoyable.
Our fishing schedule stays consistent throughout our season featuring two fishing sessions per day, one in the morning and the other following lunch and a siesta at the lodge dependent on the weather and other seasonal factors.
Every morning at PRO starts with a hot, fresh breakfast in our private dining room. Then, around 8:30 AM, we take a short 2-minute walk down to the dock, where our custom skiffs are waiting to embark for the day’s fishing action. We will fish all morning, and then have a hot lunch on the shores of the Paraná, prepared by your guides, and, of course, paired with Argentine wines and local beer. After lunch, we’ll head back out, fishing until sunset when we return to the lodge for aperitifs, followed by dinner and drinks.
The freshwater Golden Dorado (Salminus brasiliensis), totally unrelated to the saltwater Dorado (also known as Mahi-mahi or Dolphin), represents the apex of the Charasin family of fish in terms of sport fishing opportunities. Aggressive eaters and active jumpers, these fish are an angler’s delight.
Our guides have been exploring the area and Dorado fishing itself for more years than most. Do follow their advice, it will maximize your enjoyment of this incredible fighting fish. Although the Golden Dorado is one of the most exciting game-fish to catch, there is very little written about fly fishing for dorado. Its complex feeding regime and migratory nature ensure a challenging and rewarding fishing opportunities for both expert and entry-level anglers.
Golden Dorado are strong and acrobatic, and their pursuit is often more about quality experiences than a numbers game.
For those anglers who prefer using their own equipment, a 9-foot, 8 or 9-weight rod is a good all-rounder for this area. Ideal is to have 2 different set-ups.
Choose a quality reel with a powerful, adjustable drag. A strong, smooth drag is a must, as larger Dorado are both strong and fast. Reels should have enough capacity for your fly line and 100+ yards of 30 to 50 pound backing.
Floating fly lines are standard, fished with 8-9 weight rods. Tropical floating lines either a weight heavier or with a heavy weight-forward taper are great. Consider bringing along cold water lines for the winter months (late June, July and August), and warm-water lines for September and October. Also, intermediate and sinking lines can be productive.
The leaders should be heavy enough to turn over big flies. Spools of mono should include 50 to 80 pound test weights. Maxima Ultragreen Mono is a good option for leader material. An important thing to consider in a Dorado leader is the shock, or bite tippet. Bring plenty of 40 to 65 pound test steel leader for your stay. We recommend:
Fast stripping is usually the way to present your fly: cloth finger covers are useful for those who are not so used to this kind of fishing. Polarized sunglasses are very important since there may be good opportunities for sight casting.
Popular Dorado flies like the legendary Andino Deceivers (4- to 7-inch streamers tied on 3/0 to 5/0 hooks) and some other patterns can be good, depending on the clarity of the water. We recommend that you buy flies from the guides—they have whatever you need, as they tie flies and know the game.
In most cases, Golden Dorado prefer dark streamers that produce visible silhouettes. Nevertheless, there are situations when carrying a mixture of brighter colors can be effective. So don’t be afraid to experiment across the color spectrum. All flies should be tied on heavy, strong 3/0 to 5/0 hooks. Streamers can be tied from 5 to 7 inches long, or longer. However, it’s important that they’re light enough to cast. For the really big stuff, we recommend hydrophobic materials that shed water and therefore cast farther than a water-soaked material. In order to make your flies more durable, add glue or epoxy throughout the tying process if necessary.
For more details on a few of our favorite, Dorado flies—including how to properly tie and fish them—follow the link.
We have plenty of world-class loaner gear on hand, just let us know in advance if you need anything to flush out your kit.
In both cases, spinning and bait-casting, we recommend rods between 1.80 and 2.10mts (5.9 to 6.9 footers); 10 to 20 pound or 12 to 25 pound medium to fast action rods are needed.
Open-face spinning reels are the easiest to use but, in experienced hands, bait-casters are the easiest to use accurately and they give you the best chance to place your lure where you want it. Baitcasters should feature a high-speed retrieval ratio, as lures are normally worked very rapidly. Whichever style is your favorite, it will need to be loaded with a 50 to 60 lb test multifilament.
Steel leaders are a must. Dorado has sharp teeth and a 10-to-14 inch, 40-65 lb test steel leader is needed
Productive lures include:
Argentinian lures made especially for Dorado are available, too. We can provide you lures, they will be customized for Dorado fishing by the guides
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day in our lodges. Choices stretch from local free-range Eggs Benedict to organic and healthy breakfast options. Breakfast is always served with fresh-squeezed orange juice and marmalades from our region’s celebrated citrus orchards.
Lunch is always served on the water prepared by your guiding team. The meal changes daily but you can expect a delicious and rich blend of traditional Argentinian dishes and of course an array of homemade empanadas.
Dinner is served in our private dining/living area back at the lodge where you can expect delicious meals from slow-roasted, orangewood Asado to the local specialty, fresh-caught fish from the Paraná.
Our superb lunch and dinner menus are paired with some of Argentina’s—and the world’s—best wines; Bodega Catena Zapata. Desserts and homemade ice cream will surprise guests with multiple textures and flavors designed to provide a unique delicious final touch to your dining experience.
Season 2021: June – November 2021
Rates are per person based on single room and shared boat.
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