Esteros del Iberá Reserve (from the Guaraní language, meaning “Bright Waters”) is one of South America’s most important freshwater reservoirs. Ranked as the second-largest wetland in the world after the Pantanal in Brazil, it’s also enormous. The area encompasses more than 3 million acres of flowing water—gin-clear creeks, shallows, lakes, swamps, and lagoons. Pirá Lodge, in northern Argentina’s Corrientes Province, strategically places anglers at the southern tip of the expansive wetland; a habitat-rich bottleneck where the marsh and Corriente River ecosystems converge. Here, the Dorado is king.
Built with exquisite Corrientes style and pride, Pirá Lodge enjoys a spectacular panoramic view of the vast wetlands. It accommodates up to 12 guests in seven deluxe rooms, each with a private entrance, private bath, two double beds, ceiling fans, and air conditioning.
A separate building, attached by covered walkways and open-air patios, accommodates the spacious living room, bar, and dining room — each with tall doors that open to the wide veranda. Pirá Lodge was designed by award-winning architects to respect traditional regional elegance—offering all of the comforts and luxuries of a contemporary hotel. Relax and enjoy a cocktail at any hour, and cool off in the outdoor saltwater swimming pool after a rewarding day of fishing.
Pirá Lodge is located on the shores of the Iberá Marshland Nature Reserve, the second-largest wetland on Earth, with more than 3.2 million acres of aquatic wilderness. Here clear waters filter and meander through ever-changing channels, islands, lagoons, and streams. The Marshland has a unique climate during our season as the waters rise and fall, but what is perhaps the most astonishing is how clear the waters remain throughout high and low water events. Our fishing season runs from late spring until the fall, and our fishing tactics change to match the conditions and large fish behavior found during each season, ensuring our guests have the best opportunities to land the Dorado of their dreams.
Our season begins as the first warm fronts of spring begin to heat the waters of the Iberá Marshland. As the conditions improve, the Dorado wakes up and the action starts. Under the warm spring sun, the marsh and its vegetation come to life, as well as the predators lurking below the surface. This time of the year, everything flourishes; from Capybaras keeping watch over their new young and hundreds of migratory birds hatching.
This time of year also corresponds with the beginning of our rainy season. It’s an excellent time of the year to focus on the larger female Dorado who are feeding actively, packing on weight prior to spawning. This normally happens between November and early January depending on our weather patterns and water levels.
During spring, our large, overwintering Dorado are in phenomenal shape and eager to eat as well as their migratory counterparts who are beginning to arrive in the system. As the rains start, the main artery of the Marshland, the Corriente River, starts to rise and the higher flows are the first sign of the annual Dorado migration. Schools of Sábalo swim upstream from the Río Paraná, into the Corriente River, and into the marsh. Hot on their tails are aggressive Dorado, eager to feed on their favorite baitfish. Spring is the best time to target our large pre-spawn females and our migratory fish as they flow into the marsh.
Summer arrives in late December, and temperatures already are high by mid to late November. December and January are normally the two warmest months of the season. Occasional rains occur until January, but normally rains are very welcomed as it oxygenates the water and drops the temperature of the water. By the end of December, the spawn is over and Dorado start to actively feed, getting back into shape after spending the bulk of their energy on spawning.
As the summer progresses, our water remains clear as more fish arrive in numbers. By January the run reaches its crescendo. Schools of sábalos push into the system and behind them, schools of hungry Dorado. This is the time of the year to try all kinds of top-water techniques; from mouse patterns to dry flies of all kinds. When presented correctly, Dorado will explode on dries from below for an easy snack.During the summer, we fish both the river and the marsh. When flows allow for it, we fish the upper braided channels of the marsh and if water levels are lower, we’ll focus on the Corriente River where monsters lurk. This time of the year is great for numbers and also sizes.
As the summer wanes, water levels start to drop, and by the end of the season, in March and April, water levels are at or near their lowest. By this time, the Dorado migration is usually over, but depending on how our summer went, it can be delayed into late March or early April. This is a great time of the year to fish weather-wise. Days are not as warm and start to shorten, cooling the waters. Usually, we tend to find more fish in the upper waters of the Marsh and the headwaters of the river as the fish start to migrate out of the marsh and return back to the river. Fishing is still very good and we find Dorado feeding happily in all parts of the water column.
Guests flying into Buenos Aires have the option of overnighting in the city. Whether or not you choose to stay and tour the sights, Pirá lodge can be accessed from Buenos Aires by:
1. Commercial flights to Corrientes (CNQ) or Resistencia (RES). These neighboring airports both offer several nonstop daily flights to and from Buenos Aires. Flight time is approximately 1 hour. Upon landing at CNQ or RES, you’ll be met by a Nervous Waters representative, who will then transfer you to the Lodge.
– Drive time from CNQ to Pira: 4 hours.
– Drive time from RES to Pira: 4.5 hours.
2. Private Charters. Pirá Lodge has a 5,000-foot grass landing strip. Many of our guests choose this convenient option to get to the Lodge. Depending on the size of your group and the type of plane, it’s about a 2-hour flight from BA to Pira. If the grass landing strip is unavailable (due to inclement weather), there’s an asphalt landing strip in Mercedes, located an 1.15hr drive from Pirá.
3. First Class Sleeper Bus. This can be an excellent option for those looking to save money. The overnight 1st class sleeper bus leaves Buenos Aires bus station at 9 p.m. and arrives in Mercedes (the closest city to the lodge) at approximately 6:30 a.m. the following morning. Bus seats are similar to 1st class airplane seats, reclining to a fully horizontal position. Once you arrive in Mercedes, a lodge representative will meet you and transfer you 1.15 hrs to the Lodge. For clients opting for the sleeper bus, we advise booking a Buenos Aires hotel room for a day prior to taking the bus. That way you’ll have a place to stay and relax before boarding at 9 p.m. Transport from the hotel room to the bus terminal can be arranged upon request with Nervous Waters.
The Lodge is located in the Corrientes Province, Northeast Argentina, in the middle of the Ibera Marshlands’ 1,300,000 hectares of Nature Preserve, an area twice the size of the Florida Everglades. The lodge sits right on the edge of our home channel providing direct access to the Marsh system and to the Corriente River, located 20 minutes’ ride south of the lodge.
The Iberá Marshland is a vast system of non-polluted crystal-clear creeks, flowing rivers, shallows, and lakes. The Province of Corrientes borders Uruguay, and enjoys one of Argentina’s subtropical climate patterns, with temperatures in the mid-80s early and late in the season. The Iberá Marshland remains almost completely unexplored and uninhabited, and is home to more than 350 species of birds (e.g parrots, Southern Screamers, kingfishers, ibis, herons), 85 mammals, and almost 70 reptiles, without mentioning the incredible abundance and biomass of flora. During your stay, you will have a chance to see species such as Capybara, River Otters, Yacare (cayman), Howler Monkeys, and Marsh Deer. If you are interested in spending extra time spotting the wildlife or the unique birdlife of the Ibera, please let the head guide know on arrival.
Depending on conditions, presentation strategies may vary. Sometimes a splashy landing of the fly is more effective to trigger a strike, and in other cases, the opposite, a very subtle and noiseless presentation is the way to go. If you are torn about this at any point, your guide will let you know what to adjust. During the retrieve, your rod tip should be slightly under the water’s surface, allowing the fly to be stripped without the line creating a heavy disturbance on the water. If high winds are blowing your presentation is not as important, due to the surface already being broken up by the wind, masking the disturbance made by the fly and line landing on the water.
To avoid the midday heat, anglers generally leave the lodge early in the morning around 8 am or earlier. Guests return to the lodge for a swim, lunch, and drinks at around 12.30 pm. After lunch and a siesta, boats will typically leave the dock around 4:30 pm, returning at dusk. Fishing hours will change slightly depending on the time of year.
Non-fishing activities such as horseback riding, or bird watching are available to allow our guests to enjoy the amazing wildlife in the area and should be organized with the head guide. The swimming pool is the perfect place to relax and soak in the Corrientes sun. Snorkeling and night expeditions into the Marsh are also exciting options. Non-fishing activities such as horseback riding, or bird watching are available to allow our guests to enjoy the amazing wildlife in the area and should be organized with the head guide. The swimming pool is the perfect place to relax and soak in the Corrientes sun. Snorkeling and night expeditions into the Marsh are also exciting options.
There is little written on Dorado fishing on the fly. Our guides have been exploring the area and Dorado fishing itself for more years than most. Follow their advice. Their job, and goal is to maximize your enjoyment of this incredible fighting fish. The Dorado, (Salminus brasiliensis), is an aggressive fish, and once hooked makes impressive and acrobatic jumps. This complex and challenging fish can be found near confluences, on edges of eddies, riffles, sharp bends in the current, and close to overhanging carpets of Water Hyacinth. It can be fished in narrow runs, on skinny water, and large fish are hooked in a multitude of different locations. So, let your guide show you the ever-changing locations where you can encounter these incredible fish.
We recommend 9-foot 7 or 8-weight rods. Sage & Loop make some of the best dorado rods available. In addition to a lifetime warranty, the company engineers several high-performance options perfectly suited for fishing at Pira.
A quality fly reel is important. A strong, smooth drag is a must, as larger dorado are both strong and fast. Reels should have the capacity for the fly line and 100 yards+ of 20-pound backing.
Pack weight-forward tropical floating fly-lines (Redfish, Tarpon, and Bonefish lines work well). Also, consider “over-lining” your rods. For example, we often use an 8-weight floating line on a 7-weight rod. This has dual benefits: 1) It makes it easier to load the rod with less line and 2) The heavier line makes casting larger flies easier.
Additionally, we recommend bringing a fast-sinking line such as Rio’s Leviathan (or similar), which has a 26-foot, 250- to 350-grain sinking tip. Intermediate tip lines are good options, too, including RIO’s General Purpose Tropical F/I.
Note: DO NOT bring conventional cold-water floating lines. Our tropical weather makes them soft and gummy and therefore difficult to cast.
Leaders should be heavy enough to turn over big flies. Spools of mono should include 30, 40, 50 lbs, test weights. For floating lines, you should have 9 foot long tapered leaders (Knotted or Knotless, depending on your personal preference).
For sinking lines, 4-6 feet of 30 lb. mono should work well in most conditions. 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. These fish have very sharp teeth that will cut even the strongest mono. Bring plenty of 30-to-40 lb test wire leaders for your stay. RIO Knotable Wire 30-40 lbs in matte camo color is a favorite among our guides.
Pirá Lodge will have a nice selection of fly patterns at competitive prices, but we recommend you to bring a good supply of your own flies to get you through your stay.
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. Flies should have a generous quantity of flat, wide holographic flashabou. Weed guards, though not a must, have proven to be quite useful. Size: from 1/0 to 4/0 (mostly 2/0 and 3/0). All flies should be tied on stout 1/0 to 3/0 hooks. Streamers can be tied from 4 to 6 inches long, or longer. However, it’s important that they’re light enough to cast.
For the real 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.
In both cases, spinning and bait-casting, we recommend rods between 1.80 and 2.10mts (5.9 to 6.9 footers); 6 to 12 pound or 8 to 17-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. Bait-casters 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 30-50 lb test multifilament line.
Steel leaders are a must. Dorado have sharp teeth and a 5 to 12 inch, 20-40 lb test steel leader is needed.
The list is never-ending. Don’t be afraid to take your own and experiment. There’s always a chance that the lure you bring will change our way of fishing forever. Just keep in mind, that the Ibera Reserve only allows a single hook attached to the rear of the lure, or 1 treble hook hung from the center of the lure. We recommend bringing single hooks in sizes 4/0 to 6/0. Productive lures include:
Note: for those who enjoy the pleasure of ultralight fishing, the area has very good possibilities not only for dorado and Tararira but for a number of interesting native species.
Our kitchens come to life through the use of fresh and regionally representative meats and products. By combining these elements, we create delicious flavors and varied textures that harbor hidden stories and share dining traditions with each plate. We have curated a top-notch team of experienced Argentine and international chefs, trained in both classic and avant-garde culinary techniques at each of our lodges.
Each meal is prepared with an artisan’s touch and influenced by the earthiness of the surrounding landscape. Sustainability is at the heart of our cuisine and a true connection to nature runs through every dish. To top it off, our guests enjoy each meal in our beautifully designed lodge dining rooms and outdoor lunch experiences. Chefs prepare every dish from scratch to be served at a minute’s notice. Freshness is paramount and perfecting the flavor is our key to success.
All our beef comes from Aberdeen Angus and Hereford steers. It is grass-fed cattle from our Pampas. We carefully select our suppliers, which guarantees the high quality, flavor, and tenderness of our meat. You will enjoy meat cooked on the fire and in several different ways in our lodges and in the field.
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. We change our menu daily to keep things fresh. Later in the day, our superb 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 vintages to our lodges. Our wide selection of finest wines, the best Argentine Malbec from the Mendoza region, and a large variety of other grape selections, are served by a knowledgeable team. We feel that the food we present and the wines we serve should mirror the sporting opportunities we offer—and be the finest available.
Our Northern Argentina kitchens specialize in diverse dishes that pair prime cuts of local Black Angus Beef, and locally sourced fresh fish, alongside the freshest local organic fruits and vegetables. Beyond traditional Asados, fresh salads, and sides, guests will enjoy exotic appetizers such as yacaré meat, ceviche, savory cheeses, and homemade bread like our chipá rolls, a local delicacy. 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 2021-2022: October 2021 – May 2022
Rates are per person based on double occupancy and shared guide.
Our research and experience tell us that over 65% of anglers are also actively interested in bird hunting and big game hunting. If you are a part of that majority and are interested in adding variety to your sporting life, look no further than David Denies Bird Hunting and Red Stag Patagonia. All three brands are owned and operated by the same company, The Kautapen Group, and each operation is dedicated to making your outdoor experience fun, memorable, and productive.