Villa María
Lodge

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Sea-Run Brown Trout

Villa Maria Lodge

Villa María is the second of the De Las Carreras family lodges to open on the Rio Grande, after Kau Tapen, and has offered small private groups exciting fishing on some of the most productive pools in the lower river since 1994. Unlike Kau Tapen, which is located on the middle river, Villa María offers anglers first crack at newly arrived Sea Trout on the lower Río Grande. For fishermen who enjoy the challenges and rewards of two-handed rods, this is a dream come true! With friendly and dedicated house staff and guides, Villa María is very well suited to caring for small groups of friends and family.

WHY CHOOSE VILLA MARÍA LODGE?

  • Space for only 6 anglers and private access to 20km of the best fly water on the lower Rio Grande, an exclusive haven for small groups of discerning anglers.
  • Villa María is a spey anglers paradise – long flat pools means less casting and more fishing.
  • The longest pools with Sea Run Trout fresh from the sea.
  • 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.
  • In order to maximize your time on the river, there is a cabin on the river bank for lunch and siesta, a stunning setting in the wilds of Tierra del Fuego which allows anglers to fish more and drive less.
  • The best lodge services and hospitality – over 80% of our anglers are repeat guests.
  • A la carte menu, true five star accommodations and excellent equipment means you will be fishing in both style and comfort.
  • 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.

THE LOCATION

Coordinates: 53°51’27.7″S 67°47’00.7″W

The lodge is located on the banks of the Rio Grande, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; Just a few miles above the tidal influence. 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 trout fishery in the world. While trout numbers fluctuate with conditions at sea, tides, water levels, and a host of other natural factors–the fact is–we release 20 pound trout at Villa Maria each week of the season. A fish or two a day is the norm given average water conditions–but 6-8 fish days happen all the time! You’ll fish both banks. Big pools and double-handers are the norm.

The lodge itself reminds many of the world’s best salmon camps, warm, cozy, with cuisine and service at a very high level. Guides know the pools, the fish and the fishing; days are spent on the water, with classic “huts” for midday breaks. 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 Villa María is set for Friday. 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 30 minutes. On arrival at the lodge, guests are welcomed with cocktails by the entire Villa Maria staff.

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Facilities & Services

The Lodge

Villa Maria stands out immediately as a bright white building located in the heart of a cluster of buildings that is the Jose Menedez estancia property. This ranch has a storied history, it was the first property for ranching baron Jose Menedez in Tierra del Fuego started in 1894. The ranch center was once a bustling village that supported enough family, laborers, shepards, and staff to run the vast sheep ranching operation that began on Tierra del Fuego’s barren landscape. The Menendez property also played host to a rather noted employee—slaughter house manager John Goodall, who first planted trout eggs in the island rivers in 1940—truly a visionary! Still surrounded by over 120,000 acres of grazing land, and still host to 40,000 sheep and 1500 head of cattle, the ranch property sits hard by the Rio Grande river and looks like a tidy movie set, with white picket fences, and colorful flower gardens. The lodge building that is now Villa Maria, was once the ranch manager’s family home has been completely renovated into a modern fishing lodge.

Though it appears to be a traditional ranch structure on the outside, make no mistake that Villa Maria Lodge is a modern, comfortable fishing lodge in every way today, with 6 en suite double and single rooms, smart furnishings, and spacious and gracious living areas. Delightful meals are prepared daily by the lodge’s dedicated chef, so you will fish each day well fortified for battle with the Rio Grande’s giant trout, and each evening a roaring fire and well stocked bar will welcome you back from the day’s adventures. The lodge has a tackle shop stocked with Sage rods, quality reels, flies, lines, clothing, and other on and off water gifts and essentials. In addition, guests have the full use of the lodge’s fly-tying table and gear storage rooms. And if one lodge was not enough, Villa Maria also boasts a day lodge on the river bank that is utilized to augment the daily fishing rotation. The day lodge is a small house with three rooms, including two queen-bedded rooms for midday siestas. Guests use the day lodge each day, and doing so increases fishing time and allows our anglers a place to relax at midday, or they may choose to keep right on fishing after enjoying midday lunches that may include steaks or lamb cooked over open coals.

Food and Drink

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 Villa Maria and kau Tapen 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 black Hake. And don’t forget to save room for dessert. From homemade ice creams to classic sweets and pastries, we have you covered.

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 searun 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

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

  • Rods: Light two-hand rods are the most popular and effective at Villa María waters, allowing anglers to cast a comfortable line with less effort, particularly on windy days. Mending and controlling line is also easier with a two-hander. We encourage you to bring a 12-14 ft., 8- 9/10 wt. rod. If you are new to two-handed rods, our expert guides can instruct you and help you learn quickly, although it is always ideal you take a few lessons prior to arriving to Río Grande. For single-hand rods, 9- to 10-foot 8-weights are ideal for covering the water. A rod this size makes casting easy with the normal downstream southwest wind, while having enough strength to power against the wind when necessary. Given the Rio Grande’s moderate flow and generally even gravel bottom, you’ll find an 8- or 9- wt. capable of battling the river’s largest Sea Trout (20 to 30 pounds). Loop and 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 recommend reels from Sage that produce several options perfectly suited for the Rio Grande.
  • Lines: Villa María is located on the lower section of the Rio Grande, where swinging flies with two-handed rods is the most effective way to cover the water. For this style of fishing, anglers have a variety of line options, including traditional long-belly as well as shorter scandi and skagit heads. Typically we fish the skagit system with interchangeable tips—from floating to intermediate to heavy-sinking variations. You’ll want to pack numerous tips in different sink weights and lengths because fishing conditions can change from one run to the next. RIO’s Skagit MOW tips are a good place to start. Tungsten-coated tips are a must in deeper pools and/or during high flows. T-11, T-14, and T-17 in lengths from 9 to 15 feet are the most common. Shorter, heavier skagit heads make loading the rod easier and they’re ideal for casting larger flies on heavier tips. They’re also the best choice for casting in the wind. Use 400- and 700-grain heads, depending on how your rod is rated. Scandi lines, on the other hand, are designed for lighter flies with a floating—no tip—presentation. But they can also be used with lighter tips. RIO offers slow sinking, tapered poly leaders for those lines. For anglers who prefer using single-handed rods, consider including 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 sinking-tip lines (200 to 400 grain) also work great. And intermediate sinking lines can be effective in some conditions. 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’ve 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.
  • 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: Unless you want to pack a few favorites for the trip, Villa Maria has all your fly needs covered. We carry a full selection of high-quality patterns specific to the fishery. Flies are available for all guests to purchase upon arrival at the lodge or anytime during your stay. 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.

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, #412)
  • 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. Treble & Double hooks are not allowed on the Rio Grande.

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.

Villa María Lodge

RATES

Season 2022: December 31 – April 1, 2022

Dec 31 – Jan 7                     $ 9,950 *
January 7 – March 4         $ 10,950 *
March 4 – 11                       $ 9,950 *
March 11 – 18                     $ 8,950 *
March 18 – 25                     $ 7,950
March 25 – April 1             $ 6,950

Rates are based on 7 nights ad 6 days fishing, and include single room and shared guide.

Prices are in USD

Non-fisher rate: $650 per night

* Friday to Friday weeks, within December 31 and March 18 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)

  • Included: Transfer from Rio Grande Airport to the lodge, 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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  • "The trip was absolutely amazing.  First and foremost, YOU exceeded all expectat..."

    Christine

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  • "We truly enjoyed our time at Villa Maria Lodge this year and commend both you an..."

    Ariel and Shya

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  • "Good to hear from you. My third time at Villa Maria and the best yet. Food was g..."

    Neil W

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  • "Dear Claudio

    Fernando sets very high standards for his team at Vi..."

    Mike C

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  • "It is I/we who should be thanking you for the amazing hospitality from you and y..."

    Richard W

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  • "Nice to hear from you !
    I must say, that the lodge, the impeccable servic..."

    Phillip W 

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  • "Thanks for the email and hope all's well.
    Am off abroad today so will res..."

    Andrew W

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  • "Claudio san

    Thanks you very much for all the hospitality from Vi..."

    Saitoo H

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  • "I indeed enjoyed very much  my week at Villa Maria, with very good food, effici..."

    Gilbert P

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  • "I can't even begin to tell you what a wonderful experience we had and how thankf..."

    Corey M

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  • "We had a simply wonderful time. The staff was outstanding.
    ..."

    Peter H., USA

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  • "Villa María River Lodge is the most beautiful, quiet and remote place that I kn..."

    Johannes K., Germany

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  • "Excellent!!! Fishing was a very good, positive experience!.
    ..."

    Bill P., USA

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  • "Very Good. Villa Maria continues to be a favorite lodge, year after year. This y..."

    Dave M.L., USA

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  • "Fantastic fishing and the warmest hospitality! Thank You!
    ..."

    Angus S., UK

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  • "Excellent. Superb all round. Everyone exceptionally friendly and food and servic..."

    Andrew W., UK

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  • "Excellent. ALL of the team were attentive, helpful and friendly. Nothing was too..."

    Mike C., USA

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  • "Excellent. Everything was fantastic. The fishing was beyond expectations. The gu..."

    Christopher N., UK

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  • "Our stay at Villa María was most enjoyable. Great atmosphere in the lodge, food..."

    Terry C.,UK.

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  • "A trip I will never forget and some really nice people guiding and working at th..."

    Michael C.,USA.

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  • "We had a very satisfactory experience. Incredible fishery, great accommodation a..."

    Jean B., France.

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  • "Finally I have a chance to sit down, look at my photos of Eddie and my trip, and..."

    Ed S., USA.

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  • "Villa Maria was spectacular. One of the highlights of my fishing, if not one of ..."

    Tim P., London, UK.

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  • "I just wanted to say that after a number of years fishing at Villa Maria, it has..."

    Aaron C., USA

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  • "I am so happy to have done this in my life! I’ll make sure I recommend it to a..."

    Kent A., Canada.

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  • "As you probably heard, our arrival at Villa Maria Lodge coincided with very high..."

    Shirley M. Peter H. WA., USA

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See Jim Belushi and Jimmy Kimmel in the trailer of Buccaneers & Bones on Outdoor Channel.

Newcomers Jimmy Kimmel and Jim Belushi catch their first bonefish as they join the cast of Huey Lewis, Yvon Chouinard, Tom McGuane, Lefty Kreh, and..[...]

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The buccaneers returning to the most storied angling destinations.

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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