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The Beginning


In Jan 2016 I led one of the first exploratory trips to this extraordinary destination deep in the Chilean wilderness.   We entered into an unknown world to tackle a species, I relatively speaking, knew little about.   The numbers of fish we landed suggested we had a disaster, although the standout picture of 'our great catch' an enormous, fresh run King Salmon, that must of been close to 50lbs, alluded to the huge potential.

3 seasons of fishing later, there is still much that is unknown about the location, however, the secrets to unlock the means to catch these Kings on a fly are definitely being unravelled.  The destination as a whole has matured!  In place of a multitude of forms of transport concluding in some jungle marches that would have made Bear Grilse feel uncomfortable, there is now a private charter flight.  Jet boats allow much greater access and seasoned guides who have a far far better understanding of the river and the King's provide continuity and experience.   The techniques, tactics and means to unravel the 40kms of the accessible river have been refined.  As with any fishing where you are after a prize as great as is on offer, the fishing, of course, can remain challenging.   However, the chances of catching a fish as enormous as any you are likely to catch on a fly-rod, in surroundings that are a cross between Jurassic Park and Kong Island, make this a destination that will evoke dreams beyond compare.

In conjunction with Salmon Junkies, who have pioneered the improvements needed to put this destination on the map, WhereWiseMenFish is proud to be able to reintroduce - The Austral Kings!!

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The Austral King Salmon


King Salmon, as with all the salmon and Trout in Chile are not native.   They have either been introduced (Trout) or are the result of escapees from the fish farming industry (salmon).  Whatever your views on non-native species may be, the original escapee King Salmon have naturalised, are now firmly established within a breeding cycle and now form their own migration that would be the envy of any river

What makes the fishing at Austral so exceptional, is that the river is almost entirely cut off from civilisation and the subsequent threat from over-fishing.  Combine this with a mystical glacial green river, outstanding surroundings but above all the huge size of these fresh run King (Chinook) Salmon and you have a fishing destination with few comparisons.

 

 

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The Fishing


A bright silver King Salmon in the 30-50lb size range is the fishing equivalent of winning first prize!  Not everyone will come first on every day, but over the course of one of the prime weeks at Austral Lodge, everyone will have a very good chance of standing on the podium!   The length of the fishable water is approx 40kms from river-mouth to the uppermost accessible area.

There is a huge mixture of water to fish, requiring a broad spectrum of techniques.  Primarily a swung fly, fished with a fast sinking tip on a skaggit line, is required to get a fly down to the Kings, which typically run in the deepest sections of the river.  Most of the fishing is done wading from the bank however there are some areas which are best accessed by boat.

 

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The Guides & River Access


The Austral River Lodge program is split between the lower section of the river, immediately below the lodge and within very easy walking distance, and the upper section, above a series of quite dramatic rapids.  The upper section is accessed by vehicle and from there, jetboats are used to exploit all the fishable areas of the river.  The lodge capacity is a select team of 4 anglers who share the available water with an additional 4 anglers from the Austral tent camp.  The fishing is managed in a rotation so that good variety is had each day without any section being crowded.

Two experienced and seasoned N.American guides look after each pair of anglers at Austral River Lodge.   There can be few more important parts in a trip of this nature than an experienced guide who understands the ever-changing river as well as the lies, methods and tricks to hook a King, and then the knowledge to help land what must be considered one, if not the most formidable anadromous species of fish you can catch on a fly-rod.

 

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Austral River Lodge


Austral River Lodge consists of two building; the sleeping accommodation and the main dining and living area.  Both have incredible views to the mouth of the river, fjord and mountain peaks beyond.  There are few lodges which command anything close to as dramatic a setting.  Individual accommodation is provided for each of the 4 anglers fishing on any given week.  The main lodge which has panoramic views has recently been refurbished and upgraded, with good quality locally produced food, including some outstanding meat dishes.

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The Season


The first salmon enter the river in December and the Austral Lodge season runs from early January well into March. The focus is very much centred on fishing for fresh, bright king salmon, so the lodge stops fishing well before the fish start to show their spawning colours.

We will only be offering the prime weeks for four rods weekly. On every tide new, fresh salmon enter the river — in any given week of the season you will be fishing to a sizeable number of fish. What makes a great week is therefore not based on the number of fish in the river but instead on favorable weather and river conditions. Clear-water and blue skies make for more challenging fishing than when rain or glacial melt add colour to the water. Whatever the case, the river drops and clears quickly; days lost to high, dirty water are rare.

All this is to say: Join us any week in our season that fits your calendar. Chances are you’ll find yourself with a great chance to hook a fish of a lifetime!

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Travel to Austral Lodge


Guests should fly to Santiago in Chile and from there take a connecting flight to Puerto Montt where guests overnight in a hotel.  The following morning there is a private charter flight direct to the lodge.  (This is in place of the previous, vehicle and boat transfers which took approx 6-8 hours).

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Typical Itinerary

Day 1
Friday

-Fly to Puerto Montt via Santiago in Chile
-Overnight in Puerto Montt

Day 2
Saturday

-Collected and transferred to Aerodrom Airport (7-8am)
-Private 30 min charter flight to the lodge
-Settle in and fish lower beats in the afternoon

Day 3-8
Sunday-Friday

-6 Full days fishing

Day 9
Saturday

-Depart Austral Lodge arrive Puerto Montt approx 12 pm
-Overnight Puerto Montt

Day 10
Sunday

-Depart Puerto Montt

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Availability & Pricing for the 2019 Season

Season:

The season runs from mid-Jan to mid-March

Rate:

-$6,300 USD/rod
-$675 USD Return charter flight from Puerto Montt

Package Includes:

-Seven Nights
-Six full days guided fishing
-Full Board accommodation at Austral Lodge
-Wines and Beers at the lodge

Package Excludes:

-International & Domestic flight
-Overnight accom and expenses in Puerto Montt

Tips

Suggested rates are:
-Guide $300-400/week
-Lodge Staff $100-$120/person

Best Times To Go

The lodge only operates during the prime weeks of the season from mid-Jan to mid-March

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