Bucket List Trip: Golden Dorado on the Fly in Argentina


Golden Dorado began to show up in earnest as a fly fishing target in the late 1990s.  They are known for strong fights, acrobatic jumps, and voracious eats….very mindful of Florida tarpon.  For those reasons, they were on Jim’s bucket list for almost 20 years and in April he decided to satisfy his curiosity by heading to northern Argentina.

The venue was Ricardo Pinti’s Dorado on the Fly lodge on the Parana’ River, which separates Argentina from Paraguay.  The river is a very large tailwater, sometimes stretching over a mile across as it is the largest river in Argentina. It is characterized by relatively clear water and shoreline strewn with fallen trees and rich underwater habitat.

April may not be the best choice for hunting golden dorado, as October through March are generally deemed preferred months since this generally coincides with summer in Argentina. Nonetheless, Jim had heard about Pinti’s operation from his good friend Tom Hargrove (www.thargrove.com) who had fished with Pinti for years.  It was time.

What Jim found was a very solid fishing operation with all of the attributes that one might want: English-speaking, Argentine guides from nearby locales who were intimately familiar with the area (no transplanted Florida Keys guides here);  very clean, comfortable rooms with private baths, A/C and Wi-Fi; incredible Argentine food and copious amounts of outstanding Malbec wine; a location directly on the river in the heart of incredible angling habitat; and convenient travel via jet flights from Buenos Aires to nearby Corrientes and Resistencia airports.

Golden Dorado on the Pirana River, Argentina

Jim was targeting golden dorado, but there are healthy populations of Pacu and Pira Pita.  The former is reminiscent of Permit while the latter readily take dry flies, which imitate fruit that falls from trees.

Fishing was from very comfortable boats with 7- to 9-weight rods, floating line, and 25- to 50-pound wire tippet.  Flies are very large, often exceeding 6 inches. Dan Johnson ties beautiful Andino deceivers for golden dorado, as well as other flies for Pira Pita and Pacu. (www.customsaltwaterflies.com)

Huge flies used to fish the Parana River

You need to be a strong caster, not only because of the mass of the flies that you are hurling, but casting distance is frequently over 60 feet.  It is highly repetitious simply because of the rich shoreline habitat that lies in front of you. So, if you go, be sure to get that double-haul down pat and remember the Aleve!

How was the fishing?  Jim’s first cast on the first day resulted in his first golden dorado, a respectable 6 to 7-pound beauty.  After that, many casts went untouched although he was still able to bring 8 to 10 fish to the boat during a little more than a half-day of fishing.  

While the fishing slowed a bit, the environs were impressive:  Howler monkeys climbed in the trees, and some of the most beautiful flowers and butterflies dotted the shoreline, which provided that ‘far from home’ feeling.   The climate was comfortable, with mornings were in the 50s while midday temperatures rose to near 90 degrees.

So, would Jim go back?  Absolutely! Pinti has put together a strong, comfortable operation with direct access to a productive fishery.  Look for Cutthroat to host a trip in late 2018.

Pacu fish in Argentina
Dorados on the Fly

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