Golden Dorado on HT8

Photos just in from Tim Kempton who has been having a lot of fun!



I travelled with an Irish friend Fergus to Argentina via Paraguay and the Iguazu Falls to the IberaWetlands Reserve on the Corrientes River in Northern Eastern Argentina.  This Wetlands Reserve of 1.3 million hectares is one of the most important in South America, and was established to preserve many of the endangered fish, animals and birds.  We stayed at Pira Lodge on the border of the National Park, and fished the wetlands by flats boat.  Jose was our guide. We marvelled at his knowledge of all the “roads” and “tracks” through the marshes. He zipped through this virtual maze at 25 knots...frequently stopping to clear weed from the propeller.m

Our fishing was from 8 am to 12, and then 4 pm to 8pm. A 3 hour siesta is standard in Argentina. Dinner at 9. The meals were Cordon Bleau, as they had some of the most renowned chefs in Argentina. No ordinary fishing camp! Fergus has been practising Spanish and did a great job with the translation.Fergipedia was our constant source of information.

Golden Dorado (Salminus brasiliensis) are a prized freshwater sport fish in the central parts of South America. They are not related to the saltwater mahi mahi (dorado). The prime season is during the summer from November to April. They are temperature sensitive and prefer the hotter weather(20-28oC). They move up and down the riversdepending on the water temperature. They strike aggressively, have a large head with powerful jaws filled with sharp, fly destroying teeth.  The are a magnificent golden colour, hence the name. You know when you have hooked a Dorado, there is a large boil behind the fly, a savage strike. Strip strike and the Dorado leaps many times out of the water…dip the rod tip to the water when they jump and steer the fish back into the water. Don’t trout strike, don’t allow and slack or they will throw the hook.

I fished with two Hot Torpedo rods, an 8 wt rod fitted with a WF8F (floating) line and one with WFS(sinking Rio Leviathan 250g) line depending on the depth of the water. We used mostly streamers, and mouse patterns in the late afternoon in the shallows.  

Sometimes the dorado work together like a squadron of jet fighters to school up bait fish, and strikes on surface gurglers are spectacular.

Jose poled stealthily along the edges of the wetlands. We saw lots of wildlife and birds including the worlds largest large rodent (Capybara), Marsh deer, Otters, Caimen (freshwater alligator) and lots of water birds  (including the Jacanas and Jabiru).  

The weather was variable. Some days no wind and hot (30-35oC). Other days overcast, windy and cold. There had been rain the week before we arrived, the river had risen a metre, and together with the cold snap the fish shut down for several days. Plenty of casting practice in the wind...cold, wet and no fish! This was one of those trips…Jose said “you should have been here last week.

First cast Fergus weighed some at 8 lbs...most were 5-8 lb range. One morning he caught another fish on his first his classic Fergus Irish brogue he said to me...keep casting until you catch a fish…two hours and 250 casts later Jose declared it was time to go for lunch. They just weren’t feeding.

We were fishing 40/30lb Green Maxima leaders with 30lb Rio PowerFlex Wire Bite Tippet.  This setup seemed at first an overkill and prevented the fish making many runs…we did not fight them on the reel. We soon discovered that this was required to keep the fish out of the weeds..once in the weeds they were hard to dislodge.  The Dorado usually destroyed the flies after 2-3 fish. They mangled the Rio bite wire and it had to be replaced frequently.

A fish over 10lb is regarded as a trophy. I hooked one, it dived into the weeds and the weed acted as a dehooker. I hooked another that looked like a suitcase under water...all was going well until the only small piece of weed floating down the river became entangled around the line…it ran down the line and again … another dehooker…the fish won…there is a lot of weed! The biggest Jose has seen landed was 23lb.

We caught other species...San Antonio, Pira Pita and Palomata (a species of wetlands Piranha). Piranhas have one of the strongest bites found in bony fishes.The Piranha have awesome teeth and completely destroyed the flies. It is apparently a myth that Piranhas attack people…makes for good comics and movies!

When the weather was kind to us, the sight fishing was spectacular. The water was gin clear and we could to hunt the Dorado. Long casts and delicate placement of the fly. Land the fly near the fish and they would attack it. At other times, we fished the fast, deeper water with the sinking lines.

A totally amazing experience. Dorado are a great sportfish…they give aggressive takes,  jump and lot and fight hard.


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