Pira Lodge - Ibera Marshlands, Argentina
Targeting the Golden Dorado is a relatively new game to the fly fishing community. However, in the past decade or so, these fish have quickly become a bucket list fish for traveling anglers. Without much literature, and flies designed specifically for these fish, it is best to follow your guide’s advice. The guides have been exploring the area and learning about these fish much longer than most. Their main goal is designed to maximize your enjoyment of this incredible fighting fish. The Dorado is an aggressive fish, and once hooked makes stunning leaps from the water. This complex and challenging fish can be found in a multitude of different types of habitat. Your knowledgeable guide will show you the multitude of ever-changing locations where you can make explosive contact with these fish.
Pirá Lodge is located in Northern Argentina’s Iberá Marshlands, which is a protected natural preserve more than twice the size of the Florida Everglades (almost 3 million acres!). You’ll dodge caymans and catch freshwater Dorado in the 5-to 20- pound class on everything from top water flies to stripped streamers. All of the fishing is done from Hells Bay Skiffs, which Pirá is proud to be the only Dorado lodge with this type of top shelf boat for their guests. When your fishing day is done, decompress and enjoy the traditional asado at one of the finest lodges fishing has to offer.
The lodge was designed by award-winning architects to respect traditional regional elegance—offering all of the comforts and luxuries of a contemporary hotel. It accommodates up to 10 guests in five deluxe rooms, each with a private entrance, private bath, two double beds, ceiling fans and air conditioning.
A top-notch team of experienced national and international chefs, trained in both classic and avant-garde culinary techniques, execute each outstanding meal. With an artisan’s touch, chefs prepare every dish from scratch to be served at a minute’s notice. In addition, the traditionally inspired lunch and dinner menus are paired with some of Argentina’s—and the world’s—best wines, Bodega Catena Zapata. This winery recently received a “number 4 in the world” ranking by Wine Advocate.
A spectacular abundance of flora and fauna make for a naturalist and fisherman’s dream destination – over 350 bird species are regularly seen in this tropical paradise. With the incredible bird watching, horseback riding, and the sparkling swimming pool, this lodge is perfect for anglers and non-anglers alike.
November brings the fish to the marsh in preparation for their spawn in December. This is why we say “late November;” we are trying to give the fish time to arrive. Once they are there they will remain in the marsh until the temperatures begin to drop. The lower temps that begin around late March will push the fish back out of the marsh. There are definitely fish in this area year round; however, the resident fish tend to be on the smaller size and with overall less numbers of fish in the marsh.
Ideal dates are Late November – Late March.
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. 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 water-soaked materials. In order to make your flies more durable, add glue or epoxy throughout the tying process if necessary.
We have a great variety of flies here at Sportsman’s Finest for Golden Dorado fishing. If there is something that you have researched and want to try that is not a commercially tied fly, please do not hesitate to ask, as there really are not many fly options that are commercially tied for these fish. Casey, who heads up our experiences and travel department, is an expert fly tier and can custom tie any pattern you wish to take fishing with you. Please plan for a sufficient enough amount of time for any custom fly orders.
Rods: We recommend 9-foot 7 or 8-weight rods. Sage, Thomas & Thomas, Winston, and Hardy make some of the best Dorado rods available. In addition to a lifetime warranty, they engineers several high performance options perfectly suited for fishing at Pirá. Bringing at least one back up rod is always recommended.
Reels: A quality fly reel is important. A strong, smooth drag is a must, as larger Dorado are both strong and fast. Reels should have capacity for the fly line and 100 yards of 20-pound backing.
Lines: Pack weight-forward tropical floating fly-lines (redfish, tarpon, and outbound short ). Also consider “over-lining” your rods. For example, we often use an 8-weight floating line on a 7-weight rod, which 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, 300- 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: The leaders should be heavy enough to turn over big flies. Spools of mono should include 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 lbs, test weights. For floating lines you should have 9 foot long tapered leaders (Knotted or Knot-less, depending on your personal preference).
For sinking lines 4-6 feet of 30 lb. mono should work well in most conditions. 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 20 to 40 lb test steel leader for your stay. AFW (American Fishing wire) in bronze is a favorite among our guides.
As mentioned above, these fish have very sharp teeth. A very useful tool for your trip, however not necessary, would be to bring a Boga Grip along with you on this trip. Dorado Fly Patterns
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. 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 materials. In order to make your flies more durable, add glue or epoxy throughout the tying process if necessary.
Flights from Dallas or Houston travel to Buenos Aires. We recommend our clients overnight in BA. This is due to the long amount of travel time it takes to get to BA, and the travel that still lies ahead of you in order to get to the lodge. Below you will find some recommendations for areas to overnight in BA.
The next day you can charter a plane from Buenos Aires to the Mercedes airport or to the lodge’s landing strip (weather permitting). A lodge representative will meet you at the airport and drive you to the lodge. This drive from Mercedes to the lodge takes 1 hour and 15 min by four-wheel drive.
Overnighting in Buenos Aires-
For hotels we would recommend you look to two different areas in BA.
First is the Palermo District. Like Austin, this is a hip area with many restaurants and bars and boutique hotels all in close proximity to the domestic airport you will be flying out of the next day. Below are a few recommended options for places to stay.
Home Hotel Boutique ($150-200 per night)
The Glu Boutique ($150 per night)
Legado MItico Boutique ($200+ per night)
The Recoleta District is the other area to look for overnighting. This area is much more refined and upscale. It is within walking distance to many restaurants as well. Below are several recommended places to overnight at.
Casa Sur Art Hotel ($250+ per night)
The Grand Buenos Aires ($250 per night)
Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau ($500+ per night)
Alvear Palace ($500+ per night)
These prices are based on double occupancy. There will be a 60% increase in charge for single occupancy and boat use. Any non-angler sharing a double occupancy room will cost $450 per day.
Included in your rate: Lodging, meals, all wines, beer, and local spirits at the lodge, professional guide services & loaner fishing equipment (rods, reels & lines)
Not included: Fishing license ($50), gratuities for guides and house staff, airfare and private charters, in-house laundry service
A 50% deposit is due to secure the dates; the remaining balance must be paid 60 days prior to the trip.