Valley of the Kings

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Valley of the Kings – Austral River Lodge, Chile

By now, we hope you’ve heard or read that Salmon Junkies has secured a long-term contract with Austral River Lodge for the 2018 season (and beyond) to operate a fishing program on the most talked about Chinook river in Chilean Patagonia — a river with a significant run of wild-occurring, chrome-bright king salmon. Beginning this January and running through mid-March, we will share this emerging fishery with a limited number of rods.

Weeks are filling for 2018, but there are a few prime openings still available. Don’t delay, though; January arrives in just a few months. If you have an interest, I encourage you to contact me now to get in on the inaugural go ‘round

In case you missed it before, here’s the backstory, with an update on staffing for 2018…

Since 2015, rumors of dime-bright, fly-caught 30- to 60-pound Chinook on a stunning river in a remote region of coastal southern Chile have echoed through the spey fishing community like siren songs. With phrases like “the perfect salmon river” or “the best Chinook fishing today” traded in hushed conversation, the destination has assumed the aura of a modern day salmon fishing paradise. Could the rumors and speculation actually be true? After an exploratory season and one full client season, the answer is a definitive YES! With a legitimate chance to hook a bright salmon over 50 pounds on any day in any week of the season, this fishery is absolutely not a fantasy. But don’t take my word for it; see recent articles in Fly FishermanFly Rod & Reel and Chasing Silver magazines for reference.

To bring this opportunity to you, Salmon Junkies has gone directly to the powers that be, and signed a long-term contract with the landowner and family of Austral River Lodge. Situated on the river’s tidal reach, this charming Chilean-style facility is positioned perfectly to take advantage of each tide’s bounty of kings. The fishing program — available to only fours rods per week in the capable, experienced hands of two of British Columbia’s premier Chinook guides — will focus on the river’s lower 30 kilometers, where primary resting and holding pools provide optimum water for targeting these magnificent salmon at their fresh-from-the-sea best.

We invite you to join us for 2018 and beyond at what we believe could truly be one of the world’s last great venues to swing flies for trophy salmon. But do come prepared. These very real and rugged Austral kings will test your angling skill, as well as every element of your tackle. It won’t be easy — such glories never are. But, yes, here you could very well reach the summit of your angling life. Indeed, we believe we are offering passage to a magical land… A place we call Valley of the Kings.

Accommodations

Austral River Lodge overlooks the river’s estuary and ocean fjord. Four anglers per week will enjoy single occupancy rooms, each with attached, private shower and bath, as well as easy access to power and even cell phone service. Each room has been designed with ample storage for angling gear and tackle. The lodge is built in Chile’s classic countryside style featuring a decorated common area with wood stove for socializing and dining. Renovations and remodeling are underway now in preparation for the season ahead. Without a doubt, Austral River Lodge is unique — a comfortable wilderness palace surrounded by breathtaking Andean massifs, situated perfectly to reveal the enchanting soul of Chilean Patagonia.

Fishing Program

Originating high in the glacier-capped Andes, the river flows sparkling and clear with a touch of turquoise. It courses through a lush valley and offers a variety of fish-holding structure, including gravel bars, large boulders, deep runs and classic tail-outs. The upper reaches are steep and lively, while the lower section slows considerably, creating juicy holding water before emptying into the fjord in front of the lodge. With tides averaging 20 feet, there are wonderful opportunities for finding ultra-fresh kings on the moving tides.

The Austral River Lodge program includes roughly 40 kilometers of water accessed by jet boat.  On a daily basis we will rotate with four rods from Austral Kings Camp located a few kilometers upstream from the lodge. Most fishing is swinging flies while wading or from the bank, but there are a number of productive runs that may be fished from the boat. Anglers will rotate through both upper-river and lower-river beats. For the upper beat you will be transferred by vehicle to begin the day’s fishing. For the lower beat, you will fish relatively close to the lodge. The distances are not great, but the roads are unimproved and transfers can take 20 to 30 minutes

Salmon Junkies Program Manager

Steffen Juhl: In the early 1990’s, Steffen Juhl began traveling in the former Soviet Union, fishing remote areas like the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East and the Kola Peninsula in the Arctic northwest. As part of the first generation of foreign anglers to visit the Kola region, he was a pioneer in developing some of the world’s finest salmon camps. For over 25 years Steffen managed camps and fishing programs on now famous rivers such as the Umba, Kharlovka, Rynda, Yokanga, Varzuga and Ponoi. Outside of Russia, in a career spanning nearly three decades, Steffen has logged thousands of miles pursuing Steelhead, Atlantic salmon, Chinook and other desirable anadromous fish. After several years working with many of the largest tour operators and tackle makers in Scandinavia, Steffen decided to go solo. He launched Salmon Junkies in 2010, a company with firm beliefs in closely interacting with a few carefully selected programs and in building long-term friendships with its guests. Following that philosophy, Steffen will be on site to manage and host Austral River Lodge during the entire 2018 season.

Our Fishing Guides

Two of the absolutely finest and best salmon and steelhead guides from British Columbia will join forces with Austral River Lodge and Salmon Junkies for the Valley of the Kings program in 2018.

Matt Moisley: Born and raised in British Columbia, and fishing for as long as he can remember, Matt Moisley (Above right) is no stranger to salmon rivers. He started guiding over fifteen years ago on the mighty Fraser River for all species of Pacific salmon and the mythical white sturgeon. A summer position led him to North Haven Resorts in Manitoba where he pursued some of the largest pike in all of Canada. In fact, Matt still holds the lodge record for the largest guided pike! His next adventure led him to the world-renowned Dean River where he spent several seasons guiding anglers into steelhead and the river’s legendary Chinook. If there is river in the Northern Hemisphere that resembles our “austral river,” it is the Dean. Matt now owns and operates his own guiding company. When not guiding, he enjoys flyfishing with friends, snowboarding and traveling.

Kaid Teubert: Some young men struggle to choose a career. But for Kaid Teubert (Above Left) one thing has always been certain: He was going to be a fishing guide. Kaid was raised next to the river and Pacific Ocean. This gave him the opportunity at a young age to perfect his craft within walking distance of home. A decade-plus guiding career has led him throughout the British Columbia province in search of the ultimate destination for ocean-bright Chinook and steelhead. Consequently, it’s not by chance that Kaid has made his home in Terrace, BC, on the famous Skeena River, where he spends the better portion of his year guiding anglers into Chinook and steelhead for Nicholas Dean Outdoors. The past four seasons, Salmon Junkies has had the opportunity to share many laughs and great days on the water with Kaid. Knowledgeable in casting and instruction, he is happy to help anglers of all levels. Kaid’s personality, attitude and attention to detail — mixed with a little superstition (please don’t bring a banana near him!) — are great assets to any fishing program and we’re excited to have both Kaid and Matt onboard.

Our experienced and hard working team at Austral River Lodge and the friendly Barril family, who own Austral River Lodge, will make sure you are feel home in the Chilean wilderness. Each member of our small crew knows their job extremely well and all are an important cog in a well-oiled and very cosy package.

Be sure you are one of the fortunate few to fish with us at Austral River Lodge in 2018! For more detailed information regarding Austral River Lodge please drop me a mail sj@salmonjunkies.com and visit our trip page on our website www.salmonjunkies.com

Tight lines

Steffen Juhl