New Film from Austral River Lodge – “Into the Valley of the Condor”

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“Into the Valley of the Condor” – New Film from Chile’s Austral River Lodge

Sometimes words just get in the way. Especially when trying to describe the indescribable. In those cases it’s often best to let pictures deliver the message, even better if the pictures are moving and accompanied by a compelling soundtrack. So, without further introduction or preamble here is “Into the Valley of the Condor,” an exquisitely rendered new video short from Salmon Junkies filmmaker and photographer extraordinaire Columbus Leth chronicling his visit to — and by extension, the 2018 season — at Austral River Lodge in Chilean Patagonia.

Watch our new Video “Into The Walley Of The Condor” by clicking on the link:

Salmon Junkies hope Mr. Leth’s brilliant production will spur you to “follow the condor” and visit this mysterious and seductive valley on the Chilean coast. Booking for the 2019 season is underway and I invite you to contact me at your convenience by phone or email. From my firsthand experience earlier this year, I can provide a thorough account of the destination, including details on the fishery, tackle selection, accommodations and travel requirements.

In case you missed it in previous bulletins, here’s the backstory…

Since 2015, rumors of bright, fly-caught, 30- to 50-pound king salmon on a stunning river in a remote region of coastal southern Chile have echoed through the spey fishing community. After an exploratory season and two full client seasons, the rumors have been confirmed, although perhaps not with the initial level of intrigue. 2015 and 2016 saw much larger runs than 2017 and 2018, but potential of the fishery as a world class Chinook fishery has certainly been established. That’s not to say that every guest has returned home with diary full of remarkable catches. As the film indicates, the 2018 run arrived condensed into the latter weeks of the season. (Accordingly, the 2019 ARL season will be shortened and focused on February and early March only.) What I can personally vouch for is the quality of habitat, setting and program hospitality.

Regarding habitat and setting, what came to mind for us was a fantastical vision — as if Northern California’s Smith River had been transplanted into British Columbia’s Dean River valley, and the whole assembly relocated across the equator to a latitude roughly the equivalent of an austral Klamath River. Add now wild-occurring Chinook with essentially no competition in their biological niche and the promise for greatness is plain to see.
Regarding accommodations and the practical aspects, Salmon Junkies has gone directly to the powers that be. They signed a long-term contract with the Barril family, owners of Austral River Lodge, a rustic and charming Chilean-style facility situated on the river’s tidal reach. The fishing program, available to fours rods per week, focuses on the river’s lower 30 kilometers, where primary resting and holding pools, as well as wade-and-swing-friendly traveling runs, provide optimum water for targeting the river’s salmon at their fresh-from-the-sea best.
Despite the smaller run sizes in 2017 and 2018, we remain firmly convinced of the fishery’s potential. We believe it could truly be one of the world’s last great venues to swing flies for trophy salmon. But do come prepared. It won’t be easy — such glories never are. But, yes, here you could very well reach the summit of your angling life.

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. Wifi access to internet is accessible a short distance away. 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. Austral River Lodge is unique — a comfortable wilderness outpost 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 foot and jet boat. On a daily basis we will rotate with four rods from Austral Kings Camp located a few kilometers upstream from the lodge. Target fishing is swinging flies while wading or from the bank, but there are a number of productive holding pools that may be fished from the boat.

Program Manager and Host
In the early 1990’s, Steffen Juhl (above) 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 2019 season.

Be sure you are one of the fortunate few to fish with us at Austral River Lodge in 2019!

For more detailed information regarding Austral River Lodge please drop me a mail and visit our trip page on our website

Tight lines

Steffen Juhl