Guest Comments & Letters

Dan Owen

Dear Marco,
Our overall impressions of El Patagon were very positive. The fishing was wonderful. We especially enjoyed the scenic quality of all the floats, and the willingness of the trout to take large dry flies. We did have the sense that the fish had seldom seen a fly. In six days on the water, we never saw another angler. We were very impressed with the friendly, service oriented attitudes of the staff and our guide, Vic. The comfort level of the cabins and the quality and variety of the food preparations was remarkable, especially given the remote location of the lodge. The highlight of the trip was horse packing to the Rio Claro and the float back out. It provided incredible views of the Andes. The horse packing with a raft was a unique and different way to reach an even more remote river, and the fishing was great.

Thank You,
Dan Owen

J. Sebastien Gros

Upon my return from El Patagon, I fully intended to write a glowing letter thanking everyone for their exceptional efforts on our behalf.  Unfortunately, like many things important to me personally, the letter took a back seat to competing demands on my time from a very busy business.  I was happy to see that Barry sent a note that articulated our mutual admiration and appreciation.

El Patagon is truly a unique place.  Notwithstanding the worst weather imaginable, I found the facilities extremely comfortable and tended by a truly professional staff.  We were pleasantly surprised to learn of extra amenities you afford your guests--the daily laundry service, a-la-carte gourmet lunches and Lamb roast to name a few.  Although we were only able to dry fly my favorite river one day, it was amongst the most memorable fishing experiences of my life.  Pristine nature, remarkable quality and quantity of fish, and guides that really made the experience and adventure.

I hope to return to El Patagon with better weather soon.  As you know, I travel often to Chile with customers and I am making a detour to your camp a high priority.

Please extend my gratitude and appreciation to Michael for authorizing the special air charter.  Please thank Jarred, Eric, Carlos, Javier, Claudio and the others that worked so hard to make our stay exciting and comfortable.  A special thanks you to you Paul, for your extra efforts to make our circumstances enjoyable.  As impressive as the facilities are at Yan-Kee-Way and El Patagon, none of it would be as valuable without the special personal touch you an Michael bestow to your guests.  I truly value our friendship and thank you for your extra efforts.

Look forward to seeing you again soon.


J. Sebastien Gros

  • (954) 255-7848; Phone  (954) 255-7925; Fax
  • A Producer sponsored clearinghouse of quality assured seafood from three continents. 

 Barry Stilwell

( NOTE: To put this letter into context, the author and his guests were with us during the major rains which flooded approximately 600 miles, (from Chaiten to Coihayque ), of Southern Chile.  This extreme and unseasonable weather destroyed roads, bridges and flooded small towns.  These guests were scheduled to leave El Patagon on a Friday.  Using our Hatachi 200 excavator, which we fortunately had at the Lodge, we were able to clear the roads and get them to La Junta two days later on Sunday.  We had a chartered plane waiting to fly them back to Puerto Montt and their international flights we had rescheduled for them.  All others in the region were waiting for military transport to evacuate them.  On a positive note, El Patagon is back in operation and we are catching fish! )

From: <>


Subject: My Recent Trip to El Patagon

Dear Mike:

I have a lot to say so please bear with me.  First, I want to thank you personally for providing a magnificent setting for people like me to enjoy.  Your dedication to building a very special resort for people to share what you, yourself, take pride in, is extremely evident.  Everyone that has seen or visited with me has the same experience that I have;  "This place is too good to be true". Congratulations!!!

Let me address our last trip there.  As you know we had a very rare set of circumstances.  What I specifically want to tell you is how magnificently the staff you employ handled our situation.  I want to name them individually because each one was very important to me.

First of all, I will start with Jarred.  While I realize he is not the head guide, with Chris down and out, he stepped up and provided our group with excellent options and took complete control with a gentlemanly manner that all of us could use as a manual for customer relations.  His ability to function under the most extreme difficulties lends to his credentials and expertise.

Number 2, is Eric. He is probably the most personable young man I have ever met.  At his young age he is obviously well on his way to being a great human being. As I told him, I would be proud to have him for a son. He put me on the fish on my favorite river and we had a great time fishing together.  When our situation got bad, he stood tall along with Jarred and never blinked an eye at the burden of work needed to be done. "KUDOS"

Third is Carlos.  What a great young man he is.  Not only did he wait on us hand and foot, but also he was there for us providing anything we wanted or needed.  Once again, he also was outstanding when the trouble hit.

Fourth is Javier.  An extremely kind, gentle man with a real sense of how to care for customers.  He is an excellent driver and made our drives very comfortable.   He steered around ruts instead of driving through them like one of the other drivers you have.  (HA, HA.) He was ever present when we needed a hand loading our gear and very helpful during the storm.

Fifth is Claudio.  He's a very very good chef.  He made us all feel like we were at our favorite restaurant. He is a superb dessert chef. Every meal was meticulous.  Even when those of us who didn't quite feel up to eating and had to leave our food due to illness, he was not dismayed. He attended to our every need and whim, always seeing if we were O.K. before he closed up shop.  My compliments to him and his staff.

Next is Patricia. What a valuable asset.  She even washed my dirty socks and underwear. A gracious lady and very attentive to all of our needs.

Lastly I want to thank you Mike for employing the man who I feel is a credit to your whole operation.  A tremendous amount of credit is due Mr. Paul Kinney.  I can't imagine how difficult it had to be to perform miracles under the conditions he was faced with.  I want to thank Paul for effort he put toward contacting our wives to and relieving their fears.  He has always made me feel like I am part of his family. Making arrangements and accommodations for us without complaints.  His honesty and forthrightness is refreshing.  Thanks also to his beautiful wife for making my guests and me feel very welcome.

Mike, once again thank you for everything you did for us.  I can not express enough how I appreciate all of your staff.  Count on one thing, WE WILL BE BACK, SOON.

With great appreciation,

 Barry Stilwell
Long Beach Seafood Co.

P.S. - Please feel free to use all or any part of my letter as you see fit.  It came from my heart and I would be pleased to respond to any inquiries from the Internet.  Thank you again for all that you have done to make us all so comfortable.

Bill Helman

Dear Paul

We have finally returned from our Chile trip and wanted to thank you and the Yan Kee Way team once again for a great stay.  Everyone truly enjoyed themselves and we can't wait to free some time up for another visit.

Bill Helman
Greylock Partners

Gilbert Ashoff

Dear Michael

I have tried to call several times today but you were either on the phone or on the net.  I just wish to thank you and Paul for your kind hospitality at El Patagon.  It was most enjoyable, a truly great lodge. I especially liked your usual attention to detail such as the placement of the sauna and hot tub. Kudos!   I went fishing with Eric (another great guy) in Lago Rossellot and the next day in Jumping Fish Lake as your guides call it.  Had great luck in Lago Rossellot, a brown 24.5" and another 21" and many rainbows and smaller browns. It was slow fishing due to extremely high water and murky conditions but we prevailed.  Jumping Fish Lake was good for about two hours some brook trout and then rain rain, wind and more rain, and not one bite in 5 hours. The next AM your rattan chairs by the fogon were all over the place due to the winds, no damage.  I am glad I was able to visit this lodge as I can now recommend it too with first hand knowledge.

Gilbert Ashoff

W.R. "Bill" Hubbard

Mr. Michael Darland, Southern Chile Expeditions S.A., C.C. 197, Puerto Varas, Region X Chile

Dear Michael;

I wanted to drop you a short note to tell you how much we enjoyed our visit to Yan Kee Way Lodge.  It was a great experience for each of us only limited by the time we had to spend with you.

Your facilities and staff were great.  Our chalet was outstanding, although we didn't spend much time in it.  All of your people worked hard to ensure our every request was met.

The guides, Renee, Chris and Renaldo - all were enjoyable and good.  Each was different but Russ and I had a great experience with each of them.

Andres was most accommodating in facilitating and leading our non-fishing activities.  We all enjoyed and appreciated his efforts.

On top of all of this, your weather was fantastic!  It was my first trip to Chile and I loved it!  It won't be my last, however.  Both Connie and I have hopes of spending a more extended time in that country.  Russ and I have hopes of getting my other son to join us on another fishing trip, perhaps El Patagon.

Thanks again for the great experience.  I hope your endeavor continues to grow and prosper.  I brought a number of brochures back and have shared them with individuals who share my love of fly-fishing and the beauty of nature.

Best personal regards,

/s/ Bill W.R. Hubbard
Vice President
Deere &Company - One John Deere Place

Mark O. Winkelman

Dear Paul:

We had a great time at Yan Kee Way, the service was wonderful, the guides were great, the equipment outstanding, the adventure package was a success.  The fishing was good for most and terrific for me.  The best catch for me was the 16lb sea run brown trout I caught on the upper Petrohué with Dorinda as my photographer.

Kind Regards,

Mark O. Winkelman

P.S.  Dorinda and everyone had a great time, thanks again.

Donald Stanfield

I have several thoughts to share with you about this great trip. Pardon the lengthy response; but being in a customer service related industry, I feel surveys and feedback are an invaluable tool to ensure return business and continued growth of any enterprise.

* Overall: Excellent! Yes - I want to return.

* Customer Feedback: For the expense of this type event, customer follow-up and feedback should be standard. Accept the praises yet seek areas of improvement. (i.e. - thanks for the follow-up email).

* Weather: The rain finally broke one day and the fishing got better every day. Swollen rivers slowed fishing somewhat, but not much.

* Fishing Overall:  Great!  Had hoped for a few more 5 + lb'ers than I caught. However, the last day I caught and landed at least 60 fish! Best fishing day of my life!

* Accommodations:  Excellent!  Nothing but praise. I love the wood fired hot tub!

* Food & Board:  Excellent! Great food. Also, an absolutely gracious staff that really, truly showed and expressed effort at trying to please their guest. This was probably the most important intangible that customers demand and this staff did excellent. 5 stars for Carlos (waiter), Ian (General Mgr.), Patricia (housekeeping) and the chef (Claudio).

* Equipment: Boats, rafts, etc - first class! In the evenings I would walk around El Patagon and really took a close look at the physical quality of what y'all have built.  It's pretty amazing the equipment, amenities and carpentry that is all top notch.

* Location: I'm really glad I selected a place where the nearest guide service is over 2 hours away. This means rivers that are not fished by anyone except El Patagon.

* Guides: All are excellent in knowledge and technique. I give high praise for their technical fishing and skills

* Suggestion:  Somewhere in print or verbiage is needed a notification to guest of weight restrictions on the flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten. This should be mentioned somewhere. First I heard of this was at the ticket counter where a small fee was charged for excess baggage. I think you were only allowed 15 kg; or about 30 lbs.

Donald E. Stanfield
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Norcross, Georgia

The Larsens

You may wish to check out this client report.  These guests were traveling through the area on a cruise ship and were referred to us requesting an opportunity to fly-fish while their ship was in port.  They were able to spend several hours catching fish, enjoy the scenery, have a relaxing lunch and return to their ship.  Nice way to experience fly -fishing in Chile while on a cruise!

Bill Turner

The following mid-season report was provided by a client for submission to The Angling Report.  All of the lodges in Chile and Argentina have been hit by very rainy weather at the beginning of the 2000/2001 fly-fishing season.  We are very pleased that we have had the waters and the guides to assure that our guests continued to catch fish in spite of the tough conditions.  We did not show our guests the normal fly-fishing and weather that we have come to love down in this part of the world, but we did keep them on fish.  The following report provides you with a customer’s view

El Patagon Lodge

Southern Chile Expeditions, S.A

By Bill Turner

203Church St. Lewisburg, WV  24901

My wife and I fished with El Patagon Lodge of Southern Chile Expeditions, S.A. ( January 5-12, 2001. The operation is located south of many better-known lodges in the Lake District of Chile. El Patagon is in the northern Patagonia region, south of Chaiten and north of Coihaique. The location is very remote, and a generator provides power at the camp. The cabins, dining hall (a spacious Yurt), and large drying room for gear can only be described as luxurious for the setting. All the necessary conveniences of home are available-and the ones you don't want (TV, telephone, and e-mail) aren't. Chile is famous for its fine wines and the food was fabulous. Access is by small plane from Puerto Montt to a tiny airstrip in Chaiten, and then a three-hour drive south on a gravel road (the Carretera Austral, built under the Pinochet military dictatorship). The remote location and variety of waters in the area provide an opportunity for exceptional fishing. In a full week's fishing we only saw one other boat of anglers.

The operation charges premium rates and in return, provides premium service. The guides are extremely professional, and divide their guiding year between Mission Lodge near Dillingham, Alaska and El Patagon during the Southern Hemisphere Summer. The summer of 2000-01 has been the wettest, coldest in this part of Chile in 25 years and, as a result, we were greeted by water conditions that were far from optimal. Considerable amounts of rain and heavy snow pack created exceptionally high runoff. Luckily, we were the only anglers at El Patagon the week we fished, and by alternating lakes and rivers, we consistently had excellent fishing, both in terms of quality and quantity of trout caught. The lodge fishes public waters (which, at the lodge's request, shall remain nameless), and is limited to 8 anglers with catch-and-release fishing only.

Things started off with a bang the first day of fishing. Due to the very heavy runoff, all the local rivers were too high to fish, so we opted for a large glacial lake. The water level was way up "in the bushes." We fished from a 17' jet sled, equipped with a 90 HP Motor, which allowed us to really cover the entire lake. We fished virtually every creek mouth and waterfall base in a lake approximately 10 miles long. The fish were concentrated on the edges where clear water from the creeks and waterfalls met the off-color glacial green tint of the lake. Fishing with streamers and Teeny lines, we had our best day of fishing, catching a 25" brown, a 21" brown, a 20" brown, and several more browns and rainbows of 18" or better. All told, we caught and released 40-50 trout. The scenery was gorgeous and vaguely reminiscent of Yosemite during snowmelt season, as we fished at the base of waterfalls ranging from 20 - 600' high, all day long.

At the risk of digressing with a fish story, the 25" brown would have been one of the more memorable fish of the trip, even if it had not been the largest. On my first cast into a creek mouth, the fish swirled at my Woolly Bugger and I said to the guide and my wife, "a 22" brown just swirled at my fly!" They, of course had not seen the fish, and were dubious of my report. I kept casting to the same spot for the next five minutes, and the same fish swirled at and/or struck my streamer four more times. On the last swirl, he followed my streamer all the way back to the boat and swam right by, less than 2' off left gunwale. Seeing is believing and my wife and our guide peered overboard, watched the big fish swim by, and both exclaimed, "Gosh, that is a nice trout!" My heart sank, as I feared any chance to hook the fish had evaporated with our mutual sighting. However, the guides had told us to throw right back to a spot if we missed a nice fish (even if it had felt the hook), and I kept casting to the creek mouth. My persistence paid off when, after about three more casts, I hooked a 25" brown, and after a brief but intense battle, landed him. It was sheer serendipity that the trout actually proved to be 3" longer than I had estimated on that first swirl!

Later in the week, we spent two days on one of the smaller rivers closer to the Argentine border (where less rain had fallen). This river yielded a 31" rainbow last year , yet the guides do not regard it as the best trophy water in the area. However, it is an absolutely gorgeous river for a float trip. We had constant action with several nice doubles, again on streamers with Teeny lines. I lost our best fish on this river, a rainbow of at least 20" (I didn't get a close look at him), and we caught numerous rainbows in the 15 - 18" range.

Our last day of fishing, the rivers had dropped enough to allow us to get on El Patagon's home river. It is a huge trout river by any measure and I would estimate its flow as being in the 20,000+cfs range. This river consistently produces the most trophy trout for El Patagon, and a lucky angler caught a 26" rainbow wading directly out from camp in the "home pool" last year. The guides call the last mile of this river the "Miracle Mile", as it routinely produces the great majority of trophy browns caught out of El Patagon. After moving a few smaller fish on a large mouse pattern, I reverted to streamers once again. We caught a good mix of browns and rainbows, but the lower part of the river did not yield any trophy browns on this day. To my surprise, my last fish was a 22" Atlantic Salmon, the first I have ever caught. Judging by the translucent appearance of its fins, our guide indicated it was fresh from the sea. Fish farming is big business in Southern Chile and presumably, this fish was the descendant of an earlier escapee from a fish farm.

Ordinarily, El Patagon provides roughly 50/50 dry fly and streamer fishing at this time of year. Large mouse patterns can provide some heart-stopping action as summer advances. However, the water conditions dictated that we focus on streamers during our stay, and that was fine with us. I am fortunate to have a wife who fishes enthusiastically and El Patagon proved to be an excellent choice of lodges for us. For the angler with the non-fishing spouse or significant other, Southern Chile Expeditions, S.A., offers Yan Kee Way Lodge in the Lake District as an excellent option. Numerous adventure sports are offered for the non-angler at Yan Kee Way, from horseback riding to adventure photography to mountain biking, and many more. It is a 5-star resort property and while the fishing might be a half-notch below El Patagon, one need not worry. One of the Yan Kee Way guides, Rene Yeffe, caught an 18-pound sea-run brown trout last year fishing a nearby river.

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