Estancia Santa Sofia
120-year-old Estancia Santa Sofia—a three hour drive north of Montevideo, Uruguay—is our hottest new destination for exotic blue wolf fish and golden dorado fishing AND high-volume eared-dove hunting. The estancia is a historic, turn-of-the-century building with antique furnishings throughout that accommodates six guests in private bedrooms with three bathrooms. It is perfectly situated amidst the rolling hills right on the shore of 66,000-acre Lake Palmar.
The strikingly beautiful, iridescent golden dorado (Salminus brasiliensis) are perhaps the most sought-after sportfish in fresh water. They strike hard and are renowned for their continuous acrobatics and hard fighting ability. Dorado fishing takes place in the Negro River tailwaters below the Palmar hydroelectric dam, about a 15-minute drive from Estancia Santa Sofia. The Negro River below the dam is scenic, with gravel bars, many side sloughs, creek confluences and backwaters. Six or eight miles of the river are routinely fished by our guides with little to no competition from other anglers. Dorado in the river average six to eight pounds with trophy fish caught up to 25 pounds. Good fishermen will hook 10 to 15 dorado per day. Blue wolf fish are also present in the creek confluences and backwaters.
Blue Wolf Fish
The blue wolf fish Tornasol Tararira (Hoplias lacerdae) is found exclusively in the Uruguay river basin and its tributary rivers and drainages in Uruguay and Argentina. This hard-fighting, aerobatic fish is abundant throughout the lakes and river backwaters of the Uruguay river system, and is easily accessed from Estancia Santa Sofia, with the boat launch about 200 yards from the estancia.
Blue wolf fish caught in the lake are routinely six to eight pounds and range up to 20 pounds; 12 to 15 pounds is a good trophy fish. Wolf fish strike a variety of sub-surface minnow lures and flies, and top-water frog and mice imitations. Ten to 20 fish landed per day per fisherman—with many more strikes—is the norm.
The boats are spacious 21-footers with a center console, and casting areas stern and aft. Baitcasting, spinning and fly rods are all good choices for pursuing the exotic blue wolf fish and golden dorado. The peak of the fishing season, and best chance for larger fish, is November through March—Uruguay’s summer—with warm water conditions.
Dove shooting is high-volume here, with 20-40 boxes in a half day being the norm as many thousands of eared doves depart and return to the roosting area throughout the day and long summer afternoons. Five major roosts are located 15 to 30 minutes from the estancia—a 2400 acre working ranch. Little to no pressure has been put on these birds in the past. You may rent guns at the estancia, but taking your own guns is a very easy process.
Guests have the daily option of all-day fishing, all-day shooting or splitting the day into fishing mornings and afternoon shooting.
Rates: $795/night. Included are accommodations, all meals, open bar, all services of professional guides and round-trip airport transfers. Not included are commercial or charter air travel, gun rental at $70/day, Uruguay dove hunting permit ($180), shells at $16/box (subject to change) and tips.
Use of high-quality bait casting and spinning rods and reels is included in the price, as are all dorado and wolfish lures. Fly fishermen should bring their own rods, reels, leader, flies, etc. First-rate backups for all fly gear and flies will be available at the lodge in case of trouble with fly equipment.
The most efficient way to get to Montevideo’s Carrasco International airport is on the American Airlines nonstop from Miami. Once you are finished with Immigration and Customs you will be met by outfitter staff and driven three hours to Estancia Santa Sofia. Alternately, guests may opt to fly to Buenos Aires and take a short connecting flight over to Montevideo or drive from Buenos Aires (four hours) to Estancia Santa Sofia.
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