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Monday, 28 September 2009 08:51



Recreational Fishing is an activity performed by local or visitors from abroad which consists of catching aquatic species in continental and marine waters. Its purpose is recreational, sport or tourism and it is developed with the use of personal fishing equipment which differs according to the type of fishing method. Nowadays recreational fishing has perfected and diversified its techniques and methods that vary according to the type of equipment to be utilized, such as fishing rods, hooks or flies. Recreational fishing is a modern discipline which focuses on the preservation of the species and care of aquatic and terrestrial eco systems. It is an art whereby one learns to enjoy peace and tranquillity and which requires patience and a special devotion for the aquatic world and the living species inhabiting it.

Overall description of the activity

Recreational fishing is divided into two categories: Fresh water fishing and salt water fishing. The first is practised in lakes, rivers, ponds and small water streams, habitat to native and introduced species. Native species which are target of recreational fishing in fresh water are brown trout and the diverse species of Chilean silverside. There are other species which are fished recreationally and which were introduced from Europe, the United States, Japan and Argentina, such as rainbow trout, brown trout, Alpes trout, frontinalis trout or from small water streams, Pacific Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chinook salmon, Steel head Salmon, Atlantic Salmon, Sakura or Cherry Salmon, Chum or Dog Salmon, Pink Salmon, Brown Trout, Carp, Tenca, a freshwater fish native to Chile, and Argentinean Silverside. These species are fished with fishing rods, angling, light lines and baits, natural baits and/or artificial bait. When fishing is practiced in lakes, or big dams, fisherman can stay at the edge or use fishing boats to get close to the pray. When fishing in small rivers and small water streams, boots and waterproof clothing is used to get close to where the fish might be located. Recreational fishing in the sea is practiced on board of a fishing vessel on the sea and around the coastal area such as beaches, rockery, piers, breakwaters and estuaries where fishermen walk along the edge of the beach to get their prays. Live bait or artificial bait such as sparkles, rapala bait, and various other different fishing lures may be used.

Recreational fishing in fresh water can be performed with the use of a hand net or trolling with a weight up to 100grms, from a small moving boat, with bait which resembles the movements of a small fish and which is dragged 30 to 40 metres behind the fishing vessel. Catches will be successful depending on the speed of the vessel, and the action of the bait. The basic equipment used in this case is a short and flexible fishing rod for easy manoeuvre; a long line to resist the struggle of big fish; some bait and a hand net. Spinning fishing is performed with artificial bait that resembles the movement of a small fish. It can be performed from the edge of a lake or pond and from a fishing boat, a certain level of skill and knowledge of the habits of fish is a must, especially to locate the fish and to handle the equipment, to this end a flexible fishing rod of 1.8 to 2 metres, a frontal reel, bait and a line of between 0.2 to 0.4 mm is needed. When Fishing with a fly an artificial bait (fly) is utilized which is made from feathers with the objective of simulating an insect, there are two types of fishing with a fly: (a) dry fly which resembles an insect floating on the surface of the water, (b) wet fly which resembles an insect, lavers amongst others which have fallen into the water and which are found under the surface. Fishing with fly requires a good knowledge of fish behaviour, their feeding, habitat, migratory cycles and reproduction stages, as the fly is designed on this basis. Catch and release fishing is fishing method that uses a fly and consists of catching and releasing the fish promptly with the objective of preserving species.

Silverside Recreational Fishing

Silverside recreational fishing in Chile represents 40% in terms of fishing effort by recreational fishermen. The silverside species fished are Chilean Silverside (Basilichthys australis), the cauque (Odontesthes mauleanum), the Argentinean silverside (Odontesthes bonariensis) and the sea silverside (Odontesthes regia). (see Fig. 1.).

Fig. 1. Species of silverside are targeted by recreational fishing in Chile.

Silverside belongs to the teleosts, family of Atherinidae. The Chilean silverside is silver grey, dark on the back and light on the stomach. The dorsal and anal wings are small. They inhabit the backwaters of river, canals and search for clear water. They are a lively and shrewd species and do not let themselves get caught easily. Their normal size is of 20 cms, but bigger sized species can be found. The Argentinean silverside is of a lighter weight than the Chilean species, more of a yellowish silver grey color with a band from the head to the tail, with large scales. They display multiple colors on their head and between their eyes which then disappear. The Argentinean silverside inhabits warm waters, but has become used to colder and saltier water. Salt water silversides are very similar to the fresh water species, but one thing makes them unique, the greenish yellow color of their fins. They are small in size, measuring up to 20 cms.

Sport fishermen consider fishing Chilean silverside a challenge, as it is the type of fish that requires much concentration to catch to the great skills and shrewdness they possess, being the fresh water fish most difficult to catch. Silverside fishing must be practiced in silence and fishermen must fish along the edge of rivers maintaining certain distance among them. This is because it very alert to any strange phenomena occurring in their habitat which makes them defensive to noise and in the presence of human beings. They inhabit nearly all bodies of water in the central area of Chile. In Chile it is possible to catch the Chilean silverside using diverse types of baits, among them, tebo worm, earthworm, dough, egg yolk and the typical fishing equipment with a fly can be used.

Fishing Argentinean silverside is considered as a learning experience, as it is the type of fishing where the first steps are taken in recreational fishing and it also allows the whole family to take part in the activity at the edge of a dam or reservoir. The Argentinean silverside inhabit nearly all dams of the central area of the country and are very abundant since they spawn twice a year. The practice of Argentinean Silverside fishing allows the participation of the whole family, therefore you can usually see up to three generations of fishermen with a fishing rod in hand at the edge of a dam or lake.

Recreational fishing of silverside is performed with a hand line or with a fishing rod and reel, with a nylon line between 0.20 to 0.30 cms, with hooks of 20 and a weight or float or both in an assembly as per Fig. 2., leaving the bait quiet or performing movements inside the water to attract the attention of fish. Silverside fishing is performed with live bait, preferably with tebo worm or using fly equipment. The tebo worm is the larvae from moth (Langsdorfia valdiviana) which parasites a native bush species called tebo or trevo (Trevoa trinervis), a species which grows easily in the mountains of the coast and in dry coastal land.

Fig. 2. Equipment and bait commonly used to catch silverside.

Trout recreational fishing

Recreational fishing of trout species in Chile accounts for 60% in terms of fishing effort by recreational fishermen. The species of trout fished are rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykis), brown trout (Salmo trutta) and fontinalis trout or stream trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) (see Fig. 3).

The rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykis) displays a robust body, compressed and longer in females than in males, with a short and convex head, round and small mouth (except in adult males) and with 100 to 140 scales in the lateral line. The top part of their body is bright green to brown and their lower part is silver, along their side there is a red violet band, iridescent, a unique feature of this species.

Fig. 3. Species of salmonids targeted by recreational fishing in Chile.

The Head, operculum, the body, dorsal fin, tail fin and anal fin are densely covered of small black spots. It is a fish which may measure more than a meter, though the commonly captured species measure between 30 to 60 centimeters. It is one of the most abundant trout existing in Chile, they are mainly distributed from the central area to the extreme southern parts of the country, even the Region of Calama. It is a species of fast growth that reproduces in rushing waters and spawns in the last part of winter and spring. They inhabit rushing waters y deep lakes and their feeding habits are essentially carnivorous.
The brown trout (Salmo trutta) has a long and compressed body with a high branched anal fin, and a large, long head. It has a round and long mouth, the maxillary stretches over to the rear edge of the eye (longer in bigger size ones). It has a second dorsal adipose fin. The lateral line presents from 120 to 130 scales. The body colour is dark on the back with hues of green olive or greenish brown. The sides are lighter. An important feature of its color is black and red sports at the sides. The red spots and some black ones almost always have a wide lighter flange. The red spots often appear at the rear dorsal wing. Their size is smaller than other species of trout reaching a maximum size of 80 centimetres. They are distributed from the V to the XII Region. At times, they invade coastal marine waters, especially the fjords and canals in the south of Chile in the XII Region. They inhabit rushing waters but can develop satisfactorily in lakes which maximum temperature does not exceed 20° C. They reach sexual maturity at 2 or 3 years of age. They reproduce in clear running water, and spawn during the last part of autumn and winter.
The stream trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) has an oblong, long and moderately compressed body. Its large mouth and maxillary extends behind the rear edge of the eye. They have small cycloid scales and a small dorsal adipose fin. The top part of their body is pale green or olive green, marbled with typical long or irregular spots of a yellow greenish colour. Their sides are considerably lighter with red blots which are usually bordered with intense blue margins; the lower part is pale, yellowish (carmine red during reproduction time). The pectoral, abdominal and anal fins are of a colour fluctuating from orange to red; they are also limited by a white clear margin. The average size is 25 centimetres, though in occasions they reach a metre in length. Some of 7 to 8 kilos have been found. Their distribution is more or less restricted and they are the less known trout in the country. They inhabit the mountain areas of the V Region, and there are references as to their existence in the XII Region. From all the introduced trout species in Chile, this one is the most sensitive species in regards to temperature, oxygen, transparency of water. The species spawns in autumn.
Chile is one of the best places in Latin America to fish salmon and trouts, especially in the Region of the Lakes and the Patagonia. Trout Fishing is performed with the use of various methods and with different personal fishing equipment, composed of a line, with or without weights, with hooks and which can be handled directly or with the help of a fishing rod from the edge or from a fishing boat. Artificial lures are used to fish trout. Spinning, fly fishing and catch and release are the fishing methods used. Spinning uses artificial lures or bait of any kind attached to a line; where the weight is provided by the lure or other element and not by the line. Fly fishing utilizes a gear which has an artificial lure called fly, attached to a special line by means of a lead, in this case the weight is provided by the line. Catch and release fishing is a method of fishing with a fly, using a bait without a burr where the fish is immediately released into the water, in good condition to preserve the species. To release the fish one must first quickly unhook it without touching their gills and must not press the fish nor handle it with dry hands. As per Supreme Decree. 320/1981, fishing trout, salmon, and brown trout is prohibited with live bait and the use of lures with more than one hook with over three tips or spiders.

The most common flies are streamer type or imitations of small shrimp, attached to stainless hooks. The best way to catch trouts is by imitating their food and its behaviour that is, reeling in fast, in the case of a small fish or slower if imitating a shrimp. It is not convenient to fish with surface lines, but rather with sinking lines, considering the feeding habits of this species. Additionally, it is best to fish when the tide is rising or with a high tide, at dawn or sunset.

The types of lures used to fish trout species are flies, feathers, whip, spoons and artificial fish (see Fig.4). Flies may be wet or dry, the first ones are also called drowned flies and they look like aquatic nymph*, feathers are also included in this group of lures, which is a very attractive fly for trouts. Dry or whip flies resemble insects or small aquatic vertebrate in their adulthood, after hatching. This type of fishing requires more skill in regards to throwing and catching, as it is necessary to hook the trout when it is visible and once it has bitten the fly. Fishing is performed with a special line, called rat tail which ends on a meter long conventional line and only one fly of this kind. The metal spoons have a turning palette which shines in the water, attached to a pointed hook, usually the palette may be gold or silver, though there are also lures which imitate a small fish or streamers with spoon line structure, resembling a fish, or an amphibian, it may have a shovel and may be more or less rigid which allows movement and only one triple hook must be used. The artificial fish is usually made of plastic or silicone and may be divided into 2 types, floating and sunken, the latter are heavier and usually have a triple hook hanging from the stomach.
One of the major elements in trout fishing is the knowledge of the natural habitat, be it rivers, lakes, dams, etc. Recreational fishermen must know that there are very productive areas in the rivers due to the important presence of subaquatic insects. They have fast currents and shallow waters that allow the light to reach the bottom and favour the growth of small algae which form part of the insects’ diet. A river can also be recognized due to the abundant presence of pebbles which gives the water surface a less smooth appearance. Rivers are the habitat of large amounts of fish that feed during the day and are ideal for fishing with larvae imitations of these insects (nymphs and pupae). The distribution of fish is very homogeneous , they do not group together and therefore one must not waste time looking for the most appropriate place. There are other less productive sites, but the best sites are current waters and pools, as insects are dragged there from other upper parts of the river. In pools it is advisable to fish with imitation of small fish or other prays of similar size (streamers). In this cas, surface fishing during the day is not very effective. The tail of a pool or their rear end is a not very deep area. The food that enters the pool, exits from here, making it a strategic place to find fish. This is one of the most productive but difficult places to fish, as the fish here have an excellent vision, due to the fact that the river has a smooth, mirror like and shallow surface. The entrance of the water is the throat of the head, a narrow and relatively shallow location with fast currents, which is not a good place to fish. The throat leads to a deeper area, where the flow widens and the speed of current slows down. This is the best place to fish. The fishermen must fish from the sides or edges, opposite to the main current flow. Fish are always located in sites that go against the water current, where the current slows down, but close enough to search for food without moving too much..

Fig. 4. Lures generally used in trout fishing.

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