FISHING LA ZONA – The “Zone”
La Zona (the Zone in Spanish) is a one kilometer square (about 200 football fields) zone of the Uruguay River flowing out of the Salto Grande dam connecting Argentina and Uruguay. The “Zone” is famous for holding the largest golden Dorado’s on the planet, most in 10-20 pound range, but some exceeding 50 pounds. All the IGFA world fly rod records for golden Dorado are established in the “Zone”. The golden Dorado is known for its aggressive strikes, leaping ability, pull, stamina and overall meanness. Many anglers rate the golden Dorado as the strongest fresh water game fish alive.
I fished the “Zone” December 2-5, 2011 using a 9 foot 10 weight rod with 35-40 pound single strand titanium wire bite tippets.
Our group of six fly casters caught 165 golden Dorado up to 30 pounds over 4 days, most in the 8-12 pound range. As a by-product, I caught a10# Boga which got my guide very excited. When my guide saw I had hooked a large Boga, he requested my camera and started to shoot photos (see below) including shots while the fish was in the water to prove I had hooked the fish in the mouth. I had no clue I broke the IGFA record for a Boga until I returned home and googled the IGFA records. The official All Tackle IGFA record is 5.8 pounds. The Boga has a very small mouth, and rarely caught by sports fishermen legally. Most are foul hooked. Locals target the Boga for food using corn kernels as bait.
While our fly fishing group launched from Uruguay, a group of hardware casters were fishing from the Argentina side. A lady in this group hooked and landed a 58# golden Dorado, a new unofficial world record. Our group had several hook ups where the fish went screaming down the river or into the rocks, and long gone in spite of our wire leaders and tight drags. All one could do was muse as to how large that golden Dorado was.