Few places can offer wilderness fishing akin to the Falkland Islands. There are no crowds in the Falklands, just remote locations to enjoy the privacy of the coastal estuaries, rivers and streams. Add a backdrop of rugged hills or a beautiful beach, and of course the fish, to create an experience regularly described by anglers as "outstanding".
Brown / Sea Trout and Mullet are noted for their size. The record for the largest sea trout caught in the Islands is held by Alison Faulkner at 22lbs 12.5 oz (approx 10. 3 kg).
A number of destinations around the islands offer the possibility of fishing with knowledge guides and the chance to stay in comfortable accommodation, enjoying Falkland hospitality. Some International and Falkland Island tour operators offer fishing packages.
While there are no national statistics for wilderness fishing in the Falklands, the shareholders of the Malo River on East Falkland have maintained a catch record over the last five years. These records show that the average weight and quantity of fish is steady and varies little from year to year. The average weight of fish caught each year is between 4.2lbs and 5.3lbs while each year the heaviest fish has been over 10lbs and in the 2006/07 season was a whopping 17lbs. In the 2008/09 season the heaviest fish was 16.8lbs.
Small fish, those not recovered from spawning (kelts), and those that are close to spawning are returned to the river unless badly hooked/damaged and are not included in the annual statistics.
It should be noted that the Malo River is privately owned by the Malo Angling Club and can only be fished by club members and their guests. It has never been accessible as a commercial trout fishery. However, it is thought that these statistics would accurately mirror sea trout fishing in the larger rivers and streams elsewhere in the Falklands.
This photograph shows an unusual catch - a butterfly kingfish - the largest of only three to be recorded in the Falkland Islands. The fish beached itself on the shores of the settlement on Weddell Island and at 73lb provided some tasty food for the residents. It is thought to have been caught out by the tide after chasing smelt.
Islander Stuart Wallace has been a keen fisherman for some 45 years and says that trout fishing in the Falklands is "world class". It's not unusual to catch fish weighing 10 to 12 pounds and five pound fish are common says Stuart. "The rivers are not large but are extremely good fun. The resources need to be looked after and I often think that they are under rated," he said. "It's a privilege to have it – there's nowhere else that compares."
Terry Spruce has fished in many parts of the world including Alaska, Norway, US, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but he says, if you get the water and hit runs of fish, there is nowhere that compares with the Falklands. His biggest Falklands catch weighed in at a massive 20 pounds and two ounces while last season 2009/10 he landed four trout over 12 pounds; two at 15 and one 16 pounder. "The stocks are increasing and spreading on both East and West Falklands," said Terry, who described fishing in the Falklands as good and in pristine conditions. "The rivers and surrounding areas are litter free and practically untouched by man," he said.
Martin Beaton has fished for over 50 years in many different parts of the World. A teacher and organiser of fly fishing competitions in the UK and previous National Committee member of the Confederation of English fly-fishers, his view is "sea-trout fishing in the Falkland Islands is amongst the very best in the world. The isolated, wild locations, the beautiful rivers with picturesque pools and above all the number, size and willingness of the fish have spoiled me for fishing in the UK".
Some species of fish are protected by law - see "Types of fish" (below)
Fishing for brown trout is only permitted during the summer months - see "When to fish" (below)
Regulations and Biosecurity procedures must be followed – see "Regulations" (below)
Be aware of the Falkland Islands Countryside Code
Types of fish
- Brown Trout / Sea Trout (Salmo trutta) - introduced to various rivers, mainly in the 1940s, and have become well established. Specimens up to 10lbs / 4.5 kg are regularly caught during the season.
- Zebra Trout (Aplochiton zebra) – up to 25cm in length, these fish are native to the Falkland Islands and were recorded by Darwin in 1833 and 1834. Numbers have been drastically reduced since the introduction of brown trout and the species has disappeared completely from many rivers. Zebra trout are protected by law and must not be fished.
- Falklands Minnow (Galaxius maculatus) – up to 8cm in length, Darwin also recorded this native species of fish on his visits.
- Mullet (Eleginops maclovinus) – up to 80cm, native, a member of the group of fish known as rock cod; is common in estuaries and creeks around the Islands. Fish over 20lbs / 9kgs have been caught; individuals of 3 - 10lbs / 1.3 – 4.5kg are common.
When to fish
- Brown Trout / Sea Trout – The trout fishing season runs from 1st September until the 30th April. The best months are September/October and February/March with larger fish usually caught during the latter period. Few fish run in December and January, a better time for estuary fishing. The ideal time to fish is when a river is clearing after a spate.
- Mullet – these can be fished for all year round.
Where to fish
There are many places appropriate for fishing. Listed here are locations that are easily reached from tourist accommodation and often featured in fishing-holiday itineraries. See the Accommodation pages to find out more about places to stay.
- Warrah River – the Warrah is a relatively short, but in places wide, river with a reputation for the size and quality of its fish rather than large quantities. Read more ...
- Chartres River – a smaller river than the Warrah, the Chartres is best known for its consistency, deep runs and pools. Read more ...
- San Carlos River – a slow flowing river with some pools; fishing on the estuary can also be good throughout the main season. Read more ...
- Murrell River – a short river, the freshwater stretch of which is not open to public fishing but the estuary provides excellent opportunities. Read more ...
- Herbert stream - a salt water stream at Crooked Inlet Farm, Roy Cove with trout, mullet and smelt. Read more ...
For more information contact a guide or seek local advice before travel.
Rods: 9ft to 10ft 6in, 7 or 8 weight mid to tip or tip action for fishing the river. 9 or 10 weight mid to tip or tip action for fishing in the estuaries and for the really windy days.
Lines: FW Floating or Intermediate. Floating lines can be used with sink tips in the form of 5ft or 10ft PolyLeader. Tippets of 10lb to15lb are recommended.
Fly's: Most trout, sea trout and salmon fly's are used.
Clothing: Chest waders, studded wading boots and wading jacket. Trout fishing season from 1st September – 30th April.
Rental Equipment, Guides and Ghillies:
Contact one of our Falklands travel operators who have intimate knowledge of local conditions and access to the best local guides. Falkland operators can organise the entire trip - from international flights to domestic transfers and meals. Alternatively, locate an independent guide or contact accommodation providers and create an itinerary.
Special conditions apply to the Murrell River as follows:
Fishing is not permitted upstream from the area known as Drunken Rock.
CHECK, CLEAN, DRY
The Falklands are free of all invasive freshwater algae and fish diseases and we want to keep it that way. If bringing in tackle, waders or boots that have been used elsewhere, please Check, Clean and Dry before you let fly.
CHECK: Hopefully before you left the river or lake where you last used your fishing gear outside the Falklands, you checked it for contamination with debris (eg, weed, dirt). If you find any debris on your gear on arrival in the Falklands, please dispose of it in a rubbish bin. Do not wash it down the sink or clean it in a natural waterway.
CLEAN: Regardless of how clean your fishing gear looks, it should be disinfected before use in the Falklands to ensure that algae/microbes are not introduced. There are several ways to do this, including soaking or spraying all surfaces for at least one minute in 5% dishwashing detergent or nappy cleaner (500ml with water to make 10 litres), or soaking or spraying all surfaces for at least one minute in 2% household bleach.
DRY: The item must be completely dry to the touch, inside and out, and then left to dry for a further 48 hours before use.
Please report any dead/dying/diseased fish, new/unusual freshwater fish or algae sightings in Falkland waters to the Environmental Planning Department. Most native algae are brown or green, slimy and easily fall apart when rubbed.
A summary of the most important aspects of this information is available as a download Trout fishing Guidelines, Falkland Islands (1.1mb)