Trip Report Trucha Andina: Fly Fishing Peru's Sacred Valley


Active Member
About a week and a half ago I returned from a month-long trip to Peru with my students. Some numbers to set the stage--28 days, 43 fourteen-year-olds (approximately 40 of which threw up at least once on the trip), 3 teachers, 24 days above 9,000 feet, 14,300 feet above sea level at our highest, and about 1,000 potatoes consumed. And, most relevant to this forum: one 6-piece 5 weight rod, and about 7 hours stolen away for myself to try my hand at some Peruvian trout fishing.

Before heading off on this adventure, I did a little research on the bodies of water we would be staying near/on. I learned that many of the rivers and lakes of Peru's Sacred Valley were stocked with rainbow trout in the '30s and '40s with the hopes of developing a subsistence fishery for the remote communities scattered throughout the region. While Peru doesn't have what you'd call a booming fly fishing industry, I got enough confirmation from my internet sleuthing to convince me to buy a travel rod, convince myself it was worth carrying it around for an entire month, and start tying up some lake flies. Upon arriving, I found out that the trout did indeed establish themselves, and that trucha can be found on almost every menu. Most places even have ceviche de trucha!

My first opportunity to fish came on a day we spent outside of a small Incan town called Ollantaytambo with an NGO called "Llama Pack"--their mission is to retrain llamas as pack animals, and to empower local communities to switch from horses/mules back to llamas. Part of their outreach strategy is leading groups on "training" hikes with the llamas. So we set off up the mountain with a herd of llamas, most of which were wearing bright orange Patagonia backpacks (one of my students realized about halfway through the hike that they had on the same backpack as one of the llamas).
As the hike went on the steam leveled out into a beautiful meandering creek, cutting through a green valley that pretty much defines "bucolic". If I'd had a whole day to myself, with no rock-throwing kids or ornery llamas sitting in fishy-looking water, I think I could have wrangled a few nice trout out of the stream. As it was, I had about an hour to work with while the kids ate lunch. I managed to catch one trout that was 2" at best :p
Our next stop was a small, remote community called Paru Paru, which sits at 13,000 feet in the "hills" above the bizarre hippie expat enclave of Pisac. Paru Paru is situated on a large spring fed lake called Paru Paru Cocha, with two more lakes, Puma Cocha and Azul Cocha ("cocha" means "lake" in Quechua), in the mountains above the village. I'd read a few reports of adventure travel companies from Cusco taking groups fishing on Paru Paru Cocha, so I figured this was where I'd have my luck.

Our first morning in Paru Paru I ran into two of the aforementioned hippie expats just as they rolled up in their Subaru and started stringing up their rods. I chatted with them for a bit about flies, if they'd had any luck on the lake in the past, spots to fish, and took notes for that afternoon. After a weaving lesson and sheep shearing demonstration in the morning, I left the kids to their own devices (what could possibly go wrong??) and set off. I had one tag-a-long who was interested in watching, and a small troop of local boys who were obviously curious what the hell this gringa was using to fish with (there is a strong fishing culture in the village, but its more of a worm on a hook situation). The boys assured me that there were no trout where I was fishing--"No hay trucha aqui!"--despite that fact that I'd seen one lunker cruising along the irrigation dam all morning. In an effort to be helpful, they started throwing rocks in the water, to "show me where to cast". Needless to say, that didn't work out very well.

Eventually, I lost the little boys and gained one more of my students and we made our way to the back side of the lake where the weeds thinned out and the bottom dropped off. That's where I started having more luck. Wind and various back-cast obstacles (read: alpacas) posed some problems, but eventually, I hooked into a few pretty nice trout that all spit the fly.
IMG_8056.jpeg Finally, I hooked and landed one, though it didn't put up much of a fight. It practically jumped right onto the bank as soon as I set the hook. After making sure my students wouldn't be traumatized by watching me kill a fish, I bonked it and took it back to the family whose home I was staying in and we shared it for dinner.
It wasn't the biggest or prettiest or most exciting fish I've ever caught, but it was certainly the highest altitude, so I think that counts for something!

Jim Ficklin

Genuine Montana Fossil
What a cool trip! Thanks for sharing even if I did get short of breath when you mentioned "14,300 feet above sea level at our highest" . . . now that's my kind of "field trip!"

mr. bad example

Active Member
good stuff.... thanks for posting, we just spent 5 weeks in northern Peru saw exactly 3 gringos in that time... crazy beautiful country, especially the highlands...lot o trouts in the markets but farm raised from what understood .


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Those rainbows are something with so few spots. Gorgeous fish and even more breathtaking scenery. Thanks for sharing!

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