Fishing in Uruguay

Sea Fishing:


From the border with Brazil up to Montevideo, the sea coast has a variety of species of great sport value.

Species with more appeal to sport fishing afficionates are: Black Corvinas, Soles, Sargos, White Corvinas, Burriquetas, Brótolas, Groupers, Pescadillas, Pejereyes and Anchoas. Most of these species can be catched from the coast.




Big black Corvinas, as well as more than 20 pounds Soles, can only be seen in the coast of Uruguay.




River and lake fishing:


In a difference with other countries of the region, the best fishing for this type in Uruguay is performed in distances from 200 to 500 kilometers from Montevideo, the country capital, with secure routes and roads.


In clear water creeks you can find  “Tarariras tornasoladas” of more than 5 or 6 kilos. On the high Uruguay river, in the Salto region, can be found the best fishing in Parana’s river areabeing able to capture 15 to 20 kilos Dorados at every season.


Competitive and sport fishing

Uruguay is a destination for lovers of both fresh and ocean water fishing, holding many advantages over other countries in the region. For example, the best fresh water fishing can be found just a few kilometers away from the capital city, there are clear-water streams with iridescent tarariras that can weigh in at more than 5 or 6 kilos, and in the department of Salto, on the Uruguay River, the best fishing in the whole of Cuenca of Paraná awaits. Here, it is common to catch 15 kilo dorados.
In Uruguay, tourists can enjoy activities in natural environments gifted with beautiful sights, flora and fauna and pleasant weather conditions. From from the border with Brazil to Montevideo, the eastern maritime coast of the country is home to many species with stable populations or constant migratory patterns, both of which are advantegous factors for sport fishing.
Black drums, flounders, sargos, white croaker, southern kingfish, silversides and anchovies, among others, are some of the species that are highly attractive for fishing aficionados. Most of these species can be caught right off the coast, with a simple fishing reel. Big black drums and flounders that can weigh more than 10 kilos are an found exclusively in the Uruguayan maritime coastal region, and one of the great trophies for fishermen.




Going after the Black Drum, the biggest trophy of the Uruguayan coast:

Due of its size, fighting attitude, and the length of its high season, the black drum is the king of competitive coastal fishing in Uruguay.
The shoals of black drum are populated by specimens similar in size, allowing catches averaging 10 kilograms at the beginning of the season, and over 20 kilograms towards the middle or end of the season.


Season and Places

From September/October, with the arrival of the first shoals, to the beginning of fall (April), when southern winds start to cool the water down, decreasing salt-levels and increasing sedimentation. Depending on the season, the black drum can be found from the Rocha sand bank and San Ignacio Ponds (where they swim no more than 40 or 50 meters away from shore), to the Maldonado Stream bank (a place that demands casting lines longer than 100 meters). Y

ounger specimens first appear in the shores of Canelones and Montevideo.


Fishind and Equipment


Patience is the name of the game, with the rod resting on a support until the fish strikes. This is distinguished by a violent dip. Once the animal is hooked, it is normal to spend between 20 and 30 minutes reeling it in completely, in an adrenaline-filled battle with nature.
This type of fishing is the most physically demanding due to the long casting distances required and the use of heavy cone- or pyramid-shaped weights (140 grams to 250 grams, depending on sea conditions). It is recommended to use ‘heavy’ equipment, with rods between 3.9 and 4.2 meters capable of casting weights of up to 200 or 300 grams, together with rotating reels with 25-pound lines.


Flounder, a species for sophisticated fishing enthusiasts.


Flounder fishing is surely the most sophisticated on a technical level, not only because of the methodology and style that the species requires, but also because of the size of the animal. This, added to the fact that the species resides practically on the shore, requires fishermen to casts distances of between 20 and 40 meters.


Season and Places
This species is present all year,  however the season of highest activity is between November and February or March. The first fish start to bite in November on the coast of the Solís Grande River, with some in the surrounding rivers and ponds that flow into the coast of Canelones, Maldonado, and Rocha.
Later, in December, January, and February, the best flounder fishing is in the Ensenada del Potrero, an area that goes from the Potrero River’s sandbank to Punta Negra, where small, coastal fishing boats are used.
Once the season is almost over, heavier rains force open the sandbanks of the Rocha, Garzón, and José Ignacio lagoons and the El Potrero River, giving fishermen a last and important opportunity to catch large founders.



Fishing and Equipment


The flounder’s bite can be noticed by a soft tap in the reel, which indicates the fish has caught the bait. The fisherman must wait patiently for about 4 seconds while the fish swallows the bait, and then hold on tightly.
This is the only fish on the maritime coast that must be caught using the spinning technique with natural bait, which is why flounder fishing is appreciated from a sports/technical point of view. The flounder’s flat shape presents a harsh battle on the shore, where water depth is only a few centimeters and the incoming waves make it difficult for the fisherman to keep the fish hooked.
Nature provided the flounder with a large mouth, so it must be caught with large, natural baits, such as pieces of silverside fish or several shrimp, averaging 15 centimeters in length. It is the only species that must not be caught using a “waiting” technique; on the contrary, the fisherman must look for the fish by casting and recasting their reel constantly, given that the flounder does not hunt by swimming after its pray, but by lurking and camouflaging itself in the sand. Hence, the bait must “swim” by the place where it is waiting.
Medium-action rods, of 2.8 to 3 meters, that hold up to 25 pounds, with rotating reels that can hold up to 100 meters of monofilament line of 0.40 mm are best. These are precautions to lighten the equipment, because flounder fishing forces the fisherman to always hold the rod in their hands.



Sargo, catching a formidable opponent


Along with the black drum, the silverside, and the flounder, the sargo ranks high for sports fishing due to its fighting temperament and complex habitat.
If sea conditions allow, the sargo will travel almost exclusively in shoals, which means that, when found, it is very likely that one sargo will take the bait immediately after  it hits the water.
Sargos found off the coast can weigh a little more than a kilo. This is a fish with a hard and small mouth, and it has a short dental formation with which is breaks mussels open. This is the sargo’s greatest food source.



Season and Places
The sargo’s high season starts in La Tuna just when fall starts in April or May and, as the season progresses, the sargo can be found further east.
There are ports, like José Ignacio, where the sargo is present almost all year, however high season ends towards November, when the large shoals become less frequent.
The sargo lives near the coastal bedrock from the island of La Tuna, in front of Costa Azul in Canelones, to the beaches of Rocha: Cabo Polonio, Punta del Diablo, and Santa Teresa.
Its erratic behavior means you can find good fishing spots for sargo in Punta Ballena or Gorriti Island well into summer. They frequent the ports all along the coast of Maldonado, such as Punta Fría, Punta Colorada y Punta Negra – over to the town of Piriápolis – and eastward towards Punta Ballena, Isla de Gorriti, José Ignacio, La Paloma, and even further along the Rocha coast. In Punta del Diablo there is a rock formation called Widow’s Hill where sargo fishing is extremely bountiful, mainly in July and August.



Fishing and Gear
The sargo’s particular habit of living near rocks where waves crash constantly forces the fisherman to always keep his equipment in his hand, in order to react to possible bites immediately and to prevent the specimen from lodging any equipment in the bedrock. When the fish bites, its behavior is very erratic; it can either tense-up or loosen the line, so it is necessary to keep the line taught and hold it tight.

Sargo fishing is done simply with a fishing rod and reel (of strong resistence, rotating or frontal, with 20 pound line) and a long rod (between 3 and 3.6 meters), that can stand up to 30 pounds, rigid enough to be able to take on combative specimens in bedrock.


The lightest weights are the best, between 30 and 50 grams, to avoid obstacles when waiting for a bait or reeling a fish in.


Since the sargo live around rocks they can also be caught effectively with simple rods between 7 and 8 meters, and small fusiform floats of between 8 and 10 centimeters long.




Surubí, a fishing experience in fresh water


Every season, specimens of over 30 kilos are caught and, sometimes, even more formidable examples of more than 40 or 50 kilos appear, a phenomenon that lures many fishermen from across the region. However, regulation stipulates that only one specimen may be kept per boat per day. The fishing hub is located only 10 kilometers from the Daymán thermal center, which provides great accommodation services for visitors.

Season and Places
The surubí season lasts from the end of May to mid-August, in temperatures of 0 to 18 degrees Celsius. During the winter months of June, July, and August, fishing in the Uruguay River, “Los Corrales” is very popular. It is about 10 kilometers south of the city of Salto. Fishing for the surubí  draws hundreds of enthusiasts every year to go after the biggest fish living in the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers.



Fishing and Equipment


Unlike the dorado, the surubí does not jump, but rather it fights instead by heading down to the river bed, dragging the boat and demanding more line from the reel, a truly exciting sensation for the fishing enthusiast. It is a highly static species, and so, when a large shoal is around, everyone should be able to catch one. This is part of the reason why the 2006 fishing regulation was imposed, in order to not deplete the species’ numbers.

In order to prevent the extinction of the species, only one fish is allowed to be captured per boat per day. However a good fisherman should always put back the animal into the water after enjoying the fish’s fighting strength.
The surubí is a fish that lives exclusively on the riverbeds, so it is imperative to use lures that can sink deep.
For this reason, trolling is commonly practiced, always in the same direction as the river’s current, so that the lure can descend to the riverbed. Boats can float 3 to 5 kilometers down river and then return at full speed to start over on what locals call “caída”, which is fishing down river. The lures for both the dorado and the surubí are very similar, however when fishing for surubí the lures must be able to descend deeper than 10 – 14 meters.


Source: Ministry of Tourism