RETURN TO THE AMAZONS – January 2010
In February 2009 I was scheduled to fish the Xeriuni River in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest for peacock bass. Due to high waters, our outfitter redirected our group to the Itapara River. Although the Itapara water level was about 4 feet above the base of the trees lining the river, it was fishable. However the bait and peacocks were dispersed into the rainforest which made fishing difficult and often required casting into the trees. Nevertheless, the fishing quality was very good given the water condition. In total, our group of seven fly fishermen landed about 550 peacocks for the week with 51 weighing ten or more pounds. The largest was 20 pounds.
During January 2010, I was able to fish the Xeriuni River
and the fishing experience was totally different from 2009 with the river level about 8 to 10 feet lower. With the Amazon being about 2/3 the area of the USA
, imagine the volume of water flowing through and out of the Amazon. The low water meant few trees to cope with, shallow waters and some fishing similar to flats fishing. But, it also meant less access and fishing range since the floatplane could not land in most parts of the river. I estimate we lost about 50-100 miles of prime fishing waters. We occasionally had to pull and push our flat bottom boat through water 2 to 4 inches deep to reach the best fishing waters, lagoons. Some of the hauls were 100-300 yards long. One day we actually hauled our boat about 30-40 feet over a sand bar using tree branches cut and laid out like railroad ties which functioned like skids/rollers. Was the effort worth it? Absolutely!
Our group of 8 fly fishermen landed 1,758 peacocks up to 21 pounds over 6 days, plus a variety of other weird toothy species of fish. Although our group did land 54 peacocks ten pounds or more, most were in the 4 to 8 pound range. It was a high quality “numbers” game. It’s a blast hooking and fighting these aggressive hard pulling fish on an 8/9 weight fly rods. The highest daily boat count (2 anglers per boat) was 138, with several boats experiencing 100+ days. With low waters, top water and sight fishing was possible using leaders 40 pounds and up. But with the tropical heat, physical demands and hard fighting peacock, low water conditions mean you need to be in shape. My old body, and especially my hands are still trying to recover.
The Amazon peacock bass has become a very popular fishery and destination. I believe the key factors for success are water conditions and location. In spite of the vast size of the Amazons and its many rivers, the easily accessible waters are becoming overfished and the peacock is sensitive to pressure. Therefore, if you ever plan a trip to the Amazons for peacock bass, I suggest targeting the remote interior waters and to be flexible, since water levels can and do fluctuate extremely. .