Well, it sure doesn't feel like it was 30 years ago when TIME Magazine sent a writer and a photographer with us to Brazil to explore a fish known to few: the peacock bass. Jet to Manaus, brush plane to either B**** or StM****, then float plane into either the X**** or the M**** river.
We have learned a lot since then, including ditch the fiberglass boats and go aluminum. And, take a chain saw (see the picture above).
Makes getting into those lagoons a whole lot easier.
Two 16 pound bass. Greg and I doubled up, and that is commonly the case as these fish fight to take-away, literally. They are not so much piggish as they are aggressive, and prone to steal. My guide is holding my fish- you can only see the tail end, but it is a nice one.
We caught more than 100 over 20, and 2 over 25. I can't find the picture of my 25 pound/4 ounce, but I'm still looking...........................EDIT: here it is- back when Polaroid Instant Cameras were widely used!
Thirty years later.....camp is still mobile. While you are out fishing, the camp moves to a new section of river every day. Never a mosquito, midge, or gnat. Not ever, because of the tannin.
2 people to each cabin, complete with sink, shower, and toilet. Camp host Tuco in the blue shirt.
The fish are ferocious and their colors bespeak their name. They will wreck your equipment, and your wrist and hands. Peacocks are probably the only fish in the Amazon river basin that can be lipped, but your thumb will pay. Your wrist will heal in 4 to 6 weeks.
....but somebody forgot the chain saw....so we chopped our way in to a lagoon one day, then returned and fished it the 2 next days. It was worth it.
You can do this as long as you have been watching for caiman, and you don't do it very long. The water is very clear and unless one has been lurking under the boat you are fine. Caiman will usually do a tail slap and spin 180 degrees then bite. Just make it quick......
Four men and four women in camp, plug and jig fishers mostly. Ellis was using big plugs in deeper water and they caught more big fish. But for numbers the fly was killer. And the fly rod is way more fun than a 'broom handle.' Who is counting, anyway? Hahahaha.
But seriously, experience counts as is usually the case. Some couples were first timers. I knew from past experiences that flies were the best for numbers. My wig hair flies are an Australian pattern called the Hamilton's Bush Pig and they are what the peacocks like (all of these are 2/0). The upper L fly has not been fished. The lower 2 flies were retired even though they were still catching fish. Peacocks take the fly because they are aggressive and crazy fish. Piranha nip at the hair and rip it off because they are really trying to eat the fly. We used small silver spoons to catch plenty of piranha for supper. If your guide is willing (and he probably will be), have him build a twig fire, roast the piranha, and eat them on a green leaf. Bring salt and pepper. Dang.
But you don't have to go all the way to South America to catch colorful fish. We have them in Apalachicola too!