Brazil Peacock Bass – Freshwater Heaven
by: WTA Consultant Tim Herald
I recently returned from a trip to the Amazon basin with a small group of anglers (friends) to fish for the aggressive peacock bass. This was a trip to get first hand knowledge of an outfitter we wanted to add to the WTA stable, and we really strive to have boots on the ground, or in this case, flip flops on the deck. I had done a lot of research on the operation, and have a number of personal friends who have fished there, but there is nothing like a first hand trial run, especially as we have a Cabela’s Visa Signature Outdoor Adventure planned there in the future.
I had been to the area about 10 years before and had one of my all time favorite trips. I am much more of a hunter than a fisherman, but I grew up fishing a lot with my family, and it is still a passion for me that I am getting more and more back into. The peacock bass is the most aggressive and pound for pound hardest fighting freshwater fish I have ever battled, and I absolutely could not wait to get back on the waters of the Rio Negro.
This was a package deal outside of international airfare and tips, so that made things very easy. Our group from all around the U.S. met in Miami where we took the 5-hour flight to Manuas, Brazil. This a large city in the middle of the jungle, and is located where the two main branches of the Amazon converge and become the Amazon River proper.
It was late, so we went to a nice hotel and crashed. The next morning we were taken back to the airport and we caught a charter to Barcelos, a small town on the Rio Negro. We transferred our gear to our mother “ship”, and away we went chugging upstream.
By the time we had unpacked, settled in and eaten a nice lunch, the big boat had stopped, and we all went out for the afternoon to fish. We caught a good number of peacocks that afternoon (probably 25/boat of 2 anglers), despite a heavy cloudburst, and we quit fishing around 5PM.
The next morning, we were on the water around 6am, and the fishing was even better. I think the first fish over 10 pounds was caught that morning. For the next 6 days, we fished mornings and afternoons, and at mid-day, we either came back to the big boat for a nice lunch in the air-conditioned dining room and a siesta, or some chose to take lunch and eat on shore from a hammock.
It seemed that we caught more and bigger fish each day. Some of that was due to getting to more remote areas, and I think some also was also due to our fishing proficiency got better each day. The water was just a little high, and that made casting accuracy even more important.
My good friend and long time WTA client Tom Neiderer and his buddy Troy Wisely were the most serious and talented fishermen of the group, and the number of fish they caught were astounding. I believe they caught over 100 fish every full day they fished, and the number of 10-17 pound bruisers they boated was very high.
The highest one-day total was turned in by Mike Burke and Toby Blissett. This Louisiana duo caught 168 peacock bass between daylight and dark. That was som serious fishing.
We did not break the magic 20-pound mark on this trip, but I think that was 100% because of the higher and rising water. On my last trip, everyone caught a 20-pounder, and the largest was 23lbs. As I said, there were a lot of fish in the 10 to 17- pound class, with Tom N.’s 17 taking the big fish pool for the week (which he graciously gave to his guide as a bonus tip).
In the end, we caught 1756 peacocks, and the guides did not count all of the “other species” we caught. I love variety, and bringing in the occasional piranha (which I love to eat), various “other cichlids”, and one of my favorites was the very pike or barracuda like bicuda. I caught a very nice bicuda that stayed out of the water more than in once hooked.
We saw moneys, pink dolphins, very large caimans, Amazon parrots, macaws, and lots of other interesting animals. The fact that we went in late Janurary-early February was nice as far as getting out of the frigid winter goes.
On our last day, we chartered back from Barcelos to Manuas where we were given day rooms at the hotel. We went out and explored the city, seeing the beautiful opera house that was built by rubber barons, the town square, the fish market, and finally ending the day at a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, Buffalo.
That night a little after midnight, we flew back to the US where most of the group was home in the morning. I flew straight out to the SCI show in Las Vegas, and you can believe I was tired when I hit the sack that evening.
Overall this is a very affordable trip that any serious (or in my case, not so serious) fisherman needs to put on their bucket list. The Amazon is a magical place, and peacock bass fishing is one of the most fun trips an angler can take. It’s an easy and safe trip, and I for one can’t wait to go back.