Fall 2012 Peacock Bass Exploratory Report
Our Search for New Waters Teaches us New Fishing Tactics
We said we weren’t
too concerned about fishing - We said our real goal, as in all of our
exploratory trips, was to determine if an area is suitable for our clientele.
Is there adequate space? Does the river have adequate structure for 8 anglers
each week? What are the logistical considerations? This was work after all,
wasn’t it? So when the water level was a full meter too high upon our arrival,
we just shrugged it off. We were there a whole month early. Besides, we knew
there were fish there, we could hear the buggers splashing away in the jungle,
just out of our reach.
Once the invitation from the
association of local communities was received, we headed off to do our
outfitter’s duty and assess the remote Rio Peregrina, a potential new peacock
bass fishery in an indigenous reserve at the Amazon fringe. There’s lots of
stuff to be done on an exploratory trip. Lots of courtesy calls to the local
communities; lots of meetings with the leadership; lots of paperwork, lots of
applications and lots of red tape; and most of all, lots and lots of river
running in our heavily loaded outboards. But once we finally got there and our
camp was in place, there was also an awful lot of motivation to wet a line and
test the waters.
So we did. Actually,
anyone who knows us at all knows that there was no way we weren’t going to
fish. Seriously, why else do this work in the first place? New water, new
experiences and new possibilities. No one would haul themselves this far
through endless jungle rivers if they didn’t live for the experience at the
other end. So, even if it would have meant no time to set up camp and
sacrificing even minimal comfort, we were going fishing anyway. And so we did.
But the water was
still way too high.
Listening to the heavy thrashing and splashing in the flooded forest, just
yards beyond our reach was disheartening. The more we threaded our casts
through the trunks and brush of the igapo, the more frustrating it became. An
afternoon of pounding the water and all we had to show for it was three small
peacocks (Cichla orinocensis).
Well, at least there’d be dinner.
The next morning
we hit the river early,
planning to give it another shot. It didn’t take long for the fish to remind us
of something we should have remembered all along - never presume to know the
proper pattern for a totally new fishing situation and don’t underestimate a
fishery’s potential - even if it isn’t reacting the way you expect it to. We
were still trying to put lures into the flooded forest (and we were still
catching nothing but wood), when a huge geyser of water exploded in the open
water behind us. “Was that a dolphin?” Our indigenous guide laughed and just
shook his head. Had he spoken, he would probably have said “stupid outsiders”. Within
nano-seconds, two big prop baits were launched into the still rippling water
and two new explosions greeted them. We were both hooked up with cracking big
fish! In the ensuing pandemonium I lost mine, but a few minutes later, my
partner Wellington eased a huge peacock bass (Cichla temensis) to the
side of the boat. A quick flick of my bogagrip and we hauled a 21 pound trophy
aboard! Wow, we had learned at least one fact today. This river has big fish!
We just hadn’t
We never noticed the lack of lurking dolphin, nor the loads of baitfish right
out in the middle of the lagoons and along the banks of the river. Sure, there
were still plenty of fish splashing away in the jungle, but the big guys had
simply gone where the food was, unconcerned about mammalian predators. Now, forgetting
about the “jungle-thrashers”, we went off hunting schools of bait.
There’s lots to
be said for motivation, or as psychologists term it, “gambler’s
reinforcement”. Although it was hard work and yielded very few fish, we caught
several more of the big, open-water cruising beasts, including a beautiful 23
pounder on a chopper and a 22 pound hog on a jig. Die-hard’s to the end, we
managed to succeed in spite of ourselves.
already started some preliminary discussions and we hope to be able to return
when water levels are right next time. Perhaps you’ll be one of the first to join
us here and experience this river’s great potential. Meanwhile, we’ll keep
searching to find more places like this to share with the anglers of the world,
always focusing on conservation, local cooperation and the sustainability of
Our FloatinG BunGalows Go where
the action is!
Acute Angling’s fall
fishing results in
our comfortable floating bungalow camp have been so good that Amazon anglers
may soon forget the long-mourned Rio Unini. We are landing 5 twenty lb. plus monsters
and an astounding 30 or more “teeners” each week. Our groups of up to 8 anglers
land from 400 to 1000 peacocks per week.
Our success isn’t an
Per our government approved contracts with regional Indian federations, we
employ local guides who know their river and how to find fish in all of its
changing moods. We plan our trip schedule in accord with each region’s unique
hydraulic regime to optimize our ability to encounter proper water levels. We
design our logistics so our clients succeed; we don’t just blindly select the
logistics that will be most profitable for the operator
Our clients arrive
conveniently by floatplane, literally delivered to the beach at our floating
bungalow camp. There are no interminable boat-rides, vans or lost fishing time.
You just step off the plane, stow your gear in your air-conditioned cabin and
go fishing. This elegant logistic provides more than just comfort; it allows us
to fish where conditions are optimal. We are not tied to one stretch of one
river in order to transfer clients by boat. We simply find the
best water, put ourselves in it and call in the floatplane, anywhere in the
system, even if it’s more than 150 miles from the limitations of other modes of
access. After two decades operating here, we’ve gained the experience that
allows us to know exactly how to ensure our anglers’ satisfaction.
Our early fall trips were in an unusual fishery
with a unique hydraulic regime. Once the flood season ends here and the river
drops within its banks, dry season water levels oscillate up and down in a steady
and short (≈ weekly) cycle. When levels pulse up, fish
concentrate in lagoon mouths and back-eddies in the river itself. When water
levels drop back, fish spread out, entering deeper into lagoons and mostly
forsaking the riverine structure. These oscillations mean conditions in
this particular river are constantly changing, so we’ve learned that our tactics and techniques here must change
In this season’s first
succeeded only in a small range of spots, but caught greater numbers than
normal. A two man team, with a noisy top-water prop lure and a peacock rattle
jig were most effective. This effect was so pronounced that anglers might
thoroughly fish an area with quiet lures only and never see a sign of fish. But
if they passed through again and raised a ruckus with woodchoppers, fish would
begin to respond to jigs. Once they were teased into a feeding mode, things
often began to escalate. Suddenly, fish would literally appear out of the “woodwork”.
One of our boats
a spot the guide was sure must hold peacocks - a broad “flat” inside the
upriver point of an oxbow lagoon mouth, studded with well-spaced stands of molongoa
(balsa wood) and interspersed with tufts of emergent grass. After a futile
pass with subsurface lures, the guide convinced the anglers to return and work it
again, this time with a chopper and a jig. They both began casting into the
gaps penetrating the plant-life. At first, nothing changed, but as they moved
through again, they began to see fish reacting with follows and rolls at the
chopper. Suddenly the jig began to hook up consistently, connecting with chunky
butterfly peacocks (Cichla orinocensis) at almost every cast. Soon after
the first few were landed, the chopper also began to be attacked by the now
turned-on gang of predators. The fish were lured out from the structure by the
noise of the chopper and then their aggression
was reinforced by the ensuing fracas as they attacked
the jig. Nothing gigantic at first, but landing 3 to 6 lb. peacocks is enormous
fun, so the anglers kept at it, landing over two dozen, until the formula
changed once again.
bigger explosion rocked the chopper, well off the structure. After a solid hookset,
the sound of a singing drag indicated a different kind of battle was underway.
This was a heavier fish. As the guide backed out, the fish began a series of
tacklestraining runs. When a boga-grip was finally slipped on its lower jaw, a
beautiful 14 lb. paca (Cichla temensis – speckled pre-spawn coloration)
emerged from the water. After a few photos and a careful release, the anglers
went back to work. The very next cast with the chopper was greeted by an even
bigger explosion; It didn’t take long for everyone to realize that this was a
big beast. Covering the distance between the open water and the balsa wood in
what seemed like a split-second, a huge bow wave signaled the fish’s retreat
into the structure, lure, line and all. Here’s where patience comes into play.
carefully, the angler gave his opponent an opportunity to leave the structure.
Sweeping his rod tip low, toward the open water, he offered the fish a means to
reduce the pressure of the connection between them. The big peacock accepted
the momentary respite and slowly finned his way out of the structure. Gradually,
the angler recaptured line until the fish came into view of the boat. Then both
of them reacted intensely; the fish hauling line off the drag
as he raced into the depths of the lagoon; the angler stunned and shaking,
holding on for dear life. This was a very big beast. Bit by bit, the fight
settled into a bulldog battle of stamina, but the angler had the mechanical advantage.
Holding a high-tech rod and reel combo in his hand, he sustained run after
line-peeling run from his opponent, until the fish no longer resisted and allowed
himself to be drifted into reach of
the bogagrip. Everyone’s
eyes were wide as the guide struggled to lift the monster. A 23 lb. peacock
bass in full açu coloration is a superb, eyeopening trophy (Cichla temensis –
3-barred spawning pattern).
beautiful animal was carefully released and both anglers said “lunchtime”! The
guide shook his head “no”, pointing to the structure and miming “cast”. The
anglers sighed, looked at one another and acquiesced. The guide was right; the
fish were still fired up. After another pass, the spot yielded even more
piscine bounty; an 8, 14, and16 lb’er. and another dozen or so butterflies. Finally
things quieted down and lunch time arrived for real. In fishing, knowledge is
power. Had the anglers just moved on after their initial unproductive pass,
their day would have been very different.
later, dropping water drove fish deeper into the lagoons, where more
conventional tactics took hold. The appearance of optimal spawning structure
attracted fish to newly shallow internal beaches while warming water triggered
the courting behaviors that help put big peacocks within angler’s reach. Their
new accessibility and hair-trigger tempers at these times made the teasing
tactics of a week before unnecessary; they simply exploded on prop baits cast
into their domains. Although numbers dropped off a bit, productivity was
steadier and the percentage of 20 pound monsters and teeners, for which this
particular river is known, stayed high. If exciting peacock bass fishing in
unique and isolated fisheries is your cup of tannin-stained water, then this is
your fishing trip. Contact Paul or Garry Reiss at (866) 832-2987 or email us
inquiries are welcome.
Edited by Acute Angling - 16/Nov/2012 at 9:37pm