B R A Z I L   2 0 1 2

Home Up

NOTE: "HOME" takes you to our initial home page; "UP" will return you 
to the CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICA site for more exploring.

    Our second visit to Brazil to attempt to catch Peacock Bass on the fly occurred in January 2012.  We previously fished for these beautiful creatures in 2010 (originally we were scheduled to fish in 2009 but that trip was rescheduled to 2010 due to high water conditions).  After discussing the option with some of our favorite fly fishing companions (we met them while fishing in Alaska), we decided to make it a family event; that is, we would go Peacock Bass fishing with the Marston family – Bill & Becky Marston; Brian & Sarah Marston; Heath Marston and Jason Flatch (no his last name isn’t Marston but he’s an honorary part of the clan). 

    Unfortunately, when we arrived in Barcelos to begin our fishing, we encountered extremely high water conditions.  Due to these conditions (which only continued to worsen throughout the week due to continual rain), our trip should have been cancelled.  This was obvious to each of us and should have been obvious to both the outfitter (www.FishQuest.com) and operator (www.RiverPlateAnglers.com).  In fact, only a 2.5 day fishing report is posted on the operator’s website for the week of January 28 since the fishing was abysmal and only got worse as the week progressed.  The photographs included in this diary attest to the torrential rains and high-water conditions.  Oh well, we made the best of a bad situation but it did (and does) leave a terrible impression regarding how to conduct business. We have no intention of using or recommending either FishQuest or RiverPlate Anglers again!!

Friday, 27 January:  Our adventure began at 3:45AM today when we all met in the lobby of the Miami Airport Hotel in anticipation of our 5:40AM flight to Manaus, Brazil.  The TAM flight left as scheduled and we arrived in Manaus at 11:45AM.  After clearing Immigration & Customs, we were met by representatives of River Plate Anglers.  We were transferred to the Caesar Business Hotel for the evening.  The hotel is located next to a mall so we took time to visit it during the afternoon and basically just relaxed until our fishing adventure which began the following day.

Saturday, 28 January: We all received a 4:00AM “wake-up” call (unsolicited) so everyone made it to breakfast prior to leaving the hotel.  At 6:30AM we were transferred to the airport for an early morning flight via Apui Air to the town of Barcelos.  After arrival there, we were taken via vehicles to a large boat owned by River Plate Anglers.  From that boat, we were transferred onto smaller high-speed boats (two anglers per boat) and we began the ride to our fishing camp at 9:00AM.  We arrived in camp at 11:00AM and had a quick lunch.  We then met our fishing guide, Alberto (nicknamed Alber, pronounced more or less “Oh-Bear”), and headed out at noon for an afternoon of fishing.

The day got off with a bang as Ed hooked and landed an 8lb. Azul Peacock – a real beauty – before 12:15PM!  As the afternoon progressed, we both landed several more Peacock Bass – all were Butterfly Peacock Bass.  As we were fishing a huge rainstorm came through and we were absolutely drenched.  You could actually see the water in the river rising.  Yikes!  Thankfully the rain was warm (as was the air) so we looked worse than we felt. The day before we arrived at the camp we were told it rained all day so this extra rain was making things worse. Apart from Ed’s big one, the next largest fish we caught was a 4lb. Butterfly Peacock.  All in all, it was an okay half-day of fishing to begin our trip.

Once we were back in camp, everyone gathered outdoors for happy hour and snacks.  We sat outside on plastic patio furniture and enjoyed the sunset.  Then we re-grouped in the dining tent for a delicious buffet dinner.  Then, it was time for bed in anticipation of an early morning.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Traveling through a back
channel in the rain-drenched
jungle to reach a place to fish
Brian & Sarah go speeding by
as we reach the actual river
Ed and Alberto with
Ed's 8lb. Peacock Azul
Looking inside the mouth
of the Peacock Bass
Ed with another Azul
Lindy fishing in the pouring rain
A "dripping" Lindy with her
Butterfly Peacock Bass

[T O P]

On an aside, part of the experience with River Plate Anglers is the floating camp concept.  The camp consists of four separate cabins with toilet & shower (as well as an air conditioner), a dining cabin, a cooking cabin and a diesel generator cabin which provides power for the lights, refrigerators and AC units.  These are moved to/from various locations using a large boat which tows them.  At a designated spot, the various floating cabins are beached on a white sandbar with the rear remaining in the river so there’s a water supply for showering and the sink.  The river also supplies water for the self-contained septic tanks located on the cabins.  It’s an amazing system.

Sunday, 29 January:  Our day began with a 6:00AM breakfast buffet.  After eating breakfast, Ed made sandwiches for our lunch.  At 6:30AM, we were on the water and we fished until 4:00PM.  Ed had the “hot hand” as he caught two fish before Lindy landed any fish.  We decided to see if the green fly he was using made any difference so we switched rods.  Lindy then caught two fish herself so we re-rigged Lindy with a green fly too. 

We had an early and relaxing lunch.  Then, we were back at it – casting 6”-7” flies on our 9 wt. rods.  Yes, it does get tiring.  At 3:00PM, we took a break and our guide, Alberto tried casting a fly rod for the first time.  He did great (obviously, he’s a natural angler given this environment). 

All in all, we caught a total of 10 fish (pretty poor on these rivers) so it was a lot of work and a lot of casting.  Because of the rain, the water levels in the river continued to rise which made it very difficult to locate the Peacock Bass.  Unfortunately, it continued to rain on and off through out the day and the water continued rising. High water is the bane of Peacock Bass fishing. When the water rises it floods into the surrounding jungle and you can’t find or reach the fish!  While we stayed with fly fishing (the only equipment we have and the only equipment we like to use), most of the rest of our group resorted to using traditional spinning or bait casting rods & reels with lead-headed jigs to try to an alternate approach. The result was that the fishing was still bad but more fish were caught on that equipment instead of flies.

We returned to camp and enjoyed a nice shower.  Then, we relaxed over a cold G&T and enjoyed the balance of the evening with the gang.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Passing a local village
Becky & Bill heading out to fish
Ed with a nice Butterfly Peacock Bass
Lindy gets into the action
Ed lands another Butterfly
Peacock Bass
Another small Butterfly
Peacock Bass
Our cabins beached for the night

[T O P]

Sunday, 30 January:  Again, we enjoyed a nice breakfast in camp before heading out for the day.  Unfortunately, the water just kept rising.  We spent the day primarily casting to likely hiding places for the Peacock Bass.  We were able to catch only one.  And, yes, it continued to rain.

We returned to camp and another storm began passing through.  It wasn’t as ferocious as some of the earlier storms so we donned our rain gear and sat outside in the rain with Becky & Bill and enjoyed happy hour. Ultimately, the rest of the group joined us too.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Our rain-soaked camp; the chairs
are located where we enjoyed
happy hour the previous night
The stormy skies continue
to prevail
We decide to enjoy
happy hour in the rain
Becky & Bill braving
the elements too
A sunset photo of happy
hour with Brian & Jason (standing)
and Becky & Heath (seated)

[T O P]

Monday, 31 January:  Given the high-water conditions, our group agreed to get together at 12:00PM for an asado (Brazilian Bar-B-Q).  So, we all headed out for our morning of fishing.  Thankfully, we each caught several Peacock Bass before lunch.  We also had an interesting experience.  Lindy thought she had a bite and brought her line in but there was nothing.  However, when we looked at the fly, all the tail feathers behind the hook had been cut clean.  Alberto explained that a Piranha had tried for the fly.  Talk about some scissor-like teeth.  Now we believe those old horror flicks!

Lunch itself turned out to be a real treat.  Alberto kept two of our smaller Peacock Bass and Brian & Sarah’s guide had kept several of the Piranhas they had caught.  They cleaned these fish and then our group moved to the site of an abandoned fishing lodge.  There the guides (and our host, Antonio, who met our group) built a huge fire that they ultimately got down to coals.  They put the cleaned fish in metal racks for grilling and cooked them until they were golden brown while basting them with several sauces.  Then, Antonio had brought some rice and pico di gallo from camp so the feast began.  It was relaxing, social and delicious!  Everyone had a great time, including the guides who also got to relax and socialize with one another.

We returned to the water and again caught a few Peacock Bass.  Then, Ed had his fly attacked by more Piranhas.  We learned from Alberto that the Piranha like the faster moving water and that was what we were having to fish since the flooding eliminated the chance of getting into the backwater areas.  So, Ed kept his wounded fly on and he caught his first Piranha in Brazil (he previously caught some while fishing in Venezuela).  Then, he continued with this fly and he caught a huge 4lb. Piranha on it too! We were told these Piranhas don’t exceed 5 lbs so this was a monster.  By then the fly was completely destroyed by the Piranha’s teeth.

At 4:15PM we called it a day and returned to camp.  We cleaned up and joined the Marston Clan on the beach for our happy hour.  We enjoyed dinner and called it an evening at 9:00PM.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Ed with a catch to
add to our luncheon asado
Lindy with a contribution too
Ed with another Butterfly
Peacock Bass
Getting the asado fire ready
Ed getting into the BBQ action
A close-up of the fish
grilling over the open flame
Ed's 4lb. Piranha caught
after enjoying the asado

[T O P]

Wednesday, 1 February:  We were once again at breakfast at 6:00AM and we were in no hurry to leave as the water rose another several inches over night.  At about 6:40AM, the guides moved their fishing boats next to the cabins of their respective anglers.  Then, Alberto pointed to the horizon and told us in Portuguese that he thought a huge storm was coming.  Once he pointed it out, we all looked and we too could see it coming our way.  So, we decided to stay in camp and wait it out.  It turned out to be an excellent decision as torrential rain began to fall in just a few minutes.   It continued in sheets until about 8:00AM.

Alberto then brought our boat near the cabin and we headed out.  Unfortunately, heavy rain started again in about 5 minutes and we were all soaked.  We made it to our fishing spot at about 8:30AM and the action began.  First, Ed hooked a very nice Butterfly Peacock Bass.  Then, a few minutes later he landed a monster Paca Peacock Bass.  This was a first for us since we had not previously seen or caught this species.  It turned out to be a real beauty and weighed almost 5 kilos or ~ 10 lbs.  Wow!  Having at least one decent fish helped to overcome the abysmal conditions.

We continued fishing and the rain eased a bit.  At 11:00AM we decided to have lunch.  As it was still raining, Alberto took us to a shelter that was made of palm tree leaves that had been split and then thatched together.  Amazingly it was dry under the shelter.  Ultimately, we were joined by Brian & Sarah and Heath & Jason.  Then, we were back to fishing – still in the rain.

Due to a lack of action and an abundance of rain, we quit fishing at 3:300PM.  We were back in camp at 4:00PM.  The camp staff had moved all the cabins because the water had risen about 20 feet further onto the beach.  A piece of driftwood that was by our previous night’s happy hour table was completely under water.    Amazing, how the rain just keeps coming.  We paused for a refreshing cocktail and then had a shower.  The rest of the group all returned by 5:00PM.  We all met for happy hour on the beach and then enjoyed a delicious dinner and some well-deserved sleep.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

A fierce storm brewing
Once again....
casting in the rain
Alberto, our guide, is
getting drenched too
Ed's giant Paca Peacock Bass -
which weighed ~ 10 lbs.
The thatched shelter we
sought refuge in during the rain
A small waterfall
reaches the river

[T O P]

Thursday, 2 February:   We all enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.  Then, given the lack of fish due to high water, the group elected to have another asado.  The challenge today – catch enough fish to feed us and our guides at the asado. 

We were able to each contribute a small Paca Peacock Bass.  For Lindy, this was her first since she didn’t catch one during our 2010 expedition with River Plate.  The rest of the gang also caught a few Peacock Bass, a Piranha and Bill caught some type of a fish that none of us had seen before (the guides called it a “Pescado”).  The guides put out hammocks for us to enjoy while they cleaned the fish, built a fire and began grilling the fish.  From camp, the guides brought along cooked rice as well as the ingredients for a fresh pico di gallo that was made on the spot.  So, we all enjoyed another feast.

Then, it was back to trying to catch fish.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have any success (and the situation was similar for everyone).  We returned to our camp which was in a new location as we had commenced our return on the river back towards Barcelos.  Happy hour started at 4:30PM with everyone in attendance.  Individuals left the group to shower and/or clean up in the river.  Dinner was served at 6:30PM and once again was bountiful and very tasty.  The group dispersed at 8:00PM.  We stayed up till 8:30PM and then called it an evening.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Sunrise under stormy skies
Becky & Bill setting out
to try fishing once again
The camp being moved
to the next destination
Fish cooking at today's asado

[T O P]

Friday, 3 February:  After enjoying another breakfast, we packed a picnic lunch to enjoy on our final day on the river.  Again, camp was being moved to be closer to Barcelos in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s early departure.  Therefore, we moved back to the sections of the river in that area.  The Araca River had once again risen a couple of inches at our camp in the morning.  By now the river was up 2-3 meters according to our guide. So, water levels continued to make for very difficult fishing.  Ed has able to land a Paca Peacock Bass.  Lindy had a Butterfly Peacock hit but she wasn’t able to land it.

About 11:00AM, we saw Becky & Bill and decided we would all take a break and go to the shore for lunch.  No one was in any hurry to return to fishing.  Ultimately, we were joined by all the other anglers.  Unfortunately, there was a bug hatch due to the continuing moisture so we pulled back out on the river at about 12:30PM.

We continued fishing and had a couple of follows on a popping surface fly but no takers.  So, at 2:30PM, we called it a week.  Again, our fellow anglers had similar results and everyone came in early (some even earlier than us).  Once in camp, we enjoyed the A/C in our cabin as we packed up our gear prior to happy hour and our final evening together.

Click on the image to display a larger photo.  Once 
displayed, click on the BACK button (first button on the
left of your browser) to return to this page.

Ed with a small Paca Peacock Bass

Saturday, 4 February:  It was a very early morning.  We were up at 4:45AM and breakfast was served at 5:30AM.  While we had been taken into the camp via high-speed boats, our return was done using our fishing boats.  So, Alberto took us back to Barcelos on a two-hour boat ride.  Each of the other three guides also transported their two anglers in their boat back to town too.  Our luggage was taken by boat by Antonio, the camp manager.  Then, we had an Apui Air flight at 9:00AM to Manaus.  From there, we took a 2:10PM flight back to Miami where we departed company.  The Marston Clan headed back to their respective homes via car while we spent the night at a nearby hotel and traveled back to Albuquerque on Sunday.

    In closing, we enjoyed spending time with a great group of people.  Our fishing experience wasn’t what we had previously enjoyed in 2010 and that was a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT and a waste of fly fishing dollars!! However, as stated above, our group made the best of a bad situation.  We did enjoy our time in camp and the guides who worked hard for all of us did a great job too.  We doubt that our future fly fishing adventures will include any Peacock Bass fishing in Brazil unless it is with an alternate outfitter/operator!

[T O P]