People have the misconception that those of us in the hunting business just travel from one exotic location to another on great hunting trips. That is not all there is to this occupation. All lot of behind the scenes work goes into making all this come together. When you’re an outfitter there’s worry, stress and unexpected situations over which you have no control. Even as much as we love the hunting, the outdoors, the people we meet and the places it takes us, once in awhile, we all need to “get away.”
Case in point, I just returned from a 10-day trip to the Amazon region of Brazil. Since there is ZERO hunting in Brazil, I decided to take one for the team and go on a fishing trip instead. I justified this in my mind by telling myself I was hunting for a big Peacock bass. It seemed to work because I had a fantastic time going after the aggressive monster Peacocks.
Just being able to see this beautiful part of the earth is worth the trip. One fifth of the world’s fresh water is in this region. The adventure begins in Manaus, Brazil, the capitol of the state of Amazonas. Manaus was the old rubber capital and still has the European influence in the architecture and the language spoken there which is Portuguese. This is where the Amazon River and the Rio Negro River come together and push toward the ocean, still hundreds of miles away.
The Amazon looks like coffee with a lot of cream in it. The Rio Negro is clear and looks black, thus the name. The tannins in the Rio Negro make the water look like ice tea. It is beautiful as it flows over the sugar white sands on the beaches and sand bars. The water has enough acid produced by the decaying vegetation so that mosquito larva cannot live in it. This is a huge plus for fishermen who seek this adventure. If one ventures into the jungle a few yards, everything changes as the pools up in the forest are perfect for mosquitoes. It doesn’t take a minute to learn that lesson! So I like to stay out on the bigger tributaries.
A short charter flight takes adventurous fishermen from Manaus to Barcelos, the old capital of Amazonas. This is city of approximately 25,000 people. We were told the city is 360-plus years old. Barcelos is also the tropical fish capitol of the world. It is said that there are 2,500 species of fish in these waters. I have personally seen tetras, angelfish, Oscars, and many other fish you would normally see in aquariums back home.
There are dozens of different hardwood trees and a myriad of other trees, vines, and other vegetation that make up the thousands of square miles of rain forest. There are no roads to Barcelos. It is reachable by boat or by air. Once you leave the docks there, you will not see any industry or roads. All you see is the occasional village along the river. The people are very friendly and are always glad for you to stop in. They make baskets and necklaces and are eager to trade.
At Barcelos, we took a ten-minute van ride to the awaiting yacht. Wow! It’s a 125-foot aluminum hull beauty. We boarded and after a short orientation from Sheldon, who speaks perfect English, we went to our staterooms. Two guests per stateroom. Side by side beds, not bunk beds were a welcome sight. Private baths were nice also. We ate a fast lunch and took the brand new Bass Tracker bass boats to check out the Peacock bass.
The Peacock is not really a bass; it is a ciclid, but you use some of the same tactics in the effort to put them in the boat. They are structure-oriented fish and will almost always head for cover when hooked. One of the main differences is in the equipment. Captain Peacock furnishes the rod and reel. All TFO rods and Shimano 200 or 300 reels. There are also fly rods and reels available. We used 80-pound test braided line. Believe it or not, these fish will break lighter line.
The explosion when they hit a lure is like no other fish I have ever come in contact with. I like to fish topwater for the excitement of the hit, but you can almost always catch more Peacocks trolling a jig or a fly. With the huge topwater baits, you weed out a lot of the smaller fish, catching bigger fish more consistently.
Another thing about trolling is that you also attract lots of piranha. They are very hard on lures. They bite off the skirts and the tails. Sometimes they swallow the bait and cut the line above the lure and you lose it. They are however, fun to catch and better to eat. We ate Peacock bass, piranha, and catfish while we were there. Very tasty. We had a gourmet chef on board and the food was fantastic for the entire trip.
I caught quite a few Peacocks, my biggest being 17 pounds. I also went for catfish one afternoon. I landed a 30-pounder on a deep sea rig with 150 pound test line. We used cut, freshwater barracuda for bait. These catfish can weigh up to 600 pounds, but I have never seen one landed that weighed more than 90 pounds, however, I have seen plenty of hooks straightened and lines broken.
This is a great trip. It is a good way to experience the Amazon rain forest—an unspoiled area that has been unchanged for hundreds of years. On my “hunt,” I saw many parrots, macaws, and other birds—as there are more than 1,000 species of birds in this region. Also saw river otters, caiman, monkeys, dolphins—both gray and pink. My choice of hunting tool for these was a Nikon D5000. We didn’t have as much sunshine as I have seen down there on previous trips. The rainy season is starting a little early this year. We saw rain almost every day. You still need some good sunscreen, spf45 or higher.
I can’t wait to go back. It is a wonderful place to visit and the fishing is good. I may not ever break my personal record of 24.03 pounds for a Peacock, but it won’t be for lack of trying. I know there is one there somewhere with my name on it. Who says you can’t hunt in Brazil?
If you want to try this adventure for yourself, Captain Peacock is the team with which to book your trip. Fantastic. Every need is covered in comfort.