Tackling The Amazon
Part 2: Arrival (continued)
The plane felt so low tech, when we saw a piece of paper hanging in the middle of the windshield in the cockpit we joked that the paper must be the pilot's map for navigation. The joke was on us when the pilots were finally seated going through their pre-flight checks and took that piece of paper, turned it around, and clipped it back up for the return flight to Barcelos - it really was their map!
The Tayacu 2 (bottom left) and the Tayacu (middle) are sister ships in the Amazon Peacock Bass Expedition (APBE) outfitter's fleet, who are aligned with ATA.
Kin and APBE's translator Tony, catching a ride over to the big boat.
Finally, we were on our way. Up in the air, through the clouds, all we could see off to the horizon were the green tree tops of the Amazon basin. It wasn't until about 45 minutes into our hour long flight that we could begin to see the tracts and tributaries of the Rio Negro, one of the two main rivers that merge to form the Amazon River, and our destination for this peacock fishing adventure.
On board, we grab a quick lunch while getting the run down from Steve ...
... shortly before hitting the water to fish!
Our meet and greet in the Barcelos airport was Steve Yatomi himself. He informed us that the group who just left managed 3 fish over 20lbs and several in the teens. It had been a “finesse” bite with most fish coming on jigs. But before we could hit the water, we needed to make a stop at the Tourism Office to acquire our Peacock Bass Fishing Permits. This is a new requirement and a way for the local government to raise money in an effort to help preserve their valuable peacock bass fishing resource. It’s a per day cost that worked out to roughly $110 per person for our six day trip. Costs will vary depending on the exchange rate and future rate increases of course.
A stop at the supply ship to pick up trolling motors and batteries for the week.
A quick goodluck from the supply ship captain and we're off!
From the licensing office, it’s a short walk over to the docking area for the houseboats and it is here where we got our first good look at the Rio Negro. First impressions? It felt nothing like “the Amazon” and looked very much like any other river.
It didn't take long for us to find some action.
Kin's first Peacock, a juvenile Paca or Speckled Peacock.
The Tayacu (Toy-a-soo), our home for the next seven nights was anchored out mid-river awaiting our arrival. To get there, we walked down a long flight of steps to the river's edge and boarded our shuttles, the
Tayacu's aluminum fishing armada, for a quick ride to the Mother Ship.
Another for Kin, this time a Butterfly.
Zander lands a butterfly too.
Once on board, we handled room selections, stowed our luggage, then grabbed a quick lunch before we gathering our tackle and preparing for our first fishing experience, an introductory half day on the water! We were all teamed up with our guides and on our boats headed out to fish by 2:00pm.
Then somehow managers this double fister.
JIP with his first Amazon action!
Reports from the previous week indicated the fish were still on beds so
we'd likely have to resort to finesse tactics. That meant accurate casts with jigs and a very unlikely possibility that non-traditional baits like Cal's collection of swimbaits would work very well. Only time would tell, but for this exploratory outing we each tied on jigs and one topwater bait, the chopper.
While Zander lands another!
Kin's working a chopper ...
After this introductory three hours of fishing, we knew in the coming week, we were in for some real excitement. No we
didn't catch anything huge or get into any big numbers in this brief period of time, but what we did manage were our first peacock bass and even a couple of other species. We got a glimpse of what the river has to offer in terms of scenery and bio-diversity, and we had the opportunity to get acquainted with our guides. Cal and his brother Kin fished with Marzo, a guide for 12 years on the Amazon, while Zander and JIP fished with Azumar, a guide for 8 years.
... wham! ...
... This little Paca made a sound like an eight pound black bass when it hit Kin's lure!
year's worth of planning finally came to a head. At times it felt like it would never happen, and even though we were there, it was still hard to believe. We were actually fishing in the Amazon. That three hour introduction was enough to get a taste and help us form a game plan for the next several days. In our next installment, we finally get into the
real fishing action.
Last but not least, Cal joins the action with this healthy Paca.