Tackling The Amazon
Part 4: The
Additional Costs: New for the last couple of years is the peacock fishing license. It is required and they will pull you off the water if you do not fill out the paperwork and pay your fee. A good outfitter will take you right to the office from the Barcelos airport so you don’t even have to think about it. Others try to bypass this step to avoid the long lines only to have their clients forced off the water, transported back to Barcelos to pay, then sent back losing at least one full day of fishing. You can pay with cash (US dollars are ok) or credit card. Expect to pay somewhere between $100 - $130 for your entire trip depending upon the exchange rate.
One of the other stay options down in the Amazon are these floating cabins repositioned each day on a different beach.
There are many different types of operations along the Amazon: lodges, floating tent cabins, houseboats. For the houseboat adventures, it is customary to tip your guide after the trip $150 and tip the boat crew another $150 per angler. Again, a good operation will actually collect all the tips at the end of the trip, split the pots, and distribute the funds right in front of the clients so you know the money goes to each individual. Tipping the guides directly is frowned upon because it leads to jealousy and individualism. A good operation will foster teamwork and encourage the crew and guides to work together for everyone’s benefit rather than have the guides seek individual glory and fortune. Peacock Bass Expeditions, partnered with Adventure Travel Alliance is an excellent outfitter.
Each morning, you board your fishing boat from the back deck of the Tayacu.
Tackle: You’ll hear a lot of different stories and opinions in this category, but you know no one will scrutinize this single aspect of any trip more than us. Most important through all of this entire selection process is to decide on combos that are comfortable for you to fish. Whether your preference is light, balanced, or a combination of the two, stick to your guns because you will get beat up and worn down and using a combo that isn’t comfortable will just enhance your misery.
Who needs coffee with a wakeup call like this!
Rods: Our minimum recommendation is two rods both between 6’-6” and 7’-6” with one rated your typical bass fishing medium heavy and the other heavy. The lighter rod will be used for fishing half ounce hair jigs, while the heavier rod can be used for topwater. If you have the room, bring a spare to fish mid-water baits and this stick can be either heavy or medium heavy. The shorter the better as far as the airlines are concerned and if you have a two or three piece rod that will suit, even better. Our longest stick was 7’6”.
Soft plastics like this Basstrix Minnow certainly work, but with all the toothy predators in the water, you're lucky to get one fish per bait.
Reels: Any baitcasting bass reel with a decent drag in the 200 size class will suffice and if you’re brave, you can even fish 100 sized reels in the Amazon. Many will recommend a 300 sized reel, but we found this to be unnecessary and uncomfortable to fish for the number of hours and days you’ll be out on the water. The real driving factor behind reel size is line capacity because if you spool a reel during your cast and you get a fish, you’re done. Once you hook a fish, a good guide will position the boat to your advantage and chase down a fish if necessary. They will even dive into the water to untangle your line should a big fish take you into the trees and wrap you.
Fishing in the Amazon is not just a trip of a lifetime, but it is a timeless adventure...
As long as your reel has a smooth drag, that’s what counts the most. You don’t need stopping power in the Amazon, because frankly, you’re not going to stop a peacock bass. If you try, something in your outfit will fail whether that’s a split ring, a hook, a bait, your line, your rod, or your reel, a peacock bass bent on running will break your equipment. No exaggeration, they are that strong.
Line: What allows you to use the smaller reels is braid. Bright colored braid, dark colored braid, white braid, it didn’t seem to matter on this trip. Peacock bass, to us, did not show evidence of being line shy. Zander caught as many fish or even more than Cal did using his bright yellow Daiwa Samurai braid while Cal was using dark green Sufix Performance Braid.
Cal went as low as 40lbs with Sufix 832 and 50lbs with Sufix Performance Braid while Zander favored Samurai Braid at 70lbs, and JIP used Sufix Performance Braid at 65lbs. You can get fancy with leaders and fluorocarbon or mono if you like, but we tied direct either to the baits or to a snap and had no troubles. The one problem area we did run into was if the chopper we had at the end of the line tended to spin during retrieve. This will twist your line and create a tangled mess after a couple of days. Bring an extra spool or two of line as backup and you’ll be fine.