Posts Tagged ‘arapaima’

Fish of the Week: Arapaima – Pirarucu

June 20, 2011

ArapaimaOur “Fish of the Week” is Arapaima – Pirarucu. They are the largest scaled freshwater fish in the world. Arapaima over 600 pounds and over 12 feet long were said to be not uncommon in the past, before they became a favorite of urban fish gourmets. Now a mainstay of pisciculturists, wild populations are recovering in several protected areas. Arapaima are obligatory air-breathers, periodically surfacing to gulp air. Oxygen is absorbed by a vascularized air bladder while CO2 is exchanged via their gills. Their mouth-brooding, fry-protective behavior has allowed them to succeed as transplants outside of the Amazon.

The arapaima’s enormous size, flattened head, terminal mouth and large silvery scales with bright red patterning are distinctive.

The extremely large scales are edged in bright red pigmentation forming an array of fine, diagonal, stripe-like markings. Light silvery white anterior, darkening to a steel grey, highlighted by bright red to purple markings posteriorly. They can grow up to 650 pounds (4 meters). The arapaima is truly one of a kind and not likely to be mistaken for anything else in the Amazon.

Arapaima are difficult to catch with artificial lures. Most non-targeted encounters are by peacock bass anglers who see the big beasts surfacing in a lagoon. What generally occurs immediately afterward is that two anglers will quickly whip the water into a froth, hoping to entice a hook-up. Although arapaima will occasionally strike a lure, most often the sighting leads to nothing more than an exciting interlude.

Anglers can be more successful when targeting arapaima with cut bait, or even better, live bait. Small whole fishes on a wide gap circle hook work well, especially if a small piece of foam is inserted in the gills to keep the bait near the surface. The take is very visible. Anglers should allow the line to go tight and then point the rod tip at the fish, so the circle hook can do its work. A “J” or treble hook is usually more difficult because the angler must drive the hookset into the arapaima’s bony, hard mouth. The fish at left, weighing approximately 180 pounds, was caught using a live “tamatoa” (a small armored catfish) as bait.

Once hooked, they tend to make runs appropriate to the location. In small lagoons, they tend to run to a bank or up to a heavy structure object and simply stop, perhaps they’re not yet really sure they have a problem. Once the pressure returns, they’ll leave that spot and run to another. The resulting fight consists of a series of short, albeit unstoppable runs, continuing until the fish tires. In more open water, a large fish is capable of rapidly spooling an angler. Once a run begins here, guides must quickly fire up the boat and follow or watch the line disappear into the sunset. These more sustained runs will help to tire the fish more quickly. Once the fish is at the boat (or perhaps better stated as the boat is at the fish), the real fun begins. Just because they’ve stopped running, doesn’t mean they’ll let you manhandle them into the boat for a photo. Even when tired, a fish this large and this strong can be unpredictable. It’s probably easiest to simply join the tired fish in the water for a photo (as was done at left) making for a less stressful capture (and release) for all concerned.

Arapaima

Arapaima

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Fall 2009 Amazon Peacock Bass Fishing Report

October 14, 2009

PERFECT WATER LEVELS MEAN INCREDIBLE FISHING!

The Amazon Fishing season is underway and we’ve gotten off to a great start. Roaming from the western tributaries of the Rio Solimoes all the way east to the small water tributaries of the Rio Branco and Rio Negro, the Blackwater Explorer tracked down the best of the season’s Amazon fishing opportunities.

Rio Solimoes backwaters hold enormous arapaima.

Rio Solimoes backwaters hold enormous arapaima.

Brazil’s Rio Solimoes forms the main stem of the Amazon river. It’s headwaters are a primary source of the Amazon’s mineral nutrients and have given rise to a rich aquatic biodiversity.

Amazon Aruana

Amazon Aruana

This September, the Blackwater Explorer set out on an extended exploration to sample the fishing possibilities of this enormous and complex river basin. Eighteen days and over 1000 miles later, both guides and anglers had learned a tremendous amount, caught a wild variety of species and had the experience of a lifetime.
Starting in Manaus the Blackwater Explorer steamed west through the sediment laden “white” waters of the Solimoes and docked at the port of Tefe. Our intrepid exploratory group of Aussies and South Africans arrived in Tefe by air and boarded the Explorer. After settling in with a robust breakfast, they assembled their gear and began a singular exploratory fishing adventure.

 

A leaping apapa.

A leaping apapa.

Monday – Sept 7th

– Lago Tefe – peacock bass (Cichla monoculus) – Arapaima, aruana
Tuesday – Rio Tefe – peacocks, Tefe streetside dinner.
Wednesday – Blackwater lake of Japura – peacocks, aruana, small pirapitinga and other species.
Thursday – Lago Comapé – Loads of Peacock bass.
Friday – Went looking for Amazon catfish and got waylaid by an enormous school of feeding apapa. Within minutes, the water was boiling with striking fish and we were engulfed in a feeding frenzy. Caught them on spooks, jigs, flies – 5 pounds to 15 pounds. Extraordinary day!
Saturday – More apapa mania, also sorubim, redtails.
Sunday –
Rio Mamiya – Peacocks, arapaima, aruana.
Monday – Codajas – arapaima.
Tuesday – Lago Januauca – Big peacocks, arapaima.
Wednesday – Peacocks, arapaima – begin journey north.
Our Solimoes Exploratory will be described in detail in an upcoming article in Col Roberts “Fishing Wild” magazine.
Meanwhile, we’re scouting new tributaries to explore and more species to find for another intrepid group next fall.

Brothers Ric and J.R. Rokey (right) of Arizona show off a brace of 22 lb. trophy peacocks.

Brothers Ric and J.R. Rokey (right) of Arizona show off a brace of 22 lb. trophy peacocks.

After our exciting sojourn in the Rio Solimoes basin, the Blackwater Explorer headed back eastward to the habitat of the giant peacock bass. It seems that every year now presents us with a new set of firsts – we’ve recently had the biggest drought, the earliest rains, and this off-season, the Amazon experienced its greatest flood in 6 decades. A normally predictable system was once again topsy turvy!  –  For us …. No problem! While the usually low southern rivers proved higher than expected in September, the northern rivers began to drop faster than any of us could remember! I guess it figures. We hit Manaus, turned left and headed up the Rio Negro, a month earlier than planned, and our Solimoes explorers went right along with us.

Sure enough we found perfect water levels, 400 miles from where we expected them, in tributaries of the middle Rio Branco. Thank heavens for the Blackwater Explorer’s great mobility. Our anglers untied their esoteric exploratory lures, put on their faithful jigs and woodchoppers, their spooks and plugs and flies and they went straight to work, with great success. Our first week (actually only 5 days) of peacock bass fishing yielded 997 fish, and an average of 124 per angler. The week’s biggest fish landed was a tie at 16 pounds between Rob Bland and Brent Boswell, both of Australia. Honors for the most fish caught went to the Aussie team of Col Roberts and Brent Boswell, with 377 fish between them. The average size of the peacocks caught this week was high, with fish weights heavily concentrated in the mid-size range. The week produced a high percentage of trophy fish that continued growing through the next two weeks. The world’s weather may be turning topsy-turvy, but the Blackwater Explorer knows how to find plenty of big peacock bass nonetheless.

 

Aussie Neil Patrick with a trophy peacock bass.

Aussie Neil Patrick with a trophy peacock bass.

Our second group arrived and began immediately producing lots of mid to large size fish in the same region. As reports of dropping water levels to the south came in, however, we elected to leave them biting and explore the opportunities in several other fisheries. We let our anglers loose on the Rio Tapera, the Rio Massaui and the mouth of the Rio Caures on the Rio Negro system. The effort proved worthwhile as we encountered plenty of big fish along the way, 78 of them to be exact. Our anglers landed a total of 1688 peacocks, averaging 187 per angler for the week. The team of Don Mitzel and Dave Dunafon, both of Missouri, landed an astounding total of 672 peacock bass between them. Jim Butters of New Jersey took the honors for biggest fish with an 18 pound trophy.

 

Steve Townson (front) and Ron Elbers with a double-digit Rio Caures doubleheader.

Steve Townson (front) and Ron Elbers with a double-digit Rio Caures doubleheader.

Week three found us ascending to the headwaters of the Rio Caures. Not only do we depend on the Explorer’s mobility, but we take advantage of its shallow draft to navigate rapidly dropping river systems. Water levels were perfect and the results showed it. The group landed 1286 peacocks with an amazing total of 101 trophies, including 4 over 20 lbs! The largest peacock was a 22 pound hog, courtesy of J.R. Rokey of Arizona. The hard-working pair of Steve Townson (Portugal) and Ron Elbers (Canada) caught the most fish for the week with a total of 309 peacock bass between them.

If you can travel on short-notice, join us now and take advantage of the best water levels in years! The rivers are perfect and the fishing just doesn’t get better than this. To make things even more attractive, we’re offering a one-time only short-notice discount package for several of our upcoming dates. Call now for available openings – (866) 832-2987.

Visit us at;  www.acuteangling.com

Follow us on Twitter at;  http://twitter.com/PeacockBass

Check out our photos at;
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/peacockbass/

Watch our videos at;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnzi3Skwi9M

The Amazon Fishing Season is Underway

September 6, 2009

Acute Angling’s Amazon Fishing Season is Underway for 2009 /2010

Every March, when the peacock bass fishing season winds down, I head home from the Amazon, always happy to return to New Jersey. After six months in the jungle, I’ve missed my family, missed the comforts of home and, dare I say it, even grown a bit tired of Brazilian beer. I welcome the leisure to enjoy pleasant dinners with my wife; to reconnect with my neighborhood, my friends and the fishes of my home waters. It’s always good to get back in time to enjoy the sense of renewal brought by the advent of spring and then stretch out in the comfortable lazy days of summer. Ah, but every September, as the weather begins to feel like autumn at home and the waters begin to recede in the Amazon, a new fishing season looms into view. I become helplessly reenergized with the excitement of starting off again, exploring new waters and fighting new fish. It seems that every year, the Amazon’s magnetic pull becomes greater and greater as the days get shorter and shorter.

The Blackwater Explorer Yacht

The Blackwater Explorer Yacht

As September rolls around and Americans get ready for the Labor Day holiday and kids get ready to go back to school, I’m getting ready to head off on the Blackwater Explorer yacht and get Acute Angling’s new season underway. We’re going to start off with a bang this year, taking our beautiful Amazon yacht into waters she’s never visited, in search of fishes we’ve not often pursued.

Arapaima - An Amazon Giant

Arapaima - An Amazon Giant

Rio Solimoes Exploratory – We’re starting this season with an exploratory voyage into Brazil’s vast western Amazon hinterlands. For the first time, we’ve organized a single three-week long voyage up the Rio Solimoes on the Blackwater Explorer. We’ll cruise from river to river in the complex flood-plain region. We’ll pursue acrobatic apapa (sardinata), enormous pirarucu (arapaima), fruit-eating tambaqui and pirapitinga, silvery matrinchá, explosive peacock bass, giant Amazon catfish and other fierce fishes of the Amazon. We’ll wander where we choose to and we’ll stop where the fishing is good until the three weeks are done. We hope to learn enough about this enormous region to offer our clientele new access to new species and an altogether new angling experience.

The Pirapitinga - A bruising fighter.

The Pirapitinga - A bruising fighter.

To make this limit-stretching exploration even more interesting, we’ve got a boatload of fish-crazed anglers aboard, including a core cadre of Amazon-hardened Aussies and several adventurous South Africans. This group of intrepid explorers comes complete with a fishing writer and a camera crew, so we’re prepared to document what we experience and then report back to our readers and anglers later this fall. We think it will be a stupendous voyage and we look forward to sharing the details with you.

Rio Madeira basin peacock bass – Later during September, we’ll head back east along the Amazon and into the prolific peacock bass regions of the lower Rio Madeira. Preserved in an Indian reservation, the lagoon studded rivers in this exclusive fishery produce huge numbers of big peacock bass every season. Last year, during our four week sojourn here, 41 anglers caught an incredible total of 11,601 peacock bass ranging up to 22 pounds. Think of it, that’s an average of almost 300 fish each, almost 50 fish per day for every angler! With waters dropping rapidly from this year’s record flood season, we expect to find perfect conditions upon our arrival. Perhaps we can even better last season’s remarkable statistics. If you’ve ever considered an Amazon peacock bass fishing trip, this is the best place to start and the Blackwater Explorer is the best way to get there.

When October winds down, and optimal water levels begin to shift with the season, the Blackwater Explorer will head north. We’ll fish the Rio Negro basin and its many renowned tributaries, such as the Rio Unini and the Rio Urubaxi. Meanwhile, I’ll head home for awhile to regroup and report back on our early season adventures. Watch this spot for reports on where we’ve been and where we’re going – as soon as I can get myself to an internet connection. Come November, I’ll be back in the jungle again as Acute Angling moves into other exciting regions like Brazil’s Guyana Shield and the Rio Branco basin. We’ve got two more exciting exploratory trips planned in our ongoing quest to explore yet more new fishing opportunities. You can learn more about where we’re headed by looking at our 2009 / 2010 fishing schedule. Or better yet, come with us! There’s an awful lot of fishing left to be done before March rolls around ….. and someone’s got to do it!

Visit us at;  www.acuteangling.com

Follow us on Twitter at;  http://twitter.com/PeacockBass

Check out our photos at;
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/peacockbass/

Watch our videos at;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnzi3Skwi9M