Posts Tagged ‘tackle’

Fish of the Week: Catfish – Sorubim

September 26, 2011
Sorubim

Sorubim

Our “Fish of the Week” is Catfish – Sorubim, which is a beautiful species sporting an elegant pattern of hieroglyphic black markings on a silver grey background dorsally and stark white ventrally. The common name sorubim is used for several similarly shaped species in the genus. Body markings, typical habitat and maximum size differ. P. tigrinum is commonly encountered by anglers in Amazon lowland, highland and Guyana shield fisheries.

The Sorubim is distinguished by its flattened head, elongate body and large terminal mouth. Its silvery gray upper body with heiroglyphic markings dorsally, and tiger stripes laterally, also set it apart. Sorubim’s fin markings continue from the body, evolving into spots toward margins. The silver gray on its dorsum changes abruptly to white on its ventral sides, as well as its abdomen. Specimens up to one meter in length and more than 100 pounds have been reported. The genus contains eight recognised species, and although all are similarly elongate, many are uniquely marked and have separate ranges. Common names include Barred Shovelnose (English); sorubim, suribim, cachara (local); and Bagre rayado.

This catfish can be found in Brazil, Peru, Guyana, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Columbia, Venezuela and Argentina, particularly in the Amazon, Orinoco, Essequibo, Corantijn and Parana drainages and river basins. They usually occupy lotic (moving water) environments in blackwater river systems. Primarily feeding on fishes, P. fasciatumis are readily encountered with cut bait on shallow sandbars in river channels. Although mostly an evening and nocturnal feeder, anglers are often surprised by large sorubim attacking artificial lures in open water at any time of day. The current IGFA record is 35 pounds, 10 ounces.

In addition to being a great angler’s target, the barred sorubim is a pleasant adjunct to any fishery. Its habit of attacking artificial lures and then fighting like whiskered tuna, makes it endearing to peacock bass anglers and catfishermen alike. In most high gradient fisheries sorubim can be targeted by anglers at evening time. They tend to congregate and forage at the edges of shallow beaches with nearby drop-offs to deeper water. Small live bait or pieces of cut bait are equally effective when cast onto the beach and allowed to drift naturally to the nearby drop-off. An effective rig consists of a 10/0 to 14/0 circle hook (or smaller J hook) with a wire leader and relatively light sinker (approx. 1 oz.), enough to keep it down while still allowing the current to slowly carry it. The take is usually quite forceful. Once hooked, sorubim will fight in open water with strong runs and surprising stamina.

Pintado

Pintado

Pintado – Psuedoplatystoma corruscans – up to 1.5 meter
This larger catfish is found outside the Amazon in the Pantanal and the Sao Francisco and Parana river basins
(Illustration from “Peixes do Pantanal” – Embrapa – poster)

Pintado

Pintado

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Lures Everywhere!

September 9, 2011

Check out some of these lures! What type of tackle is your favorite to fish with?

Lures

Lures

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Fish of the Week – Redtail Catfish (Pirarara)

June 14, 2011
Our “Fish of the Week” is redtail catfish, also known as pirarara in Brazil. One of the most ubiquitous of the giant cats, it appears to have very few habitat limitations, just as happily living in acidic, blackwater lowlands streams as it is in alkaline highlands rivers. They can be found in all parts of clear (blue) water, blackwater and whitewater (sediment carrying) rivers, including small tributary streams.
Redtail Catfish

Redtail Catfish

Their unique markings and bright coloration makes them very easy to identify – their bright tail is an instant giveaway. Their dark upper body contrasts sharply with a cream to white segment below the lateral line posteriorly. The mix of contrasting colors highlighted with red makes this catfish one of the most striking of the big cats. Its body color is dark olive to shiny black, its abdomen white and lower fins red. Its dorsal fin and adipose fin are fringed with red.

A very powerful fighter, redtails are known for a sustained, line-pulling initial run and the ability to find a tangle of submerged logs at the end. Adults can grow up to 60 inches and can weigh more than 100 pounds (the IGFA world record is 113 lbs, 9 oz. caught in the Rio Negro). Found in the Amazon basin in Brazil, their seemingly endless appetite makes them easy for anglers to engage. They’re ominvores, as they feed on fish, detritus, crabs and fruit (we’ve actually caught them on pieces of watermelon!). They’ve been landed on everything anglers use, ranging from free-swimming live bait to a Wooly Bugger fly (cut bait is easiest, for practical purposes).
An entire head of a traira on a circle hook is a durable and widely accepted bait for redtails. Use an Amazon rig, configured as follows: “For Redtail Catfish, a large (14/0) circle hook haywire twisted to 12 to 18 inches of strong (120 – 220 lb. test) wire then twisted to a heavy (180 lb. test swivel. A two ounce (or heavier – as current demands) egg sinker is allowed to run freely on heavy line (50 pound or greater) braided line. This wire reinforced ‘Amazon’ rig helps keep piranha away from the actual running line and minimizes the loss of hook, line and sinker.”
Set up your road according to your preferences. Try a woodchopper rod (medium-heavy baitcaster or spinner) equipped with heavy braid (50- to 65-pound test). You’ll have fun catching these guys on light tackle – they’re very durable fish that don’t tire easily.
Several types of water are usually productive. In a river without a lot of features, a curve will often suffice. Drop the bait into the deeper, channel side. If deep pools with eddying water are available, select these types of water. Often, piranha activity on the bait is followed quickly by a take, which may summon the redtail. In any case, the traira head is a great bait even when almost entirely denuded. Let the piranha have their way and wait for your quarry. If there is a redtail there, you’ll usually meet up within 15 minutes. If not, move on.
To succeed with this tackle, you must survive the first run. Make sure your boat is ready to move upon the hookup. The “take” is usually a no-doubter – redtails grab forcefully and move on. With an open bail (or clicker on), allow line to be taken until you’re certain the fish is moving away from you and has had a chance to engulf the bait. Point the rod tip upward, engage your reel and allow the rod to be pulled downward until it points at the fish. With resistance occurring, a redtail will usually react with a screaming run, hooking himself with the circle hook in the process. This method is highly recommended because it will unfailingly result in a safe hookset in the corner of the fish’s mouth, never in its gullet or stomach.
Depending on the size of the fish and the underwater structure, anglers with light tackle can be spooled on the first run. Make sure the boat stays with the fish and you keep a reasonable reserve of line. Don’t try to stop him with a thumb or a tightened drag – you’ll probably just break him off. Let him burn off that first blast and then you can start to fight back. The key to landing a big redtail on light tackle is to get him off the bottom. If possible, get nearly over him, but offset at an angle, and work him upwards. If you can lever him into the water column, you gain the tactical and mechanical advantage and can probably land the fish quickly. If he is able to remain on the bottom, he will seek cover or structure and even though you may have survived the difficult first run, you can still lose him to an unforgiving snag. Once at the boat, redtails can be easily lifted from the water by their heavily boned pectoral fins. He’ll talk to you the entire time you take your pictures. Put him back to fight again.
If you’re record hunting or simply want to land the highest possible percentage, a heavier rig (i.e. – an Ambassador 7000 sized reel with a stiff, short and heavy Ugly Stick rod) can be used with line up to 100 lb. test. This is enough to slow down the runs and then muscle all but the biggest redtails off the bottom, the key to landing them.
John With Big Redtail

John With Big Redtail

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Tackle-Box.net

May 25, 2011

Let our tackle wizard outfit your trip on Tackle-Box.net, our proprietary online tackle shop.

Tackle-Box.net is proud to be the international angler’s source for specialized fishing tackle. Use our online, electronic tackle store to select and purchase the right gear for your fishing trip in any of three easy ways:

Tackle Wizard
We’ve used the experience of dozens of international fishing professionals to assemble the deadliest and most effective tackle for catching fish worldwide – by species, location and water type. Simply answer the “Tackle Wizard’s” questions and let him automatically assemble the ideal outfit of rods, reels, lures and accessories tailor-made for your trip. Customize it, if you wish (by adding or subtracting individual items), to fit your personal preferences.

Tackle Browser
Take a relaxed tour through our inventory and create your own customized tackle packages or just review the products and their detailed descriptions. It’s a perfect way to do some “window shopping” or simply learn more about the gear used for a particular trip.

Tackle Searcher
Looking for a unique or hard-to-find item? Use our search engine to quickly scan our database and add a special item to your existing tackle collection or change and upgrade tackle for a new trip. You can even design your own customized packages. Search for specific items, select them, and then add them to your shopping cart. Click on items to see a description and specifications.

To get started, please visit Tackle-Box.net.

Peacock Bass

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It Started With A Snail! – A Giant Amazon Catfish Story

May 24, 2011

Ever wonder what a day of fishing for giant Amazon catfish is like? Find out in this story by Anthony Williams – check out the whole thing below or click here.

It Started with a Snail! – A Giant Amazon Catfish Story

by Anthony Williams

Catfish

6 a.m. on the Travessao River: Brazil’s Amazon Basin.

We loaded our rods and cool box onto our 18 ft aluminum fishing boat as our guide, Chico, checked the 40 HP outboard and made sure all was in readiness for our day’s fishing.

A noisy pair of Macaws flew over the river, howler monkeys added to the dawn chorus and a tiny humming bird addressed the flower covered tree over our dining area.

We were staying in a tented camp on an island. Dropped in by Float Plane 1.5 hours from Manaus, capital of the Amazon region, we were remote with a capital R! We were even 5 hours by boat from the nearest Indian village, so we saw not a soul all day, apart from the other 6 fishermen in camp.

‘Where’s the bait?’ my fishing partner, Jeff Wilcox from the USA asked. I said that I was sure Chico had a plan. These guys live in the Jungle and it’s their supermarket. They don’t go ‘shopping’ without their cash card!

We set off into the current, through some fast flowing rocky channels and into an open area bounded by rocks and pools. Chico nosed the boat into some calm water behind the rocks and got out of the boat. We watched as he hunted around and then got on his knees and prised some sort of fresh water snail off the rocks under the water line. He cracked them open with the handle of his machete and produced a thin, whip-like stick, a 4ft length of mono and a small hook, to which he attached his prize.

Rather than start fishing he thrashed the water with the tip of his ‘rod’ to attract fish and then dangled his snail bait. A couple of minutes later he pulled a 4 inch fish that I didn’t recognize onto the rocks. Jeff and I jumped out, found some snails and joined in. Half an hour later Chico had 10 fish of 4 different species on the rocks and we set off back into the swirling waters. Jeff and I had caught 1 fish between us!

We found a nice pool and drifted slowly with 6 ft 6 inch Loomis Bass rods, multiplier reels and 80lbs braid, the business end being a 10/0 circle hook and a chunk of fish on the end. A 10 inch wire trace and a sinker rounded off the set up. We dropped the leads onto the bottom and drifted and soon encountered Piranha. Not the little hand sized jobbies, but big 5 to 7lbs Black Piranha. Great fun on light tackle. We must have caught 50 or so before we got ‘bored’ and decided to try for some bigger fish. We kept a couple as bait and put the rest back to annoy us another day.

Redtail Catfish

Redtail Catfish

We had already had some success with the Amazon’s 1,200 plus species of Catfish. Notably the very striking and solidly built Red Tailed Catfish. On much heavier rods we had caught them from 10 to 70lbs and what a fight! These Amazon fish are solid, not the floppy, slimy European jobs. In addition to the resident species of Peacock Bass, acrobatic Saber- toothed Payara, Corvina, Bicuda, Piranhas and so on, we caught many other catfish species.

Jeff was buggering around with his bait. Mine was chewed up by Piranhas and the steel trace and clip a bit mangled by their powerful jaws, but I dropped it to the bottom while I waited. A gentle run started and I said to Jeff ‘Here we go…’ the run didn’t stop though and got faster. I pointed the rod at the fish and clicked into gear. Nothing happened – the run just went on but with enormous power.

Chico knew what was up and started the engine seconds before my braid ran out and off we went, me winding hard to keep in contact with the fish. I wish I hadn’t! Something very powerful and totally unstoppable went mad when I really put pressure on. He hadn’t really known he was hooked before.

Big 100 yds plus runs developed and with a fully bent rod I could make no impact on him at all. This was pretty much how it went for the first hour. When directly over him there was absolutely no give in him at all. Jeff reckoned there was no difference in him than when I hooked him and was starting to suggest I might have to cut the line as we would never be able to land anything this powerful on such light tackle.

‘No. Let’s just try and see what we have first’, I said. I just wanted to see the fish and then decide.

Still I couldn’t make any impression on him. I remembered my Dad telling me once, when Salmon fishing in Scotland, that to just hold a fish invited disaster. ‘Get sideways onto him and keep pulling his head round’ he advised. I asked Chico to STAY AWAY from the fish. I didn’t want to be any closer than 30 yards and at an angle. Once on position I lowered the rod to one side and pulled hard but very slowly. Slowly he came round, but he didn’t like it and shot off on another big run.

We caught up with him again and did the same. By this time it was hot, I was being passed bottles of water and lit fags, had water poured over my head and was soaked in sweat. But it worked and the fish responded like a puppy on a lead. Albeit a pretty huge puppy! Smaller runs of 30 to 50 yards came and by some miracle, with the braid under enormous pressure, it never touched a rock or snag.

Soon he was close to the boat and we saw a huge swirl deep under the surface. I gave him an extra strong head pull and then lifted.

‘Bloody Hell !’ from me and a ‘WOW’ from Jeff. The biggest freshwater fish I had ever seen broke the surface. It was a Giant Piraiba catfish. The world record, recorded by IGFA was broken on this river in 2007 and weighed in at 295lbs of solid muscle.

Right. Now I was really fired up! Plan B was now to try and land him. Small problem was that there were no beaches, just steep banks rocky outcrops and jungle…What to do??

Two of our chums from camp hove round the corner in their boat. I waved them to come over. ‘Have a look at this baby’ I shouted. They came over but kept their distance as he was still doing 20 to 30 yard runs. I pulled him gently up so he showed on the surface and they could get a look. Retired surgeon Joel Adler (Doc Joel) had been in on the earlier year’s world record catch and he just said that we should try and get a rope round him so we could drag him onto some rocks and measure him.

Well. By now I was getting blasé and the Cat was doing pretty much as I wanted. I hauled him close to the boat and Chico undid our mooring rope and on a pass he tried to get the rope round the Cat’s huge tail.

Well, that went well ! He shot off like a fresh fish, soaking us in water. I tried to pull him round and the rod responded unhelpfully by snapping 2 thirds of the way up! Now I had a problem!!

I retrieved the top section, everything was still connected and I could still bring him close enough to try and get the rope on him. Problem was, he simply didn’t like that! I called to Joel and his guide carefully brought his boat over. Joel had a big game rod and a massive 15/0 hook on 200lbs steel wire. We lifted the fish’s head and literally hooked him in the mouth to guard against another run. He was docile though with his head out of the water and Chico managed to slip the boat’s rope over his head and secure him !

High 5’s all round as this was a mainly American group. I was the token Pom.

We gingerly towed him to a group of rocks and Chico and I jumped out and pulled him on to the biggest rock. He was huge! Joel kindly said that he had seen the previous world record landed and this guy was bigger. Very kind of him, but we’ll never know. I was focused on releasing him safely and wasn’t going to take a chance by trying to weigh him. After taking some pictures we slid him off the rock and he swam away strongly.

2 hours and 10 minutes it took from start to finish . The most exciting fish I had ever caught and by far and away the best fight. It was like a game of chess in a way….

Good old G. Loomis will replace my rod for free and I will return to the Amazon in search of the other 1,195 species of catfish I didn’t catch !! This river has 8 world records of different fish in 4 years. They are being broken year on year and we have only fished a tiny part of it. Watch this space !

It started with a snail !!

Tony Williams travelled to Brazil and the Amazon with Paul Reiss, owner of Acute Angling. He joined the Rio Travessao exotic species variety trip operated in the northern Amazon highlands.

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Fish of the Week – Piranha

May 23, 2011
Pacu

This Brazilian Pacu took a "bread fly" (spun deer hair, cut and trimmed to look a piece of floating bread) in moving water, just like a trout sipping a dry fly.

Our “Fish of the Week” is Piranha … yes, the same one you hear about in fantasy horror scenarios and made famous by movies such as Piranha. Don’t run for land just yet, though – these creatures, like many portrayed in Hollywood and science fiction, aren’t nearly as fearsome as they seem; in fact, they’re rather fascinating to study and observe.

Piranha are members of the subfamily Serrasalminae, within which are also included Pacu. They are distinguished by their very different teeth. Throughout the Amazon, the name pacu has been given to a range of flattened, rounded fish from primarily the genera of Mylossoma, Myleus and Metynnis. Pacu, like their larger cousins tambaqui and pirapitinga, favor a vegetarian lifestyle; however, that doesn’t mean they can’t be convinced to join in on a little sportfishing activity from time to time.

Several species can be pursued with light tackle and will put up an impressive fight. Ultralight spinning rods that can deliver a kernel of corn or a wadded piece of bread can divert these little guys from their typical afternoon snack. Fly casters should use 2/0 Clousser Minnows and especially fruit-colored Glo Bugs dead-drifted in trout/salmon fashion.

Piranha

Piranha

There are at least 20 species of piranha (Serrasalmus sp.) swimming the rivers of the Amazon basin. Some grow larger than 8 pounds and can make for excellent light tackle action, especially on smaller spinning/casting rods or a 5-6 weight fly rod. Examination of piranha stomach contents show that their typical diet consists of about 1/2 fish while the other half includes fruit, seeds and bottom detritus. Piranhas are not picky eaters and will hit literally anything resembling a baitfish, such as a small Rat-L-Trap tipped with meat. If you’re not fishing for them, however, they can be quite a nuisance, as they have a habit of destroying your lures or that custom-tied $8 streamer the second it hits the water. Definitely use a wire leader to minimize damage to your line and be careful when removing the hook from their snapping jaws. While we are strictly a catch and release operation, these little guys do taste very good pan-fried.

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Part Five of Paul Reiss’ Interview with Bass Fishing Source: “What Peacock Bass Fishing Gear Do You Really Need To Land Monster Peacock?”

May 17, 2011

Paul Reiss, owner of Acute Angling, talks with Bass Fishing Source about peacock bass gear in part five of an exclusive interview. Read all about it below or click here.

What Peacock Bass Fishing Gear Do You Really Need To Land Monster Peacock?

The Peacock Bass fishing gear you need may surprise you according Paul Reiss of Acute Angling. The first thought may be to grab the biggest, heaviest tackle one can find in order to take on these beast of the Amazon. But before you head out and lay down your hard earned cash in search of your trophy see what it is you really need.

In this segment of our interview with Paul he explains the type of gear that gets results.

Peacock BassB-F-S: What kind of bass fishing tackle would you recommend in going after Amazon Peacock?

Paul Reiss: The tackle should always, always, always be geared to the lures being used. A pet peeve of mine is that first-time peacock bass anglers are often saddled with overly heavy peacock bass fishing gear because they went to a tackle shop to be outfitted.

Sure, the monster peacock is an amazingly powerful and violent fish, but rod and reel selections should be made based on the peacock bass lures you’ll be using, not the mis-perceptions of tackle salesmen who have never fished for peacocks. Heavy tackle makes you tired, snoozing anglers don’t cast and lures in the boat don’t catch fish. Peacock gear should be reasonably light so that anglers can fish without fatigue, make accurate casts and properly work the lures that will ultimately bring in their trophies.

We supply quality peacock bass fishing gear on our Blackwater Explorer yacht trips, however, anglers are always welcome to bring their own equipment. We recognize that folks are usually most proficient with the bass fishing tackle they’re used to.

If you’re bringing your own gear, I strongly recommend 3-piece travel rods. The new “Gary Loomis Signature Series” by Temple Forks Outfitters is a great line of rods for peacock bass fishing. They are relatively inexpensive, guaranteed, light, fast, durable and, of course, very portable. Two or three rigs will support all aspects of peacock fishing; a medium/heavy outfit; a medium and a medium light.

Read more about bass fishing rods.

medium heavy outfit will effectively cast and work the heavy prop baits. I recommend a baitcaster such as the Gary Loomis series TFG TRC 705-3 for best performance with these big plugs. If selecting another rod, avoid overlong (max. 7’) rods and never use long handled rods. They just make working the lure more difficult. Select a fast-retrieve reel, 6.3:1 or faster. We recommend a Shimano Curado reel (modestly priced and 7.0:1). Slow retrieving reels will not allow you to properly work your lure and will leave you very tired at the end of the day.

Medium/Light rig is best for the peacock rattle jig. With a properly set drag, a quality outfit in this category will efficiently handle even the largest peacock bass while providing casting ease and accuracy. For most anglers, a spinning rod is the better choice for this use, such as a Gary Loomis series TFG TRS 703-3 medium-light rod and a Shimano 2500 series spinning reel.

Read more about bass fishing reels.

Medium Outfit is not a must, but it’s a good backup for the other two rods (since rods can break) and it can be very comfortably used for Zara Spooks, Yo-Zuris and other medium size baits. This rig is a bass fisherman’s bread and butter tool. Bring your favorite reel since retrieve rate is not critical with this outfit. A good example would be a medium baitcaster such as the Gary Loomis series TFG TRC 704-3 with a Shimano Curado or Calcutta 250 size reel.

All of this peacock bass fishing gear can be purchased through Acute Angling at 866 431-1668.

More with Paul Reiss on Amazon Peacock Bass:

Paul talks with Bass-Fishing-Source.com about the awesome Amazon Peacock Bass.

Paul shares some priceless Amazon Peacock fishing techniques.

Paul discusses the best lures for Amazon Peacock Bass.

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Fish of the Week – Dorado

April 18, 2011

Our “Fish of the Week” is dorado, which are migratory gamefish that look similar to saltwater dolphin fish and mahi mahi, albeit not related. Physically, dorado might be described as a prehistoric golden trout or salmon with the jaws of a pit bull terrier. Ichthyologists originally gave dorado the Latin name “Salminus maxillosus” – Salminus meaning trout-like and maxillosus referring to dorado’s incredibly powerful jaws.

As gamefish, dorado are hard-hitting, incredibly strong, acrobatic fighters that can weigh in at more than 30 pounds. Dorado are often found in a massive watershed between southern Brazil/Bolivia and northern Argentina – specifically, the largest populations are found in northern Argentina, Paraguay, Southern Brazil and Bolivia. Surprisingly, dorado are a relatively little known gamefish outside of South America.

If you fish for peacock bass in the Amazon, then you’re in luck – conventional dorado gear and tackle is basically the same as peacock bass. Wire leaders are essential, and because dorado aren’t usually surface fish, the most productive gear are typically medium jerk baits, Rattle Trap-type lures, spoons and jigs. Dorado are often fished with an 8-9 weight fly rod and either a 200-grain, 24-foot sink tip line or a full floating line depending upon water conditions. Use a heavy steel leader, not mono line, as dorado chew right through it. Dorado are attracted to a variety of streamers, sliders and Atlantic salmon-style bombers during ideal conditions (all on 4/0 heavy, long shank hooks).

Dorado

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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

Fly Fishing for Peacock Bass – Tackle Guidelines

August 5, 2009

Part 2 – Tackle guidelines

This is what your fly rod was invented for.

This is what your fly rod was invented for.

Since peacocks can be sight fished or blind cast to structure and since this is a hand-to-hand fight (peacocks can literally snap a fly line like sewing thread – not the leader – the line!!), I’ll recommend some specific equipment that can serve to fit a wide range of peacock bass fly fishing needs and hold up to the challenge. I’m not trying to promote any brand over another here. Feel free to substitute your personally preferred model that suits the purpose. Please note that these recommendations are geared toward fishing for giant Amazon peacock bass (Cichla temensis) and not necessarily the behaviorally different and smaller-sized species that are found outside of the Amazon.  All of this gear can be purchased at www.tackle-box.net

Flies

Subsurface Fly Patterns — Large streamers fished on a sinking line are generally the most productive option for fly fishermen (not only in terms of overall numbers of peacocks, but for larger-sized fish as well). We highly recommend Sidewinder’s Peacock Rattle Fly. This fly is designed specifically for peacock bass and incorporates a variety of peacock-specific features.

1. Extra Wide-Gap Hook – Big peacocks have a heavy, thick jawbone. The wide 5/0 gap in the Peacock Rattle Fly’s hook allows it to pass around the jawbone so that it encounters softer tissue, not impenetrable hard bone. With the hook wrapped around its jawbone, the fish’s fighting force is applied at the stress resistant curve of the hook, so that your adversary is unable to apply pressure to the less resistant straight shank
2. Extra Strong Gamakatsu Hook – Peacocks are brutal fighters. Their extraordinary power crushes and straightens lesser hooks like so much tinsel. The Peacock Rattle Fly is built around a high-quality, super-strong 4X hook, to ensure that your trophy doesn’t escape by turning your bait into a pretzel
3. Extra-long Bucktail Material – Bucktail is unique among tying materials in its ability to provide life-like motion. Its hollow hairs naturally float and lend a pulsing motion to a properly fished Peacock Rattle Jig. Its natural flex and springiness can’t be duplicated by most synthetics.
4. Flexible Pulsing tail – Mounted with springy monofilament, the peacock rattle jig’s extended tail flexes and moves naturally. Its bucktail fibers allow it to pulse with the angler’s stripping motion, adding even more enticing, appetizing action.
5. Extended profile – Even the largest deer tails have a limit to the length of their hairs. A simple garden-variety fly is typically limited to about a three inch profile. By adding the Peacock Rattle Jig’s unique tail, the lure’s profile is extended to over 6 inches, providing a more visible, more appetizing stimulus to large peacock bass. The old adage that big baits catch big fish works very well with trophy peacocks.
6. Contrasting Color Pattern – The Peacock Rattle Jig swims with the hook pointing upward when ripped quickly through the water. Just like a natural baitfish, its contrasting colors are arrayed with the darker shade above and the lighter shade below.
7. Flashing sides – Baitfish live and die by the effectiveness of their camouflage. To take best advantage of the natural physics of light in water, they are shiny only on their sides and not on the top or bottom of their bodies. The Peacock Rattle Jig has brilliant flash on its sides, arrayed just like a natural bait, yet highly visible when in motion.
8. Hidden rattle – Tied directly to the shank of the extra-strong hook, the Peacock Rattle fly is armed with a noisy, clacking rattle. Virtually indestructible (plastic – not glass), the rattle provides extra dimensions of sensory output to attract hungry peacocks and makes the fly more effective in murky water than almost any other subsurface lure.
9. Durability – Peacocks strike hard, so these flies are made to last. All components are mechanically anchored and copious amounts of permanent glue are used at every step of the tying process. Although nothing will make it piranha proof, this jig will hold up to the worst a peacock can dish out.

The peacock bass rattle fly

The peacock bass rattle fly

If you wish to tie your own, instructions for tying the similar peacock “Bass Rattle Jig” are available on our website (just substitute the appropriate 5/0 extra -strong hook for the jighead).

Other popular streamers such as big Deceivers, Bunnies, Saltwater Zonkers, Clousser Minnows and flashy baitfish imitations will all take fish. The most effective patterns have contrasting colors and generous amounts of flash.

To most effectively strip these big streamers once you’ve made your cast, hold your rod at arm’s length and point the rod tip at the water. Grasp the line at the rod with your free hand and strip it quickly and sharply to your hip, giving the fly a quickly accelerating 2 to 3 foot motion. Restrain the running line with your rod hand, bring your free hand back to the rod and repeat. The rapidly accumulating stripped line should be managed either at your feet if you’re on a casting platform or into the (carefully prepared to be snag-free) bottom of the boat. Wear a stripping glove on your rod hand or you’ll quickly raise blisters.

A strike will not be subtle. You’ll know it immediately. To set the hook, don’t raise the rod tip, this isn’t a trout. You’ll need a firm strip-set to penetrate the peacock’s tough mouth. Once he’s hooked, raise the rod and see what happens next. Peacocks don’t always panic and run when first hooked with a fly; sometimes they don’t realize they have a problem. If they don’t run right away, take advantage of the moment and try to recover as much line as you can get onto the spool – but get ready for the run, it’s coming. If they do run immediately, here’s where your loose line management technique will either pay off or break your heart. The slightest hitch or hang up will break you off even more quickly than you can think of the appropriate curses bemoaning your bad luck.

The beast will head for the nearest structure. Don’t panic, don’t try to stop him and don’t try to horse him – things will break. Use your head and the extra length and power of your fly rod to lead the fish by sweeping your rod low in the direction you want him to go. Give him an option that’s easier than trying to reach the structure and he’ll likely take it. Once you’ve weathered that first blast, take your time and patiently work him back in. He’ll run many times, each one getting shorter. When you can lift his head out of the water, he’ll stop fighting. Now use your Bogagrip to secure your trophy. Congratulations! You’ve just experienced the ultimate fly rod high.

Surface Flies – In spite of the peacock’s great reputation for surface action (on conventional tackle), surface flies tend to be significantly less productive than subsurface streamers. Fish over 10-pounds are just difficult to coax to the surface with fly rod poppers. Additionally, although big saltwater poppers may be exciting to fish, they can be extremely exhausting to cast and retrieve for a prolonged period. In spite of these negatives and the hard work, extremely large (6-inches or larger) sliders and poppers will sometimes bring up trophy fish …. and a trophy peacock bass crushing a fly on the surface might just be worth the effort. Gaines saltwater poppers in red/yellow and pearl/olive hold up well and are hard to beat in terms of their ‘action’ in the water. ‘Sliders’ are productive in clear water situations. Popovic’s ‘Siliclone Mullet’ in olive and white is effective. Fly shade (depending upon light conditions) can be as important as contrasting color. For this reason have an adequate selection of light and dark patterns.

For a week long peacock bass adventure, we recommend that you bring at least two dozen streamers and several poppers. Hooks must be extra strong, with a wide-gap and razor sharp — dull hooks significantly reduce hookup rate. All of these flies can be obtained from www.tackle-box.net

Fly rods –  Rods should be fast action models, since they load sinking lines more efficiently and generally have more ‘backbone’ than softer models. Bring at least two fly rods, because rods can break under the ‘jungle stress.’ Reels don’t need to hold a lot of backing because peacocks don’t make long runs, but a smooth, strong drag is essential. Consider a wide arbor reel with an anti-reverse mechanism. Peacock’s initial runs can be so sudden and so powerful that the spinning reel handle can badly injure a loitering finger. A wide arbor configuration can more easily handle line when getting the fish on the reel and help prevent unexpected line jams.

Recommended ‘heavy’ fly rod & reel combinations: A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, nine or ten – weight rod (G. Loomis GLX, Native Run or Sage 990-3RPLX) with G. Loomis “Current 7 – 8 or Scientific Anglers ‘System 2 -89’ or reel.

Recommended ‘medium’ fly rod & reel combination (for floating lines): A stiff/fast action, 9-foot, seven or eight-weight rod (G. Loomis GL3 or GLX) + matched reel.

Some fisheries have access to smaller waters that hold “cara” (smaller cichlids) and pacu, both great fun on a 4 or 5 weight rod with floating or intermediate lines. But, find out if your destination has this feature before dragging along the extra weight.

Lines – Sinking lines are most effective for streamers. But don’t bring just any old sink-tip and hang it from your line. We recommend a Rio 300-grain Density Compensated line. This line is designed to not get sticky in the tropical heat and more importantly, its weight is distributed along its profile, rather than hanging off the end of your line like a floppy sinker. This allows you to cast most effectively and to take advantage of the line’s design, rather than defeating any line’s natural configuration by unbalancing its end. These lines can be fished effectively on a 9 weight rod. A spooled-up 200 or 150 grain line may be a good extra to carry in the event of unusually shallow conditions.
If you bring a floating line, a model with a drastic weight-forward taper (like Rio LongCast or Scientific Anglers’ ‘Mastery Saltwater Tarpon’) matched to your rod weight will help handle wind-resistant poppers.

Leaders – Peacocks are not the least bit leader shy. If you are not pursuing line class records, most peacock fly anglers use a straight shot (approximately eight feet) of 35-45 pound monofilament leader material. Light leaders can be snapped off like sewing thread if that ten or fifteen ‘pounder’ runs you into a tree or rock pile. You will go through a lot of leader material, because of the peacock’s extremely abrasive teeth. We recommend buying a spool of soft monofilament leader material (Jinkai makes a soft flexible line that behaves like it’s a much lighter weight). If you’re trying for an IGFA record, you’ll have to follow IGFA’s leader specifications, of course.

An Additional Suggestion – Fly fishing for peacocks is extremely productive, but can be tiring if you’re not used to blind casting (and then rapidly stripping) a heavy-weight fly rod all day long. If you don’t think you have this type of endurance, we strongly recommend that you also bring along casting or spinning tackle to give yourself a break. (Many operations, like ours, have conventional tackle on site and available for clients’ use.)

Peacock bass on the fly – they’re not trout and they’re not bass, but with the right equipment and the right techniques they’re more fun than you would have believed possible.  This is what the fly rod was invented for.  Join us on the trip of a lifetime.

Based on what we’ve covered today in Part 2,  we’ll focus in on the fly fishing techniques that are best suited for peacock bass in Part 3 – Fly Fishing Techniques for Peacock Bass.  I hope to have it posted here in a week or so.  In the meantime, you can see  more fly fishing information on our website. 

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