Monday, February 25, 2013

Great Memories from the Amazon 2013

36 hours ago I was leaving camp in the Amazon.  It was a long trip home.  Most of the flight I spent editing photos.  Photography conditions were tough but here’s a few that stood out. 

Mike Dawes with a beast!

Heading out

The toothy picĂșa

Piranha head for dinner

Coz with his monster!

An angry traira

A rare sunny day

Butterfly eye

Tim Brune – the only one to land arowana


A one way street

The speckled peacock

What a great trip!  Many thanks to the folks at Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures!

Want to go to the Amazon in 2014?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 7 - Our Last Day of Fly Fishing in Brazil

February 15, 2013

The sun was gone and I was feeling like crap again to start the day.  This trip has been a physical challenge.  Nonetheless, fishing has been excellent and everyone is having a great time.  And it should be noted that everyone has caught a peacock of 10lbs or better.

Today I fished with Tim Brune.  Tim is a fellow Victor Idahoan and longtime pal.  We’ve been hanging out and planning this trip for months so it’s great we got to fish.  Like everyone’s, Tim’s hands are falling apart.  We all have line burns from the shear power of retreating peacocks.  I tell you, their power is far beyond “impressive”.  Tim wisely has his hands taped up.

Our cloudy day turned on us.  By the time we made our first fishing stop a light rain began.  We fished without our raingear but that would be the one and only.  By the time we reached our next spot rain went from light to moderate to eventually heavy. 

Fishing was fantastic.  Hymundo was our guide and has already proven this week, he hunts the big boys.  Although we were catching nearly all colorful butterflies, they were above average in size.  There’s no doubt that before noon Tim and I racked up at least fifty fish and ten were larger than 6lbs.

When the rain was at its absolute heaviest Tim hooked into a beast.  We were certain he had a big temensis.  The line ripped off a piece of the tape around his trigger finger then crackled off his reel.  There was no stopping the fish.  In an attempt to help, Hymundo started the motor and reversed the boat from a nearby log.  Had Tim’s fish turned to the right he’d of been safely into the trees.  But like peacocks often do, this one expended himself just inches before reaching his sanctuary and Tim brought him to the boat. 

This humongous butterfly would be the biggest of the year from the upper Xeriuni River.  Butterflies rarely grow larger than 8lbs but this one tipped the Boga Grip to an exact 10lbs.  As we admired Tim’s catch it was raining almost as hard as last night.  It was a risky endeavor to take out my camera for this photo – but a 10lb butterfly – it’s worth the risk.

At 5 PM Tim and I reeled it in.  It was the end of my fourth trip to the Brazilian Amazon.  All have been incredible adventures.  We celebrated our week with many beers and some excellent Portuguese wine.  Tomorrow we begin the long journey home.

Blog writing and blog photography wise this trip has been a challenge due to the rain and being dragged down by whatever plague that has struck me.  As always, once I have a day at home I’ll edit some pics and post more.  There were many great fish and fun moments that were not posted.  Be patient however because the minute I get home I pack and head for CA for ten day speaking tour in Fresno, Pleasanton and North San Francisco.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day - 6 Big Peacocks in the Amazon

February 14, 2013

I got some serious sleep last night.  There was no messing around.  And the end result of course is that I feel better than yesterday, in fact I feel like I’m alive again.  I fished with longtime friend and absolute incredible angler, Mike Dawes.  Dawes has put several big fish in the boat this week and I suspected today we’d rack up a few between us.

It was raining again.  But feeling better meant more than sunshine and off we went.  On the way up the Xeurini we had a ceremonial morning beer.  Not only because Dawes and I rarely get to fish together but more importantly because of where we physically were on earth.  That tree behind us marks latitude zero.  We are drinking the beers exactly on the Equator!

From there we went to a lagoon and shared it with Eaton and Coz.  These guys took the left side with Hymundo and Dawes and I were with guide nicknamed Edgee.  In a half hour, Coz landed a 12lber and Dawes and I each caught 14lbers.  What an incredible start!

We lucked out and the rain subsided.  Dawes and I never managed another fish over 10lb but we hoisted in numerous 6 to 8lbers.  The most significant of those was this hybrid of a butterfly peacock bass and the speckled.  The colors and pattern on him are truly remarkable!

At around 3 we could see an incredible storm brewing.  It intensified so fast that at 4:30, a half hour sooner than we normally go in for the day, Edgee suggested we run for camp.  The storm was a serious threat.  Dawes and I were satisfied and agreed to bolt. 

Let’s just say we didn’t quite beat the storm.  With less than three turns of river left to camp the storm caught us.  It rained so hard that rain jackets were useless.  When we got to camp we tossed our stuff in our cabins and entered the Amazon.  We sat in our chairs submerged to the chin and drank caiparinhas for two hours in the tremendous storm.  The rain came down so hard I think we were drier in the river rather than out!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 5 - Bury me in the Amazon

February 13, 2013

Things started as another sunshiny day but I’m on the dreaded deathbed again.  I didn’t seem possible that I could feel worse than two days ago but whatever sickness I have is like a plague.  Nonetheless I managed to board the boat with Milkfish and Antonio.  I spent much of the morning sleeping in the boat seat absorbing the intense sun.  Every inch of my body was throbbing like perhaps this is the flu.

Milkfish fished hard but for us the day was a slow one.  We’ve been averaging and astounding 80 peacocks a day per boat but today Milky and I caught around 50.  I’m sure my lack of fishing didn’t help our numbers.  Although the fishing stunk for us, there were some big fish caught as usual.  The fish of note today was Tim Brune’s 12lb peacock.  What was special about his is that he and Dawes took the initiative to get out on a beach and take several fantastic pics like this one.  Sunshine and a big colorful peacock, the ultimate hero shot combo.

I survived the day.  I honestly couldn’t tell you much about it however.   After fishing we got our first chance to enjoy sitting outside for cocktail hour.  Tonight was probably my first ever without joining in on the beer drinking.  The body simply doesn’t want anything.  Another early night and short blog. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day - 4 Is that the Sun?

February 12, 2013

Somehow I slept poorly again last night yet when I rolled out of bed at 5:30 the first thing I noticed was that the rain stopped and immediately felt better than yesterday.  I popped our cabin door and to my delight saw patches of blue sky.  Today would be a better day. 

There was a concern however.  The water level of the Xeurini had come up about 6 inches.  But as the sun rose I could see that the water remained crystal clear.  As for my fishing partner – I planned to be back with Milkfish today, however the way it worked I had Hymundo take Milkfish and another group member, Steve Fitzsimons to focus all day on big fish.  Hymundo has proven good at that this week and as you can see with this photo, the move paid off well for Milkfish with this 13.5lb! 

The partner switch put me back with Warpath and Antonio which was fine because we were interested in whacking some odd species and taking numerous pictures while it wasn’t raining for a change.  I’ll give you the short because I’m still not feeling so great and after a fun night around the dinner table I’m about to collapse.  Warpath and I smeared the exotics.  We caught a jumbo picua, numerous of the beautiful jacunda, traira and even a species of piranha I’ve not caught before and need to identify when I get home.  

The piranha fell for a purple Chernobyl ant while I was screwing around trying to catch some crazy looking cichlids.  There were a lot around so Warpath grabbed the Chernobyl and caught one also.  Funny thing, when WP was holding his for my photos I noticed his finger looked to be not only be bleeding but potentially missing a chunk.  I lifted up in horror and asked WP if his finger was ok.  He dropped the piranha and almost fainted when he saw it.  He thought his finger tip was gone.  You never saw a set of finger socks and sun gloves come off so fast.  He rinsed his hand and luckily all was intact.  The piranha was bleeding!

The biggest (literally) news today was that Dawes landed an incredible 17lb peacock!  It was a great day.  We caught two more big fish, caught numerous species and best of all not a drop of rain.  I’m by no means feeling great but I think I’m on the mend.  I can only hope I never feel as bad as yesterday on a fishing trip again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 3 - Monsoon Currier Strikes Again

February 11, 2013

There’s only one thing worse than being sick on an exotic fishing trip – being sick on an exotic fishing trip without proper medicine in pouring rain.  I’m sick as a dog.  My throat is toast.  My voice is gone.  My sinus is clogged and I ache all over.  I’m absolutely miserable.  I may as well be in the jaws of a caiman.

Due to weight restrictions I eliminated a lot of things.  One thing was Nightquil.  Even though Coz gave me some Nightquil pills, I couldn’t sleep a wink.  That’s why I heard the rain start at 2 AM.  From 2 till our 5:30 AM breakfast the rain picked up to a level of downpour found only in a tropical rainforest. 

At 5:30 I felt so bad I wanted to stay in bed.  But I couldn’t.  Today I was fishing with Brent Dawson – better known as Warpath as in Warpath Fly’s.  Warpath has more energy than any person I’ve met in my life.  His enthusiasm for fishing, fly tying and everything fun on Earth is amazing.  My suffering body was going fishing in torrential rain hell. 

Warpath rarely stops talking.  As we left camp he was unfazed by the rain and I’m not sure he noticed I wasn’t responding to his jabber.  We fished with a top guide today named Hymundo.  Hymundo knows how to find big peacock bass and he was in fact the guide who put me on to my huge redtail catfish in December of 2011

Hymundo took us to a remote lagoon and rather than having us cast to trees and snags he had us cast over a deep ledge.  I was simply doing the motions.  I’d cast as far as I could (not far today) with my head down.  It was raining so hard that if you looked up or had your casting arm up even with my collar and Velcro sleeves synched as tight as possible the rain would get in.  The water rolling down inside the rain jacket felt terrible.  And in my weakened state I was getting cold in the Amazon

Nonetheless Warpath and I caught numerous fish.  I’m sad to say I never even looked at the ones I caught.  I just swung my fish back to Hymundo and let him unhook and release everyone for me.  I was on my death bed.  Warpath on the other hand, not only went nuts from the front of the boat catching, unhooking and looking up into the rain, he caught some big fish. 

At the first stop he landed a beautiful 6lb butterfly peacock and later landed this 10lb peacock.  Even with my sickness I enjoyed Warpath appreciating his big fish.  It was a sight to behold!  If I remember correctly we caught a few piranhas, picua, jacunda and some trahiras.  I’m sad to say there are no other pictures because it down poured ALL day.  Even my waterproof Pentax fogged up and was worthless.

There were a few other fantastic fish caught today.  Here’s a uniquely speckled spotted peacock caught by Steve Eaton.  Despite the rain everyone is having a blast.  As the host that’s first and most important.  I’ll get better as the week goes.  It would be impossible to feel any worse than I did today.  Bed time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 2 - Fly Fishing for Peacock Bass

February 10, 2013 

Peacock Bass of the Amazon are one the toughest freshwater fish on the planet.  They hit a fly as hard as any fish you can imagine then for at least 15 seconds the tug can be terrifying.  Seriously, a 5lber like this will rip line from you so fast it will make your head spin.  And if you let them take too much line you’re tangled in the trees.  It's not 5lbers we’re after down here in Brazil, we’re hoping for some big fish over 10lbs.  Here on the Xeurini River it’s possible to hook a fish of 20lbs!  I’m not sure that even the big sticks we throw can hold one.  

I’m using my Ross Rx 9’ for a10-weight.  I’m chucking the Scientific Anglers intermediate sink tarpon taper and a variety of flies.  Bright colored flies typically work best but we brought everything.  Yesterday I threw a big fly most of the day.  I was hoping to attract a monster but I caught everything but.  Today I downsized to 3/0 flies with a baby peacock bass look to them.  This one is tied by Brent Dawson (Warpath Fly’s).

Things started out rainy like they ended yesterday.  Rain isn’t about to stop anyone in this group and we downed breakfast before 7 and were off for a full day of peacock bass fishing.  Like yesterday, Milkfish and I fished with Antonio and right out of the gates we put a hurt on the local butterfly peacock bass population.  As our casting got more accurate and the numbers of peacocks added up, so did the rain drops.  By 11 AM we were getting soaked.  The rain was falling so hard it was near impossible to take out the camera thus I have few photos from this morning.  Nonetheless, I couldn’t miss this opportunity of Milky with this gorgeous oversized butterfly. 

As fast as the rain started it slowed and stopped.  Then the sun popped and the boat deck began to sizzle the bottoms of my feet.  I prefer to do all my “big fish” fishing bare foot because I can feel if I’m standing on the line – obviously a bad thing to be doing when a big peacock eats my fly!

At lunch a school of matrincha or similar species swarmed the shallows next to us.  These fish love to eat floating fruits and nuts of any kind so I grabbed my unrigged rod and tied straight 20lb test to the end and Clinched on a Dave’s hopper pattern.  Then, without even a reel I dapped the hopper off the ledge.  I slapped it down a few times before I hooked and landed several of these spunky little fish.   Although small he was quite a fight without a reel and my unique move must have been entertaining for Antonio.

Milkfish and I had a nice afternoon.  We racked up a bunch more peacocks and Milky landed this beautiful paca or spotted peacock.  He tore out of a snag and devoured Milky’s fly then destroyed him.  I repeat this - you can't understand how strong a peacock bass is until you experience one for yourself.  And it’s this take that puts peacocks near the top of my favorite fish list.

The fishing day ended at around 5.  The sun was out and it was in the high 80°s.  Once everyone was back we enjoyed cocktail hour in the river. Indeed the river is full of piranha but it’s a myth that they attack for no reason.  You must be bloody and struggling to get their attention.  And if that’s the case there are a number of other creatures that could get your first!