Wow. What a trip. I rather like this peacock bass stuff that they do here in Brazil !! I am sitting here in a hotel in Manaus on the edge of the Amazon rainforest while we wait for a flight back to Miami later on tonight and then another flight back to Heathrow after a day of kicking around Miami (where of course we would not be heading for a big Bass Pro shop would we ?)- which if all goes to plan should have me touching down in the UK at around midday on Monday - and then if all that flying stuff has worked then I hope I can get back home to Cornwall in time to say hi to my girls before they go to bed. As is the case with this kind of travelling, there are many things that need to go right to get one home on time !! So far so good though - two flights down leaves us here in Manaus, two more to go...........
Anyway, the fishing - what was it like ? Well these peacock bass are some fish. Where we were staying (in the middle of nowhere, very cool indeed), you are fishing mostly for three species of peacock bass, with the "acu" being the largest and the "butterfly" being the most common. The river was crawling with them to the point that you have got to (fly) fish hard to basically catch as many fish as you can because somewhere in there somebody is very suddenly going to connect with a somewhat larger fish. Honestly, some days I dread to think how many bass were landed, with most of the fish being in the 1-6lb range. They might not look it, but wow do they have some turn of speed and they are very powerful - you are putting your flies as tight to structure as you can and the fish know all about hurtling into the fly and charging back to safety almost before you know what's going on, and this makes it somewhat challenging to land the bigger, 10lb plus peacock bass. Let's just say that I saw a number of larger fish lost for various reasons, and virtually every single time it was just the sheer speed, power and environment you are fishing into that makes it so hard to get the bigger ones out. But when you see a big peacock bass, it really is something mightily impressive.
This "acu" peacock bass above is 13.5lbs of pure muscle, and by pure luck Rodrigo hooked the fish a few metres away from the worst snags and then bullied the fish into open water. Some fish is it not ? I was on the trip purely as a photographer, but when we stopped for lunch each day along the river somewhere I would usually grab Gordon's fly rod (thank you !!) and have a quick thrash of the water - and if you have seen me fly fish then you'll know I am hardly what one might call "accomplished", but I managed to smash a bunch of peacocks up to 8lbs and it was a blast. Abuse them or lose them, in fact I mistook the 8lb fish for a smaller one and straight-sticked it out with a serious lack of finesse.
I am looking on the internet here in Manaus and I can see how cold it is at home, so to be out here doing my job in a pair of shorts and spending large parts of the day in a lovely warm river under a steaming hot South American sun is somewhat welcome, and as per usual I am sure that your collective hearts will bleed for me when I walk out of Heathrow's Terminal 5 in my tropical fishing clothing to be met with a nice icy blast of a UK winter !!
If you get five them have a look at this online gallery here of a few of the photos I shot out here in Brazil, including my attempt at a bit of nature stuff when I got up very close and personal with a 6' long cayman as you can see above (although I see that they are sometimes called "caiman" as well). We pulled a boat up close to where this stunner was lying completely motionless in a little lagoon just off the main river and I just kept on creeping closer and closer to him until I was out of the boat and up to my neck in water and still clicking away perhaps my body-length away from that magnificent looking eye. I suppose I should have thought more about what I was doing, but that sort of logical thinking goes right out the window when I have a camera around my neck and the possibility of a cool photo or two. Plus the water was lovely and warm. Anyway, catch up soon when I get back home and I'll get on and enjoy a little bit more hot weather !!