Tackling The Amazon : Preface
||11/13/10 - 11/20/10
We were determined to kick off 2010 with a very special trip in celebration of our tenth year bringing you the latest and greatest in fishing tackle news and reviews. On the table were long range adventures to chase tuna, exotic destinations in search of marlin and sailfish, a coastal trip pursuing tarpon, redfish, and snook, quick northern destinations for epic smallmouth action and our first musky and pike, even a journey east for classic striper action. But if you're an angler whose primary species of interest is black bass, then there is really only one species of fish you can pursue using the same tackle and similar techniques, yet that delivers unbridled, bone jarring, sensory overloading, tackle destroying, strikes that no black bass on the planet can rival. And this just describes the five pounders. Of course, the species in question is peacock bass, and the only rightful destination to pursue this species is the Amazon.
When it came down to selecting a trip to celebrate 10 years, there really was only one choice, Peacocks in the Amazon.
The Amazon is one of twenty six states within Brazil and is home to approximately three and a half million people. It is the 15th most populous state in Brazil but contains in part, arguably, the most bio-diverse ecosystem in the world. The Amazon Rainforest is deep with mystery and allure. As a fishing destination, it is among the most coveted. Exotic game species, tropical settings, explosive action are all what draw even the most seasoned angler. In the end, as a place to celebrate our 10th year, there was no contest.
The Amazon Rainforest is deep with mystery and allure and it is among the most coveted fishing destinations in the world.
Our story begins at Hi’s Tackle Box in South San Francisco where owner and head fishing excursion cruise director Jonah Li shared with us his affection for the Amazon adventure. Jonah has fished all over the world for everything from trout to blue fin tuna. His favorite fish to catch - peacock bass. “There’s nothing like catching a hard hitting, strong pulling fish like a peacock on bass gear,” he’d tell us. “These fish are so strong, if you catch one in the teens, they can tow your boat around in circles!”
Peacock bass are the favorite gamefish of Jonah Li, owner of Hi's Tackle Box in South San Francisco.
Hi’s Tackle Box is partnered with Adventure Travel Alliance to book trips not only to the Amazon but other exotic fishing locations as well. And once you book your trip, Hi’s has the experience and background to help outfit you for your adventure as well. Head man at Adventure Travel Alliance is Steve Yatomi and he makes it his mission to share his life’s passion of exotic fishing adventures with the world and is one of only a handful of outfitters used by Larry Dahlberg.
Steve Yatomi of Adventure Travel Alliance is partnered with lodges and guide operations throughout the world.
Adventure Travel Alliance (ATA) is partnered with lodges and guide operations throughout the world, and they personally book, stay, and fish with each one before any trip is offered to a customer. When traveling to exotic destinations, nothing is ever perfect, but if an outfit doesn’t have their act together, ATA won’t even chance forming a relationship. But even with these precautions, things change so it is important to keep an open mind and remain flexible, because nothing good is ever gained without some pain.
This freshwater barracuda is one of 6 varieties found in the Amazon.
Our trip to the Amazon was originally planned for late February 2010, but unbeknownst to us, the Amazon is in the midst of a drought that began in 2005. One so serious that rainfall in some areas of the Amazon has been reduced by 60-75%! Ultimately, two weeks before we were to depart, our trip was postponed to the Fall of 2010 due to low water levels - a factor seemingly unheard of for the Amazon.
Traira are among the many toothy fish common in the Amazon. This particular species is the smaller of two varieites and is known to grow up to 10 pounds.
Arrangements with ATA included the charter plane flight from Manaus, Brazil into Barcelos where we were to board a houseboat that would take us along the Rio Negro to various fishing destinations along the river. These arrangements remained intact and easily transferrable, however, we were responsible for our own flight arrangements into Manaus, Brazil, and being the normal bargain shoppers any traveling angler would be, we had booked our flights well in advance and received a special, discounted rate from Delta Airlines for our efforts. However, this rate was not one to accommodate last minute changes and as a result, we incurred a heavy penalty.
Houseboat adventures along the Rio Negro are a great way to get to hot peacock fishing spots.
We rebooked our flights for the new dates under similar circumstances, and due to some last minute adjustments to the schedule, had to change our flights once again with yet another adjustment in the ticket price. Bottom line? Instead of the flight costing us somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 each, it ended up costing us closer to $3,000 per person after all the penalties
and difference in ticket costs at later dates. Lesson learned? It doesn’t pay to book far in advance for a trip like this where flexibility is the key. Later we’d meet several veterans of these types of trips who advised us it’s best to book just a few months in advance of travel and maintain as much flexibility as possible.
Caimen are a subspecies of crocodile and are common throughout the Amazon basin.
In fact, speaking of flexibility, some even recommend coming in a few days prior to the beginning of your fishing trip and scheduling your departure a day or two beyond the back end of fishing so you have some built in flexibility should things change. Of course, then you need to arrange for a place to stay before and after your fishing trip, so you need to weigh these factors in as well.
Among the baits we procured for testing and retesting in the waters of the Amazon were this 10inch 22nd Century Wake Bait ...
... Mike Bucca's Bull Shad ...
Once your flight arrangements to Manaus, Brazil are made, you need to get a travel Visa. The catch is, you cannot apply for a Visa to Brazil unless you have a flight itinerary and it takes quite some time to go through the Visa process, so you need to plan that out accordingly. In fact, up until recently, you couldn’t even apply for a Visa to Brazil until you were within 90 days of your departure date. This restriction just changed, but our best advise is to check with your nearest Brazilian consulate for Visa application requirements or do what we did and go through an expeditor to help make it happen.
... Jerry Rago's Smoothie ...
... Mike Shaw's MS Slammer ...
On top of the “within 90 days of departure” requirement, when it came time to procure our Visas, our local consulate was not even accepting any new applications for sixty days time frame, which by the time we found out, would have put us out past our original date of departure! So our only choice was to go through an expeditor (123brazilvisa.com).
... Lucky Craft's Real Calfornia Supreme 200 ...
... JSJ Bait's Dirty Bird ...
With that out of the way, your next concern when traveling to Brazil are vaccination requirements. This consists of Yellow Fever and Hepatitis B vaccinations. These and other vaccinations need to be documented on an International Vaccination card. It’s best to consult with your physician for other recommended vaccinations and medications (like malaria pills and typhoid fever shots), but if you do not have a Yellow Fever stamp on your International Vaccination card, you will not be allowed into Brazil. This is not a common vaccination, so you need to make arrangements ahead of time either with your physician or through a travel clinic specializing in vaccinations for international travel.
... Black Dog Bait Company's Small Cracker ...
... TyLure's BuzzBommer ...
The last, big challenge that you must face before leaving for your Brazilian fishing adventure are the baggage restrictions. The small charter flights from Manaus to Barcelos have a luggage weight restriction of 40 pounds per person. That’s not 40 pounds for checked luggage, but 40 pounds TOTAL. They don’t always check, and even when the do, they’re not always strict on this requirement, but this is not something you want to risk on the last leg of your travels into Barcelos.
... the Jigwobbler ...
... and CLU's STR8 Jacket.
40 pounds may seem like a lot, but once you begin factoring in camera equipment, reels, rods, and lures, together with clothes, drink supplements, toiletries, and even the weight of your luggage itself, you’ll find 40 pounds does not go very far. We’ll get into the essentials later, but just realize, despite the obstacles, hurdles, and anxiety you’ll experience preparing for this trip, what we are about to share with you makes it all worth while.
Believe or not, we did make it down there. That story still to come.