What I didn't realize after that first day was, this time around, the arrangement with the guides had changed. Last year, we were assigned to a guide with whom we stayed for the entire week. This year, to round out each parties' experience, we rotated guides each day. So while having the opportunity to build a
rapport with our guide last year was great, the variety of fishing different types of water and experience different styles each day with different guides and personalities was fantastic!
The next day, Ray and I joined Marzo, my guide from last year, on his boat. I felt fortunate to be able and reunite with Marzo. Marlon currently runs four different camps - two headwaters barges and two houseboats. The guides we fished with last year on the Tayacu are spread out over these four camps mixed in with guides from Marlon's other operations. Marzo was the only familiar face on our trip and it was great seeing him again.
With this operation, it's not just about fishing, but taking in the whole of
the Amazonia experience. Once again, we were rained out of our beachside
BBQ, but the crew built a pit and cooked up our dinner nonetheless... we dined inside.
He asked me to remind him the biggest fish I caught last year and when I told him 18lbs (twice), he then flashed back and remembered on that day I caught my first 18lber, not long afterwards, on the same spot, my brother, Kin, hooked one that was even larger - another sure 20lber. But that fish kept running and running and running until finally it spit the hook. Marzo told me he still remembers that fish vividly. Just like Chaquin the day before. It's quite obvious the guides in this operation take their task of finding you big fish - not just any fish, but big fish - very seriously.
From left to right : Coma Cobra, Ray, John, Basheen and oh yes, their catch of the night - a real live
Pete gettin' in the swing of things.
But the experience with Adventure Travel Alliance and Peacock Fishing Expeditions is not just about fishing, it's about taking in the whole of the Amazonia experience. Afterall, if you take it upon yourself to endure the expense and travel to make it down there, wouldn't it be worthwhile to come back a little richer in life's experiences for the effort? Optional excursions available to you at no extra expense during your days or nights out with this outfit include
caiman hunting at night, an unscripted rainforest nature walk, a tour of some of the local villages along the water, and if peacock bass fishing isn't enough for you, how about fishing for monster catfish in the fifty plus pound class?
For me, this trip, it was about testing rods and reels... Phenix Recon PHX-C715 matched with a Quantum EXO PT spooled with 55lb Daiwa Samurai Braid. This fish was caught on a Caribe Lures jig.
For me, after several straight days of switching combos and lures and putting the tackle I had brought with me to the test against these incredible fish, I finally took the opportunity to put my TackleTour duties aside and told each of the guides I joined in the last three mornings the simple phrase, "venche uma, no chika". Translation? I only want to catch big fish, no more small ones. I even wrote this phrase on one of my choppers and showed the guides each morning - they got a good chuckle out of it. I wanted another shot at that fish that had eluded me on day one and I was finally ready to get serious. It was 20lbs or bust.
Daiwa Zillion TDZL69MHXB matched with an Abu MGX spooled with 50lb Sufix 832. 15lb peacock bass caught on a Megabass Limber Lamber.
As it turns out, most juvenile peacock bass are illiterate. Despite my message to them on the bottom of my lure, I continued to catch single digit class fish. Though I admit, on several occasions, there'd be a small boil or pop alongside the chopper but nothing more - these were obviously the fish that could read. Good move on their part because we eventually decided to put some of the illiterate fish out of their misery by keeping them for dinner. Yes, when you're on the river you eat peacock bass (the smaller ones) as well as piranha, trieda, and anything else that is available and abundant.
St. Croix AVC70MHXF matched with a Shimano Chronarch E spooled with Sufix 832. 5lb paca caught on a Rapala Glide Rap.
My next venche opportunity finally did arrive. On this day, Chaquin was my guide once again. We had spent the morning catching jig fish. The sun was hiding behind clouds and the air wasn't quite hot enough for the chopper. I managed a 12lber early and while that helped the mood on board, we both knew, it wasn't enough. When the sun finally broke out, Chaquin grabbed one of my chopper rods, handed it to me and said "chop chop". Time to go to work.
Megabass F6-68X4 Cover Hacking matched with a Daiwa T3 Ballistic spooled with 55lb Daiwa Samurai Braid. 11lb peacock caught on a Megabass Limber Lamber.