Speckled Peacock Bass: This is the largest
of all peacock bass species, reaching sizes of nearly 30
pounds. Of course a fish of that size is very rare. On
good, remote locations they average 10 to 18 pounds,
with bigger fish always around. This is still under
scientific discussion, but it's generally accepted
that females have spots and males have three distinct
dark bars and a yellowish coloration, as well as a hump
on top of the head during mating season. They are very
aggressive and territorial and will strike topwater flies
with a vengeance. Most people who have fished for it agrees
that they show the most spectacular and ferocious topwater
strike of all fish. Everyone who enjoys casting topwater
flies among varied structure for big fish must go peacock
bass fishing in the Amazon at least once in a lifetime.
Their fight is brutal and they always seek structures
to cut or wrap the line.
Butterfly Peacock Bass: This is a smaller
peacock bass species, but very abundant. There are
actually two species of what is wrongly called
butterfly peacock bass. One of them is the true
butterfly peacock bass, with three big blotches
on the side, and another species, which shows
dark uneven bars and a more yellowish coloration.
Both are quite small on average, but may reach sizes
up to 13 pounds.
Traira: A very aggressive fish with
sharp teeth and a powerfull jaw. They strike just
about anything that moves close enough to it and
are very abundant on the shallow areas. They average
2 to 4 pounds and are fun on light rods, as well as
an important food source for large peacock bass.
These fish are very pre-hystoric looking and it
is believed they come from ancient times.
Arawana: The arawana is a famous fish
among aquarium hobbyists because of their unusual,
snake-like appearance. They are quite aggressive
and will strike a variety of patterns. Once hooked
they put up a good fight, with jumps and runs. A TV
documentary on a British channel became famous by
showing the scene of an arawana jumping out of the
water to get a bug on an overhanging three in the
flooded forest. This shows that they have great eyesight.
Jacundá: This beautifull fish is known
in the aquarium hobby as pike cichlid. Despite their
small average size they are very strong and aggressive
and very fun on light fly rods. They come in many varied
Piranha: There are mainly two species of
piranhas in the dark water rivers. The black and the
silver. The black piranha is the biggest one, reaching
10 pounds or more. They can be aggressive but nearly
never against people. There is a lot of myth around
piranha attacks and it's just not true. They can only
be dangerous when locked in a small lagoon where no more
food is available, otherwise they won't bother with you
at all and you can swim at the river without worrying.
Catching them on flies is not the easiest thing, which
is pretty good because they destroy the fly in a heartbeat
with their sharp, scissors-like teeth.
Next time: Best spots and what equipment to bring.
Octavio Campos Salles Araujo organizes and hosts unique
fly fishing trips to remote locations of the Brazilian
Amazon, where the rivers are still uncharted and big
fish are numerous. Check out his website at
www.amazonflyfishing.com for more.
by Bob Stearns
WHAT OTHER GAME FISH can you catch that is longer than your fly rod?
Fisheries scientists tell us that the sailfish is very likely the fastest fish
in the ocean, and from personal experience I tend to agree. The entire process
of catching a sail on a fly — which starts with the sail attacking the teaser
and ends when you finally release the fish — is exciting to the extreme. And
for those of you who have yet to try it, this is how it works.
A sailfish spread consists of several hookless teasers trolled behind the boat
until a sailfish appears behind one of them. Your companions or a crew member
then picks up the rod that has the hot teaser and begins to reel it in slowly,
playing a deliberate cat-and-mouse game with the increasingly aggressive
billfish. You pick up your fly rod, shake some line out of the tip, and get
ready to cast. It may seem like a pulse-pounding eternity until the sail is
within casting range, but you must wait for the skipper to take the engines out
of gear and the teaser to be yanked out of the water.
All billfish are totally fearless when it comes to boats. If everything goes as
planned, the sail has chased the teaser right up to the transom and is now
eagerly trying to relocate it. At this moment you make your cast, but not in
front of the fish. Instead, you place the fly as far as possible behind it and
generate a loud blurp with the 10-inch foam-head popper. You may even have to
work the popper once or maybe even twice more to get the sail's attention. Once
it has acquired the target, you simply wait as it rushes the fly and the line
comes tight. Once it's hooked, a big sailfish can be matched by no other fish
on the planet for aerial display and speed.
By far the best way to hook any billfish is to have it take the fly as it swims
away from you. The very shape of its mouth makes a head-on hookup almost
impossible. Thus the boat and its crew are every bit as important as using the
right fly. Experience and teamwork count for everything. So, before you plunk
down your hard-earned cash and make the long trip, do a little homework
and make sure you are not only booking an experienced crew, but also going at
the right time of year.
Pacific sailfish tend to run large.
Over 100 pounds is common, which means using a 12-weight or heavier rod and a
reel with at least 300 yards of backing. More is better. I personally prefer a
medium-sink line over a floater because it helps anchor the popper on the
surface of the water so the sail's body wave won't push it out of the way
during the attack. Sailfish are also not at all leader shy, so keep it short to
make casting easier. (See the rigging illustration at top of page.)
If you've never caught a sail on fly, I suggest that you go with 30-pound test
as the class tippet for the first fish. That way you'll get a chance to learn
how to properly fight the critter; it would be a shame to travel so far without
landing at least one.
Some areas are more seasonal than others. Guatemala is good almost all year, but
the facilities are not so numerous as in Costa Rica, where the best action from
January through March is along the southern half of the coast. In the summer,
the northern half is better. The coastal town of Quepos, which is good almost
all year round, seems to be the geographical dividing point.
Everyone who has caught at least one sail on a fly eventually aspires to do the
same with a marlin. But unless you go to those few remote hot spots where
marlin of fly-rod size are available in sufficient numbers to provide good
opportunities every day, it becomes a matter of luck. The same 12- to 15-weight
fly rod and reel that you routinely use to catch sailfish will do the job. So
will the flies. It's just a matter of being able to cast to a marlin that's not
too big; 250 pounds or less is about right.
In the Pacific, striped marlin are probably your most likely target. The two
most productive hot spots are Cocos Island (lying 300 miles southwest of Costa
Rica, this requires a large live-aboard sportfisherman) and the Galapagos
Islands, where there is a camp. Australia's barrier reef has produced black
marlin under 100 pounds during the winter months.
In the Atlantic, a few white marlin have been taken on fly off North Carolina's
Cape Hatteras during the early autumn months. The La Guaira Bank off Venezuela
is another fall location that produces more consistent white marlin action than
Hatteras, with the occasional fly-rod size blue marlin thrown into the mix.
Capt. Ron Hamlin of South Fishing (www.southfishing.com)
can provide info on white marlin in Venezuela.
~Ref: Bob Stearns, http://www.midcurrent.com, Aug 2010
Los Roques is a set of small islands in the Caribbean Sea located 80 miles north of Caracas, Venezuela. While the area is often referred to as an archipelago, technically Los Roques is an atoll within the Lesser Antilles characterized by magnificent coral beds, diverse and varied flats, sandy beaches, clear waters and incredible natural beauty. The entire atoll was declared a national park in the mid-80's and since that time there has been very little development, thus insuring the pristine nature of the area for generations to come.
Located 11 degrees north of the equator, Los Roques' air and water temperatures vary little throughout the season. The area is also characterized by a dry climate and is relatively unaffected by cold fronts and hurricanes. These factors make Los Roques one of the safest bonefishing locations in the world in terms of weather and water conditions much like Christmas Island. Chris Yrazabal, owner of Sight Cast, is a ten-year veteran to guiding the Los Roques region. His guests are housed at Vistalmar lodge, which is located only five minutes from the airport on the atoll's largest island El Gran Roque.
Sight Cast Outfitters Fishing: With more than 250 square miles of fishable water, the Los Roques area is wade fisherman's dream come true. While many of the more productive flats are covered with turtle grass, coral flats and hard sand flats also abound. Regarded primarily as a bonefish destination, the vast and varied waters surrounding your lodge also provide ample opportunities for species such as Barracuda, Tarpon, Jacks and Spanish mackerel. During the prime months of mid-January through mid-October, Los Roques offers impressive numbers of bonefish that average 3-4 pounds. Fish over 5 pounds are common, and good numbers of fish in the 7-10 pound range are present. Fish over 10 pounds have been taken, and the lodge record is an honest 13 pounder! Their season runs from mid-January through October.
Fishing is done from 28 ft fiberglass boats with one guide and one captain per two clients. The fishing day is approximately 8-hours, but times vary so as to hit the best tides. If the best tides for tailing fish are late afternoon, the fishing day may be from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. When anglers tire of walking the flats or tides are not optimal for wading, anglers can fish from the boat's casting platform. While these boats are too large to be poled effectively, the boatman can "walk" the boat across deeper flats, while the guide helps anglers to spot fish from the bow. The guides can also take anglers to deep-water "muds," or "secret" bonefish holes where even beginners can catch an abundance of bonefish. Sight Cast Outfitters Vistalmar Lodge Accommodation:
Lodging is at Vistalmar Lodge, which is located on the beach of the big island of El Gran Roque. Anglers stay in double occupancy guestrooms, each with two standard single or double beds, ceiling fan, air conditioners and a private bath. There is a living room area downstairs, and an open-air rooftop bar and lounge. Breakfasts and dinners are served Oceanside by an exclusive chef. Sight Cast Outfitters Travel: You will need to make travel arrangements to Caracas, Venezuela. The Hotel in Caracas and inner country flights are included in the package price. Anglers are met at the airport (after clearing customs) by a representative of the lodges transfer service, Grand Slam Transfers. The employee of the transfer service will be holding a sign with the name Sight Cast and Grand Slam. He will then take anglers to the Hotel. The transfer to the hotel from the airport should take 10 minutes.
The next morning, the transfer service will take Anglers directly to the LTA Airline counter (usually pick up at the hotel is at 6:45 a.m.). Once there, they will need to pay US $4 each (national departure tax). The confirmation number for the flight will be given (as well as an electronic ticket via mail) one month prior to arrival. The plane to Los Roques usually departs at 8:00 a.m. for the 35-minute flight on a DASH 7. Anglers can have breakfast at the airport or at Los Roques. The Sight Cast staff will be at the El Gran Roque airport to meet arriving anglers. It is then a short 3 minute walk from the airport.
On the departure day the flight back to Caracas is usually at 6:00 p.m. In Caracas Grand Slam will transfer anglers to the hotel and then to the airport the following day. There is an $42.00 departure tax.
Included:First and last over night at the selected hotel: In Caracas: Best Western or Tamanaco and and in La Guaira: Puerto Viejo Best Western, round trip flight Caracas - Los Roques - Caracas with LTA, Accommodation at Vistalmar Lodge, all meals at the Lodge and at the boat, all ground transfers, guided fishing, fishing licenses and permits.
Not Included:International air to Caracas, Meals and beverages in the mainland, Los Roques National Park, entry fee (approx. $10), alcoholic beverages (except beers on the boat), items of a personal nature such as phone calls and laundry, domestic departure tax (approx. $2), International departure tax (approx. $37), gratuities to the lodge staff and fishing guides.