Destination 1. - Panama Canal, Panama - Snook
While Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal that runs through it are known to fishermen for a vibrant fishery for
relatively small peacock bass, another overlooked fishery for a larger sport fish exist. Brackish water snook are very
plentiful in the deeper channels of the lake and along the Canal. Few anglers leave the shallows to battle the larger
snook that are common, particularly when the waters are higher and clearer in the months of October and November.
The lake record snook is a very respectable 32-pounder, and during a recent tournament held in March, the largest snook weighed in was a
27-pounder. The winning angler caught six snook in one day. On a recent trip, I had the opportunity to check out the eagerness of the snook and found them to be very
available and hungry for large Rapalas that we trolled along a channel. The fish normally average 8 to 13 pounds, which is reason enough to focus on them.
Tarpon also inhabit the Canal and Chagres River, but they aren't as easy to catch. A 125-pounder was taken in front
of the lake's primary marina at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Excellent guides and a charter fleet that consists of
thirteen 17-foot long Logic Marine fiberglass fishing boats are available at the marina. The 340-acre rainforest resort
located about one hour from the capital of Panama in the Soberania National Park offers 4-day fishing packages that
include great accommodations, unspoiled jungle habitat and lots of fauna to view. For more information, phone 011-507-314-9000 (marina) or visit their website at www.gamboaresort.com
Destination 2. - Alta Floresta, Brazil - Fire Peacock Bass
Most peacock bass chasers head for the gateway of the Amazon River, Manaus and take a one hour charter flight to the blackwater tributaries holding numerous 20
-pound plus 3-bar monsters. Overlooked, far south of the main Amazon in a tiny remote tributary having an endemic fishery that boasts peacocks that only reach 10 or 12 pounds. The
significance is that the San Benedito River lagoons offer anglers the beautiful Fogo or "Fire" Tucunare which are the most brilliantly-colored peacock bass species ever discovered.
Few Americans have caught the crimson-red Fire Peacock, but I have
been fortunate enough to visit that river system in far southern Brazil on two occasions. The exciting fish are abundant and are available during
the summer months when the rest of the Amazon watershed is flooded and fishing for the monsters is non-existent.
I've taken many of the "firecrackers" in the 7 to 10 pounds range on topwater baits in July and August.
The Rio Sao Benedito is a tributary of the Teles Pires River which is a tributary of the huge Tapajos River. Pousada
Salto Thaimacu Lodge is located on a privately-owned ranch of 25,000 acres right in front of Thaimacu Falls and is
only accessible by a private landing strip or by 4-wheel drive from Alta Floresta.
Destination 3. - Uraima Falls, Venezuela - Payara
While traveling to the Amazonas State in the southernmost part of Venezuela along the Colombian border is currently not advisable, the country
does offer some excellent fishing. Despite Venezuela's political problems, U.S. anglers are still visiting Lake Guri in pursuit of its famed peacock bass. Just above the lake
however, at Uraima Falls on the Paragua River is perhaps the world's best payara fishing.
From December through April when baitfish are often "running", visiting anglers should set aside a couple of days to
try their hand at catching the prehistoric-looking "Dracula" fish that swarm in the 1/4-mile run between the falls and
the big rapids. I've fished the giant saber-toothed gamefish several times and count the exciting experiences among
the best found in South America. On a typical 3-day trip to the river offering swirling eddies, fast currents and rapids
and large submerged rocks, an angler should catch 20 to 30 of the big, slashing payara that range from 7 to 30 pounds!
The comfortable, although rustic Uraima Falls Camp, located just 5 minutes from the fishing, accommodates a
maximum of 10 anglers in thatched roof bungalows. The fishing is done from dugout canoes or if the angler prefers
from the rocks below the falls or rapids. For more info on the scenic camp which is surrounded by the falls, the jungle
and small flat-top mountains called "tupuis", contact FishQuest at 888-891-3474 or visit the website at http://www.payara-fishing.com.